Finally, after one of the most unpredictable and controversial awards seasons in history, the Academy Awards are upon us. Read on if you want to seem smarter than your friends.

Best Picture

Will Win: “Spotlight”

Should Win: “Brooklyn”

This is easily the closest race of the night. The Producers Guild, which is the only major awards body that utilizes the same preferential ballot as the Academy, went with “The Big Short” for the top prize, but the Golden Globes, BAFTA, and Directors Guild went with “The Revenant.” However, I’m looking for a last-minute surge from “Spotlight,” the early favorite that won the top prize at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. The film has widespread support in the media (it is about journalism, after all), and, at this point, seems to be the underdog choice.

I feel bad that “Brooklyn” never picked up enough steam to be considered a contender. It’s not considered “important” enough, but, in an age where millions of people contest American acceptance of refugees and want to build a wall between us and Mexico, I’d argue that a story of an immigrant finding home in America is just what we need.

Best Director

Will Win: Alejandro G. Iñárritu, “The Revenant”

Should Win: Todd Haynes, “Carol”

Todd Haynes might not be nominated in this category, but the directorial achievement of “Carol” cannot be overstated. But this race seems to be pretty much a shoo-in for Iñárritu to repeat his victory from last year.

Best Actor

Will Win: Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Revenant”

Should Win: Michael Fassbender, “Steve Jobs”

Leonardo DiCaprio should continue his inevitable steamroll to Oscar glory, but Michael Fassbender gives an incredible, icy performance as the Apple extraordinaire.

Best Actress

Will Win: Brie Larson, “Room”

Should Win: Saoirse Ronan, “Brooklyn”

Brie Larson’s victory seems to be pretty much guaranteed at this point, but I found myself much more impressed with some of the other nominees in this category: two-time winner Cate Blanchett outdoes herself as the title character in “Carol”; Charlotte Rampling broke my heart in the devastating, quietly tragic “45 Years”; and Saoirse Ronan, who was nominated at the age of 13 for her performance in “Atonement,” proves why she’s the best actress of our generation with “Brooklyn,” which lives and breathes on her performance.

Best Supporting Actor

Will Win: Sylvester Stallone, “Creed”

Should Win: Mark Ruffalo, “Spotlight”

While I have yet to see it, people seem to really love “Creed,” and the best way to reward it, apparently, is for Stallone—who was nominated as both a writer and director for the first “Rocky” movie—to get the nod.

Best Supporting Actress

Will Win: Alicia Vikander, “The Danish Girl”

Should Win: Anyone but Rachel McAdams (but actually Rooney Mara, “Carol”)

Vikander has had an astounding year in which she burst from relative obscurity to being likely to win an Oscar. Kate Winslet won the BAFTA and Golden Globe, but was competing against Vikander for her (arguably better) performance as a robot in “Ex Machina,” as Vikander’s “Danish Girl” performance was competing in the Lead Actress category. If there’s a surprise, it’s her. (Sorry, Rooney Mara.)

Best Original Screenplay

Will Win: Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer, “Spotlight”

Should Win: Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley, “Inside Out”

The Academy will reward “Spotlight” somewhere, and this category would certainly be deserved, but it’s too bad that the incredible display of originality that is “Inside Out” won’t be rewarded here.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Will Win: Adam McKay and Charles Randolph, “The Big Short”

Should Win: Phyllis Nagy, “Carol”

“The Big Short” is fun, daring, and important, but it kind-of just throws everything at the wall and sees what sticks (which is most of it!). More impressive is the restraint Phyllis Nagy, who fought for years for “Carol” to be made, exercised in adapting her friend Patricia Highsmith’s novel, “The Price of Salt,” for the big screen.

Tagged: Oscars

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