The 2016 Academy Awards: Predictions and Thoughts

It’s important to know while watching the Oscars that the nominees and the winners don’t necessarily represent the best of 2015. In fact, as I finish my Top 50 list for the year, only 12 of my current top 25 received at least one nomination. Some of the races are gimmes, some head-scratching, a few that could swing any which way. So, I wouldn’t advise you to use these predictions to hedge your bets or to win your Oscar pool. That being said, here’s how I think things are going to shake out.

Best Short Film (Animated): I’ve yet to see Bear Story or Prologue, but I think the winner is World of Tomorrow. It’s a fantastic example of what storytelling can achieve in a little time, and since it has been on Netflix for some time now, it’s likely to be the one most voters have seen.

The Nominees: Bear Story, Prologue, Sanjay’s Super Team, We Can’t Live Without Cosmos, World of Tomorrow

Will Win: World of Tomorrow

Could Win: Bear Story

Best Short Film (Live-Action): I haven’t had the chance to see any in the next two categories, so it would feel wrong for me to even try to make a guess.

The Nominees: Ave Maria, Day One, Everything Will Be Okay, Shok, Stutterer

Best Documentary Short:

The Nominees: Body Team 12, Chau Beyond the Lines, Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah, A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness, Last Day of Freedom

Best Makeup and Hairstyling: The 100-Year-Old Man is a funny movie, but it’s just geezer makeup ala Bad Grandpa. And yeah, The Revenant made Leo look as grizzly as the bear who mauled him. But this one goes to Mad Max in no contest.

The Nominees: The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Revenant

Will Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Could Win: The Revenant

Deserved Nominations: Creed, The Big Short, A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence

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Best Original Score: The best score of this group belongs to Burwell or Johannsson. But the Academy is going to honor the lifetime achievement of either Morricone or Williams. It feels criminal to not have Mad Max’s frenetic score or Beasts of No Nation’s ethereal echoes nominated here.

The Nominees: Thomas Newman (Bridge of Spies), Carter Burwell (Carol), Ennio Morricone (The Hateful Eight), Johann Johannsson (Sicario), John Willians (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)

Will Win: Ennio Morricone (The Hateful Eight)

Could Win: John Williams (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)

Deserved Nominations: Room, Mad Max: Fury Road, Slow West, Beasts of No Nation, Christmas Again, It Follows

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Best Original Song: Smith’s work is one of the all time worst Bond ballads, and should have made way for Chi-Raq’s important and timely anthem. It’ll go to either Lady Gaga or The Weeknd since they’re both performing. The safe bet is Til it Happens to You, considering the Academy probably won’t want to associate with any part of Fifty Shades of Grey

The Nominees: Earned It (Fifty Shades of Grey), Manta Ray (Racing Extinction), Simple Song #3 (Youth), Til It Happens to You (The Hunting Ground), Writing’s on the Wall (Spectre)

Will Win: Til It Happens to You (The Hunting Ground)

Could Win: Earned It (Fifty Shades of Grey)

Deserved Nominations: Pray 4 My City (Chi-Raq), Hey Baby Doll (Danny Collins), See You Again (Furious 7)

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Best Production Design: Room should be up for this one. In its first 45 minutes, the room is as detailed as the characters on the screen. The winner will be Mad Max though. I mean, how could you watch that movie and not vote for it in this category?

The Nominees: Bridge of Spies, The Danish Girl, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Revenant

Will Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Could Win: The Revenant

Deserved Nominations: Room, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Crimson Peak

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Best Sound Editing: Here’s where things get tricky, and where I think we’ll find the best picture winner. If The Revenant wins this one and the following category, I’m guessing it becomes the top dog. If it goes to Mad Max, the night’s winner will be Spotlight or The Big Short. It’s a shot in the dark, but I’m going with the survival tale on the frontier.

The Nominees: Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Revenant, Sicario, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Will Win: The Revenant

Could Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Deserved Nominations: Creed, Ex Machina, Shaun the Sheep Movie, Hard to Be a God

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Best Sound Mixing: See above.

The Nominees: Bridge of Spies, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Revenant, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Will Win: The Revenant

Could Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Deserved Nominations: Experimenter, Room, The Mend, Burnt, Love & Mercy, Creed

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Best Visual Effects: I hated, hated, hated The Walk. It’s simply not good. But if you saw it in IMAX 3D, you’ll agree the moments up on the wire were unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Kudos to the deserved Ex Machina as well. This could easily go to Star Wars, but the safe pick is The Revenant sweeping most technical categories.

The Nominees: Ex Machina, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Revenant, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Will Win: The Revenant

Could Win: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Deserved Nominations: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Pt. 2, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, The Walk

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