The day we've all been waiting for has arrived! Or maybe just me and a handful of other nerds, I guess. The 88th Annual Academy Awards nominations will be announced Thursday morning in two batches beginning at 8:30am ET (you can view both announcements live at the Oscars website or the second announcement on most major news programs at 8:38am ET). The nominees will be announced live in all 24 categories by directors Guillermo del Toro and Ang Lee, actor John Krasinski, and Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs.
2015 delivered an abundance of quality films (we here at CineMunch will have our top ten lists and year-end superlatives ready for the public early next month), and I'm hopeful this year's crop of nominees reflect that quality. Knowing the Oscars though, they probably won't (I'm looking in your direction, Helen Mirren). Some of this year's categories are the most fluid and difficult to predict I've ever encountered in my 15+ years of prognosticating (Best Supporting Actor is wildly competitive), so there are bound to be some surprises.
Unlike my impressive performance last year (where I placed first on awards betting site GoldDerby out of more than 3,000 participants and experts), I expect to do considerably less well this year. I'll predict my overall prediction accuracy rate is somewhere around 72%. Look at me predicting my own predictions - someone stop me! Read on for my final nominations predictions.
The titles of each category link to that field's specific page with further commentary and photos.
The Big Short
Bridge of Spies
Mad Max: Fury Road
Alternates: Straight Outta Compton, Inside Out, Sicario, Trumbo, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
As has been the case since 2011, there can be as few as five Best Picture nominees or as many as ten (depending on how the votes pan out). I think the top seven listed above are safest for nominations, so we could see the list stop there. Though, given this year's competitive field of films, I could also see this being our first year with a full slate of ten.
Ridley Scott (The Martian)
Alejandro G. Iñárritu (The Revenant)
George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road)
Tom McCarthy (Spotlight)
Adam McKay (The Big Short)
Alternates: Todd Haynes (Carol), Steven Spielberg (Bridge of Spies)
Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)
Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs)
Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl)
Bryan Cranston (Trumbo)
Matt Damon (The Martian)
Alternates: Johnny Depp (Black Mass), Steve Carell (The Big Short)
The top five seem pretty set in stone, though none of them inspire much passion in this atypically weak year for this category - which could signal there is a surprise ahead. If so, I wouldn't know who to look to, so I stuck with the consensus.
Brie Larson (Room)
Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn)
Cate Blanchett (Carol)
Charlotte Rampling (45 Years)
Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl)
Alternates: Jennifer Lawrence (Joy), Lily Tomlin (Grandma), Rooney Mara (Carol)
You can bet on the top three, but then things get tricky. Mostly due to Alicia Vikander, who has more than one performance in contention with confusion over which category, lead or supporting, she belongs in. Voters can vote whichever way they'd like, so I'm predicting they go for Vikander in lead for The Danish Girl (even though the studio has campaigned for her in the supporting field). I don't think, despite her stardom and recent Golden Globe victory, that Jennifer Lawrence will be nominated every year she has a performance in the mix, so I'm hopeful the Academy has actually watched 45 Years and rightfully placed Rampling (a veteran actress with no previous nominations) near the top of their ballot.
Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies)
Sylvester Stallone (Creed)
Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight)
Christian Bale (The Big Short)
Jacob Tremblay (Room)
Alternates: Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation), Benicio del Toro (Sicario), Michael Keaton (Spotlight), Michael Shannon (99 Homes), Paul Dano (Love & Mercy), Tom Hardy (The Revenant)
While I do think Rylance is safe, any combination of the remaining ten actors listed is possible. I can't wait to see the final result.
Rooney Mara (Carol)
Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs)
Rachel McAdams (Spotlight)
Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight)
Helen Mirren (Trumbo)
Alternates: Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina), Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl), Jane Fonda (Youth)
The continuation of the Alicia Vikander dilemma makes this an interesting race. With the exception of Winslet and Mara (who is also technically a leading actress in her film), I have my doubts about the rest of the field. McAdams doesn't inspire much passion (and you need number one votes to net a nomination), Leigh gives a divisive performance in an even more divisive film (and they've passed her over before), and Mirren does merely adequate work in a performance she could do in her sleep. Alas, with the exception of the Vikander dilemma, there don't seem to be too many viable alternatives. Unless we get a surprise like Joan Allen (Room), Julie Walters (Brooklyn), or Kristen Stewart (Clouds of Sils Maria).
The Hateful Eight
Bridge of Spies
Alternates: Sicario, Straight Outta Compton, Trainwreck
The Big Short
Alternate: Brooklyn, Trumbo
All other final predictions can be found on the separate category field pages linked below.
BEST FEATURES & SHORTS
(Foreign Film, Animated Feature, Documentary Feature)
TECH CATEGORIES - VISUAL
(Cinematography, Film Editing, Production Design, Costume Design, Makeup & Hairstyling, Visual Effects)
TECH CATEGORIES - AURAL
(Original Score, Original Song, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing)