In a year where everyone is in disagreement of what is the best film of the year, this makes all award categories slightly unstable. Even those who are seemingly guaranteed are somewhat shaky and poised for an upset to occur. Below are 10 potential Oscar upsets to brace for this Sunday night.
1. Star Wars loses Visual Effects to Mad Max: Fury Road
The one award Star Wars: The Force Awakens is expected to win is visual effects, which would honor the most profitable movie of the year. However, Mad Max: Fury Road is also a film built off of its special effects and is additionally nominated for Best Picture, which gives it an extra boost.
2. Sam Smith wins Best Song
Lady Gaga is expected to win for her song “Till it Happens to You” for the documentary The Hunting Grounds, but Sam Smith still has some momentum after his Golden Globe win, which means he shouldn’t be discounted. Smith’s “Writing’s on the Wall” for Spectre was met with a mixture of love and hate upon its release and a Sam Smith win would not only infuriate Lady Gaga loyalists, but it would also enrage die-hard Bond fans who felt the latest Bond song was not up to par.
3. The Revenant wins Best Makeup
Last year’s upset in this category (Guardians of the Galaxy losing to The Grand Budapest Hotel) should be a reminder that a film with more Oscar traction might edge out the more worthy contender in the category. If The Revenant gets extra love and appreciation by the voters, it may be enough to pull in an upset over the expected winner: Mad Max: Fury Road
4. Anomalisa wins Best Animated Feature
Inside Out has been expected to win in this category since the summer and losing would be a shocking upset. Anomalisa is Charlie Kaufman’s newest film, which has had moviegoers divided about it, some claiming it is a brilliant achievement and others citing it as pretentious. Nonetheless, an Anomalisa win would be one of the biggest upsets of the night if it were to happen.
5. Alejandro González Iñárritu loses Best Director
THIS would be a shocking defeat if it were to happen, especially considering Iñárritu has won the BAFTA, Golden Globe and the DGA. However, George Miller is a fiercely popular contender for his direction of Mad Mad: Fury Road. If anyone can pull off an upset in this category, it is George Miller.
6. Mark Ruffalo wins Best Supporting Actor
Sylvester Stallone is the presumptive frontrunner for his performance in Creed, but this status isn’t very stable. Having not been nominated for either an SAG or BAFTA, Stallone may have drifted from the forefront of voters’ minds. This category is poised for an upset and it could go in any direction, but the more likely scenario is Mark Ruffalo. Ruffalo is a proven actor with his nomination for Spotlight being his third nomination in the last 5 years. The Academy has been itching to give him an Oscar and this might be his year.
7. Saoirse Ronan wins Best Actress
Brie Larson is the heavy-favorite to win in the Best Actress category for her acting in Room and she deserves the Oscar with a bow tied around it, but Saoirse Ronan’s subtle and endearing performance in Brooklyn might have an appeal with voters. Ronan has been riding Oscar traction with her performance since the summer and it is possible that the voters may favor a more nuanced performance in contrast to Larson’s dramatic performance.
8. Eddie Redmayne wins Best Actor
If Leonardo DiCaprio were to lose on Oscar night, someone better have an ambulance on standby because he will most surely be having a heart attack. While DiCaprio has won every conceivable award leading to the Oscars, there is still the possibility voters may want to honor Redmayne for his stellar and brave portrayal as a transgendered individual in the early 1920s in The Danish Girl. Additionally, a Redmayne win would be recognition of the LGBTQ community within film. DiCaprio likely will win, but one can never be too sure.
9. Rachel McAdams wins Best Supporting Actress
The competition in this category has been Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl) versus Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs), which means they could easily cancel each other out and allow another winner. The one contender who has the best chance of sneaking in a win is Rachel McAdams for her human and subtle performance in Spotlight. McAdams has been universally praised for her performance and that could easily translate into an Oscar win.
10. Mad Max: Fury Road wins Best Picture
Don’t scoff, it’s not an impossibility! With The Big Short, Spotlight, and The Revenant having split the precursor awards and are in an intense competition with each other, it sets up the category for perhaps one of the greatest Oscar upsets in the history of the Academy Awards. If the three-way competition divides votes, it might allow for Mad Max: Fury Road to inadvertently get the majority of votes, thus winning the Oscar for Best Picture. This Best Picture outcome is a genuine possibility.
The Oscars will be telecast on February 28th at 8:30 EST and will be hosted by Chris Rock.