Rex Predicts Oscar Nominees

Tomorrow, the nominees for the 88th Academy Awards will be announced. Here’s where Oscar lover Rex Okpodu thinks the race stands:

Best Picture
Spotlight – A film about a serious subject matter about that noisy group of people being heroic…journalists!
The Big Short – Just waltzed in to rave reviews and slowly building up momentum as the film to take down the current frontrunner.
The Revenant – A box office hit and Golden Globe winner, a lot is expected from reigning Oscar winner for director and picture, Alejandro G. Inarritu. It also has the Leo factor which might win him a much overdue Oscar in lead actor.
The Martian – Ridley Scott’s tribute to science is a crowd pleaser and a critically acclaimed film from a beloved director whose 2000 film, “Gladiator,” won best picture without Ridley winning the corresponding Oscar for directing.
Mad Max: Fury Road – Pre-summer release Max has made a resurgence by major critics in December. The guess is whether it will join or displace The Martian as the crowd pleasing popcorn film of the year.
Brooklyn – One of those films that does everything right. A coming-of-age story about a young Irish woman finding her own identity.
Bridge of Spies – Another Spielberg hit for the Oscar season.
Straight Outta Compton – with the ensemble nomination by the Screen Actors Guild coupled with the Producers and Writers Guild nominations in the bag, Compton looks likes its heading for a best picture nomination
Carol – Todd Haynes’ beautiful 1950s salute to love and being brave to be who you are.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens – With the box office conquered and stellar reviews, the question in Hollywood is: Can Star Wars make it in as a contender for best picture?

And from the rest of the contenders….
Ex Machina
The Hateful Eight

Best Director

Ridley Scott, The Martian – Ridley has directed one of the most enjoyable films of 2015. The septuagenarian director and newly minted star of the hollywood walk of fame is overdue for the win this time. If nominated, this will be Ridley’s fourth nomination including 2000’s best picture winner (Gladiator) where he lost in the best director category to Stephen Soderbergh (Traffic).

Tom McCarthy, Spotlight – a relative newcomer whose painstaking commitment to detail makes Spotlight stand out as one of the year’s best. 

Alejandro G. Inarritu, The Revenant – A back to back Oscars is a near impossibility but Oscar precedents are always broken and this one could too.
George Miller, Max Max: Fury Road – A refreshing feminist take on the Mad Max films by this veteran director which has earned him the best reviews and box office of his career.
Adam McKay, The Big Short – Mckay’s film is soaring at the right time and he made it into the Directors Guild shortlist. The DGA and Oscar shortlist for directing rarely matches 5/5 so someone might drop out and be substituted with another director. That could be someone from the list below:

Other possibilities:
Todd Haynes, Carol
Stephen Spielberg, Bridge of the Spies
Lenny Abrahamson, Room
Quentin Tarantino, The Hateful Eight
László Nemes, Son of Saul

Best Actor

Best Actor looks like this right now with five contenders hoping to emerge from this list:
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant – overdue, enough said!
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs – having a great year with Jobs and Macbeth being released in late 2015
Matt Damon, The Martian – Damon could ride the coattails of a possible crowd pleasing strong best picture contender.
Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl – the current best actor holder gives a devastating fragile transgender performance for the ages
Johnny Depp, Black Mass – Call it acting with the best makeup or not, Depp might still get in even if his film seems to have faded from being a contender in the race.

And from the rest:
Steve Carell, The Big Short
Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
Michael Caine, Youth

Best Actress

Brie Larson, Room – looks like the frontrunner for now
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn – could give Larson a run for her money
Jennifer Lawrence, Joy – It is her film and she is currently David O. Russell’s muse which does not hurt. She has, however, won too recently to win a second Oscar.
Cate Blanchett, Carol – Has been a strong contender since the Cannes Film Festival, but, like Lawrence, she has won too recently to win again.
Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years or Rooney Mara, Carol

Larson and Ronan shared most of the critics awards so far with the former slightly ahead after last Sunday’s Golden Globes win. Blanchett looks like another sure for a nomination as does Lawrence. The fifth slot is causing many Oscar pundits numerous questions. Given the power of her performance in 45 Years and the age demographic of Oscar voters, Rampling could make it in. Another question centers on this year’s category fraud controversy concerning Mara’s performance in Carol (Mara is being put up for supporting actress despite being arguably a co-lead). Will AMPAS refuse the studio’s plan and place her in the lead category?

Best Supporting Actor:

Five actors out of an eligible list of about seven:
Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
Paul Dano, Love & Mercy
Idris Elba, Beasts of No Nation 4.Sylvester Sylvester Stallone, Creed 5. Christian Bale, The Big Short 6.Mark Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight 7.Michael Keaton, Michael Keaton, Spotlight

The Academy might be heading for another #oscarsowhite year unless they nominate a non-white actor. This is likely to be Elba given the support his Netflix produced film seems to be getting in the past few weeks. The film might be too small to be a best picture contender and a supporting actor might be its best shot.

Best Supporting Actress

Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Rooney Mara, Carol
Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs
Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight
Helen Mirren, Trumbo, or Rachel McAdams, Spotlight, or Jane Fonda, Youth, or Kristen Stewart, Clouds of Sils Maria

Aside from Vikander and Globe winner Winslet (shoo-ins), the controversy concerning which category Mara will be placed surrounds whether two or three places are on offer in this category with Leigh, Mirren and McAdams the strongest contenders. Fonda might appeal to the older voters. Stewart, who last February became the first American actress to ever win a César (a “French Oscar”) in that award’s 40-year history, might still be a threat by winning the NYFCC, Boston and National Society of Film Critics.

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