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The 2016 Oscar Nominees, Predicted Today

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:

Best Picture

Best Picture



In The Heart of the Sea

The Light Between Oceans

Me, Earl and the Dying Girl

The Revenant


Steve Jobs

St. James Place (Steven Spielberg’s Cold War Thriller)

The Walk

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.

Best Director

Best Director

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.

Best Actor

Best Actor

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…

Best Actress

Best Actress

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?

Best Supporting Actor

Best Supporting Actor

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.

Best Supporting Actress

Best Supporting Actress

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!

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

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.