Donald Clarke’s Oscars: Who will win? And who should?

‘The Revenant’ or ‘Room’? Leonardo DiCaprio or Michael Fassbender? Brie Larson or Saoirse Ronan? It’s the most unpredictable best-picture race in decades

 

Best picture

Nominees:
The Big Short
Bridge of Spies
Brooklyn
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Room
Spotlight

Will win: The Revenant. Its Bafta win just gives it the edge over Spotlight and The Big Short. Mind you, Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman won last year, and no two films by the same director have won in successive years.

Should win: Room. Singular translation of a remarkable novel. Manages to find hope in appalling circumstances.

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Directing

Nominees:
Adam McKay, for The Big Short
George Miller, for Mad Max: Fury Road
Alejandro González Iñárritu, for The Revenant
Lenny Abrahamson, for Room
Tom McCarthy, for Spotlight

Will win: Alejandro González Iñárritu. The Revenant is very much Iñárritu’s creation. But George Miller might sneak in.

Should win: Lenny Abrahamson. Easy to underestimate how well directed this subtle film really is. Sadly, this prize often goes to the “most-directed” movie. (See above.)

R__WEB

Actor in a leading role

Nominees:
Bryan Cranston, for Trumbo
Matt Damon, for The Martian
Leonardo DiCaprio, for The Revenant
Michael Fassbender, for Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne, for The Danish Girl

Will win: Leonardo DiCaprio. As short as 1/100 with some bookies. He gets to suffer. He’s overdue. Competition not seen as fierce.

Should win: Michael Fassbender. He plays the dialogue like a card shark palming an ace. Less flashy. More crafty.

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Actress in a leading role

Nominees:
Cate Blanchett, for Carol
Brie Larson, for Room
Jennifer Lawrence, for Joy
Charlotte Rampling, for 45 Years
Saoirse Ronan, for Brooklyn

Will win: Brie Larson. Has been inked in since Room’s triumphant premiere at Toronto. Saoirse Ronan is a distant second favourite.

Should win: Brie Larson. The young American has a unique way of balancing humour with intensity. Saoirse Ronan and Charlotte Rampling would also be worthy winners.

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Actor in a supporting role

Nominees:
Christian Bale, for The Big Short
Tom Hardy, for The Revenant
Mark Ruffalo, for Spotlight
Mark Rylance, for Bridge of Spies
Sylvester Stallone, for Creed

Will win: Sylvester Stallone. Nobody pretends that the Oscars are decided purely on merit. He is very good in the latest Rocky film, and Hollywood loves a late comeback.

Should win: Mark Rylance. Well into middle age, the sweet-voiced theatre specialist is belatedly conquering the screen. He’s surprisingly empathetic as a Soviet spy in the United States.

WKOSCARSDANISHGIRL_WEB

Actress in a supporting role

Nominees:
Jennifer Jason Leigh, for The Hateful Eight
Rooney Mara, for Carol
Rachel McAdams, for Spotlight
Alicia Vikander, for The Danish Girl
Kate Winslet, for Steve Jobs

Will win: Alicia Vikander. This is the closest race aside from that for best picture. Vikander is slightly ahead for what is really a leading role.

Should win: Rooney Mara. Another leading role smuggled into the supporting category. Mara robs Todd Haynes’s film from beneath Cate Blanchett’s nose.

C_N_WEB

Writing (original screenplay)

Nominees:
Bridge of Spies
Ex Machina
Inside Out
Spotlight
Straight Outta Compton

Will win: Spotlight. It and Bridge of Spies are the only films in this category that are also competing for best picture. Spotlight features more complex dynamics.

Should win: Spotlight. Just note how adeptly the script addresses casual anti-Semitism and hints at the clergy’s hidden machinations.

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Writing (adapted screenplay)

Nominees:
The Big Short
Brooklyn
Carol
The Martian
Room

Will win: The Big Short. Competing seriously for best film. Won at the Writers Guild and the Producers Guild. Should be safe.

Should win: Room. Emma Donoghue adapts her own novel with great flexibility and guile. Phyllis Nagy’s work on Carol is also excellent.

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