Maverick Film’s Oscar Predictions

Maverick Film’s Oscars Predictions

The big day’s just around the corner so we’re putting our heads on the chopping block and above the parapet as our writers predict the results of the 88th Academy Awards.

 

Jeremie Sabourin on Directing

The nominations for the directing category are Adam McKay’s The Big Short, George Millers’ Mad Max: Fury Road, Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s The Revenant, Lenny Abrahamson’s Room and Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight.

The Revenant

Who Should Win:

Personally, I’m really torn between three nominees in this category. I absolutely loved Room and, for a film that takes place in one confined space for about half of its runtime, the scope of the film feels much larger. Lenny Abrahamson crafted a sombre yet breath-taking story through great camerawork and fantastic acting from Brie Larson and nine year old Jacob Tremblay.

Alejandro G. Inarritu is a director who I will go out of my way to see every time he releases a film. His directing and storytelling is very different from most filmmakers out there. In saying that, The Revenant is one of the prettiest films I’ve seen in a long time. Sometimes it feels a tad long but the pacing is deliberate and it builds to a satisfying climax.

On an emotional level, I’d like to see George Miller win the Academy Award for Mad Max: Fury Road. This is one of those instances in which it’s hard to believe that a currently 70 year old Miller will be back as an Oscar nominee in the future. Fury Road relied on mostly practical special effects (a rarity in stylized action films these days) and it just feels big and technically impressive. The director of the original Mad Max films returning to the franchise 30 years later and receiving a nomination only needs to nab an Oscar win to result in the ultimate Cinderella story.

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Who Will Win:

I think that Inarritu becomes the first director since Joseph L. Mankiewicz (1950 and 1951) to win the Oscar for Directing in back to back years. Inarritu has been pumping out quality films for over a decade now and people are starting to pick up on it. Inarritu marches to the beat of his own drum and is what filmmaking should be all about. To follow up a fun romp of a film in Birdman with something as stark, yet beautiful, as The Revenant proves his ability and range as a director. To do so within the span of one year is even more impressive. Simply put, Hollywood needs more filmmakers like Inarritu and his hard work and talent will be rewarded with a second consecutive Academy Award win on Oscar Sunday.

 

Gareth Wood on Best Picture:

The nominations for Best Picture are The Big Short, The Revenant, Brooklyn, Mad Max: Fury Road, Bridge of Spies, Room, The Martian and Spotlight.

Who Will Win:

Hollywood’s pickings this year for best picture are a mixed bunch. Some deserve to be there. Some don’t. The Big Short is too poor a film to have made the final pick on its own merit, and only the moral outrage associated with the picture seems to merit its selection. Spotlight is perhaps more worthy but the real surprise this year is that Mad Max: Fury Road is in there. It’s not that it’s a bad film, far from it, just that this kind of film doesn’t often attract the attention of the ‘sophisticated’ Oscar crowd.

All that said, this year’s best picture category is The Revenant’s for the taking, even with Tom Hanks spy thriller Bridge of Spies in the mix. Not only has the film given Leonardo DiCaprio a way to exceed the Wolf of Wall Street, but crucially, this film has been building up an unstoppable momentum, helped along by the air of truth it has (unlike Mad Max) that should carry it to first place in this race. If it doesn’t get top spot on the pantheon, and Bridge of Spies or Spotlight takes the prize, expect talk of this as the upset of the Oscars.

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Who Should Win:

On a personal note, The Martian would have been my pick were it not for the way the second half lets down the outstanding science lesson come Robinson Crusoe in space story that we get in the first half. That and Matt Damon’s gung ho antics at the end mean it’s lucky even to be in the running. Mad Max therefore is my dark horse pick. Partially because it’s unexpectedly made it this far, and arguably deserves to make it along the home straight to the finish line. But also because this is a film, which proves that you don’t need the most complicated of plots to build great drama and an Oscar worthy film. The fact that you can create a classic film on the back of a simplistic storyline, (rather than one that needs to continuously press home its subject matter,) is an important note for filmmakers and makes for an intriguing addition to the Oscars line up. Its inclusion is a sign that even the Academy, which has long had a certain condescending attitude towards simplistic action-driven films, is starting to recognise that quality is more important than subject matter in terms of how the Academy should assemble their shortlist.

 

Phil Gorski on Actor in a Leading Role

The nominations for Actor in a Leading Role are Matt Damon in The Martian, Bryan Cranston in Trumbo, Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant, Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl and Michael Fassbender in Steve Jobs.

Who Should Win:

Bryan Cranston will likely be robbed of a much-deserved Oscar win for his performance in Trumbo. Yes, this is a biopic, which means it falls into the same category, in some senses, as front-runner, The Revenant. However, there’s something more to Cranston’s portrayal of Dalton Trumbo than there was to DiCaprio’s Hugh Glass. He speaks with purpose, delivering each line with a subtle gravitas. Cranston’s acting doesn’t lend itself to the overall tone of Trumbo so much as help craft it into one of the best movies that didn’t get nearly enough attention. Bryan Cranston’s Dalton Trumbo was believable, easy to sympathize with and relate to, and should be enough of a performance to earn him his first Academy Award, so it’ll be quite disappointing if (or, likely, when) he doesn’t win. To those who have missed out on this movie: this is one of the gems of the 2016 Oscars season that didn’t get nearly enough love, and it’s well worth a watch for Cranston’s performance alone.

Trumbo.jpg

(A special mention also goes to Michael Fassbender and all of the talent and time he wasted in creating the most unnecessary additional portrayal of Steve Jobs’ life ever to play on any surface larger than a pop-up ad.)

Who Will Win:

Leonardo DiCaprio will probably win the Oscar for Actor in a Leading Role for The Revenant, and this should be means for celebration. Leo has been denied glory at the Academy Awards for every single one of his nominations. The Revenant has all the trimmings of Oscar-sweeping cinema, from intense action to anxiety-inducing drama. There are even reports of DiCaprio sleeping in animal carcasses to remain authentic to his role in the movie. His performance, as is often the case, was spectacular. DiCaprio’s portrayal of Hugh Glass is organic, and plays out less like acting than it does watching the events this film was based off of play out.

There’s just something about The Revenant and its blatant award-baiting nature—the use of something inspired by true events, insane method acting to really capture a character, and so on—that makes this look like it will be a guaranteed, albeit hollow, victory for Leo. Was Leonardo DiCaprio most certainly Hugh Glass, in all of his sorrow and anger and hardship, for the duration of that movie—both during production and his downtime? Clearly. However a win for DiCaprio here almost feels forced.

 

Laurie Presswood on Actress in a Leading Role

The nominations for Actress in a Leading Role are Cate Blanchet, Brie Larsson, Jennifer Lawrence, Charlotte Rampling and Saoirse Ronan.

Who Will Win:

Larson has been widely acclaimed for her portrayal of Joy ‘Ma’ Newsome in 2015’s ‘Room’, sweeping up Actress in a Leading Role at the Golden Globes, Critics Choice and Screen Actors Guild Awards ceremonies. This cannot come as a surprise to anyone who has witnessed her performance in the film: the young actress portrays the warmth of motherhood and the emotional toll taken on her personally by her entrapment with the depth and maturity of a much older woman.

Larson’s on-screen connection with Jacob Tremblay, who plays her son Jack, is heart-wrenchingly real, and could bring a tear to the eye of even the least maternal. What makes Larson’s performance truly great is the balance she strikes between her love for her son and her own emotional turmoil. This is powerfully demonstrated in the scene in which Joy attempts to explain to Jack that she once lived in a world outside of ‘Room,’ (the shed in which Jack has lived his entire life), using an Alice in Wonderland analogy, and becomes frustrated when he does not seem to listen to her or take her seriously. This inner turmoil is allowed to grow further on-screen upon the characters’ return to the outside world, when Larson’s full capabilities are truly put on display as her character struggles to cope with the realities of the world around her.

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Who Should Win:

Ronan’s portrayal of Eilis, a young Irish emigrant to America, gets its power from her gentle and natural style. She delivers homesickness, pain and young love. Three emotions easily (and frequently,) overdone on screen with a truly believable softness that warms the heart. Around the time of filming the movie Ronan had just moved away from her own home in Ireland and so the events of the movie closely map those occurring in her own life at the time, which undoubtedly adds to the personal feel of her performance.

Important to note is how beautifully the two story’s two central relationships are portrayed. In particular Ronan’s scenes with Emory Cohen, who plays Tony, are a pleasure to watch – Ronan’s coy depiction of first love is true to life and is likely to generate real emotion for the viewer.

Ronan’s depiction of the journey from naïve youth into adulthood, characterised by the decisions we make and the understanding that choosing one route means blocking off many others, is fantastic. She transforms from a scared girl into a woman before our eyes and retains her innate gentleness throughout.

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Delilah Niel on Best Supporting Actress

The nominations for best supporting actress are Rooney Mara in Carol, Rachel McAdams in Spotlight, Alicia Vikander in The Danish Girl, Kate Winslet in Steve Jobs and Jennifer Jason Leigh in The Hateful Eight

Who Should Win:

Kate Winslet feels too obvious, technically Mara and Vikander are lead actresses (both sharing as much screen time as their lead counterparts) and Mcadams delivers a brilliant, but unsurprising performance.  Within this category Jennifer Jason-Leigh is the only true supporting actress and the only woman in Tarantino’s Western epic.  Her performance as a female rebel, rallying against toxic masculinity is visceral and clever.  Ultimately this Oscar has been nabbed from her by the category bias the academy has accidentally created.

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Who Will Win:

Vikander’s endlessly charming performance in The Danish Girl is more than enough justification for her nomination if not her possible win.  Vikander has had a good year starring in The Danish Girl, the light hearted Man from U.N.C.L.E and the exciting Ex-Machina.  The context of her performance in The Danish Girl also make it highly likely she is a shoe-in to win.  However, was Vikander  really a supporting actress?  Anyone who has seen The Danish Girl will agree that she and Eddie Redmayne (her co-star) ultimately share the film. Arguably she steals it completely.

 

George Storr on Actor in a Supporting Role

The nominations for Actor in a Supporting Role are Christian Bale in The Big Short, Tom Hardy in The Revenant, Mark Rylance in Bridge of Spies, Mark Ruffalo in Spotlight and Sylvester Stallone in Creed.

Who Will Win:

The idea that Tom Hardy could win here, DiCaprio claim the Oscar for Actor in a Leading Role and The Revenant triumph in Best Picture is a very real possibility. That said- the 88th Academy Awards have thrown some surprises our way, Mad Max: Fury Road’s nomination and that of Sylvester Stallone in this category being the main ones, so who’s to say that the victors won’t surprise us too?

Hardy’s role in The Revenant sees him playing a new kind of villain; incomparable to his titular role in 2008’s Bronson, or his roles as the Kray twins in 2015’s Legend and Bane in 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises. He plays the part exceedingly well though, manufacturing a brutal and deeply sinister character. By merit of The Revenant’s stature within this years’ awards he will likely take the prize but faces stiff opposition from Mark Ruffalo, Mark Rylance and Christian Bale who all performed well and whose films are all nominated for Best Picture.

Hardy.jpg

Who Should Win:

Neither Bale nor Ruffalo can be discounted in this run in, but in terms of personal preference, it would be nice if The Revenant didn’t take every category. Mark Rylance’s performance in Bridge of Spies and in his previous work definitely merits serious consideration. Retrospectively his role as Oliver Cromwell in the BBC series Wolf Hall was outstanding and his position as a prominent actor who has devoted much of his career to the theatre rather than the silver screen makes his breakthrough into big-budget cinema a noteworthy one. Seeing an actor with such a Shakespeare heavy, theatre-centric career win an Oscar would be a welcome change and his position as an underdog in the running for this award make it hard not to will him on.

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While we’re thinking with our hearts instead of our heads for a moment though- who wouldn’t crack a smile if Sylvester Stallone somehow took home the Oscar?

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