2016 Oscar Predictions – Best Picture

2016 OSCAR PREDICTIONS: BEST PICTURE

(UPDATED: MARCH 5, 2015)

There is plenty to look forward to in 2015.  Pixar is back with two entries and assuming that we keep the trend of history-making choices by the Academy, I’m going with an Animated Feature film finally winning Best Picture.  “The Good Dinosaur” looks and sounds like something that will runaway with the hearts of movie-goers.  I believe that we’re close to an animated film being fully embraced in that way.  Besides that, we have standard pics to get excited for.  “The Revenant” will bring Alejandro G. Inarritu back to the fray just after winning big for “Birdman.”  Gus Van Sant is back in the hunt with “The Sea of Trees,” as the film will look for distribution this year.  Angelina Jolie’s “By the Sea” looks like something special, though at the moment, I have it being our new Best Picture nominee with nothing else for it (you can be ballsy this early out).  Ridley Scott looks to recapture the essence of his former self with the adaptation of “The Martian” with Matt Damon and Jessica Chastain.  Steven Spielberg is teaming with Tom Hanks again for “St. James Place.”  “Brooklyn” by John Crowley received stellar notices out of Sundance and looks like an exceptional vehicle for Fox Searchlight again and its star Saoirse Ronan.   Todd Haynes is back on the Weinstein team with “Carol” and a stellar cast that includes Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, and Sarah Paulson.  Cary Fukanaga will dive in with “Beasts of No Nation” while Danny Boyle is back with the Aaron Sorkin-scripted “Steve Jobs” with Michael Fassbender.  Look for Richard Linklater to rebound off his “Boyhood” loss with “That’s What I’m Talking About” and Jean-Marc Vallee is with Jake Gyllenhaal on “Demolition.”  

Looking at studio strength this far out, 20th Century Fox and the Weinstein Company look like solid bets to run the gauntlet this year.  Warner Bros. will have “In the Heart of the Sea” by Ron Howard and “Black Mass” by Scott Cooper.”  One year after “Fury” failed to deliver for Sony Pictures, they’ll be back in the hunt with “Concussion” starring Will Smith, the next James Bond film “Spectre,” Cameron Crowe’s latest “Aloha,” and “Money Monster” by two-time Oscar-winning actress Jodie Foster.  

Political messages will be abound this year as well.  “Truth” starring Robert Redford as Tom Brokaw is sure to turn some heads.  “Snowden” with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and directed by Oliver Stone has the makings of something substantial, especially with a Christmas Day release.  

The “overdue” veterans are out in full force.  David O. Russell is lending his hand to “Joy” with Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper.  Quentin Tarantino will look for his first Best Picture and Director Oscars with “The Hateful Eight,” a vehicle perhaps for Kurt Russell, Michael Madsen, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Samuel L. Jackson.  We failed to get a woman in Best Director this year with Ava DuVernay, so maybe the Academy will look to Oscar-nominee Courtney Hunt this year for “The Whole Truth.”  The Sundance hit “The Diary of a Teenage Girl” was praised for its direction by Marielle Heller.  

Let’s not forget a mention for Sean Penn’s “The Last Face,” Justin Kurzel’s “MacBeth” Antoine Fuqua’s “Southpaw,” and John Hillcoat’s “Triple Nine.”  There are countless others to mention but this is just a starting point.  Let’s look forward to an outstanding year.

CLICK ON THE PICTURES FOR COMMENTARY

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AND THE PREDICTED NOMINEES ARE

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1. The Good Dinosaur

Pixar
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COMMENTARY:
Pixar has had great success in the Best Picture lineup with nods for "Up" and "Toy Story 3." It's a matter of time before they start being taken seriously. ---- SYNOPSIS: After a traumatic event unsettles a lively Apatosaurus named Arlo, he sets out on a remarkable journey, gaining an unlikely companion along the way - a human boy.
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2. The Revenant

20th Century Fox
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Alejandro G. Inarritu is fresh off a big win for "Birdman" and people are highly looking forward to this one with an overdue narrative for Leonardo DiCaprio to play with. ---- SYNOPSIS:The frontiersman, Hugh Glass, who in the 1820s set out on a path of vengeance against those who left him for dead after a bear mauling.
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3. Sea of Trees

No U.S. Distribution
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Gus Van Sant has always seemed like the #2 choice for Best Director in hindsight with nominations for "Milk" and "Good Will Hunting." This psychological drama as Matthew McConaughey and Ken Watanabe, who could create something magical for the audience.  ---- SYNOPSIS:A suicidal American befriends a Japanese man lost in a forest near Mt. Fuji and the two search for a way out.
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4. Brooklyn

Fox Searchlight Pictures
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The past few years have yielded an highly regarded Sundance film in the Oscar conversation. The word for it and its stars are great. ---- SYNOPSIS: In 1950s Ireland and New York, young Ellis Lacey has to choose between two men and two countries.
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5. Carol

The Weinstein Company
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COMMENTARY:
"Far from Heaven" was a special endeavor in the mid-2000's and in an expanded lineup, likely would have found some love in Picture. Todd Haynes is an auteur director just ready to breakthrough in a big way. "Carol" sounds like the ticket. ---- SYNOPSIS: Set in 1950s New York, a department-store clerk who dreams of a better life falls for an older, married woman.

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NEXT IN LINE

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6. A Bridge of Spies

Walt Disney Pictures
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Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks together again? Yes, please. I'm sure the Academy will look forward to it too. Question is, is it another "Saving Private Ryan" or "The Terminal?"
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7. By the Sea

Universal Pictures
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Angelina Jolie may have had an admiral misfire with "Unbroken" but people are noticing and anticipating her abilities as a director. This drama with hubby Brad Pitt sounds like something that could land her in the big leagues. Sounds like elements of Harold Pinter's "Betrayal" (my favorite play BTW).
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8. Irrational Man

Sony Pictures Classics
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It's a running joke that Woody Allen is on one year and off on another. It looks to be true as proved by his last ventures. 2014 was off with "Magic in the Moonlight" so 2015 looks to be on with Joaquin Phoenix, Emma Stone, and Parker Posey in tow on "Irrational Man."
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9. Beasts of No Nation

Focus Features
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Cary Fukanaga has been a brilliant and exciting director to watch on both the big and small screen. "True Detective" is a beast all its own.
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10. The Hateful Eight

The Weinstein Company
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Tarantino fans will ban together to try to ensure this happens for Tarantino, especially following the script leak controversy. Once again though, he'll be under the wire to finish the film before the end of the year. Will the film suffer? Harvey backing helps regardless and the cast is super fun including Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Bruce Dern, and more. ---- SYNOPSIS: In post-Civil War Wyoming, bounty hunters try to find shelter during a blizzard but get involved in a plot of betrayal and deception. Will they survive?

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OTHER TOP-TIER CONTENDERS

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11. Mr. Holmes

Roadside Attractions
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Bill Condon and Ian McKellen back together on an aged Sherlock Holmes film? Count me in.------------------------SYNOPSIS:An aged, retired Sherlock Holmes looks back on his life, and grapples with an unsolved case involving a beautiful woman.
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12. Black Mass

Universal Pictures
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Scott Cooper is gaining admirers along the way with films like "Crazy Heart" and "Out of the Furnace" though the remain a bit divisive. This Whitey Bulger film could be his chance to breakout in a big way.------------------------SYNOPSIS: The true story of Whitey Bulger, the brother of a state senator and the most infamous violent criminal in the history of South Boston, who became an FBI informant to take down a Mafia family invading his turf.
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13. Genius

No U.S. Distribution
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A biopic by Michael Grandage with famous literary figures. Could hit the spot with some of the older movie-going audiences.------------------------SYNOPSIS:A chronicle of Max Perkins's time as the book editor at Scribner, where he oversaw works by Thomas Wolfe, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and others.
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14. Truth

No U.S. Distribution
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A journalistic biopic starring Robert Redford could be very intriguing a la "Good Night, and Good Luck" and "The Insider." Could be a home run for James Vanderbilt ("Zodiac") who writes and directs.------------------------SYNOPSIS: A behind-the-scenes look at news anchor Dan Rather during his final days at C.B.S. News when he broadcast a damaging report about how President Bush relied on privilege and family connections to avoid fighting in the Viet Nam War.
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15. Steve Jobs

Universal Pictures
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Academy Award winner Danny Boyle helming, Academy Award winner Aaron Sorkin writing, Academy Award nominee Michael Fassbender with Oscar-winner Kate Winslet starring. It's all set up for a big run this year. After all the casting, drops, and other problems that have surrounded the project. Will it still be as great as we think it can be?------------------------SYNOPSIS: His passion and ingenuity have been the driving force behind the digital age. However his drive to revolutionize technology was sacrificial. Ultimately it affected his family life and possibly his health. In this revealing film we explore the trials and triumphs of a modern day genius, Steven Paul Jobs.
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16. That's What I'm Talking About

Paramount Pictures
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Linklater went home without an Oscar this year. For many, this was their discovery about how magnificent he really is. They'll keep a close eye on this project.------------------------SYNOPSIS:Plot undisclosed. Centers on the lives of baseball players on and off the field.
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17. Icon

No U.S. Distribution
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The long-awaited Lance Armstrong film directed by Stephen Frears, an Academy favorite and starring Ben Foster (way overdue for Oscar love).-------------------SYNOPSIS:An Irish sports journalist becomes convinced that Lance Armstrong's performances during the Tour de France victories are fueled by banned substances. With this conviction, he starts hunting for evidence that will expose Armstrong.
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18. In the Heart of the Sea

Warner Bros.
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Ron Howard is back with a big scale epic. The marketing and anticipation for the film has already began (and it comes out at 12/11/15). This year's "Life of Pi" perhaps?-------------------SYNOPSIS: Based on the 1820 event, a whaling ship is preyed upon by a sperm whale, stranding its crew at sea for 90 days, thousands of miles from home.
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19. Me & Earl & the Dying Girl

Fox Searchlight Pictures
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The new wave of filmmakers coming out of Sundance already sound exciting. Winner of a few awards, is this our new "Whiplash" or "Beasts of the Southern Wild?"-------------------------SYNOPSIS: A teenage filmmaker befriends a classmate with cancer.
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20. Freeheld

Lionsgate
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The writer of "Philadelphia" penning something for Julianne Moore and Ellen Page. The film sounds like so much fun and perhaps it provides a narrative for Moore to win a second Oscar in a row?-------------------------SYNOPSIS: New Jersey car mechanic Stacie Andree and her police detective girlfriend Laurel Hester both battle to secure Hester's pension benefits after she was diagnosed with a terminal illness.
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ALSO IN CONTENTION

21 Joy (20th Century Fox)

22 The Danish Girl (Focus Features)

23 Snowden (Open Road)

24 The Last Face (No U.S. Distribution)

25 Demolition (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

26 MacBeth (The Weinstein Company)

27 The Whole Truth (No U.S. Distribution)

28 Inside Out (Pixar)

29 Southpaw (The Weinstein Company)

30 The End of the Tour (A24 Films)

OTHER CONTENDERS

31 Aloha (Sony Pictures)

32 Everest (Universal Pictures)

33 Spectre (Sony Pictures)

34 Tomorrowland (Walt Disney Pictures)

35 Ricki and the Flash (TriStar Pictures)

36 The Secret in Their Eyes (No U.S. Distribution)

37 Last Days in the Desert (No U.S. Distribution)

38 Money Monster (Sony Pictures)

39 The Diary of a Teenage Girl (Sony Pictures)

40 Triple Nine (Open Road)

**=could be pushed 2016

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