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

Much like last year, my hardest decision has come in the final two categories.  This might be the toughest race I’ve ever seen for Best Picture and Director as far as the amount of potential winners it could be.  I find these two categories the most difficult to separate between what I want and what I think will win.  Most of these films were mentioned in my Ten Best Movies of 2015 in a year that I have found to have a rather large amount of exceptional films.  I would have liked to seen INSIDE OUT, EX MACHINA and THE HATEFUL EIGHT added to the Best Picture list, but you can’t win them all.  While I may not agree with all of the nominees, I agree with most of them and truly like all of them. So who do you think will win? Here is my 2016 Oscar Breakdown and Predictions for Best Picture and Best Director.

Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Director
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu – “The Revenant”
Adam McKay – “The Big Short”
George Miller – “Mad Max Fury Road”
Lenny Abrahamson – “Room”
Tom McCarthy – “Spotlight”

I want so badly to say George Miller for MAD MAX FURY ROAD will win.  I’ve been stating this as a possible upset for quite sometime but as we get closer to the day, I’m beginning to back off.  While it makes sense that the Academy might reward an old filmmaker with perhaps his best work to date, the fact is MAD MAX: FURY ROAD is already defying odds by being nominated for Best Picture.  Action films are usually passed over and the film already looks to take home a slew of technical awards.  Most voters might consider these as enough wins already and the nomination as a reward itself.  Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu won for this category last year with his film BIRDMAN. If he wins again it will be only the third time in history that a director has one twice in a row.  While critics circles have mostly chosen MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, The DGA (Director’s Guild Award) went to THE REVENANT.  Both films are technically great, but the difficulties of creating THE REVENANT has been a key element to the success of the film.  I don’t want to just snub the other three nominees who all did terrific work but this is a race between two – two films that happen to star Tom Hardy. I keep going back and forth between them. You know what? I’ve changed my mind again…

Winner: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu – THE REVENANT  with George Miller – MAD MAX: FURY ROAD as a close second.

Tom Hardy in The Revenant

Best Picture
“The Big Short”
“Bridge Of Spies”
“Brooklyn”
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The Martian”
“The Revenant”
“Room”
“Spotlight”

This is easily the largest Best Picture race I have ever seen.  Last year was a very tough race between two, BOYHOOD and BIRDMAN, but this year the field is a lot more wide open.  Usually, we always have a good idea who might win with a secondary film as a potential upset, which rarely happens.  I would genuinely say that four films have a legitimate shot.  So lets breakdown this Best Picture race shall we? And maybe by the end I’ll have a decision.  I think I’ll go from least likely to most likely.

BROOKLYN – A fine film that I would probably have liked more had it not been nominated.  It should not be on this list.  It has sweetness while dealing with an interesting scenario but I would not consider among the best eight of the year.

BRIDGE OF SPIES – Steven Spielberg’s name carries a lot of weight in this industry.  While I liked the film quite a bit, the nomination is mostly due to Spielberg, not to mention it stars Tom Hanks.

ROOM – There is no denying this filmed moved a lot of people but its impact was on a smaller scale compared to the rest of these heavy hitters. I’m happy ROOM was nominated and its inclusion in the Best Director category makes it a serious contender, but it’s simply outmatched.

THE MARTIAN – Early on this was on my upset alert.  It was financial success and universally adored by critics and public alike.  It may not be the favorite film but it is the safest film.  THE MARTIAN feels reminiscent of a past Ridley Scott directed Best Picture winner in GLADIATOR. Both films were blockbusters and I would argue THE MARTIAN has an even more charismatic lead in the starring role with Matt Damon.  Thankfully, the rest of the competition was strong enough to overthrow this entertainingly good movie from falsely being crowned great. The fact that it won Best Comedy at the Golden Globes may actually be a deterrent.

THE BIG SHORT – Winner of the PGA (Producer’s Guild Award), THE BIG SHORT became a late frontrunner.  It is becoming a sexy underdog pick as the PGA winner has a good track record of going on to win the Oscar but this year just happens to be the exception as so many films are getting love.  A great film but a bit too scattered to be a Best Picture winner this year.

MAD MAX: FURY ROAD – Winner of most critic circle awards including the FFCC (Florida Film Critic’s Circle) and KCFCC (Kansas City Film Critic’s Circle), both from which members contribute to this site. This film has already knocked down walls.  Just a few years ago THE DARK KNIGHT was egregiously passed over for Best Picture.  MAD MAX: FURY ROAD is the first of its kind to break down that barrier for action films not being considered as high quality pictures. I would be very pleased if it won the big award but the nomination and its sure to win slew of technical awards will probably be considered enough credit to keep it from the final one.

SPOTLIGHT – A true ensemble piece, SPOTLIGHT was this year’s SAG (Screen Actor’s Guild) winner, a category I wish the Academy would adopt. Since I first saw SPOTLIGHT it had all the technical merit for a Best Picture winner. It also happens to be one of my favorite films. It deals with a true story about a horrific subject matter but is able to convey emotional intrigue and inspiration.  Its only draw back is that it isn’t a cinematic picture.  However, that doesn’t always mean one can’t win Best Picture (THE KING’S SPEECH), it’s just rare.   Sometimes it’s not so much about the film itself but about who you are up against.  In a different year, SPOTLIGHT could be a winner.

THE REVENANT – I recently watched THE REVENANT again and it definitely has the big epic cinematic feel of past winners like DANCES WITH WOLVES or BRAVEHEART. To be honest, it’s technically better.  It’s not a perfect film nor is it my personal choice but it is an intense experience and impressive achievement that  I think voters will be drawn toward.  Winning the DGA and The Golden Globe in a very tough year, I think THE REVENANT has the right momentum to finish the job.  I want so very badly to pick an upset in both Picture and Director but if I’m being honest, I think the Academy keeps it more on the predictable side

Winner: THE REVENANT

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