Oscars 2016 Predictions: ‘Spotlight’ Still Ahead in the Race to Win Best Picture

The announcements of Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and Golden Globe nominations have certainly changed a lot of things.  In my last predictions, I had taken into account the awards announcements from major critics group — which hold less influence than guilds — but this time, I have to pay heed to the new dynamics created by SAG and Golden Globe, especially the former. While there is no denying that ‘Spotlight’ still is ahead in the race and ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ continues to rise, but at the same time, we have new players emerging that were not even in the picture before. Something like ‘Trumbo’, which was completely ignored by critics and pundits alike, has made a strong case for itself in the Oscar race. The same holds true for ‘The Big Short’. Both these films feature an ensemble cast and therefore, are also looking to break into acting categories in a major way. Other fringe players like ‘Straight Outta Compton’ and ‘Beasts of No Nation’ have also made a case for themselves after their SAG ensemble nominations. Everything considered, let’s look at how the Oscar field is looking this week.

Oscar 2016

Best Picture

1. Spotlight 
2. Mad Max: Fury Road  
3. The Revenant
4. Carol 
5. The Big Short
6. The Martian
7. Room
8. Bridge of Spies
9. Brooklyn
10. Trumbo
11. Steve Jobs
12. The Hateful Eight
13. Creed

14. Star Wars: The Force Awakens 
15. Youth
16. Son of Saul

Insight: After a stellar show at SAG nominations, it will be simply foolish to ignore ‘Trumbo’ and ‘The Big Short’. This has been a unique year in many ways in that not just we don’t have a clear frontrunner yet, but also, the way in which actors guild decided to ignore critics and Oscar pundits altogether and go with their own choices. How else can you explain the exclusion of ‘Carol’ or ‘Brooklyn’ or even ‘The Martian’ from SAG ensemble nominations ? 
Golden Globes were on more expected lines. Though, both ‘Trumbo’ and ‘The Big Short’ made their presence felt in Golden Globe nominations too. While ‘Spotlight’ and ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ continued to remain strong favorites to win Best Picture and Best Director respectively. ‘The Martian’s’ lack of ensemble nomination means it is no longer a strong contender as many were thinking it to be few weeks back. But still, at this point of time, ‘The Martian’ looks like a safe bet to score a Best Picture nomination. 


Best Director

1. George Miller, ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’
2. Thomas McCarthy, ‘Spotlight’
3. Alejandro G. Iñárritu, ‘The Revenant’
4. Todd Haynes, ‘Carol’
5. Ridley Scott, ‘The Martian’
6. Adam McKay, The Big Short 
7. Steven Spielberg, ‘Bridge of Spies’
8. Danny Boyle, ‘Steve Jobs’
9. Quentin  Tarantino, ‘The Hateful Eight’
10. Lenny Abrahamson, ‘Room’

Insight: George Miller has been making movies since last 40 years. At the age of 70, he makes an action-art film, which ends up being one of the best reviewed of the year. Talk about directorial achievement. After what many are calling an unexpected nomination at the Golden Globes (not me !), his place in the top five is absolutely certain. The Academy is going to see his work in ‘Mad Max:Fury Road’ as a singular directorial achievement — the way they saw Cuoron’s and Ang Lee’s direction of ‘Gravity’ and ‘Life of Pi’ respectively. Miller’s rise also means, Ridley Scott may to wait a little longer to get his Best Director Oscar. At this point of time, the top five look absolute locks with only Scott looking slightly vulnerable. 


Best Actor

1. Leonardo Di Caprio, ‘The Revenant’
2. Michael Fassbender, ‘Steve Jobs‘  
3. Bryan Cranston, ‘Trumbo’
4. Eddie Redmayne, ‘The Danish Girl’
5. Matt Damon, ‘The Martian’
6. Ian McKellen, ‘Mr. Homes’ 
7. Johnny Depp, ‘Black Mass’ 
8. Michael Caine, ‘Youth’
Will Smith, ‘Concussion
10. Michael B. Jordan, ‘Creed’

Insight:  We recently wrote why we felt that Leonardo DiCaprio is absolutely certain to win the Oscar for Best Actor. A surprisingly thin competition this year means Caprio won’t have to break much sweat in getting nominated — in fact, he is the only one actor who looks 100% certain to get nominated.  SAG and Golden Globe nominations helped Fassbender to regain his position in the top five. Johnny Depp, Matt Damon, Eddie Redmayne, all look vulnerable, and my guess is only two of them are going to make the final list. On the contrary, Bryan Cranston position looks much secure. Thanks to Trumbo-show at the SAG nominations. 


Best Actress

1. Brie Larson, ‘Room’
2. Saoirse Ronan, ‘Brooklyn’
3. Charlotte Rampling, ’45 Years’
4. Cate Blanchett, ‘Carol’
5. Jennifer Lawrence, ‘Joy’
6. Charlize Theron, ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ 
7. Rooney Mara, ‘Carol’ 
8. Lily Tomlin, ‘Grandma’
9. Maggie Smith, ‘The Lady in the Van’
10. Carey Mulligan, ‘Suffragate’ 

Insight: 2015 without a shred of doubt has been one of the best years for women in films. And this is clearly reflecting in the above list of contenders. When was the last time Best Actress line-up of potential nominees looked stronger than Best Actor. Never, ever. Having said that, it is becoming more and more clear that this award is now for Brie Larson to lose. How things have changed since two years back when everyone thought she would get nominated for ‘Short Term 12’ but she got snubbed by the Academy. This year, she is strongly placed to win it. Her only real threat is Ronan, but only if Brooklyn gains some serious traction among Academy members — which isn’t looking like right now. Lawrence could have won again had ‘Joy’ been the frontrunner to win Best Picture; but since it is not, she will have to be content with just a nomination.
One small note: Due to confusion over category placement of Rooney Mara in ‘Carol’, there is a likelihood that she can get nominated in Best Actress — and not Best Supporting Actress. 


Best Supporting Actor 

1. Mark Rylance, ‘Bridge of Spies’
2. Sylvester Stallone, ‘Creed’
3. Mark Ruffalo, ‘Spotlight’
4. Christian Bale, ‘The Big Short’
5. Paul Dano,’Love and Mercy’
6. Tom Hardy, ‘The Revenant’ 
7. Michael Keaton, ‘Spotlight’ 
8. Idris Elba, ‘Beasts of No Nation’   
9. Jacob Tremblay, ‘Room’
10. Michael Shannon, ’99 Homes’ 

Insight: The presence of ‘Trumbo’ and ‘The Big Short’ were not the only major news coming out of SAG nominations; the absence of the actors of ‘Spotlight’ was equally surprising. And then, it happened again with Golden Globe nominations; both Keaton and Ruffalo were missing. So, unless Open Road decides to change its strategy and campaign one of the actors as lead, there is very high likelihood that both actors may miss out on nominations because they cancel each other out. The uncertainty of their nominations means Rylance and Stallone gain a major ground in this category. 


Best Supporting Actress

1. Rooney Mara, ‘Carol’
2. Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl’
3. Kate Winslet, ‘Steve Jobs’
4. Jennifer Jason Leigh, ‘The Hateful Eight’
5. Helen Mirren, ‘Trumbo’
6. Rachel McAdams, ‘Spotlight’
7. Jane Fonda, ‘Youth’ 

8. Kristen Stewart, ‘Clouds of Sils Maria’
9. Joan Allen, ‘Room’

10. Elizabeth Banks, ‘Love and Mercy’

Insight: Mara and Vikander find themselves in an unique position. Both are more of a co-lead than supporting in their respective films. So, even though both are the strongest contenders to win, their first goal must be to get nominated. Several times, due to the confusion, the actor/actress ends up missing the nomination completely.
‘The Hateful Eight’ first reactions are indicating that Leigh will have a strong presence in the film, so she occupies the fourth spot. The final spot was open till last week. But after garnering both SAG and Golden Globe nominations, Helen Mirren’s case looks strong. 


Best Original Screenplay

1. Josh Singer & Tom McCarthy, ‘Spotlight’
2. Quentein Tarantino, ‘The Hateful Eight’
3. Alex Garland, ‘Ex Machina’
4. Pete Docter, Josh Cooley & Meg LeFauve, ‘Inside Out’
5. Matt Charman, Ethan Coen & Joel Coen, ‘Bridge of Spies’

Insight: Surprisingly a thin category this year. With ‘Spotlight’s’ stock rising, one can expect it to win this too. Tarantino should also easily make into top 5 considering ‘The Hateful Eight’ is getting some good buzz. After featuring on many critics nominations, ‘Ex Machina’ has been one of the pleasant surprises this season. It may not find quite such following among Academy members, but this is one category where it can easily get in. 


Best Adapted Screenplay

1. Phyllis Nagy, ‘Carol’
2. Emma Donoghue, ‘Room’
3. Nick Hornby, ‘Brooklyn’
4. Aaron Sorkin, ‘Steve Jobs’
5. Adam McKay & Charles Randolf, ‘The Big Short’

Insight:  ‘Carol’ has been doing extremely well with the critics and there is a high possibility that it may garner the most number of Oscar nominations. This will be one place where Academy members may decide to reward the film since we know that it is not the frontrunner to win either Best Picture or Director. ‘Room’, ‘Brooklyn’ and ‘Steve Jobs’ also look safe bets at this point of time.