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Nothing. The answer to the headline, if we are being blunt, is that Sunday night’s Hollywood Film Awards – which took place at the Beverly Hilton Hotel – can’t really tell us anything about the Oscar race (and I’ll explain why in a second). But some who are building a campaign during these early stages can create a silver lining from this unusual awards show, and I’ll try and fill in why that’s the case.  

The Hollywood Film Awards bill themselves as "The Official Launch of the Awards Season," and that’s sort of accurate. Several films, and their respective talents, that will find themselves in contention for an Oscar attended Sunday’s awards show (which wasn’t telecast, even though the ceremony aired on CBS the previous year). It’s a good opportunity to practice an acceptance speech, and it gives an awards hopeful a little bit of momentum that can be built on, with the right PR campaign.

But the Hollywood Film Awards have often been the butt of harsh jokes and stinging criticism, as the selection process behind the handing out of the annual awards remains a mystery to those outside of the Advisory Team that pre-selects the winners. And the HFAs don’t shy away from the controversy, this year – as they have in years past – choosing to honor films and performances that no one else has seen. Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, for example, took home the Hollywood Ensemble Award. Does that mean the movie is finished? Is it actually awards worthy? Same goes for Will Smith taking home the Hollywood Actor Award for Concussion. Did Sony show the finished movie to the Advisory Team? Does this "victory" mean that Smith’s a legit contender in the Best Actor race… or did he agree to attend the ceremony, thereby locking up his Hollywood Film Awards win?

History suggests it’s the latter. Even Tarantino had to crack a joke at his own expense when he accepted the Hollywood Screenplay Award for Django Unchained in 2012, even though the movie wasn’t finished. He said from the stage:
It's strange to get an award while I'm still in the editing room. [At least] I'll be able to say, 'Hey, you want to take a line out of my award-winning screenplay?'

That’s right. Because in Hollywood, every award win – even the dubious ones – buys you a little bit of power. With that in mind, here’s where I think the Oscar contenders sit on November 2:
oscar winner prediction
The Frontrunners

The Martian
Steve Jobs
The Contenders

Bridge Of Spies
Ex Machina
The Hateful Eight
Inside Out
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
The Dark Horses

45 Years
Beasts of No Nation
The Big Short
Black Mass
By The Sea
The Danish Girl
The End Of The Tour
In The Heart of the Sea
Love & Mercy
Straight Outta Compton
The Longshots

The 33
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Not much changed here. Steve Jobs still struggled at the box office, but no new films made up any ground. AFI Film Fest, which launches on Nov. 5, will bring clarity for movies like The Big Short and By The Sea. Until then…

oscar winner prediction
The Frontrunner

Danny Boyle, Steve Jobs
Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
The Contenders

Lenny Abrahamson, Room
John Crowley, Brooklyn
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, The Revenant
George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road
David O. Russell, Joy
Ridley Scott, The Martian
Steven Spielberg, Bridge of Spies
The Dark Horses

Ryan Coogler, Creed
Scott Cooper, Black Mass
Cary Fukunaga, Beasts of No Nation
Alex Garland, Ex Machina
F. Gary Gray, Straight Outta Compton
Sarah Gavron, Suffragette
Todd Haynes, Carol
Tom Hooper, The Danish Girl
Ron Howard, In the Heart of the Sea
Angelina Jolie, By The Sea
Peter Landesman, Concussion
Adam McKay, The Big Short
Jay Roach, Trumbo
Quentin Tarantino, The Hateful Eight
Robert Zemeckis, The Walk
The Longshots

J.J. Abrams, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Peter Docter, Inside Out
Bill Pohlad, Love & Mercy
Last season, Best Actor was a ridiculously competitive category, with just as many worthy candidates left on the outside of the category looking in as there was five eventual nominees. This year looks equally impressive, though there are a number of films yet to drop. Is this the year that Leonardo DiCaprio finally wins? Or could Matt Damon’s The Martian performance prove to be the spoiler?

oscar winner prediction
The Frontrunners

Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
The Contenders

Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
Matt Damon, The Martian
Johnny Depp, Black Mass
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Tom Hanks, Bridge of Spies
Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl
The Dark Horses

Michael Caine, Youth
Steve Carell, The Big Short
John Cusack, Love & Mercy
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, The Walk
O’Shea Jackson, Straight Outta Compton
Michael B. Jordan, Creed
Ian McKellen, Mr. Holmes
Brad Pitt, By The Sea
Edgar Ramirez, Joy
Will Smith, Concussion
The Longshots

Richard Gere, Time Out Of Mind
Jake Gyllenhaal, Southpaw
Tom Hardy, Legend
Chris Hemsworth, In The Heart of the Sea
There have been a few interesting developments in the Best Actress race, which we’ll continue to track. Cate Blanchett may end up competing against herself (we call that "Pulling a Soderbergh") if her performances in Carol and Truth continue to get recognition. And buzz has reached a deafening level for Brie Larson in Room, allowing me to move her into the Frontrunner category. (We gave the movie a perfect 5-star grade.) As for the rest of the category? Take a look.

oscar winner prediction
The Frontrunner

Brie Larson, Room
The Contenders

Cate Blanchett, Carol
Jennifer Lawrence, Joy
Carey Mulligan, Suffragette
Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn
The Dark Horses

Emily Blunt, Sicario
Marion Cotillard, Macbeth
Blythe Danner, I’ll See You In My Dreams
Angelina Jolie, By The Sea
Charlize Theron, Mad Max: Fury Road
Lily Tomlin, Grandma
The Longshots

Cate Blanchett, Truth
Sandra Bullock, Our Brand is Crisis
Helen Mirren, Woman in Gold
Julianne Moore, Freeheld
Amy Schumer, Trainwreck
Sarah Silverman, I Smile Back
Maggie Smith, The Lady in the Van
More audience members will start to see Spotlight in the coming weeks, as Tom McCarthy’s gripping and airtight journalism drama opens in an increased number of theaters. Hopefully, from there, you all can help me figure out which of the male performers gives the better performance. I was blown away by the quiet fortitude Liev Schreiber brings to his role as the Boston Globe’s new publisher. But he’s equaled by Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Stanley Tucci, John Slattery… really, everyone is awesome. So, who makes the cut? We’ll see, in the next few weeks.
oscar winner prediction
The Frontrunners

Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight
Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
Jacob Tremblay, Room
The Contenders

Tom Courtenay, 45 Years
Paul Dano, Love & Mercy
Michael Keaton, Spotlight
Seth Rogen, Steve Jobs
Liev Schreiber, Spotlight
Jason Segel, The End of the Tour
The Dark Horses

Christian Bale, The Big Short
Jim Broadbent, Brooklyn
Albert Brooks, Concussion
Bradley Cooper, Joy
Robert De Niro, Joy
Benicio Del Toro, Sicario
Bruce Dern, The Hateful Eight
Joel Edgerton, Black Mass
Idris Elba, Beasts of No Nation
Ryan Gosling, The Big Short
Tom Hardy, The Revenant
Oscar Isaac, Ex Machina
Samuel L. Jackson, The Hateful Eight
Jason Mitchell, Straight Outta Compton
Brad Pitt, The Big Short
Kurt Russell, The Hateful Eight
Michael Shannon, 99 Homes
Sylvester Stallone, Creed
The Longshots

John Goodman, Trumbo
Harvey Keitel, Youth
Sir Ben Kingsley, The Walk
Alicia Vikander long has been the frontrunner in this category, not just for her soul-baring work in The Danish Girl (which should earn her an Oscar win, not just a nomination), but in recognition of the exquisite year she had as a performer. I also finally caught Youth last week, though, and I understand why many believe Jane Fonda’s scant bit of screentime will earn her a nod. It’s a showy, vitriolic turn that drips with the resentment of an older actress – and a Hollywodo legend – leveling bitter (but accurate) criticisms at her industry. Biting the hand that has fed her for years? What better way to get Oscar’s attention? I bet it works in her favor come nomination morning.  

oscar winner prediction
The Frontrunners

Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Rooney Mara, Carol
The Contenders

Joan Allen, Room
Elizabeth Banks, Love & Mercy
Jane Fonda, Youth
Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight
Rachel McAdams, Spotlight
Kate Winslet, Jobs
The Dark Horses

Helena Bonham Carter, Suffragette
Melanie Laurent, By The Sea
Melissa Leo, The Big Short
Helen Mirren, Trumbo
Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Concussion
Ellen Page, Freeheld
Marisa Tomei, The Big Short
Julie Walters, Brooklyn
Katharine Waterston, Steve Jobs
The Longshots

Jessica Chastain, The Martian
Dakota Johnson, Black Mass
Diane Ladd, Joy
Julianne Nicholson, Black Mass