“The Big Short”
“Bridge of Spies”
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“Mad Max: Fury Road”
WILL WIN: “The Revenant.” The kind of harrowing, down-and-dirty, prestige flick (every scene looks like it must’ve been a pain for everyone to shoot) that Oscar voters award just on general principle.
SHOULD WIN: “Mad Max: Fury Road.” I know there’s no way this summer blockbuster will win. (I’m sure it wouldn’t have been nominated at all if all those critics’ groups didn’t give it year-end, best-picture honors.) But, if it did win, it would be such a lovely day.
WOULDA/COULDA SHOULDA: Heck, name any movie that came out last year starring black people (“Creed,” “Chi-Raq,” “Dope,” etc).
Bryan Cranston, “Trumbo”
Matt Damon, “The Martian”
Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Revenant”
Michael Fassbender, “Steve Jobs”
Eddie Redmayne, “The Danish Girl”
WILL WIN: DiCaprio. Considering how weak the Best Actor lineup is this year (seriously, what’s Cranston doing in there?), Leo has to have this one in the bag, right?
SHOULD WIN: DiCaprio. Just give him one already.
WOULDA/COULDA/SHOULDA: Samuel L. Jackson gave an Oscar-worthy performance nobody noticed as a lethal bounty hunter in “The Hateful Eight.” Two-time Best Actor winner Tom Hanks was also brilliant as a Cold War-negotiating lawyer in “Bridge of Spies.” And wouldn’t it have been awesome if Michael B. Jordan got a nod for playing the titular fighter in “Creed”?
Cate Blanchett, “Carol”
Brie Larson, “Room”
Jennifer Lawrence, “Joy”
Charlotte Rampling, “45 Years”
Saoirse Ronan, “Brooklyn”
WILL WIN: Larson. Practically a Jennifer Lawrence-in-training, voters always dig giving the Best Actress award to spunky young actresses who can also be serious and vulnerable on-screen.
SHOULD WIN: Rampling. Even though she put her foot in her mouth talking about diversity in Hollywood recently (ruining her chances of winning in the process), her performance was quietly devastating nonetheless.
WOULDA/COULDA/SHOULDA: Juliette Binoche’s fading movie actress from “Clouds of Sils Maria” should’ve been a contender, along with Charlize Theron’s one-armed freedom fighter in “Mad Max: Fury Road” and Teyonah Parris’s sex-depriving activist in “Chi-Raq.”
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Christian Bale, “The Big Short”
Tom Hardy, “The Revenant”
Mark Ruffalo, “Spotlight
Mark Rylance, “Bridge of Spies”
Sylvester Stallone, “Creed”
WILL WIN: Stallone. After all those years of crazy action flicks, seeing Sly win for doing understated work, playing the character that gave him Oscars and superstardom in the first place, would be adorable.
SHOULD WIN: Stallone. Just don’t forget to thank the director and star of the movie this time.
WOULDA/COULDA/SHOULDA: Samuel L. Jackson once again should’ve been nominated for his pimpalicious narrator in “Chi-Raq.” Michael Keaton’s truth-seeking editor in “Spotlight” was the best performance in that whole movie. And Jacob Tremblay (aka the boy from “Room”) just won me over.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Jennifer Jason Leigh, “The Hateful Eight”
Rooney Mara, “Carol”
Rachel McAdams, “Spotlight”
Alicia Vikander, “The Danish Girl”
Kate Winslet, “Steve Jobs”
WILL WIN: Winslet. Since this is the year Jack from “Titanic” will win Best Actor, voters might think it would be cute if Rose won an Oscar this year too.
SHOULD WIN: Mara. She should’ve been nominated for Best Actress (both she and Blanchett gave leading-role performances) anyway.
WOULDA/COULDA/SHOULDA: Oscar boycotter Jada Pinkett Smith actually gave an award-worthy turn as a seen-it-all madam in “Magic Mike XXL.” Kristen Stewart was also great as a seen-it-all assistant in “Clouds of Sils Maria.” And why don’t more people talk about nominee Leigh’s voice performance as a lonely gal in “Anomalisa”?
Lenny Abrahamson, “Room”
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, “The Revenant”
Tom McCarthy, “Spotlight”
Adam McKay, “The Big Short”
George Miller, “Mad Max: Fury Road”
WILL WIN: Inarritu. If he wins for the second year in a row, he’d be right up there with John Ford and Joseph L. Mankiewicz. Plus, giving back-to-back Oscars to a minority would do wonders for the Oscars, PR-wise, right about now.
SHOULD WIN: Miller. If we’re talking best director in terms of visual audacity, then it’s Miller all the way.
WOULDA/COULDA/SHOULDA: Heck, name any movie that came out last year directed by a black person (Ryan Coogler for “Creed,” Spike Lee for “Chi-Raq,” Rick Famuyiwa for “Dope,” etc).