2016 Oscar Nominee Predictions

Tomorrow morning the 2016 Oscar nominees will be announced. I look forward to this all year. I don’t know when I first started tracking Oscar buzz throughout the year, but I do know that my love of the Oscars started almost 25 years ago (my love of movies came long before that).

I can only imagine how many movies I’ve seen in that span of time specifically for the purpose of seeing all the nominees before the awards. I learned some years ago that if I waited until the nominees were announced I would fall victim to two certainties. One, there wouldn’t be enough time to see them all. Two, many would have already come and gone from my local theaters and wouldn’t be on video before the big night. Thus my methodical research process was born.

One tremendous benefit to seeing all the films with a reasonable amount of Oscar buzz is that I see some wonderful films that unfortunately, for one reason or another, don’t get nominated. Sometimes it’s a matter of industry politics, sometimes the film or the performance gets overlooked and sometimes the field is just too deep.

Some of my favorites over the years that fell into that category are Once, The Way Way Back and Mud. All were deserving of Oscar recognition but fell by the wayside on that early Hollywood morning when the nominees were announced.

For the 2016 Oscar season I tracked the buzz on 114 different films (including foreign language and documentary films) that at one point or another had at least a little bit of a chance at a nomination. I track these films over time to see if the buzz sticks or if it fades away. My tracking involves a scoring system for each category which allows me to prioritize my viewing.

The current total buzz score for all films combined is 1,598. I have currently seen 1,226 of that total and while there are still a couple of films yet for me to see I can say it’s been a very interesting year.

Before I make my predictions for tomorrow’s nominees I want to spotlight a few movies that were truly outstanding but sadly won’t get any recognition tomorrow morning. Although for me they were some of the best of the year.

sing-streetSing Street

From John Carney, the writer/director of Once and Begin Again comes what I believe is his finest work. This marvelous film tells the story of Conor “Cosmo” Lalor, a boy growing up in Dublin during the 1980s who escapes his strained family life by starting a band to impress the mysterious girl he likes. Not only is the music fantastic, this is a beautifully crafted film that had me enthralled with its humor and tenderness from start to spectacular finish.

dont-think-twiceDon’t Think Twice

I have two soft spots that may give this film about an improv team in New York that may give it an extra boost in my book. But with a 99% on Rotten Tomatoes it looks like I’m not alone. First, I adore Mike Birbiglia. I have found him to be a master storyteller in his stand-up routine for years. He just keeps getting better. Second, my son performs with an improv team in Los Angeles. I doubt that had much impact on its Rotten Tomatoes score. What does have an impact is how smart, funny and touching this film is.

birth-of-a-nationThe Birth of a Nation

Once upon a time filmmaker Nate Parker’s The Birth of a Nation generated a lot of Oscar buzz after its win at Sundance. It tells the story of Nat Turner, a slave preacher in pre-civil war Virginia. Nat is compelled to preach from plantation to plantation to help quell discontent among slaves. Turner eventually turns to lead slaves across many plantations in an uprising against their owners. But questions about Nate’s personal past hamstrung proper promotion of the film. Nonetheless let me say how strikingly beautifully shot, directed and acted this film is. Parker really masterfully tells this story using the medium of film to the fullest. The story does lean on some of the slavery story tropes we’ve seen many times before, and usually better, especially in the first act. But these familiar characters are more interesting than most we’ve seen in films like this before. The supporting characters are so unique, original and well-developed with a stellar performance from Aja Naomi King as Cherry, Nat’s wife. And while it’s less Spartacus marching on Rome and more The Bride taking her revenge on the Crazy 88’s, this was an incredibly well-made film.

hail-caesarHail, Caesar!

A victim of an early February release date (it’s been almost a year since this film came out!) Hail, Caesar! is still classic, brilliant Coen Brothers splendor. Clooney is at his campy best but he’s only the tip of the all-star, screwball casting iceberg that takes the Coen’s sharp writing and brings it brilliantly to life. Josh Brolin’s Eddie Mannix as the “fixer” (keeping the stars at Capitol Pictures out of the press) is the heart of this 1950s Hollywood farce.

hello-my-name-is-dorrisHello, My Name is Doris

This was actually on my Oscar buzz list in 2015 but it got pushed to 2016 instead. I was hopeful because the buzz on Sally Field was tremendous. And she didn’t disappoint. After seeing it many people’s reactions were “Give her the Oscar now.” And I wouldn’t have disagreed with that (at the time). But, much like when we shouted the same for Sir Ian McKellen’s Holmes, Sally Fields won’t even get a nomination. But lest you think this is a downer, Oscar-bait kind of film let me assure you it’s not. It’s funny, quirky and will leave you smiling.

This was a tough year to predict in most categories. If I hit 75% I’ll feel pretty good about it. So, without any further ado…

2016 OSCAR NOMINATION PREDICTIONS

Original Screenplay

  • Hell or High Water
  • La La Land
  • The Lobster
  • Manchester by the Sea
  • Moonlight

Adapted Screenplay

  • Arrival
  • Fences
  • Lion
  • Nocturnal Animals
  • Silence

Supporting Actor

  • Mahershala Ali – Moonlight
  • Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water
  • Hugh Grant – Florence Foster Jenkins
  • Lucas Hedges – Manchester by the Sea
  • Dev Patel – Lion

Supporting Actress

  • Viola Davis – Fences
  • Naomie Harris – Moonlight
  • Nicole Kidman – Lion
  • Octavia Spencer – Hidden Figures
  • Michelle Williams – Manchester by the Sea

Actor

  • Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea
  • Andrew Garfield – Hacksaw Ridge
  • Ryan Gosling – La La Land
  • Joel Edgerton – Loving
  • Denzel Washington – Fences

Actress

  • Isabelle Huppert – Elle
  • Natalie Portman – Jackie
  • Ruth Negga – Loving
  • Emma Stone – La La Land
  • Meryl Streep – Florence Foster Jenkins

Director

  • Damien Chazelle – La La Land
  • Garth Davis – Lion
  • Barry Jenkins – Moonlight
  • Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester by the Sea
  • Martin Scorsese – Silence

Picture

  • Arrival
  • Fences
  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • Hell or High Water
  • Hidden Figures
  • La La Land
  • Lion
  • Loving
  • Manchester by the Sea
  • Moonlight
  • Nocturnal Animals
  • Silence

Thoughts? Comment below or dial me up via Twitter or Facebook.

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