It’s about that time. Time to talk and prognosticate and predict the Oscars 2016. Here at MFR, we will go through the major categories – the screenplays, supporting actress, supporting actor, actress, actor, director, picture – and see how we do when nominations are announced in early January. For the past several years, I’ve had a 78% prediction accuracy. Also, 56% of statistics are made up on the spot. But who’s counting?
Best Adapted Screenplay
This year, the adapted screenplays should go both big and small. On the bigger, bolder end of the spectrum, Drew Goddard’s screenplay adaptation The Martian should ride the wave of massive box-office numbers to a nomination. Goddard captures the essence of a tricky, hard-science novel from Weir, and keeps the mood of the story in tact. On the smaller end, we have Room, adapted by Emma Donoghue from her own novel. This devastatingly powerful, intimate picture absolutely deserves any and all attention it will get this season.
In between these films lie the remainder of the nominees, none of which are as sure bets as The Martian and Room. Aaron Sorkin’s Steve Jobs should grab a nom, but the historically poor box office and rapid eschewing from theaters could hurt its chances. Nick Hornby’s adaptation of Brooklyn, from the novel by Colm Tóibín, will gather enough steam to get a nomination. The film will most certainly do the same over the next few weeks. That leaves roughly a half dozen screenplays for one fifth spot.
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and Mark L. Smith have an outside chance for The Revenant, based on the Michael Punke novel, but this feels like a big Awards film more reliant on physicality than dialogue. Still, don’t count out the power of Inarritu. Technically, Ryan Cooler and Aaron Covington’s Creed is based on previous characters, so if their solid script has a chance at a nomination it would be here. It feels like an outside shot, but don’t count out the film in a number of other categories. This fifth spot should fall into the hands of Phyllis Nagy’s Carol. Based on the Patricia Highsmith novel, Todd Haynes’ progressive love story, and beautiful period picture, will grow into an Oscar darling over the next few weeks, and it might even make Carol the frontrunner for the statue.
Drew Goddard – The Martian
Emma Donoghue – Room
Aaron Sorkin – Steve Jobs
Nick Hornby – Brooklyn
Phyllis Nagy – Carol
Best Original Screenplay
Somehow, Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer’s screenplay for the phenomenal Best Picture frontrunner Spotlight wasn’t based on previous material. It will get a nomination here, and probably a win. And it’s a Quentin Tarantino film year, so that means The Hateful Eight will grab a spot on this list. Pixar has been absent from the screenplay game since 2009, but Inside Out many consider to be their best film in several years. Pete Doctor, Meg LeFauve, and Josh Cooley should get a nomination.
For these last two slots, there are a handful of worthy candidates. It all depends on the publicity push for these two nominations, but I suspect Straight Outta Compton, Sicario, Joy, and Bridge of Spies will all have solid chances. Early buzz for Joy is middling at best, so let’s keep that one on the outside looking in despite the Oscar power of David O. Russell. I feel like Sicario, one of the highest-grossing “indie” films of the year, will find itself in the thick of several categories, including the screenplay from Taylor Sheridan.
That leaves, theoretically, Bridge of Spies and Straight Outta Compton, both worthy candidates. Given Oscar’s penchant for reactionary nominations – last year was criminally white and male as far as films and nominees were concerned – I expect Jonathan Herman & Andrea Berloff, Alan Wenkus & Leigh Savidge’s script for Straight Outta Compton to beat out the Coen Brothers for the fifth spot.
Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer – Spotlight
Quentin Tarantino – The Hateful Eight
Pete Doctor, Meg LeFauve, and Josh Cooley – Inside Out
Taylor Sheridan – Sicario
Jonathan Herman & Andrea Berloff, Alan Wenkus & Leigh Savidge – Straight Outta Compton
Up next, we’ll take a look at supporting actress and see who’s in and who’s out…