Photo courtesy of AP Photo/Laura Rauch/Associated Press
Virtuous, principled, diverse — the Oscars possess none of these traits. However, they are extremely predictable in their arbitrariness. As the Oscars look back at the “best” of 2015, the To-scars is looking forward to how accurate my predictions will be. Let us begin!
1. Best Actor
After four nominations and losses, it is shamefully obvious that Leo will take home the first Oscar of his career. Unlike previous years in which he may have deserved it but lost due to overwhelming competition, the DiCaprio will win this year solely based on a wrongly perceived lack of it. Indeed, Redmayne (Danish Girl), Cranston (Trumbo) and Damon (Martian) are all obligatory afterthoughts. Michael Fassbender, however, deserves the win for his magnetizing portrayal of Steve Jobs. Unfortunately, the Academy has a misguided biased against the film as a whole (even Aaron Sorkin’s gripping screenplay was snubbed) for concerns of “inaccuracy” and the like. The only factor left with the capacity to circumvent destiny is a wariness of the public outcry for a millionaire movie star to get a stick of metal.
Winner: Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)
Chance of Winning: 98%
Strongest Competition: Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs)
Toster’s Choice: Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs)
2. Best Actress
Like DiCaprio, Brie Larson will benefit from a bewildering bias against the film starring her main competition. The Academy loves themselves some Cate, but for reasons ineffable, voters failed to relish in the fantastic, seemingly Oscar-designed Carol (they instead preferred the more formulaic Bridge of Spies). Plus, she won just two years ago for Blue Jasmine, so another trophy for Blanchett seems unlikely this soon. And thus, Larson will mount an Oscar on her mantle, as well as the trophy she has won from every single awards body over the past few months.
Winner: Brie Larson (Room)
Chance of Winning: 95%
Strongest Competition: Cate Blanchett (Carol)
Toster’s Choice: Juliette Binoche (Clouds of Sils Maria)
3. Best Adapted Screenplay
Many say that the Producer Guild Awards, at which The Big Short claimed victory, is the strongest indicator of who will take home the grand prize at the Oscars. The Big Short will not win “Best Picture,” but a win in this category is very probable. The film defied expectations and convention with its wildly entertaining yet informative script. However, Emma Donaghue’s Room screenplay is also a solid contender. Donaghue’s adaptation of her own novel is an admirable one, and the subject matter is definitely one the Oscars would not hesitate to reward. But if the PGA’s mean anything, it’d be smart to short its chances of winning.
Winner: Adam McKay & Charles Randolph (The Big Short)
Chance of Winning: 80%
Strongest Competition: Emma Donaghue (Room)
Toster’s Choice: Aaron Sorkin (Steve Jobs)
4. Best Director
Going off the Mad Max love, the George Miller love is even healthier. His film, his talent and his age all serve as plausible reasons why the Academy would bestow upon Miller his first Oscar. On the other hand, Alejandro G. Iñárritu won just a year ago with Birdman and was nominated prior to that for Amores Perros, Babel and Biutiful — evidence that Oscar voters love G (as I like to call him). Furthermore, the behind-the-scene stories of The Revenant are horrifying, and physical sacrifice could be, though it shouldn’t be, reason enough to reward the filmmaker. The Mad Max desert probably wasn’t so luxurious for Miller either, but Iñárritu seems to have the edge, with Tom McCarthy acting as a solid but fading dark horse.
Winner: Alejandro G. Inarittu (The Revenant)
Chance of Winning: 75%
Strongest Competition: George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road)
Toster’s Choice: Ryan Coogler (Creed)
5. Best Original Screenplay
Spotlight will win this award. However, if one considers it possible that 65-year-old Academy voters pay attention to social media, in particular #OscarsSoWhite, then we might have ourselves an upset — or whatever the happy version of an upset is. Straight Outta Compton is not one of the best films of the year, but it at least matches the quality of the massively overrated Spotlight and has a social conscience behind it. Because of this, we might see some people of color holding an Oscar on-stage — wait, the writers are white. Damnit, Hollywood!
Winner: Tom McCarthy & Josh Singer (Spotlight)
Chance of Winning: 70%
Strongest Competition: Jonathan Herman & Andrea Berloff (Straight Outta Compton)
Toster’s Choice: Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley, and Ronnie del Carmen (Inside Out)
6. Best Supporting Actor
For some reason, Oscar voters have a hard-on for the half-mediocre Bridge of Spies. For worse reasons, they don’t have one for the best film of the year Creed. Fortunately, however, they nominated a deserving Stallone for his seventh film portrayal of Rocky Balboa. Whether or not voters actually saw Creed is doubtable, but they at least saw the tide rushing towards Stallone and didn’t want to get left behind at shore. He faces stiff competition in Mark Rylance, but Stallone is arguably the sole standout carrying enough momentum to make it all the way up to the podium.
Winner: Sylvester Stallone (Creed)
Chance of Winning: 65%
Strongest Competition: Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies)
Toster’s Choice: Sylvester Stallone (Creed)
7. Best Picture
Spotlight, for a long time, had the upper hand for being the safest choice — few would denounce the victory of a film that indicts institutionalized sexual child abuse. However, the Academy in the recent past has shown a willingness to opt for the most “artsy” film (i.e. The Artist, Birdman, etc.). The Revenant is the pinnacle of that criteria, with its stunning and PRO-FOUND visuals. Mad Max: Fury Road, however, scored the most nominations this year, though most being in technical categories, and is beloved by everyone — audiences, critics and filmmakers. If that love and passion is fervent enough among the voters, we might see one of the most widely-celebrated “Best Picture” wins in Oscar history. But unfortunately, The Revenant has already hypnotized voters with its stunning and PRO-FOUND visuals.
Winner: The Revenant
Chance of Winning: 60%
Strongest Competition: Spotlight & Mad Max: Fury Road (tie)
Toster’s Choice: Creed
8. Best Supporting Actress
Hands down, this is the most competitive category of the year. Each of the “Best Supporting Actress” nominees, Rachel McAdams withstanding, are more than worthy of a win and has already scored at least one major victory elsewhere: Kate Winslet at the Golden Globes, Alicia Vikander at the Critic’s Choice and SAG’s, Jennifer Jason Leigh with the National Board of Review and Rooney Mara at Cannes. Furthermore, none of the films, other than Spotlight, were particularly endorsed by the Academy this year, completely discarding the factor of favoritism and rendering this category even more ambiguous. Only a maniac would bet on this category, but if one had to do so, a process of elimination, as follows, might help.
Firstly, McAdams is great but a clear weak link here, so she’s a painless strike-off. Winslet’s Golden Globes win, though much publicized, ultimately doesn’t mean much. Plus, she has the burden of a previous win — the other four are Oscar-less — so she falls out of the top four. Leigh arguably had the most daring performance but also the most controversial performance, getting beaten to a pulp by several men in The Hateful Eight.
Thus, it comes down to the two “supporting” performances that really should have been competing in the “Lead Actress” category. Both actresses carried more of the film than their co-leads Redmayne and Blanchett. But you know how the Oscars go: fit them in where you can. Mara, with her Cannes win, has been the frontrunner since last May, and deservingly so. However, since then, the hype on Vikander has slowly but surely elevated her to being Hollywood’s top breakout star, gaining fame from another awards-worthy performance in Ex Machina. Thus, it seems likely at this point that Vikander will end up victorious in a category she should never have been in.
Winner: Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl)
Chance of Winning: 55%
Strongest Competition: Rooney Mara (Carol)
Toster’s Choice: Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs)