Nick Picks | 2016’s Biggest Oscar Showdowns

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There are a handful of nominees that are guaranteed to go home with Oscars on February 28th. You’d be a fool to think Leonardo DiCaprio isn’t a lock for Best Actor or that Brie Larson isn’t the inevitable Best Actress winner. However, there are several categories that remain very much up in the air. It’s time to take a look at this year’s biggest Oscar showdowns and determine what will come out victoriously.

Best Picture: The Big Short vs. The Revenant vs. Spotlight

Not too long ago, I wrote a feature on why The Revenant might not be the Best Picture front-runner. Much has changed since then, though. Not only did The Revenant prevail at the BAFTAs, but it also upset at DGA. In addition to winning big at the Golden Globes and becoming a box office hit, The Revenant seems pretty unstoppable at this point. Yet, there are a few factors standing in its way. The Big Short won at PGA and Spotlight won the top prize at SAG, which The Revenant wasn’t even nominated for. While The Revenant scored the most Oscar nominations this year with a total of 12, it wasn’t nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay. Only a few films have gone on to win Best Picture without a screenplay nomination. Then again, Birdman managed to win last year without getting in for Best Editing, which usually lines up with the Best Picture winner. If Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s previous film could defy statistics, so can his latest film. Even if it hasn’t dominated every major award show, it looks like The Revenant just has too much momentum to fail. That is unless the Academy lets a bear loose.


What Will Win: The Revenant

Best Director: George Miller for Mad Max: Fury Road vs. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu for The Revenant

Some might argue that Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu has this one in the bag. After all, he won the Golden Globe, the BAFTA, and the DGA. There’s just one little problem. Inarritu won this award last year for Birdman. Only two filmmakers have won back-to-back Best Director Oscars, John Ford and Joseph L. Mankiewicz. While Inarritu could become the third filmmaker to pull this off, the Academy may want to spread the love. In this case, the obvious alternative would be George Miller. Mad Max: Fury Road is all about the director’s vision with every shot being a visual marvel. Alas, Mad Max is an action picture and some Academy voters may hold that against Miller. Seeing how The Revenant is also the Best Picture front-runner, Inarritu is probably safe here. Just don’t be entirely surprised if Miller finishes first.


Who Will Win: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu for The Revenant

Best Supporting Actress: Rooney Mara for Carol vs. Kate Winslet for Steve Jobs vs. Alicia Vikander for The Danish Girl

This year’s Best Supporting Actress race has been interesting to say the least. For starters, two of the category’s front-runners arguably weren’t even supporting actresses. At the Golden Globes, Rooney Mara of Carol and Alicia Vikander of The Danish Girl were deemed lead actresses, ultimately losing to Brie Larson. Because of this, Kate Winslet had little trouble winning for Steve Jobs in Best Supporting Actress. At the BAFTAs, Vikander was considered a lead once again, but Mara got in for supporting. Even with Vikander out of the picture, Mara still lost that Best Supporting Actress trophy to Winslet. All three of these actresses got to face off at SAG where Vikander ultimately came out on top. Based on that win, Vikander appears to be the Best Supporting Actress favorite. It also helps that Vikander had another stellar role in Ex Machina, which some would argue she should’ve been nominated for instead. Nevertheless, Winslet may not be too far behind. The Academy is bound to give her a second Oscar eventually. Seeing how Leo is guaranteed to win Best Actor, a win for Winslet would also mean a Titanic reunion. As for Mara, she could pull an upset considering how tight this race is, but don’t place any huge bets on her.


Who Will Win: Alicia Vikander for The Danish Girl

Best Original Song: Til It Happens to You from The Hunting Ground vs. Writings on the Wall from Spectre

It’s hard to get especially excited about this category considering that its one of the worst lineups of recent memory and the Academy didn’t even nominate this year’s best original song. Seriously, where is See You Again from Furious 7? With that said, it will be intriguing to see what wins here. Even though Writings on the Wall has been widely considered a mediocre Bond song, MGM and Sam Smith have done a great job at shoving it down our throats. While it’s nowhere near as strong as the title song from Skyfall, Academy voters may just lazily check off Writings on the Wall here. However, they’re more likely to award Til It Happens to You from The Hunting Ground. Aside from covering an important subject matter, it’s the only song in this category that’s actually pretty good. Plus, between her performances at the PGA, the Super Bowl, and the Grammy Awards, Lady Gaga has been killing it lately. If she can win a Golden Globe for acting on American Horror Story, surely she can win an Oscar for songwriting.

Lady Gaga performs on stage at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)

What Will Win: Til It Happens to You from The Hunting Ground

Best Visual Effects: Mad Max: Fury Road vs. The Revenant vs. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Most people are predicting Mad Max: Fury Road and The Revenant to sweep every technical category. Neither film is certain to win the Best Visual Effects prize, however. The Revenant really didn’t have a ton of amazing special effects outside of the bear attack. While Mad Max: Fury Road was indeed a masterpiece of practical effects, Star Wars: The Force Awakens might have been even more visually astounding. The original Star Wars trilogy was a visual effects game changer while the prequel trilogy took the computer-generated route. The Force Awakens found the perfect balance of handmade effects and CGI, giving us the best-looking Star Wars ever. Granted, not every effect in the movie was totally convincing, i.e. Supreme Leader Snoke. How can Oscar voters not award the people who brought BB-8 to life, though? With wins at BAFTA and the Visual Effect Society under its belt, this seems like the most logical place for the Academy to honor the biggest domestic film of all time.


What Will Win: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Editing: The Big Short vs. Mad Max: Fury Road vs. The Revenant vs. Spotlight vs. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Honestly, this is the one category where anything could happen and it wouldn’t be at all surprising. As the most expertly edited movie of the year, Mad Max: Fury Road deserves to win here 100%. Since the Best Editing winner usually lines up with the Best Picture winner, though, you could make a strong case for The Revenant. Then again, if The Big Short or Spotlight were to upset in Best Picture, there’s no reason they couldn’t upset here too. Of course the Academy has also been known to throw curveballs in this category. For example, nobody was predicting The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo or The Bourne Ultimatum to win Best Editing. So even Star Wars: The Force Awakens has a pretty good shot. Considering that it won at BAFTA and the ACE Eddie Awards, Mad Max: Fury Road is out in front, but this race is still far from over.


What Will Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Animated Short, Best Documentary Short, and Best Live Action Short: Who Knows?

The Short Film categories are always a crapshoot. So let’s just go with Sanjay’s Super Team for Best Animated Short, Body Team 12 for Best Documentary Short, and Ave Maria for Best Live Action Short.


As for the rest of the categories, those should be pretty straightforward. In addition to DiCaprio and Larson being locks in the lead acting categories, Sylvester Stallone will win Best Support Actor for Creed. The Big Short and Spotlight will each win one award for their screenplays. The Revenant will win one additional award for Best Cinematography, taking home four awards total. Mad Max: Fury Road will win four additional awards for Best Production Design, Best Makeup, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Sound Editing, taking home five awards total. Meanwhile, The Hateful Eight will win for Best Score and Cinderella will win Best Costume Design. Finally, Inside Out is winning Best Animated Feature, Amy is winning Best Documentary, and Son of Saul is winning Best Foreign Language Film.


Also be sure to watch Flickreel’s Oscars predictions video. See you on Oscar Sunday!

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About Nick Spake

Nick Spake has been working as an entertainment writer for the past ten years, but he's been a lover of film ever since seeing the opening sequence of The Lion King. Movies are more than just escapism to Nick, they're a crucial part of our society that shape who we are. He now serves as the Features Editor at Flickreel and author of its regular column, 'Nick Flicks'.

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