UPDATE: Based on our Final Predictions, The Tracking Board correctly predicted 14/24 categories, with an accuracy rating of 58.33%. The Vegas oddsmakers correctly predicted 17/24, or 70.83% accuracy.
The average score of our 2016 Oscar Pool contestants was 12.20/24, or 50.83%, while the winner of The Tracking Board’s 2016 Oscar Pool, James Chambliss, correctly predicted 19/14 categories, with 79.16% accuracy.
Don’t miss our review of the 88th Academy Awards and the complete list of winners from Hollywood’s big night!
See which categories we got right, which categories we got wrong, and which categories we wish we’d stuck with our first choice below:
Whether you’re a devoted Oscar-watcher who keeps a close eye on the race, or the cynic who insists it all comes down to which studio was willing to pump the most money into marketing, the Academy Awards undeniably influence the course of the film industry. Every year, careers are coronated and trends are established. Like it or not, the Oscars can make a difference.
We’ve compiled the latest odds from top Vegas oddsmakers and listed the nominees in each category accordingly. We’ve also listed the total number of awards each nominee has either won (W) or received a nomination (N).
As you’ll note, the front-runners for several categories have ebbed and flowed since the nominations were announced, with every Guild Award win or Critics Circle honor influencing who stands the best chance to take home Oscar gold on Sunday. We’re giving you our Final Prediction for each of the major categories, but also showing you our previous predictions to provide a more complete picture of the complex system that is Oscar campaign season. But this isn’t just about who we think will win on Sunday; we’ve got the breakdown of how our Oscar Pool contestants predicted the races.
THE REVENANT (1 to 1 | 1W | 18N )
THE BIG SHORT (11 to 2 | 1W | 17N)
WINNER: SPOTLIGHT (7 to 1 | 24W | 18N)
MAD MAX: FURY ROAD (66 to 1 | 11W | 23N)
THE MARTIAN (80 to 1 | 2W | 23N)
ROOM (80 to 1 | 0W | 21N)
BROOKLYN (100 to 1 | 0W | 15N)
BRIDGE OF SPIES (100 to 1 | 1W | 7N)
At the start of the season, we didn’t need Vegas to tell us that Bridge of Spies, Room, and Brooklyn had little-to-no shot when it came to winning this year’s Academy Award for Best Picture. And that hasn’t changed in the past two months. Each of those films, however, may be acknowledged in another category in which it truly shined (Best Supporting Actor, Best Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay, respectively), although their failure to gain much traction in the campaign season may suggest otherwise.
Mad Max: Fury Road, somewhat appropriately, has plenty of throttle behind it heading into the Oscars, but its simply too unconventional for the stuffier Academy voters to grasp. The Martian took on some social media backlash amid its win for Best Comedy at the Golden Globes, and the Oscars notably snubbed Ridley Scott in the Best Director category–two factors which all but eliminate the crowd-pleaser from contention.
With 12 nominations and strong box office numbers, its hard to dismiss The Revenant as a leading candidate for this year’s Best Picture. But let’s look at a few of the elements working against it: (1) it’s three hours long, and a lot of Academy voters just don’t have that kind of time what with all of the parties to attend, (2) it’s a gritty, grimy, difficult-to-watch period drama, and (3) it failed to get a Best Screenplay nomination, which would make it one of the few films in Oscar history to do so and still win Best Picture (another Leo-starrer, Titanic, being one of those rare exceptions). But the box office! Oh, the box office. The Revenant managed to keep up with Star Wars at the cineplex, bear-hugging in nearly $400 million worldwide.
Spotlight was nominated for Best Picture, Original Screenplay, Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress, suggesting the Academy has plenty of reasons to select it as the year’s best, but generally speaking, the film has faded from Oscar chatter in recent weeks. The Big Short, meanwhile, has expanded its theatrical release and launched a strong Oscar campaign. And it doesn’t hurt that heavy hitters like Brad Pitt and Ryan Gosling are the ones doing the campaigning. Both of these are ‘issue’-centric films, which will certainly appeal to Academy voters, with The Big Short being the more politically-driven of the two in what is becoming an increasingly political atmosphere. It’s big win at the PGAs instantly improved its chances, as those awards have been an indicator of the Best Picture winner seven years running. Spotlight, meanwhile, took home the prize for Best Ensemble at the SAG Awards, which shares the largest voting body in the Academy.
While The Big Short, Spotlight, and The Revenant have all managed to stay in a tight race, but you can count on Hollywood to vote with its pocketbook.
FINAL PREDICTION: The Revenant (X)
Will Win: Spotlight
Could Win: The Revenant
WINNER: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, THE REVENANT (1 to 4 | 4W | 19N)
George Miller, MAD MAX: FURY ROAD (5 to 1 | 22W | 11N)
Adam McKay, THE BIG SHORT (50 to 1 | 1W | 8N)
Tom McCarthy, SPOTLIGHT (50 to 1 | 5W | 21N)
Lenny Abrahamson, ROOM (100 to 1 | 0W | 2N)
This is one of the more challenging categories to predict. Yes, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu won this year’s Golden Globe for Best Director, but he also won an Oscar last year–and it seemed unlikely that voters would choose to bestow Inarritu with a second Oscar so soon. But the reports of dangerous working conditions during The Revenant’s grueling shoot seemed to work in the director’s favor rather than a negative, paying off with a big win at the DGA Awards.
Tom McCarthy was able to make journalism exciting in Spotlight, a fantastically enjoyable watch despite its difficult subject matter. But its best attribute is also what’s going to work against it: subtlety. He will more likely be rewarded in the Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay category, while Room’s Lenny Abrahamson will see the fruits of his labor pay off with a ‘thank you’ from Brie Larson in her acceptance speech.
That leaves George Miller and Adam McKay, who arguably had the biggest, splashiest movies–albeit on opposite ends of the genre spectrum. McKay’s The Big Short has been picking up steam, aided in part by an additional 1,000 theater distribution, and is the only brand of comedy that the Academy is typically willing to reward (that is to say, a completely non-traditional and ultimately depressing one). But rather than crown McKay–a guy that many voters might have trouble seeing as anything but the Anchorman guy–with a Best Director statue, Best Adapted Screenplay seems more likely. It really comes down to George Miller, whose relentlessly kinetic, visually brilliant Mad Max: Fury Road stunned critics and audiences alike.
There’s a palpable sense around Hollywood that Mad Max deserves significant recognition somewhere, which could mean a win for Miller. But there’s arguably a stronger sense that Inarritu is about to make history.
FINAL PREDICTION: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, The Revenant (√)
Will Win: George Miller
Could Win: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
WINNER: Leonardo DiCaprio, THE REVENANT (1 to 10 | 19W | 14N)
Michael Fassbender, STEVE JOBS (40 to 1 | 7W | 18N)
Matt Damon, THE MARTIAN (50 to 1 | 2W | 17N)
Bryan Cranston, TRUMBO (50 to 1 | 1W | 16N)
Eddie Redmayne, THE DANISH GIRL (66 to 1 | 0W | 0N)
Michael Fassbender has certainly earned the respect of the Academy over the past few years, but his role as Apple icon Steve Jobs was not quite up to the standard with that of what Oscar typically requires in the portrayal of a well-known cultural figure (see: Daniel Day Lewis in Lincoln). As good as he was at expressing the darker, moodier nature of Jobs through Aaron Sorkin’s oh-so-Sorkin dialogue, Fassbender was still… Fassbender. Matt Damon showed us that a sense of humor can keep you sane in The Martian, but it was by far the least transformative of the bunch–and failed to earn a SAG nomination. Bryan Cranston’s Dalton Trumbo impressed critics, but not enough to convince people to actually go out and see the film.
Every year, there’s at least one acting category to which there is ascribed an air of inevitability. Last year, there were few critics who said the Best Actress Oscar would go to anyone but Julianne Moore for Still Alice. In these cases, it’s always about more than the specific performance for which the actor is nominated, but rather an acknowledgement of a strong and steady career. This year, Leonardo DiCaprio is that actor. Regardless of whether or not his performance in The Revenant was the best performance of the year, it was good enough to give Academy voters a reason to greenlight Leo’s Oscar. Eddie Redmayne’s lesser-seen The Danish Girl could tally up some unexpected votes given the incredible performance as well as the film’s acknowledgement of LGBTQ issues.
That said, this is Leo’s to lose.
FINAL PREDICTION: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant (√)
Will Win: Leonardo DiCaprio
Could Win: Michael Fassbender
WINNER: Brie Larson, ROOM (1 to 10 | 25W | 14N)
Saoirse Ronan, BROOKLYN (33 to 1 | 6W | 20N)
Cate Blanchett, CAROL (50 to 1 | 1W | 26N)
Charlotte Rampling, 45 YEARS (66 to 1 | 5W | 10N)
Jennifer Lawrence, JOY (80 to 1 | 1W | 4N)
Momentum is certainly in Brie Larson’s favor: her devastatingly human performance in Room is what made the movie work, and her excellent supporting role opposite Amy Schumer in Trainwreck didn’t go unnoticed. The producers’ campaign has also seemed to be a practical one, realizing that Larson is the film’s best shot at an Oscar, putting its weight behind her to push her up on stage. That said, if enough voters are eager to give Carol some of the recognition that it didn’t get when it was left out of the Best Picture category, Cate Blanchett could walk away with her second Best Actress Oscar in three years. Brooklyn’s Saoirse Ronan certainly shouldn’t be counted out, though the actress’s name is likely too unfamiliar with voters to result in a win.
At 25 years old, Jennifer Lawrence has earned her record-setting fourth nomination, but Joy was so poorly received overall, she’s likely out of this year’s race. Last but not least, Charlotte Rampling, who recently picked up the London Critics’ Circle award for Best Actress, has been getting plenty of love for her performance in 45 Years. While the odds are not in her favor, a long, lauded career as both an actress and fashion icon could certainly translate to a better-than-expected tally on Oscar night. Then again, Rampling hasn’t fared so well on the campaign circuit–recently earning some bad press for her comments on the ‘OscarSoWhite’ controversy.
FINAL PREDICTION: Brie Larson, Room (√)
Will Win: Brie Larson
Could Win: Cate Blanchett
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Sylvester Stallone, CREED (4 to 1 | 13W | 14N)
Mark Ruffalo, SPOTLIGHT (15 to 2 | 3W | 12N)
Mark Rylance, BRIDGE OF SPIES (16 to 1 | 8W | 17N)
Christian Bale, THE BIG SHORT (66 to 1 | 1W | 5N)
Tom Hardy, THE REVENANT (66 to 1 | 3W | 5N)
Tom Hardy has become one of the most rock-solid actors in the business, and if it was a surprise that he was nominated for his role in The Revenant, its only because his grizzled beard and grumbling drawl made him virtually unrecognizable to many who had just seen him traverse Fury Road. All in all, Hardy anchored two of the years biggest films–and that doesn’t even touch on his dual roles playing twins in the mobster movie Legend. If the night begins with Hardy pulling off an upset in the Best Supporting Actor category, don’t be too shocked–but expect to see the rest of the dominos fall in The Revenant’s favor as well.
Mark Ruffalo pulled off a great performance in Spotlight, but its difficult to single out one actor to praise what the film’s pitch-perfect ensemble collectively achieved. He also had the ‘biggest’ performance of the bunch, loaded shoulder twitches and speech impediments, which may have appealed to voters as much as it could have turned them off. Christian Bale gave a similarly ‘big’ performance in The Big Short, but it was also contained–literally, physically–to an office, and ultimately overshadowed by co-star Steve Carell.
Sylvester Stallone’s latest reprisal of Rocky Balboa in Creed struck a chord with a lot of the franchise’s fans, both old and new. It was the sort of performance that seemed to remind people that Stallone was once more than a washed-up, unusually vascular punchline. The question surrounding the nomination, however, was how much of it was rooted in nostalgia as opposed to genuine enthusiasm for the performance? That said, conventional wisdom suggests that just getting the nomination was the hardest part, and Stallone’s name recognition alone – as well as voters’ desire to honor Ryan Coogler’s fantastic boxing pic – will likely grant him the gold.
Unlike Stallone, Mark Rylance isn’t exactly a household name, but he is a highly respected actor of stage and screen. And one should never discount The Power of Spielberg, which Rylance has in spades given that he’s the best shot Bridge of Spies has to pick up a major award at the Oscars. With a Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay nomination, it does appear as though the Academy felt strongly about this well crafted, old school Cold War spy flick–even if it largely drew a yawn from the masses. While his recent BAFTA win won’t necessarily trigger a surge in votes for Rylance, his nuanced performance is by far the film’s most compelling element.
Lately, Ruffalo has soared in the odds, jumping from a last place tie with Bale to a close second, ahead of Rylance. It’s a last minute surge that could pose a threat to Stallone. And although he’s lost in the past, it’s never a great idea to bet against Rocky.
FINAL PREDICTION: Sylvester Stallone, Creed (X)
Will Win: Mark Rylance
Could Win: Sylvester Stallone
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
WINNER: Alicia Vikander, THE DANISH GIRL (2 to 9 | 15W | 11N)
Kate Winslet, STEVE JOBS (7 to 1 | 3W | 18N)
Rooney Mara, CAROL (40 to 1 | 4W | 19N)
Jennifer Jason Leigh, THE HATEFUL EIGHT (66 to 1 | 3W | 17N)
Rachel McAdams, SPOTLIGHT (80 to 1 | 3W | 5N)
Alicia Vikander had quite a year. Her breakthrough performance in Alex Garland’s Ex Machina was remarkable, and helped give her enough buzz to pick up an equally deserved nomination for The Danish Girl (although if she’d been nominated for Ex Machina, no one would have batted an eye). The problem? Vikander was almost certainly the lead in The Danish Girl. The creative categorizing that went on behind the scenes was a move that doesn’t look like its going to pay off for Vikander–but that may not be the case for fellow nominee, Rooney Mara.
McAdams, who represents the lone female performance in the year’s strongest ensemble, did an admirable job of embodying Boston Globe reporter Sacha Pfeiffer. Jennifer Jason Leigh stood tall in the face of a beating in Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, but some have suggested that the role made light of physical violence towards women–and that’s likely enough to cross it off the list.
If there’s anything weighing down Rooney Mara’s potential to win, its the aforementioned fact that she should’ve been bumped up to the Best Actress category (by our count, there are seven nominees for Best Actress this year). It’s a fair grievance, but one that doesn’t diminish the fantastic work she does opposite Cate Blanchett in Todd Haynes’ romantic drama. The desire to show Carol some love in light of its Best Picture and Best Director snubs could prompt some voters to skip over previous winner Blanchett (paving the way for a Brie Larson win) and tic the box next to Rooney Mara’s name instead. Kate Winslet, meanwhile, has racked up plenty of awards thus far for her performance as Steve Jobs’ right-hand woman Joanna Hoffman–a performance she delicately coats with a light dusting of a Polish accent–but the film itself was largely dismissed by audiences and critics alike.
This will be one of the closest races of the night, but Vikander’s SAG Award win was crucial to securing her front-runner status.
FINAL PREDICTION: Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl (√)
Will Win: Rooney Mara
Could Win: Kate Winslet
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
WINNER: Adam McKay, Charles Randolph, THE BIG SHORT (1 to 10 | 11W | 9N)
Emma Donoghue, ROOM (40 to 1 | 6W | 21N)
Phyllis Nagy, CAROL (50 to 1 | 3W | 12N)
Drew Goddard, THE MARTIAN (66 to 1 | 6W | 17N)
Nick Hornby, BROOKLYN (80 to 1 | 1W | 17N)
Voters have favored high stakes, historical chronicles in this category for the past three years (Argo, 12 Years a Slave, The Imitation Game). The Big Short is the only film that fits this particular bill amongst this year’s nominees. While the voters traditionally eschew comedies– the last comedy winner being Alexander Payne for Sideways in 2004–The Big Short is devastatingly serious at its core. Writers Adam McKay and Charles Randolph accomplished the near impossible task of adapting Michael Lewis’s non-fiction best-seller for the big screen using some form of narrative jiu jitsu. The Big Short utilizes voiceover, abrupt cutaways, animation and breaking of the fourth wall–all in service of successfully weaving together three distinct story lines within a documentary style framework to tell the hilariously depressing story of the run-up to the Great Recession. It’s WGA win for Best Adapted Screenplay and USC Scripter Award practically cemented its odds.
The star-crossed lovers theme in the period dramas Brooklyn and Carol could very well result in the two canceling each other out. Watch out for Room due to its stellar treatment of the subject and excellent character construction. The screenwriting categories are often seen as “consolation” prizes for the films on the outside of the Best Picture race, and Room is certainly a dark horse in that sense.
FINAL PREDICTION: Adam McKay and Charles Randolph, The Big Short (√)
Will Win: The Big Short
Could Win: Room
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
WINNER: Tom McCarthy, Josh Singer, SPOTLIGHT (1 to 10 | 25W | 13N)
Josh Cooley, Ronnie del Carmen, Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, INSIDE OUT (16 to 1 | 5W | 14N)
Andrea Berloff, Jonathan Herman, S. Leigh Savidge, Alan Wenkus, STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON (50 to 1 | 1W | 2N)
Alex Garland, EX MACHINA (66 to 1 | 0W | 18N)
Matt Charman, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, BRIDGE OF SPIES (66 to 1 | 0W | 10N)
Spotlight was a masterful narrative about the bygone era that is print journalism. The pacing is pristine and the story grabs us from the beginning and never lets go. The film is a masterclass in efficiency and every moment is loaded with substance. Not to mention the fact that the subject of the Boston Archdiocese molestation cover-up is the type of socially conscious subject that tends to do well with Oscar voters. The WGAs honored the script as its Best Original Screenplay of the year, which gives it a nudge ahead of the competition.
But let’s take a moment to consider Inside Out, one of Pixar’s most creative, outside-the-box films to date. Tear jerking and hilarious in equal measures, Inside Out’s vision of the inner-workings of the psyche was the sort of inspired writing that hits home with people of all ages. Straight Outta Compton, however, was one of the most entertaining movies of the year. The film flawlessly introduces and resolves conflict with perfect pacing–although the tendency to ‘soften’ some of the history surrounding the film’s real-life figures could hurt its chances. Then again, the growing call for more diversity in the Oscar nominations–particularly in the wake of Compton’s failure to make the Best Picture cut, widely regarded as a snub–could help its chances of earning a win here, since voters don’t have too many options this year when it comes to honoring diversity in film.
FINAL PREDICTION: Tom McCarthy & Josh Singer, Spotlight (√)
Will Win: Spotlight
Could Win: Straight Outta Compton
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Last year, many were surprised to see The Lego Movie–one of the most critically acclaimed and highest grossing pictures of 2014–excluded from the list of nominees for Best Animated Feature. And even more were surprised when Big Hero 6 beat out DreamWorks’ How to Train Your Dragon 2.
This year, the story is a bit different, as there wasn’t a major animated release which deserved to make the cut that was left out (cough cough, we’re looking at you, The Good Dinosaur). The most obvious choice for Best Animated Feature also seems to be the right one. Pixar’s Inside Out is the studio’s most inspired movie in years; many expected to see it in the Best Picture race. It’s closest competition is likely Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson’s Anomalisa, a stunning work of stop motion animation that contained some of the most human scenes of any movie this year. Both featured phenomenal voice work: Phyllis Smith was perfectly cast as Sadness, while it could be argued that Jennifer Jason Leigh’s best performance this year was as Lisa the customer service rep. Aside from its broader appeal, though, Inside Out also had a gorgeous score, vibrant production design, sharp writing and a deeply emotional theme.
FINAL PREDICTION: Inside Out (√)
Will Win: Inside Out
Could Win: Anomalisa
The Tracking Board’s predictions for the remaining Oscar categories:
BEST ORIGINAL SONG
FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, “Earned It”
(Music and lyrics by Abel Tesfaye, Ahmad Balshe, Jason Daheala Quenneville and Stephan Moccio)
RACING EXTINCTION, “Manta Ray”
(Music by J. Ralph and lyrics by Antony Hegarty)
YOUTH, “Simple Song #3”
(Music and lyrics by David Lang)
*THE HUNTING GROUND, “Til It Happens To You” from
(Music and lyric by Diane Warren and Lady Gaga)*
WINNER: SPECTRE, “Writing’s On The Wall”
(Music and lyrics by Jimmy Napes and Sam Smith) (X)
BEST MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING
WINNER: *MAD MAX: FURY ROAD* (√)
THE 100 YEAR OLD MAN WHO CLIMBED OUT THE WINDOW AND DISAPPEARED
Finally, let’s take a look at our readers’ picks for some of this year’s top categories, according to the ballots submitted thus far to our 2016 Oscar Pool.
|The Big Short||14%|
|Mad Max: Fury Road||12%|
|Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant||92%|
|Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl||3%|
|Matt Damon, The Martian||3%|
|Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs||2%|
|Bryan Cranston, Trumbo||0%|
|Brie Larson, Room||79%|
|Cate Blanchett, Carol||12%|
|Jennifer Lawrence, Joy||7%|
|Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn||2%|
|Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years||0%|
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
|Sylvester Stallone, Creed||55%|
|Tom Hardy, The Revenant||17%|
|Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight||14%|
|Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies||7%|
|Christian Bale, The Big Short||7%|
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
|Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs||26%|
|Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl||26%|
|Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight||18%|
|Rooney Mara, Carol||17%|
|Rachel McAdams, Spotlight||13%|
|Alejandro Gonzalez Inarittu, The Revenant||79%|
|George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road||14%|
|Tom McCarthy, Spotlight||5%|
|Lenny Abrahamson, Room||2%|
|Adam McKay, The Big Short||0%|
Josh Lyons | Managing Editor
Sources: Metacritic, Hollywood Stock Exchange, GoldDerby