It’s still quite early in the awards season, and there are surely be some surprises in store, but here are some likely nominees for next year’s Oscars.

Best Picture:

With their wide critical love and strong box office, “Spotlight,” the dramatization of the Boston Globe’s 2001 investigation of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, and “Brooklyn,” the story of a 1950s Irish immigrant torn between two countries, look like the biggest locks in the race. “Inside Out,” Pixar’s return to brilliance, Steven Spielberg’s “Bridge of Spies” and Lenny Abrahamson’s “Room” look pretty solid too. Todd Haynes’ “Carol,” a love story between two women in the 1950s, won the New York Film Critics’ Circle (NYFCC) Awards for Best Picture, Director, Screenplay and Cinematography, and it seems to be gaining steam, despite claims that the Academy might find it too cold. “The Revenant,” directed by last year’s “Best Director” Alejandro G. Inaritu has received early mixed word so far but hasn’t screened widely. Finally, “The Martian” and “Creed” look to represent the year’s populist choices, but both being snubbed by the Screen Actor’s Guild (SAG) Awards doesn’t look good.

Predicted nominees: “Bridge of Spies,” “Brooklyn,” “Carol,” “Creed,” “Inside Out,”  ”The Martian,” “Room,” “Spotlight.”

 

Best Director:

Ridley Scott will likely win his “overdue” Oscar, but if either Todd Haynes or George Miller—also considered overdue—can get themselves nominated, they might pose threats for the win.

Predicted nominees: Todd Haynes, “Carol”; Tom McCarthy, “Spotlight”; George Miller, “Mad Max: Fury Road”; Ridley Scott, “The Martian”; Stephen Spielberg, “Bridge of Spies.”

 

Best Actor:

Unusually, this is kind of a boring category this year. Reigning champ Eddie Redmayne is back with another transformative performance in “The Danish Girl” and could win again, but the film has received mixed reviews, and some are more impressed with Alicia Vikander’s performance in the film. Leonardo DiCaprio looks to be in the pole position to finally win for his demanding work as a hunter left for dead in “The Revenant.”

Predicted nominees: Matt Damon, “The Martian”; Johnny Depp, “Black Mass”; Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Revenant”; Michael Fassbender, “Steve Jobs”;  Eddie Redmayne, “The Danish Girl.”

 

Best Actress:

In contrast to the former category, Best Actress is stacked this year. Saoirse (pronounced “sir-shuh”, like “inertia”) Ronan, who won the NYFCC Award for Best Actress, and Brie Larson look to be in a battle for the win, though I wouldn’t count out former winners Jennifer Lawrence or Cate Blanchett, even if it’s unlikely if they’ll win so again so soon. After those four, it looks like a battle for the final slot among Charlotte Rampling, Carey Mulligan and surprise SAG nominee Sarah Silverman. But watch out: if Blanchett’s costar Rooney Mara ends up being nominated in this category instead of supporting, she could win.

Predicted nominees: Cate Blanchett, “Carol”; Brie Larson, “Room”; Jennifer Lawrence, “Joy”; Charlotte Rampling, “45 Years”; Saoirse Ronan, “Brooklyn.”

 

Best Supporting Actor:

Michael Keaton, a favorite to win last year in “Birdman,” might have a second chance at the prize if he and Mark Ruffalo don’t cancel each other out. Other possible narratives: Sylvester Stallone, again playing Rocky in the much-lauded “Creed,” could ride his popularity to a win, or Jacob Tremblay, who is supposed to have given one of the greatest child performances of all time, could upset. However, it’s notable that SAG snubbed both “Spotlight” actors and Stallone in favor of actors who might not be on the Academy’s radar, like Idris Elba for Netflix’s “Beast of No Nation.”

Predicted nominees: Paul Dano, “Love and Mercy”; Michael Keaton, “Spotlight”; Mark Ruffalo, “Spotlight”; Sylvester Stallone, “Creed”; Jacob Tremblay, “Room.”

 

Best Supporting Actress:

This race looks to be between Alicia Vikander and Rooney Mara, unless one or both is pushed into the Lead Actress category, or category confusion leads to them missing out on the nod. The final three slots are could go to Jane Fonda, Kate Winslet, Elizabeth Banks, Jennifer Jason Leigh or SAG nominee Rachel McAdams.

Predicted nominees: Kate Winslet, “Steve Jobs”; Jennifer Jason Leigh, “The Hateful Eight”; Rooney Mara, “Carol”; Rachel McAdams, “Spotlight;” Alicia Vikander, “The Danish Girl.”

 



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