Very, very pleased. How else to sum up my remarkably accurate predictions for the 88th Academy Awards?
With no leeway for my sleeper picks, I correctly prognosticated 29 of the 33 nominees, an impressive—and fitting— accuracy of 88 percent. Add in Rachel McAdams and Tom Hardy (who I had designated ‘sleepers’) and that just leaves two nominees—one in the supporting actor category and one best director—that I missed.
In addition: Of my six other predicted winners in categories ranging from Best Animated Feature to Best Cinematography only one—Quentin Tarantino’s original screenplay for The Hateful Eight—did not receive a nomination.
Before we get to a category-by-category analysis, we should refocus on the most important sentence of my Oscar picks: “Sleeper: Jennifer Lawrence, Joy (And the fifth nominee [for Lead Actress] if Vikander is nominated for The Danish Girl in the Supporting Actress category).” Vikander was and, consequently, so was Lawrence. Both things proved true.
So though I had Alicia Vikander slotted in the Supporting Actress category for Ex Machina, I of course would have had her instead for The Danish Girl—and certainly not both—assuming the Academy would do what it in fact did.
Ergo I missed one (against my better inclinations) of the Supporting Actress nods, thinking the constantly amazing Helen Mirren would snag the last spot for Trumbo instead of sticking with my gut and properly nominating my ‘Sleeper’—the brilliant McAdams in Spotlight—as a top five selection. So in the end I got four of five right, but I still feel like I underperformed. (I successfully predicted the noms of Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kate Winslet, Rooney Mara and, of course, Vikander.)
As for their male counterparts, I again failed to go with my ticker—“And for my money the Supporting Actor category was the toughest. My heart says Tom Hardy—not just because he was awesome in everything from Mad Max to Legend to The Revenant—but my brain says Christian Bale. Spotlight, though, could have either Michael Keaton or Mark Ruffalo take that final spot.”—instead of relying on my fallible mind.
And I’m surprised that the mesmerizing eight year-old from Room, Jacob Tremblay, didn’t land one of the five spots. My other mistake was choosing Idris Elba from Beasts of No Nation. Neither made it with Ruffalo and Hardy taking their places.
This is where my poor luck ended.
As referenced above, I nailed the Best Actress category, correctly predicting that Brie Larson (Room), Cate Blanchett (Carol), Charlotte Rampling (45 Years), Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn) and Lawrence would all be honored.
Similar success was had with the men. While I postulated that Son of Saul’s Geza Rohrig could potentially pull a Roberto Benigni or that Abraham Attah of Beasts of No Nation could join Tremblay as two of the youngest ever nominated actors, I never really wavered from my five thespians. (Will Smith was excellent in Concussion but given his previous nods, the lack of financial success of the movie and the strength of his competition, I never seriously considered him a horse in this race.)
And in the end I was proven correct with Bryan Cranston (Trumbo), Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl), Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant), Matt Damon (The Martian) and Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs) securing well-deserved nominations.
That brings us to the directors and yet another case of the Academy not nominating one of the most deserving auteurs.
This troubling trend always bubbles beneath the surface but in 2012 it finally exploded skyward. That year the Academy failed to nominate either Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty or Ben Affleck for Argo. Of course the latter’s exclusion helped win his film Best Picture but it was still a glaring and unforgivable oversight.
Then last year Selma’s Ava DuVernay and Whiplash’s Damien Chazelle failed to secure well-deserved noms.
But this one—given his stature, how well the film was received and how difficult it was to faithfully recreate the (other) world that author-cum-screenwriter Drew Goddard had conjured—is downright dumbfounding.
Room was excellent, certainly, but not as good as The Martian. And yet Lenny Abrahamson was honored over the venerable Ridley Scott. That was my only mistake, with my other predicted nominees—Adam McKay, Alejandro González Iñárritu, George Miller and Tom McCarthy—getting well-deserved recognition.
Best Picture is a tough one to tabulate because you never know how many films (between five and 10) will be named. Since there wasn’t a clear front runner I thought a full 10 would make the cut, so I included choice films like Carol and Straight Outta Compton in my final predictions.
Though they didn’t get selected I nailed the other eight in grand fashion: The Big Short, Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Revenant, Room and Spotlight.
So there you have it. My Oscar picks delineated. In the lead up to the Academy Awards on Sunday check back here for more film-related fare, including my favorite annual post, ‘The Year in Movies’, and a debrief of the Oscar telecast.