Academy Awards 2016: Nominations and Predictions, ‘The Revenant’, ‘Mad Max’, ‘The Martian’ and More

With the Golden Globes behind us, awards season is now in full swing. This morning marked the official kickoff of the Academy Awards race as nominations for the 88th annual awards ceremony were announced. There were few surprises seen with the announcements, with the Academy sticking to the usual formula, nominating little that wasn’t expected. Overall, however, it was a decent reminder of what a great year 2015 was for movies. Here is a list of nominees in the major categories, with some predictions for who’s going to take home the gold.

BEST PICTURE

The Big Short

Bridge of Spies

Brooklyn

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant

Room

Spotlight

Bridge of Spies and Brooklyn were a bit of a surprise, but I guess it makes sense given the critical acclaim for both movies. Neither of them feel like shoe-ins, however. If it were up to me, it would definitely go to Mad Max: Fury Road. However, the Academy has a history of skirting awards for science fiction. It’d be nice if that was changed this year, but the smart money is definitely on The Revenant.

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BEST ACTOR

Bryan Cranston, Trumbo

Matt Damon, The Martian

Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs

Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl

This is one of the trickier categories this year. The Academy loves movies about Hollywood, which might give Cranston the edge for his portrayal of the blacklisted screenwriter. However, the Academy also likes flexing its inclusion muscles, which might give Redmayne’s portrayal of a trans-female in The Danish Girl a little more weight. Still, the Academy also loves to right their wrongs, and DiCaprio’s lack of an Oscar is becoming more and laughable by the year. I’d say DiCaprio is the most likely.

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BEST ACTRESS

Cate Blanchett, Carol

Brie Larson, Room

Jennifer Lawrence, Joy

Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years

Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

It’s not even worth discussing here. Anyone besides Larson would be a crime.

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BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Christian Bale, The Big Short

Tom Hardy, The Revenant

Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight

Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies

Sylvester Stallone, Creed

This is one of the tougher calls this year. In any other year, anyone of these nominations would feel like a no brainer. Having all of them go up against each other, however, is an overwhelming proposition. Stallone is still riding high from his Golden Globes win, but really this was the 7th time he’s played Rocky Balboa. It’s almost second nature to him at this point, so a win doesn’t feel fair. While Ruffalo was amazing in Spotlight, Hardy was transcendent in The Revenant. Go Hardy or go home, I say.

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BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight

Rooney Mara, Carol

Rachel McAdams, Spotlight

Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl

Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

Another tough category, but most likely it comes down to McAdams and Winslet. Winslet’s win at the Golden Globes gives her a little weight, and she feels like a safe bet, but McAdams definitely brought it in Spotlight. On the other hand, Vikander had a pretty great year between The Danish Girl and Ex Machina. It’s a toss-up, but I’m betting on Winslet.

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DIRECTING

Adam McKay, The Big Short

George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road

Alejandro G. Iñárritu, The Revenant

Lenny Abrahamson, Room

Tom McCarthy, Spotlight

In a just world, Miller would take it. He’s definitely deserving and he’s definitely who I’m pulling for. It’ll probably be Iñárritu though.

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ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

The Big Short

Brooklyn

Carol

The Martian

Room

This is tough, but I’d say it’s really between The Martian, Room, and The Big Short. Of the three, The Big Short was probably the most creative adaptation, taking a work of journalism and turning into an easy to understand comedic work, but The Martian is clearly the one to beat.

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ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Bridge of Spies

Ex Machina

Inside Out

Spotlight

Straight Outta Compton

To me, this really comes down to Inside Out and Spotlight. The former was absolutely a brilliant work of psychological deconstruction that took abstract and difficult concepts and made them accessible to the average person and, most impressively, children. The latter distilled a year’s worth of journalism into a taut thriller on par with All the President’s Men. It’s a tough call, but I’d say Spotlight.

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ORIGINAL SCORE

Bridge of Spies

Carol

The Hateful Eight

Sicario

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

First of all, it’s a damn sin that Tom Holkenborg’s (Junkie XL) score from Mad Max wasn’t included. That’s one of the more egregious snubs this year. That being said, this comes down to Sicario and The Hateful Eight. Sicario’s score was one of the best aspects of an otherwise lackluster movie, elevating the narrative to heights it couldn’t have dreamed of obtaining without it. But Ennio Morricone has never won an Oscar for a score. True, he has been given a lifetime achievement award, but a win for The Hateful Eight would be a good chance for the Academy to acknowledge a specific piece by the composer.

ORIGINAL SONG

“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

None of these feel particularly worthy or even memorable, so it’s hard to say. When in doubt, go with Bond. I’d say Sam Smith’s got this.

Check out the full list of nominees here.

The Academy Awards air Sunday, February 28 on ABC.

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