OSCARS 2016: Will Win/Should Win (Karen Peterson)

Over the last couple of years, the Oscars have gotten increasingly tough to predict. And that just makes it so much more fun. This year’s nominees are quite the collection, and, of course, so much of the news has been about who WASN’T nominated, even more than who WAS.

So as I look over this crop of nominees, I find myself at a loss in some categories. I have my suspicions which direction the Academy will go. But there are very few areas where I am certain. The Best Picture race does seem to have finally pulled toward The Revenant, but I’m still not convinced that we won’t have a surprise winner there.

Our esteemed editor, Clayton Davis, will be giving his final predictions soon, but for now, here’s my best guess at who will win and should win this year.



Oh my goodness. If you had asked me a month ago who I thought would win, my answer would probably be different than it is today. And this one is especially frustrating for me because what I think will win is not at all what I think should win. There has been a late-season surge for The Revenant, and recent history tells us that these surges usually lead to winners. My personal choice for best of the year is The Martian, but when Ridley Scott didn’t get a Director nod, it was very obvious that The Martian wouldn’t be the Academy’s choice. The Big Short was a great film that took a boring subject and made it immensely interesting, while also being very entertaining and well-acted. Spotlight…I think if it had come out in a different year, it would win without any fight at all. Bridge of Spies was good, but fell short of amazing. Room‘s strength was in its performances and we’ll get to its lead actress in a minute. And, well, I don’t have much to say about Mad Max: Fury Road because I intensely disliked it. So, while this seems like a really difficult category to predict, I think all signs point to it being another very big night for Iñárritu and The Revenant.

WILL WIN: The Revenant
SHOULD WIN: The Big Short or The Martian
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Creed; Star Wars: The Force Awakens; Carol



I’m not a big fan of George Miller. There, I said it. So when it appeared that a lot of momentum was leaning toward Mad Max: Fury Road, I was not very excited about it. Now, though, it seems that Alejandro G. Iñárritu is in a good position to win back-to-back directing Oscars for the first time since (correct me if I’m wrong) John Ford in 1941.

WILL WIN: Alejandro G. Iñárritu, The Revenant
SHOULD WIN: Adam McKay, The Big Short
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Ridley Scott, The Martian; Ryan Coogler, Creed



This one is basically a given, right? We all agree that it’s finally Leo’s year. While I do think he was great in The Revenant, I think it’s unfortunate that his overdue Oscar is coming for a film that isn’t his best performance. That being said, he definitely stands out and it’s clear that he’s being awarded because he deserves it and not just because it’s “his turn.”

WILL WIN: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
SHOULD WIN: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revanant
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Michael B. Jordan, Creed; Steve Carrell, The Big Short



This category seems very much a given, too, and it should be. Brie Larson has spent the past couple of years quietly becoming one of the most impressive actresses working today. She’s won every precursor leading to Oscar, and will walk away with a statue for her great performance in Room.

WILL WIN: Brie Larson, Room
SHOULD WIN: Brie Larson, Room
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Rooney Mara, Carol (because, let’s face it, that’s a leading role)



It’s funny how some categories are so up in the air, while all of the acting categories have been very well locked up since the start of the season. Rocky Balboa is a beloved character and Sylvester Stallone gives him such a great story in Creed that it’s really going to be tough to beat him. I think Tom Hardy was the surprising great performance this year, but even if The Revenant sweeps pretty much every category, it’s not going to be enough to carry Hardy over Stallone.

WILL WIN: Sylvester Stallone, Creed
SHOULD WIN: Tom Hardy, The Revenant
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Idris Elba, Beasts of No Nation; Jacob Tremblay, Room



I know I just got finished saying the acting categories were all locked up. And I think this one is too. But Supporting Actress is the one place where it’s not a sure thing. Alicia Vikander looks likely to win for The Danish Girl, particularly if the Academy members pay any attention to her body of work for the year. But there is definitely a chance that Kate Winslet could swoop in and take it for Steve Jobs. Particularly since the two have split on some of the precursors. She may not be my personal pick for the year, but my money is on Vikander.

WILL WIN: Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
SHOULD WIN: I don’t know anymore.
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Sarah Paulson, Carol; Jessica Chastain, The Martian



This is one of those hard-to-predict categories for me…sort of. Adam McKay and Charles Randolph definitely have the edge for The Big Short, and it would be a deserved win. I’m just not entirely confident that they’ll get it, even though everything that’s happened in recent weeks indicates that they will. I’d love to call it for Drew Goddard with The Martian, but the more I think about it, the more likely it seems The Big Short is going to win this one.

WILL WIN: Adam McKay and Charles Randolph, The Big Short
SHOULD WIN: Drew Goddard, The Martian
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Ryan Coogler and Aaron Covington, Creed



It would be a very risky bet to choose any script besides Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer‘s Spotlight. They’ve got this one all but won and there is no reason to believe they will be going home empty-handed on Sunday. Personally, I would love to see Inside Out get this, since that script was so imaginative and successfully accomplished something no other movie has been able to do: explain human emotions in a way that makes sense. But, that doesn’t matter. Spotlight has it.

WILL WIN: Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer, Spotlight
SHOULD WIN: Josh Cooley, Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve and Ronnie del Carmen, Inside Out
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: I actually feel like they got this one totally right.



Looking back at the release dates, it seems that Pixar was putting their box office hopes on Inside Out and their awards hopes on The Good Dinosaur. By far the better film, Inside Out is another likely bet. It’s creative, fun, and a satisfying experience for children and adults.

WILL WIN: Inside Out
SHOULD WIN: Inside Out
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: You could make an argument for The Good Dinosaur on looks alone, but the story isn’t up to par.



I mentioned earlier that I’m not a George Miller fan. Well, I was also definitely not a fan of Mad Max: Fury Road. That being said, I think Colin Gibson, Katie Sharrock and Lisa Thompson are poised to win for their work in the post-apocalyptic world in which Max resides. There is the potential for The Revenant to win, particularly since it’s on track to win Best Picture, but I think the edge is going to the future and not to the past.

WILL WIN: Mad Max: Fury Road
SHOULD WIN: The Martian
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Star Wars: The Force Awakens



I’m just going to say that, as much as I liked Carol, I really don’t understand how Ed Lachman got this nomination. The cinematography in that film is weird and a little off-putting. That being said, I think Emmanuel Lubezki should always, always work with Iñárritu because it’s been working out for him very well over the past few years. Like many others have said, Roger Deakins is even more overdue for an Oscar than Leonardo DiCaprio, but this just isn’t likely to be his year.

WILL WIN: Emmanuel Lubezki, The Revenant
SHOULD WIN: Emmanuel Lubezki, The Revenant
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Maryse Alberti, Creed (Not only did she do a terrific job, but it’s about time a woman finally get nominated for cinematography.)



I just wrote about Costume Design the other day, so I’m not going to repeat myself here. But I’m much less confident now than I was a few days ago in my prediction that Sandy Powell will win for Cinderella. I’m starting to lean more toward Mad Max: Fury Road as a possible spoiler here, but I’m not quite ready to abandon the Cinderella ship.

WILL WIN: Cinderella
SHOULD WIN: Cinderella
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Odile Dicks-Mireaux, Brooklyn



Popular theory is that the favorite for Best Picture is the most likely winner in for editing. And The Revenant could very well win here. But I really think Mad Max: Fury Road is going to get this win, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. This is a tough category, though, because even Spotlight or The Big Short could make a strong case here. Sadly, the only contender here that doesn’t seem like a strong possibility is Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

WILL WIN: Margaret Sixel, Mad Max: Fury Road
SHOULD WIN: Stephen Mirrione, The Revenant
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Pietro Scalia, The Martian



Considering how much I disliked the makeup in Mad Max: Fury Road, it pains me to predict this as the likely winner. But this isn’t the strongest group of nominees this year. Actually, maybe it just wasn’t a strong year in general for makeup artistry. So, out of the three contenders, Mad Max is the likely winner.

WILL WIN: Mad Max: Fury Road
SHOULD WIN: Mad Max: Fury Road
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Star Wars: The Force Awakens



Conventional wisdom, again, says to go with the Best Picture favorite in the sound categories, particularly if it is a strong contender. But I’m just not ready to give up on a win for Star Wars: The Force Awakens here. Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but the sound mixing is top notch and worthy of accolades.

WILL WIN: Star Wars: The Force Awakens
SHOULD WIN: Star Wars: The Force Awakens
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: I don’t know. Another one where I think they did a good job with the nominees.



It’s entirely possible for there to be a split in the sound categories, but I just don’t think that’s happening this year. They’ll either both go to Star Wars or both to The Revenant. I’m just keeping my fingers crossed for the former, because I think it’s a stronger pick.

WILL WIN: Star Wars: The Force Awakens
SHOULD WIN: Star Wars: The Force Awakens
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Again, I’m comfortable with these.



If Star Wars: The Force Awakens doesn’t win for visual effects I don’t even know what to think. Yes, I know that gruesome bear attack in The Revenant was incredible in its brutality. And I know the overall look of Ex Machina was spectacular. And, of course, Mad Max: Fury Road is not without its wonders. But, really, no film this year more seamlessly blended its effects than Star Wars.

WILL WIN: Star Wars: The Force Awakens
SHOULD WIN: Star Wars: The Force Awakens
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: The Walk; Jurassic World (although no one is happier than me that this cannot be called an Academy Award nominee)



Ennio Morricone‘s score for the otherwise overlooked The Hateful Eight is another safe bet. The score is well done and fits the tone of the film, so it’s a fine winner. I, personally, would rather see someone else win, but nothing else was particularly memorable this year.

WILL WIN: Ennio Morricone, The Hateful Eight
SHOULD WIN: Probably Ennio Morricone
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: I don’t really have any that feel like misses.



Maybe this is another case of wishful thinking, I don’t know. But I’m rooting for the only song that has a good chance of beating out Sam Smith‘s annoying and overrated “Writing’s on the Wall” from Spectre. This was not a great year for original film songs, but I’m crossing my fingers for “Til it Happens to You” from The Hunting Ground.

WILL WIN: “Til it Happens to You”
SHOULD WIN: None of the above.
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: “See You Again” from Furious 7 (I know, it sort of pains me to say that…)



My knowledge in this category is sadly limited this year. I neglected many documentary features. That being said, I think Amy is the probable winner for a lot of reasons. It is pretty well-made, for one. And then there is the tragedy/nostalgia aspect of the subject, Amy Winehouse, which often does well with Academy voters. It wasn’t my personal favorite, but that doesn’t change the fact that it will probably win.

SHOULD WIN: The Look of Silence
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: I didn’t see enough others to add anything to the mix.



I know there is a lot of buzz about Mustang, but Son of Saul is one of the surest things for the whole night. And I am totally fine with that because I think it would definitely be a deserving winner. Winter on Fire was also very compelling, but I think probably not enough to pull an upset.

WILL WIN: Son of Saul
SHOULD WIN: Son of Saul
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: I thought The Assassin was pretty darned good.

Claude Lanzmann Spectres of the Shoah


It’s interesting because I saw all of the short documentaries and only one really left a lasting impact: Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah. I haven’t seen Shoah, the docuseries that led to this short film, but now I really want to seek it out. This is far from a guaranteed win, though, because there are some strong films to choose from.

WILL WIN: Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah
SHOULD WIN: Claude Lanzmann: Sprectres of the Shoah



I really don’t know. I feel like Ave Maria is the kind of film that wins this category, so I’m predicting it will win. But if we go just based on what I thought was actually best, then I’d give it to Day One. But I’m not even completely sure that it will be one of those because Shok was also very good, and there is a lot to be said for Everything Will Be Okay, and Stutterer. When making your picks, I’d say find a five-sided die because you’ll have just as much a shot at getting this right as I do.

WILL WIN: Ave Maria

"Sanjay's Super Team"


Oh, this category. I just don’t know what to do with this. I’m not in love with any of the nominees and think this is the second weakest category of the year. Sanjay’s Super Team was definitely more enjoyable upon a second viewing, and has some beautiful aspects to it. But I just felt it was okay, and not great. The only other film that seems to be getting a lot of attention is World of Tomorrow, which I, frankly, found a little tedious. It could go either way, but I think Sanjay’s Super Team has the stronger campaign going, so I’m calling it for them.

WILL WIN: Sanjay’s Super Team
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: I know it got a lot of mixed reactions, but I really, really enjoyed Lava.

So, there you have it, for what it’s worth. My picks for this year’s newest slate of Academy Award winners. But before you put too much stock in my selections, you should know that I only have about a 70% success rate average. And this year there are several categories that seem more open than usual. Can’t wait for Sunday!

Thoughts? Discuss them in the comments, or take the conversation over to the forums!


What do you think?

72 points
AC Fan

Written by Karen M. Peterson

Karen Peterson is a writer from Southern California. When she is not at the ballpark cheering on her LA Angels, she can usually be found in a movie theater or in front of the television. Karen is obsessed with awards shows, and loves everything from the smallest indie film to the biggest of big budget spectacles. She is also unapologetically in love with Tom Cruise.


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