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Here are our (scarily accurate) predictions for the 2016 Oscars!

By
Joshua Rothkopf
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It's not an exact science, we know. The only certainties about this year's Academy Awards are as follows: Host Chris Rock will offend virtually all the Republican presidential contenders. Also, there will be no winners of color, simply by dint of the fact that none of them got nominated—a shame on the industry. But we'll give it a shot. Setting aside the short-film categories and most of the technical awards to braver prognosticators, here are our picks for this Sunday's Oscars. We'll be live-tweeting the whole shebang at @TimeOutNewYork and updating this page of winners as they're announced.

Best Picture

What will win
For the first time in more than a decade, there’s little consensus as to which movie will prevail—refreshingly, it’s a three-way race, with various professional guilds splitting opinion with their awards. The Screen Actors Guild likes the performance-heavy Spotlight, voters in the Producers Guild of America prefer The Big Short’s panache, and the Directors Guild of America members went with The Revenant. This will make for an exciting reveal at the end of the night. With actors making up the largest portion of Oscar voters, the smart money is on Spotlight.

What should win
Impassioned and quietly courageous, Spotlight would be a worthy winner. We’re also big fans of Brooklyn, a perfectly judged immigrant drama that might seem too intimate for this award. But in our heart of hearts, George Miller’s electric return to form, Mad Max: Fury Road, feels like the most major accomplishment in this bracket.

Best Director

Who will win
If Alejandro G. Iñárritu takes the prize for The Revenant—as we expect—it will be the first time in 65 years that a person has won the directing Oscar two years in a row. (He won last year for Birdman.) The award from the DGA, a reliable predictor, is hard to ignore. And the whole campaign behind selling the film’s worthiness has been about how hard it was to make. All of this will play in Iñárritu’s favor.

Who should win
We’re of the belief that any film—even the bad ones—are hard to make. So barring the embarrassing fact that Carol’s Todd Haynes and Brooklyn’s John Crowley weren't even in play, it’s Fury Road’s George Miller, a 70-year-old veteran working with youthful vigor, who impressed us the most.

Best Actress

Who will win
Room’s Brie Larson has done extraordinarily well in the run-up, winning awards from SAG and multiple critics guilds. Room is also a nominee for Best Picture and Best Director, so strictly in a quantitative sense, more people will see it and potentially vote for Larson, compared with some of her competitors, like the exquisite Charlotte Rampling in 45 Years or Cate Blanchett in Carol.

Who should win
Already, Saoirse Ronan’s performance in Brooklyn feels classic: a subtle yet overwhelming collection of wistful gazes and a maturity that evolves before your eyes. This is some of the best acting of any year, much less 2015. Ronan’s success with the New York Film Critics Circle (full disclosure: I’m a member) marked her as Larson’s main competitor. We’d love to see an upset.

Best Actor

Who will win
The momentum behind The Revenant’s raw-bison-liver-eatin’ Leonardo DiCaprio is impossible to deny. I’m not being contrarian when I say I prefer him in virtually any of his other movies—DiCaprio is a remarkably speedy and verbal actor, so honoring him for this sluggish, near-silent turn seems perverse. Still, there’s precedent: Al Pacino won not for The Godfather or Serpico, but Scent of a Woman.

Who should win
Matt Damon carried the whole of The Martian on his capable, sturdy shoulders: This was an accomplished performance that allowed for self-deprecation, braininess, humor and fear.

Best Supporting Actress

Who will win
It may seem a little like cheating, but voters may want to honor Alicia Vikander not just for The Danish Girl (the performance for which she’s nominated), but the other bazillion movies she appeared in during 2015, including Ex Machina and the underrated The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Vikander arrived like a hurricane, stealing films from their leading men.

Who should win
There’s more of Rooney Mara in Carol than most supporting actors are usually afforded—that’s because her character, Therese, is actually the lead. And as much as we’d love to see Jennifer Jason Leigh take home a statuette for The Hateful Eight (and her brilliant, underrecognized career), Mara nailed it. She’s the most deserving.

Best Supporting Actor

Who will win
Adrian! Sylvester Stallone went the distance in Creed, proving himself capable of subtlety and depth. A longtime Hollywood player and notably unpretentious in real life, Stallone is not someone who needs an Oscar, per se. But the chance to honor him (and hear that speech) will prove too tempting for voters of all ages.

Who should win
The genius stage actor Mark Rylance turned Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies into a quiet master class, playing a long-faced Russian mole who wins over his American defense attorney via some heartbreaking helplessness. A victory for Rylance would be a win for chops.

Best Original Screenplay

What will win
The Spotlight script is a model of smarts, turning the routines of journalism into an absorbing process-driven narrative. As with All the President’s Men, it required great actors to bring it to life, but the blueprint was aces.

What should win
Spotlight is the most substantial script in this bracket, the one that truly merits recognition. But if, for some reason, it loses to Pixar’s Inside Out, revise your Best Picture pick in a hurry.

Best Adapted Screenplay

What will win
One of the most competitive categories of the night, this bracket includes heartfelt and creative literary adaptations (Carol, Brooklyn, Room) and one serious piece of heavy lifting (Drew Goddard’s work on The Martian, which required a near-total injection of humor). But we think The Big Short will take home gold for the script’s cup-runneth-over audacity. It might be the film’s only win of the night.

What should win
A confidante of original author Patricia Highsmith, Phyllis Nagy worked for years on the Carol script, shepherding it through many drafts and potential directors. Her role in making the film happen is significant.

Best Animated Feature

What will win
This one’s a no-brainer. When Pixar is working at the peak of its collective powers—as it was on the psychologically playful Inside Out—there’s no other outfit that comes close.

What should win
That’s not to say the competition is weak: Anomalisa and Shaun the Sheep Movie are both especially worthy (and would have likely won in another year). But Inside Out is better than them.

Best Documentary Feature

What will win
Very often, this award goes to the film that made the biggest splash. This year, that movie is undeniably Amy, Asif Kapadia’s stirring biography of Amy Winehouse, which should make it to the podium on a wave of tears.

What should win
Amy is a great film but Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Look of Silence is even greater: a truly bold piece of work that put Indonesia’s genocidal leaders under the spotlight. It even outdid Oppenheimer’s previous doc, The Act of Killing, for confrontational courage.

Best Foreign-Language Film

What will win
László Nemes’s Son of Saul adds staggering immediacy to the tradition of the Holocaust film—a subgenre we should never grow tired of (and if we have, it’s because of sentimental moviemaking, not the subject).

What should win
Again, it’s Son of Saul, though we’re pleased to see Turkey’s Mustang nominated. That film happens to boast the only female director of the evening’s nominated films, Deniz Gamze Ergüven.

Best Cinematography

Who will win
The American Society of Cinematographers honored The Revenant’s Emmanuel Lubezski at its recent awards—a pivotal indication. He could win the Oscar for an unprecedented three years in a row, following Gravity and Birdman. We think history will be made.

Who should win
Who, you ask? The guy who should have won for Skyfall, Fargo and 10 other movies (yes, it’s his 13th year being nominated): Roger Deakins. His stellar work on Sicario elevated that movie to an almost abstract plane, turning the complex Mexican-American drug war into an alien battleground.

Best Original Score

Who will win
The attention paid to Carol’s acting and writing nominees will translate into a win for the deserving Carter Burwell, a first-time Oscar contender but already well-loved for his work with the Coen brothers.

Who should win

Burwell really does earn it here, and even though we loved hearing the legendary Italian maestro Ennio Morricone return with new material on The Hateful Eight, there just wasn’t enough of it.

Best Original Song

What will win
Honestly, we’re not looking at a “Skyfall” (Adele) or “Glory” (John Legend and Common) this year. The songs are so-so. People may want to honor Lady Gaga for throwing her weight behind the serious issue of campus rape, so we’re going with “Til It Happens to You” from The Hunting Ground.

What should win
Eh. So long as Sam Smith’s egregiously dull “Writing’s on the Wall” from Spectre doesn’t win, we’re fine with whatever.

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