Oscars: Hoping for a Stronger Second Half as Summer Rules the Box Office

We are gearing up to close the books on the first half of 2016 and from a critical standpoint, its felt a bit underwhelming.  Here, Oscar Predictions are a must and we’re here to talk about it.  There are quality films in the bunch however, in realistic expectations of awards recognition, it’s hard to find a sure-fire contender in the mix for the Academy Awards.  “Zootopia” crossed the $1 billion dollar mark this weekend and looks to be a true contender for Best Animated Feature.   There are believers in an Original Screenplay run, perhaps even Best Picture.  With no announcement yet that the Academy intends to go back to a straight ten nomination system for Best Picture, we have to assume the sliding scale will not help the animated juggernaut in the long haul.

Looking through the studio arsenals, Paramount Pictures has to be feeling very confident at the moment (at least on paper).  After narrowingly missing out last year with “The Big Short,” despite a strong showing on the precursors, they are as determined as ever to capture their first Best Picture statue this decade.  At the top of the list is the highly anticipated “Silence,” which should make for a compelling case for a second director statue for Martin Scorsese.  With greats like Jay Cocks, Thelma Schoonmaker, and Rodrigo Prieto assembled behind the camera, it’s hard to think that this is going to be anything short of amazing (but you never know?).

Paramount will also juggle Denzel Washington’s “Fences,” if its finished in time, along with Denis Villenueve’s “Story of Your Life,” Robert Zemeckis’ “Allied,” and James Gray’s “The Lost City of Z.”  They could create a firestorm of success in all the major categories with any of these films, particularly the BIG FIVE.  If we’re in store for any “Silence of the Lambs/One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest/It Happened One Night” repeat, “Fences” has that potential with Washington producing, directing, and starring, along with overdue veteran Viola Davis.

The Weinstein Company hopes to bounce back this year after missing their first Best Picture nomination in years with Todd Haynes’ “Carol.”  This year, they’ll handle John Lee Hancock’s “The Founder,” a potential player for Michael Keaton, Garth Davis’ “Lion,” based on a beloved true story,” and Cedric Jimenez’s “HHhH,” a dark horse World War II film that could be the spoiler of the year that no one sees coming.  Just a hunch.

howtotalktogirlsatpartiesWith a stellar year that included an Oscar win for Brie Larson for “Room,” and a shocking “Ex Machina” win for Visual Effects, A24 Films has stacked the deck with innovative and interesting pieces like Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight,” a possible vehicle for the great Mahershala Ali, John Cameron Mitchell’s “How to Talk to Girls at Parties,”Ben Wheatley’s “Free Fire,” possibly offering an afterglow nomination for Brie Larson.  In terms of what they have delivered thus far, “The Lobster” remains one of the year’s most innovative and thought-provoking features.  An Original Screenplay nomination is surely on the table but I wouldn’t count out other categories like Cinematography, Picture, and a dark horse possibility for Colin Farrell.

A24 is the only smaller studio making its play on the circuit this year.  Lionsgate has the highly anticipated “La La Land” from Damien Chazelle, and early word for Emma Stone is through the roof.  Her co-star Ryan Gosling will also attempt his second career nomination following several misses for “Lars and the Real Girl” and “Drive.”  Rumors of Ewan McGregor’s abilities behind the camera have been said to be overly enthusiastic, and with “American Pastoral,” the dark toned nature of the film will offer him his first dance at the Oscar table in both directing and acting, as with his co-star Dakota Fanning.

Open Road walked away with the Best Picture trophy for “Spotlight” and this year will dip into the musical biopic genre with “All Eyez on Me” from Benny Boom, the story of Tupac Shakur.  They’ll also finally present Oliver Stone’s “Snowden” to the world with Joseph Gordon-Levitt along with Ben Younger’s “Bleed for This,” a possible player for Miles Teller.

Focus Features looks to have their hands full with “Loving,” which debuted at Cannes to stunning reviews for the film and its stars Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga.  It’ll be a one-two punch for its director Jeff Nichols, who has already received a good response for “Midnight Special” earlier this year.   They’ll also toy with “The Zookeeper’s Wife” from Niki Caro, and put into motion an overdue narrative for Jessica Chastain and perhaps a makeup nod for Daniel Bruhl.

Big studios have plenty to feel good about.  Warner Bros. will have Clint Eastwood’s “Sully,” the story of Sullenberger, who heroically landed the troubled US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River with Tom Hanks in tow.  Fans of the script for “Collateral Beauty” have been spoken about for months, and with director David Frankel helming with Will Smith, Kate Winslet, Naomie Harris, and Edward Norton starring, the picture’s expectations are through the roof.  There’s also Warren Beatty’s “Rules Don’t Apply,” a possibility for the Academy to gush over old Hollywood.  And then there’s Sony Pictures with Ang Lee’s “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” a possible tech sweeper, along with the sci-fi epic “Passengers” with Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt.

Walt Disney Pictures has the animated “Moana” and Mira Nair’s “Queen of Katwe” with Lupita Nyong’o.  Universal Pictures has the adaptation of “The Girl on the Train” from Tate Taylor, which will put Emily Blunt in play for Best Actress one hopes.

Fox Searchlight Pictures will double down with “The Birth of a Nation” from Nate Parker, along with Craig Johnson’s “Wilson” with Woody Harrelson and Laura Dern.  Of course, there are plenty we haven’t talked about, and plenty more that are on the horizon.

The predictions have been updated.  You can access them via the Menu on top by clicking on “OSCARS” or any of the buttons on the sidebar.

*Note, pages for Sound Editing, Visual Effects, and Original Score will be updated later today.

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CHECK OUT THE OFFICIAL OSCAR PREDICTIONS FOR ALL CATEGORIES:

PICTURE |DIRECTOR | LEAD ACTOR | LEAD ACTRESS |SUPPORTING ACTOR |SUPPORTING ACTRESS |ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY |ADAPTED SCREENPLAY |ANIMATED FEATURE |PRODUCTION DESIGN | CINEMATOGRAPHY | COSTUME DESIGN | FILM EDITING | MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING | SOUND MIXING | SOUND EDITING | VISUAL EFFECTS | ORIGINAL SCORE | ORIGINAL SONG | DOCUMENTARY FEATURE | FOREIGN LANGUAGE | LIVE ACTION SHORT |ANIMATED SHORT | DOCUMENTARY SHORT