Should win, could win and will win predictions for the 2016 Oscars

Last Thursday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced its nominations for the 88th Academy Awards. Ahead of the many Oscar precursors, I posted my risky set of predictions and got 22 out of 34 predictions correct, so not very good. I did, however, correctly predict the entire set of Best Actress nominees. 

With the season well on its way and with a better grasp of what is to come, I present my predictions for some of the Oscar winners, which will be announced on Feb. 28.

Best Music (Score)

Should win: Carter Burwell for his beautiful work in "Carol," which is full of delicious earworms like the track above.

Could win: John Williams for his nostalgic but mostly original, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." Of his five Oscars, only one of them came from the Star Wars saga.

Will win: The long overdue Ennio Morricone for "The Hateful Eight," which borrows some of Morricone's unused tracks.

Best Documentary

Should win: "Amy" may not be as showy as "The Look of Silence," but it is competently directed and accomplished with its usage of extensive archival footage. It is a gorgeous and poetic documentary, yet is more honest in its presentation than "The Look of Silence" even though that may be the better film.

Could win: "Amy."

Will win: "The Look of Silence" is a worthy frontrunner, especially after its director, Joshua Oppenheimer, was snubbed of this same Oscar in 2012 for "The Act of Killing."

For now, it seems like it is strictly between these two documentaries.

Best Foreign Language Film

Should win: "Embrace of the Serpent" is already an early contender for the best film of 2016. Unfortunately, it is not what this group of voters usually goes for despite it being an immersive masterpiece.

Could win: "Mustang" might be a spoiler for "Son of Saul." It is topical and audience friendly whereas, "Son of Saul" may be too cold and inaccessible for the middlebrow Oscar voters.

Will win: "Son of Saul" may just be too strong to beat. It has been the frontrunner since May after winning the Grand Prize of the Jury at Cannes. Furthermore, "Son of Saul" is widely praised as being a huge directorial achievement.

Best Animated Film

Should win: Beautifully animated, profoundly original and hauntingly mysterious, Studio Ghibli’s latest film "When Marnie Was There" will be sadly overlooked on Oscar night.

Could win: Nothing, really. Charlie Kaufman’s "Anomalisa" will be the unrecognized runner-up.

Will win: "Inside Out" by a landslide, as Pixar is a favorite of this branch and is hugely well-liked by all audiences. 

Best Cinematography

Should win: Edward Lachman should win for his grainy, gorgeous cinematography in "Carol" that fully allows watchers to immerse into the ‘50s.

Could win: Emmanuel Lubezki might contend for his third win in a row with "The Revenant." 

Will win: John Seale came out of retirement to shoot "Mad Max: Fury Road." The academy likes a retirement narrative and will want to spread the trophies after rewarding Lubezki two years in a row.

Best Writing (Adapted)

Should win: Phyllis Nagy’s script for "Carol" is pure romance and a strong adaptation of the beloved novel, "The Price of Salt."

Could win: The shocking number of nominations that "Room" achieved on Oscar morning points to huge support from the academy, especially for Emma Donoghue's adaptation of her own novel.

Will win: "The Big Short" is a huge favorite to win. The script is flashy and it was adapted by the academy’s favorite novelist, Michael Lewis, who also wrote "The Blind Side" and "Moneyball."

Best Writing (Original)

Should win: "Spotlight."

Could win: "Spotlight."

Will win: "Spotlight" seems to have this category locked up because it deals with a timely subject and is one of two original screenplays to be in contention for Best Picture.

Best Supporting Actress

Should win: Rooney Mara’s character, Therese Belivet, is often passive and doesn’t have any scene-stealing moments that the academy loves. Regardless, her performance in "Carol" is one of the finest of the year and she deserves any accolade that comes her way.

Could win: Kate Winslet would be a much stronger spoiler if "Steve Jobs" scored a Best Picture nomination, but her performance as Joanna Hoffman is well respected.

Will win: Alicia Vikander’s performance as Gerda Wegener in "The Danish Girl" is topical and she stole the screen from co-star Eddie Redmayne. Vikander has had a huge year and this win would be for her meteoric rise in Hollywood.

Best Supporting Actor

Should win: Mark Rylance is as underrated as they come and his performance as Rudolf Abel in "The Bridge of Spies" is a perfect mix of sincerity and reserved genius. 

Could win: Tom Hardy was maybe the biggest surprise when the Oscar nominations were announced since he didn’t hit a single precursor. Regardless, "The Revenant" scored the most nominations and his villainous performance as John Fitzgerald is something the academy loves.

Will win: Sylvester Stallone’s performance as Rocky in "Creed" is full of paternal energy and he has a huge amount of goodwill in the industry for this performance.

Best Actress

Should win: Charlotte Rampling for her stunning portrayal of martial doubt as Kate Mercer in ’45 Years.’

Could win: Saoirse Ronan as Eilis in "Brooklyn" would be much easier to get behind if the film received more nominations.

Will win: Brie Larson as Ma/Joy in "Room" certainly makes the most sense, especially with the Best Director and Best Picture nominations "Room" accrued. 

Best Actor

Should win: Michael Fassbender for his transformative, titular role in "Steve Jobs." His performance was energetic and much more inspiring than any of the other nominees.

Could win: Bryan Cranston as Dalton Trumbo in "Trumbo." Every time Leonardo DiCaprio has been the perceived frontrunner, a first-time nominee manages to win the statue Oscar night. Throw in a film about one of the academy’s favorite subjects and a highly respected actor and Cranston becomes a spoiler for Best Actor.

Will win: Leonardo DiCaprio as Hugh Glass in "The Revenant." DiCaprio has more than served his dues and the other nominees are very weak.

Best Director

Should win: George Miller for "Mad Max: Fury Road," a daringly original film that could only exist due to Miller’s vision.

Could win: George Miller.

Will win: As strange of a win it would be, Tom McCarthy for "Spotlight" remains the frontrunner until the guild winners are announced.

Best Picture

Should win: Unfortunately, "Carol" didn’t even earn a Best Picture nomination, so I am forced to go with "Mad Max: Fury Road."

Could win: Both "The Big Short" and "The Revenant" seem stronger than "Spotlight" on paper, but they both have sizable problems to overcome. Can "The Big Short" be taken seriously as this is Adam McKay’s first foray into drama? "Birdman" directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu won Best Picture just last year and a Best Picture win has never been rewarded to the same director’s film two years in a row.

Will win: Once again, "Spotlight" remains the frontrunner until the guilds provide more clarity. 

I would like to reiterate one more time that I am not a professional — I simply follow the season and make these predictions based on precursors, previous Oscar nominations and wins, statistics and gut feelings. 

Related Links:

Lesbian drama 'Carol' exceeds labels, becoming one of Hollywood's greatest love stories

After decades-long wait, 'Creed' revives genre of dramatic boxing movies


Reach the reporter at tanner.stechnij@asu.edu or follow @tannerstechnij on Twitter.

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