#OscarsSoHassenger: Jesse Hassenger’s Annual Academy Awards Blowout Prediction Special and Airing of Grievances, with Guest Commentary from Your Humble BK Mag Film Editor


Happy #OscarsSoWhite season, everybody! The annual parade of pomp, circumstance, and trapped comedians known as the Academy Awards has been generating the wrong kind of publicity this year, with a dispiriting all-white lineup of acting nominees for the second year in a row. As the Academy tries to sort this out by maybe requiring that the people voting on these awards are actually still semi-active in the movie business, we’re left only to complain, wonder how Chris Rock will handle it, and go, wait, Cube and Dre seriously hired white people to write Straight Outta Compton? Oh, and I guess gamble our cares away on the Oscar pool nearest you. That’s about all the intro you need for what is going to be my usual exhaustive catalog of predictions, preferences, and OUTRAGEOUS SNUBS! Let’s do this thing:


Christian Bale, The Big Short
Tom Hardy, The Revenant
Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight
Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
Sylvester Stallone, Creed
Will Win: It’s sounding more and more like Sly’s got this one all punched up.
Should Win: A strong category, as usual, and former frontrunner Mark Rylance is terrific in a real supporting part while Stallone is arguably the second lead of Creed… but fuck it, give Stallone an Oscar, why not. He probably won’t have another shot at it [Obviously you don’t think the melancholy Coogler-Jordan reboot of The Specialist is happening, then. -Ed.], which is not something anyone else in this category could argue.
Missing: Hey, everyone’s all about Ryan Reynolds now, right? If Mississippi Grind had been released post-Deadpool, I wonder if he would have gotten some awards traction for one of his patented excellent character actor performances within that curse of a leading man’s face and body. Then again, he’s kind of co-lead, and just to clarify, it’s female co-leads who are usually shunted off to the supporting category.

Ed Lachman, Carol
Robert Richardson, The Hateful Eight
John Seale, Mad Max: Fury Road
Emmanuel Lubezki, The Revenant
Roger Deakins, Sicario
Will Win: The natural light, long takes, and you-are-there vantages of The Revenant will be understandably impossible for voters to ignore, even though this will be a stunning three in a row for Lubezki. This will also function as near-airtight proof that voters don’t look at names or records of cinematographers when giving out this award (no actors have ever won three years in a row), which I guess gives their choices a certain purity. Then again, as much as I love Lubezki’s work in Gravity (and his non-winning work in The Tree of Life), maybe dude doesn’t need to win three years in a row.
Should Win: Hard not to pull for the perpetually empty-handed Roger Deakins, and he certainly deserves it by the metric of which cinematographer brought the most to the film in question. Actually, by that metric it’s probably still Lubezki, because he shot a ridiculous movie and made it look beautiful. Curses! Just give it to Deakins. [I would support that partly so we can stop complaining about the Susan Lucci-ing of Deakins and move on to rooting for/actually paying attention to the artistry of another great American cinematographer—like Ed Lachman. If Deakins had won on his first nomination for The Shawshank Redemption instead of (Jupiter Ascending DP[!]) John Toll for Legends of the Fall, a lot more people would have heard of Harris Savides. I earnestly believe this thing, to which I have given more than 60 seconds of thought. -Ed.]
Missing: The cinematography practically gives a lead performance in It Follows.

The Danish Girl
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant

Will Win: Cinderella has the kind of opulence I usually associate with a win here, though I wouldn’t be surprised if Carol sneaks in.
Should Win: I would vote for Carol entirely based on Rooney Mara’s polka-dot pajamas, and subsequent would regret not voting for Mad Max.
Missing: I promised it last year and here it is: Jupiter Ascending had some dopeass costumes and also was a better sci-fi movie than The Martian THERE, I SAID IT. (More on this later, perhaps [“Perhaps,” he said. -Ed.].)


Bridge of Spies
The Hateful Eight
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Will Win: Giving Ennio Morricone an Oscar is too big a story to pass up, right?
Should Win: Hateful Eight had an overture, so give it up.
Missing: I know it’s nominated for a bunch, but there was no more pummelingly memorable music cue this year than those DIN DIN DIN cues from Mad Max: Fury Road.

“Earned It,” Fifty Shades of Grey
“Manta Ray,” Racing Extinction
“Simple Song #3,” Youth [Oh my god they finally completed the “Simple Song” trilogy begun in my adolescence by Portland, Maine’s Rustic Overtones! -Ed.]
“’Til It Happens to You,” The Hunting Ground
“Writing’s On the Wall,” Spectre
Will Win: I’m guessing Diane Warren finally picks one up for co-writing the song from The Hunting Ground, a documentary about campus rape. If nothing else, it’s a great way to block that fucking awful James Bond song from winning and, I guess, for Lady Gaga to continue her Classiness Tour of awards show. [Console yourself with the thought that a vote for “that fucking awful James Bond song” is really a vote for the Sex Octopus of the opening credits sequence over which it plays. -Ed.]
Should Win: I’d vote for whatever song can promise to burn every copy of “Simple Song #3.” Or possibly “Manta Ray” if it is the result of an obscure loophole allowing previously released songs to be nominated so long as they’re Pixies B-sides.
Missing: Ugh, what a sorry lot. It should have been particularly easy for “See You Again,” the tearjerking song from Furious 7, to dominate here. For reasons unclear to me, it did not.

The Big Short
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Will Win: If The Revenant doesn’t dominate the tech categories, Fury Road should emerge victorious here.
Should Win: Fury Road, and for me to pick a big-budget effects-heavy franchise movie that’s not Star Wars here, well, it must’ve been a good one.
Missing: As much as I like The Big Short, the editing struck me as (sort of intentionally) ragged and overbusy, so I’d nix that one in favor of Bridge of Spies.

Embrace of the Serpent
Son of Saul
A War

Will Win: You know Son of Saul is about the Holocaust, right?
Should Win: I didn’t see any of these. I did see Tu Dors, Nicole. That was my favorite foreign-language film of the year. I do want to see Mustang, at least. I bet Mark has a proper opinion on this. [Mustang‘s about feminine self-expression in a constraining patriarchal Islamic family so it ticks a lot of boxes too. (It’s also pretty good.) The correct answer is, of course, The Assassin, but Proust and Vermeer never won Oscars either so w/e. -Ed.]

Cartel Land
The Look of Silence
What Happened, Miss Simone?
Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom

Will Win: Amy seems to be the sentimental favorite, and it makes sense; if there’s anything I can picture a bunch of quasi-artistic Hollywood jerkoff types enjoying, it’s that Amy Winehouse album.
Should Win: I’m not on the doc beat much these days. [Rapold and Mercer are, and they’re trustworthy in these as other matters. -Ed.]

Body Team 12
Chau Beyond the Lines
Claud Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah
A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness
Last Day of Freedom

Will Win: I keep waiting for Vietnam to become the new World War II in terms of documentary awards-grabbing; I’ll keep going with that oft-unsuccessful strategy and say Chau Beyond the Lines will take it.
Should Win: No clue. [Abbey Bender’s rundown of the shorts categories is a good bluffer’s guide. -Ed.]

Boy and the World
Inside Out
Shaun the Sheep Movie
When Marnie Was There

Will Win: Inside Out has this sewn up.
Should Win: I’d love to stump for the Kaufman, but Inside Out is a better movie, straight up. I guess animation really is for kids.
Missing: This is a nicely varied category in terms of techniques and audience, but I have to be an Ugly American and point out that I liked The Good Dinosaur and The Peanuts Movie a lot more than When Marnie Was There.

Bear Story
Sanjay’s Super Team
We Can’t Live Without Cosmos
World of Tomorrow

Will Win: Don Hertzfeldt is a national treasure and World of Tomorrow is as funny, strange, and touching as anything he’s done.
Should Win: World of Tomorrow is easily the best of the five. Cosmos and Sanjay are also quite good. “Bear Story” is a weird combination of sentimental and boring, and there isn’t a whole hell of a lot to “Prologue” beyond Richard Williams showing off some masterful technique.
Missing: The non-nominated shorts of distinction included in this year’s screening package weren’t much to speak of (lots of bad European animation trying to be middling American animation), so I’m not sure if anything is really missing here.

Ave Maria
Day One
Everything Will Be OK

Will Win: It’s a (mostly) grim lot and based on the various (mostly) grim descriptions, I’m guessing Shok wins.
Should Win: I missed this shorts program; when pressed for time, always opt for the animation.

Hattie Mcdaniels With Academy Award

Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight
Rooney Mara, Carol
Rachel McAdams, Spotlight
Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs
Will Win: Vikander has the kind of It Girl momentum that often translates to a win here; Winslet already has one and Mara will be back.
Should Win: She rocks so hard in The Hateful Eight that she should change her name to Jennifer Jason Goddamn Leigh. Truthfully, all five of these performances are very good, but Leigh should win because it feels the most legitimately supporting—no small thing in a category where two performances are unequivocal leads; one is part of an ensemble but arguably the female lead of the movie; and one (Winslet) is default supporting for being a character not named Steve Jobs in a movie named Steve Jobs. That leaves Leigh, spitting and slurring and bleeding up a storm in Tarantino’s ultraviolent western.
Missing: The movie Vikander was actually really good in: Ex Machina. Also, I thought Clouds of Sils Maria was kind of tone-deaf bullshit [As BK Mag film editor a surprising portion of my job is contriving to avoid situations in which Jesse has a platform for expressing incorrect opinions about Assayas movies; I have failed you all, and I am deeply sorry. -Ed.], but I would have loved to see Kristen Stewart sneak in here for her work in it—and there would have been room if not for the category fraud business.

Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

Will Win: Wouldn’t it be hilarious if it turned out that this Man Who Climbed Out the Window movie starred an actual 100-year-old, and voters just checked the box because they figured it was some famous 50-year-old under there? No? It wouldn’t be hilarious? OK, well, probably Mad Max: Fury Road will win.
Should Win: The other nominees may have had moments that were shiny OR chrome, but none were so shiny AND so chrome as Fury Road.
Missing: Jupiter Ascending, guys. Tatum had goat ears! Plus it’s the only good Eddie Redmayne movie so far!

Bridge of Spies
The Danish Girl
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant

Will Win: I have a vague feeling The Danish Girl will win for looking poshest, in an unusually non-posh group.
Should Win: Fury Road is making this “should win” business too easy across the board.
Missing: JUPITER ASCENDING! And also while we’re at it, steal back Redmayne’s Oscar from last year, file off The Theory of Everything from the plaque, and replace it with JUPITER ASCENDING: NEVER FORGET. Also, in the category of subtle production design, which clearly does not exist, It Follows gets a lot of mileage out of dressing its sets so you have no idea what year it takes place in, or if time even exists in that movie. [Because I’m big on pointing out that all movies have production design, not just big-budget period and fantasy movies, I will pick the most random of my several favorite snubs and suggest that What We Do in the Shadows did a pretty swell job imagining what a shared flat occupied by several vampires from different eras in modern-day Auckland would look like. -Ed.]

Bridge of Spies
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Will Win: This is basically the award for sound design (bears repeating because the sound categories are always confusing), so I see this going to The Revenant. [Do you think that as they’re walking up to collect their award they’ll play a loop of Leo’s heavy labored breathing instead of the film’s score? -Ed.]
Should Win: I can’t say I’m heavily invested, but I guess Fury Road or Star Wars.
Missing: Is this someplace I can say that Blackhat deserves a nomination? I’m not even sure if that’s true here. But there isn’t a category for best face-stabbing… YET. Hathaway forever! [BLACKHAAAAAAAAAAT! -Ed.]

Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Will Win: This is the award for sound effects; I’m guessing Fury Road’s sound and, uh, the other thing will lead it to victory.
Should Win: Is it wrong for me to root for Force Awakens because it seems like the closet we’ll get to giving an award to BB-8 directly?
Missing: Can I interest you in some Jupiter Ascending?

Ex Machina
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Will Win: Unless its practical work gets tagged as “more like stunts,” Fury Road.
Should Win: I mean, I love Mad Max and Star Wars, but you gotta give it up for the rare visual effects nominee that cost less than $20 million. In fact, probably the entirety of Ex Machina cost less than the effects budgets of some of these other movies, and the robot effects were still ultra-convincing.
Missing: This is actually a pretty good group; two set in space, one set post-apocalyptically, one set in way in the past with digital bears, and one with a robot lady. I like it. I will give them a pass on not including Jupiter Ascending.

White people: not all bad.
White people: not all bad.

Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
Matt Damon, The Martian
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl
Will Win: Fifth time will be the charm for DiCaprio, previously nominated for What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, The Aviator, Blood Diamond, and The Wolf of Wall Street (where he was also nominated as a producer). I prefer his work in The Departed, Django Unchained, Inception, and The Great Gatsby to the silent screams and not-all-silent grunts of The Revenant, but then again, the mere fact of those other movies I just mentioned kinda justifies the career-aware approach to these things, even though I’d rather go by the actual performance.
Should Win: In a weak year, I guess I’d probably vote for Fassbender—but Leo winning is fine, considering I wouldn’t have even nominated the other three. [Please movie gods when Michael Fassbender wins his Oscar let it be for something like an adaptation of Scotty Bowers’s Full Service or something, not a Sorkin-scripted Great Tech Man biopic. -Ed.]
Missing: It was a (refreshingly?) weak year for male lead performances, which means there should have been plenty of room for Michael B. Jordan as the title character in Creed. It’s a better movie-star performance than Damon’s and a more interesting engagement with cinematic history than Cranston’s and also fuck Eddie Redmayne.


Cate Blanchett, Carol
Brie Larson, Room
Jennifer Lawrence, Joy
Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn
Will Win: It was competitive getting into this category, but once there, it really looks like Brie Larson’s to lose. Though she has less screentime than fellow upstart Saoirse Ronan, she’s more demonstratively emotional and the Academy loves that.
Should Win: Larson is a good (and range-y) actress, though I’d consider a vote for Ronan, who does subtle wonders in Brooklyn.
Missing: Charlize Theron dominates Mad Max: Fury Road with the kind of intensely physical performance voters don’t tend to like as much without crazy makeup or a real-life source. In terms of further-afield choices, Greta Gerwig is a damn miracle worker in Mistress America and Bel Powley killed it in Diary of a Teenage Girl. I’d also suggest Elisabeth Moss for Queen of Earth if there was any way she could accept in-character mid-breakdown.

The Big Short
The Martian

Will Win: Because it’s a supposed Best Picture contender that might otherwise go home empty-handed, I think The Big Short will see its irreverent wonkiness rewarded here. Which means Adam McKay will win an Oscar. Which means I’ll be interpreting it as a make-up for Step Brothers.
Should Win: Actually, maybe The Big Short? It’s hard to give Room too much credit when it’s not as good as the book, and whatever light problems I have with Brooklyn may actually stem from the writing in the back stretch. The Martian has too many dad jokes. So yeah, give it to McKay. For The Big Short, for Step Brothers, whatever.
Missing: Far be it from me to complain about Aaron Sorkin going unrecognized, but I do think the script for Steve Jobs is zippier, cleverer, and all-around more interesting than most of these. If you prefer a quieter kind of talkiness, The End of the Tour was a good one, too. [Bold move to do these after all the acting categories, Jesse. -Ed.]

Bridge of Spies
Ex Machina
Inside Out
Straight Outta Compton

Will Win: See Adapted Screenplay: This is Spotlight’s prize—and as with The Big Short, it’ll even go to the director.
Should Win: I’d say it’s the conceptual audacity of Inside Out versus the idiosyncrasies that the Coen Brothers brought to Bridge of Spies. Give it to the Inside Out team, and maybe enclose a note about how this is what happens when you don’t make 70% sequels and prequels, nerds.
Missing: Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig worked wonders in the hilarious, confident, oddly touching Mistress America, which is the only reason I’m not stumping for Baumbach’s also very funny While We’re Young. Leslye Headland also wrote a hell of a script for Sleeping with Other People, and category standby Tarantino is plenty deserving for The Hateful Eight. A brief moment of optimism, please, over the fact that four and half of the five nominees are very good (sorry, second half of Straight Outta Compton) and that I can still think of four more really good ones that got left out. A surprising revelation in the year of the decades-later sequel and the high-profile auteurist misfire.

Lenny Abrahamson, Room
Alejandro G. Iñárritu, The Revenant
Adam McKay, The Big Short
Thomas McCarthy, Spotlight
George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road
Will Win: After several years of miserabilist slogs, it turns out that Iñárritu has a Best Director trophy-winning formula down pat: technically bravura long takes, putting an actor through a wringer, gesturing at profundity without necessarily touching it. If support for The Revenant isn’t thorough enough for it to dominate, AGI still garners more than enough votes to win, probably: Even if he splits the mad-genius vote with George Miller, McKay and McCarthy will split the smart, socially-conscious vote right back. And this does not, in fact, leave Lenny Abrahmson as the last man standing. [Worked for Tom Hooper. -Ed.]
Should Win: If we want to play degree-of-difficulty games, George Miller made a huge-budget decades-later sequel without its original star, shot it in Namibia with a ton of practical effects, and it turned out to be one of the best movies of the year. So yeah: him.
Missing: Among no-shots: David Robert Mitchell, Noah Baumbach, Leslye Headland. Among medium-shots: Ryan Coogler. Among old favorites: Spielberg! Tarantino! All five of the nominated directors are talented, but only Miller is untouchable for this year as far as I’m concerned.


The Big Short
Bridge of Spies
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant

Will Win: I’m all about picking director/picture splits, and this year seems especially ripe for one; Iñárritu just won Picture AND Director last year, so it might seem like a lot to hand his next movie the same awards again. But if not The Revenant, what? The Producers Guild went with The Big Short, which certainly has the currency; the critics have been favoring Spotlight, which has a more heroic real-life story at its disposal. It’s hard to picture either of those winning, though, after picking up what will necessarily (with far fewer nominations overall) relatively few awards throughout the evening. I have to say, then, that the smart money is still on The Revenant, though something else would be a nice surprise, and the most likely something-else is probably The Big Short. Go get yours, Adam McKay!
Should Win: Vote with your hearts, Academy. And your heads. And your guts. All of those things should be telling you: Mad Max: Fury Road.
Missing: It is my annual tradition to list movies that I prefer to the probable Best Picture winner and/or the worst Best Picture nominee. The Revenant is officially and irretrievably not as good a movie as: It Follows, Mistress America, Bridge of Spies, Inside Out, Sleeping with Other People, Ex Machina, Creed, Mississippi Grind, While We’re Young, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Sicario, Steve Jobs, The Hateful Eight, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Joy, Anomalisa, The End of the Tour, Furious 7, Tu Dors Nicole, The Good Dinosaur, and The Diary of a Teenage Girl. That seems like kind of a lot, written out, huh? [Especially since you’re just doing it off the top of your head, and not looking at a list of 2015 releases, which included Magic Mike XXL. -Ed.]

If you expand out to The Martian, I decree the following additional un-nominated films superior: Focus, The Man from UNCLE, Blackhat, The Walk, American Ultra, The Night Before, The Peanuts Movie, Sisters, and, of course, Jupiter Ascending.

See you next year, when Jupiter Ascending will not be eligible anymore!


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