**Note: This feature is focused on the film aspect of these nominations**
And we are off! We have officially entered the 2016 award season and it has started with its feet running at full speed. Currently, the Independent Spirit Awards, the Screen Actor Guild awards, and the Golden Globe nominations have all been announced, hinting at where this year’s ultimate award ceremony will go. While the Oscar Nominations will not be announced until January 14th, there are still some takeaways and some observations that can be deduced from these three award ceremonies.
Uncertainty with a Handful of Films
Four films have an unknown future with the eventual Oscar nominations: The first was the highly successful Straight Outta Compton, which was one of the most profitable, most mainstream, most popular films of 2015. The film did managed to grab an SAG nomination for its cast, but failed to attract any attention with the Golden Globes. Will this happen again with the Oscars? Beasts of No Nation is another film that was unjustly snubbed with this year’s Golden Globes despite being recognized with both the Spirit and SAG awards. The drama that is based on a child soldier in an unnamed African country was both thought provoking and stunning in its content. The Golden Globes did recognize Idris Elba’s performance within this film, which is on a good track for an Oscar nomination, but the film is still in uncertain waters. The Martian, while seemingly on a good track to being nominated, may not be as obvious as one suspects. The film was snubbed at the SAGs and managed to be nominated in the comedy/musical category at the Golden Globes, which can be argued was a gross miscategorization of the film. What seems likely is Ridley Scott’s nomination for Best Director, but the film, itself, may not be as successful. Lastly, The Danish Girl, despite evoking conversation on the topic of transgendered individuals and gaining universal praise for Eddie Redmayne’s performance, it appears the film has failed to achieve the same level of praise with the award ceremonies. The Danish Girl currently has failed to gain a single Best Picture nomination with any of the precursor award ceremonies, which hints the film ultimately will endure the same fate with the Oscars.
The Performances Likely to be Nominated for an Oscar
Given the precursor award nominations they have received, this list reflects those who are likely to be nominated for an Oscar, having gotten both a nomination with the Golden Globes and the SAGs, which would mean that not getting an Oscar nomination would be considered a major snub at this point:
Leonardo DiCaprio…The Revenant
Michael Fassbender…Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne…The Danish Girl
Alicia Vikander…The Danish Girl
Idris Elba..Beasts of No Nation
Mark Rylance…Bridge of Spies
Michael Shannon…99 Homes
Kate Winslet…Steve Jobs
What this list indicates is somewhat stunning: The Best Actor category has 4/5 slots filled, which means this category will be nominated in an obvious manner or a serious snub may occur within this category. The Best Actress category is seemingly filled to capacity, which sets it up for the potential of an upset as well. The Best Supporting Actor and Actress categories seems to be the only acting categories with enough flexibility for an outlier performance or two to sneak in. What further complicates this is whether Alicia Vikander or Rooney Mara will be submitted to the Oscar Nominations as Lead or Supporting Actress, to which both are up for the SAG in the Supporting category, while they are in the Leading Actress category with the Golden Globes.
The Performances Whose Future Doesn’t Look Good
Very rare is it that two of the most stunning performances of the year are from child actors, yet more stunning is that both have a good chance of being snubbed at this year’s Oscars. While Idris Elba was a huge impact in Beasts of No Nation, it was Cary Joji Fukunaga who held the movie together since the film focused on his character’s impact as a child soldier. Fukunaga has gotten a Spirit Nomination, but neither of the other two precursors, which hints at his low chances. The same can be said of child actor Jacob Tremblay for his stunning performance in Room, whose innocence is what leads the film and propels the characters within to be reactionary to his performance. Johnny Depp seemingly was a guarantee with his performance in Black Mass, which got him critical acclaim and the prediction that he would finally win the award many have felt he has deserved. This seems to have been debunked with Depp failing to get a Golden Globe nomination. He has gotten an SAG nomination, which doesn’t completely eliminate his chances, but it may take one major push to get him nominated. Another name that was getting some preliminary traction was Cynthia Nixon for her performance in James White. Her performance as a mother with a debilitating illness stunned critics, but she has failed to be nominated for anything outside of the Spirit Awards. Lastly, there’s Rachel McAdams, whose performance in Spotlight managed to snag her an SAG, but she failed to grab a Golden Globe nomination. However, what may aid her is the potential momentum Spotlight has leading into the Oscars. With ensemble films, like Spotlight, the Oscars typically like to nominate a sole actor to represent the cast. McAdams may benefit from this nomination trend.
The Best Actor Category is THE category of Contention this Year
With the exception of whoever gets nominated in the fifth slot, if the remaining lineup is Cranston, DiCaprio, Fassbender, and Redmayne, this is going to be a tremendous fight right down to Oscar night and it won’t matter who-wins-what leading into that night. Why? Eddie Redmayne is still riding high after his Oscar win last year for The Theory of Everything. His performance has social relevancy with transgendered rights being a topic of conversation this year, which may boost his chances of a win. While the Steve Jobs movie was controversial, the one component that held the film together was Michael Fassbender and that will not go unnoticed with voters. This leaves both Bryan Cranston and Leonardo DiCaprio, both of whom are Hollywood icons and beloved by their peers and the Academy. Cranston has a great chance of winning this year since he has proved himself as a capable actor in the last few years, going from television’s Breaking Bad to Broadway’s All The Way, winning the respective Emmy and Tony for each. The mere fact that Cranston has now propelled himself to Oscar territory undoubtedly will place him in the good graces of voters. Then there is DiCaprio, who offered his most transformative work with The Revenant. It’s been argued DiCaprio is long overdue for his Oscar with many failed years, which would indicate he will have the sentimental vote on his side this year to aid him to victory. As this category currently stands, any one of these actors has a tremendous chance of winning in February.
Carol versus Spotlight
The way this year’s award season is shaping up, it initially appears Carol and Spotlight are the two frontrunners vying for Best Picture. This makes this year’s Oscar season highly unusual considering the frontrunners are both independent films, which indicates a complete rejection of big-budget films. What these films further indicate is a fascination with social commentary. Spotlight focuses on the true-story of the Boston Globe journalists uncovering the allegations of abuse in the Catholic Church. The film has been described as the greatest journalism film since 1976’s All the President’s Men. Carol is equally as dense by focusing on a lesbian relationship and its social issues in 1950s New York. Writer/Director Todd Haynes is known for his exploration of homosexual sexuality during repressed eras, as he did with his 2002 film Far From Heaven. Through critics and audiences alike, Carol is considered to be one of the best gay-themed films in years. It appears that the only big-budget film that may have a chance to upset either is The Revenant with its dense true-story of survival and revenge. What additionally aids The Revenant is this film being the follow-up film from Alejandro González Iñárritu, who is fresh off his Best Director Oscar win last year for Birdman. This may aid González Iñárritu more in the directing category, but one cannot say with complete conviction just yet that this may not also extend into the Best Picture category.
The Oscar Nominations will be announced on January 14th, 2016 at 8 A.M. (PT).