Movies are made to be seen. That much is obvious. Sometimes, though, directors and actors have to wait an excruciatingly long time to show their movie to a willing audience – when can be incredibly painful when you know the movie you are sitting on is great.

John Crowley’s immigrant song, Brooklyn, played to raves at the Sundance Film Festival in January. Fox Searchlight bought the beautiful love story for $9 million, and started prepping it for a prestigious Awards run. Then? Nothing. Radio silence. So when I sat down with Brooklyn star Saoirse Ronan ahead of the film’s screening at the Savannah Film Festival, I asked her how hard it is to sit on a movie when a festival audience has let you know that it’s good. She told me:
You actually kind of feel like the reaction isn’t going to be as strong [when people eventually see it]. Because you think… you don’t want to just be a one-hit wonder, you know? And so TIFF [the Toronto International Film Festival] was nerve-racking for us because we wanted to get the same sort of reaction.

By the same token, to get the same reaction, and to have people talking about the film in the way that we did – when I talked to my agent or our producers, and they say to us, ‘OK, we just have to let it simmer down a little bit!’ You are so excited. You just want to dive right in to it, start doing press for it, and talk about it. That’s why this is the first time ever that I’ve loved doing publicity, because I love talking about this movie.

My hunch is that Ronan will continue to talk about Brooklyn for the foreseeable future. Crowley has crafted a tender, bittersweet but universal story of change and adaptation, of living and loving. And Saoirse Ronan leads a heartwarming cast in a film that I think will touch a number of older Academy members, enough to help the movie contend in the major categories.

Here’s where I think the Oscar contenders sit on October 26:
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
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Our Brand Is Crisis
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The Walk
While I still believe in the Steve Jobs Oscar train – which will pick up and carry everyone from Michael Fassbender to director Danny Boyle – the meager box office results on the film’s "wide" weekend give me slight pause. Universal says it isn’t pushing any sort of panic button, and that Jobs is the type of movie that is built for the long haul – not the smash-and-grab of an opening-weekend headline. I agree… and yet, still. Pause. But Boyle’s on this chart, and I’m not moving him any time soon.

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
David Gordon Green, Our Brand is Crisis
Bill Pohlad, Love & Mercy
James Ponsoldt, The End of the Tour
Peter Sollett, Freeheld
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

Antonio Banderas, The 33
Bradley Cooper, Burnt
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
Carey Mulligan, Suffragette
Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn
The Dark Horses

Emily Blunt, Sicario
Sandra Bullock, Our Brand is Crisis
Marion Cotillard, Macbeth
Angelina Jolie, By The Sea
Jennifer Lawrence, Joy
Julianne Moore, Freeheld
Charlize Theron, Mad Max: Fury Road
Lily Tomlin, Grandma
The Longshots

Cate Blanchett, Truth
Blythe Danner, I’ll See You In My Dreams
Helen Mirren, Woman in Gold
Carey Mulligan, Far From The Madding Crowd
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
Michael Sheen, Far From the Madding Crowd
Billy Bob Thornton, Our Brand is Crisis
Right now, this is the only category with an actual lock for a nomination. Once Alicia Vikander announced she’d run in Supporting, the category became hers for her stirring turn as a supportive (but confused) wife in Tom Hooper’s The Danish Girl. But who will compete against her? The field is snapping into place, and here are my best guesses.

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
Tilda Swinton, Trainwreck
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