First 2016 Predictions
Bridge of Spies
The Hateful Eight
Our Brand is Crisis
Other Contenders - The Danish Girl, In the Heart of the Sea, Spectre, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, The Good Dinosaur, Beasts of No Nation, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Martian, By the Sea, Sea of Trees, That's What I'm Talking About, Black Mass, Genius, Freeheld, Snowden, Aloha, Spy, Trainwreck, Tomorrowland, Ricki and the Flash, Suffragette, Macbeth, Demolition, Southpaw, Money Monster, Truth, Mr. Holmes, The Lady in the Van, Hello, My Name is Doris, Knight of Cups, The Last Face, Miles Ahead, The Walk, Crimson Peak, Midnight Special, Creed, The Secret In Their Eyes, The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Cinderella, Pan, Furious 7, Ant-Man, Pitch Perfect 2, Love & Mercy, Far From the Maddening Crowd, Jurassic World, Magic Mike XXL, Pixels, Paper Towns, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, Kingsman: The Secret Service, McFarland, USA, Danny Collins, Child 44, Welcome to Me, The Diary of a Teenage Girl, Hot Pursuit, Entourage, Love & Mercy, Ted 2, Max, Mad Max: Roady Fury, Terminator Genisys, Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation, The Gift, Vacation, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Straight Outta Compton, Jane Got a Gun, Captive, The Visit, Everest, Pawn Sacrifice, Cicario, The Intern, Sisters, Concussion, Point Break
Commentary - There is still a lot of speculation of whether the Academy's board will switch back to five nominees. I personally think this is the media stirring up controversy in the aftermath of lower ratings for the ceremony. There has always been a powerful group, since 2009 when they initially expanded, that have been against that and want to go back to five. But if ratings are the Academy's concern, I will remind all of us that some of the biggest box office successes among the nominees would either not have made it in with only five slots or would have been borderline at best: The Blind Side, District 9, Up, Inception, Toy Story 3, The Help, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, The Wolf of Wall Street, and American Sniper. I have a feeling that even if they do go back to five, it would not take long for them to re-expand, especially if the blockbusters get shut out. So for now, I am going to pretend as if they are still working with more than five nods, and as always, I am starting out with ten and will eventually narrow it down as the season moves forward. So will big blockbusters make cut this year? Two Pixar films, both original, look to bring the film back to its Up and Toy Story 3 heyday. The Good Dinosaur is a possibility, but of the two I feel like Pete Docter's Inside Out as the most promise. But both should be on the BP radar. The Hateful Eight, Tarantino's return to the western fold looks to be another huge success like Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained. Tarantino has yet to really make a bad movie, and he has been on a streak lately with Oscar voters. Bridge of Spies could be a solid box office haul for Steven Spielberg (War Horse ended up grossing over $100 million in its worldwide total), and Tom Hanks is always good for a success. So hopefully the Academy will not be in such a panic at the end of next year's race as there are plenty of contenders (and plenty I am not predicting at the moment) that should bring more viewers to the proceedings. There will also be smaller and darker films, which has kind of been a trend the last two years with Birdman and 12 Years a Slave. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu could return after just winning with The Revenant. David Gordon Green's fictional adaptation of Our Brand is Crisis has a lot of big players and a timely message. Woody Allen is due for another critical favorite (as per his two year cycle), and the Joaquin Phoenix and Emma Stone-led Irrational Man could get him back in the Best Picture race. Todd Haynes Carol is one of the films I looking more forward to, and Haynes has done remarkable work before with his cast, and could earn his first Best Picture nomination. Finally, Brooklyn, the Sundance smash, looks to be this year's Boyhood, Whiplash, or Beasts of the Southern Wild and go from indie to Oscar. Sandwiched in between the big guys and the little guys are mid-level studio productions like Steve Jobs. Despite some early production issues the final cast and crew are fantastic. And last, but certainly not least, is David O.Russell's third time with Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, and the third time really could be the charm for Russell and his team. Beyond those ten there are plenty of films this early on. Tom Hooper's The Danish Girl looks like Oscar bait, and could be another nod for Eddie Redmayne. Ron Howard's In the Heart of the Sea got pushed from March right into the thick of Oscar season, so the studio must have faith it can be a real contender. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl hopes to overcome its YA trappings and join Brooklyn as a Sundance representative. Gus Van Sant's Sea of Trees looks great on paper, but I am always wait and see when it comes to his films. Richard Linklater heads back to his more comedic roots with That's What I'm Talking About, but now that he is in the club, they may be more apt to reward him. Jean Marc-Vallee's Demolition, Weinstein's Southpaw, Suffragette, Black Mass, Freeheld, Ricki and the Flash, Snowden, Truth, Midnight Special, Genius, By the Sea, and Beasts of No Nation all have plenty of factors in their favor. Comedies like Spy, Trainwreck, and Aloha hope to break through genre stereotypes, as well as the big guys like Spectre, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Cinderella, Pan, Ant-Man, Furious 7, Paper Towns, Pixels, Tomorrowland, and Jurassic World.