Best Picture Nominees (2009-2016), RANKED

Since the Academy Awards reinstated the expanded Best Picture field in the 82nd Academy Awards (2009 in film), a system implemented during from 1930s to mid-1940s, the Academy has nominated 72 films for the awards’ highest honor.

Now in its eighth year, this new system has produced some of the most out-there choices, films that would not have gone anywhere near the Best Picture race had it stayed the traditional five nominees, as well as some stinkers that benefitted from the increased number of slots in the category.

Here is my ranking of the 72 Best Picture nominees from 2009 to 2016:

Gravity (2013) and Spotlight (2015) – the best nominee and the best winner of this category since the expanded category began in 2009.

BEST OF THE BEST
1. Gravity (2013)
2. Spotlight (2015) – WINNER
3. La La Land (2016)
4. Arrival (2016)
5. Birdman Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014) – WINNER
6. Inglourious Basterds (2009)
7. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2011)
8. Amour (2012)
9. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
10. The Tree of Life (2011)
11. Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)
12. Zero Dark Thirty (2012)
13. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
14. Inception (2010)
15. Black Swan (2010)
16. Whiplash (2014)
17. The Artist (2011) – WINNER
18. The Hurt Locker (2009) – WINNER
19. Up (2009)
20. Hell or High Water (2016)
21. 12 Years a Slave (2013) – WINNER
22. Les Miserables (2012)
23. Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
24. The Revenant (2015)
25. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
26. Selma (2014)
27. Up in the Air (2009)

Relatively young production/distribution company A24 scored back-to-back nominations with Room (2015) and Moonlight (2016), with the latter becoming a landmark Best Picture winner.

GREAT CHOICES
28. The King’s Speech (2010) – WINNER
29. Room (2015)
30. Moonlight (2016) – WINNER
31. The Martian (2015)
32. The Fighter (2010)
33. Her (2013)
34. The Social Network (2010)
35. Toy Story 3 (2010)
36. Brooklyn (2015)
37. Hugo (2011)
38. Midnight in Paris (2011)
39. Nebraska (2013)
40. District 9 (2009)
41. Captain Phillips (2013)
42. Lincoln (2012)
43. Lion (2015)
44. An Education (2009)
45. True Grit (2010)

EARNED THOSE BEST PICTURE NOMINATIONS
46. Life of Pi (2012)
47. Boyhood (2014)
48. Hidden Figures (2016)
49. Manchester by the Sea (2016)
50. A Serious Man (2009)
51. Winter’s Bone (2010)
52. Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (2009)
53. Fences (2016)
54. Dallas Buyers Club (2013)
55. Philomena (2013)
56. The Imitation Game (2014)
57. Moneyball (2011)
58. The Kids are All Right (2010)
59. The Help (2011)
60. 127 Hours (2010)
61. Hacksaw Ridge (2016)
62. American Hustle (2013)

STRIKING MERITS DESPITE MY INDIFFERENCE (ON VARYING LEVELS)
63. Argo (2012) – WINNER
64. The Big Short (2015)
65. American Sniper (2014)
66. Django Unchained (2012)
67. Avatar (2009)
68. War Horse (2011)

I WON’T CHOOSE THEM, BUT I UNDERSTAND THE MENTION
69. The Theory of Everything (2014)
70. The Descendants (2011)

THOSE BAD APPLES FROM THE BUNCH – WHY?
71. Bridge of Spies (2015)
72. The Blind Side (2009)

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89th Academy Awards: The Aftermath

Photo courtesy of Variety.

Photo courtesy of Variety.

This day has been quite an emotional roller-coaster for me (I downloaded the awards show last night as I isolated myself from all news and social media).

After missing a lot of categories in the first half, I was convinced that La La Land was probably not winning Best Picture… until it started winning big time, getting six wins including major awards for Best Director (Damien Chazelle) and Best Actress (Emma Stone). I know there was the big possibility of a Moonlight win, but then La La Land was announced so I was extremely happy…

Not for long. Moonlight was the actual winner for Best Picture after an unfortunate backstage blunder. La La Land is my favorite to win, but that doesn’t diminish Moonlight’s over-all accomplishment; it’s unlike any other winner, thematically, artistically, emotionally. It’s an important film that doesn’t just serve a social importance. It is a cinematic milestone.

With that mishap, I will treasure both films as 2016’s masterpieces of cinema, alongside others like Arrival and Hell or High Water, among others.

In this year when so many people have declared the death of cinema, I seriously doubt that. The nominees this year have given an encompassing set of human experiences that are the main reason why film is so important.

I actually was kinda happy that Moonlight won since it will save La La Land the reputation of the one that beat the socially significant Moonlight, thus earning it more backlash.

I’d like both films to stand alongside one another as the proof of 2016’s cinematic zenith, together with the several films, nominated or otherwise.

I still have a lot to watch from this year (as I am so near the end of my quest for 2014, mind you), but this slate of Oscar nominees has made me proud to be someone who wants to make films.

And both films make want to make a film soon. We’ll see.

89th Academy Awards – FINAL PREDICTIONS

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This time of the year has come. In this post, rather than just doing a will win/could win (as every nominee has a chance to win, at least theoretically), I’d rank the nominees per category according to the probability of winning. So here it goes.

Nominee in bold is the predicted winner.

NOTE: No personal preference here would not come into play here.

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oscars2017-bestpicture-rearrange
Best Picture

1. La La Land
2. Moonlight (if it resonates more; who hates it?)
3. Hidden Figures (if the late love is real)
4. Manchester by the Sea
5. Arrival
6. Hacksaw Ridge
7. Lion
8. Hell or High Water
9. Fences

Best Director
1. Damien Chazelle – La La Land
2. Barry Jenkins – Moonlight
3. Denis Villeneuve – Arrival
4. Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester by the Sea
5. Mel Gibson – Hacksaw Ridge

Best Actor (tight race!)
1. Denzel Washington – Fences (if SAG stat holds up)
2. Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea (equal chances with # 1)
3. Ryan Gosling – La La Land (shocker, in a sweep)
4. Andrew Garfield – Hacksaw Ridge
5. Viggo Mortensen – Captain Fantastic

Best Actress
1. Emma Stone – La La Land (SAG winner, in Best Picture frontrunner)
2. Isabelle Huppert – Elle (because she campaigned hard + veteran status)
3. Natalie Portman – Jackie (if the performance sticks even if Jackie didn’t)
4. Meryl Streep – Florence Foster Jenkins
5. Ruth Negga – Loving

Best Supporting Actor
1. Mahershala Ali – Moonlight
2. Dev Patel – Lion (close second; lead advantage)
3. Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water
4. Michael Shannon – Nocturnal Animals
5. Lucas Hedges – Manchester by the Sea

Best Supporting Actress
1. Viola Davis – Fences (close to a lock)
2. Naomie Harris – Moonlight (if anyone will shock, it’s her)
3. Michelle Williams – Manchester by the Sea
4. Nicole Kidman – Lion
5. Octavia Spencer – Hidden Figures

Best Original Screenplay
1. La La Land (in a sweep)
2. Manchester by the Sea (if they want to reward MBTS)
3. Hell or High Water (if they really loved it)
4. The Lobster (because why not)
5. 20th Century Women

Best Adapted Screenplay (toss up)
1. Moonlight (if they want to reward Moonlight)
2. Arrival (don’t underestimate this)
3. Hidden Figures (if the late love is real)
4. Lion (if they loved it)
5. Fences (because it’s August Wilson)

Best Animated Feature
1. Zootopia
2. Kubo and the Two Strings
3. Moana
4. My Life as a Zucchini
5. The Red Turtle

Best Documentary Feature
1. 13th (I’m calling this one)
2. O.J.: Made in America (will its length be a factor to win/lose?)
3. Fire at Sea
4. I Am Not Your Negro
5. Life, Animated

Best Foreign Language Film
1. Iran – The Salesman (because the timing is right)
2. Germany – Toni Erdmann (critics’ favorite)
3. Sweden – A Man Called Ove
4. Denmark – Land of Mine
5. Australia – Tanna

Best Cinematography
1. La La Land (because wow, those long takes! colors!)
2. Lion
3. Arrival
4. Moonlight
5. Silence

Best Film Editing
1. La La Land
2. Arrival
3. Hacksaw Ridge
4. Moonlight
5. Hell or High Water

Best Sound Mixing
1. La La Land
2. Arrival
3. Hacksaw Ridge
4. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
5. 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

Best Sound Editing
1. Hacksaw Ridge
2. La La Land (in a sweep)
3. Arrival
4. Deepwater Horizon
5. Sully

Best Original Score
1. La La Land (what else? clear favorite)
2. Lion (or maybe this one? emotional)
3. Moonlight (if the film is that strong on the voters)
4. Passengers
5. Jackie

Best Visual Effects
1. The Jungle Book
2. Kubo and the Two Strings (it has come THIS far)
3. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
4. Doctor Strange
5. Deepwater Horizon

Best Makeup and Hairstyling (toss-up)
1. Star Trek Beyond
2. A Man Called Ove
3. Suicide Squad (because why not)

Best Production Design
1. La La Land (in a sweep)
2. Arrival
3. Hail, Caesar!
4. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
5. Passengers

Best Costume Design
1. La La Land (in a sweep; fearless forecast)
2. Jackie (logical choice, but where’s the love for Jackie?)
3. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
4. Florence Foster Jenkins
5. Allied

Best Original Song
1. “City of Stars” – La La Land
2. “How Far I’ll Go” – Moana (it’s Lin Manuel-Miranda)
3. “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” – La La Land
4. “Can’t Stop the Feeling” – Trolls
5. “The Empty Chair” – Jim: The James Foley Story

Best Live-Action Short Film
1. Ennemis Intérieurs
2. Silent Nights
3. Sing
4. La Femme et le TGV
5. Timecode

Best Animated Short Film
1. Piper
2. Pearl
3. Blind Vaysha
4. Borrowed Time
5. Pear Cider and Cigarettes

Best Documentary Short Subject
1. The White Helmets
2. Joe’s Violin
3. Extremis
4. Watani: My Homeland
5. 4.1 Miles

On This Year’s Best Picture Nominees (and why they all connected with me on a personal level)

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This post is not to talk about which is the best of this year’s Best Picture nominees; rather, this is to personally appreciate how these films has touched me on a personal level.

This is one of the gifts of the expanded Best Picture field. I really prefer the sealed ten nominees, but I’d take this ongoing system rather than go back to the five nominees slate. Come on, there’s got to be at least ten deserving films per year.

Aside from non-deservers like The Blind Side, The Descendants, and Bridge of Spies, this expanded field has led to some very interesting choices. If not for this expansion, I doubt films like Up, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Amour, and Selma would have made the five-nominee field. And I love all of these films. Point being, this new system is a gift, at least for me and I also hope to others.

However, no other year has given me a slate of nominees that have really had a very personal effect on me than this year. This is not to talk about the quality of the over-all roster; for that, I’d say 2010 and 2013 were the most consistently excellent fields while 2012 gave five films that I consider to be classic.

This is to state how all films have affected me on a personal level at this point in my life, and I can say no other group of nominees had all of the films in it move me than this year.

Troy Maxson is far from likable; he commits mistakes, does not accept anything going against him, and he wears it all in his sleeve. Despite this, he works hard so much just to provide to his family. His wife Rose, on the other hand, struggles to keep their family together while remaining in silence and submission, just so that she could be a good wife to Troy and a homemaker to her whole family. Her compassion to everyone around her is unwavering even if she mostly gets unnoticed and taken for granted. Fences gives an insight on how we extend our love to the people around us despite our inherent imperfections and differences with one another.

The main characters of Hell or High Water demonstrate different forms of love that is far from verbal. Maybe because of the socially-instilled machismo where saying one’s feelings is often read as a sign of weakness, these men express love in ways that fit their society. Toby Howard goes into a series of bank robberies in the hopes of securing a better future for his children. All along, his ex-con brother Tanner helps him execute Toby’s desire of helping the children. On the other side, Texas Ranger Marcus Hamilton casually throws racial insults to his longtime partner and friend Alberto Parker, a man of Indian-Mexican descents. In that insult-as-term-of-endearment relationship dynamics between these two, it just feels all too familiar and authentic.

Lee Chandler, the emotionally wrecked center of Manchester by the Sea, is entrusted to take custody of his nephew after his brother’s death. Regarded with some infamy due to a previous tragedy in the same town of his brother, Lee struggles to connect with his now-grown up nephew and his ex-wife from a marriage that ended on some really bad terms. In flashbacks, we witness the stark contrast between his past and his painful present. This film makes us see Lee beyond what we see of him now. He is a man created by a series of highs and lows in life and most people fail to see that. They just see Lee as the drab janitor or even “the Lee Chandler”. This film makes us realize the power of empathy to one another and how it could help us build connections with one another.

Helping one another is also at the core of Hidden Figures. In an effort to send the first American into space, the team at NASA are forced to work together and set aside the culturally-imposed racial segregation and discrimination. The film makes us see how we can achieve so much by setting aside our differences and focusing on working with one another towards a common goal. In a time when we have so much divisiveness, this film show us the power of change that we can make through unity. The film also demonstrates how the protagonists still did their best to serve that very common goal despite oppressive and unfavorable circumstances.

In possibly one of the most daring films of recent memory, Moonlight shines light on how one man grows up and finds himself in the context of a society that is not so accepting of a man like him. As I recall what a character from the important documentary Paris is Burning once said, life is so much harder for an African-American homosexual living in poverty. I am guilty of self-doubt and occasional self-loathing in many forms. In our dispensation when we are so concerned in looking at each other’s faults, with the “me generation” that has been promulgated by different social media platforms and technology, when validation is equated to a Facebook like, this film shows us how we learn the value of acceptance, whether be it ourselves or someone close to us.

Acceptance is also a strong theme in the heartbreaking Lion. Saroo has lived a life of tragedy, and he has done his best, as well as his adoptive parents, to shelter him from the tragedies of the past. However, his initial hesitance to acknowledge his past only brought him sorrow. It also brought him even closer to what he has been constantly avoiding. Despite the looming hopelessness in undertaking the colossal task of tracing his hometown, his persistence in holding on to the hope of finding his family and going back to where he really came. Looking back is bittersweet, but mostly painful. Not really because of the bad memories, but just like Saroo, it is the thought of never being able to bring back the small joys of the past that brings him pain. This film provides great catharsis in the thought that tragedies like Saroo’s separation from his family resulted him to experience unconditional love from both his families.

Perhaps eliciting the most surprising response from me, Hacksaw Ridge goes into the struggles of a believer. Bullied by his comrades in the army because of his refusal to take arms because of religious belief, Desmond Doss sets out to serve his country even without taking a rifle. Even up to the battlefields where violence is the reigning virtue, Doss refuses. It is his steadfast adherence to his faith that really moved me. Coming from a family that does not believe in Roman Catholicism, the major religion in the Philippines, casual bullying and insults because of my different religious belief were common ever since I was a child. I was lucky enough that no one had physically hurt me yet because of my beliefs, but I know people of the same belief that have been hurt. Being discriminated because of my religious belief, I know that too well. And just like Desmond’s experience in Okinawa, there are moments in life where it is much more convenient to just abandon your faith in the moment. This film proves the power of one’s steadfast adherence to his faith and how it can impact the people around him even if he is being ridiculed or reviled.

At this point in out history, we have never seen dominance of divisive world leaders. May be it the feared domination of Russia’s Putin or the disgusting racism and sexism of America’s Trump or even the inconsistencies in the political stances of Philippines’ Duterte, not to mention is ever-criticized war on drugs that has produced both irrational supporters and harsh critics, the world is nowhere near united. As with the case of the Philippines, well, both Duterte critics and supporters have been strongly divided. Social media have become a venue for rabid attacks from both sides no one is going to back down. In a time when divisiveness is unstoppable, the glorious science fiction Arrival reminds us of the power of communication and of helping each other out. Just like Hidden Figures, it is about setting aside our differences and coming together to achieve what we really need. And in this film, it can all start from a mother whose love for her daughter transcends the limitations of time and space.

And on a very personal note, after graduating from film school, I started questioning my desire to work in film. I do want to be a filmmaker, but I have got to start from scratch. It is not an easy career. As evidenced by many young filmmakers, passion is what drives someone to go into filmmaking, not practicality. And I am at this point in my life where the aspirations of sparking change into society by making films are slowly falling apart. My priority is now practicality: waking up, doing household chores, finding a stable job, watching a film or two, going to sleep, and then repeat. At this point in my life, I am still asking myself, is my dreams in filmmaking worth pursuing? What would it cost? Is it worth the agony, the sleeplessness, the exhaustion? Is it worth being separated from your loved ones? Those are the very same questions that La La Land raises. Truth be told, this is a film that I needed to see at his point in my life, just like how last year’s Spotlight was the one essential film for me at that point.

These films just resonate even more because of what is happening in the world and what is currently happening in my life. These films needed to be made and released in 2016.

Never have I experienced such self-assessment and meditation while watching a batch of Best Picture nominees.I can find a bit of myself in all of the nominees. This was a great batch.

And to a lesser important note, here is my initial ranking of the nominees:

1.& 2. Arrival and La La Land (let me decide in the future)
3. Hell or High Water
4. Moonlight
5. Lion
6. Hidden Figures
7. Manchester by the Sea
8. Hacksaw Ridge
9. Fences

88th Academy Awards Nominations – FINAL PREDICTIONS

88thoscars_key_hostHere it is! With the craziness this awards season have, I feel like it’s the right time to be gutsier with my predictions. I don’t know/care if I fare poorly with my predictions; it’s an all-too-unpredictable race with all precedent stats and precursors thrown out of the window, it’s just right to give my forecast come Thursday morning.

(Note: I did not include predictions for the three short film categories – live action, animated, documentary).

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Best Picture

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  • The Big Short
  • Bridge of Spies
  • The Martian
  • The Revenant
  • Spotlight

… if 6 – Mad Max: Fury Road
… if 7 – Carol
… if 8 – Room
(I’m predicting 8)
… if 9 – Straight Outta Compton
… if 10 – Inside Out

Alt: (#11) Sicario | (#12) Brooklyn | (#13) Son of Saul | (#14) Ex Machina | (#15) Star Wars: The Force Awakens | (#16) Beasts of No Nation | (#17) Joy | (#18) Steve Jobs | (#19) Trumbo | (#20) Creed | (#21) The Danish Girl

Very very tough to predict especially from #8 to # 16. The Danish Girl may lack the visible passion, but you never know since it’s an emotional story that feels timely despite being a period film. The buzz for Creed, Trumbo, and Steve Jobs has faded, but might pull viable longshots. Hear me out with Joy – despite getting mixed reviews, again, it is a timely film; never forget Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close got nominated in 2011 despite much more polarizing reviews.

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Best Director

2015-5-Feature-Mad-Max-George-Miller-set-WB

  • Todd Haynes – Carol
  • George Miller – Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Ridley Scott – The Martian
  • Alejandro G. Iñarritu – The Revenant
  • Tom McCarthy – Spotlight

Alt: (#6) Adam McKay – The Big Short | (#7) Steven Spielberg – Bridge of Spies | (#8) Laszlo Nemes – Son of Saul | (#9) Denis Villeneuve – Sicario | (#10) Alex Garland – Ex Machina

Haynes is definitely the most vulnerable here with his film lacking guild support. McCarthy is also not a sure thing since Spotlight slipped a bit from its frontrunner status. Scott and Miller, while veterans and could play that card, are with non-traditional films (comedy sci-fi and apocalyptic action film), making Iñarritu the only safe choice. McKay seemed like a safer prediction with its current frontrunner status, but screw it – I’m going with Haynes.

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Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

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  • Steve Carell – The Big Short
  • Bryan Cranston – Trumbo
  • Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant
  • Michael Fassbender – Steve Jobs
  • Eddie Redmayne – The Danish Girl

Alt: (#6) Matt Damon – The Martian | (#7) Will Smith – Concussion | (#8) Ian McKellen – Mr. Holmes | (#9) Geza Rohrig – Son of Saul | (#10) Johnny Depp – Black Mass | (#11) Michael B. Jordan – Creed | (#12) Michael Caine – Youth

DiCaprio is the frontrunner, Cranston and Fassbender are safe, Redmayne seems to be coasting towards a nomination despite the lack of passion for the film. Carell is my predicted semi-spoiler to replace Golden Globe winner Damon.

Watch out for both Smith and especially McKellen as surprise nominees, given how they worked the campaign circuit. Son of Saul certainly has presence and makes Rohrig a feasible longshot. Buzz for Depp has faded, but might get in especially because of his star power.

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Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

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  • Cate Blanchett – Carol
  • Brie Larson – Room
  • Jenifer Lawrence – Joy
  • Charlotte Rampling – 45 Years
  • Saoirse Ronan – Brooklyn

Alt: (#6) Alicia Vikander – The Danish Girl | (#7) Rooney Mara – Carol | (#8) Emily Blunt – Sicario | (#9) Charlize Theron – Mad Max: Fury Road | (#10) Blythe Danner – I’ll See You in My Dreams | (#11) Lily Tomlin – Grandma | (#12) Maggie Smith – The Lady in the Van | (#13) Sarah Silverman – I Smile Back | (#14) Helen Mirren – Woman in Gold

Blanchett, Larson, and Ronan are safe. Rampling has solid critical support backing her a la Emmanuelle Riva (2012) and Marion Cotillard (2014). Lawrence is the most vulnerable despite the Golden Globe win (it doesn’t count). Normal logic would dictate Vikander or Mara but category confusion and vote splitting are foreseeable hurdles.

If the strong guild support signals Sicario’s prevalence come Thursday morning then expect Blunt pulling off a surprise nomination. Theron could also use the critical support on her performance despite having a film atypical in terms of acting nominations.

#10 to #12 are all veterans seemingly on the hunt of the same spot; I give the edge to Danner for being the first screener sent, then Tomlin for peaking at an early time, albeit too early,  then Smith for the late surge of support. Silverman’s SAG nomination must not be unseen, the same with Mirren (though she would probably get more votes for Trumbo).

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Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

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  • Christian Bale – The Big Short
  • Tom Hardy – The Revenant
  • Mark Rylance – Bridge of Spies
  • Sylvester Stallone – Creed
  • Jacob Tremblay – Room

Alt: (#6) Michael Keaton – Spotlight | (#7) Idris Elba – Beasts of No Nation | (#8) Mark Ruffalo – Spotlight | (#9) Paul Dano – Love and Mercy | (#10) Benicio del Toro – Sicario | (#11) Michael Shannon – 99 Homes | (#12) Jason Mitchell – Straight Outta Compton | (#13) Oscar Isaac – Ex Machina | (#14) Stanley Tucci – Spotlight

Rylance is the only one safe for the nomination, and he’s not even safe for the win. Bale is also a good bet to be nominated even if some see him as leading. Hardy can ride with DiCaprio’s buzz, Stallone would get a veteran vote (again, not counting his Golden Globe victory), and if Brie Larson is the frontrunner for Best Actress, they must notice Tremblay.

Keaton has the goodwill from last year’s loss for Birdman and he has the biggest role in the Spotlight cast but the lack of notices and the NYFCC win for LEADING might hurt. Elba has critical support but his film seems like an outsider in the race. In Spotlight’s cast, Ruffalo has the “big” scene and BAFTA noticed. Dano had a strong showing throughout the precursor awards, but buzz for the film slips away and category confusion hurts.

If Sicario shows up well, del Toro can show up. Shannon earns both Golden Globe and SAG nominations for a very small film, meaning the performance made a strong impression, but the strength of the film must be seen when pitted against the bigger contenders. Mitchell gets MVP notices for Straight Outta Compton, Isaac might show up if Ex Machina fares really well, and Tucci is definitely getting support for his small but memorable role in Spotlight.

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Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

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

Alt: (#6) Alicia Vikander – Ex Machina | (#7) Helen Mirren – Trumbo | (#8) Joan Allen – Room | (#9) Jane Fonda – Youth | (#10) Kristen Stewart – Clouds of Sils Maria | (#11) Elizabeth Banks – Love and Mercy | (#12) Marion Cotillard – MacBeth

Winslet is the only one safe here for the nomination. Mara is in the big threat of category confusion. Vikander has a double whammy – category confusion for The Danish Girl and vote splitting with Ex Machina. Between the two, I’m predicting they’d settle for the more traditional role (The Danish Girl) than an outré one (Ex Machina) The Hateful Eight is not showing up so strongly so Leigh is not very safe and McAdams is in danger of Spotlight losing its footing as the strong frontrunner, of being overlooked for bigger and showier performances in the cast, and of being pitted against bigger and showier performances from other films including obvious leads and co-leads.

Mirren has a fun, scene-stealing performance in Trumbo that doesn’t have much substance compared to the other competing performances, Joan Allen shines with her limited time in Room and might benefit from Larson’s frontrunner status but the film is losing Best Picture buzz, and Fonda is a strong presence in the Academy and is said to have a memorable part in Youth. Stewart, Banks, and Cotillard all have critical support going for them, therefore making them viable longshots.

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Best Original Screenplay

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  • Bridge of Spies
  • The Hateful Eight
  • Inside Out
  • Spotlight
  • Trainwreck

Alt: (#6) Ex Machina | (#7) Straight Outta Compton | (#8) Son of Saul | (#9) Sicario | (#10) Grandma

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Best Adapted Screenplay

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  • The Big Short
  • Brooklyn
  • The Martian
  • Room
  • Steve Jobs

Alt: (#6) Carol | (#7) The Revenant | (#8) Trumbo | (#9) Anomalisa | (#10) The Danish Girl

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Best Cinematography

The-Revenant1

  • Bridge of Spies
  • Carol
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Revenant
  • Sicario

Alt: (#6) Son of Saul | (#7) The Hateful Eight | (#8) The Martian | (#9) The Danish Girl | (#10) Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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Best Film Editing

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  • The Big Short
  • Bridge of Spies
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Martian
  • Spotlight

Alt: (#6) Straight Outta Compton | (#7) The Revenant | (#8) Sicario | (#9) Carol | (#10) Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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Best Sound Mixing

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  • Bridge of Spies
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Martian
  • The Revenant
  • Straight Outta Compton

Alt: (#6) Star Wars: The Force Awakens | (#7) Spectre | (#8) Sicario | (#9) The Hateful Eight

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Best Sound Editing

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  • Inside Out
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Martian
  • The Revenant
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Alt: (#6) Bridge of Spies | (#7) Sicario | (#8) Spectre | (#9) The Hateful Eight

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Best Original Score

  • Bridge of Spies (Thomas Newman)
  • Carol (Carter Burwell)
  • The Hateful Eight (Ennio Morricone)
  • Inside Out (Michael Giacchino)
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens (John Williams)

Alt: (#6) Spotlight | (#7) The Danish Girl | (#8) Mad Max: Fury Road | (#9) Steve Jobs | (#10) Sicario | (#11) The Martian | (#12) Brooklyn | (#13) Ex Machina

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Best Visual Effects

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  • Ex Machina
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Martian
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • The Walk

Alt: (#6) Avengers: Age of Ultron | (#7) The Revenant | (#8) Jurassic World | (#9) Ant-Man | (#10) Tomorrowland

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Best Makeup and Hairstyling

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  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Mr. Holmes
  • The Revenant

Alt: (#4) The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared | (#5) Black Mass | (#6) Concussion | (#7) Legend

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Best Production Design

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  • Bridge of Spies
  • Carol
  • The Danish Girl
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Martian

Alt: (#6) Star Wars: The Force Awakens | (#7) The Revenant | (#8) Room | (#9) The Hateful Eight | (#10) Brooklyn

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Best Costume Design

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  • Brooklyn
  • Carol
  • Cinderella
  • The Danish Girl
  • Far from the Madding Crowd

Alt: (#6) MacBeth | (#7) The Revenant | (#8) The Hateful Eight | (#9) Mad Max: Fury Road | (#10) Crimson Peak

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Best Original Song

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  • “I’ll See You in My Dreams” – I’ll See You in My Dreams
  • “See You Again” – Furious 7
  • “Simple Song # 3” – Youth
  • “’Til It Happens to You” – The Hunting Ground
  • “Writing’s on the Wall” – Spectre

Alt: (#6) “Who Can You Trust” – Spy | (#7) “So Long” – Concussion | (#8) “Waiting for My Moment” – Creed | (#9) “Earned It” – Fifty Shades of Grey | (#10) “Cold One” – Ricki and the Flash

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Best Foreign Language Film

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  • Belgium – The Brand New Testament
  • France – Mustang
  • Hungary – Son of Saul
  • Jordan – Theeb
  • Denmark – A War

Alt: (#6) Ireland – Viva | (#7) Finland – The Fencer | (#8) “Colombia – Embrace of the Serpent | (#9) Germany – Labyrinth of Lies

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Best Animated Feature

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  • Anomalisa
  • The Good Dinosaur
  • Inside Out
  • Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet
  • Shaun the Sheep Movie

Alt: (#6) The Peanuts Movie | (#7) When Marnie was There | (#8) Moomins in the Riviera | (#9) Boy and the World | (#10) Minions

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Best Documentary Feature

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  • Amy
  • Best of Enemies
  • The Hunting Ground
  • The Look of Silence
  • Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom

Alt: (#6) Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief | (#7) Listen to Me Marlon | (#8) Heart of a Dog | (#9) He Named Me Malala | (#10) 3 ½ Minutes, 10 Bullets | (#11) We Come as Friends | (#12) Where to Invade Next

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What’s your predictions?

 

FINAL PREDICTIONS! (for the 86th Academy Awards Nominations)

Here is my fearless forecast of the nominees for the 86th Academy Awards!
(Those in bold are my predicted nominees. Entries are arranged by the strongest chance of getting nominated.)
The leading contenders for Best Picture - 12 Years A Slave, Gravity, and American Hustle.

The leading contenders for Best Picture – 12 Years A Slave, Gravity, and American Hustle.

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BEST PICTURE (I’m counting NINE nominees):
Safe Bets:
1 – 12 Years A Slave
2 – American Hustle
3 – Gravity
4 – Nebraska
5 – Captain Philips

Shaky, But Likely the Ones to Complete the List:
6 – Her
7 – The Wolf of Wall Street
8 – Inside Llewyn Davis
9 – Dallas Buyers Club

They Could Knock Down the Shakier Ones:
10 – Philomena
11 – Saving Mr. Banks
12 – Lee Daniels’ The Butler
13 – Blue Jasmine
14 – Rush

Longer Shots, But Possible Spoilers:
15 – Before Midnight
16 – Blue is the Warmest Color
17 – Fruitvale Station

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BEST DIRECTOR

Safe Bets:
1 – Alfonso Cuaron – Gravity
2 – Steve McQueen – 12 Years A Slave
3 – David O. Russell – American Hustle

Fighting for the Slots:
4 – Paul Greengrass – Captain Philips
5 – Spike Jonze – Her
6 – Alexander Payne – Nebraska
7 – Martin Scorsese – The Wolf of Wall Street
8 – Joel & Ethan Coen – Inside Llewyn Davis

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BEST ACTOR

Safe Bets:
1 – Chiwetel Ejiofor – 12 Years A Slave
2 – Bruce Dern – Nebraska
3 – Tom Hanks – Captain Philips

Fighting for the Slots:
4 – Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club
5 – Leonardo DiCaprio – The Wolf of Wall Street
6 – Robert Redford – All is Lost
7 – Oscar Isaac – Inside Llewyn Davis
8 – Christian Bale – American Hustle
9 – Forest Whitaker – Lee Daniels’ The Butler

Longer Shots, But Possible Spoilers:
10 – Joaquin Phoenix – Her
11 – Michael B. Jordan – Fruitvale Station

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BEST ACTRESS

Safe Bets:
1 – Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine
2 – Sandra Bullock – Gravity
3 – Emma Thompson – Saving Mr. Banks

Fighting for the Slots:
4 – Meryl Streep – August: Osage County
5 – Amy Adams – American Hustle
6 – Judi Dench – Philomena
7 – Adele Exarchopoulos – Blue is the Warmest Color

Longer Shots, But Possible Spoilers:
8 – Greta Gerwig – Frances Ha
9 – Brie Larson – Short Term 12
10 – Julie Delpy – Before Midnight

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BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Safe Bets:
1 – Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club
2 – Michael Fassbender – 12 Years A Slave

Fighting for the Slots:
3 – Barkhad Abdi – Captain Philips
4 – Bradley Cooper – American Hustle
5 – Daniel Bruhl – Rush
6 – Jonah Hill – The Wolf of Wall Street
7 – James Gandolfini – Enough Said
8 – Will Forte – Nebraska
9 – Tom Hanks – Saving Mr. Banks

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BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Safe Bets:
1 – Lupita Nyong’o – 12 Years A Slave
2 – Jennifer Lawrence – American Hustle
3 – June Squibb – Nebraska

Fighting for the Slots:
4 – Oprah Winfrey – Lee Daniels’ The Butler
5 – Julia Roberts – August: Osage County
6 – Sally Hawkins – Blue Jasmine
7 – Octavia Spencer – Fruitvale Station

Longer Shots, But Possible Spoilers:
8 – Jennifer Garner – Dallas Buyers Club
9 – Sarah Paulson – 12 Years A Slave

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BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Safe Bets:
1 – American Hustle
2 – Nebraska
3 – Inside Llewyn Davis
4 – Her

Fighting for the Slots:
5 – Blue Jasmine
6 – Gravity
7 – Dallas Buyers Club
8 – Saving Mr. Banks

Longer Shots, But Possible Spoilers:
9 – Enough Said
10 – Frances Ha
11 – Fruitvale Station

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BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Safe Bets:
1 – 12 Years A Slave
2 – The Wolf of Wall Street
3 – Before Midnight
4 – Captain Philips
5 – Philomena

Longer Shots, But Possible Spoilers:
6 – August: Osage County
7 – Short Term 12
8 – The Spectacular Now
9 – Blue is the Warmest Color

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BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Safe Bets:
1 – Gravity
2 – Inside Llewyn Davis
3 – 12 Years A Slave

Fighting for the Slots:
4 – Prisoners
5 – Nebraska
6 – The Grandmaster
7 – The Great Gatsby
8 – Her

Longer Shots, But Still Possible:
9 – Captain Philips
10 – Rush

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BEST FILM EDITING

Safe Bets:
1 – Gravity
2 – 12 Years A Slave
3 – American Hustle
4 – Captain Philips

Fighting for the Last Slot:
5 – The Wolf of Wall Street
6 – Rush
7 – Nebraska
8 – Inside Llewyn Davis

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BEST SOUND MIXING

Safe Bets:
1 – Gravity
2 – Captain Philips
3 – 12 Years A Slave
4 – Rush

Fighting for the  Last Slot:
5 – Inside Llewyn Davis
6 – All is Lost
7 – American Hustle

Longer Shots, But Possible Spoilers:
8 – Lone Survivor
9 – Pacific Rim
10 – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

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BEST SOUND EDITING

Safe Bets:
1 – Gravity
2 – Captain Philips
3 – Rush

Fighting for the Slots:
4 – All is Lost
5 – Iron Man 3
6 – Inside Llewyn Davis

Longer Shots, But Possible Spoilers:
7 – Pacific Rim
8 – 12 Years A Slave
9 – Lone Survivor
10 – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

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BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

Safe Bets:
1 – Gravity
2 – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Fighting for the Slots:
3 – Pacific Rim
4 – Star Trek Into Darkness
5 – Iron Man 3
6 – Elysium
7 – World War Z
8 – The Lone Ranger

Longer Shots (The Rest of the Shortlist):
9 – Oblivion
10 – Thor: The Dark World

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BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

Safe Bet:
1 – American Hustle

Fighting for the Slots:
2 – Dallas Buyers Club
3 – The Great Gatsby
4 – The Lone Ranger
5 – Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
6 – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Long Shot (The Rest of the Shortlist):
7 – Bad Grandpa

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BEST ORIGINAL MUSIC SCORE

Safe Bets:
1 – Gravity
2 – 12 Years A Slave
3 – Philomena

Fighting for the Last Slot:
4 – The Book Thief
5 – All is Lost

6 – Captain Philips
7 – Rush
8 – Her
9 – Monsters University

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BEST ORIGINAL SONG

Safe Bet:
1 – “Let It Go” – Frozen

Fighting for the Slots:
2 – “Young and Beautiful” – The Great Gatsby
3 – “My Lord Sunsine (Sunrise)” – 12 Years A Slave
4 – “The Moon Song” – Her
5 – “Amen” – All is Lost
6 – “Atlas” – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
7 – “Monsters University” – Monsters University

Longer Shots, But Possible Spoilers:
8 – “Shine Your Way” – The Croods
9 – “Sweeter than Fiction” – One Chance

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BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

Safe Bets:
1 – 12 Years A Slave
2 – Gravity
3 – American Hustle
4 – The Great Gatsby
5 – Saving Mr. Banks

Possible Spoilers:
6 – Her
7 – Inside Llewyn Davis
8 – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

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BEST COSTUME DESIGN

Safe Bets:
1 – Saving Mr. Banks
2 – American Hustle
3 – The Great Gatsby
4 – Inside Llewyn Davis
5 – 12 Years A Slave

Possible Spoilers:
6 – The Invisible Woman
7 – Lee Daniels’ The Butler
8 – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

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BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

Safe Bets:
1 – Frozen
2 – The Wind Rises
3 – Monsters University
4 – The Croods
5 – Ernest & Celestine

Possible Spoilers:
6 – Epic
7 – A Letter to Momo

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BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

Safe Bets:
1 – The Act of Killing
2 – 20 Feet from Stardom
3 – Stories We Tell

Fighting for the Slots:
4 – The Square
5 – Blackfish
6 – Tim’s Vermeer
7 – The Armstrong Lie

Longer Shots, But Possible Spoilers:
8 – Cutie and the Boxer
9 – God Loves Uganda

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BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

Safe Bets:
1 – The Hunt – Denmark
2 – The Broken Circle Breakdown – Belgium
3 – The Great Beauty – Italy

Fighting for the Slots:
4 – The Grandmaster – Hong Kong
5 – The Notebook – Hungary
6 – Two Lives – Germany
7 – Omar – Palestime
8 – The Missing Picture – Cambodia

Long Shot:
9 – An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker – Bosnia & Herzegovina

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Comments and discussions below!