First 2016 Predictions
Steven Spielberg "Bridge of Spies"
Todd Haynes "Carol"
Quentin Tarantino "The Hateful Eight"
David O. Russell "Joy"
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu "The Revenant"
Other Contenders - Danny Boyle "Steve Jobs", Gus Van Sant "The Sea of Trees", David Gordon Green "Our Brand is Crisis", Tom Hooper "The Danish Girl", Woody Allen "Irrational Man", Ron Howard "In the Heart of the Sea", John Crowley "Brooklyn", Judd Apatow "Trainwreck", Richard Linklater "That's What I'm Talking About", Alfonso Gomez-Rejon "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl", Brad Bird "Tomorrowland", Angelina Jolie "By the Sea", Jeff Nichols "Midnight Special", Cary Fukunaga "Beasts of No Nation", Jean-Marc Vallee "Demolition", Oliver Stone "Snowden", J.J. Abrams "Star Wars: The Force Awakens", Ridley Scott "The Martian", Cameron Crowe "Aloha", Robert Zemeckis "The Walk", Jonathan Demme "Ricki and the Flash", Michael Grandage "Genius", Courtney Hunt "The Whole Truth", Jodie Foster "Money Monster", Peter Sohn "The Good Dinosaur", Peter Docter "Inside Out", Antoine Fuqua "Southpaw", Paul Weitz "Grandma", Sarah Gavron "Suffragette", Paul Feig "Spy", James Vanderbilt "Truth", Peter Sollett "Freeheld", Thomas McCarthy "Spotlight", Andrew Haigh "45 Years", Don Cheadle "Miles Ahead", Denis Villeneuve "Sicario", Justin Kurzel "Macbeth", Matthew Vaughn "Kingsman: The Secret Service", John Madden "The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel", Kenneth Branagh "Cinderella", Joss Whedon "Avengers: Age of Ultron", Elizabeth Banks "Pitch Perfect 2", Joe Wright "Pan", Scott Cooper "Black Mass", Billy Ray "The Secret In Their Eyes", Francis Lawrence "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1"
Commentary - Can Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu win back to back Oscars for Best Director? History suggests that that is probably not going to happen. But his latest, The Revenant, has Oscar buzz written all over it, and he is very popular in voters minds right now after the success of Birdman. Steven Spielberg could win that elusive third Oscar with Bridge of Spies. He teams up again with Tom Hanks, and adds a dose of Cold War drama and a stellar cast. I am pretty sure that Quentin Tarantino was on the verge of a nomination for Django Unchained, but it just couldn't quite fully recover from its initial bungling (although two Oscars is a pretty good recovery). My guess is that Harvey learned his lesson, and will get the ball rolling early this time around with The Hateful Eight. And if it is as good as pretty much every other Tarantino movie, he will definitely be in the conversation. David O. Russell is bound to win an Oscar someday, if he keeps up the quality of work we have seen with his last three films, all of which have earned him a nomination in this category. Joy brings back the dynamic duo of Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, and looks fantastic on paper. In the final slot, I am going for Todd Haynes. Far From Heaven was an underrated masterpiece, and Carol looks like it could be one of this year's best. But he and his competitors will have some stiff competition. Woody Allen could return to form with Irrational Man, Ron Howard's film has moved into prime Oscar spot and is pure Oscar bait on paper, and Gus Van Sant's The Sea of Trees could be another worthy effort. Danny Boyle has a great cast and script with Steve Jobs, David Gordon Green has a potential dark horse with Our Brand is Crisis, and Richard Linklater hopes to return to the race with That's What I'm Talking About. Angelina Jolie hopes voters forget that Unbroken was kind of a dud, Oliver Stone is looking for his first Oscar hit in decades with Snowden, Cameron Crowe looks to rekindle his early magic with Aloha, and names like Ridley Scott and Robert Zemeckis, should never be discounted. There are some indies also looking to making a splash. Alfonso Gomez-Rejon and John Crowley have huge Sundance hits on their hands. Jeff Nichols and Cary Fukunaga both have baity projects, and I would watch out for Jean-Marc Vallee, Jonathan Demme, Sarah Gavron, Don Cheadle, Thomas McCarthy, and Denis Villeneuve to also make the indie rounds this year. And do not forget about the big guys. J.J. Abrams, Matthew Vaughn, Joss Whedon, Kenneth Branagh, Joe Wright all have big genre projects hoping to breakthrough. Comedies have some big names with Judd Apatow, Elizabeth Banks, and Paul Feig aiming to for some recognition, and no list would be complete without the animated guys, who are largely, and unjustly looked over year after year. Here's to hoping that if The Good Dinosaur and Inside Out are as fantastic as they look then Pete Docter and Peter Sohn get at least a second look by voters .