Mad Max: Fury Road vs. The Revenant and the Oscar Breakdown for the 2016 Academy Awards

Will MAD MAX: FURY ROAD sweep the technical awards? Right now, it looks like George Miller’s fourth installment of his Mad Max series might bring home the most with THE REVENANT stealing a few away in key areas.  In a year, where Best Picture is so difficult to predict, the technical awards might be more important than ever to get right in your office pool. Screenplay and Cinematography have always been personal favorite categories of mine and this year the Animated films joined them as a place to spot my favorite films of the year, which you can also do by checking out my Ten Best Movies of 2015 list.

Best Animated Feature
“Boy And The World”
“Inside Out”
“Shaun The Sheep Movie”
“When Marnie Was There”

Any other year, my vote would be for SHAUN THE SHEEP, which landed in my top ten.  But it happened to go up against my favorite film of the year, Pixar’s creative, emotional and all-around brilliant, INSIDE OUT.  It’s just a shame that this will be the only win for the best film of the year.


Best Adapted Screenplay
Drew Goddard – “The Martian”
Nick Hornby – “Brooklyn”
Adam McKay & Charles Randolph – “The Big Short”
Phyllis Nagy – “Carol”
Emma Donoghue – “Room”

There are a lot of strong elements about CAROL, but the screenplay is definitely not one of them.  THE MARTIAN or ROOM might earn a few votes to become a potential upset, but with the egregious error of leaving STEVE JOBS off the ballot, THE BIG SHORT should have this one in the bag.


Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo in Spotlight

Best Original Screenplay
Matt Charman, Joel Coen, Ethan Coen – “Bridge Of Spies”
Alex Garland – “Ex Machina”
Josh Cooley, Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve – “Inside Out”
Tom McCarthy & Josh Singer – “Spotlight”
Jonathan Herman, Andrea Berloff, S. Leigh Savage, Alan Wenkus – “Straight Outta Compton”

It’s a joke that Tarantino’s dynamite script for THE HATEFUL EIGHT wasn’t on this list and should replace the inexplicable inclusion of STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON.  Otherwise, this list of nominees is pretty strong. I’m thankful for the inclusion of EX MACHINA but this nomination is its own win. INSIDE OUT and SPOTLIGHT were both phenomenal and two of my favorite films. But I’ve got to go with the film that has a Best Picture nomination as well.


Best Film Editing
Hank Corwin – “The Big Short”
Margaret Sixel – “Mad Max: Fury Road”
Tom McArdle – “Spotlight”
Stephen Mirrione – “The Revenant”
Maryann Brandon, Mary Jo Markey – “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

SPOTLIGHT and THE BIG SHORT were masterfully assembled through the editing process but they might be a bit too subtle. A lot times this is a precursor to the Best Picture winner or at least one of the films that has a strong chance to win.  Four of the films are the four front runners to win Best Picture in one of the hardest to predict races.  So my tie breaker goes to a strong action film similar to previous winners, BOURNE ULTIMATUM and THE MATRIX


Best Cinematography
Roger Deakins – “Sicario”
Edward Lachman – “Carol”
Emmanuel Lubezki – “The Revenant”
Robert Richardson – “The Hateful Eight”
John Seale – “Mad Max: Fury Road”

If he should win, this will be Emmanuel Lubezki’s third Academy Award in a row and probably should be his fourth.  He lost for THE TREE OF LIFE but then had back to back wins for GRAVITY and BIRDMAN.


Best Production Design
“Bridge Of Spies”
“The Danish Girl”
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The Martian”
“The Revenant”

All these films had beautiful art direction, but the winner of this category is usually a bit more flamboyant.  Not always but usually.


Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron in Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Visual Effects
“Ex Machina”
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The Martian”
“The Revenant”
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

STAR WARS is the godfather of this category and could get a little love from old fashion purists. I personally think EX MACHINA had the best special effects, but MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was a close second, mixing real life stunt work seamlessly with digital effects.  All future action films should take note, this is how you do it.


Best Sound Editing
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The Martian”
“The Revenant”
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

Depending on how much love the Academy chooses to bestow on THE REVENANT makes this a difficult decision between the same two who will be battling in both of these categories.


Best Sound Mixing
“Bride Of Spies”
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The Martian”
“The Revenant”
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

I think it’s easier to double down here rather than split the vote.  Hopefully I chose the correct horse between MAD MAX: FURY ROAD and THE REVENANT.


Best Makeup & Hairstyling
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared”
“The Revenant”

Torn once again between the two juggernauts, I’m going to go with the less popular decision and say less is more.  As I write that I feel like a fool, but how many times can I pick MAD MAX: FURY ROAD?


Best Costume Design
“The Danish Girl”
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The Revenant”

Is it odd that of all the technical categories, this is the one I’m having the most difficulty with? While THE REVENANT and MAD MAX: FURY ROAD are battling it out in every other category, the other three nominees are who I’m struggling to choose from.  THE DANISH GIRL might be the most deserving but three-time Oscar winner Sandy Powell is nominated twice with CAROL and CINDERELLA.  Ultimately, I think grand beats out subtle nearly every time.


Hateful Eight

Best Score
Carter Burwell – “Carol”
Ennio Morricone – “The Hateful Eight”
Thomas Newman – “Bridge Of Spies”
Johann Johannson – “Sicario”
John Williams – “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

The fact that the legendary Ennio Morricone who composed classic scores from THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY, THE MISSION and THE UNTOUCHABLES has never won an Oscar, hopefully cements this win.  It’s a great score in a great film.


Best Song
“Earned It” from “Fifty Shades Of Grey”
“Manta Ray” from “Racing Extinction”
“Til It Happens To You” from “The Hunting Ground”
“Simple Song 3” from “Youth”
“Writing’s On The Wall” from “Spectre”

Winner: “Til It Happens To You” by Lady Gaga from THE HUNTING GROUND

Best Documentary Feature
“Cartel Land”
“The Look Of Silence”
“What Happened Miss Simone”
“Winter On Fire: Ukraine’s Fight For Freedom”

I enjoy Amy Winehouse’s music but this documentary does nothing to separate itself from the many other biography documentaries before it.  Dreadfully repetitive, I’m not sure why everyone loves it, but they do. My choice would be CARTEL LAND, but unfortunately…

Winner: AMY

Best Foreign Language Feature
“Embrace Of The Serpent”
“Son Of Saul”
“A War”

There has only been one film in the group that has been winning multiple awards.


Short Films

I do not pretend to have an inside track on these, sometimes I get them all right, sometimes I get them all wrong.

Winners: Best Life-Action Short – AVE MARIA, Best Documentary Short – BODY TEAM 12, Best Animated Short – SANJAY’S SUPER TEAM

Will Leonardo DiCaprio finally win the elusive Academy Award? The 2016 Oscar Predictions for Acting

Who Will Win? The 2016 Oscar Breakdown and Predictions for Best Picture and Director

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