Post Venice/Telluride/Toronto Predictions
Phyllis Nagy "Carol"
Lucinda Coxon "The Danish Girl"
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and Mark L. Smith "The Revenant"
Emma Donoghue "Room"
Aaron Sorkin "Steve Jobs"
Other Contenders - Nick Hornby "Brooklyn", Andrew Haigh "45 Years", Cary Fukunaga "Beasts of No Nation", Drew Goddard "The Martian", James Vanderbilt "Truth", George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, and Nick Lathouris "Mad Max: Fury Road", Charles Leavitt, Rick Jaffa, and Amanda Silver "In the Heart of the Sea", Christopher Browne and Robert Zemeckis "The Walk", Jez Butterworth and Mark Mallouk "Black Mass", Adam McKay and Charles Randolph "The Big Short", John McNamara "Trumbo", J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan "Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens", John Logan, Neal Purvis, and Robert Wade "Spectre", Simon Beaufoy and William Monahan "Everest", Donald Margulies "The End of the Tour", John Madden and Ol Parker "The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel", Jacob Kaskoff, Todd Louiso, and Michael Lesslie "Macbeth", Peter Landesman "Concussion", David Nicholls "Far From the Maddening Crowd", Billy Ray "The Secret in Their Eyes", Jesse Andrews "Me & Earl & The Dying Girl", Peter Straughn "Our Brand is Crisis", Marielle Heller "The Diary of a Teenage Girl", Derek Cianfrance "The Light Between Oceans", John Logan "Genius", Bill Condon "Mr. Holmes"
Commentary - This race has tightened as the festivals end, with a solid six leading contenders for five slots, and lots and lots and lots of potentials hoping to break into the group. Brooklyn right now is my sixth. It has continued to hold on to its Sundance buzz, and has played well with different groups, but there is a hot contender in Room, adapted by its own author Emma Donoghue, that has suddenly rocketed to the front of the pack with buzz, after its People's Choice win at Toronto. Last year's Gillian Flynn missed the cut at the last minute, but that doesn't necessarily change the game for Donoghue. The other four have not changed. We haven't see The Revenant, but it is one of those projects that you predict to do well, until proven otherwise. The Danish Girl landed a bit mixed at the fests, but everyone seems to agree that while it won't be the critical favorite, that Academy voters are once again going to fall for the Tom Hooper emotion. Carol continues to impress on its tour of the fests, and Phyllis Nagy's work seems like a safe bet. But I think the one leading the pack is once again Aaron Sorkin, for his work in Steve Jobs. He has been praised for his work, as usual, and the tempo, and the structure apparently cause fireworks. Beyond those six there are so many contenders big and small hoping to build momentum as we move into the fall season. There are the mixed-reviewed festival premieres that hope to build better credentials with a wider audience such as: Trumbo, Black Mass, Truth, and Our Brand is Crisis. Macbeth, Beasts of No Nation, 45 Years all were warmly received, but may be too dark or too obscure for the Academy. Then there are a load of the bigger, effects-driven, blockbuster type films that want to break stereotypes: The Martian, Mad Max: Fury Road, Star Wars, Spectre, The Walk, In the Heart of the Sea, Everest. Throw in the smaller or earlier contenders (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Far From the Maddening Crowd, Mr. Holmes, The Diary of a Teenage Girl), with the unknowns (Concussion, The Big Short, The Secret in Their Eyes), and the ones that may or may not actually premiere this year (Genius and The Light Between Oceans), and this could be one of the most competitive years this category has had in a long time.