Generation Film’s Official 2016 Oscar Ballot for the 88th Academy Awards

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The Academy Awards are a week away and the anticipation isn’t necessarily high, mostly due to the #OscarsSoWhite controversy that may or may not be valid (let’s assume it is due to overall lack of diversity throughout Hollywood and move on). But let’s not let that diminish the fun of guessing, prophesizing, or routing for the winners based on cultural attitudes, award momentum, and personal biases. Let’s keep in mind that the Oscars don’t really determine the best quality of films, and realize that they are simply a self-congratulatory ceremony of egos, money campaigns, and populist favorites that vaguely summarize a particular year’s array of quality cinema (more or less).

The following are the 24 categories and my predicted winners for each. There will also be a potential dark horse pick for those who feel as though they’d like to drift away from the conventional wisdom and choose something less predictable. Let me know if you agree with any of them or are skeptical of the choices. As always I allow anyone and everyone to compete against me by posting their own list here (the winner gets a free movie ticket).

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Best Picture

The Big Short

Bridge of Spies

Brooklyn

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant

Room

Spotlight

Predicted WinnerThe Revenant ; Potential Dark HorseSpotlight or The Big Short

Thoughts: This was a category that was in chaotic upheaval for most of the awards season. First The Revenant won the Golden Globe; then The Big Short won the Producers Guild Award (PGA); then Spotlight won the Screen Actors Guild Ensemble (SAG). But it all came together when Alejandro G. Inarritu won the Directors Guild and The Revenant won the BAFTA Best Picture award. It just seems as though this year Picture and Director will be intimately connected and it’s probably for sure that Inarritu will win Best Director. It could very well go to Spotlight, but I made the mistake last year of splitting up these categories so I won’t fall for it again this year. If for some reason Director goes in a different direction, then perhaps a different film will win. But the odds are forever in The Revenant‘s favor.

alejandro

Best Director

Tom McCarthy (Spotlight)

George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road)

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (The Revenant)

Adam McKay (The Big Short)

Lenny Abrahamson (Room)

 Predicted Winner: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (The Revenant); Potential Dark Horse: George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road)

 Thoughts: Originally my pick was going to be George Miller, but it just doesn’t seem likely anymore. My reasoning was solely based on how difficult it is for the same director to win two years in a row (it’s been over 60 years since it happened last with Joseph Mankiewicz winning for both A Letter from Three Wives (1949) and All About Eve (1950)). But it’s looking like history will be made with Alejandro G. Inarritu set to win his second in a row, mostly because he’s picked up the Golden Globe, the DGA, and the BAFTA. It’s incredibly rare for this award to go to anyone else who hasn’t at least picked up one of the other awards. I’m putting all my eggs into The Revenant basket this year and hopefully I end up being right.

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Best Actor

Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)

Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs)

Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl)

Matt Damon (The Martian)

Bryan Cranston (Trumbo)

 Predicted Winner: Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant); Potential Dark Horse: None

Thoughts: It’s finally going to happen. Leonardo DiCaprio will finally win the Oscar he has deserved at least two-fold before (most notably The Aviator and the year he did both Blood Diamond and The Departed). Seeing as how he’s won the Golden Globe, the SAG, and the BAFTA, it seems quite unlikely that any of the other actors could sweep it from him (minus Michael Fassbender, though that’s still in the incredibly low threshold of possibility). Mark this one as a certainty.

room-movie-brie-larson

Best Actress

Brie Larson (Room)

Cate Blanchett (Carol)

Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn)

Charlotte Rampling (45 Years)

Jennifer Lawrence (Joy)

Predicted Winner: Brie Larson (Room); Potential Dark Horse: None

Thoughts: Another strong certainty in the categories is Best Actress with the talented and wonderful Brie Larson taking home most of the awards leading up to the Oscars. Having been looked over two years ago for the marvelous Short Term 12 it seems the timing is right to give this young talent the recognition she deserves. If there was one potential surprise here it would be Saoirse Ronan for Brooklyn considering how much the Academy fawned over that thoroughly charming immigration tale (attention that it didn’t necessarily deserve).

creed_2

Best Supporting Actor

Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies)

Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight)

Sylvester Stallone (Creed)

Tom Hardy (The Revenant)

Christian Bale (The Big Short)

 Predicted Winner: Sylvester Stallone (Creed); Potential Dark Horse: Tom Hardy (The Revenant)

Thoughts: This category has been giving me a headache for the longest time, mostly because the presumed frontrunner and winner Sylvester Stallone (who did give a credible and deepening performance in Creed) just simply shouldn’t be up for the award. Considering Idris Elba, Paul Dano, Michael Shannon, Jacob Tremblay, and numerous others got passed up for this nomination honor I can’t help but believe that Stallone will go down as one of the most undeserving winners of the category. He won the Golden Globe, yet wasn’t even nominated for the SAG or the BAFTA. How is this the frontrunner to win the most coveted film award in the industry? Arguably this should have been Mr. Elba’s towering year, but something got lost in translation with Cary Joji Fukunaga’s Beasts of No Nation and the Oscar voters. If you’re looking for any surprises to counteract the supposed safe choice Tom Hardy could be a good one (wasn’t up for the SAG or others, so wasn’t initially considered), and of course the subtle and terrific Mark Rylance won the BAFTA so he could sneak in the winner’s circle (though still very unlikely).

danish_girl-vikander

Best Supporting Actress

Rooney Mara (Carol)

Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl)

Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight)

Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs)

Rachel McAdams (Spotlight)

Predicted Winner: Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl); Potential Dark Horse: Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs)

Thoughts: Even though Kate Winslet has won both the Golden Globe AND the BAFTA, she didn’t secure the most important indicator of a Best Supporting Actress win: the SAG. My bet is the acting voting wing of the Academy will stay consistent and stick with Vikander. For those unsure and unwilling to put down the actress who gave solid performances in both The Danish Girl and Ex Machina this year alone then the only other choice would be Kate Winslet for her great performance in Danny Boyle and Aaron Sorkin’s greatly overlooked inventive biopic Steve Jobs.

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Best Adapted Screenplay

Carol (Phyllis Nagy)

The Big Short (Adam McKay & Charles Randolph)

The Martian (Drew Goddard)

Room (Emma Donoghue)

Brooklyn (Nick Hornby)

Predicted Winner: The Big Short (Adam McKay & Charles Randolph); Potential Dark Horse: Room (Emma Donoghue)

Thoughts: It’s quite astonishing that Aaron Sorkin’s unconventional and artistically altering adaptation for Steve Jobs was overlooked in this category, considering it was probably one of the finest scripts penned this year in any category consideration. But it seems the populist momentum has fallen behind The Big Short for this category so it almost wouldn’t have mattered if Sorkin’s was even nominated. Adam McKay and Charles Randolph’s wonky, critical, and humorous adaptation has garnered the attention of both the WGA and the BAFTA so it’s looking like a strong certainty to capture the Academy Award. If not, expect Emma Donoghue’s self-adapted screenplay from her own book Room to take the final prize home.

spotlight

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)

Straight Outta Compton (Jonathan Herman, Andrea Berloff)

Predicted Winner: Spotlight (Tom McCarthy, Josh Singer); Potential Dark Horse: Inside Out (Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, & Josh Cooley)

Thoughts: Another strong locked category seems to be the Best Original Screenplay for Thomas McCarthy and Josh Singer’s Spotlight. Personally I wouldn’t have voted for it if I was part of the Academy (with much of my love going towards Ex Machina and Inside Out). But seeing as how there’s much love for the film, awards momentum (WGA, BAFTA), and a potential for it to even take Best Picture, it just seems like the only choice.

Son-of-Saul-stalone

Best Foreign Language Film

Son of Saul (Hungary)

Mustang (France)

Embrace of the Serpent (Colombia)

Theeb (Jordan)

A War (Denmark)

Predicted Winner: Son of Saul (Hungary); Potential Dark Horse: Mustang (France)

Thoughts: Probably one of the most overlooked categories every year is the Best Foreign Language Film, and yet it’s usually one of the strongest every year in terms of quality cinema. This year is no different with five very strong films from various places in the world. The favorite to win is Hungary’s Son of Saul, which is an incredibly powerful piece for those willing to venture it. Close behind it in consideration is Mustang, a beautiful film about femininity, culture, and individuality. It’s most likely going to be one of these two films, though in all liklihood they could split the vote and allow a true dark horse to enter.

insideout

Best Animated Feature

Anamolisa

Inside Out

Shaun the Sheep

When Marnie Was Here

Boy and the World

Predicted Winner: Inside Out; Potential Dark Horse: Boy and the World

Thoughts: Pixar rules in this category, even when they don’t necessarily deserve it (Brave comes to mind). So with an incredibly strong and inventive contender like Inside Out it just seems incredibly unlikely that this critical/audience favorite won’t walk away with the win. Of course, if enough people saw the equally charming and beautiful Boy and the World it could very likely pull off a surprise win. But surprises are not necessarily part of the Best Animated Feature category.

Amy-Winehouse

Best Documentary Feature

The Look of Silence (Joshua Oppenheimer)

Amy (Asif Kapadia)

Cartel Land (Matthew Heineman)

Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom (Evgeny Afineevsky)

What Happened Ms. Simone? (Liz Garbus)

Predicted Winner: Amy (Asif Kapadia); Potential Dark Horse: The Look of Silence (Joshua Oppenheimer)

Thoughts: It’s incredibly frustrating that Joshua Oppenheimer, one of the finest, bravest, and most artistic documentarians to ever take up the medium, will lose again to a musical oriented documentary. In fact, Amy might be the least important of the documentaries up for this category and yet is the favorite to take home the prize. It’s the easiest to digest and it pulls on the heart strings at the same time, which makes it an ideal pick for the category filled with depressing (though challenging) material. The safe pick is Amy.

THE REVENANT

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)

Predicted Winner: The Revenant (Emmanuel “El Chivo” Lubezki); Potential Dark Horse: Sicario (Roger Deakins)

Thoughts: It’s looking like it will be three years in a row for “El Chivo” due to the stunning, practically immaculate cinematography of The Revenant captured in natural lighting and in frigid, terrible conditions. Sacrificing your body for art is a respectable, and it seems the Academy is tapped into the respectable, cinematic spectacle of The Revenant. Perhaps voters might have some Lubezki fatigue, after having voted for him for both Gravity and Birdman, or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance, but it’s undeniable that his talent behind the camera is unique. Perhaps the 13 time nominated Roger Deakins could pull off a surprise win, but it just doesn’t seem likely considering the award momentum going in The Revenant’s favor.

mad max 2

Best Film Editing

The Revenant (Stephen Mirrione)

Mad Max: Fury Road (Margaret Sixel)

The Big Short (Hank Corwin)

Spotlight (Tom McArdle)

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (Maryann Brandon & Mary Jo Markey)

Predicted Winner: Mad Max: Fury Road (Margaret Sixel); Potential Dark Horse: The Big Short (Hank Corwin)

Thoughts: It’s either going to be Mad Max or The Big Short, mostly because the former won the BAFTA and the latter won the Editors Guild award. Though Adam McKay’s financial crisis comedy has some minor support even up to the voting for Best Picture, it seems more likely that the technical monstrosity and glorious action spectacle that was George Miller’s post-apocalyptic drama deserves some technical recognition. The film has garnered numerous Top 10 considerations so it’s definitely a film on the voter’s minds, and it’s impeccably edited. I’m going with Mad Max on this one.

madmaxjoe

Best Costume Design

Mad Max: Fury Road (Jenny Beavan)

The Danish Girl (Paco Delgado)

Carol (Sandy Powell)

Cinderella (Sandy Powell)

The Revenant (Jacqueline West)

Predicted Winner: Mad Max: Fury Road (Jenny Beavan); Potential Dark Horse: Carol (Sandy Powell)

Thoughts: This is usually a category dominated by period pieces with sophisticated, gorgeous gowns and suits, but this seems like the year where a futuristic film with inventive costuming will pull out the win.

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Best Makeup & Hairstyling

Mad Max: Fury Road (Lesley Vanderwalt, Elka Wardega and Damian Martin)

The Revenant (Siân Grigg, Duncan Jarman and Robert Pandini)

The 1,000-Year-Old Man (Love Larson and Eva von Bahr)

Predicted Winner: Mad Max: Fury Road; Potential Dark Horse: The Revenant

Thoughts: Another pretty much guaranteed win for Mad Max in this rather light on competition category.

Mad Max Fury Road Car Accident Fire Stills Wallpaper

Best Production Design

Mad Max: Fury Road (Colin Gibson (Production Design); Lisa Thompson (Set Decoration))

The Revenant (Jack Fisk (Production Design); Hamish Purdy (Set Decoration))

Bridge of Spies (Adam Stockhausen (Production Design); Rena DeAngelo and Bernhard Henrich (Set Decoration))

The Danish Girl (Eve Stewart (Production Design); Michael Standish (Set Decoration))

The Martian (Arthur Max (Production Design); Celia Bobak (Set Decoration))

Predicted Winner: Mad Max: Fury Road; Potential Dark Horse: The Revenant

Thoughts: If it ends up being The Revenant it would sort of be a ridiculous win, considering it takes place in mostly unaltered nature with minor creative production elements. It seems the deserving contender is Mad Max with its inventive designs of locations, vehicles, and planned out elements. Expect it to be Mad Max unless the love affair for The Revenant leaks into all sorts of different categories.

quentin ennio

Best Original Score

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

Carol (Carter Burwell)

Bridge of Spies (Thomas Newman)

The Hateful Eight (Ennio Morricone)

Sicario (Jóhann Jóhannsson)

Predicted Winner: The Hateful Eight (Ennio Morricone); Potential Dark Horse: Carol (Carter Burwell)

Thoughts: Italian maestro Ennio Morricone might pick up another Oscar to add to his collection, which includes an honorary Oscar won in 2007. It’s his first western score in over forty years and his sixth nomination following Days of Heaven, Bugsy, The Mission, The Untouchables, and Malena. His main competition is Carter Burwell’s beautiful score for Todd Haynes’ way underappreciated Carol, which doesn’t look like it will take any award home. If it does end up pulling off a win it would be in this category. But if it’s between two likely contenders, as far as the Academy is concerned, go with the legend.

lady-gaga-till-it-happens-to-you

Best Original Song

“Earned It” from Fifty Shades of Grey

“Manta Ray” from Racing Extinction

“Simple Song #3” from Youth

“Til it Happens to You” from The Hunting Ground

“Writing’s on the Wall” from Spectre

 Predicted Winner: “Til it Happens to You” from The Hunting Ground; Potential Dark Horse: “Writing’s on the Wall” from Spectre

Thoughts: A song by 8-time Academy Award nominated song writer Diane Warren, performed by Lady Gaga during her resurgence, in a film about campus rape equals a definite win in this category. It might have been The Weekend’s Fifty Shades of Grey song if voters were willing to vote for anything for that god awful movie. It just doesn’t seem likely. Expect an upset by Spectre if the obscure The Hunting Ground doesn’t secure a win.

madmax2

Best Sound Editing

Mad Max: Fury Road (Mark Mangini and David White)

The Martian (Oliver Tarney)

Sicario (Alan Robert Murray)

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (Matthew Wood and David Acord)

The Revenant (Martin Hernandez and Lon Bender)

Predicted Winner: Mad Max: Fury Road; Potential Dark Horse: The Revenant

Thoughts: Even though The Revenant is an equally strong contender in both sound categories, it just seems like everything about the visceral experience of Mad Max was solely dependent on sound. Its inventive soundscapes make it such an engrossing experience and defines its spectacle. But whichever film wins Editing will win Mixing, and vice versa. I’m riskily sticking with Mad Max because it has to win something, and the technical categories are its best bet.

madmax3

Best Sound Mixing

Bridge of Spies (Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Drew Kunin)

Mad Max: Fury Road (Chris Jenkins, Gregg Rudloff and Ben Osmo)

The Martian (Paul Massey, Mark Taylor and Mac Ruth)

The Revenant (Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, Randy Thom and Chris Duesterdiek)

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (Andy Nelson, Christopher Scarabosio and Stuart Wilson)

Predicted Winner: Mad Max: Fury Road; Potential Dark Horse: The Revenant

Thoughts: Same as above. Could be The Revenant or Mad Max depending on how the wind is blowing. Whichever film wins will win both. So whichever film you pick, make sure they match up in these categories (or split them and get one right, one wrong).

madmax1

Best Visual Effects

The Revenant (Rich McBride, Matthew Shumway, Jason Smith and Cameron Waldbauer)

Mad Max: Fury Road (Andrew Jackson, Tom Wood, Dan Oliver and Andy Williams)

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Neal Scanlan and Chris Corbould)

Ex Machina (Andrew Whitehurst, Paul Norris, Mark Ardington and Sara Bennett)

The Martian (Richard Stammers, Anders Langlands, Chris Lawrence and Steven Warner)

Predicted Winner: Mad Max: Fury Road; Potential Dark Horse: Ex Machina

Thoughts: Perhaps it’s my bias against Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens that prevents me from putting it down as a for sure winner, but really it’s the intense competition that makes it an up in the air category. I’m hoping the Academy sees the value in physical stunt effects in Mad Max to take it to a definite win. But the artistic use of CGI in Ex Machina might also be a valid choice. Very strong and open category, so good luck.

world of tomorrow

Best Animated Short

Bear Story (Gabriel Osorio and Pato Escala)

Prologue (Richard Williams and Imogen Sutton)

Sanjay’s Super Team (Sanjay Patel and Nicole Grindle)

We Can’t Live Without Cosmos (Konstantin Bronzit)

World of Tomorrow (Don Hertzfeldt)

 Predicted Winner: World of Tomorrow; Potential Dark Horse: Bear Story

Thoughts: Your gut my say Pixar, but they haven’t won this category in 16 years. Could they pull off a win with Sanjay’s Super Team? I might be inclined to say yes, but World of Tomorrow was too brilliant. If it’s passed up for a colorful, aesthetically stunning, yet mediocre short from Pixar it would be a travesty. The whimsical tale of a girl meeting her future cloned self and getting a lesson in the future seems like the winner, though the allegorical Bear Story could pull off a surprise victory.

ave maria1

 Best Live-Action Short

Ave Maria (Basil Khalil and Eric Dupont)

Day One (Henry Hughes)

Everything Will Be Okay (Alles Wird Gut) (Patrick Vollrath)

Shok (Jamie Donoughue)

Stutterer (Benjamin Cleary and Serena Armitage)

 Predicted Winner: Ave Maria; Potential Dark Horse: Shok

Thoughts: Even after seeing all of these I’m still unsure about which one could possibly win. The stand-alone comedy Ave Maria looks to be the one that separates itself from the dismal crowd. However, the timely Kosovo ethnic drama Shok could capture the sympathetic hearts of most voters. I’m going to go with what the majority of experts say on this subject and pick Ave Maria with Shok in close second, which will most likely end up haunting me in the end on the official ballot.

girl in the river

Best Documentary Short

Body Team 12

Chau, Beyond the Lines

Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of Shoah

A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness

Last Day of Freedom

 Predicted Winner: A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness; Potential Dark Horse: Body Team 12

 Thoughts: Ebola in Body Team 12; the holocaust in Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of Shoah; or a Pakistani woman surviving being shot in the face and finding love in A Girl in the River. It’s most likely going to go to the most emotional piece to choose from and that’s the one.

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