No use in pretending we don’t keep score this time. This is a rematch. In last year’s prediction showdown, Josh Rosenfield proved victorious over David Shreve. Will 2016 be the year that Shreve gets up and goes the distance, or will this defeat send him into early retirement from Oscar Prediction Showdowns?

Feel free to keep score, talk trash, or use this battle as a resource to impress the folks in your office pool!

 

Best Visual Effects

Ex Machina
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian

The Revenant

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Dave Prediction: Mad Max: Fury Road –  You’re going to see (and should expect) a trend here. I’m not one to put all my eggs in one basket but, if mid-90s fighting video games taught me anything, it’s that if a move works, keep hitting that combo.

Josh Prediction: Mad Max: Fury Road – When a Best Picture contender makes it into the technical races, it’s always a safe bet on prestige factor alone. But Fury Road isn’t prestigious in the traditional Oscar sense. Still, its heavy use of practical effects will go over well with the older crowd.

Best Film Editing

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

Dave Prediction: Mad Max: Fury Road – Case in point.

Josh Prediction: Mad Max: Fury Road – This is Fury Road‘s weakest tech category. Being up against the three Best Picture frontrunners in a category that almost always aligns with Best Picture could hurt it. But as with Whiplash last year, Fury Road‘s editing is as showy as it is effective. It’s hard to imagine voters overlooking it.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Mad Max: Fury Road
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out A Window And Disappeared
The Revenant

Dave Prediction: Mad Max: Fury Road –  This should be a little more contentious but not against the nominees that were announced.

Josh Prediction: Mad Max: Fury Road – Again, Fury Road is a safe bet in every tech category. I wouldn’t count out The Revenant, though, especially if that film ends up sweeping the night.

Best Costume Design

Carol
Cinderella
The Danish Girl
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant

Dave Prediction: Cinderella – Alright, I’m not going straight ticket. When it opened early in 2015, it was the first Oscar buzz of the year, chiefly for this particular category. And deservedly so. I can only hope the Academy’s memory holds up, but someone has to make this showdown interesting.

Josh Prediction: Mad Max: Fury Road – am going straight ticket but not without reservations. The last time this category didn’t go to a film for its use of period costumes was over a decade ago. Go look at the list of nominees and you’ll see that this category is practically synonymous with “Best Period Costume Drama.” But that last award in 2003 was for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, with its highly detailed and imaginative fantasy outfits. Being up against four typical winners is rough, but my heart says Fury Road here.

Best Cinematography

Carol
The Hateful Eight
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
Sicario

Dave Prediction: The Revenant – If there’s anything working against Lubezki, it’s his going streak of two in a row, but this doesn’t feel like a category in which the voters will feel a need to “mix it up.” So, sticking with the reigning champ.

Josh Prediction: Mad Max: Fury Road – Here’s the thing with this category: IF The Revenant sweeps, it’ll be in spite of the fact that Iñárritu won last year for Birdman. My gut says that they won’t give it to him twice in a row, which means that it’s less likely they’ll give it to Lubezki thrice in a row for The Revenant. In any case, the Academy has spent the last half-decade giving this award to more stylized and colorful genre films like Hugo and Life of Pi. I’m putting all my chips on Fury Road this year.

Best Production Design

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

Dave Prediction: Mad Max: Fury Road – Ctrl + V.

Josh Prediction: The Danish G- haha, just kidding, could you even imagine? Mad Max: Fury Road.

Best Sound Mixing

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

Dave Prediction: Mad Max: Fury Road – True story, sound editing and mixing stand as the last two categories that I picked a winner before, partially because I think they may be the categories that the voters understand least. But Fury Road is loud and has a lot of sound (when in doubt, “most” trumps “better,” a lesson I learned in losing last year).

Josh Prediction: Mad Max: Fury Road – For the sound categories, I always wager that most Academy voters know very little about what good sound editing and mixing actually sound like. Star Wars could be the upset here because of the franchise’s long history in this area. At the end of the day, though, these categories go to whatever film is loudest. Fury Road wins that contest in a walk.

Best Sound Editing

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

Dave Prediction: Mad Max: Fury Road – Just to clarify, I’m not just using logic here. This is also favoritism. If Fury Road wins everything for which I’ve predicted it, I will be a very satisfied warboy.

Josh Prediction: Mad Max: Fury Road – See above.

Best Original Song

“Earned It,” Fifty Shades of Grey
“Manta Ray,” Racing Extinction
“Simple Song #3,” Youth
“Til It Happens To You,” The Hunting Ground
“Writing’s On The Wall,” Spectre

Dave Prediction: “Til It Happens To You,” The Hunting Ground – Had to hunt three of these down, and I don’t want to live in a world where Fifty Shades of Grey or Spectre might win more Oscars than Creed. This is always such a mindless prediction for me, and I’d bet it’s a mindless vote for them.

Josh Prediction: “Writing’s On The Wall,” Spectre – I hate this category. It’s like trying to predict how a group of world-famous chefs will judge a bunch of landscape paintings. If there’s not a clear winner from the outset – a “Let It Go,” a “Skyfall,” etc. – it becomes a total crapshoot. I’m going with Spectre‘s theme song, because it seems like the sort of middlebrow mid-tempo ballad that older Academy voters would best tolerate.

Best Original Score

Bridge of Spies
Carol
The Hateful Eight
Sicario
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Dave Prediction: The Hateful Eight – Best to keep with the recognizable names in this category and Williams kind of mailed it in this year, paving the way for Morricone’s long-awaited coronation. My expectation is that Tarantino will accept the award on the composer’s behalf. Like really accept it, as his own. A thing that he’s earned somehow.

Josh Prediction: The Hateful Eight – Morricone came out of retirement for this film. He’s never won an Oscar despite a lengthy and iconic career. This is a clear-cut case of, “Please take this Oscar before you die.”

Best Foreign Language Film

Embrace of the Serpent
Mustang
Son of Saul
Theeb
A War

Dave Prediction: Son of Saul – If I’ve only seen two of these, it’s safe to say most of the voters haven’t seen the full slate either. I think this category is typically the open end of an echo chamber, and until Embrace The Serpent‘s too-late explosion in popularity this week, I’ve heard the most about the Holocaust film, so mark me down for Son of Saul.

Josh Prediction: Son of Saul – Well, I’ve seen exactly none of these, but Son of Saul is a Holocaust drama, so that seems like a safe bet.

Best Documentary Feature

Amy
Cartel Land
The Look of Silence
What Happened, Miss Simone
Winter On Fire: Ukraine’s Fight For Freedom

Dave Prediction: Amy – If a member of the Academy ever has to testify regarding an act of genocide, the victims had better hope there are no singing ladies around. At least The Look of Silence was nominated, unlike it’s predecessor The Act of Killing, but I still think the most important film project of the 2000s is going to lose to another documentary about music.

Josh Prediction: Amy – It just makes sense that The Act of Killing‘s follow-up should lose to another music documentary. Who knows, maybe the Academy will try and right their wrongs by giving it to The Look of Silence. It is a more digestible film than its predecessor, all things considered. I don’t expect it to happen, though.

Best Animated Feature

Anomalisa
Boy and the World
Inside Out
Shaun the Sheep Movie
When Marnie Was There

Dave Prediction: Inside Out – Ugh.

Josh Prediction: Inside Out – Yay!

Best Original Screenplay

Bridge of Spies
Ex Machina
Inside Out
Spotlight
Straight Outta Compton

Dave Prediction: Spotlight – This, I think, is where Spotlight starts making its case for Best Picture. None of the other films are contenders in Best Picture or Best Director, and, atop that, Spotlight has a solid screenplay, which sometimes matters!

Josh Prediction: Spotlight – Outside of this category, it is the strongest of the five. The Best Picture favorite will always win this category.

Best Adapted Screenplay

The Big Short
Brooklyn
Carol
The Martian
Room

Dave Prediction: The Big Short – Here, I’m just going with my favorite.

Josh Prediction: The Big Short – Dave still hasn’t seen Carol. 

Best Supporting Actress

Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight
Rooney Mara, Carol
Rachel McAdams, Spotlight
Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

Dave Prediction: Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl – I have a theory that the anticipated #OscarsSoWhite backlash impacted voters to choose nominees less likely to speak in defiance of the heartbreaking exclusion of nominees of color. Mara has proven herself to be a bit righteous; Winslet has her statue and less to lose. Of the remaining three, I think the safest bet for compliance is the young, up-and-coming Vikander. I’m going with her.

Josh Prediction: Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl – I wanted to go with Jennifer Jason Leigh just to make things more interesting and because Tarantino has a history of getting his actors trophies for supporting performances, but I’m in it to win it, and Vikander is the safe bet.

Best Supporting Actor

Christian Bale, The Big Short
Tom Hardy, The Revenant
Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight
Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
Sylvester Stallone, Creed

Dave Prediction: Sylvester Stallone, Creed – I almost cried just thinking about this pick being a likelihood. Call this a sentimental favorite that I share with mostly anyone who all of America.

Josh Prediction: Sylvester Stallone, Creed – Against all odds, Stallone is the favorite for this category. This has been a horse race, and each of the five nominees has been in the lead at one point or another. Given another month or so, I’d expect Rylance or Hardy to cycle back into the top spot, but Stallone has somehow held onto momentum. Not that he doesn’t give a great performance in Creed, but it’s not the type of film that usually gets acting nominations, let alone for something so underplayed. Bottom line: the Academy’s liked Stallone since the first Rocky. He’s earned this.

Best Actress

Cate Blanchett, Carol
Brie Larson, Room
Jennifer Lawrence, Joy
Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

Dave Prediction: Brie Larson, Room – This has been a two lady race all along, and lately, Larson’s momentum in the most recent awards has placed her firmly in the favorite position.

Josh Prediction: Brie Larson, Room – Look at these nominees outside of the context of this awards season. Blanchett should be the frontrunner. Not too young like Ronan, not too old like Rampling, and not too heavily awarded like Lawrence. Plus, get this, she’s playing a lesbian. These rules of thumb are patronizing, sexist, and disappointingly accurate. And yet somehow the relative newcomer Larson is the favorite. I’ve been a big fan of her work for a long time, so I’ll be thrilled to see her win.

Best Actor

Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
Matt Damon, The Martian
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl

Dave Prediction: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant – Has it ever seemed more likely that if one specific candidate were to lose, that he might inflict bodily harm upon someone or himself?

Josh Prediction: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant – I was tempted to deliberately vote for Redmayne here, just to give Dave a fighting chance.

Best Director

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

Dave Prediction: George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road – Over the last few years, the Academy has broken its predictable pattern of pairing Best Director and Best Picture winners. That makes this category a little interesting. Fury Road is the popular horse this year, even if it feels unlikely to pull out the main event with a Best Picture win. But, it does provide an opportunity to deliver a proverbial lifetime achievement award to a legendary, tested director who very evidently directed the hell out of his film.  And given that both Josh and I have predicted a tidal wave of technical awards for the film, this award would allow for future home releases to include not just “Winner of X Academy Awards,” but also “Including Best X.” Fury Road deserves a prestige win, so I’ve convinced myself to take Miller over Iñárritu here.

Josh Prediction: George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road – This is the second year in a row that I’ll be using a certain rule of thumb, and last year it didn’t work out for me. Against my better judgement, I’m going to roll the dice. Best Director and Best Picture traditionally go hand-in-hand, but recently the Academy has split the categories under certain conditions. For Life of Pi and Gravity, Best Director was awarded as an acknowledgment of their respective directors’ filmmaking prowess but also as an admission that they weren’t the sorts of films which could win Best Picture. The Academy may play at populism on occasion, but they never, ever follow through, especially not with their ultimate prize.

As I said, this slighly screwed me over last year. I was sure that Iñárritu would win for Birdman based on technical achievement, opening the path for Boyhood to take Best Picture. Instead, Birdman won both. But this year, I have some more concrete history on my side. The last time that a director won this award two years in a row was in 1949 and 1950; Joseph L. Mankiewicz won for A Letter to Three Wives and All About Eve. Is this a specious argument? Probably. I hate that my case for George Miller has nothing to do with George Miller. He and Iñárritu are the clear frontrunners, and for surprisingly similar reasons. The latter has advertised those reasons much louder, but no one can deny the former’s outstanding skill.

Best Picture

The Big Short
Bridge of Spies
Brooklyn
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Room
Spotlight

Dave Prediction: The Revenant  Given Birdman‘s big wins last year, and the infrequency of back-to-back Oscar winners in the prestige, this should not feel like the easy pick, but at the same time, it does feel like the easy pick. Statistical support exists to endorse a prediction here of Spotlight, Fury Road, and The Big Short. And this. Four contenders make for perhaps the most unpredictable Best Picture race that I have ever witnessed, and given that number of competitive entries, Iñárritu’s chances at an unprecedented repeat should go down. But, by this same logic, The Revenant makes for the easiest way to for the award to make the most headlines without making a single political wave (The Revenant is entirely cinematic and almost entirely apolitical), and given the public scrutiny of the past few months, the contemporary tone deafness of the voting members are likely to welcome that sort of (wrongly) assumed reprieve. And so, though it is my least favorite of the four actual contenders, I’m giving it my vote as both an easy pick and a statistical underdog.

Josh Prediction: The Big Short – I gave my thoughts on awarding the same director back-to-back, but what about films from the same director? As far as I know, this has never happened. Even A Letter to Three Wives lost to All The King’s Men in 1949. I don’t necessarily see precedent working against The Revenant here, but the truth is that this category is still wide open. Spotlight was the frontrunner for months on assumption of quality and importance alone, but Spotlight wasn’t exciting or “important” enough to maintain that hold. It may be telling a socially relevant story, but it’s a story we all already knew. Spotlight itself isn’t a part of that story, despite its For Your Consideration ads trying to sell voters on that idea.

The Big Short, on the other hand, is a part of that story. It’s got that all-important social relevance with the added benefit of being genuinely informative. It’s not saying, “Vote for this to raise awareness,” it’s saying, “How dare you NOT vote for this? What, you want this to happen again, you stupid goddamn schmucks?”

In a sense, it’s got some similar ideas to Birdman with regards to populist entertainment. Both films decry pop art as denigrating the formBirdman with its anti-superhero screeching, The Big Short with its patronizing celebrity interludes. The message is the same: entertainment for the masses is nothing but a distraction from what’s really important in society. This is a total long-shot, I admit. And I’d be lying if I said part of my decision wasn’t influenced by the fact that Dave and I lined up on so many other categories. Still, I think The Big Short has what it takes, underdog though it may be.