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Bridge Of Spies (#110 of 6)

Oscar 2016 Winner Predictions Picture

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Oscar 2016 Winner Predictions: Picture

20th Century Fox

Oscar 2016 Winner Predictions: Picture

Ed’s fanciful daydream yesterday of simply posting an angry-face emoji in place of a prediction article for best director, while droll, gets right to the heart of the frustrations anyone who follows the Oscar race in real time—in other words, the damned. First and foremost among them, those who actually make a living on, to quote Faye Dunaway’s Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest, “supplying the grease that makes this shitty movie business work.” In a piece positively dripping with subtweet shade, former Slant contributor Calum Marsh took a look at the role full-time Oscar bloggers play in devaluing the entire enterprise—an enterprise, one hastens to add, built on awarding such enduring classics as Cavalcade, Cimarron, and The Great Ziegfeld.

Oscar 2016 Winner Predictions Supporting Actor

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Oscar 2016 Winner Predictions: Supporting Actor

Warner Bros.

Oscar 2016 Winner Predictions: Supporting Actor

If, as Ed pointed out yesterday, supporting means its own antonym in the world of Oscar, then a wide-open race also means the opposite. Maybe it’s just that full-time awards-circuit journos have the same rooting interest in the illusion of competition that bookies do—bookies who, despite acknowledging a frontrunner, still see this as the closest of the four acting categories. Sure, the myth of a nail-biter is likely to make the eventual four losers feel a lot better, but then again, so can a goody bag filled with a vaporizer, trips to Israel and Japan, the world’s most expensive toilet paper, and a blood-migrating breast lift.

Much as we’d love to see Mark Ruffalo finalize his transformation into beardom with a freshly plumped vampire rack, he joins Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight co-star Rachel McAdams as probably the least likely to win in their respective categories. It’s not problematic in and of itself that, as a pavement-pounding reporter, he gets the film’s one unabashed moment of Oscar-clip scenery-chewing as he rips his editor’s decision to sit on a story (a moment, having worked in newsrooms, I’d have to say Spotlight could have used plenty more of). But his righteous tantrum doesn’t mesh with a film that tastefully flaunts its cohesive ensemble.

Oscar 2016 Winner Predictions Sound Mixing

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Oscar 2016 Winner Predictions: Sound Mixing

20th Century Fox

Oscar 2016 Winner Predictions: Sound Mixing

It’s that time when we’ve more or less gotten everything we have to say about the Oscars out of our cynical systems and, cruelly, we have to say something, anything, about the two categories that Ed Gonzalez and I want absolutely nothing to do with. Earlier this year, when agreeing again to participate in our Oscar coverage, I made exactly one stipulation: “Absolutely we can split the categories down the middle, provided you don’t sock me with both sound categories.” Ed shares my exasperation, as there’s only so many times you can regurgitate the same series of stats to rationalize your predicted winner in a category like this one, where the most interesting thing to ever happen outside of Gangs of New York losing to Chicago and The Aviator losing to Ray was Hugo winning over The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Without a musical or Martin Scorsese film in the mix this year to buck any trends, we’re left to fall back on the most reliable barometer of them all: And the Oscar for sound mixing in a movie most likely to win Best Picture goes to The Revenant.

Oscar 2016 Winner Predictions Original Screenplay

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Oscar 2016 Winner Predictions: Original Screenplay

Open Road Films

Oscar 2016 Winner Predictions: Original Screenplay

Not much to ponder here of significance beyond our increasing belief that it seems unfathomable that this year’s best picture winner can walk away with only one other Oscar, and in one of the two screenplay categories. Which is our way of saying that we see Mad Max: Fury Road and The Revenant, both nominated in every single technical category, as the films primarily gunning for the top prize, with The Big Short the possible beneficiary of a split. For our money, Spotlight has been sending off false signals for some time now of being a stronger best picture contender than it really is. No film so aesthetically (if purposefully) inert, so upright, so un-divisive has won best picture in what seems like decades, and we’re of the impression that this year isn’t one where Oscar wants to be perceived as being behind the times, even if it means making some very unfortunate decisions.

Oscar 2016 Winner Predictions Production Design

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Oscar 2016 Winner Predictions: Production Design

Warner Bros.

Oscar 2016 Winner Predictions: Production Design

Jack Fisk’s résumé boggles the mind. The production designer met his wife, Sissy Spacek, on the set of Badlands in 1972, and since then has worked on every single Terrence Malick film. (Other credits include Brian De Palma’s Carrie, David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive, and Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master.) His participation in The Revenant was perhaps inevitable, given how closely he’s worked with Emmanuel Lubezki in the last decade, and to the film’s credit, among the few things that aren’t flattened into symbolic gruel by Alejandro González Iñárritu’s torturously somber aesthetics is the astonishingly tactile quality of Fisk’s production work.

2016 Oscar Nomination Predictions

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2016 Oscar Nomination Predictions

The Weinstein Company

2016 Oscar Nomination Predictions

Every year, Oscar bloggers put on a pretty good show in pointing out how, unlike all previous years (which were inevitably forgone conclusions long before the ballots were even tallied), this year is truly a wild, unpredictable free-for-all. Maybe it’s only an affectation that allows them an opportunity to furtively inflate their own sense of accomplishment when they end up nailing at least 85 percent of the eventual nominees. But damned if this isn’t one of those years where you can at least forgive the indulgence.

Every day for the last week has seen some guild slate or another either kill or revive almost every film’s chances at least once, each twist and turn cueing a chorus of “I told you so” from those momentarily proven right. “You see? I told you Carol was too cold and cerebral.” “No way they’re going to be able to restrain themselves from nominating Star Wars: The Force Awakens when it’s slaying box-office records.” “I knew you were all underestimating how much people loved Ex Machina when it was literally the only quality studio film in theaters for a three-month span.”

While it would be an exaggeration to categorize all this sound and fury about something signifying next to nothing “fun,” at the very least the hubbub this Oscar year offers welcome respite from the grinding monotony of the presidential race. Though even there, and most certainly unlike this year’s Best Director prospects, at least the possibility exists that a woman will get a nomination.