Generation Film’s 2016 Oscar Nominee Predictions

This Thursday (January 14th, 2016) the 88th Academy Award nominees will be announced for their inevitable annual presentation February, 28th.  In a year where the awards race has been inconsistent and surprising, there’s no really telling which categories are 100% determined. While there might be one or two definite contenders within each category, the remainder are partially up for grabs. It will be an interesting award year with its fair share of surprises and snubs, but the following is my list of guesses that I’m fairly certain will be between 80 and 90% accurate. But take a look below and see if you agree whether or not this is where the winds are blowing.


Best Picture

The Big Short

Bridge of Spies


Inside Out

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant




Other Possibilities: Brooklyn,  Straight Outta Compton, Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, Trumbo, Steve Jobs, Ex Machina, Beasts of No Nation, The Hateful Eight

Thoughts: There hasn’t really been 10 full nominees ever since the Academy first introduced the categories change back in 2010. However, it’s always best to fill out the list so that if it doesn’t reach 10 you sort of have an extra guess. Above there are some definite contenders (SpotlightThe RevenantThe Big ShortMad Max: Fury Road), some probable in-between contenders (The MartianCarolBridge of Spies), and then there are some questionable, risky choices (Sicario, RoomInside Out). The latter three could easily be replaced by other stronger possibilities, such as John Crowley’s wonderful Irish coming-of-age drama Brooklyn,  F. Gary Gray’s serviceable NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton (which I can’t bring myself to add to the list even though its chances are more than likely with its SAG Ensemble, PGA, and WGA nominations), and even J.J. Abrams’ populist nostalgia blockbuster hit Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. The only reason I’ve omitted PGA nominees Brooklyn and Alex Garland’s sci-fi debut Ex Machina from the possible contenders is because those are the only nominations they’ve received. No cinematographers guild, no editors guild, no SAG ensemble. It’s just likely that they won’t garner the widespread love needed to warrant the Best Picture nomination. There are so many possibilities though, and in a year where there aren’t really any front runners anything could sneak in at the last minute.


Best Director

Tom McCarthy (Spotlight)

George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road)

Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu (The Revenant)

Ridley Scott (The Martian)

Todd Haynes (Carol)

Other Possibilities: Adam McKay (The Big Short), Steven Spielberg (Bridge of Spies), László Nemes (Son of Saul), Lenny Abrahamson (Room), F. Gary Gray (Straight Outta Compton), Denis Villeneuve (Sicario)

Thoughts: The Golden Globes gave us a slight indication where some in the film industry are leaning towards with the Best Director Award (though the Hollywood Foreign Press is an unremarkable number and an extremely biased group). Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu’s win for his seamless, beautiful, and ethereal direction for the survivalist western The Revenant has secured him as a possible front runner to win, which would make it two years in a row. However, there’s plenty of competition in the ring, and the above list of contenders could very well become their own front runners depending on other Guild nominations, BAFTA determinations, and perhaps even a slant towards rewarding a director’s entire career (we’re looking at you, Ridley Scott). Adam McKay could sneak into a coveted spot for his kinetic, humorous, yet overdone The Big Short while an Academy favorite Steven Spielberg could also steal a pot. The top five seem to be those listed above though it wouldn’t be much of a surprise this year to see any of them knocked out and replaced by a vast number of other possibilities (though, personally I think Hungarian filmmaker László Nemes should definitely be in there even though it could never happen).


Best Actor

Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)

Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs)

Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl)

Matt Damon (The Martian)

Bryan Cranston (Trumbo)

Other Possibilities: Johnny Depp (Black Mass), Michael Caine (Youth), Will Smith (Concussion), Steve Carell (The Big Short), Tom Hanks (Bridge of Spies), Ian McKellen (Mr. Holmes)

Thoughts: Leonardo DiCaprio might be the only secured winner of any category this year, which is good because if the man loses again who knows what he’ll do to himself (I mean, what does he have to do to earn the respect of the Awards voting body?). Who will fill out the rest of the marginally competitive contenders to keep him company is an entirely different question. Most of the known SAG nominees will most likely make it in there, including Michael Fassbender’s transformative performance as Steve Jobs, Eddie Redmayne’s androgynous embodiment of Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl, and Bryan Cranston’s uneven yet lively performance as screenwriter Dalton Trumbo in Jay Roach’s horrid biopic Trumbo. The fifth and final spot really is between Matt Damon’s superb charismatic performance in The Martian or Johnny Depp’s gangster horror interpretation of Whitey Bulger in Black Mass. It’s unfortunate that these two are fighting for the consideration because they both deserve the nomination more than the usually lovely Bryan Cranston. What’s really unfortunate is that Michael Caine’s exceptional brilliance in Youth and the transcendent Géza Röhrig in Son of Saul won’t get the recognition they deserve.


Best Actress

Brie Larson (Room)

Cate Blanchett (Carol)

Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn)

Charlotte Rampling (45 Years)

Jennifer Lawrence (Joy)

Other Possibilities: Maggie Smith (The Lady in Van), Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road), Lily Tomlin (Grandma), Carey Mulligan (Suffragette), Emily Blunt (Sicario), Sarah Silverman (I Smile Back)

Thoughts: A very competitive year for the Best Actress category, so competitive, in fact, that many deserving nominees won’t get the recognition they actually deserve this year. And it’s not even a definite that the above five will be the final contenders because the loyalties for different acting camps seem to be jumping back and forth. After her Golden Globe win it seems the always exquisite Brie Larson will finally be getting a nomination for her delicate and emotional performance in Room, an action that will rectify her non-nomination for her brilliant acting in Short Term 12. Cate Blanchett and Saoirse Ronan will most likely fill out the top three, and it’s anyone’s guess whether or not Jennifer Lawrence will actually claim that final fifth spot (Charlotte Rampling is looking likelier and likelier as the fourth). Lawrence might have won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Comedy, but there’s always the possibility she could get pushed out. But I’ve chosen her above because I think that’s a slim possibility.


Best Supporting Actor

Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies)

Michael Shannon (99 Homes)

Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation)

Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight)

Sylvester Stallone (Creed)

Other Possibilities: Tom Hardy (The Revenant), Michael Keaton (Spotlight), Christian Bale (The Big Short), Jacob Tremblay (Room), Benicio Del Toro (Sicario)

Thoughts: This category is going to cause immense annoyances within me for a while, mostly because it seems Sylvester Stallone will secure not only a nomination–but also a possible win–for his return to the role of Rocky Balboa for Ryan Coogler’s enjoyable Creed. And even if his performance was rather good (especially for Stallone), and Coogler was able to deepen the character after 40 years of borderline stagnation, it’s just unjustifiable that he should receive a nomination spot over a great deal of better actors and performances of original material this year. His nomination means nothing for Tom Hardy, an actor who has proven himself four times over this year with Mad Max: Fury RoadThe Revenant, and a believable duel performance in Legend to warrant some sort of recognition. Stallone’s nomination also means nothing for the best child acting performance in almost ever for Jacob Tremblay in Room, or even the straight and narrow subtle performance of Michael Keaton in Spotlight. This all could very well be a rant for nothing, but the above five seem as though they’re going to be the favorites, minus a possible nomination for Christian Bale in The Big Short over either Michael Shannon or Mark Ruffalo. We’ll see what happens, but be sure that if Stallone carries this nostalgia to a nomination he’ll be an emotional favorite to win.


Best Supporting Actress

Rooney Mara (Carol)

Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl)

Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight)

Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs)

Rachel McAdams (Spotlight)

Other Possibilities: Jane Fonda (Youth), Helen Mirren (Trumbo), Joan Allen (Room), Kristen Stewart (Clouds of Sils Maria), Helena Bonham Carter (Suffragette), Julie Walters (Brooklyn), Cynthia Nixon (James White)

Thoughts: It’s possible that both Rooney Mara and Alicia Vikander will be considered actually as Best Actress contenders, which would just further complicate the field above and definitely toss out Jennifer Lawrence and maybe even Charlotte Rampling. But it seems as though the campaigns for both films have set their sights on Supporting Actress nominations and they seem like the two definite favorites to act as the top contenders. To fill out the category the likely candidate are Kate Winslet for her fictitious but remarkable performance in Steve Jobs and Jennifer Jason Leigh as the bloody and thrilling criminal mystery in Quentin Tarantino’s western The Hateful EightThat last spot should be tricky, and if it isn’t Rachel McAdams then it will be a fight between the divas Jane Fonda and Helen Mirren for the spot (though personally neither of them deserve it for two very different reasons). It’s a shame that true independent film gets shadowed by big money campaigns, because if the Academy Awards were about inclusion of genuine talent then Cynthia Nixon would be an easy nomination for her exquisite work in James White.


Best Adapted Screenplay

Steve Jobs (Aaron Sorkin)

Carol (Phyllis Nagy)

Anomalisa (Charlie Kaufman)

The Big Short (Adam McKay & Charles Randolph)

The Martian (Drew Goddard)

Other Possibilities: Room (Emma Donoghue), Brooklyn (Nick Hornby), Trumbo (John McNamara), Creed (Ryan Coogler & Aaron Covington), 45 Years (Andrew Haigh), Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, Branden McCarthy, & Nico Lathouris), The Revenant (Mark L. Smith & Alejandro G. Iñárritu)

Thoughts: Another competitive year for the adaptation and it’s still quite uncertain where the current is flowing. However, the safe bets are Aaron Sorkin’s brilliant, practically self-analyzing therapeutic script for the now officially under-appreciated Steve Jobs and the Wall Street comedic indictment The Big Short from Adam McKay & Charles Randolph. The rest tend to get a little murkier, but there’s plenty of positive response to The Martian to get Drew Goddard to secure a position and as more and more people see Todd Haynes’ current masterpiece Carol they’ll be sure to give it the credit it deserves. However, my fifth choice to fill out the category is probably one of my biggest long shots with Charlie Kaufman’s Anomalisa. It’s a pivotal favorite of mine this year and it would be personally devastating to see it not recognized for its immensely creative script based on a radio play he himself wrote. Still, they might see that as not necessarily an adaptation leaving space for Emma Donoghue’s script for Room (which she adapted from her own book) or the always great Nick Hornby’s perceptive Brooklyn. We’ll have to wait till this Thursday to find out.


Best Original Screenplay

Spotlight (Tom McCarthy & Josh Singer)

Inside Out (Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, & Josh Cooley)

Bridge of Spies (Joel & Ethan Coen, Matt Charman)

Ex Machina (Alex Garland)

The Hateful Eight (Quentin Tarantino)

Other Possibilities: Trainwreck (Amy Schumer), Sicario (Taylor Sheridan), Straight Outta Compton (Jonathan Herman & Andrea Berloff), Joy (David O. Russell), Son of Saul (László Nemes)

Thoughts: Another difficult to pinpoint category, mostly because the WGA, Golden Globes, and BAFTAs have been all over the place with this. However, I’m thinking that the BAFTAs have a good sense of how things will turn out so the above five are the exact five that they have picked for their own established contenders. The only possible upsets could be an unprecedented love for a comedy with Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck or even a lingering dark horse with Taylor Sheridan’s Sicario, which earned itself a WGA nomination (watch out for Sicario all around). Other than that this should be a good general idea of how this category will be presented this coming Thursday.


Best Foreign Language Film

Son of Saul (Hungary)

Mustang (France)

Embrace of the Serpent (Colombia)

Viva (Ireland)

A War (Denmark)

Other Possibilities: The Brand New Testament (Belgium), The Fencer (Finland), Labyrinth of Lies (Germany), Theeb (Jordan)

Thoughts: I have yet to see every Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Film, which will change in the next coming weeks. However, the above five seem to be getting great awards traction with many of the branches, with Son of Saul and Mustang being the official favorites. Two possible dark horses cold be the little engine that could Jordanian film Theeb, which received multiple BAFTA nominations, or even Germany’s populist thriller Labyrinth of Lies. It’s always a bit unexpected in this category when access to all the films seems to be in the hands of the few, and even the few don’t take full advantage of their opportunities to actually see every film.


Best Animated Feature


Inside Out

The Peanuts Movie

Shaun the Sheep

The Prophet

 Other Possibilities: The Good Dinosaur, When Marnie Was There, Boy and the World, Minions

Thoughts: Most of the films for this category have established themselves all as front runners, with Pixar’s Inside Out leading the pack with Charlie Kaufman & Duke Johnson’s Anamolisa close behind. But it seems safe to say that the above list will definitely be the top five, even though Pixar’s other release this year The Good Dinosaur (one of their truly weakest narratives accompanied by some of their most remarkable of animation) could replace The Prophet. Sometimes the Academy goes in some surprising directions with this category so we’ll brace ourselves to see if even our suspected favorites can even nab a nomination (for those who were fans of The Lego Movie last year know that even nominations don’t go in your favor sometimes).

 the look of silence01

Best Documentary Feature

The Look of Silence (Joshua Oppenheimer)

Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief (Alex Gibney)

Amy (Asif Kapadia)

Cartel Land (Matthew Heineman)

Winter on Fire (Evgeny Afineevsky

Other Possibilities: What Happened Ms. Simone? (Liz Garbus), Best of Enemies (Morgan Neville & Robert Gordon), Listen to Me Marlon (Stevan Riley)

Thoughts: Another category I have yet to see all the possible contenders, but have seen a vast majority of them. It seems the top three are looking like Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Look of Silence, Asif Kapadia’s character study of a musical idol Amy, and Matthew Heineman’s Cartel Land. The other two filling out this category could very well be replaced by either What Happened Ms. Simone? or Listen to Me Marlon. It’s hard to get on the pulse with a category that doesn’t offer all of its potential contenders for most public viewing, but these are generally safe bets judging from their subject matter and watch ability.


Best Cinematography

Mad Max: Fury Road (John Seale)

The Revenant (Emmanuel “El Chivo” Lubezki)

Sicario (Roger Deakins)

Carol (Ed Lachman)

The Hateful Eight (Robert Richardson)

Other Possibilities: Bridge of Spies (Janusz Kaminski), Son of Saul (Mátyás Erdély), The Martian (Dariusz Wolski), Spectre (Hoyte Van Hoytema), The Danish Girl (Danny Cohen)

Thoughts: Could this be another year where Emmanuel Lubezki wins for the third year in a row against thirteen time nominee Roger Deakins who has still never won the coveted prize? That would be truly sad, though not entirely unjustified, but it’s safe to say that both of these majestic, immaculate cinematographers will be competing again for the Best Cinematography Academy Award. Keeping them company in the extremely competitive category will be John Seale for Mad Max: Fury Road and Ed Lachman for Carol. The fifth spot is up for grabs, but it seems multiple nominee Robert Richardson’s inventive use of 70mm Panavision could nab the spot for a voting block that seems impressed by those type of things. However, another Academy favorite Janusz Kaminski could very replace him, as he did in the cinematographers guild nominations.


Best Film Editing

The Revenant (Stephen Mirrione)

Mad Max: Fury Road (Margaret Sixel)

The Martian (Pietro Scalia)

The Big Short (Hank Corwin)

Sicario (Joe Walker)

Other Possibilities: Spotlight (Tom McArdle), Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (Maryann Brandon & Mary Jo Markey), Creed (Maryse Alberti), Beasts of No Nation (Pete Beaudreau & Mikkel E.G. Nielsen), Carol (Affonso Gonçalves)

Thoughts: One of the leading indicators for a Best Picture win has been said to be the Film Editing category (only a nomination suffices), which has led some people to say that potential front runner winner Spotlight won’t win because of its absence in the film editing guild nominations. It’s an intriguing analysis, though I’m not quite sure how accurate it could be when approaching each year’s potential contenders. I do, however, don’t see Spotlight garnering that coveted nomination, simply because there are other films edited with such high caliber artistry that it’s difficult to see it making it through. The above five seem like the strongest competitors this year with potential upsets lingering on the sidelines, such as Steve Jobs or even Creed.


Best Costume Design

Crimson Peak (Kate Hawley)

Mad Max: Fury Road (Jenny Beavan)

The Danish Girl (Paco Delgado)

Carol (Sandy Powell)

Cinderella (Sandy Powell)

Other Possibilities: Bridge of Spies (Kasia Walicka-Maimone), Brooklyn (Odile Dicks-Mireaux)

Thoughts: If it’s old, elegant, or regal, the Academy Costume Designers love themselves period piece attire. It’s safe to say that if your film deals with a different time or has elements of fantasy than it should be up for this illustrious glamour category. The only questionable choice I’ve put into the top five is Crimson Peak, which honestly should be the front runner for a win based solely on its exquisite designs and exceptional costuming. But, unfortunately, the film didn’t gain as much traction as it should have and is leaving it in a faulty position to receive a nomination. It could very well be replaced by two equally designed period piece dramas Bridge of Spies and Brooklyn.


Best Makeup & Hairstyling

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Revenant

Black Mass

Other Possibilities: The 1,000-Year-Old Man, Mr. Holmes, Legend, Concussion

Thoughts: Makeup & Hairstyling is always a strange category since it only allows for three contenders. The above three seem like the only potential front runners for the extremely thin category, with Mr. Holmes acting as the unsuspecting dark horse to leap in the race at any second.

Mad Max Fury Road Car Accident Fire Stills Wallpaper

Best Production Design

Mad Max: Fury Road


Bridge of Spies

The Danish Girl

The Martian

Other Possibilities: Crimson Peak, Cinderella, Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, Brooklyn, The Hateful Eight

Thoughts: There have been some remarkable production designs this year, and it’s quite the unassuming category that we tend to overlook. Most of the designs that generate the all encompassing worlds we then visually experience are usually done through the production designers interpretation of the writer and director’s input. Without these artists visions we wouldn’t experience the film we end up having without their remarkable details. The above five seem like perfect fits for the category (period pieces, sci-fi, fantasy films), though mysteriously absent is a front runner contender for Crimson Peak. It could very well slip into the category, though it seems unlikely at this point since it isn’t garnering any other sort of awards consideration.


Best Original Score

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (John Williams)

Carol (Carter Burwell)

Inside Out (Michael Giacchino)

The Hateful Eight (Ennio Morricone)

The Danish Girl (Alexandre Desplat)

Other Possibilities: Mad Max: Fury Road (Junkie XL), Spotlight (Howard Shore), Steve Jobs (Daniel Pemberton)

Thoughts: This has been a year of some truly beautiful scores, and it appears that Alexandre Desplat might receive another win for his beautiful, complimentary score for Tom Hooper’s The Danish Girl. Still, there are equal front runners in near competition, especially Carter Burwell’s magnificent score for Carol and the playful yet emotional score from Michael Giacchino for Inside Out. My only contention is the assumed nomination for John Williams, who did a great job in resurrecting many already established score pieces for Star Wars while blending them with his new additions. However, it’s simply a recreation, a use of similar style to invoke a familiarity in the franchise that doesn’t necessarily warrant the definition of Original. If Birdman‘s phenomenal drum score was eliminated from consideration based on its selective use of prerecorded tracks then I think using some already written material should disqualify you from the category. That won’t stop it, but it’s worth noting the inconsistency.


Best Sound Editing

The Revenant

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian


Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

Other Possibilities: Jurassic WorldCreedSpectre, Jurassic World, Everest, The Avengers: Age of Ultron

Thoughts: Another difficult category to guess, especially when the Sound Editors haven’t even announced their own nominations. You can’t really guess where it’s heading, though there are always good clues to go on when assessing the category. This category is dominated by action films, or films that have inventive uses of sound for the post-production editing process. It’s safe to say the above five are very strong contenders in their use of sound editing, though they very easily could be upended by Jurassic World and Spectre, two franchises that have dominated in this field many times before. I’ve got a strange feeling, however, that neither of them will sneak through based on the immense presence of the above five over the minds of many voting members.


Best Sound Mixing

Inside Out

Mad Max: Fury Road

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

The Hateful Eight

The Revenant

Other Possibilities: The Martian,  Jurassic WorldCreed, Everest, The Avengers: Age of Ultron

Thoughts: Fortunately the Sound Mixers guild did announce their own nominations earlier today, leaving us with a good indication of where the voters are leaning in this category. Sound mixing is of course the actual live capturing of sounds for the use of post-production and sound editing, and each of the above contenders seemed to do that with phenomenal grace and precise planning.

the walk 2

Best Visual Effects

The Revenant

Mad Max: Fury Road

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

The Walk

Jurassic World

Other Possibilities: The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ex Machina, Ant-Man, Tomorrowland

Thoughts: Another category dominated by blockbusters and high-budget films that basically force visual effects houses to underbid for the chance at a project and potentially put them in danger of going out of business. It’s an intriguing category that has had winners obtain the award when they no longer exist, which seems like an odd way of obtaining an award. However, this year boasted some incredible uses of special effects in the service of telling a compelling story, most notably The Revenant, The Walk, and Mad Max: Fury Road. The other two potential nominees will be between blockbusters who were solely dependent on their use of special effects, which I have chosen Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens and Jurassic World to fill out the category. Personally I think Ex Machina deserves equal recognition as a story that used special effects to drive forward its narrative instead of as a use of spectacle. It probably won’t make it, but that would be one I’d love to be wrong on this Thursday.

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