Once again, the Oscars are upon us, and this year the awards are filled with controversy. Diversity is the buzzword, and it is something that Hollywood needs to acknowledge and meaningfully consider.
No, I am not suggesting that the best performances be based upon race or ethnicity. Best performances are simply the best performances regardless of the color of your skin, and we can’t reach the point where we establish some quota relating to the nominations.
On the other hand, Hollywood does have a problem with race, and that was reflected by last year’s failure to properly recognize “Selma” and the decision to overlook the tremendous impact of “Straight Outta Compton” this year. On top of that, it is also hard to justify the nomination of Sylvester Stallone for “Creed” and ignore the tremendous performance of Michael B. Jordan and director Ryan Coogler. Furthermore, to nominate Jennifer Jason Leigh, a white actress for “The Hateful Eight,” and ignore the incredible performance of Samuel L. Jackson is unfortunate by any definition.
However, in defense of Hollywood, it has shown an ability to recognize both transgender and gay issues as reflected by nominations for “The Danish Girl” and “Carol.” The Oscars have clear shortcomings, but one should not ignore progress being made in important areas.
So on to my predictions for this year. Clearly, my prognostications were borderline at best last year, but even the best baseball hitters strike out at times. With that feeble defense, here is what I see coming on Feb. 28.
Picture – “The Big Short”
Quite honestly, if it was left up to me, I would pick “Brooklyn.” And while I loved “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “Spotlight” and “The Revenant,” I feel that “The Big Short” will win as it did a spectacular job focusing on the economic collapse of 2008.
Actor – Leonardo DiCaprio for “The Revenant”
He earned it and he deserves it. End of story.
Actress – Brie Larson for “The Room”
Again, if it was left up to me I would split the award between Ms. Larson and Saoirse Ronan for her wonderful performance in “Brooklyn.” On the other hand, Ms. Larson is colossal in a role that should be remembered, so she is the likely winner.
Supporting Actor – Mark Rylance for “Bridge of Spies”
Though Sylvester Stallone remains the popular pick, I can only repeat that his nomination is a reminder of Hollywood’s diversity problem relating to race. If old white guys no longer rule, then the award should go to Mr. Rylance for his incredible and emotional portrayal of a Russian spy.
Supporting Actress – Alicia Vikander for “The Danish Girl”
Ms. Vikander deserves this Oscar, as she also could have been nominated for “Ex Machina,” “Testament of Youth” and “Man from U.N.C.L.E.”
Director – George Miller for “Mad Max: Fury Road”
This is as crowded field, and Mr. Alejandro González Iñárritu is the overwhelming favorite given that he was recently recognized by the Directors Guild of America. However, it took a genius to make “Mad Max: Fury Road” work, and this award should go to Mr. Miller.
Original Screenplay – “Spotlight”
Though “Straight Outta Compton” or “Inside Out” may sneak in, “Spotlight” was far too meaningful to go unrewarded.
Adapted Screenplay – “The Big Short”
I would love to see Nick Hornby win for “Brooklyn,” but “The Big Short” was great because of this screenplay.
Film Editing – “Mad Max: Fury Road”
This film was both daring and fun.
Cinematography – “The Revenant”
The scenery in this challenging film was overwhelming, so it deserves this Oscar.
Production Design – “Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The Revenant” may win, but “Mad Max: Fury Road” displayed numerous, unforgettable set pieces.
Animated Feature – “Inside Out”
Regardless of my accuracy on other picks, this one is a certainty. What a lovely film.
Foreign Language Film – “Son of Saul”
While I haven’t seen the other nominees, it doesn’t matter. And by the way, try to see “Labyrinth of Lies,” a non-nominated film that attacks the Holocaust from another perspective.
Costume Design – “Mad Max: Fury Road”
This was one of the great accomplishments of this multi-nominated film.
Makeup and Hair Styling – “Mad Max: Fury Road”
Again, “The Revenant” may sneak through given the depiction of the wounds suffered by Mr. DiCaprio, but I still think “Mad Max: Fury Road” will end up with the award.
Visual Effects – “Mad Max: Fury Road”
It received multiple nominations for a reason.
Sound Mixing and Sound Editing – “The Revenant”
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and “Mad Max: Fury Road” lurk, but I think these two awards will recognize Mr. DiCaprio’s mauling.
Documentary Feature – “Amy”
I’m still profoundly upset that “Best of Enemies” and “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief” were left off this list, but “Amy” is clearly the best of the rest.
Animated Short Film – “World of Tomorrow”
The favorite may be “Sanjay’s Super Team,” but I think “World of Tomorrow’s” dramatic theme centering on our past and future may sneak through. And by the way, see the non-nominated “Lava,” which played before “Inside Out.”
Live Action Short Film – “Day One”
Though “Ave Maria” is the favorite, both “Day One” and “Shok” will bring tears to your eyes. “Day One” flattened me, and I suspect it wins the prize.
Original Song – “Writing’s on the Wall,” from “Spectre”
Quite frankly, this is a category where I hesitate to pick any of them, but I’m going with the recognized work of Jimmy Napes and Sam Smith.
Original Score – “The Hateful Eight”
Wouldn’t it be ironic if the only Oscar received for Quentin Tarantino’s uber-violent film was for the music?
Documentary Short – “A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness”
None of these films have passed my way, but I would be surprised if this film does not claim the award based upon the praise it has received from many quarters.
So there you have it. See how Chris Rock handles the diversity issue and related protests as the host, and let me know what you think.•
Robert Hammerle practices criminal law in Indianapolis at Pence Hensel LLC as of counsel. When he is not in the courtroom or the office, Bob can likely be found at one of his favorite movie theaters watching and preparing to review the latest films. To read more of his reviews, visit www.bigmouthbobs.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.