Here Are Refinery29's 2016 Oscar Predictions

The 2016 Oscar season is finally coming to a close, and it's a race between a bunch of finance nerds, some dedicated journalists, and Leo DiCaprio in fur.

It seems likely that either The Big Short, Spotlight, or The Revenant will win Best Picture on Sunday. But which one should you pick for your pool? Well, that's where things get tricky. Outside of Best Picture, however, these Oscars are relatively easy to predict. (Yes, Leo will win Best Actor.)

Of course, the lead-up to the big night — the telecast begins this Sunday at 7 p.m. on ABC — has been as much about who isn't nominated (people who aren't white) as who is. Revisiting the nominees, it's impossible not to remark upon how homogenous they are.

In any case, here's who we think will end up taking home a gold guy.

Best Picture

The Big Short
Bridge of Spies
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant

Full disclosure: This is a hard one. It's basically a three-way race right now between Spotlight, The Big Short, and The Revenant. Spotlight was the original front-runner, but has fallen behind, despite winning the SAG Award for Best Ensemble. Meanwhile, The Revenant is the most surprising contender. Even though talk has centered on Leonardo DiCaprio's performance, the film took the Golden Globe for drama, the Directors Guild prize, and the BAFTA. So now it seems like the Oscar is The Revenant's to lose. And then there's The Big Short, which won the Producers Guild trophy. The Big Short doesn't seem to have the same momentum as The Revenant, but I still think it can win. Why? Well, it's about an important subject in the way Spotlight is, but it's a whole lot flashier. And unlike The Revenant, it's not from a director whose movie won just last year. So my gut says The Big Short.

But anything could happen. The New York Times floated a theory that Room could come from behind to win as a wildcard.
Photo: Moviestore/REX Shutterstock.
Best Actress

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

Initially, this seemed like a toss-up between Brie Larson and Saoirse Ronan, but given that Larson won the Golden Globe and the SAG Award, we can expect her to add the Oscar to her collection. No one would begrudge her for it: Her work in Room as a kidnapped mother held captive is deeply affecting and detailed. Surely she'll also give a shout-out to her adorable co-star Jacob Tremblay from the podium, which everyone wants to see.
Photo: Moviestore Collection/REX Shutterstock.
Best Actor

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

Yes, this is Leo's. After he basically swept awards season, it would be shocking if he didn't win the Oscar for his portrayal of a 19th-century fur trapper who survives a bear mauling and an evil Tom Hardy. We're guessing he'll celebrate by sleeping in a bed rather than a horse carcass, and eating cooked bison liver rather than raw bison liver.
Photo: Moviestore/REX Shutterstock.
Best Supporting Actress

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

Ah, yes, best supporting actress, the category fraud race. Alicia Vikander and Rooney Mara are 100% co-leads of their movies, but are nominated here. While Mara looks like more of a long shot, Vikander could very well win. The Swedish actress was 2015's biggest breakout. And she won the SAG Award. If anyone is going to upset, it will be Kate Winslet, who took home the Globe and the BAFTA for her turn in Steve Jobs. (Winslet's performance was not actually up against Vikander's in The Danish Girl at either of these contests. For both the Globes and the BAFTAs, Vikander received supporting nominations for her work in Ex Machina.)
Photo: The Moviestore Collection Ltd/REX Shutterstock.
Best Supporting Actor

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

was unfortunately shut out of many of the major races, just one of many instances of #OscarsSoWhite. Stallone was the lone actor from the film to be recognized, and our money's on him to triumph in this category. While his work is certainly deserving, a win here will also serve as a lifetime achievement award. Who doesn't love Rocky Balboa? The one possible candidate for an upset is Mark Rylance, a gifted actor who also has a knack for great acceptance speeches.
Photo: Moviestore Collection/REX Shutterstock.
Best Director

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

Alejandro G. Iñárritu is on track to become the rare director to win the top prize twice in a row. (John Ford did it in 1940 and 1941; Joseph L. Mankiewicz did it in 1949 and 1950.) The Revenant helmer won last year for Birdman. This year, he has collected the Globe and the DGA award. Expect the Academy to honor his rugged, determined vision that brought The Revenant to life.
Photo: Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.
Foreign Language Film

Embrace of the Serpent
Son of Saul
A War

The intense, disturbing Holocaust film from Hungary is the favorite here. It's arguably the most high-profile of the nominees, after winning the Globe.
Photo: Moviestore/REX Shutterstock.
Adapted Screenplay

The Big Short by Charles Randolph and Adam McKay
Brooklyn by Nick Hornby
Carol by Phyllis Nagy
The Martian by Drew Goddard
Room by Emma Donoghue

Charles Randolph and Adam McKay took what could be a very dry tale of financial crisis, and turned it into a rollicking, albeit frightening, comedy. The Big Short is one of the three front-runners for the night's biggest honor. Even if it doesn't win Best Picture, it probably won't go home empty handed, despite tough competition in this category.
Photo: Moviestore Collection/REX Shutterstock.
Original Screenplay

Bridge of Spies by Matt Charman, Ethan Coen, and Joel Coen
Ex Machina by Alex Garland
Inside Out by Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, and Josh Cooley; Original story by Pete Docter and Ronnie del Carmen
Spotlight by Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy
Straight Outta Compton by Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff; Original story by S. Leigh Savidge & Alan Wenkus, and Andrea Berloff

Boy, is this a competitive race, but Spotlight will emerge victorious. Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy applied a meticulous, journalistic lens in telling the story of Boston Globe reporters investigating the Catholic Church's systemic sexual abuse. Spotlight is completely deserving, but in a dream world, there would be room to crown the ingenious, cerebral screenplays for Ex Machina and Inside Out as well.
Photo: Snap Stills/REX Shutterstock.
Original Score

Thomas Newman, Bridge of Spies
Carter Burwell, Carol
Ennio Morricone, The Hateful Eight
Jóhann Jóhannsson, Sicario
John Williams, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The legendary Spaghetti Western composer Ennio Morricone has been nominated six times and has never won. (Though to be fair, he has been awarded an honorary Oscar.) Now, the Academy has a great chance to recognize him for one piece of work. Don't think they won't take it. His ominous score for Quentin Tarantino's latest also gets an amazing showcase: The movie features an overture.
Photo: Andrew H. Walker/REX Shutterstock.
Original Song

"Earned It," Fifty Shades of Grey: Music and Lyric by Abel Tesfaye, Ahmad Balshe, Jason Daheala Quenneville, and Stephan Moccio
"Manta Ray," Racing Extinction: Music by J. Ralph and Lyric by Antony Hegarty
"Simple Song #3," Youth: Music and Lyric by David Lang
"Til It Happens to You," The Hunting Ground: Music and Lyric by Diane Warren and Lady Gaga
"Writing’s on the Wall," Spectre: Music and Lyric by Jimmy Napes and Sam Smith

One thing's for sure: The award likely isn't going to "Manta Ray" or "Simple Song #3," obscure entries that won't even be performed during the ceremony. What has a better chance? "Til It Happens to You," Lady Gaga and Diane Warren's powerful song for a documentary about campus rape. A vote for the song is also a vote for Warren, who has been nominated eight times and has never won.
Animated Feature Film

Boy and the World
Inside Out
Shaun The Sheep Movie
When Marnie Was There

Oh, come on. Do you really think anything else has a chance? The Academy loves Pixar, and Inside Out was one of the studio's best. Just be ready to sing "The Bing Bong Song" in celebration.
Photo: Anita Russo/REX Shutterstock.
Documentary Feature

Cartel Land
The Look of Silence
What Happened, Miss Simone?
Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom

Interestingly, two of the films in this category are Netflix releases (What Happened, Miss Simone? and Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom). Regardless, we're putting our money on Amy, which has popular appeal given it focuses on the late, great Amy Winehouse, and was a box-office hit. Asif Kapadia's look at the singer is beautifully, respectfully told — and emotionally devastating.
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