This year’s Academy Awards ceremony will take place on February 28th hosted by funnyman Chris Rock, and with less than a month to go, predictions are flying as to who the likely winners will be. In past years it was fairly easy to pinpoint likely victors based on their performances earlier in the awards season. Will this year follow the same pattern or will recent controversies regarding the lack of diversity lead to a surprise victory for any of the nominees? There’s only one way to find out, but with a slew of qualified candidates, the awards this year are still very much up for grabs.
The categories that are under the most scrutiny include Best Picture, Actor in a Leading Role, and Actress in a Leading Role – and there is some definite overlap within those categories, as to be expected. The Martian is nominated both in the Best Picture category and in the Lead Actor category through Matt Damon. Leonardo DiCaprio may (finally) win his first Oscar for The Revenant, which is also a Best Picture nominee; likewise, both Room and Brooklyn are nominated for Best Picture while also seeing their respective lead actresses, Brie Larson and Saoirse Ronan, nominated for that top prize as well. With both Larson and DiCaprio in the lead for the category, this could be one for the books, and it would be both of their first wins.
Perhaps this year more than most, predictions for the Best Picture category are fairly divided.
The Big Short is a major contender, especially considering their PGA win, and the Critic’s Choice Award in the Best Picture category went to Spotlight putting them in the running as well. The Golden Globe went to The Revenant however, which has also been garnering quite a bit of Oscar buzz. Leonardo DiCaprio also won the Golden Globe and Critic’s Choice Award in his category, giving him reason to hope for similar accolades come Oscar time – and for good reason too considering the great lengths he went through during filming. Room, which is an underdog in the this category, is much more likely to net Larson the Lead Actress award instead, a fairly safe prediction in an awards season that has already seen her win both a Golden Globe and a Critics Choice Award.
Nor is the Best Director category a sure bet yet. Many of the Best Picture nominees can also be found in this category, though Brooklyn, The Martian, and Bridge of Spies were all snubbed. Alejandro González Iñárritu won the Golden Globe for his work in The Revenant, but George Miller won a Critic’s Choice Award for Mad Max: Fury Road. Either director has a solid chance at an Academy Award, though Iñárritu’s win last year may potentially push some voters towards Miller.
Other highly debated categories include Music (Original Score), Original Screenplay, and Visual Effects. Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which was omitted from many of the larger categories, may still see an Original Score or a Visual Effects win. The Original Screenplay category will be a tight race, but Spotlight seems to be the favorite here. Straight Outta Compton or the animated Inside Out are dark horse candidates as well, as both have a great deal of popular support. Inside Out is also a favorite for Best Animated Feature, giving it an opportunity for multiple wins.
Overall, The Revenant and Spotlight are likely to nab multiple awards while Room, which was a collaboration between A24 and DirecTV, also won’t go home empty handed as a shoo-in for at least Actress in a Leading Role. Star Wars will likely win one or two Oscars as well, but was shut out of the major categories despite being one of the highest grossing films ever released. Straight Outta Compton and The Martian may end up going home empty handed, despite their own solid box office performances and positive reviews. No matter who wins, it will be interesting to see host Chris Rock’s take on this year’s nominees and snubs.