Hammerle’s Oscar Picks for 2016

2016 OscarsOnce again, the Oscars are upon us, and this year it is filled with controversy. Diversity is the buzzword, and it is something that Hollywood needs to acknowledge and meaningfully consider.

No, I am not suggesting that the best performances be based upon race or ethnicity. Best performances are simply the best performances regardless of the color of your skin, and we can’t reach the point where we establish some quota relating to the nominations.

On the other hand, Hollywood does have a problem with race, and that was reflected by last year’s failure to properly recognize Selma and the decision to overlook the tremendous impact of Straight Outta Compton this year. On top of that, it is also hard to justify the nomination of Sylvester Stallone for Creed and ignore the tremendous performance of Michael B. Jordan and Director Ryan Coogler. Furthermore, to nominate Jennifer Jason Leigh, a white actress for The Hateful Eight, and ignore the incredible performance of Samuel L. Jackson is unfortunate by any definition.

However, in defense of Hollywood, it has shown an ability to recognize both transgender and gay issues as reflected by the recognition of The Danish Girl and Carol. The Oscars have clear shortcomings, but one should not ignore progress being made in important areas.

So on to my predictions for this year. Clearly, my prognostications were borderline at best last year, but even the best baseball hitters strike out at times. With that feeble defense, here is what I see coming on February 28th.

PictureThe Big Short

Quite honestly, if it was left up to me, I would pick Brooklyn. And while I loved Mad Max, Spotlight and The Revenant, I feel that The Big Short will win as it did a spectacular job focusing on the economic collapse of 2008.

Actor – Leonardo DiCaprio for The Revenant

He earned it and he deserves it. End of story.

Actress – Brie Larson for Room

Again, if it was left up to me I would split the award between Ms. Larson and Saoirse Ronan for her wonderful performance in Brooklyn. On the other hand, Ms. Larson is colossal in a role that should be remembered, so she is the likely winner.

Supporting Actor – Mark Rylance for Bridge of Spies

Though Sylvester Stallone remains the popular pick, I can only repeat that his nomination is a reminder of Hollywood’s diversity problem relating to race. If old white guys no longer rule, then the award should go to Mr. Rylance for his incredible and emotional portrayal of a Russian spy.

Supporting Actress – Alicia Vikander for The Danish Girl

Ms. Vikander deserves this Oscar, as she also could have been nominated for Ex Machina, Testament of Youth and Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Director – George Miller for Mad Max: Fury Road

This is as crowded field, and Mr. Iñárritu is the overwhelming favorite given that he was recently recognized by the Directors’ Guild. However, it took a genius to make Mad Max work, and this award should go to Mr. Miller.

Original ScreenplaySpotlight

Though Straight Outta Compton or Inside Out may sneak in, Spotlight was far too meaningful to go unrewarded.

Adapted ScreenplayThe Big Short

I would love to see Nick Hornby win for Brooklyn, but The Big Short was great because of this screenplay.

Film Editing – Mad Max: Fury Road

This film was both daring and fun.

CinematographyThe Revenant

The scenery in this challenging film was overwhelming, so it deserves this Oscar.

Production DesignMad Max: Fury Road

The Revenant may win, but Mad Max displayed numerous, unforgettable set pieces.

Animated FeatureInside Out

Regardless of my accuracy on other picks, this one is a certainty. What a lovely film.

Foreign Language FilmSon of Saul

While I haven’t seen the other nominees, it doesn’t matter. And by the way, try to see Labyrinth of Lies, an unnominated film that attacks the Holocaust from another perspective.

Costume DesignMad Max: Fury Road

This was one of the great accomplishments of this multi-nominated film.

Makeup and Hair StylingMad Max: Fury Road

Again, The Revenant may sneak through given the depiction of the wounds suffered by Mr. DiCaprio, but I still think Mad Max will end up with the award.

Visual EffectsMad Max: Fury Road

It received multiple nominations for a reason.

Sound Mixing and Sound EditingThe Revenant

Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Mad Max: Fury Road lurk, but I think these two awards will recognize the bear mauling suffered by DiCaprio.

Documentary FeatureAmy

I’m still profoundly upset that Best of Enemies was left off this list, but Amy is clearly the best of the rest.

Animated Short FilmWorld of Tomorrow

The favorite may be Sanjay’s Super Team, but I think World of Tomorrow’s dramatic theme centering on our past and future may sneak through. And by the way, see the unnominated Lava, which played before Inside Out.

Live Action Short FilmDay One

Though Ave Maria is the favorite, both Day One and Shok will bring tears to your eyes. Day One flattened me, and I suspect it wins the prize.

Original Song – Writing’s on the Wall – Spectre

Quite frankly, this is a category where I hesitate to pick any of them, but I’m going with the recognized work of Jimmy Napes and Sam Smith.

Original Score – The Hateful Eight

Wouldn’t it be ironic if the only Oscar received for Quentin Tarrentino’s uber violent film was for the music?

Documentary ShortA Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness

None of these films have passed my way, but I would be surprised if this film does not claim the award based upon the praise it has received from many quarters.

So there you have it. See how Chris Rock handles the diversity issue and related protests as the host, and let me know what you think.