Sharpen your crayons and mark your ballots. Here are tonight’s big winners:
BEST ACTOR Funny how a 41-year-old actor can actually be considered overdue for an Oscar, but that seems to be the sentiment pushing Leonardo DiCaprio over the finish line. He has delivered many more dynamic performances in prior years, but he definitely bled for this one, and he will be rewarded for his work in The Revenant. Michael Fassbender should win for his portrayal of Steve Jobs, but Leo will win.
BEST ACTRESS A no brainer. Brie Larson will be triumphant for her painfully honest and heartbreaking performance in Room. She should win and she will win.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR Sylvester Stallone sneaks past Tom Hardy here, rightly recognized for finally letting us see him at his true age; vulnerable, scared, self-effacing, with a heart as big as the Liberty Bell. Sly should win and he will win for Creed.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS As always, the toughest race to handicap. Alicia Vikander is on everyone’s mind, probably the “hottest” young actor in Hollywood. But my gut tells me Rooney Mara is going to snag the statue for her subtle work in Carol. Kate Winslet should win for Steve Jobs, but Mara will win…unless Vikander does? Flip a coin.
CINEMATOGRAPHY Mark it and walk away. The incomparable Emmanuel Lubezki wins his third consecutive Oscar for continued brilliance on The Revenant. He should and will win.
ADAPTED SCREENPLAY The Big Short seems like a lock here. A subject matter that hits all the right notes, somehow leaving out the ones on the left…Drew Goddard should win for his adaptation of The Martian, but Charles Randolph and Adam McKay will win for bringing Michael Lewis’ book to the big screen. How was Aaron Sorkin not nominated here for Steve Jobs?
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY Easily one of my least favorite films of the year, but I am in the severe minority. Spotlight will win. Although…a win for Straight Outta Compton sure would be sweet, considering it was overlooked everywhere else.
PRODUCTION DESIGN I’m going against the Mad Max grain here and insisting that The Danish Girl win for an amazing work of cinematic art. Fury Road might go on an Oscar roll and scoop this up, but no…The Danish Girl should and will win.
COSTUME DESIGN Tough one to call. I’m going with Sandy Powell’s detail fixated work on Carol, bringing 1950s Manhattan chic to new levels. Carol should and will win.
FILM EDITING Mad Max: Fury Road is loud and proud and will take home at least four technical trophies. It should and will win here.
SOUND EDITING Mad Max: Fury Road should and will win.
SOUND MIXING Mad Max: Fury Road should and will win.
VISUAL EFFECTS The Martian and The Revenant are going to feel the wrath of Fury Road on this one…Mad Max will win, but hard not to think Leo wrestling with that grizzly bear should win.
MAKEUP and HAIRSTYLING Mad Max: Fury Road in a humungous cake walk. It should and will win for all of that silver spray paint.
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE My least favorite film since Django Unchained, but Ennio Morricone wins nostalgically for the dreadful The Hateful Eight. Star Wars: The Force Awakens should win. Tarantino’s pile of rubbish will win.
BEST ORIGINAL SONG Haven’t seen three of the films nominated here. I loved Youth, and think that Simple Song #3 should win. Rolling the dice that Writing’s on the Wall, sung by Sam Smith, will win.
ANIMATED FEATURE FILM My boys insist Inside Out is a lock. They’re usually right. Sounds like it should win and will win.
DOCUMENTARY FEATURE I did see What Happened, Miss Simone? and Amy. Both very sad tales of brilliant, troubled artists. Amy will win.
DOCUMENTARY SHORT How can you not vote for a film titled Last Day of Freedom?
SHORT FILM LIVE ACTION I read somewhere that Shok would win. So it will. For sure.
SHORT FILM ANIMATED Absolutely no clue here. Let’s go with Sanjay’s Super Team.
Now for the heavy hitters, the big enchilada(s):
BEST DIRECTOR Will this be a career achievement moment? I read a lot the past few weeks about how George Miller might finally win the Oscar for his semi-storyless but wildly visual Mad Max: Fury Road. Not happening. The brilliant Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu will follow up his Birdman win and take home the prize for The Revenant. He should and will win.
BEST PICTURE So, after all of this, how can either Mad Max: Fury Road or The Revenant not win Best Picture? Easy. Academy voters love films with overtly sociopolitical messages. So…either Spotlight or The Big Short will storm the stage at eve’s end. Since I have to predict one on my ballot, and the thought of Spotlight winning would leave me Departed all over again, I’m going with The Big Short. Steve Jobs should win, but The Big Short will win.