Sunday, February 28, 2016

Academy Awards 2016

Oscar Nominations 2016: Complete List Of Nominees
(By Stephanie Merry, The Hollywood Reporter, 14 January 2016)

The Oscars ceremony will take place on Feb. 28 and will be broadcast live at 7 p.m. on ABC.

Nominations (by movie):
The Revenant – 12
Mad Max: Fury Road – 10
The Martian – 7
Spotlight – 6
Bridge of Spies – 6
Carol – 6
The Big Short – 5
Star Wars: The Force Awakens – 5

The List Of Nominations For The 88th Academy Awards

Best Picture
The Big Short
Bridge of Spies
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant

Immediate reaction: The Academy can nominate up to 10 contenders, which leaves space for some less typical entries. This year, it went with eight options, which means we have the movies we knew we’d see — “The Revenant,” “The Martian,” “Spotlight” — but also some less weighty entries, such as “The Big Short” and “Mad Max: Fury Road.” The one glaring omission (sorry, “Star Wars” fans, it’s not “The Force Awakens”) is “Carol,” which seemed custom-made for awards glory.

Content from JPMorgan Chase & Co. In Context quotes are content from JPMorgan Chase & Co. They all share a common goal of creating their own success, while making their communities better places to live and work.  More  Actor In A Leading Role
Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
Matt Damon, The Martian
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl

Immediate reaction: The only name on this list that really matters is Leonardo DiCaprio. Barring some unthinkable fraud (What if he secretly shot the whole movie on a soundstage? Maybe that bison liver was a strawberry jam-covered mushroom?), he has this category locked down.

Actress In A Leading Role
Cate Blanchett, Carol Brie Larson, Room Jennifer Lawrence, Joy
Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

Immediate reaction: This shakes out a lot like we would have guessed. Golden Globe winner Larson, arguably the front-runner, is on the list, alongside other sure bets, such as Blanchett and Lawrence. The one mild surprise is Rampling, who was phenomenal in “45 Years” but didn’t get a Golden Globe nomination.

Best Director
Lenny Abrahamson, Room
Alejandro Iñárritu, The Revenant George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road
Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
Adam McKay, The Big Short

Immediate reaction: These directors really run the gamut, from Iñárritu and his extreme sport of directing to the staid yet thrilling approach that McCarthy took to “Spotlight.” The most surprising omission is Ridley Scott. The “Martian” director has been nominated multiple times but never won, so this year seemed like the time for the Academy to honor him with a body-of-work Oscar. Instead, Abrahamson and McKay landed on the list, leaving less serious competition for Iñárritu, who has a good shot at winning his second consecutive trophy after last year’s “Birdman.”

Actor In A Supporting Role
Christian Bale, The Big Short
Tom Hardy, The Revenant
Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight
Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
Sylvester Stallone, Creed

Immediate reaction: This is a strong category with a lot of worthy contenders. Globe winner Stallone has been gaining steam coming into awards season with his emotional return to the character of Rocky Balboa. The biggest surprise of the lot is Tom Hardy; apparently the Academy really liked “The Revenant.” He took the place of some other strong candidates, including Idris Elba from “Beasts of No Nation,” Paul Dano in “Love & Mercy” and Michael Shannon for “99 Homes.”

Actress In A Supporting Role
Rooney Mara, Carol
Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight

Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl

Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs
Rachel McAdams, Spotlight

Immediate reaction: Vikander burst onto the scene this year with a handful of brilliant performances in buzzy movies, and it’s paying off with a nomination here. It wasn’t clear whether she would land on the list for “Ex-Machina” or “The Danish Girl.” It ended up being the latter, which is interesting considering that the role could have easily been seen as a leading performance. The same goes for Rooney Mara, who probably had more screentime than her co-star Cate Blanchett in “Carol” but ended up in the supporting category. But two skilled vets who seemed to be likely nominees — Oscar winners Helen Mirren and Jane Fonda — didn’t make the cut.

Best Animated Feature Film
Boy and the World Inside Out
Shaun the Sheep Movie
When Marnie Was There

Immediate reaction: Pixar had two feature films this year, so the assumption was that the studio would end up with two Oscar nominations. That didn’t happen. Awards front-runner “Inside Out” nabbed a nod, but the studio’s slightly less fawned-over “The Good Dinosaur” did not. Instead, the little known “Boy & the World” snuck in. Meanwhile, Charlie Kaufman’s existential puppet show, “Anomalisa,” also got some love.

Best Foreign Language Film
Embrace of the Serpent
Mustang Son of Saul
A War

Immediate reaction: The Hungarian film “Son of Saul” is the picture to beat here. The gut punch of a movie also won the Golden Globe for its depiction of a Sonderkommando at Auschwitz — a Jewish man who was both a prisoner and a worker, tasked with burning the dead.

Best Adapted Screenplay
The Big Short, Charles Randolph and Adam McKay
Brooklyn, Nick Hornby
Carol, Phyllis Nagy
The Martian, Drew Goddard
Room, Emma Donoghue

Immediate reaction: Aaron Sorkin took home the Golden Globe for “Steve Jobs” on Sunday, but apparently the Academy wasn’t digging his “impressionistic” take on the Apple founder’s life. Instead, we have a couple of movies that managed to make very complicated subjects palatable for a broad audience: Charles Randolph and Adam McKay used a bathing Margot Robbie to explain the financial crisis in “The Big Short” and Drew Goddard made science a lot less confusing in “The Martian.”

Best Original Screenplay
Spotlight, written by Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy
Bridge of Spies, written by Matt Charman and Ethan Coen and Joel Coen
Ex Machina, written by Alex Garland
Inside Out, screenplay by Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley; original story by Pete Docter, Ronnie del Carmen
Straight Outta Compton, screenplay by Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff; story by S. Leigh Savidge and Alan Wenkus and Andrea Berloff

Immediate reaction: This is an eclectic category. We get one animated entry alongside the science fiction of “Ex Machina” and the true story of “Spotlight.” Meanwhile, this is the only nomination for the thrilling N.W.A biopic “Straight Outta Compton.”

Best Original Score
Bridge of Spies, Thomas Newman
Carol, Carter Burwell
The Hateful Eight, Ennio Morricone
Sicario, Jóhann Jóhannsson
Star Wars: The Force Awakens, John Williams

Immediate reaction: If legendary composer Ennio Morricone wins the Oscar for “The Hateful Eight” like he won the Golden Globe, he may want to find someone else to accept the award on his behalf, because Quentin Tarantino can’t seem to escape controversy even when it’s in the service of a friend. Meanwhile, Jóhann Jóhannsson gets his second nomination in as many years and — hey look! — “Star Wars” got some love.

Best Cinematography
Carol, Ed Lachman
The Hateful Eight, Robert Richardson
Mad Max: Fury Road, John Seale
The Revenant, Emmanuel Lubezki
Sicario, Roger Deakins

Immediate reaction: Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki gets his eighth nomination since 1996 for his work on “The Revenant,” a difficult movie to shoot even before you take into account that Lubezki used only natural light. He’s also won the last two consecutive years, for “Gravity” and “Birdman.” You know who else has been nominated a lot? “Sicario” cinematographer Roger Deakins. This is his 13th nomination and, get this: He’s never won. We’d like to believe that the 13th time is the charm since Deakins’s work on “Sicario” is breath-taking. If only Lubezki’s superhuman undertaking on “The Revenant” weren’t so hard to beat…

Best Production Design
Bridge of Spies, Production Design: Adam Stockhausen; Set Decoration: Rena DeAngelo and Bernhard Henrich
The Danish Girl, Production Design: Eve Stewart ; Set Decoration: Michael Standish
Mad Max: Fury Road, Production Design: Colin Gibson; Set Decoration:  Lisa Thompson
The Martian, Production Design: Arthur Max ;Set Decoration: Celia Bobak
The Revenant, Production Design: Jack Fisk; Set Decoration: Hamish Purdy

Immediate reaction: A lot of worthy candidates here. “Mad Max” and “The Martian” certainly utilize some flashy design to create memorable cinematic worlds, but there are also some designers who did more with less, as with “Bridge of Spies.”

Best Visual Effects
Ex Machina, Andrew Whitehurst, Paul Norris, Mark Ardington and Sara Bennett
Mad Max: Fury Road, Andrew Jackson, Tom Wood, Dan Oliver and Andy Williams
The Martian, Richard Stammers, Anders Langlands, Chris Lawrence and Steven Warner
The Revenant, Rich McBride, Matthew Shumway, Jason Smith and Cameron Waldbauer
Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Neal Scanlan and Chris Corbould

Immediate reaction: This is the category that allows massive blockbusters to get some Academy love, and this year that meant “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” made the cut. Interestingly, the bear attack in “The Revenant” was given precedence over Indominus Rex’s fight to the death with a shark-eating dino in “Jurassic World.”

Best Original Song
Earned It, Fifty Shades of Grey, Music & Lyric by Abel Tesfaye, Ahmad Balshe, Jason Quenneville & S. Moccio
Manta Ray, Racing Extinction, Music by J. Ralph; Lyric by Antony Hegarty
Simple Song 3, Youth, Music and Lyric by David Lang
Til it Happens to You, The Hunting Ground, Music and Lyric by Diane Warren and Lady Gaga
Writing’s on the Wall, Spectre, Music and Lyric by Jimmy Napes and Sam Smith

Immediate reaction: This is an eclectic year, with a couple Top 40 contenders — “Writing’s On the Wall” and “Earned It” — going up against the classical “Simple Song 3” and the virtually unknown “Manta Ray” (which, as it turns out, is quite beautiful). Speaking of popular songs, there was no room for “See You Again,” the track that really got the waterworks flowing at the end of “Furious 7.”

Best Documentary Feature
Cartel Land
The Look of Silence
What Happened, Miss Simone?
Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom

Immediate reaction: British director Asif Kapadia gets his first nomination for his stirring look at the life and death of singer Amy Winehouse. That movie will duke it out with “The Look of Silence,” Joshua Oppenheimer’s gorgeous, heart-breaking companion piece to “The Act of Killing,” another documentary about Indonesian death squads that was Oscar nominated in 2014. Meanwhile, prolific documentarian Alex Gibney didn’t make the cut for his Scientology expose “Going Clear.”

Best Costume Design
Carol, Sandy Powell
Cinderella, Sandy Powell
The Danish Girl, Paco Delgado
Mad Max: Fury Road, Jenny Beavan
The Revenant, Jacqueline West

Immediate reaction: Three-time Oscar winner Sandy Powell is cleaning up this year with two nominations: one for her sumptuous 1950s suits and dresses for “Carol” and the other for her fantastical designs for “Cinderella.” On the other end of the spectrum, the Academy gave some love to “The Revenant” (moccasins, bearskin capes) and the dusty, post-apocalyptic leisurewear of “Mad Max: Fury Road.”

Best Makeup And Hairstyling
Mad Max: Fury Road, Lesley Vanderwalt, Elka Wardega and Damian Martin
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out a Window and Disappeared, Love Larson and Eva von Bahr
The Revenant, Siân Grigg, Duncan Jarman and Robert Pandini

Immediate reaction: It’s going to be hard to compete with the makeup that made Leonardo DiCaprio look like the victim of a gruesome bear attack. It’s interesting that the bombastically titled foreign film “The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out a Window and Disappeared” made the cut above “Black Mass.” Apparently we weren’t the only ones who found the prosthetics in that movie distracting.

Best Live Action Short Film
Ave Maria Day One
Everything Will Be Okay

Best Animated Short Film
Bear Story
Sanjay’s Super Team
We Can’t Live Without Cosmos
World of Tomorrow
Best Documentary Short Subject
Body Team 12
Chau, beyond the Lines
Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah
A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness
Lasy Day of Freedom

Best Film Editing
The Big Short, Hank Corwin Mad Max: Fury Road, Margaret Sixel
The Revenant, Stephen Mirrione
Spotlight, Tom McArdle
Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey
Best Sound Mixing
Bridge of Spies, Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Drew Kunin
Mad Max: Fury Road, Chris Jenkins, Gregg Rudloff and Ben Osmo
The Martian, Paul Massey, Mark Taylor and Mac Ruth
The Revenant, Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, Randy Thom and Chris Duesterdiek
Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Andy Nelson, Christopher Scarabosio and Stuart Wilson

Best Sound Editing
Mad Max: Fury Road, Mark Mangini and David White
The Martian, Oliver Tarney
The Revenant, Martin Hernandez and Lon Bender
Sicario, Alan Robert Murray
Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Matthew Wood and David Acord

Oscar Nominations: Shocking Stats And Fun Facts (Analysis)
(By Scott Feinberg, Hollywood Reporter, 14 January 2016)

What a morning. The 88th Oscar nominations were announced on Thursday at the Beverly Hills headquarters of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The Revenant landed a field-leading 12 noms, followed close behind by Mad Max: Fury Road, with 10. The other headlines?  In: The Big Short's director Adam McKay; Room's director Lenny Abrahamson; Joy's lead actress Jennifer Lawrence; The Revenant's Tom Hardy; The Hateful Eight's supporting actress Jennifer Jason Leigh; both Netflix doc features, What Happened, Miss Simone? and Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom; and "Til It Happens to You," the original song by Lady Gaga and seven-time Oscar bridesmaid Diane Warren.

Out: The Martian's director Ridley Scott; Bridge of Spies' director Steven Spielberg; Straight Outta Compton for best picture; every actor of color, including The Hateful Eight's Samuel L. Jackson, Concussion's Will Smith, Creed's Michael B. Jordan and Beasts of No Nation's Idris Elba; Carol and The Hateful Eight for best picture, meaning no Weinstein Co. film in the best picture category, something almost unheard of in recent decades; Steve Jobs' Aaron Sorkin and The Hateful Eight's Quentin Tarantino in the screenplay categories; and "See You Again," the Paul Walker tribute song from Furious 7.
Today brought the first-ever noms for, among others: Room's Abrahamson, Big Short's director and co-screenwriter McKay, Trumbo's lead actor Bryan Cranston, Room's lead actress Brie Larson, 45 Years' lead actress Charlotte Rampling, The Revenant's supporting actor Hardy, Bridge of Spies' supporting actor Mark Rylance, The Hateful Eight's supporting actress Leigh, Spotlight's supporting actress Rachel McAdams, The Danish Girl's supporting actress Alicia Vikander, Carol's composer Carter Burwell and The Hunting Ground's Gaga.

If any film other than The Big Short or Spotlight wins best picture, it will be the first time in 20 years — since 1995's Braveheart — that the prize went to a film that wasn't nominated for the best ensemble SAG Award.
While the film with the most Oscar noms often wins best picture, The Revenant, which leads the field with 12, will need to defy a lot of history to be this year's winner, as only seven films ever have won without a screenplay nom, including only one in the last 50 years, Titanic (1997). The others: Wings (1927/1928), The Broadway Melody (1928/1929), Grand Hotel (1931/1932), Cavalcade (1932/1933), Hamlet (1948) and The Sound of Music (1965).

Sylvester Stallone's supporting actor nom for his portrayal of Rocky Balboa in Creed, 39 years after his lead actor nom for his portrayal of the same character in Rocky, sets a record for most years between nominations for portrayals of the same character; the record previously belonged to Paul Newman, who received a best actor nom for his portrayal of "Fast Eddie" Felson in The Hustler (1961) and won for his portrayal of the same character 25 years later in The Color of Money (1986). Only four others received multiple noms for playing the same character: Bing Crosby for Father O'Malley, Peter O'Toole for King Henry II, Al Pacino for Michael Corleone and Cate Blanchett for Queen Elizabeth II.  The only characters that have been recognized with more noms than the two now accorded to Rocky Balboa are Queen Elizabeth I and King Henry VIII, each three times.

Mad Max: Fury Road and The Revenant become only the fourth and fifth films ever to receive noms in all seven technical categories (cinematography, costume design, film editing, production design/art direction, sound editing, sound mixing and visual effects), joining 1997's Titanic, 2003's Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World and 2011's Hugo.  The best picture nom for The Revenant marks the third year in a row that a film from Arnon Milchan's New Regency, which is run by Brad Weston, is in the running; its 12 Years a Slave and Birdman both won best picture, and a win for The Revenant would mark an unprecedented three-peat. 
With his ninth nom for producing a best picture nominee, Bridge of Spies' Spielberg moves into sole possession of the record for most all-time, passing former collaborator Kathleen Kennedy (Star Wars: The Force Awakens).  This marks the second consecutive nom for The Revenant's director and co-screenwriter Alejandro G. Inarritu, The Danish Girl's lead actor Eddie Redmayne, Spotlight's supporting actor Mark Ruffalo and The Hunting Ground's Warren. (With a win for directing, Inarritu would tie a record currently held by John Ford and Joseph L. Mankiewicz for most consecutive wins in that category, two. Redmayne, with a win for best actor, would tie the record currently held by Spencer Tracy and Tom Hanks for most consecutive best actor wins, two.)  Joy's lead actress Jennifer Lawrence, 25, sets a new record as the youngest person ever to land four acting nominations.

This marks the third consecutive nom for The Revenant's cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki. (With a win for cinematography, he would establish a new record for most consecutive wins in that category, three, breaking the record he currently shares with Leon Shamroy, Winton Hoch and John Toll, who all won two.)  Several perennial bridesmaids — The Hunting Ground's Warren (this is her eighth nomination), Sicario's cinematographer Roger Deakins (his 13th, extending his record for most among living lensers) and Bridge of Spies' composer Thomas Newman (his 13th) — have another shot at gold.
Several people received multiple noms today: The Big Short's McKay, for best director and best adapted screenplay; Spotlight's McCarthy, for best director and best original screenplay; Sandy Powell, nominated for best costume design for both Carol and Cinderella; and Andy Nelson, nominated for best sound editing for both Bridge of Spies and Star Wars: The Force AwakensStar Wars: The Force Awakens' composer John Williams extends his record for most Oscar noms for a living person from 49 to 50.

Racing Extinction's original song "Manta Ray" becomes only the 22nd nomination for a documentary outside of the documentary categories, and only the sixth for a song. (It's J. Ralph's second, after "Before My Time" from 2012's Chasing Ice.)  The Hateful Eight's Ennio Morricone, 87, sets a new record for oldest nominee for the best original score award.  With its best foreign-language film nom for Mustang, France extends its record for most noms in that category from 39 to 40; it has won the category 12 times, second only to Italy (14).

Oscar Nominations: Now It's a Whole New Race (Analysis)
(By Scott Feinberg, The Hollywood Reporter, January 14, 2016)

It's fun to try to find clues about the Academy Awards race in the SAG and Critics' Choice noms or the results of the AFI and Golden Globe awards or all of the other tea leaves throughout the season, but nothing offers a better indication of how the Academy feels about a crop of movies than the Oscar noms themselves. So what do this year's reveal?

The best picture race is likely between Spotlight and The Big Short, with The Revenant as possible spoiler. True, The Revenant leads the field with 12 noms, and Mad Max: Fury Road is close behind with 10. But the former films — which have six and five noms, respectively — showed up in important categories in which the latter films didn't.
All four are represented in the best director and best film editing races, without which films rarely win best picture. However, Mad Max is not nominated for an acting award, while Spotlight and Revenant each are up for two and The Big Short is up for one (the actors branch is by far the Academy's largest branch); moreover, The Big Short and Spotlight, but not the other two, are nominated for the best ensemble SAG Award, which has proven to be a key indicator for how the Academy behaves — indeed, if any other best pic nominee wins, it will be the first time in 20 years, since 1995's Braveheart, that the prize went to a film that wasn't even nominated for the best ensemble SAG Award. Additionally, The Revenant and Mad Max did not receive screenplay noms, without which only seven films in 87 years, and only one in the last 50, Titanic, has prevailed in the top category.  What chance do any of the other best picture nominees stand? Slim to none.

Room, which has campaigned aggressively thus far, could prove a wild card: It landed only three other noms, but they came in the directing, acting and screenwriting categories, which are obviously major ones.
The Martian, which was snubbed by SAG, probably was critically wounded today by the shocking omission of its director, Ridley Scott. While it still bagged lead actor, adapted screenplay and four below-the-line noms, only four films without a director nom have won best picture.  Similarly, one would have had to regard Bridge of Spies, with its six noms — including acting and screenwriting noms, plus three others in below-the-line categories — as a more serious threat if its director, Steven Spielberg, had landed a nom.

And then there's Brooklyn, which has only two other noms — for acting and screenwriting — but which has, in Fox Searchlight, a distributor that has effectively navigated the Academy before (the last two best picture winners were handled by the company), and which can be expected to play up the timeliness of the film's central subject matter, immigration to America.
As for the other major categories?  Strong sentiment, on top of strong performances, probably will be enough to carry The Revenant's lead actor Leonardo DiCaprio and Creed's Sylvester Stallone to wins in their respective categories.  DiCaprio is up against The Martian's Matt Damon and The Danish Girl's Eddie Redmayne, who already have statues on their mantelpieces, and Trumbo's Bryan Cranston and Steve Jobs' Michael Fassbender, who probably have to pay their dues a bit more and won't be helped by the otherwise lackluster showing for their films. If Leo starts doing a bit more gabbing and glad-handing — not his favorite things to do — this is his to lose; if he instead opts to sit back and cross his fingers, then the ground could shift beneath him, probably to the benefit of Cranston, an extremely popular guy who is up for his portrayal of a Hollywood hero.

Stallone, though, is less of a sure thing. He's done a lot of schlock over the 39 years since he was last nominated (for the original Rocky), and he's not known as the warmest guy in the world (although he's turned on the charm in recent weeks). Spotlight's Mark Ruffalo is beloved and greatly helped by the absence from this category of any of his other many co-stars who were vying for spots. The Big Short's Christian Bale recently won; Bridge of Spies' Mark Rylance, while a legend in theater circles, still is largely unknown in Hollywood; and The Revenant's Tom Hardy wasn't even expected to be nominated — so they seem like longer shots.
The best actress race just got a lot more interesting. Room's Brie Larson, 26, and Brooklyn's Saoirse Ronan, 21, were expected to duke it out for the win, but the far-from-assured nomination of Joy's Jennifer Lawrence, 25, might further split the support of people who want to champion a young up-and-comer, to the benefit of the revered veteran Charlotte Rampling, 69, a first-time nominee, for 45 Years. It's hard to imagine Carol's Cate Blanchett returning to the podium for a third time so soon after her second, just two years ago.

Perhaps the toughest-to-predict category is best supporting actress. The edge probably goes to The Danish Girl's Alicia Vikander, in part because she's the talented and gorgeous "It" girl of the season (they tend to do well in this category), and in part because she — like Rooney Mara, nominated for Carol — got away with category fraud (the supporting nominee with the most substantial part usually wins). There's a chance that Rachel McAdams, who is very popular, could prevail on the coattails of Spotlight, as no other nominee in this category hails from a best pic contender. The Hateful Eight's Jennifer Jason Leigh is a widely respected and never-before-nominated vet, but she may be hurt by the divisive nature of her film and the fact that The Weinstein Co. also is pushing Mara in this category. And then there's Steve Jobs' Kate Winslet, a past Oscar winner who won the corresponding Golden Globe less than a week ago, but who didn't have to compete at the Globes against Mara or Vikander (at least for The Danish Girl), who were elevated to the lead actress category there.
The screenplay races seem to favor Spotlight (original) and The Big Short (adapted), not least because both are best picture nominees (also the case for adapted nominees Brooklyn, The Martian and Room and original nominee Bridge of Spies) and their directors — Tom McCarthy and Adam McKay, respectively — are among their nominated screenwriters (also the case for Ex Machina and Inside Out, though those registered far fewer noms).

Animated feature will almost certainly go to Inside Out, which would be the 10th Disney and/or Pixar winner in the 15-year history of the category. Its competition includes two stop-motion animated movies — Anomalisa, which has the muscle of Paramount behind it, and Shaun the Sheep, another well-liked film — but only one film animated in that way ever has won: 2005's Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Forget about the two GKIDS nominees, Boy and the World and When Marnie Was There, if only because the fanfare around them isn't remotely comparable to their competitors'.
The doc and foreign races will again be significantly impacted by the decisions, made in recent years, to open up voting for their winners to the entire Academy, rather than just to those who could prove they had actually watched all of the nominees. The result is that many vote without having seen all of the nominees — or sometimes more than just one or two, which inevitably are those about the most widely appealing or controversial topics. That is a major reason why I think the doc Amy, a doc about the life and music of the famous singer Amy Winehouse, and the Hungarian film Son of Saul, a film about the Holocaust, will prevail; Liz Garbus' music doc What Happened, Miss Simone? (one of two Netflix docs to make the final five) and Deniz Gamze Erguven's feminist Mustang, from France — each of those categories' only female-directed nominees — probably are the biggest threats to the frontrunners.

Best original song will almost certainly go to The Hunting Ground's "Til It Happens to You," which has a much higher profile than any of its competitors thanks to the involvement of Lady Gaga, who made a lot of new friends in the Academy with her magnificent tribute to Julie Andrews on last year's Oscars telecast, and Diane Warren, the legendary songwriter who famously has lost on all seven prior occasions on which she was nominated in the category. (The fact that the doc itself was not nominated only further helps the prospects of its song, which, like the doc, deals with sexual assault, a subject that has touched both of its nominees.)
Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which did not land any major noms, could still do well in the below-the-line categories. It's the favorite for best visual effects, where its competition includes Mad Max: Fury Road and The Revenant; it's also up against — and might well hold off — those two films for best film editing, best sound editing and best sound mixing; and I wouldn't be at all surprised if John Williams, on his 50th nom, beats The Hateful Eight's Ennio Morricone for best original score.

The Revenant seems like a sure bet for best cinematography, which would mark the third consecutive win for Emmanuel Lubezki (after Gravity and Birdman), which would establish a new record. And Mad Max and The Revenant will duke it out for best makeup and hairstyling, best production design and, perhaps, best costume design — although it's always dangerous to bet against Sandy Powell, who is up for both Carol and Cinderella.

Omission Of Black Actors Upsetting, But Not Inexplicable Or Proof Of Racism
(By Scott Feinberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 19 January 2016)

Nobody was more disappointed than I was last Thursday morning when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences revealed its 88th Oscar nominations and we learned that Straight Outta Compton had not been nominated for best picture, The Hateful Eight’s Samuel L. Jackson, Creed's Michael B. Jordan and Concussion’s Will Smith had not been nominated for best actor and Beasts of No Nation's Idris Elba had not been nominated for best supporting actor. Each was worthy of recognition.  Many reflexively reacted to the news by accusing the Academy of being a racist organization, and I "get" why: this is the second year in a row in which not one of the five directing nominees or the 20 acting nominees were black (last year's big omissions were Selma's director Ava DuVernay and lead actor David Oyelowo), hence the popular Twitter hashtag #OscarsSoWhite.

But I feel compelled to speak up in defense of the Academy — a stance that Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs (a black woman) will tell you I don't always take — because I believe the root of the problem is less with the Academy than with the film industry as a whole.  Even in 2016, very few people of color direct or star in major American movies. That is the result of decisions made not by the Academy, but by the studios that finance and produce movies — for reasons of commerce and/or bigotry and/or cowardice. This leaves the Academy with a pool of options lacking in diversity, in terms of eligible films and individuals, and in terms of who the Academy can invite to become members (since one must have a considerable body of work to be considered).  Over the last few years, particularly during the administration of Ms. Boone Isaacs, the Academy has made great efforts to address these problems, leaning on studios to be more open-minded in their hiring practices, and leaning on its own branches to make diversity of all sorts — race, gender, age and nationality — a higher priority.
There is always more that the Academy can do. I, for one, think Ms. Boone Isaacs should follow the lead of the late Gregory Peck, the actor who served as the Academy’s president from 1967 through 1970, another period in which the organization was widely criticized for out-of-touch voting. In response, Peck pored over the membership rolls and reclassified people who had not worked for many years as "associate members." Those individuals, most of whom were older and retired and not especially in-tune with the cutting-edge of cinematic or social ideas, retained all of the privileges of membership (free screenings, etc.) except for the right to vote, which he felt — as do I — should be limited to people who are actually involved in the industry. It's time for another round of respectful house-cleaning.

The Baseball Writers' Association of America, the group that votes to determine inductions into the Baseball Hall of Fame, implemented a similar rule in 2015, restricting voting to journalists who had been active in the last 10 years, and they wound up with results that are much more aligned with the way today's baseball lovers feel than the results they had gotten before. Nobody is suggesting that Academy should turn the Oscars into the People's Choice Awards — just that it cannot act as if the status-quo is acceptable.
But back to this year's Oscar noms. The reason this year's #OscarsSoWhite outrage was a bit more muted than last year's is because one can understand better how it happened. None of this year's excluded films about people of color or people of color themselves were thought to be slam-dunks going into the nominations; they were competing in very competitive categories.

Compton is an amazing movie — I included it on my personal year-end top 10 list — but the Academy guarantees only five slots, and can go only as high as 10, and few would argue that any of the eight films that were nominated were less deserving of a nom than Compton was. If the Academy still guaranteed 10 nominees for best pic, as it did back when Casablanca won and briefly again just a few years ago, then Compton would have been nominated. I have no doubt about that.
Jackson, Jordan, Smith and Elba gave incredible performances — all were guests on my 'Awards Chatter' podcast before voting closed — but again, none of the people who were nominated instead of them were indefensible selections. It's a tough pill to swallow, but it was just a terrific year for actors, lead and supporting. Additionally, the distributor of Jordan's film didn't realize it was an awards contender until it was already very late in the game (perhaps too late to mobilize a fully-effective campaign); the distributor of Elba's film released it through a model never before tested with the Academy (in just a few theaters simultaneous to its debut on Netflix, which a lot of fogies still don't have); and the Academy wasn’t crazy about anything to do with Jackson’s or Smith’s films, including the contributions of the white people who wrote and directed them.

The bottom line? I understand being pissed off that one's favorites were not Oscar-nominated — but I genuinely don't believe that racism was the driving reason for any of this year’s exclusions. And, if it's any consolation, Jordan, Smith, Elba and the folks from Compton are in pretty good company: also denied noms that many expected them to get were Sir Ridley Scott (who got bounced by Room's Lenny Abrahamson, a guy most Academy members still haven't heard of), Helen Mirren, Johnny Depp, Quentin Tarantino, Benicio Del Toro, Michael Keaton, Aaron Sorkin and Kristen Stewart.