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6 Oscar Categories Analyzed: Who Will Be Nominated?

Ready for the most fun time in the movie calendar?

Some people might advocate for summer blockbuster season, but not I – for my money, this is the most fun time. After the end of the year, when all the prestige movies are out, with the Golden Globes hoopla still fresh and the air filled with the lush scent of Oscar buzz.

This year (at least among the Big Six categories) is reflective of the last few: strong and deep in the Supporting categories, top-heavy in the Lead categories, and intriguing in Director and Picture.

More than likely, we’ll see a repeat of a couple of Academy trends that have popped up over the last decade. Look for a “career achievement” Oscar, as Leo is a near lock for The Revenant, after so many close calls. Look for the likely split of Best Director / Best Picture awards – using the Director Oscar as almost a second Best Picture Award, as what happened with Argo and Ang Lee (for Life of Pi) and 12 Years a Slave and Alfonso Cuaron (for Gravity). And, of course, look for the ceremony to be an hour too long and full of astonishingly bad monologue jokes. That’s set in stone.

So, heading into January, here are our picks for the 2016 nominations and the eventual winners.


The Favorite

Alicia Vikander

Sometimes an actress can win an Oscar as an award for the body of work she had during the year; in 2016, we could see that play out with Alicia Vikander for The Danish Girl. Between that and her remarkable turn in Ex Machina, she’s given two of the best supporting performances of the year. This could be a compiler Oscar more than anything else. Not that she wouldn’t deserve it.

The Rest of the Field

Jennifer Jason Leigh should earn her first Oscar nomination after a long and distinguished career for her unhinged performance in The Hateful Eight. It wouldn’t be a shock to see her win. Meanwhile, Kate Winslet and Rachel McAdams are probably locks for their showy supporting roles in Steve Jobs and Spotlight. The final spot should come down to a veteran – Helen Mirren for Trumbo or Jane Fonda for Youth. One caveat – if Rooney Mara is put in here for her performance in Carol, she’s probably the co-favorite; however, there’s a pretty good chance she sneaks into Lead Actress.

The Long Shot

Kristen Stewart

How about Kristen Stewart? She was a standout in the underrated Clouds of Sils Maria from earlier in the year – proving just how far she’s come from the Twilight trash. Root for her to flush that vampire stuff away with a nomination in 2015.


The Favorite

Mark Rylance

At this point, it’s hard not to proclaim Mark Rylance the leader for his knowing, understated and utterly brilliant turn in Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies. The esteemed English theater actor has never been nominated before, and there’s a pretty good chance he’ll win for his first time out.

The Rest of the Field

Christian Bale’s quirky role in The Big Short and Idris Elba’s terrifying supporting turn in Beasts of No Nation are probably locks for nominations, and they’re right in there as co-favorites. Then, the rest of the field is a complete toss-up; Supporting is loaded this year. It could go to old favorites Kurt Russell and Michael Keaton for their standout turns in The Hateful Eight and Spotlight, respectively. Or to Sylvester Stallone for his emotionally triumphant role in Creed. Or, it could go to youngster Jacob Tremblay for Room or veterans Tom Hardy for The Revenant or Michael Shannon for 99 Homes. Let’s say Stallone and Tremblay, just to be varied.

The Long Shot

Oscar Isaac

It would be completely wonderful to see Oscar Isaac get the first of what will certainly be many nominations for his utterly unforgettable performance as the jerky, bro-like CEO in Ex Machina.


The Favorite

Brie Larson

Brie Larson is miles and miles and miles ahead of the pack for her harrowingly accomplished performance in Room.

The Rest of the Field

An uninspiring field in both Lead categories this year – the favorites are far too clear. Saorise Ronan’s probably Larson’s closest competition for Brooklyn, and Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara are both going to get notices for Carol (although there’s a chance Mara goes Supporting). Jennifer Lawrence will probably get a slot for Joy, although the buzz has drained from that movie. Maybe Charlotte Rampling for 45 Years?

The Long Shot

Charlize Theron

In this weak category, someone might sneak in – and let’s hope it’s Charlize Theron, for her grittily brilliant performance in Mad Max: Fury Road.


The Favorite

Leonardo Dicaprio

It’s probably best for all involved that we just give Leonardo DiCaprio the Oscar for The Revenant. Otherwise he might get himself killed chasing the next awards opportunity.

The Rest of the Field

Again, DiCaprio’s pretty much lapped the field so far. But there still need to be four other candidates. Michael Fassbender’s a lock to get his second nomination for Steve Jobs, and Bryan Cranston will probably get one for Trumbo. Eddie Redmayne’s a good bet for his transformative Danish Girl performance. And the last spot? Call that a toss-up between two Hollywood heavyweights – Will Smith for Concussion or Matt Damon for The Martian. The latter’s got the bigger box office, so Damon might be the pick.

The Long Shot


Stallone gave Creed its soul and acknowledged for it with his Golden Globe win, but Michael B. Jordan was its propulsive force. He’ll get a nomination sooner rather than later, but he definitely deserves one for this.


The Favorite

Tom McCarthy

Hard to say this year. Tom McCarthy directed the Best Picture favorite Spotlight, so he’s probably due for a nomination – but that’s more an acting and script showcase. He’s the favorite, but only by default.

The Rest of the Field

A fascinating bunch. Two veterans stand out: George Miller for Mad Max: Fury Road and Ridley Scott for The Martian. They both did tremendous work and have never got the proper recognition for their distinguished careers; it wouldn’t shock to see them end up with the trophy. The rest of the field? Well, Steven Spielberg did his usual great work in Bridge of Spies, and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarratu (who won last year) performed his magic in The Revenant. They should get nominated, unless newcomer Lenny Abrahamson sneaks in for Room.

The Dark Horse

Alex Garland

How about newcomer Alex Garland for his assured and stylish direction in the great Ex Machina?


The Favorite


Tom McCarthy’s accomplished and smart Spotlight ticks off everything needed in the Best Picture checklist. Great cast, great script, great topic, great production. It’s the favorite so far.

The Rest of the Field

Another fascinating mix. Mad Max: Fury Road has a bullet into the top five. Ex Machina might be gaining steam. Bridge of Spies, The Revenant and The Big Short have been in the mix all year, and Room has the performance buzz around it. There’s probably room for the box office hit The Martian, too.

The Dark Horse


If Toy Story 3 could get a Best Picture nomination, why couldn’t Pixar’s astonishing Inside Out?

Oh, the final picks: who’s going to end up with the trophy for the categories? I’m calling it for Spotlight, George Miller, Leonardo DiCaprio, Brie Larson, Mark Rylance, and Alicia Vikander.

What do you think of the prediction? Are we missing some of your favorites? Let us see ’em in the comments below.

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One thought on “6 Oscar Categories Analyzed: Who Will Be Nominated? Leave a comment

  1. Pretty stellar predictions all around! I think you omitted a couple of likely contenders though, namely Mark Ruffalo in supporting. IMO, it was a mistake to put Keaton in supporting; he should’ve been lead. Dano and Del Toro have gotten some mentions, Globes for the former and BAFTA for the latter. With SO many options and lots of vote-splitting, anyone of them could sneak into the 5th slot. Excited for that revelation.

    You mentioned Mara being put into lead possibly, but have you considered that Vikander might get 2 nods?? Since BAFTA shares much of its acting branch with AMPAS, and she scored dual nods there, I’m predicting they’ll put her lead for The Danish Girl and supporting for Ex Machina. Also, I hope Rampling joins her and not Lawrence. Joy is mediocre.

    And in Director, we’d be remiss to forget about Todd Haynes and/or Adam McKay, believe it or not. McKay just got a DGA nod, though that has been more of a BP security barometer in the past. Haynes might have passion behind him to snag the artsy 5th spot, a la Bennett Miller from last year. (As a lone nominee, no less! Perhaps Haynes, too? I think Carol has way more support than Foxcatcher though.) Lenny Abrahamson deserves McCarthy’s spot instead. I agree with you, Spotlight is acting + writing, foremost.

    Ugh, these next 36 some odd hours are gonna be torturous! Just thought I’d share those considerable options though. I hope you are correct about Tremblay, too. Honestly, Supporting Actor is like Lead Actor last year. Should have 10 slots instead. Oy.

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