February 23, 2016 12:39 pm
Updated: February 26, 2016 4:05 pm

Oscars 2016 predictions: picks for this year’s Academy Award winners

WATCH: Global News' entertainment reporter Chris Jancelewicz shares his picks for the big winners at this year's Academy Awards.

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It’s nearing the end of awards season, and it’s almost time for the granddaddy of all awards ceremonies: The Oscars.

The 88th Annual Academy Awards air on Sunday, Feb. 28, starting at 6:30 p.m. ET with red-carpet coverage. This year featured some intense movies, and among the nominees are survival epic The Revenant, which leads the pack with 12 nominations, and the frenetic Mad Max: Fury Road, which isn’t high up on winner-prediction lists, but is a critical favourite.

A-list stars litter the nominees list, but look for relative newbies Brie Larson (Room) and Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl) to take home some trophies. And it looks like it might be Leonardo DiCaprio’s year to finally bring home an Oscar for his astonishing performance in The Revenant.

WATCH: 19th century survival epic ‘The Revenant’ leads Academy Award nominations with 12 nods, including Best Picture.

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NEED AN OSCARS BALLOT? Here’s an interactive one you can use

This year’s Oscars ceremony stands to be one for the record books, since the nominations are under scrutiny over the #OscarsSoWhite controversy (all of the nominees in the major acting categories are white). Audiences will be waiting for host Chris Rock to address the issue, so the ceremony may draw big numbers.

As for picking the winners ahead of time, it’s never an easy task, but this year there are some clear front-runners. Here are my picks for winners in the major categories, each with a short explanation below the choice.

** DISCLAIMER: Don’t email with rage if you lose your office pool because of me. Feel free, however, to disparage me on Twitter if you must.**

Best Picture
The Big Short
Bridge of Spies
Brooklyn
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
WINNER: The Revenant
Room
Spotlight

Why: Ever since the Oscars opened up their Best Picture category, allowing up to 10 films to be nominated, it’s been a tougher field to call. While I would personally select Mad Max as the movie of the year (the feeling of excitement intrinsically tied to this film is still tangible now, months later), The Revenant will most likely take the top prize. It will win only if the Academy voters don’t mind a steamrolling — The Revenant stands to win in many categories — but if they’re trying to avoid a one-note awards ceremony, look for Spotlight to win.

ALBERTA IN THE OSCARS

Part I: How ‘The Revenant’ used Alberta’s landscape to create an Oscar nominee
Part II: Which Alberta cowboys played stuntmen in The Revenant?
Part III: First Nations actors get their Hollywood debut in The Revenant

Best Actress
Cate Blanchett, Carol
WINNER: Brie Larson, Room
Jennifer Lawrence, Joy
Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years
Saorise Ronan, Brooklyn

Why: Buzz has been following Larson since her star turn in Room. She has lots of screen time, and in the film she’s riveting; it’s nearly impossible to take your eyes off of her. She’s up against some major Hollywood heavyweights but:

  • Blanchett has won enough awards to line her mantle
  • Rampling blew her chances with her #OscarsSoWhite statements
  • Lawrence’s hot streak is nearing its end
  • Ronan’s performance in Brooklyn, while good, is a bit too under-the-radar.

So Larson for the win.

WATCH ABOVE: Cate Blanchett, Jennifer Lawrence nominated for Best Actress

Best Actor
Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
Matt Damon, The Martian
WINNER: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl

Why: It’s DiCaprio’s year to finally win his Oscar. If not now, then when? He is brilliant in The Revenant, and is the focal point of the entire movie. Other than Damon in The Martian, no other nominee comes close.

WATCH ABOVE: Best Actor battle features major Hollywood heavyweights

Best Supporting Actress
Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight
Rooney Mara, Carol
Rachel McAdams, Spotlight
WINNER: Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

Why: This category is the hardest, mainly because the nominees deliver fine, solid performances. Personally, I couldn’t get past Winslet’s accent in Steve Jobs, but she’s managed to scoop up some awards for the role. Leigh is one of the only pleasurable things in The Hateful Eight, and Mara is a joy in Carol. Our Canadian girl McAdams, sadly, is probably the last possible winner in this category. Vikander has been receiving accolades for her work since the movie’s release and she’s currently Hollywood’s “It” woman to watch, so look for her to take the Oscar.

Best Supporting Actor
Christian Bale, The Big Short
Tom Hardy, The Revenant
Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight
Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
WINNER: Sylvester Stallone, Creed

Why: Oscar winner Sylvester Stallone. Learn how to pronounce those words, because it’s going to happen. The Academy Awards shows love a gimmick, and seeing Stallone up there grasping a statue is the perfect image. I would be remiss not to mention Hardy’s performance in The Revenant, which is spectacular. Expect to see him nominated in the future; the man literally throws himself into every role.

WATCH ABOVE: Sylvester Stallone nominated for an Oscar

Directing
Adam Mckay, The Big Short
George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road
WINNER: Alejandro Inarritu, The Revenant
Lenny Abrahamson, Room
Tom McCarthy, Spotlight

Why: Another stacked category with a hard-to-predict outcome. It really all depends on the way the Academy wants to go. If it wants to honour a longtime director who’s never won an Oscar, then they’ll choose McCarthy for Spotlight. If they want to reward an outstanding cinematographic masterpiece (shot without CGI!), then Miller will win for Mad Max. I think Inarritu will take it, just based on the vast size and scope of The Revenant. There were moments where my breath was taken from my mouth by the sheer beauty of the film.

READ MORE: Golden Globe 2016 winners: full list of TV and movies awards

Here’s a full list of the 2016 Oscar nominees.

The 88th Annual Academy Awards take place on Feb. 28, with the red carpet starting at 6:30 p.m. ET.

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