Oscars 2016: What I Think Will Be Nominated

This is the article I build toward every year. You’d think it was the Top Ten list, or Oscar night picks. Nope. This is the one I look forward to most. Because I think I might be the only person that straight up tries to pick all the Oscar nominees, from Best Picture on down to Best Live-Action Short.

Typically each year there are about 120 nominees. Give or take one or two. The fluctuation on the Best Picture list is what decides what the final number is going to be. The max we can have is 123. Generally we have either 121 or 122. I try to get 2/3 of them right, but I feel good if I hit around 70%. Which is around 85. Last year I got 95, which was 78.5%. I have no illusions about getting anywhere near that number again. I tend to hit low 70s — which is 85/86. That I’d feel happy with. 75% as an average would be amazing. If I can crack 80%, I’d be ecstatic.

The way I do this is break down, category by category, go over all the precursors and all the little details that most people overlook/all the stuff I’ve learned from experience, and I tell you why I think everything I pick will be nominated.

I feel very confident in saying that no one gives you as in depth coverage on this as I do. Which is to stay that no one is stupid enough to pick 123 potential nominations and grade themselves on how they do.

(I say, as I always do, that I reserve the right to change anything all the way up through midnight tonight, but honestly… I never do that. But I like to have the option in case I have a moment of inspiration. Or stupidity. Which are often one and the same.)

We start, as always, with Best Picture.

Here’s how this works: every Academy member gets a vote for Best Picture. They rank their top five. In order to be nominated, a film has to be on at least 5% of the total number of ballots. It also needs to be #1 on at least 1% of ballots. If it doesn’t appear on 5% of ballots, and isn’t #1 on at least 1% of ballots, it can’t be nominated. And then, the math starts.

There are different thresholds for being nominated. It depends on how many votes are cast. The number required to trigger a nomination is this: the total number of ballots, divided by 11, and then rounded up. That number becomes x, the magic number. Say 6,000 votes are cast. 6000/11 is 545.45, rounded up makes it 546. So 546 is now your number to be nominated. (Because ten films can be nominated. So ten films with 546 votes equals 5,460, meaning the eleventh film can get a maximum of 540 votes, not hitting the magic number.) Got it? Okay. Now it’s gonna get more complicated.

Say, of the 6,000 votes, 20% of people have La La Land #1 on their ballots. That’s 1,200 first place votes. But La La Land only needs 546 votes. So what happens is, 546 votes go to La La Land, and it’s nominated. The remaining 654 votes are distributed to the next film on those ballots that is still in play. Meaning, say 250 of them have Moonlight as #2. That’s 250 votes for Moonlight, before we even get to however many #1 votes Moonlight has. Now say 24 people have A Monster Calls as #2, but A Monster Calls didn’t get 1% of the first place votes. Then A Monster Calls gets skipped, and we go to #3. And say, for simplicity’s sake, that all 24 of those ballots had, as their #3, Arrival. Then Arrival gets those 24 votes. Though, if Arrival is already nominated, due to the same surplus reason as La La Land, then it’s not in play, and we go to the next one. Eventually, a film will get a vote, or that vote will drop off. (The only thing that I, personally, am not entirely sure of, is what order the ballots are counted. Who says which ones count toward the 546 and which ones are surplus? I don’t know.)

We go all the way down until we have a set number of movies that hit the magical threshold for a nomination. Therefore, the way to get a film nominated is for it to appear on the most ballots. So the way to guess this is to think what film is going to be liked by enough people to be on enough ballots to get the numbers it needs.

A film doesn’t have to be #1 on all the ballots. It can be #2 or #3, as long as it’s the film behind the first place film that gets an excess number of ballots necessary to be nominated. So La La Land and Moonlight can be on 75% of the ballots, but if those ballots all have Hell or High Water and Hacksaw Ridge as their second choices, those movies are going to also get on, even if they got 3% of first place overall votes.

There’s a lot of math here, so just think about it as you always have: “Which movies are going to be liked by the most amount of people?” Oh, and you should also look at the Producers Guild, since they’re pretty helpful in figuring that out.

Last year, there were only 8 Best Picture nominees. The PGA, in nominating 10 films, had 7 of them the same as the Academy. They missed Room, while also nominating Sicario, Ex Machina and Straight Outta Compton. 2014, they had 7 of 8, missing Selma. 2013, they had 8 of 9, missing Philomena. 2012, they had 8 of 9, missing Amour. 2011, 7 of 9, missing Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and The Tree of Life.

At worst, the PGA is gonna miss a maximum of two Best Picture nominees. Which is pretty good. The lower the Best Picture total, the higher the chance they get all or all but one correct. You can bet on the PGA to get at least 7 right any given year (assuming there are seven overall nominees). Of course, the question then becomes — which seven?

This year, the PGA nominees are:

Arrival, Deadpool, Fences, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures, La La Land, Lion, Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight

Taking those ten as a given, the other films you have to consider to be in the conversation for a nomination are: 20th Century Women, Captain Fantastic, Florence Foster Jenkins, Jackie, Loving, Nocturnal Animals, Silence and Sully.

Typically you only get 6-8 more on top of the 10 PGA nominees that actually can conceivably get any sort of support.

To give you all the data to work with, here’s what the other precursor bodies voted for:

The BAFTA Best Picture nominees are:

Arrival, I Daniel Blake, La La Land, Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight

The BFCA Best Picture nominees are:

Arrival, Fences, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, La La Land, Lion, Loving, Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight, Sully

The Golden Globe Best Picture nominees are:

(Dramatic) Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Lion, Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight

(Musical/Comedy), 20th Century Women, Deadpool, Florence Foster Jenkins, La La Land, Sing Street

And, because it helps, the SAG Best Ensemble nominees are:

Captain Fantastic, Fences, Hidden Figures, Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight

That should help you get a gauge on where everything is at. To begin, we break down the eight fringe contenders that weren’t on the PGA list:

20th Century Women has gotten almost no traction anywhere except for Annette Bening. And even she’s not a lock. I can’t imagine that gets enough votes to get a nomination. How many people are gonna have this at #1? A handful of #5s don’t do anything for you unless a lot of luck happens in 1-4. Not feeling this one, even though you have to semi-consider it because it is in that conversation.

Captain Fantastic was one I thought could have been a surprise PGA nominee. Viggo Mortensen hitting every list for Best Actor and the SAG Ensemble nomination showed that there is support for it out there. I don’t think there’s nearly enough to get this nominated, but I will give it a slight chance. Though you’d have to be really bullish about its chances to even put it #10 on your list. Seems like one of those movies you mention, don’t pick, but talk up enough to where, if it does happen, “Hey, I said it could happen!” Because at least then you sound smart for being one of the few people who brought it up. Then when asked why you didn’t have it? Human error. Nobody’s perfect.

I mention Florence Foster Jenkins because that was my other potential surprise PGA nominee. I don’t think this would ever happen, but it’s just such an odd choice that you feel they could make it. This could be your Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close for this year. Though I highly, highly doubt it. Maybe if there were a fixed ten nominees it would stand a better chance, but with the current voting method, this shouldn’t get anywhere near the list. But with Meryl likely getting on for Best Actress and a potential Hugh Grant nomination swirling about, and one, maybe two other tech nominations looming, this could catch a few stray votes. Though I’m more inclined to see this taking votes away from some of the other contenders than gaining enough to make it on. But, I mention it because… this could happen, and not many people are gonna say that. This wouldn’t be in my top fifteen (logical) contenders to get on, but if it does happen, know that I said it could. You can’t rule anything out with these old codgers in the Academy. (Note: They are trying to lower the median age, and its working, but they’re not there yet. So stuff like this still could hang on. If there’s ever a year where you’ve learned not to trust the pundits and their estimations…)

Jackie is a film that just hasn’t really caught on. It’s really liked by a lot of people, but also there are people who were put off by it. I know enough to know that a film that is either difficult visually or thematically (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Nightcrawler) tends to not get nominated for Best Picture because of that. Not that this is particularly difficult thematically, but this fits that realm. This is the film that some people are gonna dismiss as “pretentious art shit.” Or be disliked by many of the voting body who are of this era and hold the image of Jackie Kennedy sacred and don’t want her to look so controlling and manipulative. Which makes it feel prime for that film that gets 3-4 overall nominations but no Best Picture nomination. It could happen that it gets on, so it’ll definitely feature fairly prominently in my predictions, but something tells me trying to slot this in when I can feel the lack of love for it is a fool’s errand. So let’s stay tepid on this one, despite the urge to give it a shot. The lack of PGA love was telling.

Loving hasn’t caught any traction anywhere. And while, earlier in the season I was assured that this would get at minimum two acting nominations, even those aren’t a sure thing at this point. This will get votes, but without any real kind of support from the guilds, you have to consider this a long shot at best. Any kind of a stronger showing, I’d have maybe thought about putting it at the bottom of my list as a possible surprise entrant. But I’m not seeing it. BFCA is the only place to nominate this for Best Picture. Not even the Indie Spirit Awards or major critics groups nominated it. Fences has much stronger support all around and seems to have gotten the support this film should have gotten. So I’ll leave this as a long shot and focus my attention on its chances in the acting categories.

Nocturnal Animals is the one non-PGA film that I feel stands a really good chance at a nomination. BAFTA loved it, the Globes loved it (not that they particularly matter) and I think this will factor into a lot of people’s nominations list. Now, the rub therein lies in the fact that a lot of people will have it on their lists as #3, #4 or #5. You see, BAFTA didn’t nominate it for Best Picture, despite it getting something like 9 nominations. That could be a situation here. It’s not automatic that this film will be nominated, but it will have the support to, if the math works out right to put it over the top. This could get squeezed out like Nightcrawler did. So keep this one in mind very closely, but don’t automatically assume it gets on. Let’s put a pin in this and pick it up when we get more shored up with the selections.

Silence is the most perplexing Martin Scorsese movies in a number of years. If you look back at all his work since 2000, only Shutter Island failed to get any support at the Oscars. All his other movies were nominated for Best Picture. So history speaks for this making it on. But the reception for this was really lukewarm, with more respect than adoration. And respect don’t get you nominated. Given its length and not particularly interesting (on the surface) subject matter, there’s a good chance a lot of people skipped this one altogether or didn’t like it enough to put it any higher than fourth or fifth on their ballots. I don’t think he gets automatic “Scorsese” votes (something we’ll talk about again with our next contender). Not at #1. And this is a film that’ll need some #1s to make it. This didn’t hit any of the precursors, and while you could say its because it came out so late — Wolf of Wall Street managed a lot of precursors despite the same thing. Maybe this has enough to sneak on as a bottom tier nominee, but this would be a situation like Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, where you didn’t hear any real support for it anywhere and then it shows up as a nominee. At least, in this case, the film wasn’t out and out disliked and it does have a beloved auteur at its helm. I’ll consider this a solid dark horse and maybe even first alternate, but my gut tells me that aside from a few tech nominations, this won’t make much of a showing at all. (Look for it to make a Kundun type showing. Four tech award nominations only.)

Sully. It’s Eastwood. He’s tricky. Since they love him, and he always gets these types of nominations. But the PGA didn’t nominate him this year. They nominated him for American Sniper and Invictus, both of which got nominated for Best Picture. I feel like, were there actual support for this film, rather than a general affection and feeling of, “That was pretty good,” I’d feel stronger about its chances. I’m going to (possibly stupidly) keep this near the top of my predictions, because I’m never going to rule out Clint Eastwood getting onto the Best Picture list, but I don’t really think this will be nominated. I just don’t feel the love anywhere. They’ll give him a Sound Editing nomination and some minor bone, but that’s about it.

Okay, so those are done. Now let’s get into the known.

The films I consider to be mortal locks for Best Picture, based on what we have in the way of precursors:

Arrival, La La Land, Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight

Manchester by the Sea and Moonlight are the only two films to hit all five of the precursors. That’s PGA, BAFTA, BFCA, SAG Ensemble and the Globes. You’d be insane not to put those on.

La La Land hit 4/5, missing only SAG Ensemble. Again, insane not to put that on.

Those three are the locks, and they will be nominated.

The next highest combination we have is Arrival, which hit PGA, BAFTA and BFCA. The other two are practically irrelevant anyway. You hit those three, you’re basically locked in.

So that’s four of the five automatics to begin with. Now all we gotta do is figure what the fifth spot is gonna be. Since we’re guaranteed only five.

BAFTA’s final nominee is I, Daniel Blake, which won’t be nominated. Which means we take BAFTA out of the equation from here on out. That means you’re looking at a combination of PGA/BFCA/SAG. And the Globes become a supporting piece for confirmation bias.

  • Hacksaw Ridge has PGA, BFCA, Globe
  • Hell or High Water has PGA, BFCA, Globe
  • Lion has PGA, BFCA, Globe
  • Fences has PGA, BFCA, SAG
  • Hidden Figures has PGA and SAG
  • Deadpool has PGA and the Globe

And then you have Loving and Sully with BFCA nominations, Captain Fantastic with SAG, and 20th Century Women, Florence Foster Jenkins and Sing Street with Globe nominations. You see why I’m not really considering them major contenders.

Looking at that list, your fifth spot should either be Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, or Lion. I think, with that combination of precursors, they’re all pretty much likely nominees, so that’s 5-7. The only question is which you put the chips on to be guaranteed. It’s probable you can’t go wrong, but you also don’t want to fuck that one up. I feel safest taking Hell or High Water, even though the “classical” Best Picture choice is Hacksaw Ridge. Lion feels like a standard Weinstein nominee, that you put near the bottom and feel confident about its chances to get on, because Harvey finds way to get votes. Especially with something as effective as this film. (And it got a DGA nomination. There’s support there.) That wouldn’t be my #5 unless I was supremely confident, which I am not. Though based on numbers and relative support (a DGA nomination?), that probably should be my #5.

So now, to get into the logistics of it all — since Best Picture is not guaranteed above five nominees, I pick my five locks and then rank 6-10. So that way, wherever the list ends, that’s where my list ends. Last year had 8 nominees. So my list stopped at #8. Which meant my #9, Room, which I figured would get on, but wasn’t confident enough to guess above Carol, my #8, wasn’t part of my guesses and counted against me. Had I flipped Room and Carol, I’d have had Room right and missed out on Carol, which missed the cut, and was likely the #9 vote-getter. (Thus also negating my point of “Harvey will get a movie on.” I am nothing if not accountable for the bullshit I say.)

I don’t try to pull that shit, “Here’s my ten, and if eight of my ten are nominated, it doesn’t matter what order I had them in, I was right.” No. I keep myself honest. Which is why this might be the most straightforward Oscar coverage you’re gonna get. I’ll tell you when I’m just justifying my own logic. (As in, “Harvey will get a movie on.”)

So since my top five choices are gonna be Arrival, Hell or High Water, La La Land, Manchester by the Sea and Moonlight, I’m ranking from here on out.

Since I think Hacksaw and Lion are gonna get on, I’m gonna make those my #6 and #7. I feel pretty confident about both their chances of making it on and I think those top seven films being your top seven, you will get them all right.

That leaves three spots. And these are always the most difficult to figure, because here’s where flipping two choices could mean the difference between getting all the nominees correct or missing one. And it’s a choice I get wrong every single year.

I only have about five real contenders for those three spots:

From the PGA nominees, we have Hidden Figures and Fences. Then, I think Nocturnal Animals has the most support elsewhere to garner a potential nomination. And then the two standbys that I refuse to throw out are Silence and Sully. (Since I truly don’t believe Deadpool is getting a Best Picture nomination. Nor does anyone else, really. It’s just being hyped up by headline writers looking for clickbait. We get these articles every year. Last year was Straight Outta Compton. That’s the comparison. And I feel like at best, that’s what Deadpool is looking at. A Screenplay nomination. Which in itself would be a great achievement.)

Silence is Scorsese, but even Wolf of Wall Street, which came out late, got PGA, BFCA and other nominations. Silence has been… silent… throughout the race. Hard to think it suddenly gets on out of nowhere. Sully at least has a BFCA nomination to its name. But even then, I have more empirical evidence to say Deadpool will make it on than this or Silence will.

Which pretty much means my 8, 9 and 10 will be a combination of Hidden Figures, Fences and Nocturnal Animals.

Fences has a PGA nomination, a SAG Ensemble nomination and a BFCA nomination. That should normally assure you a nomination, but I’m not so sure. It will likely make it on, but do I feel it over Hidden Figures? I don’t know if I do.

Hidden Figures has PGA and SAG. It has zero BFCA nominations, which tells me they didn’t see it in time. Otherwise it surely would have managed one. With six acting nominees and a weak Supporting Actress year? Oh yeah, they’d have nominated it if they’d seen it. So that makes me think that it’s definitely gonna get a Best Picture nomination and I should make that my #8.

That would make Fences my default #9, based on empirical evidence of support, and far down the list enough to feel like it’s not automatic but if the list expands enough it will be a nominee.

And then we have Nocturnal Animals, which doesn’t automatically feel like a contender, and has almost no Best Picture nominations in the precursors to show for itself. Not even at the Globes or BAFTAs, who seemingly loved it, based on the support it got elsewhere. I think it could get on, but I’m not gonna put it too high to say it’ll beat out the other ones. Maybe swap it with Fences for the #9, but I think those top eight are definitely your top eight.

Best Picture


Hell or High Water

La La Land

Manchester by the Sea


6. Hacksaw Ridge

7. Lion

8. Hidden Figures

9. Fences

10. Nocturnal Animals

First Alternate: Silence

Dark Horse: Jackie

Surprise: Captain Fantastic, Loving, Sully

Shocker: Deadpool, Florence Foster Jenkins

Don’t even bother: 20th Century Women, The Birth of a Nation, Live by Night, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Rules Don’t Apply, Patriots Day

Would love to see: Kubo and the Two Strings

I’m feeling pretty confident here. Then again, I feel confident every year, and have yet to get all of them right even once. I think it’s gonna be some combination of those top 11. I should probably make Sully my dark horse instead of Jackie, but honestly, at that point, wrong is wrong.

I will also say, this version is stupid for me to pick, because the PGA has not been perfect since the expansion of the Best Picture field in 2009. They’ve missed at least one nominee every year. (2009, The Blind Side; 2010, Winter’s Bone; 2011, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, The Tree of Life; 2012, Amour; 2013, Philomena; 2014, Selma; 2015, Room.)

Me taking the first nine PGA nominees is pretty fucking dumb. And a mistake I continue to make every single year. But since I’ve convinced myself that I’m gonna be right, I will continue to be wrong. And going back… most of those years, you kinda knew that other film had a shot.

Room I missed because I had it swapped with a mistake that had more precursors. Selma I missed because I just didn’t think it was as good and didn’t see the support anywhere. Even though you just knew that was gonna happen. Philomena I had, I think? Or maybe not. I think I talked it up but then didn’t guess it, because of the lack of nominations in the precursors. Amour I also missed. It’s always the Dark Horses. I’m aware of them, but get too bogged down in the numbers. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and The Blind Side were the only two real surprises to happen. The rest were either obvious choices or ones that were right there but we weren’t entirely sure about.

And that is why I feel confident in my choices. I don’t see anyone really outside of the main ten or eleven contenders really having a shot at this. I would consider Captain Fantastic a surprise. Florence Foster Jenkins, Loving. Not likely. Possible, but I’ll be wrong with just about everyone else on that one. Deadpool would shock me. All those other movies, those would be surprises I saw coming, but didn’t expect actually coming.

Like when you invite that ex to your wedding, with whom you’ve had a really bad break up. You don’t actually expect them to show up. Especially when they’ve RSVP’d no. (Which is the plot of Table 19, starring Anna Kendrick. Out March 3rd. I wasn’t paid for that, but hey, what the hell. Hit me up, producers. If I throw out shameless plugs for a movie based purely on the fact that it was similar to the analogy I made up on the spot, imagine what I’d do if I were paid.)

(I live a sad, sad life.)


I’m sure I say this every year (and am wrong saying this every year), but I feel really confident that the 11 top choices on my board are going to be the only ones in contention for Best Picture nominations. I can’t guarantee I’ll get all… whatever the number is… right, but I can say that I’ll probably get all but one, and the one I miss will either have been due to a swap or because, “How the hell can Silence/Sully make it on without any precursors over ones with proven support?” Fortunately I don’t second guess. I live with my mistakes and analyze them, and then doom myself to repeat them over and over out of hubris.

My bold prediction this year is that this is the first year the PGA guesses all of the Best Picture nominees since… 1996. Jesus, it hasn’t happened in twenty years.

And only five times ever (’96, ’95, ’93, ’92, ’89). Two of which (’95, ’89) had ten nominees, meaning they only had to get five of the ten right. Oh boy.

I am nothing if not interesting.

– – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – –

Onto Best Director.

The DGA is the gold standard for guessing this category, and then you use whatever finite wiggle room you have from there.

  • This year’s DGA nominees are Chazelle, Davis, Jenkins, Lonergan and Villeneuve.
  • BAFTA nominated Chazelle, Ford, Loach, Lonergan and Villeneuve.
  • BFCA nominated Chazelle, Gibson, Jenkins, Lonergan, Mackenzie, Villeneuve and Washington.
  • The Globes nominated Chazelle, Ford, Gibson, Jenkins and Lonergan.

The DGA typically gets one wrong most years.

  • Last year, the DGA had 4/5. They nominated Ridley Scott, while the Academy had Lenny Abrahamson.
  • 2014, 4/5. DGA had Eastwood, the Academy had Bennett Miller.
  • 2013. 4/5. DGA had Greengrass, the Academy had Alexander Payne.
  • 2012, 2/5. That was the disaster year. No Affleck, no Bigelow, no Tom Hooper. Instead, the Academy had Michael Haneke, Benh Zeitlin, and David O. Russell.
  • 2011, 4/5. DGA had Fincher, Academy had Terrence Malick.
  • 2010, 4/5. DGA had Nolan, Academy had the Coens.
  • 2009, 5/5.
  • 2008, 4/5. DGA had Nolan, Academy had Stephen Daldry.
  • 2007, 4/5. DGA had Sean Penn, Academy had Jason Reitman.

Since 2000, the DGA has matched the Oscars 5/5 only twice. They’ve matched 4/5 eleven times. 3/5 was twice and 2/5 was only the once.

It’s generally surprising when they go less than 4, so you need to figure four of the DGA nominees are likely your Oscar nominees.

Looking at the precursors: Damien Chazelle and Kenneth Lonergan hit everything. DGA, BAFTA, BFCA and the Globes. (Only two of those are important, but we’ll keep all four in the conversation to make them feel useful.) There’s two.

Denis Villeneuve hit DGA, BAFTA and BFCA. Hard to think he’s not #3, especially coming off Prisoners and Sicario.

Oh, and then there’s Barry Jenkins and Moonlight. DGA and BFCA. And it’s Moonlight. So yeah, there’s your four.

The fifth DGA nominee was Garth Davis for Lion. Interesting choice, especially with him also getting a First Time Director nomination from them as well. Shows they really liked it.

I could be swayed to make him my fifth choice, but two things make me feel otherwise. First — only twice since 2000 has the DGA gone 5/5.

Oh, and to break that one down even further — they’ve only matched 5/5 five times going back to 1970! Which is 47 years of Oscars. Before 1970, the DGA nominated ten (or more!) people almost every year.

And even then…. (oh, y’all motherfuckers thought I’d stop there, didn’t you?)

You know how many times between 1948 and 1969 (22 years) the DGA matched 5/5, even with ten or more nominees? Six times. 6 out of 22. Even having to only match five out of ten, they couldn’t even do it thirty percent of the time.

– – – – –

Quick history break, for those interested in the specifics of that statement. The times the DGA has matched the Oscars 5/5:

Post-1970 (five nominees): 2009, 2005, 1998, 1981, 1977

Pre-1970 (ten or more nominees): 1967, 1958, 1957, 1956, 1954, 1953

One more fun fact? Four out of the five post-1970 instances included Steven Spielberg.

– – – – –

In 68 years of DGA winners, they’ve only matched the Oscar Best Director list 5/5 eleven times. 16% of the time. You have about the same chance as Russian roulette taking 5/5.

Now my second reason — since that was all part of one reason why I didn’t think they’d match 5/5 — I think they’ll go different is… look at the fifth nominee most of the last couple of years. (Lenny Abrahamson, Bennett Miller, Alexander Payne, Terrence Malick… take your pick in 2012. Zeitlin or Haneke.) All of them were for more complex, “art” type films. So it stands to reason they’ll make one of those “Directors branch” choices again this year. Obviously one person immediately springs to mind. But before we get into that, let’s see if we could try to analyze our way into who it could be.

That “extra” nominee that the DGA didn’t get… BAFTA had it (or one of them, if they missed more than one) in 2012 with Michael Haneke and 2008 with Stephen Daldry. That’s it, going back ten years.

BFCA had David O. Russell in 2012, the Coens in 2010. So out of ten misses in nine years, those two had four of them.

And the Globes, for the hell of it… Payne in 2013, Daldry in 2008. So at best, 5/10 covering all the bases. Okay, not overly helpful, but not unhelpful either.

Here’s what we have in the way of the fifth nominee:

  • Garth Davis has the DGA. He is your technical frontrunner, even though I think we’ve established that it’s statistically better to vote against him.
  • Tom Ford has both a BAFTA and Golden Globe nomination.
  • Mel Gibson has BFCA and a Globe nomination.
  • David Mackenzie and Denzel Washington have BFCA nominations.
  • Ken Loach also has BAFTA, but he seems very unlikely. When a foreign director gets on, a la Michael Haneke, there’s at least some buzz about it happening beforehand. So no to Loach unless we’re all in for a huge shocker.

Other people to maybe consider — Martin Scorsese (because duh), Clint Eastwood (though if he couldn’t manage it with a DGA nomination and all that American Sniper support in 2014, why would you even go there?), and maybe Jeff Nichols (though at this point, highly doubtful).

Pablo Larrain seemed for a minute like a shoo-in for Jackie, and then support for that film dried up out of nowhere. I guess they could make him that extra nominee, but right now, I’d leave him on the outside looking in, especially with four already locked and three to four solid contenders in line for that last position.

At this point, you gotta figure that last spot is going to one of five people:

  • Garth Davis could hold everyone off and make it the third time in the past 17 years that the DGA and Oscars match 5/5.
  • Tom Ford could get on with both the BAFTA support and be the “arty” nominee. Plus it’s clear there’s a lot of Tom Ford respect out there, with the two films he’s made thus far.
  • Mel Gibson could complete his comeback story. And with BFCA support and a likely Best Picture nomination, I could see the directors making that statement.
  • David Mackenzie could slingshot onto the list with huge support for Hell or High Water.
  • Martin Scorsese gets on because he’s Martin Scorsese, and the Directors branch votes for him regardless.

In my mind, the most likely scenario there is #2. Followed by #1, then #5, #3 and #4.

I’m gonna take Tom Ford, because that seems most likely. Garth Davis is technically the most unlikely, but I do see that being a legitimate scenario, so I might end up taking him over Mel Gibson. Though Mel being Mel and Garth Davis being a relative unknown, I’d say that I feel better with Mel as my alternate, because 16% is not a very high percentage for almost 70 years’ worth of nominations.

You’ll notice that I’m also totally discounting Martin Scorsese, who remains a possibility but feels like a surprise at best. I feel like I should stick with my gut on that one and take my chances on the others. For better or worse.

I think Tom Ford gets on, but Garth Davis could just as easily hold serve. Let’s see how it goes.

Best Director

Damien Chazelle, La La Land

Tom Ford, Nocturnal Animals

Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea

Denis Villeneuve, Arrival

First Alternate: Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge

Dark Horse: Garth Davis, Lion

Surprise: David Mackenzie, Hell or High Water, Martin Scorsese, Silence

Shocker: Clint Eastwood, Sully, Jeff Nichols, Loving, Pablo Larrain, Jackie

Don’t even bother: Denzel Washington, Fences, and really anyone else. Let them beat you.

Would love to see: Travis Knight, Kubo and the Two Strings

If I don’t go 4/5 here at worst, then we have another 2012 on our hands, and they did some crazy shit no one saw coming. I’m feeling pretty good about that Tom Ford pick too. If it pans out, then I feel really happy, if not, then I want to see which way they went before I decide how I feel. If Denzel gets that fifth spot, I don’t feel so bad, since who the hell saw that coming, you know? You’re pretty much gonna get 4/5, and it all comes down to what they do with that fifth spot.

– – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – –

Best Actor time.

Now that we’re in the acting categories, SCREAM (SAG Clearly Rules Everything Around Me). You start with SAG and then you go from there. There’s no other way to do it. That will be the case for the next four categories.

  • SAG nominated Affleck, Garfield, Gosling, Mortensen, Washington
  • BAFTA nominated Affleck, Garfield, Gosling, Gyllenhaal and Mortensen.
  • BFCA nominated Affleck, Edgerton, Garfield, Gosling, Hanks and Washington.
  • The Globes nominated (Drama) Affleck, Edgerton, Garfield, Mortensen, Washington… and Gosling (Musical/Comedy). And Hugh Grant I guess, too. But they’re pushing him for Supporting, so we’ll factor that in later in that category.

SAG vs. the Oscars:

  • 2015, 4/5. SAG had Johnny Depp instead of Matt Damon.
  • 2014, 4/5. SAG had Gyllenhaal instead of Bradley Cooper.
  • 2013, 3/5. SAG had Forest Whitaker and Tom Hanks instead of Leo and Bale.
  • 2012, 4/5. SAG had John Hawkes instead of Joaquin Phoenix.
  • 2011, 4/5. SAG had Leo instead of Gary Oldman.
  • 2010, 4/5. SAG had Duvall instead of Javier Bardem.
  • 2009 + 2008, 5/5.
  • 2007, 3/5. SAG had Gosling and Emile Hirsch instead of Depp and Tommy Lee Jones.
  • 2006, 5/5.
  • 2005, 4/5. SAG had Russell Crowe instead of Terrence Howard.
  • 2004, 4/5. SAG had Paul Giamatti instead of Clint Eastwood.
  • 2003, 4/5. SAG had Peter Dinklage instead of Jude Law.
  • 2002, 4/5. SAG had Richard Gere instead of Michael Caine.
  • 2001, 4/5. SAG had Kevin Kline instead of Will Smith.
  • 2000, 3/5. SAG had Benicio del Toro (who won Supporting at the Oscars) and Jamie Bell instead of Javier Bardem and Ed Harris.
  • 1999, 3/5. SAG had Jim Carrey and Philip Seymour Hoffman instead of Sean Penn and Richard Farnsworth.
  • 1998, 4/5. SAG had Joseph Fiennes instead of Edward Norton.
  • 1997 + 1996, 5/5.
  • 1995, 4/5. SAG had James Earl Jones instead of Richard Dreyfuss.
  • 1994, 4/5. SAG had Tim Robbins instead of Nathaniel Hawthorne.

When I say we start with SAG, I’m not saying we automatically assume they’re gospel, I’m saying we begin with that list and work out from there, since historically, they prove to get it right 80% of the time.

SAG has been around since 1994, and since then, they’ve matched Best Actor 5/5 five times, 4/5 thirteen times, 3/5 four times. They’ve never matched less than 3/5.

BAFTA… they’re not as close, but I do look because sometimes they do pick up the odd nomination that SAG misses. The way I do it is, I start with SAG, and then comb through looking to see who picked up the miss, BAFTA, BFCA or the Globes.

  • Last year, BAFTA had Matt Damon.
  • 2014, BAFTA did not have Bradley Cooper.
  • 2013, BAFTA had both Leo and Bale.
  • 2012, BAFTA had Joaquin.
  • 2011, BAFTA had Oldman.
  • 2010, BAFTA had Bardem.
  • 2007, BAFTA did not have either Depp nor Jones (but also didn’t pick the same as SAG).
  • 2005, BAFTA did not have Terrence Howard (but they also did not pick the same as SAG).
  • 2004, BAFTA did not have Eastwood (but also didn’t match with SAG).
  • 2003, BAFTA had Jude Law.
  • 2002, BAFTA had Michael Caine.
  • 2001, BAFTA did not have Will Smith (but also didn’t match with SAG).
  • 2000, BAFTA did not have Bardem or Harris (but did match with SAG on Jamie Bell, who wasn’t nominated at the Oscars).
  • 1999, BAFTA did not have Farnsworth or Penn (but also did not match with SAG).
  • 1998, BAFTA did not have Edward Norton (though did match SAG with Joseph Fiennes, who wasn’t nominated at the Oscars).

By and large, BAFTA is the one that will alert you to an alternate nominee that SAG doesn’t have.

Now, to keep the comb going even further — BFCA:

  • Last year, they did not have Matt Damon.
  • 2014, BFCA did not have Bradley Cooper.
  • 2013, BFCA had Bale but not Leo.
  • 2012, BFCA had Joaquin.
  • 2011, BFCA did not have Oldman.
  • 2010, BFCA did not have Bardem.
  • 2007, BFCA had Depp but not Tommy Lee Jones.
  • 2005, BFCA had Terrence Howard.
  • 2004, BFCA did not have Eastwood.
  • 2003, BFCA did not have Jude Law.
  • 2002, BFCA did not have Michael Caine.
  • 2001, BFCA had Will Smith.

That means only three times has an actor been nominated for Best Actor and not been nominated by either SAG, BAFTA or BFCA:

  • 2014: Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
  • 2007: Tommy Lee Jones, In the Valley of Elah
  • 2004: Clint Eastwood, Million Dollar Baby

The Golden Globes did not have any of those three, FYI.

This means, all you really gotta do is look at SAG, BAFTA and BFCA and you’ll have your list. Or else we’ll all be wrong and some shocker will come out of nowhere.

Or… in the case of those three… Bradley Cooper was coming on strong and most of us figured he would potentially get on. Tommy Lee Jones was in the conversation for one film, but I think there were rumblings about it happening. I was still in college, so I don’t really remember that well. And Eastwood I think did sort of come out of nowhere. But again, before my time. I looked back to see if there were any precursor indications — not really. (Except maybe the fact that Clint Eastwood and/or Paul Haggis had something to do with them.) There, you just kind of have to take the L if it’s not gonna be from those three lists. Three out of eighty is not something you expect to come in very often.

Looking at your lists this year…

Casey Affleck, Andrew Garfield and Ryan Gosling hit all three lists. Don’t leave them off of yours.

Then you have — Viggo Mortensen hit SAG And BAFTA. Denzel Washington hit SAG and BFCA. Jake Gyllenhaal only has BAFTA. Joel Edgerton only has BFCA. Tom Hanks only has BFCA.

Those are your seven contenders. I’m taking them from the top down:

I’m not going against Viggo Mortensen with the two major nominations he has, and I’m not going against Denzel, because he’s fucking Denzel.

Edgerton seemed the more disposable nominee than Ruth Negga. I felt she’d get it even if he didn’t. At this point, they might both be left off, but he seems really like he’s gonna get left off. And Tom Hanks… if he didn’t manage a Captain Phillips nomination, a Sully nomination seems highly unlikely. Gyllenhaal only gets on with severe love for Nocturnal Animals all around. They left him off for Nightcrawler. To see him get on for this would just be strange.

I’m going chalk. I see no reason to go otherwise. I don’t have a fringe contender I feel strongly about. I’ll just wait to see if they go different.

Best Actor

Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge

Ryan Gosling, La La Land

Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic

Denzel Washington, Fences

First Alternate: Joel Edgerton, Loving

Dark Horse: Tom Hanks, Sully

Surprise: Jake Gyllenhaal, Nocturnal Animals

Shocker: Warren Beatty, Rules Don’t Apply

Don’t even bother: Adam Driver, Paterson, Michael Keaton, The Founder, Miles Teller, Bleed for This, Sunny Pawar, Lion, Chris Pine, Hell or High Water

Would love to see: Cliff Curtis, The Dark Horse

I think SAG is gonna get you 5/5 this year. To see Edgerton would be a reversal of what I’ve seen all throughout this process. And Hanks would surprise me, since why? It’s not a markedly better performance than at least two of the performances he gave in awards-level films the past four years. And outside of those two, anyone else would really surprise me.

If Warren Beatty manages this nomination, after all that campaigning he did, good on him. But man, would that surprise us all.

– – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – –

Best Actress.

Last year was an easy one. The five were basically locked all the way through, and all you needed to do was focus on who the obvious choices were and not be blinded by SAG. This year, I’m thinking it won’t be so easy. But let’s see….

  • SAG nominated Adams, Blunt, Portman, Stone, Streep.
  • BAFTA nominated Aams, Blunt, Portman, Stone, Streep.
  • BFCA nominated Adams, Bening, Huppert, Negga, Portman, Stone.
  • The Globes nominated (Drama) Adams, Chastain, Huppert, Negga, Portman, (Musical/Comedy), Bening, Stone, Streep.

SAG vs. the Oscars:

  • Last year, 3/5. SAG had Mirren and Silverman instead of Lawrence and Rampling.
  • 2014, 4/5. SAG had Jennifer Aniston and missed Marion Cotillard.
  • 2013, 4/5. SAG had Emma Thompson and missed Amy Adams.
  • 2012: 3/5. SAG had Cotillard and Mirren instead of Wallis and Riva.
  • 2011: 4/5. SAG had Tilda Swinton and missed Rooney Mara.
  • 2010: 4/5. SAG had Hilary Swank and missed Michelle Williams.
  • 2009: 5/5.
  • 2008: 4/5. SAG had Kate Winslet for the wrong film (though she won for it in SAG Supporting).
  • 2007: 4/5. SAG had Angelina Jolie and missed Laura Linney.
  • 2006, 5/5.
  • 2005, 4/5. SAG had Ziyi Zhang instead of Keira Knightley.
  • 2004, 5/5.
  • 2003, 3/5. SAG had Patricia Clarkson and Evan Rachel Wood instead of Keisha Castle-Hughes (nominated SAG supporting) and Samantha Morton.
  • 2002, 5/5.
  • 2001, 4/5. SAG had Jennifer Connelly (who won Best Supporting Oscar) instead of Nicole Kidman.
  • 2000 + 1999, 5/5.
  • 1998, 4/5. SAG had Jane Horrocks instead of Fernanda Montenegro.
  • 1997, 4/5. SAG (6 nominees) had Pam Grier and Robin Wright instead of Julie Christie.
  • 1996, 4/5. SAG had Gena Rowlands instead of Emily Watson.
  • 1995, 4/5. SAG had Joan Allen (nominated Supporting at the Oscar) instead of Sharon Stone.
  • 1994, 3/5. SAG had Meg Ryan and Meryl Streep instead of Miranda Richardson and Winona Ryder.

SAG has, since it began, matched Best Actress 5/5 six times. They’ve matched 4/5 thirteen times. They’ve matched 3/5 three times. And they’ve never matched less than 3/5.

Now, to crosscheck with BAFTA…

  • 2014, BAFTA did not have Marion Cotillard.
  • 2013, BAFTA had Amy Adams.
  • 2012, BAFTA had Emmanuelle Riva but not Quvenzhané Wallis.
  • 2011, BAFTA did not have Rooney Mara.
  • 2010, BAFTA did not have Michelle Williams.
  • 2008, BAFTA had Kate Winslet winning both lead and supporting. Technically they had her.
  • 2007, BAFTA did not have Laura Linney.
  • 2005, BAFTA did not have Keira Knightley (and also incorrectly had Ziyi Zhang)
  • 2003, BAFTA missed the entire list except Naomi Watts (who SAG had).
  • 2001, BAFTA had Nicole Kidman.
  • 1998, BAFTA did not have Montenegro.
  • 1997, BAFTA did not have Julie Christie.
  • 1996, BAFTA had Emily Watson.


  • 2014, BFCA had Marion Cotillard.
  • 2013: BFCA did not have Amy Adams.
  • 2012: BFCA had both Quvenzhané Wallis and Emmanuelle Riva.
  • 2011: BFCA did not have Rooney Mara.
  • 2010: BFCA had Michelle Williams.
  • 2008: Kate Winslet won Supporting. So technically they had her.
  • 2007: BFCA did not have Laura Linney.
  • 2005: BFCA had Keira Knightley.
  • 2003: BFCA had Samantha Morton, but missed Keisha Castle-Hughes.
  • 2001: BFCA had Nicole Kidman.

So only twice have SAG, BAFTA and BFCA missed a Best Actress nominee between the three of them. (I’m not counting Keisha-Castle Hughes, since they had her Supporting.) Those two times are Rooney Mara in 2011 and Laura Linney in 2007.

Rooney Mara was nominated for the Golden Globe while Laura Linney was not. Both had their fair share of critics awards nominations, so they weren’t foreign to the race, but they were relative surprises based on how things had been playing out.

This year, the three that cross-list on SAG, BAFTA and BFCA are Amy Adams, Natalie Portman and Emma Stone. Hell, they even cross-list on the Globes, if you want to keep them involved. You should probably have all three of them on your list. As for the remaining contenders:

  • Emily Blunt has SAG And BAFTA.
  • Meryl has SAG, BAFTA and the Globes.
  • Isabelle Huppert has BFCA and the Globes (a win at that!)
  • Annette Bening has BFCA and the Globes.
  • Ruth Negga has BFCA.

I’m discounting Jessica Chastain, because — no.

So we have the three I wouldn’t go against for any amount of money, and then we have Meryl with both a SAG and BAFTA nomination. Kinda hard to say Meryl won’t be nominated, even though if there were a year to not nominate her, this would be the one. Because… Emily Blunt also has SAG and BAFTA. But does anyone really think she’s gonna get nominated? There’s respected actress in a high profile but weak film, and then there’s Meryl Streep in a high profile but weak film. Meryl’s gotten these nominations many, many times. (See: Into the Woods, Julie & Julia, The Devil Wears Prada, Music of the Heart, One True Thing. Hell, you could throw in August: Osage County if you really wanted to.)

Emma Thompson had SAG and BAFTA for Saving Mr. Banks. Helen Mirren had them for Hitchcock. Marion Cotillard had them for Rust and Bone. Tilda Swinton had them for We Need to Talk About Kevin. Ziyi Zhang had them for Memoirs of a Geisha. It’s not uncommon to get both and miss the Oscar list.

Also, fun fact: Emma Thompson, Marion Cotillard and Tilda Swinton also had BFCA nominations in their respective years. And they still missed the list. Shit, and Globe nominations. They swept the precursors and were left off. Shit happens, man.

So now it comes down to — who do you feel strongest about putting on your list? I don’t feel strong on Emily Blunt. That’s a textbook precursor nominee who gets left off the Oscar list. If they nominate her, then clearly no one’s paying attention and the whole thing’s a joke. Girl on a Train? Really? I have faith in the acting branch to not fuck up that badly. I feel okay with Meryl because she’s Meryl. Even though I kinda hope they leave her off. But then we’re left with one spot and up to three contenders.

You know how far back you have to go to find a Best Actress (Drama) winner who wasn’t nominated for Best Actress at the Oscars? Technically not very far — Kate Winslet, Revolutionary Road. But we all know the situation that year. The next most recent is Shirley MacLaine, 1988. She won in a three-way tie with Jodie Foster and Sigourney Weaver, both of whom were nominated. Sure as hell not counting that. You know the next most recent time before that? Never. It’s never happened. So I’m taking the points and saying Isabelle Huppert gets nominated.

Best Actress

Amy Adams, Arrival

Isabelle Huppert, Elle 

Natalie Portman, Jackie

Emma Stone, La La Land

Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

First Alternate: Annette Bening, 20th Century Women

Dark Horse: Ruth Negga, Loving

Surprise: Taraji P. Henson, Hidden Figures, Emily Blunt, The Girl on the Train

Shocker: Jessica Chastain, Miss Sloane, Rebecca Hall, Christine

Don’t even bother: Everyone else. It’s not getting this far.

Would love to see: Rebecca Hall, Christine

You know you’re getting 3/5. You could only get 3/5 if for some reason both Meryl and Huppert get left off. But who thinks that will happen? So really you figure at least 4/5 with the possibility you miss one. And at that point, who is it? Bening could easily get on, but at whose expense? Huppert or Streep? Same for Negga.

There’s some shuffling that could happen, but I don’t know where it’s gonna be, so I feel safe taking the three locks, Meryl because she’s Meryl and has enough precursors to make me feel okay even if the movie’s so-so, and then Huppert because she’s the most lauded of the performances, has a Globe win to show for it, and feels like she’s gonna get on. Negga would be nice, but I’m not expecting it, especially over Annette Bening, who looks like she might get squeezed. But we’ll see.

– – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – –

Supporting Actor is always a dicey proposition. This one feels like it could always go one of a half-dozen ways. Last year I remember being one of the few to correctly call my shot on the Tom Hardy nomination. That felt pretty good.

  • SAG nominated Ali, Bridges, Grant, Hedges and Patel.
  • BAFTA nominated Ali, Bridges, Grant, Patel and Taylor-Johnson.
  • BFCA nominated Ali, Bridges, Foster, Hedges, Patel and Shannon.
  • The Globes nominated Ali, Bridges, Helberg, Patel and Taylor-Johnson.

SAG vs. the Oscars:

  • Last year, SAG went 3/5. They had Michael Shannon and Jacob Tremblay instead of Stallone and Hardy.
  • 2014, 5/5.
  • 2013, 3/5. SAG had Gandolfini and Daniel Bruhl instead of Bradley Cooper and Jonah Hill.
  • 2012, 4/5. SAG had Javier Bardem instead of Christoph Waltz.
  • 2011, 4/5. SAG had Hammer, Academy had von Sydow.
  • 2010 + 2009, 5/5.
  • 2008, 4/5. SAG had Dev Patel instead of Michael Shannon.
  • 2007, 4/5. SAG had Tommy Lee Jones instead of Philip Seymour Hoffman.
  • 2006, 4/5. SAG had Leo instead of Mark Wahlberg.
  • 2005, 4/5. SAG had Don Cheadle instead of William Hurt
  • 2004, 3/5. SAG had James Garner and Freddie Highmore instead of Alan Alda and Clive Owen.
  • 2003, 4/5. SAG had Chris Cooper instead of Djimon Hounsou.
  • 2002, 3/5. SAG had Alfred Molina and Dennis Quaid instead of Paul Newman and John C. Reilly.
  • 2001, 4/5. SAG had Hayden Christensen instead of Jon Voight.
  • 2000, 4/5. SAG had Gary Oldman instead of Benicio del Toro (who won SAG lead instead).
  • 1999, 4/5. SAG had Chris Cooper instead of Jude Law.
  • 1998, 4/5. SAG had David Kelly instead of Ed Harris.
  • 1997, 4/5. SAG had Billy Connolly instead of Robert Forster.
  • 1996, 2/5. SAG missed Armin Mueller-Stahl, Edward Norton and James Woods. (They had Hank Azaria, Nathan Lane and Noah Taylor.)
  • 1995, 2/5. SAG missed Brad Pitt, Tim Roth and James Cromwell. (They had Kevin Bacon, Kenneth Branagh and Don Cheadle.)
  • 1994, 4/5. SAG had John Turturro instead of Paul Scofield. (Same film, though.)

SAG has matched Best Supporting Actor 5/5 three times. They’ve matched 4/5 thirteen times. They’ve matched 3/5 four times. They’ve matched 2/5 twice. Both of those were 20+ years ago. It’s safe to assume a minimum of 3/5.

Crosslisting them with BAFTA…

  • Last year, BAFTA did not have Tom Hardy or Stallone.
  • 2013, BAFTA had Bradley Cooper but missed Jonah Hill.
  • 2012, BAFTA had Christoph Waltz.
  • 2011, BAFTA did not have Max von Sydow.
  • 2008: BAFTA did not have Michael Shannon.
  • 2007: BAFTA had Philip Seymour Hoffman.
  • 2006: BAFTA did not have Mark Wahlberg.
  • 2005: BAFTA did not have William Hurt. (* Only four nominees.)
  • 2004: BAFTA had both Alan Alda and Clive Owen.
  • 2003: BAFTA did not have Djimon Hounsou.
  • 2002: BAFTA had Paul Newman but not John C. Reilly.
  • 2001: BAFTA did not have Jon Voight. (But did nominate Eddie Murphy for Shrek. I’d like to mention.)
  • 2000: BAFTA had Benicio del Toro. (SAG did too, just for lead.)
  • 1999: BAFTA had Jude Law.
  • 1998: BAFTA had Ed Harris. (* Only four nominees.)
  • 1997: BAFTA did not have Robert Forster.
  • 1996: BAFTA had Edward Norton but not Mueller-Stahl or Woods. (* Only four nominees.)
  • 1995: BAFTA had Tim Roth, but not Brad Pitt or James Cromwell. (* Only four nominees.)
  • 1994: BAFTA had Paul Scofield. (* Only four nominees.)


  • Last year, BFCA had Stallone and Tom Hardy.
  • 2013, BFCA had Bradley Cooper, but not Jonah Hill.
  • 2012: BFCA did not have Christoph Waltz.
  • 2011: BFCA did not have Max von Sydow.
  • 2008: BFCA did not have Michael Shannon.
  • 2007: BFCA had Philip Seymour Hoffman.
  • 2006: BFCA did not have Mark Wahlberg.
  • 2005: BFCA did not have William Hurt.
  • 2004: BFCA had Clive Owen but not Alan Alda.
  • 2003: BFCA did not have Djimon Hounsou.
  • 2002: BFCA had Paul Newman but not John C. Reilly.
  • 2001: BFCA had Jon Voight.

So we’re at 7 times where someone was nominated for the Oscar without being nominated for either SAG, BAFTA or BFCA. If we include the Golden Globes, we bring it down to five, as Mark Wahlberg in ’06 and John C. Reilly in ’02 were nominated there.

Somehow the Jonah Hill nomination in 2013 made sense, even more so now after Tom Hardy, as DiCaprio brings people along with him when he gets nominated. Max von Sydow came completely out of nowhere and yet I picked that one. Michael Shannon came out of nowhere. William Hurt came out of nowhere. Djimon Hounsou came out of nowhere.

William Hurt is the first of these nominees (going back to Best Actor and Best Actress) to actually have a couple of critics awards wins. He won NY and LA Film Critics Circle awards. So at least there was that. Hounsou won an Independent Spirit Award, but we all know that gets handed out after Oscar nominations, so it’s hard to use that as justification for his surprise nomination. I guess sometimes random stuff happens. Still, we stick with the tried and true method, because it’ll get you winners more often than not.

Ali, Bridges and Patel hit every single precursor. SAG, BAFTA, BFCA and the Globes. Hard to not figure them on.

  • Hugh Grant has SAG and BAFTA.
  • Lucas Hedges has SAG And BFCA.
  • Aaron Taylor-Johnson has BAFTA and the Globes.
  • Michael Shannon only has BFCA, Ben Foster only has BFCA and Simon Helberg will not be nominated.

I can’t really think of any major contenders. Anyone else would come completely out of nowhere, so let’s just assume we have our contenders. This one could end up a bunch of different ways.

Between Grant, Hedges and Taylor-Johnson, I can make empirical and gut cases for all three of them. So now we gotta figure who gets squeezed.

I’m going back to the stat I used last year to say why Stallone would make it on despite no SAG or BAFTA nomination, which is — the winner of the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor has not not been nominated at the Oscars since 1975. And only six times before that, going back to 1943. So, yeah. I need to put Aaron Taylor-Johnson on. I’m not 100% sold that he does get nominated, but that’s a hell of a stat. I’m gonna play those odds and see what happens.

So now, figuring between Hugh Grant and Lucas Hedges… I love Hugh Grant and I’d love to see that performance nominated. And Hedges is absolutely terrific and is one of my favorite performances of the year too. That’s all beside the point.

I’m siding with Lucas Hedges for two reasons. One, I think the actors will give more love to Manchester than Florence Foster Jenkins. And two — Hugh Grant is a Brit. So the BAFTA nomination is assumed. And SAG — it’s more populist and stuff like that gets on. (It wouldn’t be a year without me mentioning Harvey getting Diane Kruger on for Inglourious Basterds and Naomi Watts on for St. Vincent.) So I’m not 100% sold on a Hugh Grant nomination. I think I’ll put him as an alternate and play the odds for one and the gut for the other.

Best Supporting Actor

Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water

Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea

Dev Patel, Lion

Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Nocturnal Animals

First Alternate: Hugh Grant, Florence Foster Jenkins

Dark Horse: Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals

Surprise: Kevin Costner, Hidden Figures

Shocker: Issey Ogata, Silence,Ben Foster, Hell or High Water

Don’t even bother: With anybody else. Let them beat you. This isn’t quite 2014, where it was six contenders for five spots, but it’s close.

Would love to see: Ralph Fiennes, A Bigger Splash, Craig Robinson, Morris from America

I’m sure of 3/5, confident about 4/5, but I have no idea who the 4th is gonna be and who’s gonna get left out. Unless Michael Shannon comes out of nowhere, which would go against both the precursors and Academy precedent (one nomination and a lot of snubs), Hugh Grant is the only person who could disrupt the list I picked. He’s taking off either Aaron Taylor-Johnson or Lucas Hedges. I can make cases for or against all three, so I wouldn’t be surprised with any combination of them.

– – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – –

Best Supporting Actress. Perhaps the most locked category of the bunch.

  • SAG nominated Davis, Harris, Kidman, Spencer and Williams.
  • BAFTA nominated Davis, Harris, Kidman, Squires and Williams.
  • BFCA nominated Davis, Gerwig, Harris, Kidman, Monae and Williams.
  • The Globes nominated Davis, Harris, Kidman, Spencer and Williams.

SAG vs. the Globes:

  • Last year, SAG matched 4/5. They had Helen Mirren instead of Jennifer Jason Leigh.
  • 2014, 4/5. SAG had Naomi Watts instead of Laura Dern.
  • 2013, 4/5. SAG had Oprah instead of Sally Hawkins.
  • 2012, 3/5. SAG had Nicole Kidman and Maggie Smith instead of Amy Adams and Jacki Weaver.
  • 2011, 5/5.
  • 2010, 4/5. SAG had Mila Kunis instead of Jacki Weaver.
  • 2009, 4/5. SAG had Diane Kruger instead of Maggie Gyllenhaal.
  • 2008, 4/5. SAG had Kate Winslet (nominated for Best Actress) instead of Marisa Tomei.
  • 2007, 4/5. SAG had Catherine Keener instead of Saoirse Ronan.
  • 2006 + 2005: 5/5.
  • 2004, 4/5. SAG had Cloris Leachman instead of Natalie Portman.
  • 2003, 3/5. SAG had Keisha Castle-Hughes (nominated for Best Actress) and Maria Bello instead of Shohreh Aghdashloo and Marcia Gay Harden.
  • 2002, 4/5. SAG had Michelle Pfeiffer instead of Meryl Streep.
  • 2001, 1/5. They only had Helen Mirren and missed Maggie Smith, Jennifer Connelly (nominated SAG lead), Marisa Tomei and Kate Winslet.
  • 2000, 4/5. SAG had Kate Winslet instead of Marcia Gay Harden.
  • 1999, 3/5. SAG had Cameron Diaz and Julianne Moore instead of Samantha Morton and Toni Collette.
  • 1998, 5/5.
  • 1997, 4/5. SAG had Alison Elliott instead of Joan Cusack.
  • 1996, 2/5. SAG had Marisa Tomei, Gwen Verdon and Renée Zellweger instead of Joan Allen, Barbara Hershey and Marianne Jean-Baptiste
  • 1995, SAG had Stockard Channing and Anjelica Huston instead of Joan Allen (nominated SAG lead) and Kathleen Quinlan.
  • 1994, 2/5. SAG had Jamie Lee Curtis, Sally Field and Robin Wright instead of Jennifer Tilly, Helen Mirren and Rosemary Harris.

Since SAG began, they’ve matched Supporting Actress 5/5 four times. They’ve matched 4/5 eleven times. They’ve matched 3/5 four times. They’ve matched 2/5 two times (1994, 1996), and they’ve matched 1/5 (!) once, which was 2001. Though there, Jennifer Connelly won SAG lead even though she won the Supporting Oscar. So that’s partially to blame. Generally, at least 3/5 is pretty certain.

Crosslisting with BAFTA…

  • Last year, BAFTA had Jennifer Jason Leigh.
  • 2014, BAFTA did not have Laura Dern.
  • 2013, BAFTA had Sally Hawkins.
  • 2012, BAFTA had Amy Adams but not Jacki Weaver.
  • 2010, BAFTA did not have Jacki Weaver.
  • 2009, BAFTA did not have Maggie Gyllenhaal.
  • 2008, BAFTA had Marisa Tomei.
  • 2007, BAFTA had Saoirse Ronan.
  • 2004, BAFTA had Natalie Portman.
  • 2003, BAFTA did not have Shohreh Aghdashloo or Marcia Gay Harden.
  • 2002, BAFTA had Meryl.
  • 2001, BAFTA had Jennifer Connelly, Maggie Smith and Kate Winslet. They did not have Marisa Tomei.
  • 2000, BAFTA did not have Marcia Gay Harden.
  • 1999, BAFTA did not have Toni Collette or Samantha Morton.
  • 1997, BAFTA did not have Joan Cusack. (* Only four nominees.)
  • 1996, BAFTA had Marianne Jean-Baptiste. They did not have Joan Allen or Barbara Hershey. (* Only four nominees.)
  • 1995, BAFTA had Joan Allen. They did not have Kathleen Quinlan. (* Only four nominees.)
  • 1994, BAFTA missed all four nominees.

And now BFCA…

  • Last year, BFCA had Jennifer Jason Leigh.
  • 2014, BFCA did not have Laura Dern.
  • 2013, BFCA did not have Sally Hawkins.
  • 2012, BFCA had Amy Adams but not Jacki Weaver.
  • 2010, BFCA had Jacki Weaver.
  • 2009, BFCA did not have Maggie Gyllenhaal.
  • 2008, BFCA had Marisa Tomei.
  • 2007, BFCA did not have Saoirse Ronan.
  • 2004, BFCA had Natalie Portman.
  • 2003, BFCA had Marcia Gay Harden They did not have Shohreh Aghdashloo.
  • 2002, BFCA had Meryl.
  • 2001, BFCA had Marisa Tomei and Jennifer Connelly. They did not have Maggie Smith or Kate Winslet.

That leaves five times since 2000 (it’s difficult to gauge before that) where a nominee missed all three lists: Laura Dern in 2014, coming along for the ride with Reese (no one saw that coming.), Jacki Weaver in 2012, coming along with Silver Linings (definite surprise), Maggie Gyllenhaal in 2009, coming along for the ride with Jeff Bridges (a “what?” nomination), Shohreh Aghdashloo in 2003, presumably going along with Ben Kingsley (too far back for me to know), and Marcia Gay Harden in 2000, who missed everything and then won.

Aghdashloo had LA + NY + Online Critics awards wins going for her, so that at least supports that a little bit. And Harden only had NY Film Critics and pretty much nothing else. The Globes did not have any of those five.

The earlier ones…

Toni Collette in 1999 missed everything. Samantha Morton in 1999 got a Globe nomination. Joan Cusack got a Globe nomination in 1997. Joan Allen and Barbara Hershey got Globe nominations in 1996. Kathleen Quinlan got a Globe nomination in 1995. And 1994, the first year of SAG, Harris, Mirren and Tilly all missed everything. So, the Globe is more helpful here than most, is what that tells me. And while this is more prone to have random nominees happen, generally you feel pretty good about your chances based on the precursors. Especially in a year like this.

Viola Davis, Naomie Harris, Nicole Kidman and Michelle Williams hit every precursor there is to hit. So they’re pretty much on. But, therein lies the rub. We’ve seen this happen before. Crazy shit can happen with that fifth spot.

  • Octavia Spencer has SAG and Globe nominations.
  • Janelle Monae has a BFCA nomination.
  • Greta Gerwig has a BFCA nomination.
  • Haley Squires won’t get nominated, so don’t worry about her.

Now’s where we get points for picking who the random nominee is gonna be. Who’s gonna be the Laura Dern of this year? First, look to the other categories. Who’s gonna take someone along with them?

There’s no one Best Actor can bring along that hasn’t already been named. Technically Annette Bening could bring Greta Gerwig along, but that would mean she has to get nominated first and have a lot of support to bring someone along. Something tells me that’s not the case there. Just a feeling.

… Yeah… no one to come along. So now we’re looking at who else could possibly make it.

Lily Gladstone has a Supporting Actress win from LA Film Critics. Maybe? Molly Shannon has an Independent Spirit nomination?

I’m reaching. Clearly.

Six months ago I’d say Felicity Jones for A Monster Calls, but that ship has sailed. So yeah, we have one spot, and the only real potential nominees are…

Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Greta Gerwig and I’ll give Lily Gladstone a shot. Even though clearly I’m gonna assume one of the Hidden Figures ladies is gonna get it.

So the question is, do I go with SAG and say Octavia Spencer, who has an Oscar already and makes sense, or Janelle Monae, who lights up two big nominees with solid performances? I don’t think Monae particularly does anything outstanding, but her roles in both feel like they would be nominated. The two movies might cancel her out, so on that and that alone, I’m gonna play it safe and say Octavia Spencer, but I’m not sold that she ends up that fifth nominee. She has a previous win and Monae isn’t established. Oscars like up and comers, but they’re also pretty wary about certain people. Spencer makes the most sense.

I’m real curious which way this ends up. I think this could end up a random one.

Best Supporting Actress

Viola Davis, Fences

Naomie Harris, Moonlight

Nicole Kidman, Lion

Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures

Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea

First Alternate: Janelle Monae, Hidden Figures

Dark Horse: Greta Gerwig, 20th Century Women

Surprise: Lily Gladstone, Certain Women

Shocker: Molly Shannon, Other People

Don’t even bother: Felicity Jones, A Monster Calls

Would love to see: Uhh… I think I’m good.

No idea what to make of that fifth spot. Octavia Spencer makes a lot of sense, though it would be nice to see Janelle Monae get nominated. I wouldn’t be upset about getting that one wrong. Outside of those two, no idea which way they could go with this.

I’m trying to think if there’s any movie they could love enough to throw an extra nominee on. But none of them have supporting actress parts that really make sense. Hell or High Water, Hacksaw Ridge, La La Land — none of them Lion and Moonlight already have nominees. Hidden Figures is the only one that’ll need an acting nomination to theoretically “compete” for Best Picture. I’m gonna play those odds and say that’s how they go.

– – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – –

Screenplay time. This is when we start getting into individual guilds. The bigger categories have more than just the guilds, but when we start getting into the real technical stuff, like sound, then we’re dealing with just guilds and not much else. But we’re not there yet.

Original Screenplay — obviously we start with the WGA.

  • The WGA nominated Hell or High Water, La La Land, Loving, Manchester by the Sea and Moonlight.
  • BAFTA nominated Hell or High Water, I Daniel Blake, La La Land, Manchester by the Sea and Moonlight.
  • BFCA nominated Hell or High Water, La La Land, The Lobster, Loving, Manchester by the Sea and Moonlight.

Loving and Moonlight are going Adapted for the Oscars, so those are out here.

The two that I know were ineligible here were Florence Foster Jenkins and Zootopia, neither of which should be much of a factor for the Screenplay race. But that’s usually. This year might be different.

It’s not particularly worthwhile seeing how the guild differs from the Oscars just because of how many ineligibles there are each year. Or category swaps. Really you take it on a year by year basis.

Looking at the precursor tally:

  • Hell or High Water (WGA, BAFTA, BFCA)
  • La La Land (WGA, BAFTA, BFCA)
  • Manchester by the Sea (WGA, BAFTA, BFCA)
  • I Daniel Blake (BAFTA)
  • The Lobster (BFCA)

And adding once that seem like possible contenders, simply because they’re in the conversation and are (or are being deemed) original scripts:

  • Jackie
  • Captain Fantastic
  • Florence Foster Jenkins
  • 20th Century Women

And then… Kubo? Hail Caesar? I guess we could throw Zootopia back in there simply because of the dearth of stuff, but animated movies are tough to get on a screenplay category.

Inside Out bucked a huge trend last year. Up, Wall-E, Ratatouille, The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, Toy Story. All Pixar. No Disney. I wouldn’t be shocked, but it seems unlikely. I’m not feeling the outpouring of love for Zootopia that would be necessary. Even Kubo, which I do see love for (Costume Designers Guild nomination?), I think would be a tall order to make it on, even in a year like this. Sometimes a movie has “Animated Feature” love and not “film” love. Though that aside — if this were to happen, it would buck a huge trend. As in — Disney has never been nominated in the Original Screenplay category. Ever. That would be something to note, were it to happen.

The three to take are Hell or High Water, La La Land and Manchester by the Sea. Those movies are clearly gonna make it. It’s the other two you gotta figure out.

You’re left with I Daniel Blake, The Lobster, Jackie, Captain Fantastic, Florence Foster Jenkins, 20th Century Women and Zootopia.

I can’t see it being I Daniel Blake. Unless there’s hidden love for that film out there that I’m just not seeing, I’m gonna steer clear of that. 20th Century Women, at best, is getting Anette Bening. Even Beginners couldn’t manage a screenplay nomination. So I’m not taking that either, though anything is possible this year. Florence Foster Jenkins — let’s just call that a hard pass and see what happens.

That leaves me with Zootopia, which I still can’t see, but the more I think about it, the more I anticipate it getting on. But I’m not gonna do it. We’ll just let it happen.

So I’m left with The Lobster, Jackie and Captain Fantastic.

I can’t not pick The Lobster at this point. I’d love to see it, and that would amuse the shit out of me, so let’s go for it.

And honestly, since I’m thinking people were left feeling cold by Jackie, let’s go Captain Fantastic. Maybe that could sneak on a Screenplay nomination. What the hell.

Best Original Screenplay

Captain Fantastic

Hell or High Water

La La Land

The Lobster

Manchester by the Sea

First Alternate: Jackie

Dark Horse: Zootopia

Surprise: I Daniel Blake, 20th Century Women, Florence Foster Jenkins

Shocker: Frankly, nothing. But if I had to pick one, Kubo and the Two Strings. Or a foreign movie like Toni Erdmann or The Salesman.

Don’t even bother: Honestly, it’s pretty much all fair game here. Though maybe something like Collateral Beauty or Nine Lives wouldn’t be a good choice.

Would love to see: Christine, Everybody Wants Some!!

I feel like a lot of people are gonna assume The Lobster gets on, but my gut tells me that’s the most likely one to be left off. Don’t assume that gets on because it’s unique and weird and a lot of people loved it. They routinely leave shit like this off.

Otherwise, you’re getting 3/5 right for sure, and that’s really all anyone could ask for.

– – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – –

Adapted now.

  • The WGA nominated Arrival, Deadpool, Fences, Hidden Figures and Nocturnal Animals.
  • BAFTA nominated Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, Hidden Figures, Lion and Nocturnal Animals.
  • BFCA nominated Arrival, Fences, Hidden Figures, Lion, Nocturnal Animals and Sully.

Add Moonlight (WGA, BAFTA, BFCA) and Loving (WGA, BFCA) to this list as well. And Lion, which was WGA ineligible.

Silence is really the only other main contender here, but I don’t think anyone truly thinks that has a shot against this competition, even before Moonlight and Loving enter the fray.

So here we have:

  • Moonlight (WGA, BAFTA, BFCA)
  • Arrival (WGA, BAFTA, BFCA)
  • Hidden Figures (WGA, BAFTA, BFCA)
  • Nocturnal Animals (WGA, BAFTA, BFCA)
  • Loving (WGA, BFCA)
  • Fences (WGA, BFCA)
  • Lion (BAFTA, BFCA)
  • Deadpool (WGA)
  • Hacksaw Ridge (BAFTA)
  • Sully (BFCA)
  • Silence

I don’t know about you, but that about narrows it down perfectly for me. You gotta take the ones that swept the board. Which is four. And Lion, a (probable) Best Picture nominee that was WGA ineligible. There’s your list. Sometimes it is that simple.

Taking a glance at the others to see what else could make it on — no to Sully, Silence or Deadpool. I’d be truly surprised if they loved Hacksaw enough to put that on. That leaves Loving and Fences. And I think they’d be fine not nominating either.

I’m going with those five.

Best Adapted Screenplay


Hidden Figures



Nocturnal Animals

First Alternate: Fences

Dark Horse: Loving

Surprise: Hacksaw Ridge, Deadpool

Shocker: Silence, Sully, The Handmaiden

Don’t even bother: Pretty much anything else, really.

Would love to see: This exact category be nominated.

I’m feeling pretty good about 5/5 here. 4/5 at worst almost definitely. I’d be really surprised if I got less than 4/5 here. And really interested to analyze what they chose and why they chose it.

– – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – –

Best Editing.

What I like to do here is start by showing you what the previous 15 Editing categories were:

  • 2015: The Big Short, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Revenant, Spotlight, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • 2014: American Sniper, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Whiplash
  • 2013: 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity
  • 2012: Argo, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty
  • 2011: The Artist, The Descendants, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Hugo, Moneyball
  • 2010: 127 Hours, Black Swan, The Fighter, The King’s Speech, The Social Network
  • 2009: Avatar, District 9, The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, Precious
  • 2008: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Dark Knight, Frost/Nixon, Milk, Slumdog Millionaire
  • 2007: The Bourne Ultimatum, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Into the Wild, No Country, There Will Be Blood
  • 2006: Babel, Blood Diamond, Children of Men, The Departed, United 93
  • 2005: Crash, Cinderella Man, The Constant Gardener, Munich, Walk the Line
  • 2004: The Aviator, Collateral, Finding Neverland, Million Dollar Baby, Ray
  • 2003: City of God, Cold Mountain, Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, Master and Commander, Seabiscuit
  • 2002: Chicago, Gangs of New York, The Hours, Lord of the Rings: Two Towers, The Pianist
  • 2001: A Beautiful Mind, Black Hawk Down, Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring, Memento, Moulin Rouge!

If you follow the Oscars with any sort of aptitude, you know that Best Editing is the key to Best Picture. Aside from Birdman, whose editing was hidden and designed to not look like editing (hence no real need to be nominated), the last movie to win Best Picture without an Editing nomination was Ordinary People in 1980. So if you’re a major Best Picture contender, you’re going to be nominated for Best Editing. That’s just how it works.

I’ve bolded the ones up there that were not Best Picture nominees. Pretty limited the past few years, after they expanded that list. Three times only. And all three of them are movies that are generally thought to have just missed out on Best Picture. More so the first two than the last one, but even then… it got votes.

So right there, I think we can check off at least three of the Best Editing nominees: La La Land, Moonlight and Manchester by the Sea. The other two spots are up for grabs. Depending on which films they really like, you could see them get on the Best Picture list. One could be Hacksaw, which could pull double duty as a war film (those do well here) and a Best Picture nominee. But you have to reason it through.

You have to figure at least four Best Picture nominees will be nominated for Editing, unless you can think off hand of a group of films so well edited as to necessitate a nomination.

Oh, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There is a guild. The ACE nominees this year are:

(Dramatic) Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight

(Musical/Comedy) Deadpool, Hail Caesar!, The Jungle Book, La La Land, The Lobster

So basically the five drama ones and La La Land. Because the others aren’t happening. So we take that, then look at BAFTA and BFCA…

BAFTA: Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, La La Land, Manchester by the Sea, Nocturnal Animals

BFCA: Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, La La Land, Moonlight, Sully

See what I mean? The BAFTAs have displayed so far a clear love of Nocturnal Animals, and pretty much all of Sully’s nominations have come from BFCA, hence those films being nominated in those groups’ respective editing categories.

Now, you have to take those now four contenders — forgot about Arrival. That hit all the essential precursors too — and then figure out what the fifth one is gonna be at the Oscars.

There really aren’t that many other contenders. I don’t think Patriots Day or Deepwater is gonna come out of nowhere to grab an Editing nomination. Even Rogue One seems very unlikely. If it were universally beloved and assured a bunch of tech awards like Force Awakens was, then maybe. But this situation? Don’t bother.

Oh, and I guess we should also, for the hell of it, since we’re here, look at ACE vs. the Oscars:

  • 2015: 4/5. ACE didn’t have Spotlight.
  • 2014: 5/5.
  • 2013: 3/5. ACE didn’t have 12 Years a Slave or Dallas Buyers Club.
  • 2012 + 2011: 5/5.
  • 2010: 4/5. ACE didn’t have 127 Hours.
  • 2009: 3/5. ACE didn’t have Inglourious Basterds or Precious.
  • 2008: 5/5.
  • 2007: 4/5. ACE didn’t have The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.
  • 2006: 3/5. ACE didn’t have Children or Men or Blood Diamond.
  • 2005: 4/5. ACE didn’t have Cinderella Man.

Not overly helpful. Mostly Best Picture major contenders. One art film with great editing that got a Director nomination, one action movie, one boxing movie. Makes sense. Let’s stick with the logic. That’s more helpful.

You can’t not figure Arrival, La La Land, Manchester and Moonlight are on. So you then take the other likely Best Picture nominees and go from there.

What are your other likely (or possible) nominees? Fences, Hacksaw Ridge, Hidden Figures Lion, Nocturnal Animals. Well, Fences and Hidden Figures were never gonna be major threats to win the thing, so take those off.

Lion seems like a five nominee kind of film, but I’d be pretty surprised if that managed an Editing nomination as one of them. At that rate, if it gets Editing, it should get Best Director too. But I’m not thinking it’ll do that, especially with the other two seemingly more liked and stronger contenders.

That leaves me with Hacksaw Ridge or Hell or High Water. Unless Sully is gonna come out of nowhere, but something tells me no one thinks that’ll be the case.

So we have Hacksaw, a war movie and prime candidate for the spot, which managed an ACE, BAFTA and BFCA nomination for Editing, and Hell or High Water, the potential nominee that they like so much they nominate it for Editing too.

I think you can see where my head is going with this. I’m taking Hacksaw and the numbers and waiting to see if Hell or High Water is liked that much that a Picture, Screenplay and Supporting Actor nomination won’t do. I’m okay with being wrong on a first alternate.

Best Editing


Hacksaw Ridge

La La Land

Manchester by the Sea


First Alternate: Hell or High Water

Dark Horse: Sully

Surprise: Lion, Nocturnal Animals, Jackie, Silence

Shocker: Fences, Hidden Figures,

Don’t even bother: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, pretty much anything else.

Would love to see: This category, honestly.

I think I’m getting 4/5 here at worst. And if I get 4/5, then it’ll be the first alternate that makes it on. This should be pretty cut and dry for them. Editing tends to be easy when you know what the major contenders are gonna be.

– – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – –

Aww yeah. Love me some cinematography.

Here’s ASC vs. the Oscars:

  • 2015, 4/5. ASC missed The Hateful Eight in favor of Bridge of Spies.
  • 2014: 4/5. ASC missed Ida in favor of Imitation Game.
  • 2013: 5/5.
  • 2012: 4/5. ASC had Les Mis, missed Django.
  • 2011: 4/5. ASC had Tinker Tailor, missed War Horse.
  • 2010: 5/5.
  • 2009: 4/5. ASC had Nine, missed Half-Blood Prince.
  • 2008: 4/5. ASC had Revolutionary Road, missed Changeling.
  • 2007: 5/5.
  • 2006: 3/5. ASC had The Good Shepard and Apocalypto, missed Pan’s Labyrinth and The Prestige.
  • 2005: 4/5. ASC had King Kong, missed The New World.
  • 2004: 3/5. ASC had Collateral and Ray, missed House of Flying Daggers and Phantom of the Opera.
  • 2003: 3/5. ASC had Last Samurai and Return of the King, missed City of God and Girl with a Pearl Earring.
  • 2002: 4/5. ASC had Frida, missed Chicago.
  • 2001: 4/5. ASC had Pearl Harbor, missed Black Hawk Down.
  • 2000: 4/5. ASC had The Perfect Storm, missed Malena.

And then, of those years, cross checking that with BAFTA…

  • 2015, BAFTA missed Hateful Eight.
  • 2014, BAFTA had Ida.
  • 2012, BAFTA missed Django.
  • 2011, BAFTA had War Horse
  • 2009, BAFTA missed Half-Blood Prince
  • 2008, BAFTA had Changeling.
  • 2006, BAFTA had Pan’s Labyrinth but missed The Prestige.
  • 2005, BAFTA missed The New World
  • 2004, BAFTA had House of Flying Daggers but missed Phantom of the Opera
  • 2003, BAFTA had Girl with a Peal Earring but missed City of God.
  • 2002, BAFTA had Chicago.
  • 2001, BAFTA had Black Hawk Down.
  • 2000, BAFTA missed Malena.

And BFCA, quickly, since they only go back about eight years:

  • 2015, BFCA had The Hateful Eight.
  • 2014, BFCA did not have Ida.
  • 2012, BFCA did not have Django.
  • 2011, BFCA had War Horse.
  • 2009, BFCA missed Half-Blood Prince.

So basically either BAFTA is catching ASC’s misses or it’s coming out of nowhere and you’re just gonna have to figure it out. Got it.

This year’s nominees:

ASC: Arrival, La La Land, Lion, Moonlight, Silence

BAFTA: Arrival, Hell or High Water, La La Land, Lion, Nocturnal Animals

BFCA: Arrival, Jackie, La La Land, Moonlight, Nocturnal Animals

And, along with those, I’d say the only ones to look at are Hail Caesar (purely because of Deakins), Hacksaw Ridge (because, you know, big contender) and Jackie. And even then, probably only Jackie stands any sort of a chance. What, Rogue One? Doubtful. The Jungle Book? Almost entirely CGI and not a real contender. That would come way out of nowhere. Bob Richardson has Live by Night, but when you look at his track record, he really only gets nominated when he’s attached to a Big best Picture contender. The only outlier is Snow Falling on Cedars. So I’m feeling okay leaving him off to surprise me.

ASC is the one that matters, but with Arrival and La La Land on every list, let’s say those are on.

I have no reason not to suspect a Lion nomination, especially with its DP, Grieg Fraser, also having Rogue One this year. They’ll probably give him a nod.

I can’t imagine Nocturnal Animals gets ignored. Let’s put that on.

And between Silence, Jackie and Moonlight — let’s go Silence. Jackie doesn’t have the support I expected and Moonlight’s DP is so new and doesn’t have the major support of the guild. Which means they’d really need to like it to put it on. So let’s say no.

There are good choices here, I’m just taking the ones that feel most likely. I could get as low as 3/5 here. Jackie, Hell or High Water, Moonlight — all could get on. But we’ll see.

Best Cinematography


La La Land


Nocturnal Animals


First Alternate: Moonlight

Dark Horse: Jackie

Surprise: Live by Night, Hail Caesar, Hell or High Water

Shocker: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, The Handmaiden

Don’t even bother: Probably anything else. But if you can justify something, you can probably go for it.

Would love to see: Jackie get nominated.

I’m thinking definitely the top three get on — Nocturnal and Silence are wild cards. Jackie, Hell or High Water, Moonlight. Those seem like alternates. But I’m feeling okay about my choices, and that’s what matters.

– – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – –

Oh boy, Best Original Score. The category with no guild precursor.

There are 91 eligible scores this year.

* NOTE: Do not guess Arrival or Silence. They are ineligible. *

I’ve made a table of all the precursors going back to 2005 to see which ones had the Oscar nominees correct. It’s too big to post, but I’ll try to break them down year by year.

(Note: I’m ignoring the scores deemed ineligible, just like we’ll be ignoring Arrival’s inclusion on the precursors list this year.)

  • 2015 — The Hateful Eight appeared on all three lists and was nominated. Sicario appeared on two (BFCA and BAFTA) and was nominated. Carol appeared on two (Globes and BFCA) and was nominated. Star Wars only got a BAFTA, but was nominated. Bridge of Spies only got a BAFTA but was nominated. All five nominees appeared in the precursors. (Extras: Spotlight, Steve Jobs, The Danish Girl.)
  • 2014 — Interstellar appeared on all three lists and was nominated. The Theory of Everything appeared on all three lists and was nominated. The Imitation Game was on two (Globes, BFCA) and was nominated. The Grand Budapest Hotel was only on BAFTA and was nominated. Gone Girl was on two lists and was NOT nominated. Mr. Turner did not appear on any list. That was missed all around. 4/5. (Extras: Under the Skin, Gone Girl x 2.)
  • 2013 — Gravity appeared on all three lists and was nominated. Saving Mr. Banks appeared on two (BAFTA, BFCA) and was nominated. The Book Thief appeared on two (Globes, BAFTA) and was nominated. Her appeared on one (BFCA) and was nominated. Philomena was missed by all. 12 Years a slave was on all three lists and was NOT nominated. 4/5. (Extras: 12 Years a Slave x 3, All Is Lost, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Captain Phillips.)
  • 2012 — Argo appeared on all three lists and was nominated. Life of Pi and Lincoln both also appeared on all three lists and were nominated. Anna Karenina appeared on two (Globes, BAFTA) and was nominated. Skyfall appeared on one (BAFTA) and was nominated. 5/5 (Extras: Cloud Atlas, The Master, Moonrise Kingdom.)
  • 2011 — The Artist, Hugo and War Horse appeared on all three lists and were nominated. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy appeared on one list (BAFTA) and was nominated. Tintin was missed by all. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo appeared on all three lists and was NOT nominated. (Extras: W.E., Drive, Dragon Tattoo x 3.) 4/5.
  • 2010 — Inception and The King’s Speech appeared on all three lists and were nominated. The Social Network and 127 Hours appeared on two lists and were nominated. How to Train Your Dragon appeared on one list (BAFTA) and was nominated. Alice in Wonderland appeared on two lists and was NOT nominated. (Extras: Black Swan, True Grit, Alice in Wonderland x2.) 5/5.
  • 2009 — Avatar (Globes, BAFTA), Up (Globes, BFCA), two lists. Sherlock Holmes (BFCA), Fantastic Mr. Fox (BAFTA) one list. The Hurt Locker was missed by all. The Informant! was on two lists (not sure if eligible or not) as was Where the Wild Things Are (same). 4/5.
  • 2008 — Benjamin Button was on all three and was nominated. Slumdog was on two (Globes, BFCA), Defiance, Wall-E and Milk on one each. 5/5. (The Dark Knight missed despite being on two lists.)
  • 2007 — Atonement hit all three. The Kite Runner hit two, 3:10 to Yuma hit one. They missed Michael Clayton and Ratatouille entirely. (Grace Is Gone hit two lists and missed a nomination.)
  • 2006 — Babel all three, nominated. The Queen and Good German one each. They missed Notes on a Scandal and Pan’s Labyrinth entirely. (The Da Vinci Code and The Fountain missed despite two nominations.)
  • 2005 — Brokeback all three, nominated. Memoirs of a Geisha two, nominated. Nothing else was nominated more than once.

Mostly we’re only concerned with the recent ones. Typically, multiple nominations means an Oscar nomination, especially if you hit all three.

Being incredibly lenient with what they’d go for, I’ve narrowed us down to 20 scores:

  • Allied
  • The BFG
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
  • Florence Foster Jenkins
  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • Hell or High Water
  • Hidden Figures
  • Jackie
  • The Jungle Book
  • Kubo and the Two Strings
  • La La Land
  • The Light Between Oceans
  • Lion
  • Loving
  • Moana
  • Moonlight
  • A Monster Calls
  • Nocturnal Animals
  • Passengers
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

This is me being lenient. Half of these have no shot.

  • The Globes nominated Arrival (ineligible), Hidden Figures, La La Land, Lion and Moonlight
  • BAFTA nominated Arrival (ineligible), Jackie, La La Land, Lion and Nocturnal Animals
  • BFCA nominated Arrival (ineligible), Jackie, La La Land, Lion and Moonlight.

Pretty consensus so far. Which is good, since you have to go back almost a decade to see them miss more than one between the three lists.

We all have 1/5 automatically here, since La La Land will not be left off.

Lion is on all three precursor lists. No reason to figure that gets left off. Jackie is on BFCA and BAFTA. Gotta figure that probably gets on. Moonlight is on the Globes and BFCA. Likely. Nocturnal Animals has BAFTA. Hidden Figures has a Globe nomination. Possible.

You look at the other contenders —

  • Passengers shouldn’t be nominated. Not only does the movie lift a scene from Wall-E, Thomas Newman lifts his own score from Wall-E. I’d be real surprised if that happened.
  • Moana probably won’t. It’s been six years since an animated movie made it on the list, and I don’t think this one has the pedigree to make it on. Mark Mancina isn’t exactly John Williams, you know?
  • Loving seems really unlikely, as does Allied. I’d also be real surprised if A Monster Calls made it on, since they’ve really ignored Fernando Velazquez in the past.
  • Hacksaw Ridge probably needed some precursors to have a shot. Rupert Gregson-Williams doesn’t have any previous nominations, and you really only look to standbys to make it on in these scenarios.
  • Hell or High Water also seems unlikely. Nick Cave and Warren Ellis haven’t been nominated before, and their Assassination of Jesse James score is GREAT. So for this, which is more songs than score, I don’t think they’re gonna give it any chance. Highly unlikely.
  • Fantastic Beasts seems very unlikely, since Harry Potter only got nominated twice, and both were John Williams. James Newton Howard does have 8 total nominations, though nothing since 2009. Not that that matters. I just don’t think this floats their boat.
  • The Light Between Oceans has gone so unnoticed, even though it’s Alexandre Desplat, who hasn’t gone back to back years without a nomination in the past decade. But even so, he’s got a higher profile nominee, and they just so don’t care about this movie, I can’t go out on a limb and say it’ll get on here, even though this is the most likely nomination it could get without it seeming weird.

That basically wraps up what I think are the ones that probably don’t have much of a chance, but if they do get nominated, then well, I was wrong. There are five, outside of the extra three from before, that I’m considering:

First, Rogue One. Yes, it’s Star Wars. But it’s not John Williams. It’s very dependent on John Williams themes, and overall it sounds like a Michael Giacchino trying to do Star Wars score and not an actual Star Wars score. I don’t think they’re gonna feel any obligation to vote for this. Giacchino has only been nominated twice, both for Pixar. I’m gonna keep saying that until they nominate him for something else. I don’t think this happens. Have fun guessing it, but I don’t think it gets on.

Then there’s The Jungle Book. I’ve been hearing this as a Score nominee for months. Ehh. John Debney has only been nominated once. For The Passion of the Christ. It just doesn’t feel like the kind of score they’re gonna suddenly embrace. That’s a weird one to go for. He’s not exactly. John Williams. I’m not feeling it.

Now we have Florence Foster Jenkins. Alexandre Desplat. If anything of his is gonna get on, this feels like it. It’s looking at Meryl, possibly Hugh Grant, maybe Costumes and/or Makeup, and this could be another one. I’m thinking no, but I’m also not ruling it out. Keep it in mind because of the composer. Composers get stray nominations, not films. The film part just helps for which one a composer will be nominated for.

Kubo and the Two Strings is a wild card. If an animated film is gonna get on, this might be the one. I don’t think so, but I wanted to mention it, because this is the kind of movie that’s got such support all over the aisle that it could pull this one off. I’m not gonna guess it, because I’m an idiot. Talk it up and then don’t do it and be wrong. But I do think this does stand a weird chance at a nomination. Keep an eye out for this one.

And then… John Williams. Outside of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, every year where he’s composed a new score (or multiples scores), going back to 1992, he has been nominated for an Oscar. You got that? And outside of Crystal Skull, the only times he’s missed a nomination for a Spielberg film is when he’s got nominated for something else that year. Sometimes another Spielberg film. That goes back to 1979 (he wasn’t nominated for 1941). So, it’s probably smart to guess John Williams.

That leaves me with one spot left. I’m thinking between Moonlight and Nocturnal Animals, probably one of them will get on. And it’s a 50/50. Moonlight is a great and memorable score, but something tells me they’re straight up gonna ignore it here. I just feel it. Meanwhile, Abel Korzeniowski has composed a Hitchcockian type score for Tom Ford that just soars. How can they ignore that? All things being equal, I kinda trust BAFTA a little bit to prognosticate the Score category.

Best Original Score



La La Land


Nocturnal Animals

First Alternate: Moonlight

Dark Horse: Florence Foster Jenkins

Surprise: The Jungle Book, Kubo and the Two Strings, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Shocker: The Light Between Oceans, Hidden Figures, Hacksaw Ridge

Don’t even bother: It’s Score. Go nuts. I mean, don’t pick How to Be Single or something like that, but you know what I mean. You’re smart enough to know what does and doesn’t have a shot here.

Would love to see: Me get 5/5 in this category for once. Talk about a shocker.

I’m thinking we have about eight possibilities here. I feel confident with my choices, but honestly Moonlight, Florence, maybe Kubo, Jungle Book — any of them can get on. Score is one you always expect to get 3/5 right on. At least we had a leg up this year with a musical. Most years we don’t even have that.

– – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – –

Oh boy. Best Original Song time.

I went over all the Original Song Eligibles a while back. Most of the songs are on there stand zero chance. I’m gonna pull the top 20 I think have a shot. Usually I do 25 or 30, but this is a strong year at the top, and I don’t wanna burden myself with excess songs when basically three or four spots are filled up without even trying.

The way I’m gonna do this is take the twenty and back myself into a category by slowly eliminating them as I see fit. Since this is Original Song and there are no rules, feel free to ignore me at any time and pick wildly differently. The person who gets Original Song right on a consistent basis is either someone who does horrible everywhere else or is someone who possesses some insight that I myself do not have.

We begin with the first five off. These are the ones that theoretically stand a chance, but either they’re only here because they’re from documentaries and sometimes those get on (but largely do not), or because they’re a secondary song from a movie that has multiple songs in contention. (A single movie hasn’t had two songs nominated since 2009. And that was Disney. It’s rare.) In no particular order, the first five off are:

  • “Set It All Free” from Sing — I doubt anything from this film gets nominated, but this just seems too straightforward for them to pick. There’s so many great animated choices here, and I just don’t think they go for this. (It’s too similar to that “Fight Song.” Mixed with All-American Rejects. I’m guessing. I’ve never heard anything by them.) I think they’d be more likely to pick the other song from this movie, if anything.
  • “Get Back Up Again” from Trolls — catchy as fuck. And I like this song a lot. But there’s another song from this movie that’s much closer to a sure thing. And this is not the movie that gets two songs on. So while this is nice, don’t waste a spot picking two from this movie. And if they pick this (which is basically the same as the previous song, thematically) over the other one, that’s a conscious shot at Timberlake. (Though, of note: the guys who wrote this song… also wrote the lyrics in La La Land. So if this does get on, they basically just owned this entire category.)
  • “Never Give Up” from Lion — they’re not just gonna vote for it because it’s from Lion and because Sia sings it. Are they? I’m gonna assume they have some modicum of self-respect. They seem to have weird tastes to begin with. So to see them randomly go for this song would be a weird compromise for them I haven’t seen before. So I’m gonna say no.
  • “Letter to the Free” from 13th — because it’s Common, and 13th. If they feel any kind of white guilt, they’ll nominate this on principle. But this is the Music branch. This isn’t Selma. This is a documentary. And while I’m sure they’ll nominate the documentary for…reasons (Netflix, not race. But also kinda race)… I don’t think they’ll automatically pick this song too. They think for themselves enough to not be that obvious.
  • “Angel by the Wings” from The Eagle Huntress — Eagle Huntress might get a documentary nomination, but to double up on Song too is not something that happens often. Plus, Sia — I just don’t think they’ll go for this. I think you put it in that “might happen” category because it feels like it, but I wouldn’t go here. You can if you think so, but I’m not feeling it.

Next five off — they’re fine, but, doubt it.

  • “Faith” from Sing — It’s catchy, but there’s better stuff for them to pick. They’d probably go with the Johansson song over this one if they were gonna go here, but honestly I doubt either makes it.
  • “Gold” from Gold — I shouldn’t even have it this high. This is a pure Golden Globe nominee and nothing more. The Oscars won’t fall for that. It’s just a decent song. No way they go for this.
  • “Go Now” from Sing Street — There’s a song to go with from Sing Street, and this ain’t it. This is a very nice song, but trust me, this is not the song from this movie to pick.
  • “A Minute to Breathe” from Before the Flood — It’s a random documentary song from someone who has won an Oscar before. Don’t rule it out. But it’s not J. Ralph, like those previous two random nominees were. This is Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. They’ve given them an Oscar, but also have promptly not nominated them since. Snubbed them for Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Gone Girl, despite other groups nominating them. So while I have to be wary of these documentary songs (Before the Flood, Chasing Ice, Racing Extinction… you gotta consider them. Before the Flood fits the name scheme), I don’t necessarily think this gets on. It is a pretty good song, though. That is what’s making me think it might have a small chance at this.
  • “I See a Victory” from Hidden Figures — while this feels like the song designed to be the nominee of the movie, I think the other one stands a better shot. It’s nice, and it’s catchy, but something tells me this isn’t the one. I’m gonna say probably not.

Next five.

  • “We Know the Way” from Moana — They’re gonna pick this over the princess song? I mean, they could, and I’ll just be wrong. But Lin-Manuel wrote both of them, so at that point, wouldn’t you go with that one? Watch them put this on instead of the other, but for my money, it should be the other one. In a year like this, I doubt they get both.
  • “Runnin'” from Hidden Figures — I think both of these songs are red herrings. I always fall for wanting to guess these songs and they never get nominated. (See: The Butler, Chi-Raq. They’re all good, but they never nominate them.) Though, to be fair — this song is everywhere. I’ve heard it during football games, commercials, the whole deal. Now, that has nothing to do with its likelihood to be nominated, but that does mean it’s catchy enough that people like it. And Pharrell is a previous nominee here. It could happen. I’m thinking unlikely, but in that second tier of “could happen.” Though I usually get burned with songs like this, so I’m gonna shy away from it.
  • “Start a Fire” from La La Land — God, I want this to be nominated so bad. This song is fucking amazing. Imagine him playing this at the Oscars? Fuck man. I hope I’m wrong on this. Nominate all the songs from this movie. I don’t care. Clearly though, there are two more likely entries from this movie to make it on, and three from one movie is almost unheard of now that they changed the voting method. But man, I’d nominate this in a heartbeat, and I hope they do too. But since I’m in for two already from this movie, I’m not screwing myself over with three in a year where there are legitimately more than six choices for inclusion.
  • “I’m Still Here” from Miss Sharon Jones! — People will guess this because she died, but I don’t think they’re gonna feel any pressure to nominate this. It’s nice, but this is exactly the kind of thing I get wrong picking every year. I was wrong with the Glen Campbell song, but he’s still alive. So I’m gonna leave this off on a hunch, and see what happens. I’ll be wrong. But I’d feel better not picking this than picking it.
  • “The Rules Don’t Apply” from Rules Don’t Apply — the amount of campaigning Warren Beatty has done for this movie, they’re gonna have to give it something, you’d think. Original Song makes some sense. It fits the movie, has a nice throwback appeal. Though it might be too simplistic for them. We’ll see. My gut says it just misses, but could easily be on. Very, very, very easily. To the point where, I feel like if I’m wrong on one, it’ll be because this song gets on. But hey, it’s almost impossible to go 5/5 here without a shit ton of luck. So I won’t feel bad.

So that brings us to the five I’m picking…

“Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” from La La Land — it has everything to do with the movie, it’s a big showstopping number and its more thematically relevant than most songs are. I can’t imagine they’d want to leave this off. This is the reason a category like this exists!

“Can’t Stop the Feeling!” from Trolls — the amount of campaigning he’s done for this song, I have to guess it. He’s been pimping this hard. Like U2 pimped the Mandela song they got nominated for and like Pharrell pimped “Happy.” When you campaign hard, you usually get on. And I think he’ll manage to make it on. They’re taking pages out of the Pharrell book with this. And I think this already hit the Top 40. So you pretty much have to guess this, and wait to see what they’re gonna do. They might reject this altogether, which would be fine by me. But I can’t not put this on there, given how fucking hard they’re trying to get this nominated. It’s like rushing into the store on Thanksgiving to get the biggest rack of ribs. Sure, take it. Nobody’s here for the ribs, man.

“City of Stars” from La La Land — It’s gonna take some balls for them to leave this song off the list. It’ll also take balls to not guess this and to be right about it. Are you really gonna be that person that doesn’t guess this to be nominated? We’ll deal with winning when we get there, but nominated? Please. No one’s breaking down the door to nominate the fucking Pele movie.

“Drive It Like You Stole It” from Sing Street — I’ve listened to this song five times today. This is the catchiest shit. I love this song. And it has Harvey Weinstein behind it. Harvey got Begin Again nominated here. He got U2 nominated the same year. Those two things alone, I’m picking it. Plus, I’m picking it because it better fucking be nominated. What’s more appropriate for this category than this song? I want to pick it because if I’m wrong, I want to be wrong so I can say “What the fuck, Music branch?” This song is wonderful. Honestly, almost this entire category is practically one of those “This better be nominated” situations. I’ll actually be disappointed if they fuck this one up.

“How Far I’ll Go” from Moana — It’s a Disney princess song. They’re not Best Original Song if they don’t go for this. The day they don’t go for this is the day I have to reevaluate what I think I know about them. Go back. Frozen, nominated. Won. Tangled, nominated. Princess and the Frog, nominated. Every princess song gets on. I think Mulan is the only one, maybe because her song is like a minute long. But Pocahontas, Beauty and the Beast, Little Mermaid — Every. Single. One. Don’t bet against the Disney princess.

Best Original Song

“Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” from La La Land

“Can’t Stop the Feeling!” from Trolls

“City of Stars” from La La Land

“Drive It Like You Stole It” from Sing Street

“How Far I’ll Go” from Moana

First Alternate: “The Rules Don’t Apply” from Rules Don’t Apply

Dark Horse: “I’m Still Here” from Miss Sharon Jones!

Surprise: “Runnin'” from Hidden Figures, “Start a Fire” from La La Land

Shocker: Truly, nothing. But I would be pretty shocked if like a Bollywood song made it on, or a song from a really bizarre place. Not a documentary, but like a random indie that no one’s ever heard of. The last time that happened, it was because of improper campaigning and the song was disqualified. You go back, the only movies you’ve never really heard of that got on here are foreign ones.

Don’t even bother: It’s Best Original Song. Go fucking nuts.

Would love to see: That exact category, but with the third La La Land song instead of the Trolls song.

I would so love to go 5/5 here. Or to have the category I want to see come through. That would be so amazing. But this is Original Song. You assume 3/5 on a good day and take anything better you can get.

And I’m not kidding about what I said up there — this year is almost foolproof. They better not fuck this up.

– – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – –

Best Production Design. Now we’re getting into the hardcore tech categories.

ADG history vs. the Oscars:

  • Last year, 5/5.
  • 2014, 4/5. They missed Mr. Turner.
  • 2013 + 2013, 5/5.
  • 2011, 3/5. They missed War Horse and Midnight in Paris.
  • 2010, 5/5.
  • 2009, 2/5. They missed Dr. Parnassus, Nine and The Young Victoria.
  • 2008, 3/5. They missed The Duchess and Revolutionary Road.
  • 2007 + 2006, 5/5.
  • 2005, 3/5. They missed Goblet of Fire and Pride & Prejudice.
  • 2004, 4/5. They missed A Very Long Engagement.
  • 2003, 4/5. They missed Master and Commander.
  • 2002, 4/5. They missed Frida.
  • 2001, 4/5. They missed Gosford Park.
  • 2000, 3/5. They missed Quills and Vatel.


  • 2014, they had Mr. Turner.
  • 2011, they had War Horse, but missed Midnight in Paris.
  • 2009, they had Dr. Parnassus, but missed Nine and The Young Victoria.
  • 2008, they had Revolutionary Road, but missed The Duchess.
  • 2005, they missed both Goblet of Fire and Pride & Prejudice.
  • 2004, they missed A Very Long Engagement.
  • 2003, they had Master and Commander.
  • 2002, they missed Frida.
  • 2001, they had Gosford Park.
  • 2000, they had Quills but missed Vatel.

BAFTA matches 4/5 in their own right most years. And they tend to pick up most of the slack at that.

BFCA only has had a category since 2009, and since then, the only slack they’ve picked up from the other two is Nine in 2009. Mostly they back up what the other two say.

Since BFCA came about, only twice did all three miss a film. Midnight in Paris and The Young Victoria. Before BFCA, when it was just the two, it was five times. Which isn’t bad. That means you can trust them.


  • ADG Period: Cafe Society, Fences, Hacksaw Ridge, Hail Caesar, Hidden Figures, Jackie
  • ADG Fantasy: Arrival, Doctor Strange, Fantastic Beasts, Passengers, Rogue One
  • ADG Contemporary: Hell or High Water, La La Land, Lion, Manchester by the Sea, Nocturnal Animals
  • BAFTA: Doctor Strange, Fantastic Beasts, Hail Caesar, La La Land, Nocturnal Animals
  • BFCA: Arrival, Fantastic Beasts, Jackie, La La Land, Live by Night

The ones that hit all three…La La Land, Fantastic Beasts. So you gotta go them. (Beasts has the fantasy and period aspects to it, which means I feel better about it than I would on the simple fact that it’s a Potter movie.)

Jackie is all about production design, so I’m picking that. It’s got the guild and BFCA. That’s enough for me. No matter what they feel about that film, costumes and production design and Natalie Portman are the things that stand out.

Then the rest:

  • Arrival — ADG, BFCA
  • Nocturnal Animals — ADG, BAFTA
  • Doctor Strange — ADG, BAFTA
  • Hail Caesar — ADG, BAFTA
  • Live by Night — BFCA
  • Hidden Figures — ADG

I’m eliminating the other ones. Because I don’t think they have shots, for various reasons. Like, Passengers — too much CGI. Rogue One… if they didn’t nominate Force Awakens, why bother? The others are all contemporary. And they might go with two of those this year, despite usually going with zero, for multiple years at a time.

Depending on your definition of “contemporary,” they hadn’t nominated a contemporary movie for production design since The Birdcage until Her, Gravity and The Martian. Then again, do you consider space movies to be contemporary or a version of fantasy? And Her, is that contemporary or futuristic? So maybe they haven’t gone contemporary. Either way, they’re gonna break that streak with La La Land (or will they?), which is by all accounts contemporary. The question is whether or not another contemporary movie gets on. Typically the answer is no.

I’ll take Hail Caesar, since it hit both the big ones. And it’s Old Hollywood. They could leave it off, but, it fits. So yes.

Doctor Strange technically hit both the big ones too too, but I know BAFTA only nominated it because it takes place in London. And I don’t think that’s gonna happen. I’ll take my chances going against it. You don’t typically see a movie like that getting nominated here unless it’s Tim Burton.

Live by Night is a sneaky contender. I could see that happening. They went all in on the production design with that, and it could be rewarded. I’m gonna say no and let it happen, but this is something that could be on there.

Hidden Figures — nah. Let it happen. That’s for sure Picture, Screenplay, Supporting Actress and nothing else. Production Design is too rich. Maybe, but it felt pretty bland to me. Like The Help. It just felt fine but not exemplary. Gonna say no on that one.

Then there’s Nocturnal Animals and Arrival. Nocturnal is tricky, because it’s contemporary and not particularly loaded with huge set pieces you remember. It looks nice, but will they really go there? I’d be surprised to see something this contemporary get on. It hit the guild and BAFTA, but the guild doesn’t have one single category, it has three. Though BAFTA is pretty good about guessing what’ll be on. So don’t rule that one out.

Arrival is an interesting one. The sets are memorable and stand out. They might go there. Then again, they could just as easily not. I don’t know. Feels more like an alternate for me. This is one of those extra nominations it would get to pad the total and put it closer to 7, 8 total. This would also be one that puts Nocturnal near 4, 5. Do I think either will go that high?

Oh, there’s also Fences to take into account. It’s a play, so production design is important. Then again it’s basically just the yard and a little bit of the inside of the house. I’m not feeling it. That feels purely like an acting nominations kind of movie, with maybe a Picture and/or Screenplay nomination, but even those feel like tall orders. Production Design would be a surprise.

Arrival and Nocturnal make a lot of sense, and since they are kind of dueling for that spot, I’m gonna split the difference and take Live by Night. Something tells me that manages a nomination or two in the tech categories to avoid it being left out entirely, but not something that shows a whole lot of support for the film as a whole. I mean, they could be left off entirely, and that seems very possible, but I think Production Design is a nice reward for them. That is the standout.

Best Production Design

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Hail, Caesar!


La La Land

Live by Night

First Alternate: Arrival

Dark Horse: Silence

Surprise: Doctor Strange, Hidden Figures, Fences, Nocturnal Animals

Shocker: Cafe Society, Hacksaw Ridge, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Florence Foster Jenkins

Don’t even bother: Hell or High Water, Manchester by the Sea, Lion, Passengers, Rules Don’t Apply

Would love to see: Kubo and the Two Strings (is that a thing that can happen?)

There are a lot of things that can happen here. This is one of those ones I try to talk myself out of constantly until deadline. I honestly don’t even know what’s gonna happen. I could easily only get two of these right.

I feel safe going against the Nocturnal nomination, because it is truly contemporary, and I’ve yet to see them break that boundary in twenty years. La La Land is a musical, and that can be explained away as something different (assuming they actually do nominate it, which is not a gimme). I also don’t think they’d go Fences. I think you’re looking at Live by Night or Arrival for that fifth spot. I can’t really see anything else jumping in there and surprising. MAYBE Silence. But you have to be really bullish about that one’s chances. I’m not so sure that I am. Could happen, but ehh.

This will be an interesting one to see how they pick. You could see Best Picture nominees padding their nominations total, or they could go off the board and have it be random stuff. Last year was four Best Picture nominees, 2014 was two, 2013 was four, 2012 was three, 2011 was four, 2010 was three. 2009 was one. Usually you’re getting three of them on there. And I went one this year.

It probably behooves you to pick a second Best Picture contender on the list. Probably Arrival. Or you could stick to the analysis and go with what you think.

I look at the Best Picture nominees — Moonlight is not about production design. Neither is Manchester. Lion? Hell or High Water? Hacksaw maybe. But that feels unlikely. Fences, if that even gets on. I guess Hidden Figures, if you’re strong on that. I think they break the trend.

Though this does now make me want to swap my Live by Night pick for Arrival, since this does seem to be a Best Picture nominee-padding ground.

I’m also never ruling out Silence just because, though I’m really not feeling that one. I kinda want to see if they nominate it despite looking completely D.O.A. in the precursors.

– – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – –

Costumes now.

CDG vs. the Oscars:

  • Last year, CDG matched 4/5, missing The Revenant.
  • 2014, 4/5, missing Mr. Turner.
  • 2013: 3/5. Missed The Invisible Woman and The Grandmaster.
  • 2012: 5/5.
  • 2011: 4/5. Missed Anonymous.
  • 2010: 4/5. Missed I Am Love.
  • 2009: 4/5. Missed Bright Star.
  • 2008: 4/5. Missed Australia.
  • 2007: 4/5. Missed Across the Universe.
  • 2006: 5/5.
  • 2005: 3/5. Missed Mrs. Henderson Presents and Pride & Prejudice.

They’re pretty good, but they also have three categories to work from.


  • Last year BAFTA also missed The Revenant.
  • 2014, they had Mr. Turner.
  • 2013, they had The Invisible Woman but missed The Grandmaster.
  • 2011, they missed Anonymous.
  • 2010, they missed I Am Love.
  • 2009, they had Bright Star.
  • 2008, they missed Australia.
  • 2007, they missed Across the Universe.
  • 2005, they had both Mrs. Henderson Presents and Pride & Prejudice.

BAFTA is typically 3/5 or 4/5 (mostly 3/5) and picks up some of the slack of the Oscars. Which is impressive, since they’re only one category.


  • Last year they too missed The Revenant.
  • 2014, they had Mr. Turner too. They actually nailed all 5.
  • 2013, they also missed The Grandmaster.
  • 2011, they also missed Anonymous.
  • 2009, they had Bright Star too.

Mostly they’re here for confirmation on some stuff. They’re a bit too populist to get the random intricacies of Costume Design.

Though when you look at it — Australia, Across the Universe… these are people who get on this category. Baz Luhrmann always gets nominations. As does Julie Taymor. So this tells me you can usually reason your way through it. Though things will be missed and there’s nothing that could be done about it.


  • CDG Period: The Dressmaker, Florence Foster Jenkins, Hail Caesar, Hidden Figures, Jackie
  • CDG Contemporary: Absolutely Fabulous, Captain Fantastic, La La Land, Lion, Nocturnal Animals
  • CDG Fantasy: Doctor Strange, Fantastic Beasts, Kubo, Miss Peregrine, Rogue One
  • BAFTA: Allied, Fantastic Beasts, Florence Foster Jenkins, Jackie, La La Land
  • BFCA: Allied, Fantastic Beasts, Florence Foster Jenkins, Jackie, La La Land, Love & Friendship

That Kubo nomination is historic. That’s never happened before. Doubt it carries over, but that is a big deal that it happened.

Putting that in an easier way to read:

  • Fantastic Beasts — CDG, BAFTA, BFCA
  • Florence Foster Jenkins — CDG, BAFTA, BFCA
  • Jackie — CDG, BAFTA, BFCA
  • La La Land — CDG, BAFTA, BFCA
  • Allied — BAFTA, BFCA
  • Doctor Strange — CDG
  • The Dressmaker — CDG
  • Hail Caesar — CDG
  • Hidden Figures — CDG
  • Love & Friendship — BFCA
  • Nocturnal Animals — CDG

Other ones in contention, as far as I can figure:

  • Live by Night
  • Rules Don’t Apply
  • Silence

I’m not feeling any of those but they’re worth mentioning.

Looking up at the above list, most of the time you can’t go wrong picking something that was nominated in all three categories. Of course, Brooklyn was nominated in all three last year and was left off, so what do I know. As was Saving Mr. Banks in 2013. And Black Swan in 2010. So this happens on a fairly regular basis. Don’t assume three nominations automatically means it gets on. But also… what the hell else do you have to go on?

La La Land and Jackie feel like they’re on. And Florence, with three precursors and the period nature of it, I feel safe with that. Though that one’s far from a sure thing. And Fantastic Beasts hit everything. I guess I’ll go with that, though that one I’m wary of. Since, Potter — what, like twelve nominations total for all those films? Then again, this is period. That changes things. So I’ll give them a shot with this one and hope it’s not as stupid as it feels.

That gives me four already, so now we’re down to one spot. I already feel like I’ve made at least one mistake. But whatever. We live and apparently never learn.

Allied managed the most precursors of what’s left, but I don’t think they’re gonna go there. Maybe. Let’s keep it in the conversation. But I’m thinking no.

I don’t think they’re voting for Doctor Strange. So that’s out. And Hidden Figures seems unlikely. As does Nocturnal Animals. We haven’t seen a big period costume fest yet. Typically we get one of those every year. Cinderella, Mr. Turner, Invisible Woman, Anna Karenina, Jane Eyre (and W.E. and Anonymous)… you get the point. So at that level, I’m tossing off all those previous mentions, and Hail Caesar, Live by Night, Rules Don’t Apply and Silence.

The two big costume fests this year are The Dressmaker and Love & Friendship.

The Dressmaker got a guild nomination and Love & Friendship managed BFCA. I tend to trust the guild over BFCA, though it’s curious neither managed BAFTA. Allied got that fifth BAFTA spot. So you never know.

But between the two, I’ll go Dressmaker, just cause. But I honestly have no idea. It just feels more likely. This whole thing feels compromised for me and feels like I’m gonna get it horribly wrong. But you have to accept that and just go with the gut.

Best Costume Design

The Dressmaker

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Florence Foster Jenkins


La La Land

First Alternate: Love & Friendship

Dark Horse: Hail, Caesar!

Surprise: Live by Night, Allied, Nocturnal Animals, Silence

Shocker: Rules Don’t Apply, Doctor Strange

Don’t even bother: Anything contemporary that wasn’t already mentioned. Otherwise, go nuts.

Would love to see: Me do respectably in this category. I feel like I never do better than 3/5 here.

I just have to feel confident in the precursors. Four of the movies hit every precursor there is to hit. Two of them for sure have a good handful of people who vote for this. You gotta feel okay with at least three of those. And then at that point, it’s just a toss up for that last spot. I don’t know. I know they like garish costumes and have done well assuming that in the past. But you got a lot of solid period stuff here.

Between The Dressmaker, Love & Friendship, Hail Caesar, Live by Night and Allied, any one of those could get on. So you just have to pick one and hope for the best.

– – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – –

Best Makeup & Hairstyling now. This is easy because they give you a shortlist of seven to come up with a category of three. Your shortlist this year is:

  • Deadpool
  • The Dressmaker
  • Florence Foster Jenkins
  • Hail, Caesar!
  • A Man Called Ove
  • Star Trek Beyond
  • Suicide Squad

BAFTA Had Florence Foster Jenkins on their list. BFCA had Star Trek on their list.

The Makeup & Hairstylists Guild nominated (cut down for our purposes):

  • Period/Character Makeup — Hail Caesar, Suicide Squad
  • Period/Character Hairstyling — Florence Foster Jenkins, Hail Caesar
  • Special Makeup Effects — Deadpool, Star Trek, Suicide Squad

This pretty much tells me nothing. But it’s Makeup & Hairstyling. The fact that you only have to be about half right is the gift.

Hail Caesar got two guild nominations, so let’s take them. I also assume Florence will get on, because Meryl gets these things on. Then you have your final spot. Not so bad.

I watched A Man Called Ove and didn’t quite get where the makeup and hairstyling was. It’s not as overt as last year, where the dude was made up to look 100 years old. I know these are the same people who worked on both movies, but are people really picking it just because, “Well, they nominated it last year, and we didn’t get it, so let’s pick it this year.” I think that’s an overreaction. The kind of overreaction people make too often. I’m not falling for it. I can’t see them nominating this without a clear, flashy makeup job. So let’s say no on this one.

The Dressmaker is all about the Judy Davis makeup. They could nominate it on that alone. No idea. I’m gonna err on the side of no. But I’m not as solid on that.

Star Trek, the first one, won this category. It could easily also be nominated here too. I just have no idea.

Deadpool is all about the makeup on him, and that might be a red herring. I’m torn between them saying, “Well, we did like it” and actually sticking to the principles of makeup. You don’t know if they’re gonna be populist or principled.

What’s left? Oh, Suicide Squad. That is a lot of showy makeup. And the guild nominated twice. We probably need to go with that. Fuck it, let’s go with that. Academy Award nominee Suicide Squad.

Best Makeup & Hairstyling

Florence Foster Jenkins

Hail, Caesar!

Suicide Squad

First Alternate: Star Trek Beyond

Dark Horse: Deadpool

Surprise: The Dressmaker, A Man Called Ove

Shocker: N/A

Don’t even bother: N/A

Would love to see: N/A

Your guess is as good as mine.

– – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – –

Visual Effects. Which, after last year, all bets are off now with what we know about this one.

We have a shortlist:

  • Arrival
  • The BFG
  • Captain America: Civil War
  • Deepwater Horizon
  • Doctor Strange
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
  • The Jungle Book
  • Kubo and the Two Strings
  • Passengers
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Couple of things you can probably count on: Rogue one will probably be nominated. Passengers will not be nominated. I would take a flier on The Jungle Book. I hear those effects were pretty good.

VES vs. The Oscars:

  • Last year, the main category (what I call “Effects Driven” even though it’s an outdated name) had 3/5. Ex Machina wasn’t nominated and The Revenant got in the “Supporting Effects” category.
  • 2014, the Effects-Driven category had 4/5. Captain America got lesser nominations.
  • 2013, Effects-Driven had 4/5 and Supporting had the last one.
  • 2012, Effects-Driven had 4/5. The fifth nominee wasn’t shortlisted and the actual nominee wasn’t nominated by VES.
  • 2011: Effects-Driven had 3/5, Supporting had 1. #5 wasn’t nominated by VES.
  • 2010: Effects-Driven had 4/5, Supporting had the other one.
  • 2009: 3/3 Effects-Driven.
  • 2008: 2/3 Effects-Driven. (Dark Knight was kinda nominated by them.)
  • 2007: 3/3 Effects-Driven.


  • Last year, they got 4/5, missing The Revenant.
  • 2014, they had 4/5. Missed Captain America.
  • 2013, 4/5. Missed The Lone Ranger.
  • 2012, 4/5. Missed Snow White and the Huntsman.
  • 2011, 3/5. Missed Real Steel and Transformers.
  • 2010, 3/5. Missed Hereafter and Iron Man 2.
  • 2009, All 3 were nominated.
  • 2008, All 3 were nominated.
  • 2007, 2/3. Missed Transformers.


  • Last year, they missed Star Wars, but had the rest.
  • 2014, 3/5. Missed X-Men and Captain America.
  • 2013, 4/5. Missed The Lone Ranger.
  • 2012, 3/5. Missed Prometheus and Snow White and the Huntsman.
  • 2011, 3/5. Missed Real Steel and Transformers.
  • 2010, 3/5. Missed Hereafter and Iron Man 2. (Four nominees.)
  • 2009, All 3 were nominated.

So… I’m thinking you generally go with the consensus from the 3, but also use logic. What were some well-done practical effects or what was a Best Picture type film with big effects. Makes sense.


  • Outstanding Effects — Doctor Strange, Fantastic Beasts, Jungle Book, Miss Peregrine, Rogue One
  • Supporting Effects — Allied, Deepwater, Bourne, Silence, Sully
  • Animated Performance — Fantastic Beasts, Jungle Book x 2, Rogue One, Warcraft
  • Created Environment — Deadpool, Doctor Strange x 2, Rogue One
  • Virtual Cinematography — Doctor Strange, Jungle Book, Rogue One
  • Outstanding Model — Deepwater, Rogue One  x2, Star Trek Beyond
  • Effects Simulations — Doctor Strange, Jungle Book, Rogue One
  • Outstanding Composition — Doctor Strange, Independence Day, Jungle Book, X-Men

Kubo also got a bunch of animated nominations from them.

BAFTA — Arrival, Doctor Strange, Fantastic Beasts, Jungle Book, Rogue One

BFCA — Arrival, Doctor  Strange, Fantastic Beasts, Jungle Book, A Monster Calls.

So beginning with Rogue One and Jungle Book as a given, let’s take it from there.

Doctor Strange is all over these lists, so let’s put that on. Now… Marvel got a double nomination in 2014, but that was Guardians and Winter Soldier. One with great practical effects and the other was a very charming film. Last year, they skipped Marvel entirely, despite Ant-Man having really decent effects.

This is all prelude for me saying, if they go Marvel at all, it’s Doctor Strange. I can’t imagine them double dipping and putting Civil War on there as well. That hasn’t gotten any precursors, and I think they’re just done with that sort of thing. So I’m leaving Civil War off.

Deepwater got two VES nominations, but the effects didn’t feel impressive, so I don’t think they’d go there. Leaving that off too. It seems like an obvious choice and I feel a lot of people are gonna put it on their lists on principle, but that’s exactly why I feel like I should leave it off. It’s too easy. I don’t see it.

BFG is Spielberg, and while I could see it — was anyone impressed with it? I don’t think that’s gonna move the needle for them.

The last two spots are between three films:

Kubo and the Two Strings is a really impressive animated movie, but to see it get a Visual Effects nomination would be almost unheard of. Though Nightmare Before Christmas would could as a precedent here. And since this kind of is being talked about on that level, it could happen. But also… visual effects in 1993 are not what visual effects are now. So I don’t know if they do this, no matter how much I think they love the film.

Fantastic Beasts is Harry Potter, which has been nominated three times in this category. Then again… only three times in this category. Not quite Lord of the Rings level. The three nominations were Azkaban and both Deathly Hallows films. So… the ones considered the best overall movies. Not sure if that affects anything, but at this point, I feel more confident with it on than off.

And then there’s Arrival. Which is a Best Picture nominee and has very effective supporting effects. There’s usually a whole other set of rules for something like this, but this year, all bets are off. I have no idea.

I’m thinking two of these three make it on. I don’t know which two. The safe version is Arrival and Fantastic Beasts, leaving Kubo as an alternate. (Though of course watch BFG end up nominated.) I’m gonna go with that version, even though I’d really like to see Kubo get on in the end.

Best Visual Effects


Doctor Strange

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

The Jungle Book

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

First Alternate: Kubo and the Two Strings

Dark Horse: The BFG

Surprise: Captain America: Civil War, Deepwater Horizon

Shocker: Passengers

Don’t even bother: N/A

Would love to see: Kubo and the Two Strings get on.

Truly, they can be a bit tricky. They could put BFG or Civil War on there. I can’t say they won’t. But I can say that they’ll probably vote on 4 of the 5 on my list, which is all you can really ask for.

I will be so happy if they put Kubo on there. But I’m not gonna believe it until I see it.

– – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – –

Now for the Sound categories. MPSE never nominates when we need them to, se we fly blind on the Editing category. Fortunately Editing and Mixing generally go hand in hand for the most part, so we can use CAS as somewhat of a guidepost.

To get it out of the way, even though it’s unhelpful at the moment, here’s what MPSE did the past couple of years:

  • Last year, MPSE had Mad Max, The Martian, The Revenant and Star Wars in all three categories and all four were nominated. Sicario hit the main two and was nominated.
  • In 2014,  Birdman hit all three (nominated), Dawn of the Planet of the Apes made two (not nominated), as did Interstellar (nominated), American Sniper and Unbroken hit one (both nominated). And The Hobbit wasn’t nominated at all. In either guild. So that was a surprise.
  • 2013: Of the three categories of MPSE, one Oscar nominee (Gravity) made all three, then three more (Hobbit, Lone Survivor, Captain Phillips) made two of the three. And one (All Is Lost) only made one. (12 Years a Slave hit all three and wasn’t nominated. American Hustle hit two but wasn’t nominated. Iron Man had CAS too.)
  • 2012: Three Oscar nominees hit all three MPSE (Skyfall, Life of Pi, Argo). One (Django) hit two of three. (Zero Dark wasn’t nominated at all by MPSE.)
  • 2011: Super 8 hit all three MPSE but went unnominated. Dragon Tattoo hit 2/3. As did Dark of the Moon, War Horse and Drive. Hugo got one.
  • 2010: Inception hit all 3. True Grit hit 2. Toy Story got an animated one, but only one. Tron only got one. Unstoppable only got one. (Social Network and Black Swan got 2 but were unnominated. As did Deathly Hallows. See what I mean when I say you also have to look at CAS here too? It’s a lot to do.)

More importantly — most of the time, Sound Mixing and Sound Editing are matching 4/5 nominees. Sometimes it’s less, but usually it’s 4/5. Very rarely is it 5/5. So that’s something to keep in mind.

Your CAS category this year was:

Doctor Strange, Hacksaw Ridge, La La Land, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Sully

La La Land is gonna be nominated for Mixing. I doubt it gets nominated for Editing. So that’ll be at least one difference between the two lists. Taking that off, that leaves your four frontrunners and major contenders as Doctor Strange, Hacksaw Ridge, Rogue One and Sully.

Now, BAFTA… this will be interesting. BAFTA only has one category for sound awards. Which is somewhat helpful. That means it’s more Mixing than Editing, but since they do sync up pretty well most of the time, it does help.

  • Last year, BAFTA had 5/5 in Sound Mixing and 4/5 in Sound Editing.
  • 2014, BAFTA had 3/5 in Mixing and 2/5 in Editing. (They had Grand Budapest and Imitation Game, which were odd Sound choices. Which is good. That can help us.)
  • 2013, BAFTA had 3/5 in Mixing and 3/5 in Editing. (They had Rush, which missed entirely. And then they had the split between Llewyn Davis and All Is Lost, but didn’t have Lone Survivor anywhere.)
  • 2012, BAFTA had 3/5 in Mixing and 3/5 in Editing. (They missed Argo entirely in both and had The Hobbit on which missed both at the Oscars.)
  • 2011, BAFTA had 2/5 in Mixing and 2/5 in Editing. Only Hugo and War Horse. Otherwise they had The Artist (?) and Deathly Hallows, which missed. And Tinker Tailor, which missed.
  • 2010, BAFTA had 3/5 in Mixing and 2/5 in Editing. That was a weird year, I remember that one. So that’s fine.
  • 2009, BAFTA had 3/5 in Mixing and 4/5 in Editing. They missed Inglourious Basterds entirely. (Quentin gets those Sound nominations, doesn’t he?)

I thought they were more helpful than they were. Last year was an outlier because everyone knew what the choices were gonna be. Mad Max, Revenant, Martian, Star Wars. Hard to mess that up.

So this year, BAFTA nominated Arrival, Deepwater Horizon, Fantastic Beasts, Hacksaw Ridge and La La Land.

Yeah… that brings my extra nominee into the equation. I still remember Lone Survivor catching both Sound nominations. I was gonna say Deepwater. Especially since it’s a disaster movie. Though now you have Patriots Day, and that could mess everything up. Pete Berg’s got two of these fucking things on there. But at least BAFTA is a signpost.

Anyway, going back to the point… this category could go anywhere, but I think we have enough to safely pick a category.

Start with the obvious — Star Wars. You gonna leave that off? Nah, me neither. So that’s one.

Hacksaw — war movie. They’re gonna nominate it in Editing almost for sure, and likely put it in both. Put that on.

Arrival — all about sound, they’re gonna nominate it in both. It’s more likely in Mixing than Editing, but at that level, just fucking put it on both.

You have 3/5 on both lists covered already. It’s really not that insane once you start going through it. Now, though, is where it will get difficult. Since you gotta pick some splits.

Sully is about a plane crash, and CAS nominated it, which is Mixing. Eastwood tends to get Sound nominations, so I’m gonna put Sully on at least one of my lists. Maybe I don’t put it on Mixing, we’ll see. But I think he gets at least an Editing nomination out of that.

That leaves one spot. And I already said Deepwater. Disaster movie, Pete Berg got Lone Survivor on here twice, it has a BAFTA nomination… I feel okay there.

Best Sound Editing


Deepwater Horizon

Hacksaw Ridge

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story


First Alternate: The Jungle Book

Dark Horse: Doctor Strange

Surprise: Patriots Day, Hell or High Water, Allied

Shocker: Silence, Live by Night, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Don’t even bother: Can we really rule anything out here? Maybe Passengers?

Would love to see: 5/5 here. Wouldn’t we all.

I’m thinking my top seven choices are your likely category. Maybe Allied or Patriots Day sneaks in there. Those seem like your only real contenders for it. But it’s Sound. I have no idea. Especially without a guild to guide me. I think we’re past the days of random shit like Salt getting on there and surprising us all.

Which does remind me — Salt was Greg P. Russell, the man who’s been nominated 16 times without a win. Last nominated for Skyfall and nothing since. Perhaps his war movie this year, 13 Hours, has a shot in Mixing? Doubt it, but 0-16 sure does suck. Though honestly not nominating him is less cruel than putting him on for 13 Hours, knowing it makes him 0-17.

– – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – –

Let’s just look specifically at the amount of times Mixing and Editing matched as categories. Or rather, how many times films got nominated in both.

  • Last year, they matched 4/5. Mad Max, The Martian, The Revenant, Star Wars. (Sicario got on Editing and Bridge of Spies got on Mixing.)
  • 2014, 4/5. American Sniper, Birdman, Interstellar and Unbroken got both. (Mixing had Whiplash and Editing had The Hobbit.)
  • 2013, 4/5. Gravity, Captain Phillips, The Hobbit and Lone Survivor got both. (Mixing had Llewyn Davis and Editing had All Is Lost.)
  • 2012, 3/5. Argo, Life of Pi and Skyfall got both. (Editing had Zero Dark and Django, and Mixing had Les Mis and Lincoln.)
  • 2011, 4/5. Hugo, Dragon Tattoo, Transformers and War Horse got both. (Editing had Drive and Mixing had Moneyball.)
  • 2010, 2/5. Inception and True Grit had both. (Editing had Toy Story 3, Tron Legacy and Unstoppable. Mixing had The King’s Speech, Salt and The Social Network.)
  • 2009, 4/5. The Hurt Locker, Avatar, Inglourious Basterds and Star Trek got both. (Editing had Up and Mixing had Transformers.)
  • 2008, 4/5. Dark Knight, Slumdog, Wall-E and Wanted got both. (Editing had Iron Man and Mixing had Benjamin Button.)
  • 2007, 4/5. Bourne Ultimatum, No Country, Transformers and Ratatouille got all four. (Editing had There Will Be Blood and Mixing had 3:10 to Yuma.)
  • 2006, 4/5. Apocalypto, Flags of Our Fathers, Blood Diamond and Pirates got all four. (Editing had Letters from Iwo Jima and Mixing had Dreamgirls.)

Before then, Editing only had three nominees. But we’ll go back to 2002 anyway.

  • 2005: King Kong, War of the Worlds and Memoirs of a Geisha had both.
  • 2004: The Incredibles, The Polar Express and Spider-Man 2 got both.
  • 2003: Master and Commander and Pirates got both. (Editing had Finding Nemo.)
  • 2002: Two Towers and Road to Perdition got both. (Editing had Minority Report.)

This really doesn’t mean a whole lot, since La La Land will only be nominated in Mixing and that’ll be the one difference at the top. The only question then is whether or not we have another one on top of that.

You know La La Land is the given. And then you have Arrival, Hacksaw and Rogue One from Editing. You really gonna try to play that split game? That ends well for nobody when you try splitting nominees like that.

Though now, with a fifth spot, you can either double down on one of your Editing nominees (in my case that’s Deepwater or Sully) or you can try to find another one that could get on out of nowhere. (Like I said up there, going on the Greg P. Russell train, which I feel is too easy to do and only wastes a spot.)

Thinking about what that could be… Patriots Day is a weird monkey wrench into the proceedings. I’m just gonna avoid it, because it’s easier that way.

Jungle Book feels more Editing than Mixing, so if I were gonna go there, it would be in the previous category, not here. Doctor Strange… the guild nominated it, but the guild has a history of nominating Marvel. Guardians, Iron Man 3… I’m not putting any stock into it.

The one I keep thinking about is Silence, but I just don’t feel any support for that to think it’ll get a Sound Mixing nomination.

And since Sully feels entirely about Editing than Mixing, and isn’t as big as American Sniper as to get both, let’s double down on Deepwater Horizon. I feel like I’m gonna get the other four right, so at that point, this is house money. Let’s play it safe and keep it uniform.

Best Sound Mixing


Deepwater Horizon

Hacksaw Ridge

La La Land

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

First Alternate: Sully

Dark Horse: Silence

Surprise: Patriots Day, The Jungle Book, Doctor Strange

Shocker: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Live by Night

Don’t even bother: Passengers

Would love to see: 5/5 in both sound categories. You know how impossible that is?

At this point, you’re likely gonna get 3/5 or 4/5. You theoretically could go 5/5, but I wouldn’t hold out too much hope for that. You might get lucky like last year and have some solid locks to keep you looking good on both.

– – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – –

Animated Feature.

All your eligibles:

  • The Angry Birds Movie
  • April and the Extraordinary World
  • Bilal
  • Finding Dory
  • Ice Age: Collision Course
  • Kingsglaive Final Fantasy XV
  • Kubo and the Two Strings
  • Kung Fu Panda 3
  • The Little Prince
  • Long Way North
  • Miss Hokusai
  • Moana
  • Monkey King: Hero Is Back
  • Mune
  • Mustafa & the Magician
  • My Life as a Zucchini
  • Phantom Boy
  • The Red Turtle
  • Sausage Party
  • The Secret Life of Pets
  • Sing
  • Snowtime!
  • Storks
  • Trolls
  • 25 April
  • Your Name
  • Zootopia

To save you time, I bolded the only ones with a chance at a nomination. Trust me, anything else outside of those counts as a shocker. And even some of the bolded ones would be pretty surprising. At this point, let it happen,

This one isn’t that complicated — you gotta put Zootopia on. You gotta put Kubo on. And you probably have to put Moana on.

Finding Dory — you could make the case that they will leave that off. Cars 2 was left off, as was Monsters University. But both of those had lesser reviews all around. This one was received pretty well. Though I can see this happening and would not rule out that it’s left off. Watch out for a potential Finding Dory snub. But, are you gonna guess it? That’s the real decision to make. I’m not leaving it off. I’m just gonna let that happen. Which means I have four of my spots booked up without even trying.

In past years, they typically put at least one hand-drawn entry on the list, if not two (which is why Finding Dory, or even one of the Disney ones, could be left off), so that makes you look at those. But let’s go through some obvious things first:

In the past ten years, and almost entirely in the history of the category, save like three instances ever, no film with less than a 60% rating on Rotten Tomatoes has been nominated in this category. So you need good reviews. We don’t have to worry about that on the list I gave you. All the nominees on my personal short(er)list are well above 60%. Even Trolls and Sing managed 70% and above. So check there. What we have to do is look at all the possibilities and work our way through.

First, the non-Disney, non-Pixar, big studio ones: The Secret Life of Pets, Sing and Trolls. Between those three, it’s only gonna be The Secret Life of Pets or nothing. That’s it. Sing was cute, but clearly not the choice between the two Illumination entries. Pets made a fuck ton of money and was better received. Trolls — ehh. No one really liked it or cared. So eliminate those two and stick with Pets.

Then you have the foreign entries — My Life as a Zucchini, Phantom Boy and The Red Turtle.

Phantom Boy is on there because the director’s previous film, A Cat in Paris, was nominated in 2011, during that rejection of CG-animated films and the snub of both Tintin and Cars 2. So I mention it, but I don’t think the director carries the stature of the guy who made Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea, so I don’t think it’ll make it on. Weaker year, maybe. Not this year.

My Life as a Zucchini is shortlisted in both Animated and Foreign Language Film. Which is interesting. I’m honestly not sure in which category it has a better chance. My guess is, if they double down on traditional animation, this is the film that benefits the most. Technically it’s stop-motion, but you know what I mean. I’ll keep it as a dark horse at worst. Because this could make it on. There’s definitely a major scenario in which this gets nominated.

The Red Turtle is gorgeous, hand-drawn, and a co-production between Wild Bunch and Studio Ghibli. I honestly don’t see how they pass this one up. They might, but this feels like a nominee. It for sure feels like everything this branch goes for and nominates over other, higher profile studio nominees. There’s no way I can leave this off.

The Little Prince is Netflix, so if they throw enough money at it, maybe they get on. But it doesn’t feel at all like a nominee, so I’m gonna leave it off and see if it manages to get on.

And then there’s Sausage Party, which would be really amusing, but I don’t think anyone thinks they’re gonna go there. If it were hand-drawn or stop-motion or something, maybe. Or if it were a really weak year. But there are no weak years anymore in animation. So this is a cute possibility, but not one I’m prepared to guess. Let them vote for it.

I’ve already figured out my five before I finished talking about those, so let’s just get to it.

Best Animated Feature

Finding Dory

Kubo and the Two Strings


The Red Turtle


First Alternate: My Life as a Zucchini

Dark Horse: The Secret Life of Pets

Surprise: The Little Prince, Sausage Party, Sing, Trolls

Shocker: April and the Extraordinary World, Long Way North, Miss Hokusai, Phantom Boy, Your Name

Don’t even bother: The rest.

Would love to see: This exact category.

You’re getting 3/5 at minimum. No chance you get less than that unless they go completely off the board, batshit crazy. You have a good shot at 4/5, but I don’t know if that means The Red Turtle or Finding Dory. I could make cases both for and against either. The Secret Life of Pets feels like a nominee based on how much money it made, but I honestly don’t see room for it unless they either compromise their artistic values or throw off Pixar, which they’ve secretly wanted to do for years. Though at that point, if you’re gonna throw off Pixar, why do it to put on Illumination? Wouldn’t you then put on My Life as a Zucchini or Phantom Boy or April and the Extraordinary World or one of those hand drawn movies that they love putting on just to spite populists?

Look at the last few years — last year they put on Boy and the World and When Marnie Was There. They tend to have two “art” nominees per year. That might extend to My Life as a Zucchini this year. It might be prudent to actually leave Finding Dory off.

Of course I say that and I’m still taking the obvious five and letting them do what they want. You can only go so far trying to figure out the Animation branch.

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Foreign Language film now. We’ve already discussed one of the potential nominees.


  • Tanna (Australia)
  • It’s Only the End of the World (Canada)
  • Land of Mine (Denmark)
  • Toni Erdmann (Germany)
  • The Salesman (Iran)
  • The King’s Choice (Norway)
  • Paradise (Russia)
  • A Man Called Ove (Sweden)
  • My Life as a Zucchini (Switzerland)

I’ve seen 7/9 here. Still unable to find It’s Only the End of the World and Paradise.

Of the ones I’ve seen, my favorites are Toni Erdmann, The Salesman and A Man Called Ove. Didn’t love The King’s Choice. Tanna was fine. Looked good and I like how they made it. My Life as a Zucchini looked nice, but my reaction was about the same as its been for the other two Laika movies (Boxtrolls and ParaNorman) — ehh. Anyway, guessing how nominees are gonna go…

BAFTA nominated Toni Erdmann. BFCA nominated Toni Erdmann and The Salesman, as did the Globes.

Toni Erdmann looks like a probable winner, so you should probably guess that. And The Salesman is Asghar Farhadi, who won for A Separation, and I would feel weird not guessing that.

Since I liked A Man Called Ove, I’m gonna guess that, since I honestly have no idea. Plus, hey, it’s shortlisted in another category, so that must mean something, right? Land of Mine felt like a nominee all throughout this process, so I’m gonna stick with it. It was solid enough to feel worth it.

Leaving off The King’s Choice, because it doesn’t feel right. Just doesn’t feel like something they’d nominate. The only times I’ve seen them go for ones that don’t feel right, it’s typically them voting on a country situation than a film. And this is not one of those times. So, I’m leaving it off. Which makes my life easier.

Paradise… I hear it’s great, but do we want to be giving Russia a nomination in the current climate? Just a thought. But it looks good based on the images I saw, and could easily make it on.

It’s Only the End of the World — this is the second shortlist of Xavier Dolan, but I got the sense that this movie wasn’t as well received as Mommy was. And has a Foreign Language nominee gotten bad reviews recently? So let’s assume no, though you can’t discount the double shortlist. They clearly want to nominate him at some point. I’m gonna say not this time just because of the bad reviews.

My Life as a Zucchini — I mean, they probably will, but I just can’t guess it. That’s too obvious in a not-obvious way. The minute they nominate this the minute it has no shot at winning. I’m gonna say no and leave it as the alternate, because I feel like if I am wrong about something, this will be the film that gets on in its place.

I’m left with Tanna, which is Australian, but shot in another language and starring indigenous peoples. I think they like that sort of thing and will go for the exotic nature of the narrative. It’s basically Romeo and Juliet with indigenous peoples. There’s a volcano, it’s a whole thing. I think they’ll go for it.

You can’t even piecemeal this by country, since six of them are Europe, one is Middle Eastern and then Australia and Canada. So I’m gonna take two of the three non-European ones and assume they go 50% on Europe.

Best Foreign Language Film

Land of Mine

A Man Called Ove

The Salesman


Toni Erdmann

First Alternate: My Life as a Zucchini

Dark Horse: Paradise

Surprise: The King’s Choice, It’s Only the End of the World

Shocker: N/A

Don’t even bother: N/A

Would love to see: A 5/5 here. Which is almost impossible, despite the odds.

I think the only two that would surprise me are The King’s Choice and It’s Only the End of the World. The latter would surprise me because it got bad reviews. And there are huge stars in it. Rarely do Foreign Language nominees have big stars in it. Maybe one, like Javier Bardem. But that one has Marion Cotillard, Vincent Cassel and Lea Seydoux in it. And probably even more. Those are just the three I know offhand. And The King’s Choice just feels bland.

Anything outside of those could easily make it on and I wouldn’t bat an eyelash. I’m probably gonna be wrong on at least one of them. I assume two automatically. But one is Russia, and I want to see what they do with that. The other is animated.

Honestly, I feel good about my choices. Let’s see which way they go.

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Documentary time.

Here’s how this is gonna work — O.J. Made in America. We’re all gonna have it on our nominations list. And then, because they’re the fucking Documentary branch, they won’t nominate it, we’re all gonna be wrong, and we’re all gonna be outraged and scream about how they need to change their outdated voting methods. Because this happens almost every year. Or it will be nominated and win and all will be right with the world. But you still need to put it on there.


  • Cameraperson
  • Command and Control
  • The Eagle Huntress
  • Fire at Sea
  • Gleason
  • Hooligan Sparrow
  • I Am Not Your Negro
  • The Ivory Game
  • Life, Animated
  • O.J. Made in America
  • 13th
  • Tower
  • Weiner
  • The Witness
  • Zero Days

To begin, I’ve seen 13 of these. I have not been able to see I Am Not Your Negro (since it’s not officially out until February 3rd) or Cameraperson. Though Cameraperson I can pay to see on Youtube if I want. Doubt that’ll happen before a nomination happens.

Here’s what they’re about:

  • Cameraperson is about a cinematographer who compiles all the video and images she’s compiled from her years working all over the globe. It’s supposed to be gorgeous.
  • Command and Control is by the guy who did Last Days in Vietnam (which was nominated) and is about the near launch of a nuclear missile in 1980.
  • The Eagle Huntress is about a young girl who decides she wants to hunt eagles, which is something only the men in her culture have ever done.
  • Fire at Sea is about a village on an island south of Sicily that is the first port all the refugees from Syria wind up after traversing the Mediterranean.
  • Gleason is about Steve Gleason, an NFL player best known for blocking the punt in the first game back in the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina, as he is diagnosed with ALS.
  • Hooligan Sparrow is about a Chinese female rights activist fighting for justice for six elementary school girls who were raped by their principal.
  • I Am Not Your Negro is “the story of the negro in America, (which) is the story of America.”
  • The Ivory Game is a Netflix documentary about the slaughter of elephants for their tusks.
  • Life, Animated is about an autistic kid who learns to communicate through Disney movies.
  • O.J. Made in America is about O.J. Who was made in America. I’d have thought that would be obvious from the title.
  • 13th is about how prisons are disproportionally filled with African-Americans and what that says about this country.
  • Tower is about the Texas Bell Tower sniper and is a rotoscoped recounting of that day’s events.
  • Weiner is about Anthony Weiner, and his complete inability to not sabotage his own career.
  • The Witness is about the murder of Kitty Genovese and the attempt by her brother to get closure for her murder by interviewing all the witnesses who heard her be murdered on the street and did nothing.
  • Zero Days is about a computer virus the US (clearly) helped write, designed to hack into other countries’ nuclear arsenals, which has spread way beyond its intended use and now affects everyone.

To try to break this down — you have to put O.J. on. That’s insane to try to call that shot. And then now we pick the other four… here’s how the shortlist breaks down thematically:

  • Civil Rights — Hooligan Sparrow, I Am Not Your Negro, 13th
  • Environmental — The Ivory Game
  • Political Issue Du Jour — Fire at Sea
  • Artistic — Cameraperson
  • Historical Event — Command and Control, Tower, The Witness
  • Uplifting — Eagle Huntress, Gleason, Life Animated
  • “Fucking Government…” — Zero Days
  • Carlos Danger — Weiner

The precursors aren’t totally helpful here.

  • BAFTA: 2/5, 3/5*, 1/5*, 1/5… you get the point.
  • BFCA: 3/5, 2/5, 2/5, 1/5, 1/5, 3/5, 2/5… you got it.
  • PGA: 2/5, 1/5, 0/5, 2/5, 0/5, 1/5, 2/5… I think we’re done here.

So we’ve established the precursors mean nothing in Documentary. So let’s look at them!

  • BAFTA — 13th, The Beatles: Eight Days a Week, The Eagle Huntress, Notes on Blindness, Weiner
  • PGA — Dancer, The Eagle Huntress, Life, Animated, O.J.: Made in America, Tower
  • BFCA created an entire documentary awards show. Ten nominees for Best Doc: 13th, Cameraperson, Fire at Sea, Gleason, Life Animated, O.J. Made in America, Tickled, Tower, Weiner, The Witness. (Pretty much all your shortlisted ones ended up on there somewhere.)

BAFTA has gone 3/5 before, and 3/5 is the best they’re gonna do this year, with only 13th, Weiner and The Eagle Huntress on the shortlist. The PGA could go 4/5, but I don’t think anyone actually expects that to happen. They’ll get one for sure, and probably 2, but I don’t think they get more than 2. BFCA is irrelevant, because their top ten are all shortlisted. That helps nobody. So we’re flying blind! Like usual.

The ones I know for sure that I will not, under any circumstance, guess on my list — which does not mean they won’t be nominated — are:

  • Command and Control — they premiered it as part of PBS, and I just can’t take that seriously. Now, of course, Last Days in Vietnam was the same thing, and I’m likely walking into a similar trap. But, you know, fool me twice… can’t get fooled again.
  • Hooligan Sparrow — I liked it a lot, but I don’t think the actual filmmaking is all that great. I don’t think they’d nominate this on message alone. I’d be fine with it, I just don’t know that they’d go there. I wouldn’t pick it, I know I wouldn’t, so I’m just gonna take it off now and let it get on.
  • The Witness — I just can’t see it. It was fine, but what’s the purpose of it? A brother getting some sort of closure for his sister’s death, which was a well-known thing in New York, but not really all that known outside of it. I can’t imagine they take such a narrow subject without any kind of feeling. It’s not uplifting, and it’s not about a big issue. I don’t see it.
  • Zero Days — it’s too specific about code and computing. Does anyone really care? It’s not as immediate as “police hate black people.” It’s Alex Gibney, who won here before with Taxi to the Dark Side. He gets shortlisted a bunch but never actually gets nominated. So I’m thinking this is another one of those situations. (He was shortlisted last year, for the Scientology documentary. This is what he does.)
  • The Ivory Game — this is Netflix, and I know Netflix managed to get two nominations last year. But I’m gonna figure that was a one-off and not a trend. If Netflix gets one or both on this year, then I know they’re buying nominations and that’s how we treat it from now on. Until then, assume no. This isn’t backed by Leo. I don’t think it gets on. I’ll be wrong. I assume Documentary will go horribly for me. I’m not guessing it.
  • Tower — it just doesn’t feel like them. It’s good. I like the rotoscoping, but will they nominate it on that alone? It feels like the shortlisting is the award. I’ll take my chances going against this.

That’s six that I won’t take. The other nine I’ll give a chance to. I need to take four of the remaining bunch off.

Honestly… I don’t think Life Animated makes it on. Maybe it does, but it just feels too slight. It’s basically a Disney commercial. I mean yeah, autistic kid communicates, it’s nice and all, but I don’t think they fall for it. So that’s off for me.

Gleason… this could happen. But it would be a departure for them. So I’m gonna say no on this too.

By the way… this is just my rationalization for how I’m picking my category. You don’t have to listen to me at all. There’s no right or wrong in Documentary. No one knows what they’re gonna do and we don’t have precursors to use as evidence for or against anything.

Now I’m left with: 13th, Cameraperson, Eagle Huntress, Fire at Sea, I Am Not Your Negro and Weiner.

13th is Ava DuVernay and Netflix. Between those two, I can’t not guess that it’ll be on. I’d rather be wrong picking it than be wrong not picking it. Because those are two big things in the way of campaigning. Her and Netflix. And the fact that it’s the big issue of the moment domestically. So let’s say yes. It checks all the boxes.

I Am Not Your Negro feels like the one of those two that should be on, even though I haven’t seen it so I can’t fully say for sure. Watch them leave it off. But I’m gonna guess it too, because I have to.

Cameraperson sounds exactly like the kind of thing they’d do. But I’m gonna say no. Maybe if I saw it I could make a better judgment. But I’m gonna say no. Why? No idea! Just cause.

It behooves me to put The Eagle Huntress on. So I will. Wouldn’t want to be the idiot that doesn’t pick that when it gets on.

So that fifth spot is either Fire at Sea or Weiner. One is a great documentary I liked a lot, and the other is a great documentary I liked a lot that’s also about the Syrian refugee crisis.

BUT… here’s what you have to take into account: it’s about the refugee crisis, but it’s actually about these villagers and their day to day lives. The refugee crisis is in the background. And since it’s more about painting a portrait of this situation and not about making white people feel like they’re accomplishing something by watching it, I don’t know if they’re gonna go for it.

But, since it was very good, I’m gonna think those instincts kick in and they nominate it. That said, watch them ignore it for exactly the reasons I stated above.

Best Documentary


The Eagle Huntress

Fire at Sea

I Am Not Your Negro

O.J. Made in America

First Alternate: Cameraperson

Dark Horse: Weiner

Surprise: The Ivory Game, Tower, Gleason, Life Animated

Shocker: Zero Days, The Witness, Hooligan Sparrow

Don’t even bother: Command and Control

Would love to see: N/A

There’s no way I’m going 5/5 here. The only question is how bad do I do.

I don’t know this branch. They’re fucking crazy. They’ll leave O.J. off. You watch them. They left the Roger Ebert documentary off that year, and they were waiting to give that the Oscar. They do stupid shit on the regular.

I’m gonna do badly here. I expect 2/5. I just want to make a respectable showing.

I’m also waiting to see just how bad the white guilt is this year and waiting for them to not nominate Fire at Sea so I can shit on them for ignoring it because it doesn’t make them feel like they solved the issue by watching it. It’s gonna be good. You should look out for that.

Honestly, no clue what they do with this.

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And now the three categories that you just have no fucking clue about. You know how hard people think these categories are to pick a winner from? Imagine having to guess nominees. Even with shortlists, it’s fucking impossible.

Anyway, we begin with Documentary Short. Shortlist is:

  • Brillo Box (3¢ Off) — follows a beloved Andy Warhol Brillo Box sculpture as it makes its way from a family’s living room to a record-breaking Christie’s auction, blending personal narrative with pop culture, and exploring how we navigate the ephemeral nature of art and value.
  • Close Ties — Forty-five years of marriage is an impressive anniversary. Barbara and Zdzisław could be proud of themselves if not for the fact that the husband left the wife for his lover eight years ago. But now they are together again, although Barbara claims that if it were not for his infirm legs, Zdzisław would still be chasing skirts around Kraków. Despite the past resentment, everyday problems with paying bills, an occupied bathroom and rearranging furniture, they have a hard to define bond.
  • Extremis — Witness the wrenching emotions that accompany end-of-life decisions as doctors, patients and families in a hospital ICU face harrowing choices. (This one is on Netflix.)
  • 4.1 Miles — A coast guard captain on a small Greek island is suddenly charged with saving thousands of refugees from drowning at sea. (Here’s the doc.)
  • Frame 394 — A young man from Toronto entangles himself in one of America’s most high-profile police shootings. (Watch here.)
  • Joe’s Violin — A 91-year-old Holocaust survivor donates his violin of 70 years to a local instrument drive,  changing the life of a 12-year-old schoolgirl from the nation’s poorest congressional district, and unexpectedly, his own. (Watch here.)
  • The Mute’s House — Eight-year-old Yousef and his deaf mother Sahar are the last Palestinian residents of an otherwise deserted building in the Israeli part of the city of Hebron. Their island within the Jewish quarter is called “The Mute’s House” by Israeli soldiers, even though Sahar isn’t mute at all. Travel agencies have included the property in their tours. Yousef makes good use of his privilege to cross the border when he goes to school. Through the tour guides’ explanations, we learn the story of Yousef and Sahar, who bravely withstand all the threats and bullying. None of Yousef’s Palestinian classmates can come to his house, and filmmaker Tamar Kay isn’t allowed to cross the border to film the Palestinian quarter with Yousef. Despite his disability – Yousef was born with one arm – he amuses himself with the chickens, goats and rabbits that forage among the ruined neighboring houses, and he plays the guitar and video games. The remarkable situation elegantly illustrates the absurdity of the endless conflict.
  • The Other Side of Home — In 1915, estimated 1.5 million Armenians were killed by the Ottoman Turks, during the Armenian Genocide. In 2015, a Turkish woman named Maya discovers that her great grandmother was survivor of the Armenian genocide. Maya embodies the conflict as she has two enemies living in her body: one side that suffers and the other side that denies. The documentary follows Maya as she decides to go to Armenia to take part in the 100th commemoration of the genocide and to explore her conflicted identity. This film is a universal story of identity, denial, and how the experience of genocide creates a ripple effect for future generations on both sides.
  • Watani: My Homeland — Tells the story of one family’s escape from war torn Aleppo and their attempt to make a new life in Germany.
  • The White Helmets — As daily airstrikes pound civilian targets in Syria, a group of indomitable first responders risk their lives to rescue victims from the rubble. (It’s on Netflix.)

The most difficult categories to pick each year are this one and Live Action Short. Once you have nominees it becomes easier, but picking what the nominees are gonna be — good luck.

If you have a chance to see them, then you’re on better ground, because you can see which ones emotionally affected you, and then typically figure the majority will feel the same way.

Taking the five I have seen:

  • The White Helmets is gonna get on. They already announced they’re turning that into a film. They’re gonna nominate it, and it might win. They love a documentary short they can turn into fiction. That’s their favorite thing. (See: Freeheld.)
  • Extremis is hit or miss. I’m gonna say yes, just because of the subject matter and the fact that it’s also Netflix, but it could easily be left off. I don’t really know.
  • Frame 394 — I feel like that has the opposite affect than what it’s intending to be. You think it’s about police injustice, but instead it’s about a millennial who at first stokes the flames of “Look at what this injustice is!” and then comes around and goes, “On second thought, the cop was in the right,” and starts to argue for the cop. It just feels too much like a millennial patting himself on the back for his computer skills. I really don’t think voters are gonna go for that, so I’m staying away.
  • 4.1 Miles sounds like they’ll go for it — Aleppo and all that. But I just didn’t find it all that interesting or captivating. Maybe I’m wrong and they’ll nominate it. But from what I saw, I don’t see it. I’m gonna say no on this one.
  • Joe’s Violin — 50/50. Holocaust survivor, has a violin. Gives it to a school who then gives it to a black child who wants to make music. Touching story. The documentary feels overly staged and trying too hard at times. Maybe they go for it on principle. Maybe not. Not sure yet on this one.

Now we’re left with the five I have not seen:

  • Brillo Box sounds fun, but how often do they go for fun here? Really almost never. The last few categories:
    • Ebola, mercy killings in the Middle East, boy overcoming Agent Orange to create art, Holocaust, death penalty.
    • Veteran care, dying woman leaves videos for child, parents dealing with child with rare disease, slaughterhouse worker, immigrants working in oil boom town.
    • Holocaust, man who makes cave paintings, hate crimes, Yemen revolution, dying prisoner.
    • Homeless girl creates art, retirement homes/how we treat old people, salon for women with cancer, African kids getting heart transplants, people who collect cans for money.
    • Acid attacks on women in Middle East, Civil Rights leader, actress who left to become a nun, Middle East incident recounting (the WikiLeaks one), tsunami victims.

See what I mean? They’re all about something. Brillo box — “hey, my family bought a box that was actually made by Andy Warhol!” It just doesn’t feel like them at all.

  • Close Ties is interesting. That could make it on. Old people with a complex relationship. If they’re charming, they might nominate them. I’ll keep that as a maybe.
  • The Mute’s House — Middle East. Child with disability. Mother with disability. Oh yeah, this’ll get on.
  • The Other Side of Home — about Armenian genocide. Okay. Woman’s story, exploring her history. This feels like one I’d normally throw out that will get nominated. It is about genocide, so I will keep it in.
  • Watani  — Aleppo, family… this feels like the one they’d go for.

Okay, so we have our list. I’m saying no on Frame 394 for sure and no on Brillo Box. Also gonna toss off 4.1 Miles, for better or worse. Though that does cross check as Aleppo, so it does have the “issue” to fit as a nominee. As does Frame 394, I guess.

Extremis is about end-of-life decisions. White Helmets is Aleppo. The Other Side of Home is Aleppo. Watani is genocide. The Mute’s House is Middle East conflict. Joe’s Violin is holocaust and using music to transcend shit. Close Ties is pretty much just the old people.

I’m gonna say White Helmets is on. I’ll leave Extremis on. The Mute’s House has to stay on. That leaves two spots and four choices.

Joe’s Violin is Holocaust, and you almost have to put that on. The Other Side of Home… do they go Aleppo more than once? Maybe they don’t. Watani feels like the nominee every year that I leave off figuring, “It’s not big enough for them,” and then it gets on because they like that personal journey shit. So I will fall into the trap this time by taking it and then being wrong when they ultimately don’t nominate it, as my original hunch suggested. Close Ties — no fucking clue.

Let’s put Joe’s Violin and Watani on and leave Other Side of Home and Close Ties off. I don’t know. I’m gonna get 2/5 on this, and that’s just how this category goes.

Best Documentary Short


The Mute’s House

Joe’s Violin

Watani: My Homeland

The White Helmets

First Alternate: Close Ties

Dark Horse: The Other Side of Home

Surprise: Frame 394, 4.1 Miles, Brillo Box (3¢ Off)

Shocker: Really?

Don’t even bother: N/A

Would love to see: N/A

No idea with this one. I would say put White Helmets and Mute’s House on there. After that, good luck.

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Best Live-Action Short. Welcome to the most impossible category to pick.

Your shortlist:

  • Bon Voyage — During a holiday cruise a sailing yacht encounters a sinking refugee boat. – Inspired by the current events in the Mediterranean sea.
  • Ennemis Intérieurs — During the 90s, Algerian terrorism reaches France. Two men. Two identities. One battle.
  • Graffiti — An apocalyptic world. A devastated city. One last survivor. Edgar has learned to survive on his own avoiding contaminated areas by the “incident” which destroyed life as we knew it. But Edgar’s routine is suddenly disrupted by the discovery of a wall with graffitis by his bed. Just one word reveals the presence of another survivor: “Anna.”
  • La Femme et le TGV –Elise Lafontaine has a secret routine. Every morning and evening for many years, she has been waving at the express train that passes her house. One fateful day, she finds a letter from the train conductor in her garden and her lonely life is turned upside down. She engages in a promising correspondence through poetic and thoughtful letters where the two anonymous writers share their worlds with each other. But Elise’s fairytale is cut short when the train line permanently detours for a shorter route to Paris. Not willing to do without her daily delight, Elise prompts a daring escape from her comfort zone and sets out to find the train conductor.
  • Nocturne in Black — In a war-ravaged Middle Eastern neighborhood, a disheartened musician struggles to rebuild his piano after it is destroyed by terrorists.
  • The Rifle, the Jackal, the Wolf and the Boy — Thinking they’re doing the right thing by taking matters into their own hands, two brothers cross the line when they take a household rifle without their father’s consent. Set in contemporary middle class rural Lebanon, a country with a porous border constantly threatened by hostile infiltration, this coming-of-age story examines fraternal trust and brings into focus the ethics of seemingly innocuous violence and its consequences.
  • Silent Nights  While volunteering at a shelter in Copenhagen, Inger falls in love with illegal immigrant Kwame. Inger and Kwame are happy for a while, until Kwame’s phone reveals a hidden secret about his life.
  • Sing — Zsofi has found it challenging to fit in at her new school, but her outlook begins to change when she is admitted to the school’s famous choir. That is, until she learns that the choir director may not be the inspirational teacher she is touted to be. It will take Zsofi and her new friend Liza to reveal the truth.
  • Timecode — Luna and Diego are the parking lot security guards. Diego does the night shift, and Luna works by day.
  • The Way of Tea — Follows the interaction between Alex, a young skinhead, and Malik, an Arabic store owner, as they struggle to find peace between each other on a cold night in northern France.  The two chat over Malik’s offering of what may be all that is needed to restore harmony: a cup of warm tea for another fellow civilian.

I’ve seen none of these, so we base this solely on whatever trailers are out there (many of which are extremely unhelpful) and pure guesswork.

None of these are comedy shorts. They typically like a comedy short or at least one “lighter” one to make it on. So that either makes it easier or more difficult, depending.

  • Timecode is the romantic one with the cute premise. Those always manage to get on. I’d take that.
  • Sing is about a child, and they tend to like those. I’m putting that on too.
  • Bon Voyage looks heavy and about Aleppo — 50/50 on that. Save it for later.
  • Ennemis Interieurs looks probable, but I don’t know. Let’s save it for later.
  • Graffiti looks like the film I’d gravitate most toward, but also feels like the one they’d leave off. I always like when people do these shorts, but it always seems like they leave these off in the end. Let’s hold off, since I might need to take it regardless.
  • The Way of Tea sure sounds like something they’d go with. But let’s hold off on that too.
  • La Femme et le TGV just sounds like pure sentimental drivel. They seem to avoid these when they can help it. Think of that one shortlisted last year about the old people who lived across the street from one another for sixty years and only now are starting a relationship. Think they’ll avoid it. Would rather not have it on.
  • The Rifle… etc… doesn’t feel like it adds up to enough for me to justify taking it. Also, it always feels like there’s a short about a hunter in the woods that never gets on. I don’t know, my gut says no, and I’ll just be wrong if it gets on.
  • What’s left… oh, Silent Nights. Yeah, no idea on that one. Let’s hold off for now.
  • And Nocturne in Black — dude in war zone trying to save a piano? I’m putting it on. This has them written all over it.

So with three I’m putting on: Sing, Timecode and Nocturne in Black, and two I’m for sure not putting on, La Femme et le TGV and the Rifle, Jackal etc… that leaves five shorts and two spots.

Bon Voyage, The Way of Tea, Silent Nights, Ennemis Interieurs and Graffiti.

Honestly, my gut says it’s gonna be those first two. Graffiti I want to see, and usually I put that on, but I just feel like it’s not gonna happen. So guessing it and being wrong is a double loss. Not guessing it and it getting on, great. Not guessing it and it doesn’t, I guessed it right. So let’s leave that off. Ennemie Interieurs — no idea. Can be on, can not be on. Silent Nights, same. No idea what to do with those. I’ll stick with Bon Voyage, which just feels like the first nominee on a list, and The Way of Tea, which feels like two people coming across cultural differences over something simple as tea. I think they like that shit.

Best Live-Action Short

Bon Voyage

Nocturne in Black



The Way of Tea

First Alternate: Graffiti

Dark Horse: Ennemis Intérieurs

Surprise: The Rifle the Jackal the Wolf and the Boy, La Femme et le TGV, Silent Nights

Shocker: N/A

Don’t even bother: N/A

Would love to see: N/A

I truly have no idea which way this is gonna go, and I will likely get only 2/5 here. I’m feeling 3/5 this year, but I’m not gonna hold out for anything more than that. The year I go perfect on these shorts is the year that I probably retire from doing this. This is the biggest crap shoot category of them all. No one knows what they’re gonna do.

– – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – –

And Best Animated Short.

Here’s the shortlist:

  • Blind Vaysha — From the moment she was born, Vaysha was a very special girl. With her left eye she can only see into the past, and with her right she can only see the future. The past is familiar and safe, the future is sinister and threatening. The present is a blind spot.
  • Borrowed Time — A weathered Sheriff returns to the remains of an accident he has spent a lifetime trying to forget. With each step forward, the memories come flooding back. Faced with his mistake once again, he must find the strength to carry on.
  • Happy End — A black comedy about death with a happy ending.
  • The Head Vanishes — Jacqueline has lost her mind a bit, but whatever, for her trip to the seaside, she has decided to take the train by herself, like a big girl!
  • Inner Workings — The mind and heart of an average office worker clash over what he wants and what he needs.
  • Once Upon a Line — A man leads a monotone, humdrum existence until he meets somebody.
  • Pear Cider and Cigarettes — The brutally honest story of Robert’s turbulent relationship with a self-destructive, yet charismatic friend from childhood, who cries out for help from a military hospital in China and sets Rob on a wild ride to get him home to Vancouver.
  • Pearl — Set inside their home, a beloved hatchback, Pearl follows a girl and her dad as they crisscross the country chasing their dreams. It’s a story about the gifts we hand down and their power to carry love. And finding grace in the unlikeliest of places.
  • Piper — A mother bird tries to teach her little one how to find food by herself. In the process, she encounters a traumatic experience that she must overcome in order to survive.
  • Sous Tes Doigts (Under Your Fingers) — When her grandmother deads, a young eurasian girl relives the story of the women of her family, from the colonial Indochine to the isolation in a transit camp.

Couple of things to note, since there is both a Disney film and a Pixar film on this list. First, Pixar has not won this category since 2001. I will bring this up should they be nominated, but it’s worth noting. They tend to get on every other year. They average that through the past twenty years. Exactly 10 for 20.

Now Disney — they’re not as frequently in this category as Pixar. They’re only 7 of the past 20 years.  They’ve won two of the past four years, though.

Also — Disney and Pixar have not both been nominated in this category at the same time since 2006. And it’s only happened twice ever. The odds actually favor not picking both Disney and Pixar, even though they seem like the two obvious choices.

Though you’ll probably end up having to take both anyway, since you figure, “Which gets on and which gets left off,” and if you pick one and not the other and get it wrong, then you’re basically down two. (Not really, but you know.)

I saw Inner Workings before Moana. Aside from the Inside Out comparisons, it’s very good. It manages to stand on its own, and I think they’ll nominate it.

Piper I saw in front of Finding Dory. It’s cute, but I don’t see a definite need to nominate it. Personally, I’m looking for a reason to leave it off.

Borrowed Time I managed to find online (I’m sure you can too if you search). Literally a depressed sheriff going back to the site where his father, the previous sheriff, was killed in an accident he feels responsible for. (In a way, he is.) Kinda morose. Dude literally ends up shooting his father in the face. Would they go for this? Possibly. I’m gonna say no, just because — ehh — but it’s possible they vote for the specific animators and this will get on because of that. Technically this is a Pixar film, but it’s not under their banner because — look at the subject matter.

Pearl I really liked. Of course that means it automatically won’t get on, because that’s how they do me every year. It’s gorgeously animated, and it’s the story of a father, a daughter and a car. It covers decades over five minutes and does this cool thing where you can see all the different angles of the car in a single image, which provides for some cool images as the car is in motion. It’s really touching. It’s online. You can find it very easily. Watch it and tell me it’s not great. I really think it should be nominated, but that never stops them from not nominating it. I’m putting it on my list because I need to feel the disappointment when they leave it off. (Note: The guy who made Feast also did this. I don’t know if that helps or hurts him.)

The Annies nominated Blind Vaysha, Pearl and Piper for Best Animated Short. Though, to be fair, last year, a bunch of shortlisted ones were also nominated and were left off.

Pearl Cider and Cigarettes is 35 minutes long. Will they go for something that long? I know they’ve gone short before. Fresh Guacamole was like a minute and a half long. It’s also a very personal story, and while they tend to like those personal ones (Me and My Moulton), they also might shy away from it because they’re so fixed they are in their ways. This will be one to watch out for. My gut tells me no, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen.

The National Film Board of Canada tends to do well in this category, getting nominations and even wins too (though no wins since 2006). They have two films eligible this year, Blind Vaysha and The Head Vanishes. I’ve seen The Head Vanishes, though none of the audio was in English, so I couldn’t really make heads or tails of what was being said. Blind Vaysha, from what I saw, looks like more artful animation, so I tend to side with that, if I had to choose between the two.

Both Once Upon a Line and Happy End are student films. I never know if they go for those or not. I always love the animation in these, but one never knows with this crazy ass branch.

Sous tes Doights just feels like the kind of nominee that gets on. Though I’ve only seen about 30 seconds of a trailer.

I’m gonna have to stick with both Disney and Pixar, just because I really don’t know and cannot predict that split. My gut tells me it’s Inner Workings and not Piper, so take that for what its worth. I think Sous tes Doights gets on for sure, so I put that on too. I’m gonna guess Pearl, like I said, even though it’s definitely smarter not to put it on than to put it on.

And honestly, since I’m usually wrong about it, and will be either way — I’ll put The Head Vanishes on. It sounds like something they’d do, so I’m gonna guess it.

Pearl Cider doesn’t feel like one, Blind Vaysha is one I’d normally pick and be wrong about, Borrowed Time — no idea. Happy End and Once Upon a Line, I’m just gonna let them do what they’re gonna do.

Best Animated Short

The Head Vanishes

Inner Workings



Sous tes Doights

First Alternate: Blind Vaysha

Dark Horse: Pearl Cider and Cigarettes

Surprise: Happy End, Borrowed Time, Once Upon a Line

Shocker: N/A

Don’t even bother: N/A

Would love to see: N/A

– – – – – – – – – –

So those are my guesses. Nominees are in the morning. I’ll write up reactions to the nominees in the afternoon.


One response

  1. Rob

    What a great post! I loved how thorough you researched the categories and the precursors. Can’t wait for tomorrow when the nominations are announced!

    January 23, 2017 at 2:01 pm

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