First 2016 Predictions
Bradley Cooper "Joy"
Leonardo DiCaprio "The Revenant"
Michael Fassbender "Steve Jobs"
Tom Hanks "Bridge of Spies"
Eddie Redmayne "The Danish Girl"
Other Contenders - Matthew McConaughey "Sea of Trees", Ian McKellen " Mr. Holmes", Joaquin Phoenix "Irrational Man", Don Cheadle "Miles Ahead", Jake Gyllenhaal "Demolition", Jake Gyllenhaal "Southpaw", George Clooney "Tomorrowland", Robert Redford "Truth", Jason Segal "The End of the Tour", Chiwetel Ejiofor "The Secret In Their Eyes", Michael Keaton "Spotlight", Joseph Gordon-Levitt "Snowden", Joseph Gordon-Levitt "The Walk", Bradley Cooper "Aloha", Bradley Cooper "Adam Jones", Colin Firth "Genius", Brad Pitt "By the Sea", Matt Damon "The Martian", Tom Courtenay "45 Years", Michael Fassbender "The Light Between Oceans", Michael Fassbender "Macbeth", Ben Foster "Icon", Javier Bardem "The Last Face", Daniel Craig "Spectre", Thomas Mann "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl", Johnny Depp "Black Mass", Chris Hemsworth "In the Heart of the Sea", Jack O'Connell "Money Monster", Jonathan Rhys-Meyers "Stonewall", Michael Shannon "Midnight Special", Levi Miller "Pan", Hugh Jackman "Pan", Chris Pratt "Jurassic World", Channing Tatum "Magic Mike XXL", Paul Rudd "Ant-Man", Nat Wolff "Paper Towns", David Oyelowo "Captive", Tobey Maguire "Pawn Sacrifice"
Commentary - Eddie Redmayne embodied the physical and emotional intricacies of Stephen Hawking and earned his first Oscar win this year. He returns this year playing another real-life individual who goes through physical transformation. He plays Lili Elbe, one of the first individuals to undergo the sexual reassignment surgery, in Tom Hooper's latest The Danish Girl. No one since Tom Hanks has won back to back Best Actor Oscars, but Redmayne could make an interesting case for history to finally repeat itself. Leonardo DiCaprio has been searching for an Oscar for decades now, and has somehow managed to miss out. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu has now reached the winner's circle, and The Revenant looks much more Oscar friendly than Birdman was. I hope that if DiCaprio gets nominated, that he finally gets his way overdue win. Tom Hanks was snubbed for Captain Phillips at the last minute, shocking a lot of pundits who thought he was a shoo-in. Bridge of Spies, with Steven Spielberg at the helm, could give him the nomination they owe him. Michael Fassbender broke through last year with 12 Years a Slave and got his first Oscar nomination. This year he has several possibilities including Macbeth and The Light Between Oceans. But of all his projects the one that looks the most promising is the Danny Boyle led, Aaron Sorkin penned Steve Jobs biopic. The film has had some trouble getting to the finish line, but the talented cast (which also included Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen and Jeff Daniels), and Fassbender in the lead could lead to Oscar gold. Finally, Bradley Cooper has gotten three acting nominations (and a fourth nod this year for producing American Sniper) in a row, and is clearly a well-respected and well-liked in the industry. He as three potentials this year. Cameron Crowe's Aloha, Adam Jones, and David O. Russell's Joy. We are still not sure whether he will go supporting or lead, but my guess is that he will be a pseudo-lead like Jennifer Lawrence was to him in Silver Linings, and they will bump him up to lead due to his star power, again like they did with Lawrence. David O. Russell is acting gold these days, the script and story look great, and if Cooper once again delivers, he should be an easy pick. Beyond those five, Matthew McConaughey hopes to return after winning two years ago with Gus Van Sant's Sea of Trees. Joaquin Phoenix plus Woody Allen could be a potent combination. Don Cheadle, Michael Keaton, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ben Foster, and Jonathan Rhys-Meyers all playing real-life folks could once again lead to biopic Oscar gold. George Clooney and Matt Damon both have interesting looking genre projects that could be breakthroughs (considering they are directed by Brad Bird and Ridley Scott, it is a real possibility). Ian McKellen got raves out of Berlin for the newest reincarnation of Sherlock Holmes. He is an overdue veteran, and this role is always a gold mine (just ask Benedict Cumberbatch's Emmy). Jake Gyllenhaal is owed a nod for Nightcrawler and has two big roles in Jean-Marc Vallee's Demolition and in the Weinstein-backed Southpaw. Brad Pitt is directed by his beau Angelina Jolie. Jack O'Connell and Chris Hemsworth are young talents who bit projected. Michael Shannon should have had at least two nods by now (he does have one), and he is teaming up again with Jeff Nichols. Also look out for Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jason Segal, Robert Redford, Tom Courtenay, Thomas Mann, Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem, David Oyelowo and Tobey Maguire. Finally, as always, don't forget the big guys: Paul Rudd as Ant-Mnan, Chris Pratt in Jurassic World, Levi Miller or Hugh Jackman in Joe Wright's Pan, and Daniel Craig in Spectre.