The 2016 Oscars race is one of the most interesting years in recent memory: A year where veteran filmmakers reinvented their craft, actors went deep on solo journeys, compelling stories were told about women, and studios made high-caliber films. It’s also a year where there really is no clear front-runner in the Best Picture race. The only thing we know for sure is that when Guillermo del Toro, Ang Lee, and John Krasinski announce the nominations tomorrow morning, the choices won’t be boring.
The Big Short
Bridge of Spies
Mad Max: Fury Road
Straight Outta Compton
There is no shortage of high-quality films for voters to choose (Room, Creed). In recent years, voters have nominated eight or nine films, so even worthy films like Brooklyn, Sicario, or Straight Outta Compton might not make the final cut. Though Star Wars: The Force Awakens is already the highest-grossing film ever and riding a wave of nostalgia, it’s also a sequel that didn’t do much to reinvent the genre and sequels are often ignored by the Academy in this category.
Alejandro G. Inarritu (The Revenant)
Tom McCarthy (Spotlight)
Adam McKay (The Big Short)
George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road)
Ridley Scott (The Martian)
The Directors Guild may have got it right this year. The only change we could foresee would be another nomination for Steven Spielberg for Bridge of Spies, which would likely push Adam McKay out of the race. But that’s a big if and momentum seems to be in The Big Short’s favor.
Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)
Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs)
Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl)
Bryan Cranston (Trumbo)
Matt Damon (The Martian)
It feels like Leo’s race to lose. Despite top performances from all the other actors, the narrative surrounding DiCaprio seems to have taken hold: It was really hard and I’ve never won. We will see if that stands the test over the next six weeks.
Brie Larson (Room)
Cate Blanchett (Carol)
Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn)
Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl)
Charlotte Rampling (45 Years)
Focus has been pushing to classify Vikander’s turn in The Danish Girl in the supporting category, but this is where she belongs. (Even the HFPA resisted the campaign pressure.) Don’t be surprised if the Academy follows suit. That said, should they nominate her performance for supporting, expect Jennifer Lawrence to nab a fourth nomination for her role in Joy.
Best Supporting Actor:
Sylvester Stallone (Creed)
Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies)
Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation)
Christian Bale (The Big Short)
Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight)
This is one packed category, and no one would be surprised or disappointed if Michael Keaton (Spotlight) or Paul Dano (Love and Mercy) sneak into the race. Rylance and Stallone seem like the two shoo-ins, and with all the heat on The Big Short, Bale looks safe for his balls-out performance as the eccentric yet brilliant Dr. Michael Burry, who made millions when the housing market melted down.
Best Supporting Actress
Helen Mirren (Trumbo)
Rooney Mara (Carol)
Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs)
Jennifer Jason Leigh (Hateful Eight)
Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina)
With the Producers Guild throwing some love towards Ex Machina, this film could make an impression. As such, let’s call Oscar nomination morning a red-letter day for Vikander, with quite possibly two nominations for her two breakout roles. If she doesn’t land a nod for Ex Machina, it’s probably only because Oscar shifted her performance from The Danish Girl in to this category/
The Hateful Eight
Bridge of Spies
This is one crowded category and voters easily could opt for Straight Outta Compton, Trainwreck, or Ex Machina over Bridge of Spies and Sicario.
The Big Short
Carol could very well edge one of these five contenders with Phyllis Nagy’s stellar script clearly belonging in this category. Yet, in recent weeks, it feels like the film’s stock has dropped, just as the unconventional Big Short has taken off.