Oscar Preview Week: Acting and Writing Category Predictions

Unlike some years, there isn’t a lot to say about the acting categories this year.  The folks that have been winning all the awards this season will likely win on Sunday.  Still, for your office pools it might be helpful to review.

Best Actor – Leonardo DiCaprio for The Revenant

Leo’s been winning everything.  All he needed to do was get mauled, bitten, nearly drowned, stabbed, beaten, buried alive, thrown off a cliff, and forced to eat raw bison liver.  Hope that doesn’t give too much away.

In all honesty, this isn’t the best performance of his career.  It might be the most physically demanding, but it isn’t Blood Diamond (2006), Gangs of New York (2002), or The Departed (2006).  In any other year, I think the drumbeat would be louder for Matt Damon in The Martian (who by the way, hasn’t won an Oscar either).   Eddie Redmayne would have a better chance for The Danish Girl if he hadn’t won last year too.  But this is Leo’s year.

Best Actress – Brie Larson for Room

For a long time I was feeling like there was no way someone could beat Saoirse Ronan for Brooklyn, but award season has proven me wrong.  Larson is amazing in Room, a performance that requires a great deal of subtlety in order to succeed.  A lesser performance would have hammed it up or leaned on genre cliches.

I still think that Brooklyn doesn’t get nominated for anything without Ronan.  Time has proven, however, that Best Actress isn’t “Most Valuable Actress,” and I’ve come around to seeing Larson’s performance as the one with a higher degree of difficulty.  Not only will she win, but she should.

Best Supporting Actress – Alicia Vikander for The Danish Girl

I haven’t seen The Danish Girl, so I can’t gauge Vikander’s performance myself.  Judging by her award season haul, she’s the clear favorite.

Kate Winslet seems to be her biggest competitor here, but Winslet may be held to a higher bar for Oscars these days because she’s so well established as one of the top performers of the last two decades.  I thought she was typically great in Steve Jobs, but I didn’t think her performance was better or worse than she usually is.  This is Vikander’s award to lose.

Best Supporting Actor – Sylvester Stallone for Creed

Would the Academy give someone an Oscar to atone for past wrongs and out of pure emotion?  Nooooooooooooo.  Why would you think that?  I mean it’s only happened about 100 times.

I loved Mark Ruffalo in Spotlight, especially one particular monologue.  Still, Spotlight is a sea of great performances and it’s hard to say he deserves an Oscar over anyone else on the cast.  Stallone has the award season momentum and appeal to emotion, so I think he wins here.

Best Original Screenplay – Spotlight

Spotlight won the Writer’s Guild Award here, which is a good predictor for the Oscars.  I can’t argue if it wins here.  It’s up against some strong competition, and there might be some pressure to give hardware to Inside Out or Straight Outta Compton for getting snubbed in the Best Picture category.  The screenplay for Spotlight is really amazing, though, you could close your eyes and just hear the dialogue and you’d still get 80% of the effect of the film.

Best Adapted Screenplay – The Big Short

It’s either The Big Short or The Martian, but the Guild award for The Big Short should break the logjam in people’s minds.  It’s a shame, though.  The Big Short is a well directed and acted film, but I didn’t think its writing was better than The Martian.  If The Martian scores an upset here I won’t be disappointed.

Tomorrow: Best Director and Best Picture

(c) 2016 D.G. McCabe