88th Academy Award Predictions: December Update

Now over halfway through December, it is time to revisit the predictions I made in November. Almost all major contenders have now been seen, and a flurry of critics awards have determined some strong contenders, and done away with some weaker ones.

As per normal, I will just be covering the above-the-line categories, because right now it is just too intense to predict all of them.
Best Picture
* Brooklyn
* Carol
* The Hateful Eight
* Mad Max: Fury Road
* Star Wars, Episode VII: The Force Awakens
* Son of Saul
* Spotlight
* Steve Jobs
* The Revenant
* Room
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
* The Martian
* Bridge of Spies
* The Big Short

This is a tricky category, because there doesn’t seem to be a frontrunner to win right now. Spotlight is probably the closest thing to a frontrunner, but very few films (only about a dozen, half of them from the 1950s) have won Best Picture without an acting nomination, and for some reason, the weakening of Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo make me think that the voters won’t be sold on them, and Rachel McAdams could suffer in that regard as well. The Revenant and Mad Max: Fury Road could become Best Picture winners, so they are relatively safe. The lukeward response to Joy has caused me to drop it, and replace it with Brooklyn, which I previously had as a backup nominee. Room and Carol are very safe for the nomination, and Steve Jobs could do well with the actor’s branch. The Hateful Eight is a film from Quentin Tarantino, who the AMPAS love, so it could make the cut. Son of Saul is my No Guts No Glory pick. The latest Star Wars film has made money and has gained critical acclaim, so it could be the first Star Wars film since 1977 to make it into Best Picture, which I hope it does. The Martian and Bridge of Spies are waiting in the wings in case The Revenant completely fails, or voters aren’t passionate about one of the stronger films.


Best Director
* J.J. Abrams (Star Wars, Episode VII: The Force Awakens)
* Todd Haynes (Carol)
* Alejandro González Iñárritu (The Revenant)
* Thomas McCarthy (Spotlight)
* George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road)
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
* Quentin Tarantino (The Hateful Eight)
* László Nemes (Son of Saul)
* Ridley Scott (The Martian)

Other than dropping David O. Russell, this category pretty much remains the same for me. I think the win is between George Miller and Todd Haynes, because while Spotlight can win Best Picture, I don’t see Thomas McCarthy winning Best Director, and with a flashy film like Mad Max: Fury Road and a old-fashioned visual masterpiece like Carol, McCarth could suffer. However, he will probably win his Oscar in the screenplay category, so he won’t leave empty-handed. The idea of Alejandro González Iñárritu becoming only the third director to win back-to-back Best Director awards is truly exciting, and while he might not accomplish it, if The Revenant is strong, he could make a play for the award. J.J. Abrams is my No Guts, No Glory prediction, because I do think that he is getting heaps of praise for his reboot of the Star Wars franchise, and with such a flashy film, he could easily be nominated. If not him, then Ridley Scott.


Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
* Steve Carell as Mark Baum in The Big Short
* Bryan Cranston as Dalton Trumbo in Trumbo
* Leonardo DiCaprio as Hugh Glass in The Revenant
* Michael Fassbender as Steve Jobs in Steve Jobs
* Eddie Redmayne as Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
* Géza Röhrig as Saul in Son of Saul
* Matt Damon as Mark Watley in The Martian
* Will Smith as Dr. Bennett Omalu in Concussion


Not much change here either. I still think that Leonardo DiCaprio has this award locked up, and the men who will be applauding for him will probably be last year’s winner, Eddie Redmayne (a man who looked strong for a second win, but has sunk lower considering his film is quite weak), and Michael Fassbender, who looked to be the frontrunner, but his film’s disappointing box office receipts caused his status to fall somewhat. Bryan Cranston, who was previously dismissed as his film seemed weak, has made appearances at all the right precursors, and could very well be earning his first nomination. Steve Carell is an actor I don’t really want to predict, but his film seems quite strong, and he could be dragged into a nomination as well.


Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
* Cate Blanchett as Carol Aird in Carol
* Brie Larson as Joy Newsome in Room
* Jennifer Lawrence as Joy Mangano in Joy
* Charlotte Rampling as Kate Mercer in 45 Years
* Saoirse Ronan as Eilis Lacey in Brooklyn
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
* Lily Tomlin as Elle Reid in Grandma
* Maggie Smith as Mary Shepherd in The Lady in the Van
* Carey Mulligan as Maud Watts in Suffragette


Absolutely no change here. This award is between Brie Larson and Saoirse Rona, who are fighting for the win. Jennifer Lawrence might still get nominated, even though her film did not do well critically. Cate Blanchett is extremely safe, and if her co-star Rooney Mara is shifted up to lead, she can knock out either Lawrence or Charlotte Rampling, both of which seem very vulnerable at this point.


Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
* Paul Dano as Brian Wilson in Love & Mercy
* Michael Keaton as Walter Robinson in Spotlight
* Mark Rylance as Rudolf Abel in Bridge of Spies
* Michael Shannon as Rick Carver in 99 Homes
* Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa in Creed
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
* Jacob Tremblay as Jack Newsome in Room
* Benicio Del Toro as Alejandro Gillick in Sicario
* Mark Ruffalo as Michael Rezendes in Spotlight


This category drives me crazy. There are at least eleven contenders that I could see making it, and I pretty much think that only Mark Rylance (who I hope eventually wins) is safe. The other four spots are between ten men, and I won’t even discuss the pros and cons of each of them. I am sticking with Michael Keaton now, because I don’t believe Spotlight can win Best Picture without an acting nomination. I won’t go in-depth here, because this category changes everyday.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
* Jennifer Jason Leigh as Daisy Domergue in The Hateful Eight
* Rooney Mara as Therese Belivet in Carol
* Alicia Vikander as Gerda Wegener in The Danish Girl
* Kate Winslet as Joanna Hoffman in Steve Jobs
* Julie Walters as Madge Kehoe in Brooklyn
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
* Rachel McAdams as Sacha Pfeiffer in Spotlight
* Kristen Stewart as Valentine in Clouds of Sils Maria
* Jane Fonda as Brenda Morel in Youth


Not much change here. I am hoping that Rooney Mara goes to lead, but even if she doesn’t, this category is relatively locked up. Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kate Winslet and Mara are all very safe, and Alicia Vikander seems to be safe as well (although I wish she would be nominated for her superior work in Ex Machina). Julie Walters is a dream nomination that could happen, with the idea that Brooklyn will play very well with voters. Unfortunately, Jane Fonda has been campaigning hard, and her Hollywood legend status means that she could possibly be nominated. Rachel McAdams could also happen, if Spotlight really is the frontrunner.


Best Original Screenplay
* Bridge of Spies
* The Hateful Eight
* Son of Saul
* Spotlight
* Inside Out
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
* Trainwreck
* Youth
* Suffragette


Not much to say here – Spotlight has this one locked down. Its a weak category anyway, but I see Son of Saul making it on its strength, The Hateful Eight because Tarantino has won this award twice before, Bridge of Spies because of the prestige and Inside Out because this category loves nominating animated films. Other than that, I don’t see the eventual nominees deviating too far from this.


Best Adapted Screenplay
* Anomalisa
* Carol
* Steve Jobs
* The Revenant
* Room
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
* The Martian
* The Danish Girl
* Beasts of No Nation

Absolutely no change here. Phyllis Nagy will win this award for her beautiful screenplay for Carol, and Charlie Kaufman will be nominated for the fantastic Anomalisa. Room could make a play for this award as well, as could The Revenant. Steve Jobs will tag along, but winning will be very difficult.




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