With the Oscar Awards coming tomorrow February 29, morning Manila time, it is time for me now to make my fearless Oscar predictions. Here is how I would rank this year's 8 nominees for Oscar Best Picture based on my own opinions when I first saw these films.
1. THE REVENANT 10/10
In the 1820s, on one most unfortunate expedition in the dead of winter in the mountain wilderness, American frontiersman and fur trapper Hugh Glass faced multiple attacks from nature and from fellow man, leaving him severely broken in body but his will pushes him to rise and fight back. Leonardo DiCaprio obviously went beyond the limits of human endurance and comfort to portray the torturous experience of Hugh Glass. Director Alejandro Inarritu and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki treated us to a gloriously moving photography of Mother Nature at its grandest and at its most perilous. (My Full Review)
"The Revenant" is nominated for 11 other Oscars. Leonardo diCaprio is bound to win Best Actor finally. I am rooting for this film to win Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Makeup and Hairstyling and Visual Effects (for that incredible bear attack scene). It is also cited for Supporting Actor (Tom Hardy), Editing, Production Design, Sound Mixing, and Sound Editing.
2. THE MARTIAN 10/10
Mark Watney is an astronaut member of NASA's Ares III mission to Mars. After a freak accident in a Martian storm, Mark gets knocked out cold and was left behind as dead in the emergency evacuation of his crew off the planet. As it turned out, Mark was still alive. Left to survive on his own resourcefulness, skills and expertise in Botany, Mark had to keep himself alive while waiting for NASA back home to make contact with him and perhaps send a mission to rescue him off Mars. Matt Damon was practically a one-man show here. He was responsible for keeping audiences engaged what could have been a boring 2-1/2 hour film of solitude. (My Full Review)
"The Martian" is nominated for 6 other Oscars: Actor (Matt Damon), Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Visual Effects, Production Design and the category for which I am betting for it to win: Best Adapted Screenplay for Drew Goddard's engaging adaptation of Alex Weir's hit sci-fi novel.
3. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD 9/10
In the massive Citadel, a skull mask-wearing tyrant Immortan Joe rules, cruelly withholding precious water from his impoverished subjects. Mad Max Rockatansky has been captured to become a blood donor for Nux, one of Joe's War Boys. Elsewhere, Imperator Furiosa, a female War-Rig driver, helps Joe's five wives escape to the fabled "Green Place" of her childhood. Nux, with Max still attached to him, joins Joe and the other War Boys to pursue Furiosa. This chase leads to a major explosive battle-royale in the desert, one that would cause an upheaval of the balance of power in the outback. Director George Miller was able to mine cinematic beauty from the vicious violence and badass brutality amidst the dirty and dusty dystopian setting. (My Full Review)
"Mad Max: Fury Road" is nominated for 9 more Oscars: Director, Cinematography, Makeup and Hairstyling, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Visual Effects, and the three categories I am betting for it to win: Film Editing (Margaret Sixel), Costume Design and Production Design.
4. SPOTLIGHT 9/10
A group of newspapermen from the Boston Globe display their remarkable tenacity and boldness in researching, writing and publishing this contemptible scandal of child-molesting Catholic priests and its cover-up to the public. Their fluid ensemble acting was amazing to witness on that screen. While only Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams earned Oscar nods as supporting performers, but really it was a grand team effort to pull this through. director Tom McCarthy managed to wrestle the contentiously difficult material of "Spotlight" and translate it into a vivid, engaging and very thrilling film. (My Full Review)
"Spotlight" is nominated for 5 other Oscars: Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Screenplay and Best Editing. I think its best chances to win would be in Best Original Screenplay for Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy.
5. ROOM 8/10
There were only two characters: a long-haired 5-year old boy Jack and his young mother Joy, who kept Jack trapped inside a small room with only a skylight for him to see the sky outside. However, when stick with it, you will be rewarded with an unexpected turn of events that will teach you the virtue of not judging a film from its first five minutes. The real situation of mother and son that reveals itself will be beyond your wildest expectations. (My Full Review)
"Room" is nominated for 3 other Oscars: Best Director (Lenny Abrahamson), Adapted Screenplay (Emma Donoghue) and its best bet for a statuette: Best Actress for Brie Larson.
6. BRIDGE OF SPIES 8/10
In 1957, at the height of the Cold War, James B. Donovan, a top-notch insurance lawyer based in New York City, was conscripted by the US government to perform a thankless duty-- to defend Rudolf Abel, an elderly Russian artist accused to be a spy. Public disdain did not stop Donovan from fighting for the rights of his client. He even agreed to go on his own private capacity to negotiate a trade of prisoners in East Berlin -- Abel in exchange for two young Americans caught in the crossfire. (My Full Review)
"Bridge of Spies" is nominated for 5 other Oscars: Supporting Actor (Mark Rylance), Original Screenplay, Original Score, Sound Mixing, Production Design. Rylance would have been a good bet to win, however, he is up against a big name star Sylvester Stallone.
7. THE BIG SHORT 7/10
This film followed the interconnecting individual stories of a few maverick financial gamblers as they made unusual, high risk yet critical investments in the housing sector which would eventually lead to the US financial crisis of 2007. Screenwriter/director Adam McKay tried his best to explain all the financial gobbledygook involved in this technically-complex story. Frankly though, it was still difficult for me to get through a huge part of the film precisely because of those finance jargon. (My Full Review)
"The Big Short" is nominated for four other Oscars: Best Director (Adam McKay), Supporting Actor (Christian Bale), Adapted Screenplay and Film Editing. I do not see it will win anything.
8. BROOKLYN 7/10
In 1952, Eilis Lacey, a young woman from a small Irish town, bravely accepts the opportunity to travel and try her luck in Brooklyn in New York City, where a lot of Irish folk have migrated to seek greener pastures. She will have to choose between two countries and two men. Saoirse Ronan played Ellis with so much elegance and grace, an uplifting performance of a role which may be seem so ordinary in the hands of a lesser actress. (My Full Review)
"Brooklyn" is nominated for two other Oscars: Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Actress for Ms. Ronan. I am afraid this film will also be going home empty-handed.
My bets for the other categories:
Best Supporting Actor: SYLVESTER STALLONE ("Creed") (My Full Review)
Best Supporting Actress: ALICIA VIKANDER ("The Danish Girl") (My Full Review)
Best Animated Feature: "INSIDE OUT" (My Full Review)
Its nomination in the Best Original Screenplay category shows how highly regarded this Pixar film is . Its accompanying animated short SANJAY'S SUPER TEAM should also be a cinch in winning the Oscar for Short Film (Animated).
Best Sound Effects / Sound Mixing: "STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS" (My Full Review)
Best Foreign Language Film: "SON OF SAUL" (Hungary)
Best Music (Original Score): ENNIO MORRICONE ("The Hateful Eight")
Best Music (Original Song):
I like "EARNED IT" by The Weeknd to win, but being from "Fifty Shades of Grey" (My Full Review) will work against it. I see a close fight between "The Writing on the Wall" by Sam Smith from the latest James Bond film "Spectre" (My Full Review) and "'Til It Happens to You" by Diane Warren and Lady Gaga from the documentary film on sexual assault "The Hunting Ground." Sam Smith may have won the Golden Globe, but I think Lady Gaga may have the upper hand here in Oscar.