Oscars 2016: Donald Clarke predicts the nominations

There are more mysteries and imponderables this year than over the past decade

Colm Tóibín's Brooklyn stars Saoirse Ronan, Domhnall Gleeson, Emory Cohen, Jim Broadbent and Julie Walters and is due to be released on November 6th. Video: Lionsgate Films


For the last three months we have been predicting an unprecedentedly strong Irish performance at awards season.

Last Sunday, at the Golden Globes, we saw some confirmation of those rune readings. Lenny Abrahamson’s Room, on the rise since Toronto, received three nominations and Brie Larson walked away with the award for best drama actress.

We’re betting that Saoirse Ronan was just behind her in second place. Astonishingly, some domestic media ran “disappointing night for the Irish” headlines.

How quickly we become smug? How quickly we become crazy? Such a performance would have been unthinkable a few short years ago. None of the Irish nominees were favourites. So, shut up!

Anyway, we all know what “awards season” really means. The whole shebang is packaging for the Oscar nominations, which will finally be with us on Thursday lunchtime.

The news has not been all good for Room in recent weeks. Abrahamson’s superb film failed to score a nomination at the Producers Guild of America awards.

Don’t fret too much about that. Two of the films that defied expectations to register - Sicario and Ex Machina - don’t look much like Oscar nominees.

Straight Outta Compton, which also snuck in, seems only marginally more likely. The two Irish films also failed to make the top table at the Directors Guild of America and Bafta (though Brooklyn was nominated for best British film).

But those awards only select five nominees, whereas the Oscars pick between five and 10.

Given that, since the rules changed, there have been eight or nine nominations and we have placed the domestic films at six and seven in our charts, they surely both safe. Right?

Not necessarily. Here’s what too many people have been overlooking. We are, perhaps, a little too ready to assume that the Academy will go long on nominations. But there are, this year, an extraordinary number of films in contention.

With first preferences thinning out, there is every chance there could be just five or six on the shortlist.

If that is the case, then one of the Irish films will almost certainly be left in the cold (probably Room as it has been seen by fewer people than Brooklyn). On balance, I think they’re both in. But heed my warning.

What else? Brie Larson and Saoirse Ronan are both certain of a best actress nomination and Larson looks very strong favourite to win.

Paddy Breathnach’s Viva, an Irish film set in Cuba, is one of nine long-listed for five nominations in best foreign language film.

So maths alone places that in our presumptive corral. Michael Fassbender will probably get a best actor nomination for Steve Jobs, but nobody is beating Leonardo DiCaprio this year.

Let us remove the flag from our proud shoulders and look elsewhere. The rising forces over awards season have been Adam McKay’s The Big Short and George Miller’s Mad Max Fury Road.

Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight was a place-holder favourite, but, after losing best drama to Alejandro González Iñárritu’s The Revenant at the Globes - indeed, it won nothing at all - that film looks to be ceding some ground.

The Globes are unreliable, but the brutal revenge saga’s victory may sway a few voters into thinking that, after winning for Birdman last year, Iñárritu may really be worthy of back-to-back Oscars. It’s certainly going to get nominated.

There are more mysteries and imponderables this year than we have seen in a decade of Oscar-watching.

Will the Academy really obey the Weinsteins’ instructions and vote Rooney Mara - unquestionably co-lead in Carol - into best supporting actress? Very possibly. If so, she wins.

If not then almost anybody could take it. Sylvester Stallone becomes favourite for best supporting actor if he is nominated for Creed. But the snooty Academy members may think twice about voting Sly into their supposedly classy awards ceremony.

Could the Academy really nominate three mainstream blockbusters: The Martian, Mad Max Fury Road and Star Wars The Force Awakens? It certainly could.

All of which is a way of saying that, after scoring 85 per cent on our predictions last year, we are a lot less confident in 2016.

That should be seen as a good thing. Larson and DiCaprio can begin clearing mantelpiece space right now.

Much else is still up for grabs in an exciting race.

We have listed competitors in order of likelihood for the main categories.




Much less likely to win after faltering at Golden Globes, but nobody hates Tom McCarthy’s drama.


The only thing going against it is the fact that the same director’s Birdman won last year.


Ridley Scott’s science fiction picture made a lot of money and won a lot of fans.


Adam McKay’s satire on the financial meltdown of the last decade has deified expectations to figure in most of the opening races.


Todd Haynes’s tale of forbidden passion radiates class. Snubbed by the PGA though. So not certain.


Everyone loves it. Has played pretty well in its limited run. Should be safe.


The People’s Choice win at Toronto put it in the hot seat. But will the Academy nominate so many films?


By some measures, the best reviewed widely released film of 2015. Who saw that coming?

We’re betting on eight nominees. If there are more they will come from: Bridge of Spies, Star Wars The Force Awakens, Inside Out, Straight Outta Compton, Steve Jobs.


1. Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu (The Revenant)

2. Tom McCarthy (Spotlight)

3. Ridley Scott (The Martian)

4. Adam McKay (The Big Short)

5. George Miller (Mad Max Fury Road)


1. Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)

2. Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs)

3. Matt Damon (The Martian)

4. Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl)

5. Bryan Cranston (Trumbo)


1. Brie Larson (Room)

2. Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn)

3. Cate Blanchett (Carol)

4. Charlotte Rampling (45 Years)

5. Jennifer Lawrence (Joy)


1. Sylvester Stallone (Creed)

2. Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies)

3. Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation)

4. Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight)

5. Christian Bale (The Big Short)


1. Rooney Mara (Carol)

2. Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs)

3. Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight)

4. Rachel McAdams (Spotlight)

5. Helen Mirren (Trumbo)


1. Spotlight

2. Inside Out

3. Bridge of Spies

4. The Hateful Eight

5. Ex Machina


1. The Big Short

2. Room

3. Brooklyn

4. Steve Jobs

5. Carol


1. Inside Out

2. Anomalisa

3. Shaun the Sheep Movie

4. The Peanuts Movie

5. Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet


1. Amy

2. The Look of Silence

3. The Hunting Ground

4. Cartel Land

5. He Named me Malala


1. Son of Saul

2. Mustang

3. A War

4. Labyrinth of Lies

5. Viva

Do you agree with Donald Clarke's predictions? Have your say below.

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