Nominations for the 88th annual Academy Awards were announced in a ceremony early this morning. Following it's Golden Globe win and early box office success, The Revenant leads the pack with 12 nominations. As the ceremony, hosted by Chris Rock on February 28, approaches many movie lovers out there will participate in Oscar pools. Campaigns and buzz could change over the next month, but to help with your voting here is who we currently see taking home Oscars. The complete list of nominations is available online.
When it comes to the short films and documentary categories, I haven't seen enough of the films to offer any insight (just take a guess). However, for foreign language film a smart bet would be on Son of Saul. Coming from Hungary, the film tells a unique story set during the Holocaust. It has already won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival and Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film. Hopefully that will give you a leg up on friends when picking the difficult categories.
Moving onto the major categories we have best supporting actor and actress. Best actress in a supporting role is a strange category this year, with both Rooney Mara (Carol) and Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl) getting nominations despite being lead roles. This has to do with a studio's campaign strategy, they may believe the supporting category easier to win or want to have their actors in separate categories (e.g. Mara and Cate Blanchett for Carol). The main contenders for this award are Vikander and Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs). I would like to see Vikander win, she has had a stellar year and could have also been nominated for Ex-Machina in a supporting role. However, Winslet is loved by the Academy, previously winning best actress for The Reader. The nominees for best actor are Christian Bale (The Big Short), Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies), Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight), Tom Hardy (The Revenant), and Sylvester Stallone (Creed). While these are all amazing performance, Sylvester Stallone is taking this Oscar home. Having already won several critics' awards and a Golden Globe for his role in Creed, this is the best Stallone has ever been and could be his first Academy Award.
For best actress in a leading role, there are many great performances including Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn and Cate Blanchett in Carol. I have no doubts though that Brie Larson will win for her role in Room. Her performance was very powerful and she took you on an emotional roller coaster. She carried the majority of the film with only the young Jacob Tremblay, who also gave an excellent performance.
When it comes to best actor in a leading role, everyone is saying it and I believe it is true. It is "Leo's year"! Leonardo DiCaprio is facing up against last year's winner Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl) and there has been some buzz around Michael Fassbender's portrayal of Steve Jobs. I personally would like to see Matt Damon win for The Martian. Damon's role of Mark Watney really demonstrated his range as an actor. Watney is funny, but he also breaks down in isolation and Damon performance feels so authentic to the frustration of feeling trapped and hopeless. Even still, the smart bet is with Leo for The Revenant. This was an extremely emotional performance and his character is desperate and hanging onto life. The acting challenge of performing in such harsh conditions alone is impressive. Plus he fought a bear and ate raw meats! The question isn't whether Leo will win or not. It is, will he cry when he accepts his first Academy Award?
In the writing categories, Ex-Machina should take best original screenplay. It is one of the best original films in the past several years and hinges entirely on the ideas written by Alex Garland in the screenplay. It was a little indie film that made a big impression. Although it shares the category with Inside Out, which has received wide praise from critics and audiences as well. Spotlight, which has potential to win best picture is also nominated in this category and it is worth noting that neither Ex-Machina or Inside Out were nominated by the Writers Guild of America. For adapted screenplay, writer Drew Goddard will win for The Martian. The National Board of Review has already named The Martian as best adapted screenplay and in my opinion, the front runners of the category are The Martian and Room. However, Room was not nominated by the WGA which has a large membership (many of whom are also Academy members).
The best director category was the biggest surprise to me this year. I was completely astonished that Sir Ridley Scott was not nominated for The Martian. I was betting on him to win before the nominations were even announced. This opens the category up to be won by either George Miller or Alejandro Iñárritu. I would love to see Miller win for Mad Max: Fury Road, but it doesn't feel like the move the Academy would make. I expect that Alejandro Iñárritu will have a back-to-back win in this category for The Revenant, previously awarded for Birdman in 2015. The Directors Guild of America Awards on February 6 will be a good indication of who the Academy will be voting for.
For best animated picture, Inside Out is almost a guarantee. There was lots of talk that it could also receive a nomination for overall best picture. Had there been 10 nominations, it likely would have made the list. The eight nominees for best picture are Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn, Mad Max: Fury Road, Room, Spotlight, The Big Short, The Martian, and The Revenant. There has been much debate in this category, prior to the release of The Revenant, Room and Spotlight were the most likely candidates. Many critics have named Mad Max best picture of 2015, but blockbusters don't tend to win with the Academy. Being nominated is an honor in itself. The Martian is my favorite film from the past year, it simply was the most entertaining and excelled in all the categories from acting and directing to production design and the other technical awards. However, particularly with the lack of a directing nomination for Ridley Scott, it appears the Academy does not share in my love of The Martian. The Revenant has opened to much success and with 12 nominations it is clearly grabbing the Academy's attention. Alejandro Iñárritu could have another amazing year at the Academy Awards winning Best Picture and Best Director for another year in a row. Winners of the Producers Guild of America Awards are announced on January 23 and since the first awards in 1989, 19 PGA winners went on to also win the best picture Oscar.
To summarize, my votes for all categories are listed below. Share your votes with us in the comments!
BEST PICTURE - The Revenant
ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE - Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE - Sylvester Stallone, Creed
ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE - Brie Larson, Room
ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE - Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs
ANIMATED FEATURE FILM - Inside Out
CINEMATOGRAPHY - The Revenant
COSTUME DESIGN - The Revenant
DIRECTING - Alejandro Iñárritu, The Revenant
DOCUMENTARY FEATURE - Amy
DOCUMENTARY SHORT - Chau, Beyond the Lines
FILM EDITING - Star Wars: The Force Awakens
FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM - Son of Saul
MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING - Mad Max: Fury Road
MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG) - "Writing's On The Wall", Spectre
MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE) - John Williams, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
PRODUCTION DESIGN - The Martian
SHORT FILM (ANIMATED) - Sanjay's Super Team
SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION) - Shok
SOUND EDITING - Star Wars: The Force Awakens
SOUND MIXING - Star Wars: The Force Awakens
VISUAL EFFECTS - The Revenant
WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY) - The Martian
WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY) - Ex-Machina
Who do you see taking home one of the Academy Awards? Let us know below!