By Joey Saunders
Note: These are my guesses for who will probably win, not who I think should win. They are in bold, below. Feel free to copy them onto your own Oscar ballot and wow your friends at your watch party. I’m usually pretty accurate so be sure to score extra points by scrolling down to see my picks for all the “boring” categories. Or you could boycott the whole thing and stream Tangerine on Netflix or Chi-Raq on Amazon Prime.
I’m expecting The Revenant and Spotlight to duke it out for the top honor, but voters may be so torn that The Big Short could land a surprising punch. Nevertheless, Spotlight is my favorite in this category, although I’m still licking my wounds after Carol, one of the most LGBT-positive and critically acclaimed films of the year, was snubbed.
Even though Spotlight is incredible, Tom McCarthy’s masterful, subtle direction is generally less appreciated than the more technically awesome work on display in The Revenant and Mad Max: Fury Road by Iñárritu and Miller, respectively. Iñárritu won last year so I’m tempted to give this to George Miller. Still, I think Alejandro Iñárritu is the safer bet.
Adam McKay, The Big Short
George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road
- Alejandro G. Iñárritu, The Revenant
Lenny Abrahamson, Room
Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
No contest. Leonardo DiCaprio will finally win his Oscar this year.
Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
Matt Damon, The Martian
- Leonardo DiCaprio,The Revenant
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl
I’m similarly confident that Brie Larson’s emotive, natural performance in Room will be rightfully rewarded. There were whispers of a dark horse win from the venerable veteran thespian, Charlotte Rampling, but some tone-deaf comments regarding the lack of diversity among Oscar nominees may have sealed her fate.
Cate Blanchett, Carol
- Brie Larson, Room
Jennifer Lawrence, Joy
Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn
Best Supporting Actor
Sylvester Stallone was snubbed by the Screen Actors Guild, but he seems like the likeliest winner here.
Christian Bale, The Big Short
Tom Hardy, The Revenant
Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight
Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
- Sylvester Stallone, Creed
Best Supporting Actress
One of the tougher categories. I loved Rooney Mara in Carol and I think she’ll probably take home the statuette this year. However, if it were up to me, Alicia Vikander is just as deserving for The Danish Girl, not to mention her mesmerizing and, sadly, overlooked performance in Ex Machina.
Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight
- Rooney Mara, Carol
Rachel McAdams, Spotlight
Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs
Best Original Screenplay
Spotlight does such an excellent job of focusing in on the essentials of a sprawling story, keeping that story human without exploiting it for sentimentality or shock, and finding a way to naturally convey a lot of information that could have come across as expository in less capable hands.
Best Adapted Screenplay
The Big Short is a remarkably funny and surprisingly poignant look at a very serious and potentially dry subject: the housing and credit bubble.
Best Animated Feature
As beautifully touching and strange as Anomalisa is, Inside Out is sure to win.
Best Foreign Language Film
It’s no secret that holocaust movies do well with The Academy, so place your bets on Son of Saul but be prepared for a potential upset from the likable dark horse, Mustang.
Best Documentary Feature
Amy is the highest-profile feature in the category and is not undeserving, that usually translates as a win.
My love for the camerawork in Carol and Sicario will probably be passed over for the showier, epic shots that Emmanuel Lubezki painstakingly composed for The Revenant.
Best Film Editing
I typically give most of the technical awards to the best of the action films. This year that honor goes to Mad Max: Fury Road.
Best Production Design
Best Costume Design
Voters are so split between Carol and Cinderella, both designed by the incredible Sandy Powell, that Jenny Beavan may win for Mad Max: Fury Road.
Best Original Score
Carter Burwell’s score for Carol pours over the audience in molten streams of elegy and ardor with alchemic results.
Best Original Song
Prepare yourselves. Lady Gaga may very soon have an Academy Award for her heartfelt rape-awareness anthem.
Best Visual Effects
Best Makeup & Hairstyling
Best Sound Mixing
Best Sound Editing
Best Documentary Short
Best Live Action Short Film
Best Animated Short Film
The 88th Academy Awards ceremony airs live February 28th at 6:00 P.M. CST on the ABC Television Network.