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Danny Baldwin’s 2016 Oscar Picks and Predictions

Danny Baldwin's 2016 Oscar Picks and PredictionsContrary to what some websites have decided in recent years, Oscar predicting should not be a year-round game. The winners are not to be obsessed over, as they fade from memory quicker than most things. But on the day of the ceremony, it makes for a fun game. This year, I managed to see every film nominated (yes, even the shorts and the films to which the Best Original Song nominees belong). My “Personal Pick” is what I want to win, my “Prediction” is what I think will win. If I were putting money down, I might change a few of my predictions from what’s listed below, and I have noted that where it is the case.

 

BEST PICTURE

NOMINEES: “The Big Short,” “Bridge of Spies,” “Brooklyn,” “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “The Martian,” “The Revenant,” “Room,” “Spotlight.”

PERSONAL PICK: This year represents the great rarity that my two favorite movies of the year—“Mad Max: Fury Road” and “Brooklyn”—are both nominated. In fact, I like all eight nominees, for once. But, despite the selection, there’s no question of where my heart’s at: “Mad Max: Fury Road.”

PREDICTION: The smart money says it’s a three-way race between “The Revenant,” “Spotlight,” and “The Big Short.” But if I’ve got no better than a 33% chance of nailing it, I’d rather send Max and Furiosa some good vibes and suicidally predict “Mad Max: Fury Road.”

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DIRECTOR

NOMINEES: Adam McKay, “The Big Short;” George Miller, “Mad Max: Fury Road;” Alejandro González Iñárritu, “The Revenant;” Lenny Abrahamson, “Room;” Tom McCarthy, “Spotlight.”

PERSONAL PICK: George Miller, “Mad Max: Fury Road.” No contest.

PREDICTION: George Miller, “Mad Max: Fury Road.” Good vibes again.

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ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

NOMINEES: Bryan Cranston, “Trumbo;” Matt Damon, “The Martian;” Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Revenant;” Michael Fassbender, “Steve Jobs;” Eddie Redmayne, “The Danish Girl.”

PERSONAL PICK: Michael Fassbender, “Steve Jobs.” Leo’s proved his chops over the years, but this is nowhere near his best work. Sorry.

PREDICTION: Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Revenant.” A gimme.

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ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

NOMINEES: Cate Blanchett, “Carol;” Brie Larson, “Room;” Jennifer Lawrence, “Joy;” Charlotte Rampling, “45 Years;” Saoirse Ronan, “Brooklyn.”

PERSONAL PICK: Brie Larson, “Room.” I’m very tempted to pick Ronan, but Larson’s just too good, and after this and “Short Term 12,” she really earned it.

PREDICTION: Brie Larson, “Room.” Kind of amazing it’s as sewn-up as it is when this may be the strongest category in the whole show.

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ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

NOMINEES: Christian Bale, “The Big Short;” Tom Hardy, “The Revenant;” Mark Ruffalo, “Spotlight;” Mark Rylance, “Bridge of Spies;” Sylvester Stallone, “Creed.”

PERSONAL PICK: Mark Rylance, “Bridge of Spies.” Technically unrivaled.

PREDICTION: Sylvester Stallone, “Creed.” The sentimental favorite.

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ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

NOMINEES: Jennifer Jason Leigh, “The Hateful Eight;” Rooney Mara, “Carol;” Rachel McAdams, “Spotlight;” Alicia Vikander, “The Danish Girl;” Kate Winslet, “Steve Jobs.”

PERSONAL PICK: Rooney Mara, “Carol.” She’s really a lead, so I suppose Winslet is my real pick for Best Supporting Actress, but who am I to enforce category fraud in my picks?

PREDICTION: Alicia Vikander, “The Danish Girl.” This is one of those long-accepted victories that I’m just going to continue to scratch my head at. She’s the best part of the movie, but that isn’t saying much.

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WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)

NOMINEES: Matt Charman, Joel Coen, and Ethan Coen, “Bridge of Spies;” Alex Garland, “Ex Machina;” Pete Docter, “Inside Out;” Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer, “Spotlight;” Andrea Berloff and Jonathan Herman, “Straight Outta Compton.”

PERSONAL PICK: Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer, “Spotlight.”

PREDICTION: Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer, “Spotlight.”

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WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)

NOMINEES: Adam McKay and Charles Randolph, “The Big Short;” Nick Hornby, “Brooklyn;” Phyllis Nagy, “Carol;” Drew Goddard, “The Martian;” Emma Donaghue, “Room.”

PERSONAL PICK: Nick Hornby, “Brooklyn.”

PREDICTION: Adam McKay and Charles Randolph, “The Big Short.”

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CINEMATOGRAPHY

NOMINEES: Ed Lachmann, “Carol;” Robert Richardson, “The Hateful Eight;” John Seale, “Mad Max: Fury Road;” Emmanuel Lubeszki, “The Revenant;” Roger Deakins, “Sicario.”

PERSONAL PICK: Robert Richardson, “The Hateful Eight.” This is, along with Best Actress, the strongest category of the show. I would be ecstatic with wins from any one of the five. But to me, it’s Richardson and Tarantino’s UltraPanavision experimentation that made the year, cinematographically speaking.

PREDICTION: Three in a row for Emmanuel Lubeszki, “The Revenant.” Well deserved.

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FILM EDITING

NOMINEES: “The Big Short,” “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “The Revenant,” “Spotlight,” “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

PERSONAL PICK: “Mad Max: Fury Road.”

PREDICTION: “Mad Max: Fury Road,” but don’t be surprised if “The Big Short” upsets.

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COSTUME DESIGN

NOMINEES: Sandy Powell, “Carol;” Sandy Powell, “Cinderella;” Paco Delgado, “The Danish Girl;” Jenny Beavan, “Mad Max: Fury Road;” Jacqueline West, “The Revenant.”

PERSONAL PICK: Sandy Powell, “Cinderella.” Sorry, I know nothing about costuming, so I’ve got a penchant for the most lavish and colorful costumes.

PREDICTION: Sandy Powell, “Cinderella.” … And the Academy has historically proven themselves to be a lot like me, although Powell could always split her own vote.

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PRODUCTION DESIGN

NOMINEES: “Bridge of Spies,” “The Danish Girl,” “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “The Martian,” “The Revenant.”

PERSONAL PICK: “Bridge of Spies.”

PREDICTION: “Mad Max: Fury Road.”

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VISUAL EFFECTS

NOMINEES: “Ex Machina,” “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “The Martian,” “The Revenant,” “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

PERSONAL PICK: “Mad Max: Fury Road.” With a slight pang for “Ex Machina.”

PREDICTION: “Mad Max: Fury Road.”

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SOUND EDITING

NOMINEES: “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “The Martian,” “The Revenant,” “Sicario,” “Star Wars: The Force Awawkens.”

PERSONAL PICK: “Mad Max: Fury Road.”

PREDICTION: “Mad Max: Fury Road.”

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SOUND MIXING

NOMINEES: “Bridge of Spies,” “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “The Martian,” “The Revenant,” “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

PERSONAL PICK: “Mad Max: Fury Road.”

PREDICTION: “Mad Max: Fury Road.” Let’s hope the voters got a chance to see it in Dolby Atmos.

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MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

NOMINEES: “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared,” “The Revenant.”

PERSONAL PICK: “The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared.” A criminally underseen movie, might I add!

PREDICTION: “Mad Max: Fury Road.”

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MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)

NOMINEES: Thomas Newman, “Bridge of Spies;” Carter Burwell, “Carol;” Ennio Morricone, “The Hateful Eight;” Jóhan Jóhansson, “Sicario;” John Williams, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

PERSONAL PICK: Ennio Morricone, “The Hateful Eight,” but I’d be thrilled with Burwell or Jóhansson too, however unlikely.

PREDICTION: Ennio Morricone, “The Hateful Eight.”

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MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG)

NOMINEES: “Earned It” performed by The Weekend for “Fifty Shades of Grey;” “Manta Ray” performed by J. Ralph for “Racing Extinction;” “Simple Song #3” performed by Sumi Jo for “Youth;” “Til It Happens to You,” performed by Lady Gaga for “The Hunting Ground;” “Writing’s on the Wall” performed by Sam Smith for “Spectre.”

PERSONAL PICK: Literally the only nominee my ears could stand to listen to another time is Lady Gaga’s “Til it Happens to You.” But I have huge problems with “The Hunting Ground” as a documentary and the song is not well integrated. So I’m going to go with the song that actually plays a pivotal role in a film: “Simple Song #3” performed by Sumi Jo for “Youth.”

PREDICTION: “Til It Happens to You,” performed by Lady Gaga for “The Hunting Ground.” This category is an unabashed popularity contest.

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ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

NOMINEES: “Anomalisa,” “Boy and the World,” “Inside Out,” “Shaun the Sheep Movie,” “When Marnie Was There.”

PERSONAL PICK: “Shaun the Sheep Movie.” Frankly, if anything but “Inside Out” won, I’d be thrilled, because all four are better movies. But Pixar even won for “Cars,” so…

PREDICTION: “Inside Out.” It’s fine.

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DOCUMENTARY (FEATURE)

NOMINEES: “Amy,” “Cartel Land,” “The Look of Silence,” “What Happened, Miss Simone?,” “Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom.”

PERSONAL PICK: “The Look of Silence.” The best in a walk.

PREDICTION: “Amy.” I am OK with this.

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FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

NOMINEES: “Embrace of the Serpent,” “Mustang,” “Son of Saul,” “Theeb,” “A War.”

PERSONAL PICK: “Son of Saul.” I love “Embrace of the Serpent” and “A War,” too, but this one, to my eyes, stands the best chance of being remembered in fifty years from now.

PREDICTION: “Son of Saul,” with an outside shot of “Mustang” surprising.

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DOCUMENTARY (SHORT SUBJECT)

NOMINEES: “Body Team 12,” “Chau, Beyond the Lines,” “Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah,” “A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness,” “Last Day of Freedom.”

PERSONAL PICK: “Last Day of Freedom.” If I could wave my wand and choose one upset for the night, it would be this one.

PREDICTION: “Body Team 12.” Neck and neck with “A Girl in the River,” but with HBO marketing muscle.

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SHORT FILM (ANIMATED)

NOMINEES: “Bear Story,” “Prologue,” “Sanjay’s Super Team,” “We Can’t Live without Cosmos,” “World of Tomorrow.”

PERSONAL PICK: “Bear Story.” The political allegory in this movie broke my heart.

PREDICTION: “Sanjay’s Super Team.” Pixar is not invincible in this category (“Lava” wasn’t nominated, just in case you were looking for it), but they’ve got a natural advantage. I know the world of film critics would ignite with glee if “World of Tomorrow” won.

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SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION)

NOMINEES: “Ave Maria,” “Day One,” “Everything Will Be Okay (Alles Wird Gut),” “Shok,” “Stutterer.”

PERSONAL PICK: “Everything Will Be Okay (Alles Wird Gut).” Far and away the best of the nominees, in my opinion.

PREDICTION: “Everything Will Be Okay (Alles Wird Gut).” Here’s one where I cannot divorce my head and my heart, even though all the smart money’s on the pleasant “Ave Maria” or the terrible, exploitative “Shok.”

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Chris Rock hosts the 88th annual Academy Awards at 8:30 p.m. EST / 5:30 p.m. PST on ABC.

About Danny Baldwin

Danny Baldwin has been writing about film on the Internet for over a decade, initially for BucketReviews.com and now for Critic Speak. He holds a Master's degree in Critical Studies from the University of Southern California and in past years served as a member of both the Online Film Critics Society and the San Diego Film Critics Society. Danny's favorite films include “The 400 Blows,” “Imitation of Life" (1959), “My Neighbor Totoro” and “The Silence of the Lambs.” He lives in Los Angeles.