Rotundo’s Oscarology, 2016 Edition

Oscar time is upon us once again.  Here at fabulous Chez Rotundo, things are even more hectic than normal, which means my annual Academy Award post will be rather abbreviated.  But such Oscar analysis/wisdom as I have, I hereby impart to you.  You’re welcome.

I’ve only managed to see 2 of the 8 nominees (The Martian and Mad Max:  Fury Road) this year.  But as I’ve said before, I never let total ignorance get in my way.  So here we go:

Best Picture

And right out of the gate, we have a very tough category to pick.  This one is usually easy, especially if you look at the precursor guild awards.  But this year, the Screen Actors Guild gave its top award to Spotlight, while the Producers Guild and BAFTA went with The Big Short, and the Directors Guild honored The Revenant.

What to make of this mess?

Honestly, I have no idea.  The safest bet would probably be The Revenant, which garnered the most overall nominations. On the other hand, The Big Short‘s PGA win is significant because the PGA uses the same preferential voting system the Academy uses.  On the third hand, comedies fare poorly in this category.

The last time we had this much disconnect between SAG, PGA, and DGA?  Why, it was just two years ago, actually, when American Hustle, 12 Years a Slave, and Gravity vied for the top honor.  We ended up with a rare split between Best Picture and Best Director, with 12 Years a Slave getting the big prize.  Because I’m feeling ornery, I’ll make a similar prediction for this year, and go with The Big Short.

Best Director

Despite the horse race for Best Picture, it looks like Alejandro G. Iñárritu will pick up his second Oscar in a row, this time for The Revenant.

Best Actor

Here’s an easy one:  SAG winner Leonardo DiCaprio will finally pick up his first Oscar, for The Revenant.

Best Actress

Brie Larson looks like a lock, for Room.

Best Supporting Actor

The SAG went to Idris Elba, for Beasts of No Nation.  But Elba wasn’t even nominated for an Oscar, which leaves this category wide open.  Amazingly enough, it appears Sylvester Stallone has become a sentimental favorite, reprising Rocky Balboa one more time in Creed.  I guess that makes as much sense as anything this Oscar season.

Best Supporting Actress

In a category that has been rife with upsets in the past, the best bet appears to be Alicia Vikander, for The Danish Girl.  That’s my pick, but I wouldn’t be surprised to be wrong here.

Best Original Screenplay

Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer, for Spotlight.  Writers Guild winners.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Adam McKay and Charles Randolph, for The Big Short.  Also WGA winners.

Best Animated Feature

Inside Out.  Say it with me, kids:  never pick against Pixar.  At least, not in this category.

Best Foreign Language Film

Everyone seems to be talking about Hungary’s Son of Saul.  I’ll go with it, but for this category, you could just easily throw a dart at a dartboard and pick a winner.

Best Cinematography

I thought Emmanuel Lubezki’s win for Birdman last year was a bit of reach; the camera work struck me as too self-indulgent by half.  That said, he’s up for an Oscar again this year for The Revenant, and he has a new gimmick:  the film was shot almost entirely with natural light.  I’m guessing that will be enough to garner another win for him.  Certainly the American Society of Cinematographers thought it worth honoring.

Best Production Design

Period pieces tend to do well here.  Much has been made of Mad Max: Fury Road, and indeed, it did win an Art Directors Guild award for Fantasy Film.  But The Revenant won the ADG award for Period Film, and the Academy tends to pretend science fiction doesn’t exist.  So I’ll go with Jack Fisk, for The Revenant.

Best Film Editing

Nine of the past 12 Eddie winners for best edited dramatic film have gone on to win an Oscar.  This year, that would favor Margaret Sixel, for Mad Max:  Fury Road.  But again . . . it’s science fiction.  Ew.  I’m going with Hank Corwin, whose work on The Big Short won an Eddie for comedy.

Best Costume Design

Celebrated costumer Sandy Powell is competing against herself this year, for Cinderella and Carol.  And though Oscar’s disdain for SF is well established, flashy often wins in this category.  So I’m going with Jenny Beavan, for Mad Max:  Fury Road.

Best Makeup & Hairstyling

Score another win for flashy:  Mad Max:  Fury Road.

Best Original Score

What’s that you say?  Ennio Morricone has never won an Oscar?  That’s good enough for me.  Morricone, for The Hateful Eight.

Best Original Song

Lady Gaga appears to be the favorite, for “‘Til It Happens to You,” from The Hunting Ground.  But I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sam Smith win for “Writing’s on the Wall,” from Spectre.  Still, I guess I’ll go with Gaga.

Best Documentary Feature

Amy looks to win this one.

Best Documentary Short

A pick ’em category.  I’m going with Body Team 12.

Best Sound Mixing

The Revenant, I think.  The Cinema Audio Society like it, and it’s Best Picture front runner.

Best Sound Editing

The Revenant could just as easily snap up this one, too, but I’m guessing it will go to Mad Max:  Fury Road.

Best Visual Effects

Mad Max: Fury Road.  It’s one category SF films are allowed to win, and Mad Max is also up for Best Picture.

Best Short Film (Live Action)

I’ve seen comedies win this category before, so I’m leaning toward Stutterer.

Best Short Film (Animated)

Um.  World of Tomorrow.  Because who knows?  Pixar’s Sanjay’s Super Team is also nominated, but Pixar doesn’t fare as well in this category as it does in Animated Feature.

And that’s all, folks.  Enjoy the show!

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