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2016 Academy Awards: Predicting The Nominations

After weeks of campaigning, months of tracking, and a full year of Oscar-worthy films being screened, it’s finally time to put up or shut up. The Academy is about to unveil its full slate of nominations for the 88th Academy Awards, which will be handed out during a ceremony on Sunday, February 28. The nominees will be revealed on Thursday morning. But why wait? Let’s guess them right now.

This is a lot harder than you would imagine. This year, above several others, the field seems significantly spread out, with numerous films enjoying waves of passion but no film rising up to claim the coveted mantle of "Frontrunner." If the Golden Globes are an indicator, Alejandro G. Inarritu’s The Revenant has a real shot at several Oscar nominations. However, the guilds and critics groups leading up to the Oscars sprinkled attention on everything from Carol and Mad Max: Fury Road to Spotlight and The Big Short. Where will the Academy land? Here are my bold predictions for the top six categories. I expect to be wrong. Where do we agree? Where do we disagree? Let me know in the comments section below.

Best Picture

Best Picture

Things get tricky right off the bat. The Academy changed its rules a few years back, allowing as few as five films to be nominated for the Bets Picture category, and as many as 10. Because this is a year where so many films have strong support, I’m going to go out on a limb and choose 10 Best Picture nominees, hoping that all of these outstanding movies are able to call themselves Oscar nominees as early as Thursday morning:

The Big ShortBridge of SpiesBrooklynCarolMad Max: Fury RoadThe MartianThe RevenantRoomSpotlightStraight Outta Compton

Best Director

Best Director

In this category, 10 potential Best Picture films have to be reduced to only five Best Director slots. The Directors Guild nominations, released on Tuesday, are usually a good indicator of what will happen at the Oscars in this category. However, the one change I have from the DGA to the Academy is that I believe the Oscar voters will find room for Steven Spielberg, who they tend to adore, or Todd Haynes, who masterfully recreated 1950s New York with Carol:

Todd Haynes, CarolAlejandro G. Inarritu, The RevenantTom McCarthy, SpotlightGeorge Miller, Mad Max: Fury RoadRidley Scott, The Martian

Best Actor

Best Actor

It’s Leo’s year, right? That’s the narrative. It was aided by the Golden Globes, and it will be cemented by the Academy, who will nominate Leonarod DiCaprio for his role in The Revenant. But can anyone beat Leo in this category? Here are the four actors who I think will give it a shot:

Bryan Cranston, TrumboMatt Damon, The MartianJohnny Depp, Black MassLeonardo DiCaprio, The RevenantEddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl

Best Actress

Best Actress

Last year, we had a ridiculously stacked category of Best Actor candidates. This year, the ladies knocked numerous roles out of the park, making for a Bets Actress race that’s harder than normal to predict. Here are the five women who I think have solidified their positions as the 2016 Oscar nominees:

Cate Blanchett, CarolBrie Larson, RoomJennifer Lawrence, JoyCharlotte Rampling, 45 YearsSaoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

Best Supporting Actor

Best Supporting Actor

If it were up to me, I’d fill all five of these Best Supporting Actor slots with the male members of the cast of Spotlight. If you read the site, you know how much I adore that film, and I think everyone in the ensemble is Oscar-worthy. That being said, these five men likely will hear their names when these nominations are revealed. (Now watch, all the Big Short guys will get in):

Michael Keaton, SpotlightMark Ruffalo, SpotlightMark Rylance, Bridge of SpiesMichael Shannon, 99 HomesSylvester Stallone, Creed

Best Supporting Actress

Best Supporting Actress

This may go down as the Year of Alicia Vikander. It’s very possible that she picks up her second Oscar nomination of the day in this category. One nominee I thought was a lock (Rachel McAdams) doesn’t feel like a lock this week. And finally, I found some room for Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, which might not have the best day on Thursday. We shall see:

Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful EightRooney Mara, CarolHelen Mirren, TrumboAlicia Vikander, Ex MachinaKate Winslet, Steve Jobs

Sean O'Connell
Sean O'Connell

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. He's frequently found on Twitter at @Sean_OConnell. ReelBlend cohost. A movie junkie who's Infatuated with comic-book films. Helped get the Snyder Cut released, then wrote a book about it.