The Best Picture race is closer than ever this year. The 88th Academy Awards will take place on the 28th of February, hosted by Chris Rock, and it is one of the tightest competitions in years.
From surprise nominations (Mad Max – the Academy very rarely acknowledges action) to controversial snubs (the #OscarsSoWhite scandal, but also Todd Haynes’ Carol among others), it’s been a dramatic year, but which film is going to be crowned Best Picture?
With just over two weeks to go, a clear cut winner has made usually itself clear by now, but with the bookies favourite changing like the weather, it’s hard to predict who will come out on top.
Here are the nominees and a breakdown of their chances…
THE BIG SHORT:
Directed: Adam McKay
Starring: Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt
Other nominations: 4 – Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing
Bookies odds: 11/10
Adam McKay’s take on the housing crisis is the current favourite to win after scooping the Best Picture prize at the PGA Awards.
The PGA has predicted the Best Picture Oscar winner for the past eight years, so things are looking pretty promising for the film, which was previously an underdog.
It’s the sort of film that falls into the ‘love it or hate it’ category, but I think it is wholly deserving of its nomination.
McKay, best known for his comedy, brings a surprising amount of dramatic heft, particularly from Carrell, who is the closest the film has to a moral compass – this is a film about guys who made money off of the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, remember.
Will it win? It really is hard to tell. The PGA win is strongly in its favour – films such as Birdman (2015) and The Hurt Locker (2010) only became front-runners (and eventual Oscar winners) after the PGA’s after all.
The Big Short would be a perfectly deserving winner, but whilst it has more chance than some of the true underdogs, I wouldn’t be surprised if it ultimately goes home with one prize in the form of Best Editing.
Read my review of The Big Short here.
BRIDGE OF SPIES:
Directed: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance
Other nominations: 5 – Best Original Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor, Best Original Score, Best Production Design, Best Sound Mixing
Bookies odds: 125/1
It feels like Bridge of Spies has almost slipped through the cracks in the frenzy of this years Oscar buzz.
Directed by the living legend that was Spielberg, co-written by the Coen Brothers and starring America’s favourite Everyman Tom Hanks, on paper the film seems like a ready-made classic, instead it is a good, solid entry into Spielberg’s filmography, but it fails to reach the heights of his most beloved work.
It is basically a given that anything Spielberg makes will scoop up a few nominations – he is, as I said, a living legend, but the chances of Bridge of Spies taking home the Best Picture prize are next to non-existent.
Other than Rylance’s nomination in the Best Supporting Actor category, the film hasn’t picked up nominations in any of the big hitters – even Tom Hanks failed to get a nod due to the fierce competition for Best Actor.
That said, never underestimate the Academy’s ability to get it wrong – Crash robbed Brokeback Mountain of the prize back in 2005 in one of the more recent and dramatic examples – so never say never, especially with a Spielberg film.
Directed: John Crowley
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen, Domhnall Gleeson
Other nominations: 2 – Best Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay
Bookies odds: 100/1
If it were up to me, Brooklyn would take home Best Picture. It would also be nominated for a lot more than just three Oscars (three? come on!). Without a doubt my favourite film in the race, Brooklyn is a beautiful period drama about an Irish immigrant.
Everything about the film is subtle, from Ronan’s pitch perfect central performance to the narrative, and it won’t be for everyone, but I think it is an understated masterpiece.
But enough gushing, is it going to win Best Picture? Alas, it is very much in the underdog position at the moment. The film opened to critical acclaim and Ronan has received a fair few awards for her work, but the buzz has somewhat died since.
Pair that with the fact that it only received three nominations, which didn’t include Best Director, and Brooklyn’s chances are pretty low.
Hopefully it’ll take home one of its other nominations, with Ronan and screen-writer Nick Hornby both fully deserving, plus it would be a real shame to see the film go home empty handed.
Read my review of Brooklyn here.
MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
Directed: George Miller
Starring: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult
Other nominations: 9 – Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing
Bookies odds: 40/1
With 10 nominations, Mad Max: Fury Road was without a doubt the biggest shock when the nominations were announced last month.
The Academy is notorious for snubbing blockbusters and action flicks, meaning that George Miller’s latest installment in the Mad Max franchise, whilst garnering critical acclaim, was almost sure to be excluded from the Best Picture line up.
It is great to see the inclusion of the film on the list, and it has cleaned up in technical nominations, which seems fair considering it has been placed on a pedestal by many as one of the best action films ever committed to the screen.
I can’t really comment from a personal perspective, having never seen the film or any of the others in the Mad Max franchise, but I guess that the Academy probably won’t go so far as to award it Best Picture – they probably feel they have ‘done enough’ by nominating it.
However it is a pretty open race this year, and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise for a film with so many other nominations take home the big prize, though I’m willing to bet it’ll split the technical prizes with The Revenant.
Directed: Ridley Scott
Starring: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain
Other nominations: 6 – Best Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Visual Effects, Best Production Design, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing
Bookies odds: 33/1
The Academy may be depressingly predictable in many ways (here’s Kate Winslet explaining how in Extras), but they have surprised everyone by including not one but two blockbusters in the 2016 Best Picture line up.
The Martian is a glorious return to form for Scott after a few middling flicks, and it is fantastic to see that the 78 year old veteran filmmaker is still capable of making excellent films.
Matt Damon carries the film, which tells the story of an astronaut who is assumed dead and left on Mars, and is fully deserving of his Best Actor nomination, but the real star of The Martian is Scott’s direction.
His depiction of Mars is a visual treat, and he veers away from traditional scoring and employs a disco soundtrack, which only makes the film stand out more.
If it were any other year, The Martian would be a real contender across the board, but with the technical mastery of The Revenant and Mad Max: Fury Road, as well as a packed Best Actor roster, the chances of any big wins are significantly reduced.
Here’s hoping the aforementioned films won’t totally dominate and The Martian will take home a statuette – though I’m pretty sure it won’t be Best Picture.
Directed: Alejandro G. Inarritu
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domnhall Gleeson, Will Poulter
Other nominations: 11 – Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Visual Effects, Best Film Editing
Bookies odds: 4/1
It was going to take something pretty bad to tarnish Alejandro G. Inarritu’s reputation after he won Best Picture and Best Director for his work on the critically adored Bridman at last years ceremony.
He has arguably topped himself with The Revenant, an intense, technical masterpiece in film-making. There is a real danger of the director becoming over-hyped, but credit where credit is due – The Revenant is excellent.
The film scooped the most nominations with a total of 12, so the chances of it taking home a lot of them are almost a given. It’s long been one of the favourites to win, but with such a strong selection it won’t be an easy sway.
Leonardo DiCaprio also looks set to finally win Best Actor, which he deserves, but which will also spell the sad end of some pretty funny GIFS and memes (hence why I had to include some of my favourites here, we could be running out of time people).
*Brief interlude for funny Leonardo DiCaprio GIFS and memes*
An article by The Independent is also suggesting that Tom Hardy’s lack of appearances in the films Oscar campaign may also be hurting the films chances – it’s idealistic to assume that the prize is based on artistic merit, after all.
Birdman also only took home four of its nine nominations last year, so there’s a chance the insane hype might fail to translate into Oscar wins.
The Revenant is one of the most likely candidates to take home Best Picture, with it’s real competition coming in the form of The Big Short and Spotlight.
Directed: Lenny Abrahamson
Starring: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay
Other nominations: 3 – Best Actress, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay
Bookies odds: 33/1
Room is utterly haunting – telling the story of a young woman who was abducted and is forced to live out her existence in a small room, with only her son, fathered by her captor, keeping her going – it is a far from an easy watch.
Larson is fantastic, anchoring the film and in a Best Actress worthy performance, but the film generally falls into the same category as Brooklyn in that it doesn’t have many nominations under its belt.
With multiple nominations comes increased momentum, and Room just doesn’t have that – it’s a great film that is hugely deserving of any plaudits, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to do well on Oscars night.
Also going against the film is that the nominations it does have are in extremely tough categories – Larson has a real chance with Best Actress, but so does Ronan (Brooklyn) and Cate Blanchett (Carol), meaning there is no clear cut favourite.
Room is the sort of film that could have done very well if it were a different year, but unfortunately for all those involved it’s 2016 and it’s probably going to be (arguably unfairly) overlooked.
Directed: Tom McCarthy
Starring: Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, John Slattery
Other nominations: 5 – Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Director, Best Film Editing, Best Original Screenplay
Bookies odds: 6/5
Spotlight’s Oscar campaign has been a tale of highs and lows – it was a bit of a slow burner, but it slowly built up to becoming favourite to win, but then the hype died down and has been replaced by The Big Short.
The film, which focuses on the Boston Globe’s investigation into child molestation in the cities Catholic Church, has received critical acclaim for its ensemble cast and accurate portrayal of events.
I really enjoyed Spotlight, and I think the attention to detail McCarthy has put into recreating the story is impressive. I was also very taken with the cast, particularly Mark Ruffalo, who has been nominated in the Best Supporting Actor category, and Michael Keaton, who arguably also should have received a nomination.
If the awards had been held a month ago, Spotlight would almost certainly have scooped Best Picture. Now? I’m not so sure – It’s in my top three favourites to win alongside The Big Short and The Revenant, but whether it will come out top in the extremely close race will only become clear on the night.
Read my review of Spotlight here.
Which film do you think will take home the Best Picture Oscar this year? Let me know in the comments section!
Check out the trailers for the Best Picture nominees here: