Oscar Predictions 2016

UPDATE: Well, serves me right for picking the Oscars unemotionally. I was THRILLED that Spotlight won best picture, and was PRETTY DARNED HAPPY that Sylvester Stallone didn't win an Oscar for playing Rocky exactly the same way he's played it for 40 years in basically every movie he's ever been in. But because I picked those two categories based on my head and not my heart, and because I was TERRIBLE on the minor categories, I only got 15 or 24 right and lost the family Oscar pool (finished fifth). Ah well.

As an aside, I thought Chris Rock was really good as host (though the girls scout cookie thing dragged a bit), and I thought Louis CK's presentation for Documentary Short was the highlight of the night. But I will say that the way diversity so overwhelmed the Oscars broadcast was a bit disconcerting. It's obvious that the Academy utterly embarrassed itself by not nominating even a single person of color, and yes it was something that the Oscars would have to face head on. But we are also in the midst of an incredible (defined as: impossible to believe) election, and to think that there was barely a joke or word all night about Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz tells you that maybe we're not paying attention.

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Well, here we are again, Oscar Night, and here I am again facing the same question that I face time I pick the Oscars:

Do I pick the movies I think WILL win or the movies I think SHOULD win?

Last year, I won our family pool again, picking 18 of 24 correctly, which certainly ain't bad but not quite as good as two years ago when I picked 22 of 24 correctly. The big problem last year was simple: I loved "Boyhood." I know lots of people didn't love it, but I did, and I refused to give up on it for best picture and refused to give up on Richard Linklater for best director. I wrote in my comment that I felt pretty sure Boyhood wouldn't win, but I was picking it anyway.

This year, I'm not playing that game. My favorite nominated movie of the year was "Spotlight" and my second favorite was "The Big Short" (my favorite overall movie was "Inside Out"). I did not see "The Revenant," and I don't want to see "The Revenant." I'm just not into watching bears maul people.

But, spoiler alert, I'm picking "The Revenant" anyway. No sentiment this year.

Here are my picks for 2016. For the second year, I will include what I call a "Certainty Score," where I estimate how certain I am about the pick (1 being a pure guess, 10 being absolutely confident):

(Bonus: I'm going to list them in the order they should appear on the show tonight):

Original Screenplay: Spotlight

Certainty Score: 8.

Spotlight has the best representation of a newsroom I've ever seen in film or television. Every little detail is perfect, including the way everyone talks. I don't think it can be beaten, but "Straight Out of Compton" would probably be the best longshot pick.

Adapted Screenplay: The Big Short

Certainty Score: 9

I'm a huge Michael Lewis fan, and I loved this book. I say this because I have no idea how they made tat book into a great movie, and I say this after JUST SEEING the great movie. It's brilliant and fun.

Actress in a Supporting Role: Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl

Certainty Score: 8

You can't ever be TOO sure with Supporting Actress, but Vikander seems to be a clear choice, in part because of her other celebrated performance in Ex Machina. Kate Winslet could steal.

I want to throw in a quick word for Rachel McAdams who I thought was stunningly good in Spotlight. It was my favorite performance of the year bar none because it was understated and smart, and she reminded me of about 25 different reporters I've worked with through the years. There were many terrific performances in Spotlight, but I thought McAdams was the best of the bunch.

Costume Design: Cinderella

Certainty score: 4

It looks like a toss-up between Cinderella and Mad Max. I have Mad Max winning a BUNCH of Oscars and, frankly, I'm nervous about it. I have this feeling Hollywood is a bit too old fashioned and will not give Mad Max every award. Cinderella is an old-fashioned Hollywood choice.

Production Design: Mad Max

Certainty score: 7

If The Revenant wins here, it could be a very BAD night for Mad Max. Those two movies go at it again and again in the technical categories.

Makeup and Hairstyling: Mad Max

Certainty score: 5

Here we are again with the story of the night: Mad Max or The Revenant?

Cinematography: The Revenant

Certainty score: 7

In the battle between Revenant and Mad Max, this seems like one of the more predictable outcomes. But, as I will say again and again: Who really knows?

Film Editing: Mad Max

Certainty score: 5

The Big Short could steal this one, and that's an interesting battle. The Big Short had very showy editing. Lots of quick cuts, cutaways in the middle of sentences, dozens and dozens of images getting thrown at the viewer in a rush. Mad Max, meanwhile, was edited in a much more epic way. It will be interesting to see which the voters preferred.

Sound Editing: Mad Max

Certainty score: 2

No idea -- Mad Max or Revenant.

Sound Mixing: The Revenant

Certainty score: 2

No idea -- Revenant or Mad Max.

Visual Effects: Mad Max

Certainty score: 5

Well, for a change, this one seems to be between Mad Max and Star Wars, though even here The Revenant could sneak in. I don't think Star Wars will take it.

Animated Short Film: World of Tomorrow

Certainty score: 1

I never, ever get these right, so please bet against me. The favorite seems to be Sanjay's Super Team, but I've seen it (it showed before "The Good Dinosaur") and didn't like it at all. I guess Bear Story has a good shot, but World of Tomorrow is pretty spectacular.

Animated Feature Film: Inside Out

Certainty score: 10

My favorite movie of the year.

Actor in a Supporting Role: Sylvester Stallone, Creed

Certainty score: 7

OK, here I am picking without sentiment: I don't think Stallone should have even been nominated. I mean, seriously, he played Rocky. He played him as Rocky. He was exactly as good as he was in Rocky I and Rocky II and Rocky III and Rocky IV and Rocky V -- and basically every other movie where he played some variation of Rocky.

But Hollywood seems to have made up its mind. They would like to honor an old Hollywood warhorse, sort of the way they did when they gave John Wayne an Oscar for playing John Wayne. I'm OK with it; I like Rocky. But comparing his performance with Mark Ruffalo in Spotlight or Christian Bale in The Big Short is silly.

Of course, it's ALL silly, right?

Documentary Short: Body Team 12

Certainty score: 2

I aways get these wrong too. This one is about the Ebola virus, so that's as likely as anything else.

Documentary Feature: Amy

Certainty score: 6

Doc about Amy Winehouse seems to have separated from the pack if you believe the experts.

Live Actor Short Film: Ave Maria

Certainty score: 3

Who knows? Shok and Stutterer both have their supporters too.

Foreign Language Film: Son of Saul

Certainty score: 7

One of the enduring Hollywood Oscar jokes is that, when in doubt, you always vote for the Holocaust movie. If anything, I think this could hurt Son of Saul; Hollywood could become self-conscious just like umpires who have stopped calling strikes on outside pitches that catchers frame. But I suspect Son of Saul still wins.

Original Song: "Til it Happens to You."

Certainty score: 8

It seems about time that Lady Gaga won an Oscar.

Original score: Hateful Eight

Certainty score: 8

There's a whole story involving Hateful Eight composer Ennio Morricone -- he's 87, he's been nominated for six Oscars but has not yet won (he won a lifetime award) and, yeah, that's a Hollywood story.

Directing: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, The Revenant

Certainty score: 8

Back-to-back Oscars? Looks that way. There are a lot of George Miller fans out there for Mad Max, but I think this will be The Revenant's night overall.

Actress in a leading role: Brie Larson, Room

Certainty score: 9

Pretty close to a sure thing.

Actor in a leading role: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

Certainty score: 12

Lock of the night.

Best picture: The Revenant

Certainty score: 8

Lots of people are jumping off the bandwagon in the last couple of days, which is interesting. The voting for Best Picture is based on a scoring system, with pictures getting points for second, third, fourth place and so on. The new theory is that while The Revenant will get a lot of first-place votes, it will also get a lot of low ballot picks and, as a result, the movie will get overtaken by Spotlight or The Big Short. While I would personally prefer either of those movies to win, I don't think it happens. I think The Revenant walks away with the night.