Top 10 Best Picture Contenders- December 2015 (2 Weeks to Go!)

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As we reach the end of 2015, it’s a time to look at who is in the running for those coveted Best Picture nomination places. It’s been a very busy month this month, with a flurry of precursor announcements, including the SAG Awards nominations, the Golden Globe nominations, and the Critics’ Choice nominations. It’s also meant that there is a massive shift in where the Best Picture race is heading. This month has also seen all of the films in contention having their release, some to wide acclaim, like Alejandro G. Inarritu’s The Revenant, and some to mixed reviews, like David O. Russell’s Joy. With two weeks to go until the Oscar nominations are announced, here are the top 10 films that I am predicting will get into Best Picture.

  1. Spotlight– Far out front in the race, Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight has had an excellent awards season thus far, picking up a Best Ensemble nomination at SAG, a Best Motion Picture- Drama nomination at the Golden Globes, and a Best Picture nominations at Critics’ Choice; and it’s a frontrunner to win all three. It’s likely to pick up nominations for Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Editing, but it is struggling to pick up acting nominations, with stars Mark Ruffalo and Michael Keaton often cancelling each other out in Supporting Actor. That being said, I still think that Ruffalo will get in, as well as Rachel McAdams in Supporting Actress. This, for now, is the one to beat.
  2. The Revenant– As I said earlier, Alejandro G. Inarritu’s follow up to his Best Picture-winning comedy-drama Birdman, The Revenant, has received glowing reviews since it’s premiere earlier this month. Inarritu, who won Best Director last year, is likely to return to the category, and Leonardo DiCaprio is a lock to win his first Best Actor trophy. I can see a scenario in which this leads the nominations, actually, as it is sure to pick up a whole bunch of technical nominations, including Best Cinematography, where Emannuel Lubezki is looking to win his 3rd Oscar in a row, following triumphs for Gravity and Birdman.
  3. Carol– One of the most critically adored films of the year, Todd Haynes’ Carol has had a decent awards season so far, which includes leading the Golden Globe nominations with 5, including Best Motion Picture- Drama. Haynes is likely to get his first Best Director nomination, while Cate Blanchett is in a strong position to get into Best Actress. However, the category confusion/fraud surrounding Rooney Mara could mean that she misses out entirely, instead of getting into Best Supporting Actress, where she is the presumed frontrunner. That being said, the film is likely to get have a very good morning, as it will surely pick up quite a few technical nominations.
  4. Room– The indie darling of the season, Room has gained more and more momentum as time as gone on, and gained many fans along the way, making it a massive hit with Academy members. With 3 Golden Globe nominations under it’s belt, including surprising recognition in Best Screenplay and in Best Motion Picture- Drama, the film has really taken a stride to get itself in a strong position, particularly in Best Actress, where Brie Larson is a decent position to win.
  5. Mad Max: Fury Road– The break out hit of the last month, Mad Max: Fury Road has gone from 100/1 outsider to a major contender, as the action film has won a ton of critics’ awards, and has also been able to translate that recognition to the major precursors, earning nominations for both Best Motion Picture- Drama, and Best Director at the Golden Globes, as well as Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actress nominations at Critics’ Choice. The film’s widespread acclaim from earlier in the year hasn’t lost any momentum, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it got several mentions on nomination morning, as I am currently predicting for it to get into double figures, given the number of technical nominations that it’s likely to get.
  6. The Big Short- Perhaps no other film’s achievements at the precursors were as good as Adam McKay’s The Big Short, which, like Mad Max: Fury Road, has managed to put itself into the forefront of the awards conversation. Receiving 2 SAG nominations, including Best Ensemble, 4 Golden Globe nominations, including Best Motion Picture- Comedy or Musical, and 7 Critics’ Choice nominations, including Best Picture, the comedy-drama has given itself a real shot at getting nominated, and, if it wins SAG Ensemble, it could even challenge the win.
  7. Bridge of Spies– While it hasn’t had the best of starts, you cannot underestimate the appeal of Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks for Academy voters. Bridge of Spies has almost everything going for it: strong reviews, very good box office totals, and some of the most talented people in the film industry working on it. However, the film under-performed at both SAG and the Golden Globes, with Mark Rylance in Supporting Actor being the film’s only recognition. It managed to turn it around slightly at Critics’ Choice, getting nominations in Picture, Director and Screenplay. This could go one of two ways: the way of Catch Me If You Can, and pick up 2 nominations; or the way of Lincoln, and pick up many. Either way, it should show up here.
  8. Brooklyn– Another case of 1 nomination syndrome is John Crowley’s Brooklyn, which has been performing excellently in the Best Actress category, putting Saoirse Ronan in a strong position, it hasn’t been able to replicate it in other categories, which is surprising considering it’s level of acclaim. While it did do well at Critics’ Choice, picking up Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay nominations on top of Best Actress for Ronan, it does look a tad insecure. That being said, it is the only British film in with a real chance, and the Academy loves to put in at least one British film here, so it should do OK.
  9. The Martian– While I do think that its chances have been overestimated, it is difficult to drop The Martian from the top 10, especially as I think Ridley Scott is in a strong position to be at least nominated for Best Director. It did well at the Golden Globes, where it was helped by it category frauding itself as a Comedy, and Critics’ Choice, but missed out entirely at SAG, hurting Matt Damon’s chances in Best Actor. If the Academy chooses Star Wars: The Force Awakens as it’s popcorn cruncher of choice, it’s in doubt, but for now, it should be OK.
  10. Inside Out– Though I honestly think that there will only be 9 Best Picture nominees this year, if there is a tenth, my money is on Pixar’s Inside Out to sneak in. While there are more sensible options to bet on, I have a sneaky suspicion that the Academy will embrace this critically adored animated film, in the same way they did Up and Toy Story 3. It is pretty much locked to be nominated for both Best Animated Feature and Best Original Screenplay, and I think there is enough support for it to get in to the top prize. I think I’ll wait until the PGA nominations before replacing it, don’t bet on it being in my final predictions.

Still in contention: The Hateful Eight, starring Samuel L. Jackson; Star Wars: The Force Awakens, starring Daisy Ridley; Steve Jobs, starring Michael Fassbender; Straight Outta Compton, starring O’Shea Jackson Jr.; Trumbo, starring Bryan Cranston.

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