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story.lead_photo.caption The Martian is nominated for seven Oscars, including Best Picture and a nod for Best Actor for Matt Damon’s portrayal of stranded Mars astronaut Mark Watney.

The 88th annual Academy Awards will be broadcast Sunday night. As is our custom, we've assembled some highly invested industry observers and award mavens to help you -- yes, you, dear reader -- win your Oscar night party pool.

Steve Carell plays Mark Baum in The Big Short, which is nominated for Best Picture in the 88th annual Academy Awards.

This year's panel:

Sam Blair (SB), retired Little Rock Central High School college counselor, our resident armchair critic and a frequent contributor to our blood, dirt & angels blog; Jennifer Boulden (JB), associate editor of Arkansas Living magazine who dreams of someday having an opportunity to be played offstage; Danny-Joe Crofford (DJC), marketing and events director of War Memorial Stadium; Dan Lybarger (DL), our Kansas City-based film critic and "Karl Rove ... would-be Nate Silver of movie pundits"; Karen Martin (KM), the founder of our movie section and editor of the Democrat-Gazette's Sunday Perspective section; your humble correspondent (PM); Piers Marchant (Piers), our Philadelphia-based film critic; Jonathan Nettles (JN), film critic for KHTV, who is still upset over the Academy's snubbing of The Intouchables in 2012; Philip Price (PP), critic at; our day copy desk chief and invaluable font of cinematic history, Joe Riddle (Joe); film director, screenwriter, director and impresario Jay Russell (JR); Philadelphia resident, Movies in the Park founder and Bennett Miller enthusiast Blake Rutherford (BR); and filmmaker Tanner Smith (TS).

You'll find some extended comments on the blood, dirt & angels (blooddirtangels. com) blog.

Best Picture: The Revenant (JB, BR, PM, JN, JR, TS)

Spotlight (DJC, DL, Piers, PP)

The Big Short (SB, KM)

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian


Bridge of Spies


Comments: Everyone says this is a three-way race, which means it's a lot more exciting than prior years. While The Revenant is a film for the ages, my favorite movie of 2015, Carol, didn't get nominated. Right out of the box, Joe abstains, saying, "For the first time I have a tie for Best Picture: The Big Short and Spotlight. I can't pick just one." SB allows that Spotlight should win, but won't. And that Sicario should have been nominated. Piers says that Brooklyn was a close second on his ballot.

Best Director: Alejandro G. Inarritu, The Revenant (JB, SB, DJC, PM, JN, PP, BR, JR, TS)

George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road (DL, Piers)

Tom McCarthy, Spotlight (KM)

Lenny Abrahamson, Room (Joe)

Adam McKay, The Big Short

Comments: JN "really, really wants it to be George Miller for Mad Max: Fury Road." "George Miller seems the likely choice. Anyone who stages that much old school action is entitled to something." -- DL. "McKay or McCarthy might spoil, but everybody in the industry was talking long before the film came out what a hard and terrifying shoot The Revenant was. I think if your film achieves legendary status for the number of crew and actors who thought they might die, you get the edge." -- JB. Again Carol was snubbed -- Todd Haynes was deserving of a nom, but who would you cut? McKay or Abrahamson, I suppose.

Best Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant (JB, SB, DJC, Joe, DL, KM, PM, JN, Piers, PP, BR, JR)

Bryan Cranston, Trumbo (TS)

Matt Damon, The Martian

Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs

Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl

Comments: SB says Ian McKellen should have been nominated for Mr. Holmes. "Not crazy about any of these noms, to be honest with you." -- Piers. I didn't expect Christopher Abbot to be nominated for James White, but he's as deserving as any of these guys.

Best Actress: Brie Larson, Room (JB, SB, DJC, DL, JN, PP, BR, JR, TS)

Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years (KM, Piers, PM)

Cate Blanchett, Carol (Joe)

Jennifer Lawrence, Joy

Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

Comments: "I loved Saoirse Ronan, but have to give it to Charlotte Rampling, and everyone out there should go see this film by any means necessary." -- Piers

Best Supporting Actor: Sylvester Stallone, Creed (SB, JB, DJC, KM, PP, BR, JR, TS)

Tom Hardy, The Revenant (JN, PM)

Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies (Joe, Piers)

Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight (DL)

Christian Bale, The Big Short

Comments: Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation) is a curious omission.

Best Supporting Actress: Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl (JB, SB, DJC, DL, PP, BR, JR)

Rachel McAdams, Spotlight (KM, PM)

Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs (JN, TS)

Rooney Mara, Carol (Joe)

Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight (Piers)

Comments: "Worst Category Fraud: (tie) Rooney Mara (Carol), Alicia Vikander (Danish Girl). Both were excellent but clearly not supporting performances." -- SB. "Rooney Mara is very good, but let's give it to Jennifer Jason Leigh, who made two very interesting choices this year [see below]." -- Piers. "Almost always an unpredictable category." -- JB.

Best Original Screenplay: Spotlight (JB, SB, DJC, Joe, DL, KM, PP, BR, JR)

Inside Out (Piers, PM, TS)

Straight Outta Compton (JN)

Ex Machina

Bridge of Spies

Comments: "Spotlight ... best movie about journalism in at least a generation." -- JB.

Best Adapted Screenplay: The Big Short (JB, SB, DJC, Joe, DL, JN, Piers, PP, BR, JR, TS)

Room (PM)

Carol (KM)


The Martian

Comments: SB thinks the academy got the noms right for this category but that Room ought to win. This is a very strong category this year.

Best Documentary Feature: Amy (JB, SB, DJC, KM, PP, BR, JR, TS)

The Look of Silence (DL, Piers, PM)

Cartel Land

What Happened, Miss Simone?

Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom

Comments: Showkiller JN abstains. Joe abstains. "Worst sure-fire Lock: Amy. At least three of the other nominees are better." -- SB. A very strong category; Winter on Fire and The Look of Silence are both shockingly good. Amy, the presumptive winner, may be the weakest film in the field, and it's not bad.

Best Foreign Language Feature: Son of Saul (JB, SB, DJC, Joe, DL, PM, PP, BR, JR)

Mustang (KM)

A War (Piers)

Embrace of the Serpent


Comments: TS abstains. JN is "abstaining from the Best Foreign Film category ... again." Phoenix (Germany) should have been nominated, but it wasn't even Germany's submission.

Best Animated Feature: Inside Out (JB, SB, DJC, Joe, DL, PP, BR, JR, TS)

Anomalisa (KM, Piers, PM, JN)

Boy and the World

Shaun the Sheep Movie

When Marnie Was There

Comments: "Even though I couldn't make it through Anomalisa, I could see it winning for the undertaking of stop motion film. I want Inside Out to win." -- JN. "Anomalisa for the adults; Inside Out for everyone else. This was a good year to be animated, it turns out. Special shout-out to J.J. Leigh for really killing it in two utterly different films this year after being dormant a while." -- Piers.


MovieStyle on 02/26/2016

Print Headline: 13 cinephiles forecast Oscar results


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