Will The Revenant sweep the boards? Screen’s staff run down their predictions for the 2016 Oscars…
Finn Halligan, reviews editor and chief film critic
Will win: The Revenant.
Should win: The Revenant, probably, though The Big Short would also be a good winner. It felt somehow more fresh and relevant and sharp than Alejandro G. Inarritu’s man-vs-nature epic struggle. But The Revenant has a critical and business force behind it – domestic box office at $165m as opposed to The Big Short’s $67m, and the business does tend to vote for the business.
Jeremy Kay, US editor
Will win: Spotlight. The race is too tight for The Revenant to scoop up everything, so this could be the upset. Spotlight has sputtered towards the finish line, but it has the right combination of smarts and righteousness so beloved by the Academy.
Should win: Spotlight.
Matt Mueller, editor
Will win: Post-BAFTAs, The Revenant has the momentum, but I’m going for the upset here and calling it for The Big Short. Its win at the PGA awards looks like a key predictor, and there’s something about it being an election year that makes me think Oscar voters will opt for a film that so entertainingly dissected the US financial meltdown of a few years ago.
Should win: As a pure piece of cinema, The Revenant.
Tim Grierson, senior US critic
Will win: The Revenant. This survivalist drama has far more awards momentum than its closest competitors, Spotlight and The Big Short, and the Academy has often favoured big, sprawling epics fronted by major stars.
Should win: Spotlight. This deceptively straightforward procedural sneaks up on you, building in power as one precisely modulated scene flows effortlessly into the next. Director Tom McCarthy lets the film’s outrage over the Catholic Church’s cover-up boil slowly, leading to an ending that’s wonderfully poignant and restrained.
Will win: Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu for The Revenant.
Should win: Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu. He was quite a force of nature on set, apparently, and not always in a good way, but The Revenant proves he has the artistic ambition to rival any director that’s ever worked in Hollywood and what he has achieved here is significant.
Will win: Alejandro G Iñarritu. The Mexican won the Golden Globe and the DGA award – the latter is a genuine Oscar indicator – and will win again after Birdman last year. The accompanying narrative of Herzogian single-mindedness and ambition during production hasn’t hurt, either.
Should win: Alejandro G Iñarritu.
Will win: Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu. His direction is writ large across every frame of The Revenant. Academy voters will respond accordingly.
Should win: Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu.
Will win: Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu. Not long ago, his career seemed to be descending into arthouse self-parody (Babel, Biutiful). Now, he’s about to become a two-time Best Director winner, Oscar voters eager to reward him for The Revenant’s arduous journey to the screen.
Should win: Tom McCarthy for Spotlight. The least flashy of the five nominees, Spotlight is a modest master class in maximising emotion, drama and tension from the simplest of camera set-ups. And McCarthy does superb work guiding a stellar cast.
Will win: Leonardo DiCaprio for The Revenant.
Should win: Leonardo DiCaprio. Who would not vote for him? He should have won best supporting for What’s Eating Gilbert Grape back in 1994 but lost out to Tommy Lee Jones for that well-remembered Harrison Ford remake, The Fugitive. He’s owed.
Will win: Leonardo DiCaprio. The eternal bridesmaid with the over-the-shoulder bear throw must prevail this year for the best performance of his adult career. And he’s an environmentalist. Give it to the man, already.
Should win: Leonardo DiCaprio.
Will win: Leonardo DiCaprio. I’m not a fan of the ‘career win’ mentality that often delivers an Oscar to an actor who’s contributed much to the industry but never won the gold statuette before. That can lead to horrific results such as Al Pacino’s 1993 win for Scent Of A Woman. (Academy voters have never forgiven themselves for that - Pacino hasn’t received a single Oscar nomination since.)
Should win: And yet, in DiCaprio’s case, voters can feel genuinely good about casting their ballots for the actor’s truly excellent performance in The Revenant.
Will win: Leonardo DiCaprio. The Academy is ready to reward the 41-year-old star, whose first Oscar nomination was more than 20 years ago.
Should win: Leonardo DiCaprio. As overblown as the hype surrounding his performance has been, DiCaprio is impressively physical, ferocious and mournful as a man left for dead who wants to complete one final task before resting in his grave.
Will win: Brie Larson for Room has been white-hot favourite in the run-up to the awards for a strong performance in a popular film.
Should win: Charlotte Rampling, for a career-best performance in 45 Years. Just look at her – the problem is, though, that too few people have. Andrew Haigh’s Berlin winner is a very sombre title for Academy voters with only $3.3m under its belt domestically.
Will win: Brie Larson. Larson’s star has been rising since she turned heads in Short Term 12 and she is the standout in a category that has delivered competent, unfussy performances this year. She also paid her dues on the campaign trail.
Should win: Brie Larson.
Will win: Brie Larson. An affecting turn in a moving film - she would be a very worthy winner.
Should win: I’m rooting for an upset here. Saoirse Ronan’s performance in Brooklyn has lingered much more in my mind than any of the other contenders in this category.
Will win: Brie Larson. Oscar voters will probably see a victory for Larson as the best way to honour a movie that’s a long shot for Best Picture.
Should win: Cate Blanchett. Yes, she’s really not the lead in Carol, but Blanchett’s magnificently elegant and sorrowful turn dominates the film.
BEST FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM
Will win: Son Of Saul, although there’s a slim chance that Mustang might take the popular vote. Still, the Globes went with Son Of Saul, which is an important film about a subject which has always been close to Academy voters’ hearts. And it’s the best in the field.
Should win: Son Of Saul.
Will win: Son Of Saul. It was a shoo-in the minute the credits rolled in Cannes.
Should win: Embrace Of The Serpent. A stunning calling card from a gifted Colombian film-maker (Ciro Guerra) and a film-making country on the rise.
Will win: Son Of Saul. As soon as it played in Cannes, the Academy could have engraved the title on the statue.
Should win: Son Of Saul.
Will win: Son Of Saul. Films about the Holocaust have often scored with the Academy, particularly in this category, and the rave reviews for Son Of Saul will only bolster this harrowing drama’s chances.
CINEMATOGRAPHY & PRODUCTION DESIGN
Will win: Emmanuel Lubezki for The Revenant, but Mad Max: Fury Road boasts some tub-thumping design by Colin Gibson which will appeal to Academy voters who haven’t thus far been able to get their heads around the fact that Jack Fisk’s natural work on The Revenant appears by design, even after all these years and an outstanding body of work.
Should win: Emmanuel Lubezki and Jack Fisk for The Revenant. This is an incredible film-making team who have taken their groundbreaking work with natural light from the Terence Malick playing field to Inarritu’s snowy plains of Canada despite the well-reported hardships in achieving significant artistic goals. Nobody works like they do, and they’re the foundation of The Revenant’s Best Picture claims.
Will win: Emmanuel Lubezki won for Gravity and Birdman and it’s hard to see how Iñarritu’s genius, ‘Chivo’, won’t make it three Oscars in a row. For production design, Colin Gibson and Lisa Thompson for Mad Max: Fury Road. They built a bleakly beautiful, barmy world and we came in droves. Unforgettable.
Should win: The Revenant and Mad Max: Fury Road.
Will win: Lubezki for The Revenant; Colin Gibson for Mad Max: Fury Road.
Should win: Lubezki. Wow, this guy is good - his Oscar-winning work on vastly different films Gravity and Birdman, followed by the incredible, icy challenges of photographing The Revenant, put him on a different plain. And Mad Max: Fury Road’s post-apocalyptic design was a stunning and imaginative tour de force.
Will win: Emmanuel Lubezki for The Revenant’s cinematography and Colin Gibson for Mad Max: Fury Road’s production design. It will be hard for the Academy to turn down the opportunity to make Oscar history, citing Lubezki for the third straight year – the first time that’s ever happened in the Best Cinematography category. While The Revenant will win the major awards, Mad Max: Fury Road collects a lot of the technical Oscars.
Should win: Ed Lachman’s cinematography for Carol. Lovingly replicating the look of 1950s photography, the two-time Oscar nominee subtly captures the conformity of the era but also the fragile romantic glow surrounding the movie’s lovers. For production design, Colin Gibson – the world-building in George Miller’s magnum opus is overwhelming, giving the eye plenty to savour in every frame. Hollywood makes plenty of post-apocalyptic event movies, but none with this scope or imagination.