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It’s Oscar Sunday, time for some last minute Oscar predictions. Yeah!

As a nod to the highly contested nominations this year, aside from who will likely win and who deserves to win more, we are also including who deserved a nomination in our eyes.

 

Best Picture

Will Win – The Revenant
The Revenant as a film is a work of art. Sure the story and character are weak, but the level of artistry of Alejandro González Iñárritu’s direction in conjunction with his longtime collaborator Emmanuel Lubezki’s cinematography made frames constructed long shots that gave true cinephiles celluloid wet dreams. Not only that, but much has been told of the arduous conditions of filming.

Should Win – Mad Max: Fury Road

Could anyone have thought that a Mad Max sequel would have become a modern day cinematic classic? Fury Road was arguably the most forward thinking movie of the year, not just in the story but in the production that gave the world a new take on Mad Max from the same director, George Miller. It filled theater screens with grand images that felt like an homage to the golden age of hollywood, with a twisted metal edge.

Should Have Been Nominated – Tangerine

Transgender sex workers aren’t your typical main characters in films, and Tangerine is not your usual film. Energetic, raw, endearing, and tragic, Sean Baker showed us a window into the lives of these characters whose lives seem to be epicentered at the lowly Donut Time on Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood. Shot entirely on iPhones and hiring local trans POC to create this runaway cult hit, Baker could be on the verge of inspiring an entirely new crop of auteurs.

 

Best Director

Will Win – Alejandro González Iñárritu (The Revenant)

For his achievements in torturing Leonardo DiCaprio and several crew members in snowy Tundra, Iñárritu will become the first director to win two consecutive directing Oscars after his win last year for Birdman.

Should Win – Lenny Abrahamson (Room)

The director of one of my favorite, and unconventional, films of 2014,Frank, Abrahamson has made huge strides to prove he can make unconventional stories impactful and touching. Room was considered a tough source material that many directors fought for, but it was a relatively unknown Abrahamson who won the adaptation bid by honoring the material sincerely and bringing it above its dark subject matter.

Should Have Been Nominated – Quentin Tarantino (Hateful Eight)

It’s not easy to make a film that can easily be considered one of your best after over 20 years of your first two instant classics, but Tarantino did just that. He scaled down the scope of his film to one primary location to dig into his titular Hateful Eight. Going back to his roots in a way, Tarantino was able to give us a fresh new western that touches on race relations and gender roles.

 

Best Actor

Will Win – Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)

As everyone says, it’s Leo’s time to finally win the Oscar statuette. He endured frozen tundra, eating raw bison liver, soaking wet in frozen conditions, and being naked in a dead horse. The claims of torture porn have been way over-exaggerated by weak stomached critics, but his method stunts are what will likely give him the Oscar. If he does win, I want him to pull a Brando and send someone else for the award.

Should Win – Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl)

I would much rather see Redmayne be the first consecutive acting Oscar winner since Tom Hanks that have our Oscar-less Leo tradition break.

Should Have Been Nominated – Jacob Tremblay (Room)

Tremblay displayed deeply impacting sheltered innocence in Room. He and his co-star Brie Larson are frankly the only actors this year who touched me deeply enough to bring me near tears twice in the first half hour of their film.

 

Best Actress

Will & Should Win – Brie Larson (Room)

As just mentioned, her performance in Room is convincing and scarring, to imagine what she goes through as a kidnap victim, raped for years, having a child from her rapist and feeling mountains of guilt for the entire experience. Heartbreaking.
Almost as heartbreaking that Saoirse Ronan could have actually had a shot at the Oscar were it not for Larson’s powerhouse performance that has even made favorite Cate Blanchett into a long-shot at best.

Should Have Been Nominated – Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road)

As Imperator Furiosa in Fury Road, she undoubtedly stole the show through physicality, emotion, and subdued hope past an overpowering patriarchal dictatorship in an arid desert. She was the only actress who could have truly competed againt Larson. Sorry JLaw.

 

Best Supporting Actor

Will & Should Win – Sylvester Stallone (Creed)

Stallone brought an unbelievably nuanced performance to one of his oldest characters, Rocky Balboa, in Creed. From seeing him alone at the restaurant named for the love of his life, to being given what to him was a death sentence, it feels like the opening of the swan song of the legendary Italian Stallion in the new series.

Should Have Been Nominated – Samuel L. Jackson (Hateful Eight) or Oscar Isaac (Ex Machina)

There were a few rudimentary nominations in this category, Mark Ruffalo and Christian Bale, who didn’t really blow me away, so here I offer two POC that truly did.

Sam Jackson gives his best performance since Jules in Pulp Fiction and nearly steals the entire movie, moreso than his nominated co-star Jennifer Jason leigh.

In Ex Machina, Oscar Isaac plays a tech billionaire who is playing god by inventing artificial intelligence and using an employee he hand chose to test his project’s intellectual limits.

 

Best Supporting Actress

Will Win – Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl)

Her emotional turn as a woman torn between her own needs and those of her husband who she is supporting through gender reassignment in 1920s Copenhagen shows she can play more than an artificial manic pixie dream android, as in Ex Machina.

Should Win – Jennifer Jason Leigh (Hateful Eight)

As the psychotic Daisy Domergue, Leigh keeps the audience on their toes trying to figure out her plan and just what she’s capable of.

Should Have Been Nominated – Mya Taylor (Tangerine)

Taylor shows the sensitive and flawed human sides of her sex worker character on Tangerine. While Kitana Kiki Rodriguez is the whirlwind center of the story as Sin-Dee, Taylor acts as her balance and the heart of the story as Alexandra, showing how emotionally tough you have to be on the streets.

 

Best Animated Feature

Will Win – Inside Out

Amy Poehler actually created and starred in something I like, who’da thunk it? A truly original Pixar movie, which we really haven’t seen since Up, Inside Out misdirects us to think Joy is the star when it’s really Sadness. And who didn’t hurt for Bing Bong?

Should Win – Anomalisa

The Oscar categories as screwy as they are somehow landed a longshot masterpiece that should have been nominated for Best Picture in the animated category because of its stop-motion process. Either way, Anomalisa is more complex, mind probing, existential amazingness from Charlie Kaufman, who wrote Eternal Sunshine and wrote and directed Synecdoche, NY.

Should Have Been Nominated – The Peanuts Movie

Nothing spectacular, I know, but did it have to be? Peanuts is about reaching into your warm fuzzy nostalgic center to tell a story everyone relates to. Who doesn’t sometimes feel like perennial loser Charlie Brown?

 

Best Documentary Feature

Will Win – Amy

Amy Winehouse represents a lot to many people today. Lost potential, tragic stardom, lost innocence, a flickering flame that would surely go out too soon. For humanizing all of the things she came to be, Amy is sure to win.

Should Win – Look of Silence

No less powerful and thought provoking than its predecessor, The Act of Killing, an eye doctor confronts his brother’s killers during mass communist killings in 1960s Cambodia. The process of seeing a man face and confront these killers who have gone on to fame and notoriety is deeply unnerving.

Should Have Been Nominated – Best of Enemies

For giving us a past foreshadowing to our current political turmoil at the hands of irrational pundits and sometimes even more irrational leaders that feed off of showmanship and driving skewed narratives, Best of Enemies deserves a nod and some deep reflection from all voters and citizens.

 

Best Original Song

Will Win – “Earned It” by The Weeknd for Fifty Shades of Grey

That’s right, I’m calling it. As unlikely as it seemed Three 6 Mafia would become Oscar winners, I fear we may end up having to say “Oscar-winning Fifty Shades of Grey.”

Should Win – “Til It Happens To You” by Lady Gaga and Diane Warren for The Hunting Ground

Perennial Oscar favorite Diane Warren teamed with Lady Gaga to write this anti-abuse anthem for The Hunting Ground, a documentary about college campus sexual assault. Seeing as how focused on sexual assault Gaga’s last album was, this song feels like a re-exorcism of those demons and those who doubt the plight of sexual assault.

Should Have Been Nominated – “See You Again” by Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth for Furious 7

Paul Walker’s tragically ironic death brought more gravity to the proceedings of Furious 7, including this tribute song from Wiz Khalifa. As unlikely a hit as a ballady tribute collaboration from Khalifa and Charlie Puth sounded, it worked and reached many who didn’t even care for Walker.

 

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