Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Oscar Predictions: Best Picture

This year, Oscar nominations will be announced on Thursday, January 14th. I’ll be offering detailed predictions in most of the major categories, saving this category for last.

Last year’s nominees: American Sniper, Birdman, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Selma, The Theory of Everything, Whiplash

This year’s locks: Spotlight, The Revenant, The Martian, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Big Short

Very likely: Room, Brooklyn, Carol

Possible: Bridge of Spies, The Hateful Eight, Ex Machina, Sicario, Straight Outta Compton, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Unlikely: Many others

The rundown: I wasn’t happy with the Academy’s decision to expand this field to ten nominees, but I’m much more upset about the inconsistency of getting somewhere between five and ten nominees each year. It’s hard to know whether we’ll have eight nominees like last year, or nine like the year before that, or ten like the first year it changed. I’m confident in calling five films locks: Spotlight, The Revenant, The Martian, Mad Max: Fury Road, and The Big Short. That’s not to suggest that they won’t be left off in other races, but I think they’re safe here. PGA nominee Brooklyn is a good bet, though, unlike the five above, it hasn’t reliably appeared in five-wide fields from other guilds and groups. Room was omitted from the PGA list but I think it will be strong enough, and may even end up being nominated for its director. Carol was also snubbed by PGA and is looking less and less likely by the day, but I think with this many nominees, it will do fine getting in. I actually think that’s where the list will end, stopped at eight again this year. If there were two more, I’d bet on Bridge of Spies and The Hateful Eight. PGA nominees Ex Machina, Sicario, and Straight Outta Compton all strike me as too weak to infiltrate this top race even if they do show up elsewhere. And I don’t think Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be able to show up here. This is the big one - I’m sure we’ll have some giant shock or crazy inclusion.

One possible crazy scenario: It’s been touted as a contender, and it still well may be: animated film Inside Out.

Forecasted winner: I still say it goes to Spotlight.

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