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88th Annual Academy Awards Predictions: Who Will Be Nominated at the 2016 Oscars?

Tomorrow morning, the nominations are announced for the 88th Academy Awards. As Rickey.org’s resident Oscar obsessive, I make my predictions on the eve of nominations every year. And this year is no different.

Well, okay, it’s different in some ways. For one, there’s no real clear frontrunner in any category. Sure, Leonardo DiCaprio is likely to win Best Actor, but it’s hard to ever really know for certain with the Academy. And even if I’m somehow 5/5 on the other acting categories, I have absolutely no idea who’s going to win any of them. Meanwhile, Spotlight has dropped off somewhat as The Revenant has, coincidentally, risen to where it feels like a real threat to take the Best Picture Oscar from the movie which, up to this point, had seemed like a sure-thing. It makes for an exciting awards season, even though it’ll end up doing a number on my overall prediction average. Still, I’d rather have a lousy percentage than a boring Oscar season. Hell, any year where Mad Max: Fury Road is in serious contention is a year worth savoring.

So who will be nominated at the 2016 Oscars? Check out my predictions below:

88th Annual Academy Awards Predictions Who Will Be Nominated at the 2016 Oscars

Credit: AMPAS

Best Picture

Spotlight
The Revenant
The Martian
The Big Short
Mad Max: Fury Road
Bridge of Spies
Carol
Brooklyn
Room

I think these are the nominees in order from most likely to least. I could see this being another year of just eight nominees, but I really think it’ll be nine, with Room just barely sneaking in. That said, I find myself wondering if Straight Outta Compton has more internal support than some might give it credit for, what with its PGA nomination. Also, I wouldn’t completely count out Star Wars: The Force Awakens, if only because Oscar has a hard time ignoring a box office juggernaut at the peak of awards season. In addition, there’s a lot of late buzz for Son of Saul, the Holocaust epic from Hungary. Sure, it’s a foreign-language film, but it’s arguably one of the year’s strongest. All of these are big what ifs, however, so I’m really not sure how daring the Academy will be with its choices. With that in mind, I’m sticking with the safe bets that have popped up the most in awards season this year.

Best Director

Alejandro G. Innaritu, The Revenant
Ridley Scott, The Martian
Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road
Todd Haynes, Carol

Directors Guild nominations don’t usually match 5/5 with Oscar, so it was a matter of figuring out which DGA nominee would miss out on an Oscar nod. For me, I think Adam McKay was the weak link of the five. The Big Short is a great movie, but I don’t know that its direction is more notable than the vivid world Todd Haynes created with Carol.

Best Actor

Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Matt Damon, The Martian
Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl
Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
Geza Rohrig, Son of Saul

Michael Fassbender has basically been a lock all awards season for his performance in Steve Jobs, but I don’t know…I’m just not feeling it, for some reason. I think there will be a late groundswell of support for Geza Rohrig, who turns in one of the most intimate, deeply-felt performances of the year with Son of Saul. He’s an underdog for a nomination, but you can never discount a Holocaust movie at the Oscars.

Best Actress

Brie Larson, Room
Saiorse Ronan, Brooklyn
Cate Blanchett, Carol
Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years
Jennifer Lawrence, Joy

I feel like a moron for not predicting Alicia Vikander for The Danish Girl, but I feel like the Academy is still tethered to Jennifer Lawrence’s star power, which should carry her to a nomination on a film that, really, hasn’t been that buzzworthy this season. I also feel somewhat silly for not predicting Rooney Mara for Carol, but double nominations for one film in a lead acting category are exceedingly rare. Plus, I feel like they might try for category fraud there and place Mara in the supporting actress category. That’d be a mistake, of course, but I could easily see the Academy trying for it.

Of course, with John Krasinski being announced as a presenter for the nominations announcement tomorrow, I find myself wondering if this means the Academy got a tip-off from PricewaterhouseCoopers that his wife, Emily Blunt, is going to be nominated, and want him there to create an “Oscar nomination morning” moment. After all, while Blunt’s buzz has dropped off a bit for Sicario, she’s still very much in the hunt. I guess we’ll find out tomorrow.

Best Supporting Actor

Sylvester Stallone, Creed
Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight
Tom Hardy, The Revenant
Christian Bale, The Big Short

Idris Elba, in theory, should be a nominee here for Beasts of No Nation, as should Michael Keaton for Spotlight. But with only five spots, I feel like they’re both going to miss out. With The Revenant picking up steam, I think Hardy is in, especially since he’s had such a stellar year, between The Revenant and Mad Max: Fury Road (and, to a much lesser extent, Legend). That said, I really, really want Jacob Tremblay to score a nomination for Room, as he was one of the biggest revelations of this awards season. Of course, the Academy has never really been that big on male child actors, so I feel like a nomination would be a long shot. Plus, I feel like The Big Short needs to score an acting nomination somewhere, if it’s going to be any kind of contender. And while Steve Carrell was a nominee last year for Foxcatcher, Bale is probably the safer pick from The Big Short cast, since they’ve already awarded him in this category before. I’m not as confident about this five as I thought I’d be when I started compiling the list, but I’m sticking to my guns on this one.

Best Supporting Actress

Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs
Alicia Vikander, Ex Machina
Rachel McAdams, Spotlight
Helen Mirren, Trumbo
Rooney Mara, Carol

Earlier in the awards season, Kristen Stewart was looking good for a nod for Clouds of Sils Maria, but she’s basically fallen off the map since then. Ditto Jennifer Jason Leigh, who seemed poised to actually win this category when The Hateful Eight was first picking up steam. But the movie didn’t deliver the way critics and pundits expected it would, so the drop-off has been steep. Then again, the Academy loves Tarantino, particularly what he does with his actors, so it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that the dream isn’t over yet for Leigh.

Meanwhile, putting Rooney Mara here is first-rank category fraud, but I wouldn’t put it past the Academy to do this, particularly since The Weinstein Company is campaigning her here rather than as a lead. As for the rest of the category, I’m torn on whether Alicia Vikander will be nominated for Ex Machina or The Danish Girl. Maybe she’ll get a nomination in supporting for Ex Machina, and in lead actress for The Danish Girl. Lord knows, this sort of thing has happened before. However, since I feel her role in The Danish Girl was more co-lead than supporting, I’m thinking she’ll get the nod for Ex Machina. Crazy how being a lead-campaigned-as-supporting likely helps Mara but hurts Vikander, since this could create category confusion. I really do think she’ll be nominated, but the question is which category, and for which movie?

Best Original Screenplay

Bridge of Spies
Spotlight
Sicario
The Hateful Eight
Trainwreck

Business as usual for this awards season, although I think Inside Out could sneak in there somewhere. I just don’t know who I’d boot from the category. I don’t think Trainwreck is a lock by any means, but it has been doing pretty well, between the Globes and WGA nominations. And Bridesmaids managed to score a nod in this category, so they aren’t exactly averse to broad, female-driven summer comedies here. I’m probably going to regret not predicting Inside Out, but I’m sticking with these five.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Carol
Room
Steve Jobs
The Big Short
Brooklyn

If there are any surprises here, it’s that Carol and Room somehow miss out in favor of something more visceral like Beasts of No Nation or Anomalisa. But those three feel like long shots, to me.

Best Animated Feature

Inside Out
Anomalisa
The Good Dinosaur
Shaun the Sheep
The Prophet

The Peanuts Movie has a shot at making its way into the category, since it’s a way to honor Charles Schulz, but I’m just not feeling it here. Same to how Minions seemed like a sure-thing over the summer, but less so now. Of course, with The LEGO Movie missing out on a nomination last year, I’m not entirely sure anything is a sure-thing in this category anymore.

Best Documentary Feature

Amy
The Look of Silence
The Hunting Ground
Going Clear
Cartel Land

I’m mostly going by subject matter. These are the films that just scream “Oscar,” to me.

Best Foreign-Language Film

Son of Saul
Mustang
Labyrinth of Lies
A War
Embrace of the Serpent

This has the likelihood to be one of the more stacked Foreign-language categories in recent memory.

Best Film Editing

The Revenant
Spotlight
The Big Short
Bridge of Spies
Mad Max: Fury Road

Since this is arguably the most important category when it comes to winning the Best Picture Oscar, I’m crowding my predix with the films I believe would be the Best Picture nominees if the Academy were still only choosing five films each year. Of course, I say the Film Editing Oscar is crucial to a Best Picture win, but Birdman did it last year, becoming only the tenth film in the history of the Academy Awards to do so. I feel like statistics matter less now than they have at any time in history.

Best Cinematography

The Revenant
Sicario
Mad Max: Fury Road
Carol
Bridge of Spies

Brooklyn had very underrated cinematography, but I feel it was almost too subtle for the Academy. Then again, you could say the same about Carol. I suppose we’ll see. I’m resisting the urge to place The Martian, just on gut instinct. I don’t really know why.

Best Costume Design

The Danish Girl
Brooklyn
Carol
Cinderella
Crimson Peak

No contemporary flicks this year, although I could see Trumbo maybe landing the nod, if only for variety, and because it’s a movie about old Hollywood. And the Academy loves movies about the movie industry. But I’m not sure who I’d kick to make room for it, so I’m sticking with this five.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

The Revenant
Black Mass
Mad Max: Fury Road

Amazing job by all three films, in my opinion, and easily the three best among the finalists, even though “best” is largely subjective (and doesn’t always matter in the voting process anyway).

Best Production Design

The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
Crimson Peak

Just picked five super-pretty films to look at, even though they’re all pretty in vastly different ways. Hell, Crimson Peak and The Revenant are haunting and beautiful, but in no way are they anything like Star Wars and The Martian. And not a single one of those matches the post-apocalyptic chaos of Mad Max. Should be an interesting category, no matter who is nominated, since this was a great year for production design.

Best Original Score

The Danish Girl
Inside Out
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The Hateful Eight
Bridge of Spies

This was also a great year for film scores. I’m DESPERATE for Room to get nominated here, but I don’t think it’ll happen, since it would have to crowd out some big names like Thomas Newman, John Williams, and Alexandre Desplat.

Best Original Song

“Simple Song #3” from Youth
“See You Again” from Furious 7
“Writing’s On the Wall” from Spectre
“Til It Happens to You” from The Hunting Ground
“Love Me Like You Do” from Fifty Shades of Grey

The Academy is slowly moving back towards nominating chart-toppers, so I’m expecting we’ll be calling Wiz Khalifa, Charlie Puth, Ellie Goulding and Sam Smith Oscar nominees tomorrow morning.

Best Sound Mixing

The Revenant
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Straight Outta Compton

The louder, the better.

Best Sound Editing

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

Action, action, action!

Best Visual Effects

Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Jurassic World
The Martian
The Walk
Mad Max: Fury Road

While Mad Max‘s visual effects were subtle, I think their judicious application, along with the inability to tell when they’re actually being used, is part of what made those visuals so compelling. The best visual effects are the ones that blend so seamlessly into a film that they’re hardly noticeable. Of course, the Academy often equates “Best” with “Most”, so be on the lookout for some explosive and over-the-top CGI spectacle like Avengers: Age of Ultron or Ant-Man.

Best Documentary Short

Body Team 12
Minerita
A Girl in the River – The Price of Forgiveness
Chau – Beyond the Lines
The Testimony

Once again, going by subject matter. These just seem right up Oscar’s alley, to me.

Best Live-Action Short

Ave Maria
Shok
Everything Will Be Okay (Alles Wird Gut)
Day One
Stutterer

See above.

Best Animated Short

Sanjay’s Super Team
World of Tomorrow
If I Was God
Carface (Autos Portraits)
Bear Story

Aaaaand see above, one last time.

So those are my predictions! Should be an interesting morning tomorrow! What do you think will be nominated for the 2016 Oscars? Sound off in the comments!

And for more on awards season, check out the nominees for the 2016 Razzie Awards — the anti-Oscars of the film industry!

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