Will Win - Leonardo DiCaprio "The Revenant"
Could Win - Bryan Cranston "Trumbo" or Eddie Redmayne "The Danish Girl"
Should Win - Michael Fassbender "Steve Jobs" or Leonardo DiCaprio "The Revenant"
Commentary - For the last 20 years, Leonardo DiCaprio has been chasing an Oscar, despite some excellent performances, he has never ever been considered the front runner. For the record, the actors who beat him were worthy, but still that is a long time to wait for one of the finest actors of this generation. If Bryan Cranston or Eddie Redmayne were going to make a play, they would have. But after so many, this is finally Leo's year. My personal favorite performance of the bunch was Michael Fassbender, but I will be thrilled to finally see Leo accept an Oscar.
Will Win - Brie Larson "Room"
Could Win - Saoirse Ronan "Brooklyn"
Should Win - Charlotte Rampling "45 Years"
Commentary - At the beginning of this race, it was Ronan vs. Larson, and the critics were split between the two. But when Larson won the BAFTA, that sealed the deal for me. Room got that surprise Director nod, and has recently gained some vocal supporters. Plus, it doesn't hurt that Larson is breathtaking in the role, has already proven her chops many times before, and is a young Hollywood talent that has a long future ahead of her.
Best Supporting Actor
Will Win - Sylvester Stallone "Creed"
Could Win - Mark Rylance "Bridge of Spies", Christian Bale "The Big Short" or Mark Ruffalo "Spotlight"
Should Win - Sylvester Stallone "Creed"
Commentary - Rylance won the BAFTA, and a Bale or Ruffalo win might signal overall strength for Spotlight or The Big Short. But this is an award that is an anomaly. Despite no SAG nod and no BAFTA nod, I think that Sly Stallone finally wins an Oscar for his beloved Rocky Balboa. There is not a lot a precedent, and if we are sticking with stats, the winner would probably be Rylance. But when Stallone won the Globe and the Critics Choice, and presented at the Image Awards, he lit up the room and received rapturous applause. There is something about Stallone this year that just feels magical and unstoppable. I think the magic continues.
Best Supporting Actress
Will Win - Alicia Vikander "The Danish Girl"
Could Win - Kate Winslet "Steve Jobs"
Should Win - Rachel McAdams "Spotlight" or Rooney Mara "Carol"
Commentary - I personally get tired of category fraud, but there seems to be no stopping it. My personal vote would go to McAdams for a subtle, but effective performance, or to Mara who holds her own against the dynamite Cate Blanchett. But this is a two-way race between Vikander and Winslet. When Winslet was up against Vikander's Ex Machina role at the Globes and BAFTA, she won. But when she was up against her Danish Girl performance she lost. Plus, as I said, this is category fraud, as Vikander is clearly a lead performer. Both of those factors play a role here, and Vikander is my pick. But it is far from a done deal.