Bridge of Spies
The Hateful Eight
Other Contenders - Inside Out, The Danish Girl, Black Mass, Mad Max: Fury Road, Son of Saul, The Big Short, Straight Outta Compton, In the Heart of the Sea, Sicario, Youth, Creed, Beasts of No Nation, Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens, Trumbo, Truth, The Walk, Suffragette, Macbeth, Love & Mercy, 45 Years, Spectre, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Concussion, By the Sea, Legend, The Lady in the Van, I'll See You in My Dreams, Ricki and the Flash, Anomalisa, The Good Dinosaur, Everest, 99 Homes, Jurassic World, Marvel's The Avengers: Age of Ultron, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, Spy, Trainwreck, Our Brand is Crisis
Commentary - Here's what we know. Spotlight is locked and loaded, The Martian is beloved and a real contender, and Room is the emotionally powerhouse dark horse. Steve Jobs and Bridge of Spies are the technically brilliant standard Oscar fare that are getting all the right momentum at the right time. Joy, The Revenant, and The Hateful Eight are all still major unknowns, although I assume within the next week or two we will start to have screenings that will determine their fate. Finally, the indie darlings of Carol and Brooklyn are holding on, although both are going to need the critics to get them over the line. Those are my current top ten, although they are very fluid. I had Inside Out in there for a long time, and it pains me to move it out, because my guess is that at year's end it will still easily be one of the best films, if not the best film, of the year. Mad Max is still sitting on the outside as well, and I am hoping that between critics, and the techs that they can muscle it into one of these slots. Tom Hooper's The Danish Girl seemed like a perfect fit for Best Picture, and it could still get back in, but it really feels like the type of film that gets several nods, but doesn't have the power (or the overall reviews) to beat out better films in what is an increasingly competitive year. Black Mass started off strong but has dipped significantly. The Big Short is getting great reviews, but even the positive ones admit that its a strange mix of humor, and a lot of information that can be hard to grasp. It has enough star power to prove me wrong, but it just doesn't feel like an Oscar film. Straight Outta Compton should be in the conversation, but a hip-hop film will probably not appeal to a lot of voters, although that didn't stop Hustle & Flow from making a impact a decade ago (and this film was much more successful). Youth will appeal to older voters, Son of Saul will have its supporters (although a lot of folks are turned off by it), Creed could bring Rocky back into the Oscar ring, and true stories The Walk, Truth, In the Heart of the Sea, Concussion, and Trumbo are all fighting to remain relevant. There are the smaller indies like 45 Years, I'll See You in My Dreams, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Legend, The Lady in the Can, and 99 Homes, and the big guys like Jurassic World, The Avengers, The Hunger Games, Spy, Trainwreck, and Spectre. And of course, this conversation would not be complete without Star Wars. It is going to be such a huge phenomena, and is perfectly straddling the line between older-voter nostalgia and too-big-to-ignore zeitgeist magic, and it could be a perfect combination.