My prediction on the 88th Annual Academy Awards

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Again, we are near the end of the latest Oscar season. I and many others initially thought that “Spotlight” (2015) was the definite front runner, but then things became more uncertain and interesting than last year. Although Alejandro González Iñárritu previously won three awards including Best Picture Oscar for “Birdman” (2014) in last year, it is quite possible now that he may get two more Oscars for his another ambitious film “The Revenant” (2015), and there is also the growing possibility of upset by “The Big Short” (2015). While one of these three movies will probably be the eventual winner during the evening of February 28th, we may get a real big surprise from any of other notable Best Picture Oscar nominees including “Mad Max: Fury Road” (2015), “The Martian” (2015), and “Room” (2015).

In the meantime, most of the other categories have been pretty clear in comparison, but you can never be wholly sure about that. I have never been entirely correct in my prediction, and I will be wrong in some of several categories which have been still remained with uncertainty, but, what the heck, I am going to give you my annual Oscar prediction as usual for my last fun before the ceremony.

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Best Motion Picture of the Year
The Big Short (2015)
Brooklyn (2015)
Bridge of Spies (2015)
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
The Martian (2015)
The Revenant (2015)
Room (2015)
Spotlight (2015)

While it has been several months since I watched “Mad Max: Fury Road”, the movie was on the very top of my annual movie list of 2015, and it is also my No. 1 choice for Best Picture Oscar. The director George Miller not only tops himself but also makes a great SF action film to be admired and cherished for a long time, and I am glad that it garnered no less than 10 Oscar nominations.

However, I think the award will go to “The Revenant”, a dark, epic survival drama fueled by the sheer technical mastery of its director Alejandro González Iñárritu and his first-rated crew. With its 12 Oscar nominations, it has been the front runner during last several weeks, but watch out for “The Big Short” or “Spotlight”, which may surprise us during the last minutes of the ceremony if either of them wins more than one award in advance.

Prediction: The Revenant
Preference: Mad Max: Fury Road

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Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Bryan Cranston for Trumbo (2015)
Matt Damon for The Martian (2015)
Leonardo DiCaprio for The Revenant (2015)
Michael Fassbender for Steve Jobs (2015)
Eddie Redmayne for The Danish Girl (2015)

Bryan Cranston, Matt Damon, Michael Fassbender, and Eddie Redmayne all take a backseat to Leonardo DiCaprio, who will finally win an Oscar for his enormous efforts in “The Revenant”. While I am willing to defend DiCaprio’s win against those unkind comments on his gritty, visceral performance which is my No. 2 choice, my vote goes to Fassbender, who was electrifying during every second of his scenes in “Steve Jobs”.

Prediction: Leonardo DiCaprio
Preference: Michael Fassbender

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Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Cate Blanchett for Carol (2015)
Brie Larson for Room (2015)
Jennifer Lawrence for Joy (2015)
Charlotte Rampling for 45 Years (2015)
Saoirse Ronan for Brooklyn (2015)

All five nominees are at each own carrier peak. Jennifer Lawrence delightfully radiated her charming star presence in “Joy”, Cate Blanchett was luminously mesmerizing in “Carol”, Brie Larson struck me hard in many heart-wrenching moments in “Room”, Saoirse Ronan enthralled me with her graceful acting in “Brooklyn”, and Charlotte Rampling was simply sublime in her nuanced performance in “45 years”. I will pick Rampling if I have to choose only one of them, but I am also fine with Larson, who is now the definite front runner like DiCaprio because of her continuing wins at the Golden Globe, SAG, Broadcast Film Critics Association, and BAFTA.

Prediction: Brie Larson
Preference: Charlotte Rampling – with my salute to all other terrific nominees

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Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Christian Bale for The Big Short (2015)
Tom Hardy for The Revenant (2015)
Mark Ruffalo for Spotlight (2015)
Mark Rylance for Bridge of Spies (2015)
Sylvester Stallone for Creed (2015)

While Christian Bale, Mark Ruffalo, and Tom Hardy will have to be content with their nomination, the race in this category has been so far revolving around the competition between two other nominees. In “Creed”, Sylvester Stallone did a lot more than reprising his most famous role, and it will be quite a dramatic moment when he walks up to the stage for receiving his well-deserved award. My vote goes to Mark Rylance’s scene-stealing performance in “Bridge of Spies”, but I will certainly applaud along with others when Stallone wins as the unexpected underdog of this Oscar season. He may not be a great actor, but he still can act as shown from his touching performance in “Creed”.

Prediction: Sylvester Stallone
Preference: Mark Rylance

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Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Jennifer Jason Leigh for The Hateful Eight (2015)
Rooney Mara for Carol (2015)
Rachel McAdams for Spotlight (2015)
Alicia Vikander for The Danish Girl (2015)
Kate Winslet for Steve Jobs (2015)

While the nomination itself is a reward for Jennifer Jason Leigh, Rachel McAdams, and Kate Winslet, Alicia Vikander will win the award as the supporting actress of 2015. She was impressive in several films including “Ex Machina” (2015) during last year, and her good performance in “The Danish Girl” was one of a few reasons to watch that mildly passable film which could be bolder and better. I think Rooney Mara is the best of the bunch considering her masterful work in “Carol”, and she may win the award instead, but the chance has been low since she was beaten by Vikander at SAG and BFCA.

Prediction: Alicia Vikander
Preference: Rooney Mara

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Best Achievement in Directing
Adam McKay for The Big Short (2015)
George Miller for Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Alejandro González Iñárritu for The Revenant (2015)
Lenny Abrahamson for Room (2015)
Tom McCarthy for Spotlight (2015)

With his wins at the Golden Globe, DGA, and BAFTA, Alejandro González Iñárritu has been leading the race, and there has been no doubt on his eventual win, which will make him one of a very few directors who won Best Director Oscar in two consecutive years. Nobody has done that since John Ford (“The Grapes of Wrath” (1940) and “How Green Was My Valley” (1941)) and Joseph L. Mankiewicz (“A Letter to Three Wives” (1949) and “All About Eve” (1950)), by the way.

Prediction: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Preference: George Miller

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Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen
Bridge of Spies (2015) Matt Charman, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Ex Machina (2015) Alex Garland
Inside Out (2015) Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley, Ronnie Del Carmen
Spotlight (2015) Josh Singer, Tom McCarthy
Straight Outta Compton (2015) Andrea Berloff, Jonathan Herman, S. Leigh Savidge, Alan Wenkus

This is where “Spotlight” can depend on; there has been no potential dark horse in this category except, perhaps, “Inside Out”.

Prediction: Spotlight
Preference: Spotlight

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Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published
The Big Short (2015) Charles Randolph, Adam McKay
Brooklyn (2015) Nick Hornby
Carol (2015) Phyllis Nagy
The Martian (2015) Drew Goddard
Room (2015) Emma Donoghue

The same thing can be said about “The Big Short” here.

Prediction: The Big Short
Preference: Carol

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Best Animated Feature Film of the Year

Anomalisa (2015) Charlie Kaufman, Duke Johnson, Rosa Tran
Boy & the World (2013), Alê Abreu
Inside Out (2015) Pete Docter, Jonas Rivera
Shaun the Sheep Movie (2015) Mark Burton, Richard Starzak
When Marnie Was There (2014) Hiromasa Yonebayashi, Yoshiaki Nishimura

“Inside Out” is the best one among the bunch while also being the most popular one. It will be a huge upset if any other nominee manages to win.

Prediction: Inside Out
Preference: Inside Out

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Best Foreign Language Film of the Year
Embrace of the Serpent (2015)
A War (2015)
Mustang (2015)
Son of Saul (2015)
Theeb (2014)

I watched all of them except “Embrace of the Serpent”, and “Son of Saul” will win. I have just watched it, and I am still shaking as its devastating moments are lingering on my overwhelmed mind.

Prediction: Son of Saul
Preference: Son of Saul

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Best Achievement in Cinematography
Carol (2015) Edward Lachman
The Hateful Eight (2015) Robert Richardson
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) John Seale
The Revenant (2015) Emmanuel Lubezki
Sicario (2015) Roger Deakins

Sorry, Roger Deakins, John Seale, Edward Lachman, and Robert Richardson, this is another year when Emmanuel Lubezki will win for his astounding technical achievement.

Prediction: The Revenant
Preference: The Revenant

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Best Achievement in Editing
The Big Short (2015) Hank Corwin
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) Margaret Sixel
The Revenant (2015) Stephen Mirrione
Spotlight (2015) Tom McArdle
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015) Maryann Brandon, Mary Jo Markey

“Mad Max: Fury Road” is the most gripping one while also the busiest one among the bunch.

Prediction: Mad Max: Fury Road
Preference: Mad Max: Fury Road

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Best Achievement in Production Design
Bridge of Spies (2015) Adam Stockhausen, Rena DeAngelo, Bernhard Henrich
The Danish Girl (2015) Eve Stewart, Michael Standish
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) Colin Gibson, Lisa Thompson
The Martian (2015) Arthur Max, Celia Bobak
The Revenant (2015) Jack Fisk, Hamish Purdy

“Mad Max: Fury Road” has been the front runner here, but who knows?

Prediction: Mad Max: Fury Road
Preference: Mad Max: Fury Road

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Best Achievement in Costume Design
Carol (2015) Sandy Powell
Cinderella (2015) Sandy Powell
The Danish Girl (2015) Paco Delgado
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) Jenny Beavan
The Revenant (2015) Jacqueline West

Guess which one has many pretty colorful dresses.

Prediction: Cinderella
Preference: Carol

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Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared (2013) Love Larson, Eva Von Bahr
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) Lesley Vanderwalt, Elka Wardega, Damian Martin
The Revenant (2015) Sian Grigg, Duncan Jarman, Robert A. Pandini

This is another category where “Max Max: Fury Road” will win

Prediction: Mad Max: Fury Road
Preference: Mad Max: Fury Road

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Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score

Bridge of Spies (2015) Thomas Newman
Carol (2015) Carter Burwell
The Hateful Eight (2015) Ennio Morricone
Sicario (2015) Jóhann Jóhannsson
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015) John Williams

Ennio Morricone, who has never won a competitive Oscar while receiving the Honorary Oscar in 2007, has a very good chance of winning in this time, but another maestro may win the award instead. After all, this is John Williams’s 50th nomination, and he has not won an Oscar for 22 years since “Schindler’s List” (1993).

Prediction: The Hateful Eight
Preference: Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens

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Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song
Fifty Shades of Grey (2015) The Weeknd, Belly, Jason ‘DaHeala’ Quenneville, Stephan Moccio (“Earned It”)
The Hunting Ground (2015) Diane Warren, Lady Gaga (“Til It Happens to You”)
Racing Extinction (2015) J. Ralph, Antony Hegarty (“Manta Ray”)
Spectre (2015) Sam Smith, James Napier (“Writing’s On The Wall”)
Youth (2015) David Lang (“Simple Song #3”)

“Til It Happens to You” will win, but I choose “Simple Song #3”

Prediction: The Hunting Ground
Preference: Youth

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing
Bridge of Spies (2015) Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom, Drew Kunin
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) Chris Jenkins, Gregg Rudloff, Ben Osmo
The Martian (2015) Paul Massey, Mark Taylor, Mac Ruth
The Revenant (2015) Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, Randy Thom, Chris Duesterdiek
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015) Andy Nelson, Christopher Scarabosio, Stuart Wilson

“Mad Max: Fury Road” will win, but watch out for “The Revenant”.

Prediction: Mad Max: Fury Road
Preference: Mad Max: Fury Road

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Best Achievement in Sound Editing
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) Mark A. Mangini, David White
The Martian (2015) Oliver Tarney
The Revenant (2015) Martín Hernández, Lon Bender
Sicario (2015) Alan Robert Murray
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015) Matthew Wood, David Acord

The same thing can be said here.

Prediction: Mad Max: Fury Road
Preference: Mad Max: Fury Road

 

Best Achievement in Visual Effects
Ex Machina (2015) Andrew Whitehurst, Paul Norris, Mark Williams Ardington, Sara Bennett
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) Andrew Jackson, Tom Wood, Dan Oliver, Andy Williams
The Martian (2015) Richard Stammers, Anders Langlands, Chris Lawrence, Steven Warner
The Revenant (2015) Richard McBride, Matt Shumway, Jason Smith, Cameron Waldbauer
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015) Roger Guyett, Pat Tubach, Neal Scanlan, Chris Corbould

“Mad Max: Fury Road” will also win here in my opinion, but watch out for “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens”.

Prediction: Mad Max: Fury Road
Preference: Mad Max: Fury Road

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Best Documentary, Feature
Amy (2015) Asif Kapadia, James Gay-Rees
Cartel Land (2015) Matthew Heineman, Tom Yellin
The Look of Silence (2015) Joshua Oppenheimer, Signe Byrge Sørensen
What Happened, Miss Simone? (2015) Liz Garbus, Amy Hobby, Justin Wilkes
Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom (2015) Evgeny Afineevsky, Den Tolmor

While “Amy” surely deserves the award as one of the best documentary films of 2015, I put it on the second place after “The Look of Silence”.

Prediction: Amy
Preference: The Look of Silence

 

Best Documentary, Short Subject
Body Team 12 (2015) David Darg, Bryn Mooser
War Within the Walls (2015) Courtney Marsh, Jerry Franck
Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah (2015) Adam Benzine
A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015) Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
Last Day of Freedom (2015) Dee Hibbert-Jones, Nomi Talisman

Prediction: Body Team 12

 

Best Short Film, Animated
Bear Story (2014) Gabriel Osorio Vargas, Pato Escala Pierart
We Can’t Live Without Cosmos (2014) Konstantin Bronzit
Prologue (2015) Richard Williams, Imogen Sutton
Sanjay’s Super Team (2015) Sanjay Patel, Nicole Paradis Grindle
World of Tomorrow (2015) Don Hertzfeldt

Prediction: Sanjay’s Super Team

 

Best Short Film, Live Action
Ave Maria (2015) Basil Khalil, Eric Dupont
Day One (2015) Henry Hughes
Everything Will Be Okay (2015) Patrick Vollrath
Shok (2015) Jamie Donoughue
Stutterer (2015) Benjamin Cleary, Serena Armitage

Prediction: Ave Maria

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