by Sara Michelle Fetters -
SGN A&E Writer
Red Carpet @ 4 p.m.
Ceremony @ 5:30 p.m.
If there is anything we know about this Sunday's 88th annual Academy Awards presentation, it's that we know precious little at all. In one of the more wide-open Oscar seasons in recent memory, of the eight features up for Best Picture is feels as if it has come down to three top contenders: Alejandro González Iñárritu's The Revenant, Adam McKay's The Big Short and Tom McCarthy's Spotlight. But which one will win? And where does George Miller's Mad Max: Fury Road fit into all of this? Is there an upset in the making none of us in the prediction business have allowed ourselves to see?
The only real lock does concern The Revenant, star Leonardo DiCaprio going to take home the Best Actor prize for his performance as revenge-seeking 19th century guide and trapper Hugh Glass. Thing is, he'll win this Oscar just as much for losing on five prior occasions as he will for his lived-in, fully committed turn here. It's in many ways going to be an apology win, much like the one Julianne Moore won last year for Still Alice, that Al Pacino received for Scent of a Woman in 1993 and Paul Newman got his hands on in 1987 for returning to the character of 'Fast' Eddy Felson.
Not that this is innately a bad thing, as DiCaprio's performance is superlative, and as such will not be anything to be ashamed for (unlike Pacino, who secretly must sometimes wonder how he got an Oscar for yelling, 'Hoo-Ah!' and not for all-time turns in landmark motion pictures like Dog Day Afternoon, Serpico and The Godfather Part II). Heck, it's likely his costar, and also nominated costar, Tom Hardy, who sit and watch while Sylvester Stallone boxes his way to Best Supporting Actor victory for returning to Rocky Balboa for a seventh, and not likely final, time (as a sequel to Creed is apparently in the works).
The races on the female side are equally interesting, with young ingénues Brie Larson (Room) and Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn) likely the top two contenders as far as Best Actress is concerned, while Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl), Rooney Mara (Carol) and Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs) appear to be in a three-way contest for Best Supporting Actress. While there are frontrunners in both categories (Larson and Vikander) it won't come as a surprise to anyone if there is an upset, adding an additional layer of intrigue and mystery to a night that will hopefully be overflowing in both qualities.
As for the top prize, with The Revenant recently winning the Golden Globe for Best Drama, the Director's Guild award for Best Director and the BAFTA for Best Motion Picture, after winning both Best Picture and Best Director for Birdman last year it appears Iñárritu is on the verge of the type of Oscar double that hasn't been seen in 64 years. In 1941 and 1942 Hollywood legend John Ford won in both categories in back-to-back years for The Grapes of Wrath and How Green Was My Valley respectively, vaulting Mexico's Iñárritu into rarified company indeed.
Working against him? The Revenant does not have a screenplay nomination, and the last time Best Picture went to a film without one was to Titanic in 1998. Additionally, the Screen Actors Guild singled out Spotlight for Best Ensemble, while the Producers Guild picked The Big Short as 2015's crowning cinematic achievement. Throw in the fact that Mad Max: Fury Road has cleaned up with critics groups, as well as likely has a Best Editing Oscar in the bag, and all the usual indicators do not exist, meaning anyone who claims to know exactly what is going to transpire and why is likely talking out their backside as if they were impersonating Ace Ventura.
All-in-all, it should be quite a night at the Academy Awards, especially with a second straight #OscarSoWhite controversy brewing and the always ready to incite chaos Chris Rock hosting the ceremony. For film lovers, this is going to be a must-see event that will hopefully rank as one of the more interesting and raucous nights Oscar has seen in quite some time. In other words, Sunday night can't get here fast enough, and I for one can't wait to see how it all turns out.
The following are my predictions as to who will take home Academy Awards in many of the major categories. Normally, I'm pretty good at this. This year, well, copy these pick to your own Oscar ballot at your own risk.
The Nominees: The Big Short, Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Revenant, Room, Spotlight
Who I Want to Win: Mad Max: Fury Road
Who Will Win: The Revenant
The Nominees:Lenny Abrahamson (Room), Alejandro González Iñárritu (The Revenant), Tom McCarthy (Spotlight), Adam McKay (The Big Short), George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road)
Who I Want to Win: George Miller
Who Will Win: George Miller
The Nominees:Bryan Cranston (Trumbo), Matt Dam (The Martian), Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant), Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs), Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl)
Who I Want to Win: Michael Fassbender
Who Will Win: Leonardo DiCaprio
The Nominees: Cate Blanchett (Carol), Brie Larson (Room), Jennifer Lawrence (Joy), Charlotte Rampling (45 Years), Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn)
Who I Want to Win: Saoirse Ronan
Who Will Win: Brie Larson
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
The Nominees: Christian Bale (The Big Short), Tom Hardy (The Revenant), Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight), Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies), Sylvester Stallone (Creed)
Who I Want to Win: Mark Rylance
Who Will Win: Sylvester Stallone
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
The Nominees: Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight), Rooney Mara (Carol), Rachel McAdams (Spotlight), Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl), Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs)
Who I Want to Win: Alicia Vikander
Who Will Win: Alicia Vikander
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
The Nominees: Bridge of Spies, Ex Machina, Inside Out, Spotlight, Straight Outta Compton
Who I Want to Win: Inside Out
Who Will Win: Spotlight
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
The Nominees: The Big Short, Brooklyn, Carol, The Martian, Room
Who I Want to Win: Carol
Who Will Win: The Big Short
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
The Nominees: Amy, Cartel Land, The Look of Silence, What Happened, Miss Simone?, Winter on Fire
Who I Want to Win: The Look of Silence
Who Will Win: Amy
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
The Nominees: Anomalisa, Boy & the World, Inside Out, Shaun the Sheep Movie, When Marnie Was There
Who I Want to Win: Inside Out
Who Will Win: Inside Out
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
The Nominees: A War, Embrace of the Serpent, Mustang, Son of Saul, Theeb
Who I Want to Win: Son of Saul
Who Will Win: Son of Saul
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