The line of patrons at cinemas everywhere has grown exponentially as avid moviegoers cross films off their lists in preparation of Oscar’s big night. And though the lineup of nominees is whitewashed across the board—unfortunately repeating last year’s failure to recognize artists of color—there are definitely some competitive categories that will stir up excitement in this year’s standings.
There are many who will say that Leonardo DiCaprio may finally win his first Oscar for Best Actor—it’s been joked about for years, but it’s finally time. However, DiCaprio has some tough competition with Bryan Cranston as Trumbo and Michael Fassbender as Steve Jobs. The fact that all three compete with biographical roles makes it an even tougher call, but my vote goes to Fassbender. While DiCaprio won a Golden Globe and certainly had the widest emotional range of the contenders, the Academy tends to lean towards actors whose roles serve as a departure—and Fassbender definitely falls into that category with such a transformation.
The Best Actress category has a much clearer outcome. Though the other performances pack a punch, none quite sticks in your mind like Brie Larson’s heartbreaking role in “Room.” We’ve seen her rising in the indie world through the past few years, and she’s finally found the role that will get her some Oscar love. Though Cate Blanchett and Jennifer Lawrence certainly deserve nods for their performances in “Carol” and “Joy,” respectively, it’s an indisputable win for Larson.
This year’s supporting nominees are something of an oddity, as many of the films have a pretty evenly distributed ensemble cast, and, in several nominations, the role in mind is actually the protagonist (Rooney Mara in “Carol” and Alicia Vikander in “The Danish Girl”). Despite these quirks, the winners are still pretty clear.
Tom Hardy has the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor with his performance in “The Revenant.” In his usual transformative way, he is nearly unrecognizable as the ornery money-grubber and antagonist, John Fitzgerald. And it is a no brainer that Alicia Vikander will win Best Supporting Actress. While it is true that Kate Winslet’s persistent strength in “Steve Jobs” won her this year’s Golden Globe, this is another example of the difference in personality between the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and the Academy. Vikander’s immersion into her character will sway the decision in the end.
For this year’s Best Director, there is not a question in my mind that Alejandro González Iñárritu will win it for the second year in a row. Last year, he took the Oscar for “Birdman,” and, in my mind, it was always a given that his next film would either equal his prior effort or collapse to the status of a disappointment. The technical proficiency and artistic orchestration of “The Revenant” makes Iñárritu the obvious choice for this award.
The Best Picture category is always the hardest, but, this year, the two strongest contenders are “The Revenant” and “Spotlight.” It’s hard to even compare the two, as they are at opposite ends of the spectrum. While “The Revenant” deals out brute emotion and focuses centrally on the visual, “Spotlight” delves into more complex emotions and focuses on story. Despite the sheer number of nominations that “The Revenant” racked up, my gut instinct tells me that “Spotlight” will still win the prize. I believe 2016 will harken to 2014, when Best Picture and Best Director didn’t line up (“12 Years a Slave” and “Gravity”).
But only time will tell. And let’s be honest, what fun would the Oscars be if we weren’t kept on our toes? Anticipation is the Academy’s best friend, and you can count on them milking it all the way until Feb. 28.
February Special Events
“A Clockwork Orange”
Saturday, Feb. 6, 11:45 p.m.
Two Special Screenings of:
Friday, Feb. 12, 9:30 p.m.
with Down in Front! comedy riffing
Saturday, Feb. 13, 8 p.m.
Classic Film Series
“Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”
Sunday, Feb. 14, 6 p.m.
3rd in the Burg $3 Movie
“When Harry Met Sally”
Friday, Feb. 19, 9:30 p.m.
Faulkner Honda Family Film Series
“Dennis the Menace”
Saturday, Feb. 20, 12 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 21, 2 p.m.
15th Anniversary Series
“Lost in Translation”
Saturday, Feb. 27, 8 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 28, 7 p.m.