2016 Oscar Nominations & Predictions

Cary, NC — The 2016 Oscar nominations are out. Find out which actors and what films were nominated and read our movie expert’s opinions and best guesses on what – and who – should win this year’s Oscars. 

A Controversial Year

Ah, my favorite time of the year – Oscar time!

With its lack of diversity among the nominees, this year has seen some controversy – and rightfully so.

Nothing for Idris Elba for his frightening performance in Beasts of No Nation? No Ryan Coogler or Michael B. Jordan for directing and starring in Creed (one of my absolute favorites from last year)? No Best Picture nomination for Straight Outta Compton, a surprisingly effective and “of the moment” movie that had every right to be in the race?

2016 Oscar Nominations

But, alas, the nominations are out, and there are still plenty of great movies that are being recognized.

So, like past years, I’ll go over the nominations and give a thought or two about what will win, what should win and what should have been nominated. Here we go!


Best Actress

Jennifer LawrenceJoy
Saoirse RonanBrooklyn
Cate Blanchett – Carol
Brie LarsonRoom
Charlotte Rampling45 years

I love Jennifer Lawrence, but the nomination here baffles me a bit. She’s one of those actresses who doesn’t know how to be bad, but Joy was just okay at best, and this was hardly Lawrence’s best performance.

That being said, it seems to be Larson’s year.

Room is one of those movies that I’m kicking myself for not having seen yet, but Larson’s won just about everything under the sun this awards season. And don’t count out Blanchett – never count out Blanchett. Her movie, Carol, was expected to be a shoe-in for a Best Picture nomination, and, since it has failed to garner one, the Academy could make up for it here.

Predicted Winner? Brie Larson

Best Actor

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

Okay, this is definitely one of the toughest categories this year. Matt Damon was essentially a one-man show in The Martian, and he killed it. Only a handful of movie stars have been able to pull something like this off before, and Damon showed he’s one of the best we’ve got right now. But Fassbender was so captivating in Steve Jobs, a movie I’m surprised didn’t get a lot more love this year. Then there’s DiCaprio. This is his sixth Oscar nomination, and I believe his time has come.

Plus, he’s so good in the role that it’s hard to argue, and I can’t help but think that this will all feel like a make-up Oscar – rewarding a body of work more so than the individual performance. If I had my way, he would have won in 2004 for his turn as Howard Hughes in The Aviator. But hey, this is the world we live in. Congrats, Leo! You’ve earned it!

Predicted Winner? Leonardo DiCaprio

Best Supporting Actress

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

This is another tough one. There hasn’t really been a clear front-runner yet, but, since I have to pick, I’m gonna go with Leigh for her vicious turn in Tarantino’s epic western. This was another movie that didn’t get a lot of love this year, but I imagine time will be good to it. I love that they nominated Vikander; I just wish they had done it for the right movie (Ex Machina).

Also, I think Winslet could sneak in here. She just won the Golden Globe (which doesn’t mean much), and she really was fantastic in the role. Still, I’m gonna go with my personal favorite on this one.

Predicted Winner? Jennifer Jason Leigh

Best Supporting Actor

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

I’m so glad to see Hardy nominated here – he was the real MVP of The Revenant. Mark Rylance was a highlight in a film full of highlights with Bridge of Spies. I love Bale in The Big Short, and I love the film even more. Ruffalo has been good in just about everything he’s ever been in, and his day will come.

However, this is Stallone’s all the way. His heartbreaking return to Rocky Balboa is the finest work he’s ever done. It’s a performance filled with melancholy and warmth. This character is easily one of my all-time favorites, and Stallone knows him inside and out. I cannot wait to see this guy finally on the Oscar stage.

Predicted Winner? Sylvester Stallone

Best Director

George MillerMad Max: Fury Road
Alejandro G. InarrituThe Revenant
Adam McKayThe Big Short
Tom McCarthySpotlight
Lenny AbrahamsonRoom

This one is between Miller and Inarritu (the same will happen in the Best Picture category). Although I think it’s just so incredible that McKay, director of Anchorman and Step Brothers, is in this category as well, and deservedly so. But, again, this one comes down to two. Both films and directors have been picking up plenty of wins in this category, but I’m gonna give the edge to Miller. His return to the 40 year-old franchise was truly unlike anything else we’d ever seen, and the fact that a 70 year-old directed the pants off of everyone else this year can only help.

I won’t be too surprised if Inarritu wins here – he did last year – but I believe the Academy will get this one right.

Predicted Winner? George Miller

Best Picture

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

This is a great list. The rules state that anywhere between five and 10 films can be nominated here, and, since that change, the number is always closest to ten, which, to me, is a very good thing. There’s always room for 10 movies in any given year. This year, though, it’s between The Revenant and Mad Max: Fury Road.

I think the big winner of the night will be The Revenant. I totally get it, too. It’s a period epic with big movie stars and a troubled production history. The Academy loves this kind of stuff, especially when the movie turns out to be as good as The Revenant.

My preferred winner, of course, is Mad Max: Fury Road. I’ve been amazed at how well it has been received this awards season, and, if there is any movie that can sneak past The Revenant, it’s Max. But, in the end, I think it’s just too unique and too weird for the Academy. That’s okay, though – Max has already earned its place among the top action films of all time and won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

Predicted Winner? The Revenant

Save the Date

Tune in on February 28, 2016 7e/4p on ABC to see how right (or wrong) I got it!

Jordan Hunt covers movies for CaryCitizen. Read his Movie Reviews. Photo by nuuhah.

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