The Academy Awards arrived.

Maybe you’re in an Oscar pool. Maybe you have a rooting interest. Maybe you’ve been tossing and turning at night wondering if Leonardo DiCaprio is finally going to get his due. (Rest easy, friend. He is.)

Here are our final Oscar predictions for all 24 categories, including alternate picks in the closest races.


“The Big Short”
“Bridge of Spies”
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The Martian”
“The Revenant”

Will win: “The Big Short.” The X factor here is the academy’s preferential voting system, which asks voters to rank the movies in order. This rewards consensus choices, movies that show up consistently in voters’ first, second or third place spots. “Spotlight” and “The Big Short” would seem to be those kinds of films. And since I’ve been calling it for “The Big Short” even before its PGA win, I’m going to stubbornly stick with that choice.
Could win: “Spotlight” or “The Revenant”


Lenny Abrahamson, “Room”
Alejandro G. Iñárritu, “The Revenant”
Tom McCarthy, “Spotlight”
Adam McKay, “The Big Short”
George Miller, “Mad Max: Fury Road”

Will win: Never bet against the Directors Guild winner, which was Iñárritu. He’ll become the first director to take consecutive Oscars since Joseph L. Mankiewicz in 1950-51.


Bryan Cranston, “Trumbo”
Matt Damon, “The Martian”
Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Revenant”
Michael Fassbender, “Steve Jobs”
Eddie Redmayne, “The Danish Girl”

Will win:  DiCaprio. The inevitable Oscar, forecasted long before “The Revenant” screened for critics and audiences. I still have a hard time thinking DiCaprio was somehow “due” for this. He has been nominated four other times and lost to better work on each occasion. But DiCaprio did convey misery and suffering in “The Revenant” with a conviction that gave the movie a smidgen of gravitas. So give him the Oscar. Now we can start to work on getting the criminally overlooked Amy Adams one next.

leonardo di caprio oscars 2016


Cate Blanchett, “Carol”
Brie Larson, “Room”
Jennifer Lawrence, “Joy”
Charlotte Rampling, “45 Years”
Saoirse Ronan, “Brooklyn”
Will win: Larson had a firm grip on this Oscar from the moment that “Room” premiered at Telluride and audiences witnessed her intense turn as the movie’s protective mother. Ronan, meanwhile, is all of 21. There will be plenty of time for her to take a turn at the podium.


Christian Bale, “The Big Short”
Tom Hardy, “The Revenant”
Mark Ruffalo, “Spotlight”
Mark Rylance, “Bridge of Spies”
Sylvester Stallone, “Creed”

Will win: There’s some feeling that Rylance could pull off an upset, pulling in votes from the serious actors brigade. I don’t buy it. Stallone’s compelling comeback story (yo, 39 years between Oscar nominations) has been the one of the year’s happier tales.


Jennifer Jason Leigh, “The Hateful Eight”
Rooney Mara, ““Carol”
Rachel McAdams, “Spotlight”
Alicia Vikander, “The Danish Girl”
Kate Winslet, “Steve Jobs”

Will win: Vikander. Plenty of people want to see a Kate and Leo reunion, with each of them holding Oscars and DiCaprio offering some kind of variation on the “king of the world” speech. But between “The Danish Girl” and “Ex Machina,” Vikander has won the most acclaim. Plus, ingenues usually do quite well in this category.


“The Big Short”
“The Martian”

Will win: “The Big Short” took what could have been a lecture and turned it into an anarchic, bracing broadside against Wall Street malfeasance.


“Bridge of Spies”
“Ex Machina”
“Inside Out”
“Straight Outta Compton”

Will win: “Spotlight” for its meticulous, understated portrait of journalists bringing to light horrors too long ignored.



“Boy and the World”

“Inside Out”

“Shaun the Sheep Movie”

“When Marnie Was There”

Will win: “Inside Out.” Pixar returns to the winner’s circle with its best movie since 2010’s “Toy Story 3.”


“Embrace of the Serpent”


“Son of Saul”


“A War”

Will win: “Son of Saul.” Oscar voters get heat for rewarding Holocaust films time and time again, but Laszlo Nemes’ movie managed to freshly illuminate those horrors in a uniquely executed fashion.



“Cartel Land”

“The Look of Silence”

“What Happened, Miss Simone?”

“Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom”

Will win: “Amy.” Asif Kapadia’s empathetic look at the late singer Amy Winehouse has both reviews and box office on its side. “Cartel Land” could surprise if voters decide to go for an issue-oriented doc.



“The Hateful Eight”

“Mad Max: Fury Road”

“The Revenant”


Will win: Emmanuel Lubezki will become the first cinematographer to win three consecutive Oscars. Nobody’s complaining. “Gravity,” “Birdman” and now “The Revenant” each furthered the craft.




“The Danish Girl”

“Mad Max: Fury Road”

“The Revenant”

Will win: “Cinderella.” Sandy Powell now has a dozen Oscar nominations and three wins. I’m guessing she’ll add a fourth Oscar to the mantel for the glass slippers and all those fairy tale gowns.

Could win: How many academy members’ children (and grandchildren) drew inspiration from “Mad Max” for their Halloween get-ups? If there’s enough, maybe there will be an upset. You can’t discount “Carol,” Powell’s other nominated film, either.


“The Big Short”

“Mad Max: Fury Road”

“The Revenant”


“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

Will win: Margaret Sixel’s Herculean effort cutting together the massive amount of footage shot by her husband, George Miller, for “Mad Max: Fury Road,” is the favorite.

Could win: Hank Corwin’s work in “The Big Short” is both flashy and essential, the kind of editing voters like to reward.


“Mad Max: Fury Road”

“The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared”

“The Revenant”

Will win: “Mad Max.” Score one for the War Boys!


“Bridge of Spies”

“The Danish Girl”

“Mad Max: Fury Road”

“The Martian”

“The Revenant”

Will win: “Mad Max: Fury Road.” Those cars! Those caves!


“Bridge of Spies”


“The Hateful Eight”


“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

Will win: Ennio Morricone. After receiving an honorary Academy Award nine years ago, the 87-year-old composing legend wins his first proper Oscar for the haunting “Hateful Eight.”


“Earned It” from “Fifty Shades of Grey”

“Manta Ray” from “Racing Extinction”

“Simple Song #3” from “Youth”

“Til It Happens to You” from “The Hunting Ground”

“Writing’s on the Wall” from “Spectre”

Will win: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Golden Globe, Grammy and, now, Oscar winner Lady Gaga.


“Mad Max: Fury Road”

“The Martian”

“The Revenant”


“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

Will win: The sound categories come down to a coin flip between “Mad Max’s” deafening roar and the whistling wind of “The Revenant.” Let’s go with “Mad Max” here …

Could win: “The Revenant”


“Ex Machina”

“Mad Max: Fury Road”

“The Martian”

“The Revenant”

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

Will win: As best picture nominees typically prevail over their non-nominated competitors in this category, “Mad Max” gets the slight edge.

Could win: But this could also be the place where voters tip their hats to “Star Wars.” Another possibility: The roar of “The Revenant’s” digital bear.


“Bear Story”


“Sanjay’s Super Team”

“We Can’t Live Without Cosmos”

“World of Tomorrow”

Will win: Even though Pixar hasn’t won this category in 14 years, it’s hard to pick against the emotional “Sanjay’s Super Team.”

Could win: Don Hertzfeldt’s minimalist masterpiece “World of Tomorrow” is the class of the nominees. And “Bear Story” is a beautifully told story of loss with political undertones. Any of these shorts could take this Oscar.


“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”

Will win: it’s hard to pick against the high-profile “Body Team 12,” which tells the story of the Ebola crisis through the eyes of a female Red Cross worker. It’s a well-made, eye-opening movie. Beyond that, the filmmakers embedded with an Ebola team. That action alone is going to win a few votes.

Could win: The other four nominees have their admirers too. As an alternate, I’d go with “Girl in the River,” the look at honor killings in Pakistan that seems poised to changing the country’s laws.


“Ave Maria”

“Day One”

“Everything Will Be Okay (Alles Wird Gut)”



Will win: “Shok,” the first Kosovo Oscar nominee, gets the edge for its affecting tale of friendship between two Kosovan boys and their awful encounters with Serbian troops.

Could win: “Ave Maria,” a geopolitical satire about a group of nuns helping Israeli travelers, seems to be the consensus favorite. But the humor feels a bit too forced for it to win.



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