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Celebrating cinema with the Oscars 2016

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Predicting the 2016 Academy Award winners

It's that time of year again, folks. Time for Hollywood to dress up and throw statues at one another in a whirlwind of self-celebration and ego stroking.

That's right it's Oscar time!

I'll be the first to admit that I love the Academy Awards while also acknowledging that they are growing increasingly irrelevant and out of touch. I love the movies and this is the biggest celebration of cinema on the American pop culture calendar.

This is my ninth Oscar preview for The Maine Edge my first was way back in the bygone days of 2008 - and while there's certainly been an ebb and flow in terms of general quality, my love for film has only increased as the years have gone by.

(My predictions have gotten better, too.)

This year's slate has plenty of great films, but I think that we're likely going to see just a few scoop up the lion's share (or perhaps the bear's share) of the trophies. As always, please note that these aren't always the films that I think SHOULD win, but rather those that I think WILL win. While they're often one and the same, I'll be sure to mention any thoughts I have regarding personal outliers.

Please note: These are my predictions for the evening's most prominent awards. A full listing of my predictions for all 24 categories can be found on our website at themaineedge.com.)

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Best Actor in a Leading Role

Bryan Cranston Trumbo'

Matt Damon The Martian'

Leonardo DiCaprio The Revenant'

Michael Fassbender Steve Jobs'

Eddie Redmayne The Danish Girl'

Once again, the Academy demonstrates its affection for portrayals of real-life men. Just like last year, four of the five nominees are nominated for performances representing real people and real stories though as always, the needs of the narrative outweigh everything else. We'll start with the one man playing a fictional character; Matt Damon does great work in 'The Martian,' with a considerable degree of difficulty added by way of his spending much of the movie alone. Still, this feels more like a hearty 'Good job!' rather than real consideration. Redmayne's performance likely suffers for its proximity to last year's Oscar-winning turn; he needed to make a much bigger impact to have any real chance of repeating. All Bryan Cranston does is excel, regardless of the project he's undoubtedly going to get at least one of these eventually - but his subject (blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo) is just a bit too obscure; Hollywood's love for movies about movies probably helped him get this far. As for Fassbender, there's no denying that he captures the essence of tech giant Jobs in a singular way. That being said, I'm not sure if this is even his best role of the year (seriously, if you haven't seen 'Macbeth,' you need to.) No, in the end, Leonardo DiCaprio is finally going to secure the recognition that he's been chasing for what seems like forever. His work in 'The Revenant' is gripping and raw and visceral in a way that none of the other performances quite manage to capture. In his hands, Hugh Glass becomes a living, breathing embodiment of the dark side of the American frontier. The care and craftsmanship with which DiCaprio constructs his portrayal is incredible to see. It seems clear that Leo's time has arrived.

Winner: Leonardo DiCaprio

Best Actress in a Leading Role

Cate Blanchett Carol'

Brie Larson Room'

Jennifer Lawrence Joy'

Charlotte Rampling '45 Years'

Saoirse Ronan - Brooklyn'

Even in a year with a low likelihood of surprises in the acting categories, this one might be the most locked-down of the bunch. Again, some exceptional performances, but the consensus has clearly been established. Saoirse Ronan has, despite her young age, put together a pretty impressive list of credits. This is her first nomination and a deserved one but her chances of a win are slim. Still, there would seem to be little question that we'll be hearing her name in this context for some time. Charlotte Rampling, on the other hand, is likely at or near the end of her award-winning chances; however, her performance was in a film that barely made a ripple. There's just no chance of her being able to generate the needed buzz. Cate Blanchett is one of the most consistently outstanding performers out there; with seven career nominations and two wins, she's an Academy season mainstay. But while her work in 'Carol' has been lauded and rightly so - it isn't enough to add to her glittering resume. Jennifer Lawrence exists in the miniscule overlap between critical and commercial success, making massive box office hits while still earning four Oscar nominations and one win since 2010. As per usual, director David O. Russell gets sublime work from her, but it just won't be enough this time around. No, this award is Brie Larson's to lose. If there's an award for film acting out there, chances are that she won it for her acclaimed portrayal of an imprisoned woman trying to preserve her son's innocence. There are no guarantees at the Oscars, but a Brie Larson win is about as close as you're going to get.

Winner: Brie Larson

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Christian Bale The Big Short'

Tom Hardy The Revenant'

Mark Ruffalo Spotlight'

Mark Rylance Bridge of Spies'

Sylvester Stallone Creed'

Top to bottom, this might be the best collection of work in any of the performance categories. Christian Bale is outstanding as a socially awkward numbers wonk in 'The Big Short' he once again plays against type to great success; his use of physicality and demeanor are impressive. However, his is just one in a sea of excellent performances in that film. Mark Ruffalo nominated in this category for the second year in a row - suffers much the same fate in 'Spotlight.' Despite the fact that it might well be the best work that Ruffalo has ever done, the relative quality of the surrounding ensemble diverts some attention. Rylance is simply exquisite in 'Bridge of Spies,' turning in an elegantly understated performance. Quiet and thoughtful don't get a lot of play in Hollywood these days, but Rylance went ahead and offered a master class anyway. There's no disputing that Tom Hardy is great in 'The Revenant' this is the sort of rough and tumble intensity that he's born to play but as good as he is, he might actually be last on this list. The winner is going to be Sylvester Stallone. The Academy loves to use this category as a sort of Lifetime Achievement Award anyway, but for Stallone to turn in the kind of nuanced, honest performance that he gives in 'Creed' one that would have warranted consideration no matter who gave it pretty much sealed it. Nearly 40 years after his only other acting nomination, Sly finally gets the nod.

Winner: Sylvester Stallone

Actress in a Supporting Role

Jennifer Jason Leigh The Hateful Eight'

Rooney Mara Carol'

Rachel McAdams Spotlight'

Alicia Vikander The Danish Girl'

Kate Winslet Steve Jobs'

This is the one acting category where my ideas of who should win and who will win diverge the most. Of course, this one is so stacked that it could reasonably go to anyone. Rooney Mara's wonderful performance in 'Carol' has been largely overshadowed by other performances. She'll get a win someday, but it's highly unlikely to happen this time around. Rachel McAdams gives a spirited and compelling performance in 'Spotlight,' but suffers much the same fate as castmate Mark Ruffalo. She's great, but being surrounded by other great performances dulls her impact a bit. Kate Winslet had some early juice for 'Steve Jobs,' but it seems as though she peaked too early. The quality of her performance seems to have faded somewhat in the memories of the electorate. And if I had a vote myself, I'd give it to Jennifer Jason Leigh, who is flat-out incredible in 'The Hateful Eight.' She manages a degree of physical and emotional control that is stunning to watch. Hers was a brutal and brutally difficult role one she played to perfection. However, one cannot ignore the signs Alicia Vikander is almost certainly going to win for 'The Danish Girl.' It's admirable work, to be sure, certainly worthy of recognition (though I might argue that she gave a better performance this year in 'Ex Machina'). A great performance just not as great as Leigh's.

Winner: Alicia Vikander

Best Director

Adam McKay The Big Short'

George Miller Mad Max: Fury Road'

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu The Revenant'

Lenny Abrahamson Room'

Tom McCarthy Spotlight'

Each of the men in this category certainly earned their spot. However, some fall squarely into the realm of 'just happy to be here.' Foremost among those is Lenny Abrahamson; he beat out a lot of big names to get this far, but this is where it ends. He'll have to content himself with having directed the Best Actress performance. McKay worked wonders in turning 'The Big Short' into a fun, funny film; it's doubly impressive when you consider that literally every other movie he's directed starred Will Ferrell. However, comedy is a tough sell to the Academy in general and in this category in particular. McCarthy's 'Spotlight' is an outstanding effort across the board, but it's one of those films that is likely going to wind up being the second choice for a lot of people. This category is no different, though McCarthy's likely consolation prize is a Best Original Screenplay win. In my heart of hearts, I want George Miller to win. Not only did he reinvent a character from three decades in the past, he somehow managed to create a new kind of action movie. 'Mad Max: Fury Road' is visually stunning in thrilling and unfamiliar ways. The movie has some hardware coming its way, but alas, not here. That's because Alejandro Inarritu managed to find the perfect way to follow up his Oscar-winning work on last year's 'Birdman.' With 'The Revenant,' Inarritu meticulously created a world as he envisioned it. The nature of the project demanded an outsized creative commitment a commitment he honored. Look for him to become the first back-to-back Best Director winner since Joseph Mankiewicz in 1949-50.

Winner: Alejandro Inarritu

Best Picture

The Big Short'

Bridge of Spies'

Brooklyn'

Mad Max: Fury Road'

The Martian'

The Revenant'

Room'

Spotlight'

It has been just a few years since the expansion of this category went into effect. This year is a particularly good example of why that's a good thing, featuring a couple of films that deserve recognition despite not really being contenders for the big prize.

For instance, 'The Martian' and 'Mad Max: Fury Road' are precisely the sorts of films that category expansion was designed to address. Ridley Scott's sci-fi blockbuster and George Miller's dystopian opus won't win here, but they very much warrant a spot at the table. Their presence serves as a reminder that mass popularity doesn't necessarily negate quality.

'Bridge of Spies' is another one that seems to have just slipped in. It's a quality film, but it never really garnered the level of attention necessary to take this award. 'Brooklyn' is the sort of thoughtful period piece that tends to find a place on this list, but rarely comes out on top. Again a good movie, but not quite Best Picture material. 'Room' has been on the receiving end of some acclaim, but it seems likely that voters will feel that a Larson win in Best Actress is sufficient recognition for this one. All three of these films are worthy efforts, but not one of them will even sniff a win here.

'The Big Short' and 'Spotlight' perhaps have puncher's chances here, but the truth is that these films seem to have settled into a spot where everyone really likes them, but they're few people's favorites. While it's possible that one or the other could pull an upset, the reality is that both films will have to content themselves with the Best Screenplay awards that they are almost certain to win.

In the end, Alejandro Inarritu's vision of the American frontier will prove most appealing to the Academy. His unique aesthetic brings 'The Revenant' to chilling, unsettling life. Many of the people involved in this film should probably clear some shelf space and prepare their speeches; this victory will likely be the cap to what could potentially be a big night for the film.

Winner: The Revenant'

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And now the rest:

Best Animated Feature

Anomalisa'

Boy and the World'

Inside Out'

Shaun the Sheep Movie'

When Marnie Was There'

Winner: Inside Out'

Best Original Screenplay

Matt Charman, Joel & Ethan Coen Bridge of Spies'

Alex Garland Ex Machina'

Pete Docter, Meg LaFauve, Josh Cooley Inside Out'

Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer Spotlight'

Jonathan Herman, Andrea Berloff, S. Leigh Savidge and Alan Wenkus Straight Outta Compton'

Winner: Spotlight'

Best Adapted Screenplay

Adam McKay and Charles Randolph The Big Short'

Nick Hornby Brooklyn'

Phyllis Nagy Carol'

Drew Goddard The Martian'

Emma Donoghue Room'

Winner: The Big Short'

Best Cinematography

Carol'

The Hateful Eight'

Mad Max: Fury Road'

The Revenant'

Sicario'

Winner: The Revenant'

Best Costume Design

Carol'

Cinderella'

The Danish Girl'

Mad Max: Fury Road'

The Revenant'

Winner: Cinderella'

Best Documentary Feature

Amy'

Cartel Land'

The Look of Silence'

What Happened, Miss Simone?'

Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom'

Winner: Amy'

Best Documentary Short

Body Team 12'

Chau, beyond the Lines'

Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah'

A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness'

Last Day of Freedom'

Winner: Body Team 12'

Best Film Editing

The Big Short'

Mad Max: Fury Road'

The Revenant'

Spotlight'

Star Wars: The Force Awakens'

Winner: Mad Max: Fury Road'

Best Foreign Language Film

Embrace of the Serpent'

Mustang'

Son of Saul'

Theeb'

A War'

Winner: Son of Saul'

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Mad Max: Fury Road'

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared'

The Revenant'

Winner: Mad Max: Fury Road'

Best Score

Bridge of Spies'

Carol'

The Hateful Eight'

Sicario'

Star Wars: The Force Awakens'

Winner: The Hateful Eight'

Best Song

'Earned It' Fifty Shades of Grey'

'Manta Ray' - Racing Extinction'

'Simple Song #3' Youth'

'Til It Happens To You' The Hunting Ground'

'Writing's On The Wall' - Spectre'

Winner: 'Til It Happens To You' The Hunting Ground'

Best Production Design

Bridge of Spies'

The Danish Girl'

Mad Max: Fury Road'

The Martian'

The Revenant'

Winner: Mad Max: Fury Road'

Best Animated Short

Bear Story'

Prologue'

Sanjay's Super Team'

We Can't Live without Cosmos'

World of Tomorrow'

Winner: Sanjay's Super Team'

Best Live Action Short

Ave Maria'

Day One'

Everything Will Be Okay (Alles Wird Gut)'

Shok'

Stutterer'

Winner: Ave Maria'

Best Sound Editing

Mad Max: Fury Road'

The Martian'

The Revenant'

Sicario'

Star Wars: The Force Awakens'

Winner: Mad Max: Fury Road'

Best Sound Mixing

Bridge of Spies'

Mad Max: Fury Road'

The Martian'

The Revenant'

Star Wars: The Force Awakens'

Winner: Mad Max: Fury Road'

Best Visual Effects

Ex Machina'

Mad Max: Fury Road'

The Martian'

The Revenant'

Star Wars: The Force Awakens'

Winner: Mad Max: Fury Road'

Last modified on Wednesday, 24 February 2016 11:11

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