Welcome to Nick Picks, a regular column by Nick Spake. There are countless important questions regarding the current state of cinema and I’m here to answer them.
This Thursday, The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences will announce their nominations for the 88th Annual Oscars. Some films and performances are pretty much guaranteed to get in at this point. There are several other note-worthy contenders, however, that stand little to no chance at scoring any love. This could be because they just aren’t the Academy’s cup of tea or because they aren’t on the Academy’s radar. In this feature, we’re taking a look at several potential Oscar nominees that probably won’t get recognition on Thursday, but definitely deserve to be in the race.
Predicted Nominees: The Big Short, Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn, Carol, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, Spotlight, Straight Outta Compton, The Revenant, and Room
There’s been much speculation over whether The Force Awakens could score a Best Picture nomination or whether a Star Wars movie could ever win Best Picture. Coming out of the gate, The Force Awakens started with promising award buzz and has kept up momentum at the box office. After failing to get in at PGA and BAFTA, though, a Best Picture nod seems like the one thing this record-breaking moneymaker can’t have. That’s a royal shame since The Force Awakens not only delivers everything one could want from a Star Wars movie, but also everything one could want from a movie in general. It’s great entertainment from start to finish, with heavy-hitting drama, stellar action set pieces, and unforgettable characters. If I had to personally single out one picture from 2015 that epitomized the magic of filmmaking, this would be it without a doubt.
Predicted Nominees: Alejandro González Iñárritu for The Revenant, Tom McCarthy for Spotlight, Adam McKay for The Big Short, George Miller for Mad Max: Fury Road, and Ridley Scott for The Martian
For Your Consideration: Pete Docter for Inside Out
Animated movies have been recognized in the screenplay categories over the years, but never in Best Director. Many people don’t seem to view animation directors as “real filmmakers.” There’s much more to directing this art form than simply sitting at a computer, however. It’s literally starting with a blank slate and building an entire world from scratch. Few directors, living or dead, possess the creativity, the heart, the passion, or the patience to bring the remarkable world of Inside Out into fruition. Pete Docter masterfully pulled it off, though, helming one of the most imaginative movies ever made. While the Academy’s Directors Branch sadly won’t recognize Docter here, at least he will take home the Best Animated Feature trophy.
Predicted Nominees: Bryan Cranston for Trumbo, Matt Damon for The Martian, Leonardo DiCaprio for The Revenant, Michael Fassbender for Steve Jobs, and Eddie Redmayne for The Danish Girl
For Your Consideration: Michael B. Jordan for Creed
Sylvester Stallone at least has a good shot at a Best Supporting Actor nomination, but Michael B. Jordan’s impressive leading work seems destined to be overlooked. Much like his character in Creed, Jordan delivers a powerful performance that lives up to this franchise’s legacy. At the same time, Jordan stands tall with a portrayal that’s all his own. Seeing how Jordan is one of our finest young actors, you can bet he’ll get an Oscar nod someday. It’s just too bad he’ll likely have to wait a few more years.
Predicted Nominees: Cate Blanchett for Carol, Brie Larson for Room, Jennifer Lawrence for Joy, Charlotte Rampling for 45 Years, and Saoirse Ronan for Brooklyn
For Your Consideration: Charlize Theron for Mad Max: Fury Road
Mad Max: Fury Road has defied all the odds this awards season with Best Picture and Best Director nominations looking highly promising. One aspect of this masterful action picture that hasn’t gotten nearly enough love, however, is Charlize Theron’s stellar performance as Furiosa. The true star of the movie, Theron breathes life into one of 2015’s most significant female icons. She does so with great empathy and subtly, never hitting the audience over the year with the film’s feminist subtext.
Best Supporting Actor
Predicted Nominees: Benicio del Toro for Sicario, Idris Elba for Beasts of No Nation, Mark Ruffalo for Spotlight, Mark Rylance for Bridge of Spies, and Sylvester Stallone for Creed
For Your Consideration: Jacob Tremblay for Room
Okay, so some would argue that little Tremblay was clearly a leading actor in Room. Since he’s being marketed as a supporting actor, though, this is the category we’re going to endorse him in. No matter what the category, Tremblay delivered one of the most authentic, challenging, and heartfelt performances of the year. He needs to get in somewhere. Although he faces stiff competition, hopefully his SAG nomination will give him a boost.
Best Supporting Actress
Predicted Nominees: Jennifer Jason Leigh for The Hateful Eight, Rachel McAdams for Spotlight, Rooney Mara for Carol, Alicia Vikander for The Danish Girl, and Kate Winslet for Steve Jobs
For Your Consideration: Rose Byrne for Spy
Rose Byrne has demonstrated great range as both a dramatic and comedic actresses in recent years, but is still among our most underrated stars. She couldn’t have been more perfect as Melisa McCarthy’s polar opposite in Spy. Mean and condescending while also being slick and likable, Byrne hits just the right note in a hilarious performance that deserved a lot more attention.
Best Original Screenplay
Predicted Nominees: Bridge of Spies, Ex Machina, Inside Out, Spotlight, and Straight Outta Compton
For Your Consideration: Trainwreck
Every year, we see the Academy disregard great comedies (and I’m not talking about fake comedies like The Martian). Given her Writers Guild nomination, some people may think that breakout star Amy Schumer has a pretty good shot at a Best Original Screenplay nomination for her hilarious comedy, Trainwreck. Of course The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, and The Hangover also got WGA nominations that failed to translate into Oscar nominations. Fingers crossed that Schumer can follow in the same footsteps of Kristen Wiig, who did manage to get in here for Bridesmaids.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Predicted Nominees: The Big Short, Brooklyn, Carol, The Martian, and Steve Jobs
For Your Consideration: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
If there was an Oscar for Best Movie Nobody Saw, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl would be a front-runner. Since such an award doesn’t exist, though, let’s hope the Academy will recognize Jesse Andrews’ wonderful screenplay, which he adapted from his own novel. Aside from maybe 50/50, there’s never been a finer screenplay that’s summed up the saying, “Dying is easy, comedy is hard.”
Best Animated Feature
Predicted Nominees: Anomalisa, Boy and the World, Inside Out, The Peanuts Movie, and Shaun the Sheep Movie
For Your Consideration: When Marnie Was There
This category usually throws in a couple surprises and we’d love for one of them to be When Marnie Was There. This is another beautifully animated and beautifully told coming of age tale from Studio Ghibli about the bonds of family and the bonds of friendship. It’s a film for anybody who’s feeling lonely or insecure, reminding them that they aren’t alone.
We’ll see you bright and early on January 14th when the The 88th Academy Award nominations are announced.