Oscar Predictions: Who Will, Could, And Should Win?

After a wild ride of an awards season that started out with so much hope and promise, only to end with major disappointment, Oscar night is just about here. Yes, Leonardo DiCaprio is assured his elusive first trophy, and unfortunately it’s come down to The Revenant and Mad Max with some heat from Spotlight.

Yes, the races have solidified pretty quickly; there’s a general consensus of who’s winning. But that doesn’t mean were in for a total snooze fest, right? (I can hold out some hope).

So, let’s get on with putting a cap on this season already by looking at the major races. Who will, could and should win? And who got snubbed?

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Best Performances of The Year: 2015

This year’s awards season started off with so much promise and a wealth of contenders. You had inspired choices like Kristen Stewart in Clouds of Sils Maria cleaning up with the critics, Idris Elba on the cusp of his first Oscar nomination for Beasts of No Nation and Michael B. Jordan having a true breakout moment in Creed. You had films like Chi-RaqThe End of the TourTangerine and Love & Mercy all of which were brilliant, but ultimately passed over in favor of mindless Oscar bait. In the end, the Academy’s narrow scope once again limited the possibilities of what was possible to a mindless lineup that required no imagination. In doing so, they saw the revival of #OscarsSoWhite for the second consecutive year.

But what if the Academy thought outside their narrow bubble? What if they used their imaginations and rewarded actually great performances, instead of the ones with the biggest campaigns behind them? I imagine we would see Mya Taylor’s brilliantly rendered Alex from Tangerine, instead of Jennifer Jason-Leigh’s half-baked “feminist” take on a battered woman in The Hateful Eight. Or maybe Benicio Del Toro’s menacing Alejandro from Sicario over Christian Bale’s hammy, phoned in performance in The Big Short.

2015 gave us so many amazing films with fully realized performances, that still live on despite the Academy’s ignorance.

Here’s my acting ballot. Who really deserved a nomination this year. 

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Academy Award Nominations: Another Year Of #OscarsSoWhite

I expected a few upsets with this morning’s Academy Award nominations. But more than anything, I’m just disappointed. This was such a groundbreaking year for film. You had Mad Max: Fury RoadCarolSicarioTangerine… the list goes on. And while Mad Max: Fury Road was one of the nomination leaders, there was less to be excited about over in a lot of the other categories.

For starters, let’s talk about the most glaring offense. After The Academy had controversially nominated all white actors in the leading and supporting categories last year, they followed the same trend this year; There’s not a person of color to be found among your 20 acting nominees. And while many will say that contenders such as Michael B. Jordan from Creed and Mya Taylor from Tangerine were long shots, I say that’s not an excuse. There were more than a dozen surprises this morning from the various categories that included many names we didn’t expect to hear this morning. Lenny Abrahamson scored a Best Director nomination over Ridley Scott, who had more support from the various precursors and guilds. Mark Ruffalo, despite not receiving an individual Screen Actors Guild nomination, or really any important precursor awards, landed a nomination in Best Supporting Actor over one of the presumed frontrunners, Idris Elba from the fantastic Beasts of No Nation. Oscar Isaac, one of this year’s breakout stars, was fantastic in Ex Machina, Benicio del Toro delivered one of the best performances of the year in Sicario and Straight Outta Compton found no love in either the acting or Best Picture categories, despite having support from the guilds.

They clearly vote for what they like, and what they like is becoming increasingly evident with each year. Jennifer Lawrence for JOY, REALLY? As someone who is a die hard film buff, and has grown up watching the Oscars, this is something that matters to me. In hindsight, The Academy Awards are not the most important thing in the world. But as our world, and our film industry, grows to be more diverse, so should the awards. We hear all the time that they’re constantly adding new members and trying to diversify their membership, but where is that reflected in the awards? Though I was not so high on the film itself, I’m glad Alejandro G. Iñárritu, last year’s winner, found his way into Best Director, but that was about the only major nomination landed by a person of color this year.

Some more glaring omissions to discuss: Carol, easily one of the best films of the year, was omitted from Best Picture. Rooney Mara from Carol and Alicia Vikander from The Danish Girl were both nominated in Supporting Actress, despite the high profile backlash (and just common sense) that both are the leads of their films. Vikander’s nomination comes especially as a shock, because she had a perfectly great supporting performance from Ex Machina they could have rewarded, one that was picking up steam in recent weeks.

All I’m saying, is that The Academy is very clearly out of touch and has turned into a dog and pony show. This is far from news, excuse me trying to make sense of this mess.

The full list of nominations are below. The winners of the Academy Awards will be announced February 28th.

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Who Will, Could And Should Win At The Golden Globes?

The annual Golden Globe Awards are tomorrow night. We’ve heard from the critics, and received nominations from the various guilds, but this is the first major awards body that is anointing winners.

It’s important to note that the HFPA (Hollywood Foreign Press Association) does not vote on the Oscars, and wins here have little indication as to who is going to win with the guilds or the Academy. What the Globes do, however, is indicate where the heat/buzz is in the race. Sometimes they can be an indicator of which films have the most passionate support, and that can be useful when looking at the Oscars.

Also important: Winners here can make an impression on voters with really memorable speeches. I’m not saying it has everything to do with winning an Oscar, but it has something.

So, who will win it all tomorrow night? Who could win? And more importantly, who should win? And who was snubbed? Let’s take a look at all of the nominees from the film and television categories.

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“Carol” and “Bridge of Spies” Lead BAFTA Nominations; “JOY” Ignored

The British Academy of Film and Television Awards (BAFTA) nominations are the last set of nominations we’ll hear from before the Academy’s set next Thursday morning. Save for some wild card nominations (Amy Adams in Big Eyes) they’re usually a very good indicator of where Oscar is headed.

Some surprises here: Carol and Bridge of Spies led the nomination count with 9 each. After underperforming with some of the guilds, this is great news for Carol; Hopefully this translates into the same kind of success with Oscar (though their recognizing Rooney Mara in Supporting Actress is EXTREMELY frustrating).

The Big Short‘s late surge is unstoppable, and a bit bewildering because the reception for the film early on was muted. But it landing a Best Picture and Best Director nomination here essentially cements its status as one of the top films.

Mad Max: Fury Road underperformed here, however, it’s important to note it snagged a lot of tech/below the line nominations. This could translate into support with the bigger categories with the Oscars (American productions like this film tend to get snubbed out of the major categories with BAFTA anyway).

JOY was completely ignored here, thankfully, though I expect at least one or two lone nominations from Oscar just because they love David O.Russell.

Alicia Vikander could potentially be a double Oscar nominee. She’s unexpectedly been winning a lot of traction for Ex-Machina (a film that’s been performing very well in general as of late) but both of her performances in that film and in The Danish Girl were nominated here. While I think hope that they’ll pass on the film entirely, it’s a possibility after today.

Last tidbit: HOORAY FOR BENICIO DEL TORO FINALLY LANDING A MAJOR NOMINATION FOR SICARIO. 

Also, where in the WORLD is Charlotte Rampling for 45 Years?! (okay, I’ll stop now).

Take a look at the full list of nominations below. The winners of the BAFTAs will be announced on February 14th.

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“Ex-Machina” and “Straight Outta Compton” Among PGA Nominees

It really has been the strangest awards season in recent memory. Where it’s been almost too predictable in the past, this year it’s been the exact opposite. None of the precursor awards have given any real sort of consensus as to who the frontrunners are.

We’ve heard from the critics, the Globes and now comes the guilds. Following the announcement from the Screen Actors Guild, the Producer’s Guild has announced their list of nominees. In the past few years, winning a nomination here has almost always correlated to a Best Picture nomination. You’d have to go back to 2006 where the winner of the PGA did not win Best Picture.

Some surprises here: Straight Outta ComptonEx-Machina and Sicario. The former received a SAG ensemble nomination, now coupled with this makes it a pretty formidable contender. It was also one of the most profitable films of the year, raking in $160 million at the box office this summer. I’m really starting to think a Best Picture nomination is very likely, especially with a lot of the higher profile contenders (The Danish Girl) underperforming.

Seeing Sicario, my favorite film of the year, here after being ignored all year was the highlight of this awards season, for me. Though I think the film is too under the radar (sadly) for Oscar contention, this does boast its chances. Hopefully voters caught up with it on a screener; It really does blow away half of the films that are probably going to be nominated.

The biggest surprise to me, however, is Ex-Machina. Star Alicia Vikander has been winning more notices for her work in the film than in The Danish Girl, but the film has also found love for its screenplay and several other elements through various critics awards and voting bodies. If some of the other guilds throw their support behind the film (like the writers, for example) I think it’s a dark horse contender.

Also worth noting, Carol and Room are both absent from this line up. Not sure how Carol missed here (Room is a Canadian production and a real small film, which might have something to do with it). It would be embarrassing, on the Academy’s part, if it missed somehow.

See the full list of nominees below. The winner of the PGA will be announced on January 23.

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The 10 Best Movies Of 2015

There was a lot to see this year at the movies, and looking back at everything I’ve seen, it’s a fool’s errand to try and list 10 of the best films. Even some of the ones I wasn’t crazy about had some absolutely amazing aspects that left me stunned. From Charlize Theron completely owning every bit of the amazingly crazy Mad Max: Fury Road, to Saoirse Ronan’s growing into a leading lady before our very eyes in Brooklyn, and of course the immaculately constructed “Carol” (Is there anything Cate Blanchett can’t do?). The Martian came close to dismantling the record Gravity set just 2 years ago, while Johnny Depp found his way back to critical acclaim, and the Rocky franchise found new life in director Ryan Coogler and star Michael B. Jordan. Oh, yeah, maybe you heard about that little indie movie called Star Wars: The Force Awakens that broke a dozen box office records.

So what films made the cut? And which films came close? Let’s take a look.

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