First 2016 Predictions
Alan Alda "Bridge of Spies"
Robert DeNiro "Joy"
Idris Elba "Beasts of No Nation"
Tom Hardy "The Revenant"
Samuel L. Jackson "The Hateful Eight"
Other Contenders - Bradley Cooper "Joy", Ken Watanabe "Sea of Trees", Seth Rogen "Steve Jobs", Kurt Russell "The Hateful Eight", Bruce Dern "The Hateful Eight", Michael Madsen "The Hateful Eight", Tim Roth "The Hateful Eight", Demian Bichir "The Hateful Eight", Mark Rylance "Bridge of Spies", Billy Bob Thornton "Our Brand is Crisis", Anthony Mackie "Our Brand is Crisis", Harvey Keitel "The Early Years", Nick Offerman "Me & Earl & the Dying Girl", Jude Law "Genius", Dominic West "Genius", Guy Pearce "Genius", Emory Cohen "Brooklyn", Domnhall Gleeson "Brooklyn", Kevin Bacon "Black Mass", Peter Saarsgard "Black Mass", Benedict Cumberbatch "Black Mass", Corey Stoll "Black Mass", Joel Edgerton "Black Mass", Sylvester Stallone "Creed", Forest Whitaker "Southpaw", Ralph Fiennes "A Bigger Splash", Kevin Kline "Ricki and the Flash", Mark Ruffalo "Spotlight", Stanley Tucci "Spotlight", Steve Carell "Freehold", Chris Cooper "Demolition", Kyle Chandler "Carol", Cillian Murphy "In the Heart of the Sea", George Clooney "Money Monster", Ben Kingsley "The Walk", Sean Harris "Macbeth", Dean Norris "The Secret in Their Eyes", Michael Fassbender "Slow West", Aaron Paul "Fathers and Daughters", Albert Brooks "Concussion", Benicio Del Toro "Sicario", Josh Brolin "Sicario", Bill Murray "Aloha", Christoph Waltz "Tulip Fever", Ben Whishaw "Suffragette"
Commentary - Last year saw an overdue veteran launch the Oscar season in January aka in the middle of the previous Oscar season and ride the buzz all the way to an Oscar win. Right now, I don't see a J.K. Simmons doing that this time around, but there are plenty of top-notch contenders for voters to choose from. At the top of my list this year is actually Robert DeNiro for Joy (Bradley Cooper could go either supporting or lead, I'm thinking a co-lead with Lawrence, but the story does seem to revolve around her. Until that it is decided, I am sticking with him in lead considering he is an Oscar poster boy at this point). Yes, DeNiro is a two-time Oscar winner, but I think he had a lot of votes a few years ago for Silver Linings Playbook. If Russell brings out the same quality of performance this time around, I feel like Oscar voters will respond in kind. That same year Samuel L. Jackson (and Leonardo DiCaprio), got unfairly forced out of their supporting category by the co-lead Christoph Waltz in what was clearly category fraud (for the record, Waltz was great, just in the wrong category). He is one of the hardest working actors out there, does great work with Tarantino, and is overdue to the say the least. Bridge of Spies teams up Spielberg and Hanks once again, and is pure Academy bait. Alan Alda is a previous nominee in another historical film from a top notch director, and he is a veteran with a great career. He will face though some internal competition from Tony winner Mark Rylance. Idris Elba is a highly talented actor with several Emmy nominations under his belt. But despite a burgeoning film career, he has yet to get an Oscar nomination. The new Cary Fukunaga Beasts of No Nation will have the tenacious Netflix behind it, and the role has awards written all over it. Finally, another British actor with a litany of great films roles is looking for his first Oscar nomination. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu follows up his three Oscar wins with The Revenant. And Tom Hardy, who has been flirting with awards attention for a few years now, may finally get a meaty enough role in a big project with a lot of buzz. Beyond those five there are an innumerable amount of contenders. Oscar nominee Ken Watanabe with Gus Van Sant looks promising. Seth Rogen proved he could do dramatic work with 50/50 and Take This Waltz. With a Aaron Sorkin script, he could break through the awards barrier. Sam Jackson is not the only Hateful Eight actor with some potential, as Tarantino has stacked his ensemble with reliable veterans like Bruce Dern, Michael Madsen, Kurt Russell, Demian Bichir, and Tim Roth. Other ensemble work includes Black Mass (Benedict Cumberbatch, Kevin Bacon, Joel Edgerton, and Corey Stoll), Spotlight (Stanley Tucci and Mark Ruffalo), Genius (Guy Pearce, Dominic West, Jude Law), Brooklyn (Emory Cohen and Domnhall Gleeson), Our Brand is Crisis (Anthony Mackie and Billy Bob Thornton), and the guys from Ron Howard's newest, In The Heart of the Sea. Bill Murray was great in St. Vincent, but it was too lightweight to break into that rough Best Actor race this past year. I have high hopes that Aloha will be a return to form for Cameron Crowe, and it could bring Bill a well-deserved second nod. Ben Whishaw could be the male standout among an incredible cast of women in Suffragette. Vets Harvey Keitel and Sylvester Stallone could be returning to the prestige pic fold, Albert Brooks could finally get a nod (the one they owe him for Drive), and Chris Cooper could return to the Oscar stage with Demolition. As always, we'll have to wait and see...