Last year, you would have been damn crazy to find anyone in their right mind not not predicting that Patricia Arquette, JK Simmons and Julianne Moore would win by Christmas time. It's true that "Spotlight" has evolved into a fully-fledged frontrunner to take this year's prized award for Best Picture and that Leonardo DiCaprio might as well ready himself for accepting an award for Best Actor in his performance in Alejandro Gonzalez Iñnaritu's "The Revenant". As I expected, no film seems a certainty for a best picture nomination - let alone winning, whereas last year the race was pretty much Boyhood v Birdman - the latter of which, when it won, upset many seasoned filmgoers as the former of which was, at least in my opinion, the clear winner. As it's Awards Season and the year's biggest night in Film draws to closer - I thought i'd give you my updated verdict since early last month where I did an analysis on the build-up to the Academy Awards on my blog. My verdict on the Technical Noms hasn't changed much so I'll only be discussing new verdict updates of mine concerning Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Actress.
Best Picture - Spotlight is getting all the Spotlights.. but will this work against it's favour?
In a very crowded race, the only sure nomination is "Spotlight", a true story about The Boston Globe's investigation into allegations against John Geoghan, an unfrocked priest accused of molesting more than 80 boys. Just to note, for those that don't know how the new Oscar voting system works, this will be the fourth year of the Preferential Voting system - where between five and ten films get in based on the amount of films that receive a certain percentage of high rankings on voter's ballots. Sounds confusing? It sure is! And some of the politics behind into how and who votes what is somewhat questionable, granted. The last minute surge of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" could be greater than currently anticipated which could mean firm Oscar favourites for this and some of the other categories, "The Martian" and "Mad Max" could suffer as a result, especially for Directing, VFX and Editing. But the chances of Star Wars winning Best Picture is very slim, at least we hope for now it is. Studios Disney and 20th Century Fox should do well to at least get one picture nominated, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" or "Bridge of Spies" for Disney and "The Martian" and "The Revenant" for 20th Century Fox. Although my predictions for nominations in all categories is ever changing, at this stage Spotlight is a sure thing, so are "The Big Short" and A24's "Room" and very possibly "Mad Max: Fury Road", "The Martian" and "Carol".
Best Director - A Sticky Situation
The Oscars, as we know, love to be able to tick boxes - and we sure hope they do this year; ticking boxes by awarding those who have been nominated so much and have never won before or whose continuing efforts have seem to have gone unnoticed - or pleasing certain groups of society - a politically motivated tactic at times to please the public and continually uphold the reputation of The Academy Awards and it's juries.
I say this because of one main thing, if "Mad Max" or "The Martian" somehow miss out on a best picture nomination, it seems pretty safe to say that their directors - George Miller and Ridley Scott - will definitely get in anyway. That's a perfect example of ticking boxes, Even if it's a slight nod or nomination towards.. Both are extremely well-respected veteran directors with no Oscars to their name, and for Miller - he's never even received a nomination. The two of them will most likely be joined by Spotlight Director Tom McCarthy however the other two slots are much bigger questions - I hope that the Golden Globe nomination results, and the awards ceremony just around the corner on Sunday January 10th, translate into Oscar nominating success for Todd Haynes "Carol" and last year's winner Alejandro González Iñárritu "The Revenant".
Best Actor - Leo for The Win, But Take With A Pinch of Salt
Now, Ladies & Gentleman, you can all start to get very excited - but take your excitement with a pinch of salt still. One of two major frontrunners this year is Best Actor, safe to say is Leonardo DiCaprio - for his performance in "The Revenant". Because there's so much excitement surrounding this possibility, the acting race is also proving rather boring. Michael Fassbender will be called for "Steve Jobs" most likely, Matt Damon for "The Martian" and Johnny Depp for "Black Mass". In terms of nominees, it will be shaky who comes out 4th or 5th however let's not forget the long shots; Jake Gyllenhaal in "Southpaw", Tom Hardy in "Legend", Abraham Attah in "Beasts of No Nation" and Michael B. Jordan in "Creed".
Best Actress - Where will Oscar voters place Rooney Mara (Carol) and Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl) on their ballots?
It's a difficult one to predict, because of the nature of the characters in their films - whatever decision is made, no doubt it will impact all top 6 Award categories to varying degrees - especially that of Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress. The trouble here is that the pair were both nominated for Supporting Actress at the SAGs and Critics Choice, however both were nominated for Supporting Actress at the Golden Globes. I think Rooney Mara will end up in the Best Actress category for "Carol", sadly at the expense of her co-star Cate Blanchett, but she's both Oscar-winning and humble anyway so it shouldn't be a problem at all - secretly she might probably be even rooting for her to win, as a co-collaborator, friend, and advocate for female talent. One of them will be nominated, and one of them will probably win. Mara for Best Actress and Blanchett nominated in either or winning for Best Supporting Actress, as they may consider the fact that Mara has more screen time than Blanchett - which is true.
The same situation is also true with Alicia Vikander in "The Danish Girl", no doubt she'll get nominated but as to which category - the star of the plot is Eddie Redmayne, he is The Danish Girl, but in the film Vikander is alive much more so than Redmayne ever could be - it is her who is the unsung hero and main character of the film. In this category (and/or Best Supporting Actress) for sure Mara, Vikander and Blanchett's names will all be there, as for other nominations in this category - we can be expecting Brie Larson for "Room", Saoirse Ronan for "Brooklyn" and possibly either Jennifer Lawrence for "Joy", Charlotte Rampling for "45 Years" or Charlize Theron for "Mad Max: Fury Road".
Award Ceremonies & Key Events around the corner:
Golden Globe Awards - Sunday 10th January
Academy Award nominations - Thursday 14th January
SAG Awards - Saturday 30th January
BAFTA Awards - Sunday 14th February
88th Annual Academy Awards - Sunday 28th February (still a while off to go, most likely another blog post or two before then to give you updates, based on the results from the Golden Globe Awards, Academy Award noms, SAG/BAFTA Awards and final views prior to the big one).