Flavorwire’s 2016 Oscar Picks and Predictions

Géza Röhrig in "Son of Saul"

Foreign Language Film
Embrace of the Serpent (Colombia)
Mustang (France)
Son of Saul (Hungary)
Theeb (Jordan)
A War (Denmark)

PICK/PREDICTION: Son of Saul is a hard, harrowing piece of work, one of my favorites of the year – and it also concerns the Holocaust, which (not to be crass!) means it’s a pretty safe bet for an Oscar. The popular favorite Mustang could pull off a last minute upset, but don’t count on it.

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

PICK: Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Look of Silence is, like its predecessor The Act of Killing, an indictment of true brutality that becomes riveting drama and devastating cinema.

PREDICTION: Yet in recent years, the documentary award has more often gone to the biggest box-office success of the bunch (and, often, a music documentary as well). And that means, just as the Best Documentary Oscar went to 20 Feet From Stardom over The Act of Killing two years back, this year the prize will probably go to Amy, which was named Best Documentary by countless critics’ organizations, the Producers’ Guild, and the Critics’ Choice Awards.

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

PICK: Anomalisa is a remarkable animated film, using its stop-motion puppetry to get at the kind of tough truths and emotional candor that often eludes live-action films. But Shaun the Sheep is pretty great too.

PREDICTION: From their 2007 win for Ratatouille forward, any time Pixar is nominated, they win (Cars 2 and Monsters University weren’t nominated). They won’t break that streak this year – and Inside Out has the added boost of an Original Screenplay nomination, indicating widespread love for that summer smash.

Still image from "Sicario"

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

PICK: This was a genuinely incredible year for cinematographers – I’d gladly award any of these five, and could give you ten more besides. And it sure would be nice if Roger Deakins, our greatest living cinematographer, finally won this award. But…

PREDICTION: Emmanuel Lubezki won last year for Birdman and the year before that for Gravity; he’s everyone’s favorite DP right now, and the pretty pictures he made for The Revenant seem to indicate a rare three-peat in the category.

Music – Original Score
Thomas Newman, Bridge of Spies
Carter Burwell, Carol
Ennio Morricone, The Hateful Eight
Johann Johannson, Sicario
John Williams, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

PICK / PREDICTION: Another astonishing year for film music (though given my druthers, I’d boot Williams from this crew in favor of Steve Jobs’ Daniel Pemberton or It Follows’ Disasterpiece). But I have to give the edge to the maestro, Ennio Morricone, whose first original Western score in decades was a testament to his legacy, a magnificently unpredictable fusion of horror and Spaghetti, and – most importantly – a perfect compliment to Tarantino’s testy, edgy, claustrophobic Western. And I think Oscar voters will check the same box; he’s never won a competitive Oscar before, and they love awarding a legend for the first time.

Music – Original Song
“Earned It” (50 Shades of Grey)
“Manta Ray” (Racing Extinction)
“Til It Happens to You” (The Hunting Ground)
“Simple Song #3” (Youth)
“Writing’s on the Wall” (Spectre)

PICK: Anything but “Writing’s on the Wall,” really.

PREDICTION: Well, you can safely bet it won’t be “Manta Ray” or “Simple Song,” since the Oscar producers aren’t even going to let them perform. (Look, they’ve gotta carve out time for all the random movie-clip montages somewhere.) Of the remaining three, “Til It Happens to You” seems the safe bet, combining Big Message songwriting (see last year’s “Glory” from Selma and 2007’s “I Need to Wake Up” from An Inconvenient Truth), the star power of performer/co-writer Lady Gaga (goin’ for dat EGOT), and the “overdue” factor for her co-writer Diane Warren (this is her eighth nomination with no wins to date).

Still from "Mad Max: Fury Road"

Film Editing
The Big Short
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

PICK/ PREDICTION: Mad Max: Fury Road

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

PICK: Sicario

PREDICTION: Mad Max: Fury Road

Sound Mixing
Bridge of Spies
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

PICK: Mad Max: Fury Road

PREDICTION: The Revenant

Costume Design
The Danish Girl
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant

PICK/ PREDICTION: Mad Max: Fury Road

Makeup and Hairstyling
Mad Max: Fury Road
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared
The Revenant

PICK/ PREDICTION: Mad Max: Fury Road

Production Design
Bridge of Spies
The Danish Girl
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant

PICK/ PREDICTION: Mad Max: Fury Road

Still from "The Revenant"

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

PICK: Ex Machina

PREDICTION: The Revenant

Short Film – Live Action
Ave Maria
Day One
Everything Will Be Okay (Alles Wird Gut)


Short Film – Animated
Bear Story
Sanjay’s Super Team
We Can’t Live Without Cosmos
World of Tomorrow

PREDICTION: World of Tomorrow

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
Last Day of Freedom

PREDICTION: Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah