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Congratulations to Birdman for taking home the Oscar for Best Picture on Sunday night! Now get out of the way. You’re already old news.
We’re kidding, of course. Then Oscar marathon is a grueling affair that lasts months, if not the entire year. But don’t kid yourself into thinking that publicists, studio executives and talent aren’t already looking ahead to the next Oscar season… which might already have kicked off with a few fan favorite films at Sundance. Here’s our ridiculously early look at next year’s potential Oscar candidates, written in virtual pencil:
In The Heart of the Sea
The Light Between Oceans
Me, Earl and the Dying Girl
St. James Place (Steven Spielberg’s Cold War Thriller)
We are going with the highest possible number of nominees that the Academy will allow, guesstimating that 10 films will contend next year. And primarily, this list is made up of films that grabbed perfect release dates for their important-sounding projects. Will Smith tackling the sensitive subject of NFL head injuries. Jake Gyllenhaal and Josh Brolin conquering the massive Mt. Everest. Steven Spielberg reuniting with Tom Hanks for a spy thriller. Only Me, Earl and the Dying Girl has any real buzz, thanks to its smashing Sundance debut. The rest are all wait and see.
Danny Boyle, Steve Jobs
Ron Howard, In The Heart of the Sea
Alejandro Inarritu, The Revenant
David O. Russell, Joy
Martin Scorsese, Silence
This is an estimate based on the talents of the aforementioned filmmakers, and the material they are choosing to tackle. Danny Boyle telling the Steve Jobs story from a script by Aaron Sorkin should catch the Academy’s eye. David O. Russell has become a staple of this category. Inarritu’s recent win could count against him, and Scorsese might not finish Silence in time. But for now, I like the chances of these five men.
Andrew Garfield, Silence
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, The Walk
Jake Gyllenhaal, Southpaw
Could this be Leonardo DiCaprio’s year? The actor has been nominated for four previous performances in the films What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, The Aviator, Blood Diamond and The Wolf of Wall Street. This coming year, DiCaprio is putting his eggs in the basket of recent Oscar winner Alejandro Inarritu for a gritty tale of survival. Just don’t have Leo ask Michael Keaton how actors in Inarritu films fare at the Academy Awards…
Cate Blanchett, Carol
Sandra Bullock, Our Brand is Crisis
Jennifer Lawrence, Joy
Naomi Watts, Demolition
Shailene Woodley, Snowden
The most exciting notion of this crop of actresses is the continued push by young Hollywood to establish itself amongst giants. This, of course, is if Jennifer Lawrence and Shailene Woodley actually CAN get into a category that also may include past nominees (and winners) like Bullock, Blanchett and Watts. The safest bet here has to be J-Law, who frequently appeals to the Academy when she works with David O. Russell. Will Joy bring joy to the Oscars?
Alec Baldwin, Concussion
Josh Brolin, Everest
Cillian Murphy, In The Heart of the Sea
Edgar Ramirez, Joy
Seth Rogen, Steve Jobs
With very little to work with, I went with the movie that should shine spotlights on their powerful casts. Out of everyone here, I think the safest bet is Seth Rogen surprising many by holding his own opposite Michael Fassbender in Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs biopic. This could be a classic case of an expected comedian sinking his teeth into serious material and showing the Academy a new side. That usually works when someone is holding out hope of getting his or her first Oscar nomination.
Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight
Melissa Leo, Snowden
Rooney Mara, Carol
Amy Ryan, St. James Place
Alicia Vikander, The Light Between Oceans
When placing this list together, I finally found room for Quentin Tarantino’s Hateful Eight… a movie that easily could find its way into many of the previous categories if it turns out to be as good as we anticipate. I also have a lot of hope for Spielberg’s St. James Place, and think it could be an outstanding vehicle for the always reliable Amy Ryan, providing she gets a big enough part. We shall see!