by Jason Koenigsberg

Here we go again. Most of the major awards besides the Academy’s have been handed out so that means it’s Oscar Prediction time. The majority of the publicity the Academy Awards have been getting is negative press about how they lack diversity, but there are some very impressive movies and performances nominated this year that deserve our attention. The Pan and Slam Awards have already been handed out and they were not “all white” but the Academy Awards are the longest running and most prestigious of all honors that go to the film industry. They are a part of pop culture and more importantly a part of American History. So without further ado, here are what Pan and Slam think will win and what should at this years Academy Awards.


Here are my picks for what will win at the Academy Awards:


Best Picturethe-revenant-fn01

The Big Short

Bridge of Spies


Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant




What will win: The Revenant

What should win: Spotlight

What could upset: The Big Short

Last year someone pointed out to me the day after the Oscars that I got 75% of my predictions right. That is kind of miraculous because I got a lot of the major categories like Best Picture and Actor wrong, yet was able to get smaller categories such as Best Documentary, Short Subject and Best Short Film, Live Action correct. This year I am going to try my very best to not pick who I think will win based on what I liked the most. Statistically speaking, that means The Revenant will win Best Picture this year after picking up the top prize at the BAFTA’s, Golden Globes and several other major awards ceremonies. It has the momentum and if anything else wins, it would be considered an upset. I would much prefer to see Spotlight or Mad Max: Fury Road win the highest honor since I think they are the best-directed and most thoroughly riveting movies of 2015 for completely different reasons. I would give Spotlight Best Picture only slightly over Mad Max. If there is going to be an upset for the Top Prize this year, it would be The Big Short, which has also won a lot of Best Picture awards most notably the PGA and WGA.


Best Director 

Alejandro González Iñárritu
Alejandro González Iñárritu

Lenny Abrahamson, Room

Alejandro González Iñárritu, The Revenant 


Tom McCarthy, Spotlight

Adam McKay, The Big Short

George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road


Who will win: Alejandro González Iñárritu, The Revenant 

Who should win: George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road

Who could upset: Adam McKay, The Big Short

Just like last year, The Directors Guild selected Alejandro González Iñárritu as this year’s Best Director and 90% of the time the DGA winner goes on to win the Academy Award for Best Director and Best Picture. That means there is a very good chance Mr. Iñárritu will be the first person to win back-to-back Best Director Oscars since Joseph L. Mankiewicz did way back in 1950 and 1951. Kind of an amazing feat no other great director has accomplished. I would love to see George Miller take home the Oscar for helming Mad Max: Fury Road one of the most visceral and exciting motion pictures of the past few years and he showed that remakes/sequels/reboots directed with passion by the peson who created the original can be truly outstanding, and Tom McCarthy’s superb direction made Spotlight one of the best films of the year. I think Mad Max will unfortunately be relegated to a lot of technical awards and Spotlight’s subject matter seems to turn people off despite the fact it was masterfully crafted. If there is going to be an upset here, once again it will be The Big Short and Adam McKay, the man who directed Anchorman and Anchorman 2 will benefit and take home an Oscar.


Best Actor 

Leonardo DiCaprio
Leonardo DiCaprio

Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
Matt Damon, The Martian

Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant 
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl


Who will win: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

Who should win: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

Who could upset: Matt Damon, The Martian

They say the only two certain things in life are death and taxes. Well now there are three, death, taxes and that Leonardo DiCaprio will finally take home a long overdue Oscar for The Revenant. Last year Alejandro González Iñárritu managed to win Best Picture and Best Director for Birdman, yet inexplicably his lead actor Michael Keaton, the man who made the film work because no other actor could have played the part, lost to Eddie Redmayne for The Theory of Everything. This year Iñárritu will get to take home a trophy and have the satisfaction of directing the Best Performance from an Actor in a Leading Role. Plus, this is his year, Leo was great in The Revenant and none of the other nominees stand a chance. None of them are really that powerful nor have they earned much recognition, they are just window dressing and only there to make it appear competitive. If there is going to be an upset, and this would be one of the biggest Oscar upsets of all time, Matt Damon could win for The Martian since that film has received a lot of love and his performance in particular. But that would really be sending a message to DiCaprio. I don’t see something like that happening, he has paid his dues, been great in many other films and delivered a great performance in one of the weakest Best Actor categories in recent memory.


Best Actress room pic
Cate Blanchett, Carol

Brie Larson, Room

Jennifer Lawrence, Joy

Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years

Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn


Who will win: Brie Larson, Room

Who should win: Brie Larson, Room

Who could upset: Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

As I was typing this I realized all the titles pretty much have one-word names. Brie Larson in Room has been sweeping the major awards for Best Actress as much as Leo has for Best Actor. She is pretty much a lock to win Best Actress not only because she does give the best performance of the nominees, but also, like DiCaprio’s fellow nominees, the competition does not really stand out. It feels like Cate Blanchett and Jennifer Lawrence are nominated practically every year and it also feels like they just won Oscars (Blanchett in 2013 for Blue Jasmine and Lawrence in 2012 for Silver Linings Playbook). So they will cancel each other out. Charlotte Rampling gives a terrific performance in 45 Years, however few people have gone out of their way to see it and those that have agree she is great but find the film itself to move at a snail’s pace. Hard to believe that Rampling has never been nominated for an Oscar during her long and illustrious career, normally this would be a good opportunity for the Academy to honor a veteran actress they have constantly overlooked, but after her comments about the #Oscarstoowhite being racist against the white nominees, it’s very unlikely she will get many votes. That leaves Saorise Ronan for Brooklyn. She is a previous nominee and gives a very good performance for a film that has earned a lot of love from the Academy including a Best Picture nomination, but Room has done all of that and earned even more admiration from Oscar voters. It’s unlikely that she could win, but she is the only person that has a chance to prevent Brie Larson from coming to the stage on Oscar night.


Best Supporting Actor stallone creed
Christian Bale, The Big Short
Tom Hardy, The Revenant
Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight

Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
Sylvester Stallone, Creed


Who will win: Sylvester Stallone, Creed

Who should win: Sylvester Stallone, Creed

Who could upset: Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies


The first acting category that is not a sure thing, each nominee here has a chance to win, however some much larger than others as I will explain. The Hollywood-ending narrative that we will probably see is Stallone winning for Creed. It is the kind of success story the Academy loves and who can blame them. How poetic it would be, his first nomination in thirty-nine years for the character he created that he was nominated for back in 1976. This is a chance to honor Sly for a great performance and a career that has spanned four decades. Plus, he really gives his deepest and most nuanced acting in a very long time. I think he is the best of the nominees. His public decision to almost boycott the Oscars out of respect for African-American Ryan Coogler who directed the film will probably boost his chances. However, he is the films lone nominee. All of the other four nominees are from films that have Best Picture nominations as well as many other nominations. If the nomination is the award itself for Stallone, and we will not know this until the envelope is opened, Mark Rylance is the next favorite to take home a statue for his supporting turn in Spielberg’s well-received Bridge of Spies. He is kind of the exact opposite actor from Stallone. One who has been working hard for years in small character parts, not leading man action roles, Bridge of Spies is the biggest part he has ever received and he nailed it as a Soviet spy caught by the US government. This is the more typical Oscar choice to win for all those snooty voters that do not want to vote for an aging action star in a crowd-pleasing sports movie. The other Mark, Ruffalo that is, has been nominated three times, most recently last year for Foxcatcher, and has a legitimate chance to win for another stellar turn as a hard working reporter outraged by what he uncovered. Tom Hardy has been getting a lot of praise for his work in The Revenant and if there is a Revenant sweep, he can take home a well-earned trophy even though he has not won any other major awards. Same goes for Christian Bale if The Big Short has a big night. Bale is the only previous winner in this category so that makes him least likely to win this year.


Best Supporting Actress kate winslet steve jobs
Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight
Rooney Mara, Carol
Rachel McAdams, Spotlight
Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs


Who will win: Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

Who should win: Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight

Who could upset: Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl


We go from acting categories that are sure things, to one that has clear front-runners to the most wide-open acting race the Oscars have seen in years. There is no clear favorite among these five women. I would say that Kate Winslet, despite the fact that she is the only previous Oscar winner here, is most likely to add another bald, golden man to her trophy case. I base that only on the fact that Ms. Winslet won the Golden Globe and BAFTA awards for her role in this film. Otherwise Steve Jobs has not received much love from critics, audiences, the Academy or other award shows. I would love to see Jennifer Jason Leigh win for The Hateful Eight. She has a smaller chance to take home the trophy. It’s hard to believe that Pan and Slam overlooked her in this category but we at least gave her the Legends Award for a solid and career in film back in 2011. The fact this is Jennifer Jason Leigh’s first Academy Award nomination is a travesty and illustrates what an underrated talent she is, and that she has spent most of her career taking risks in roles that are not necessarily “Oscar movies”. Alicia Vikander could win since she had a banner year with spectacular performances in The Danish Girl and the bleak sci-fi thriller Ex Machina, the latter of which she won the Pan and Slam Best Supporting Actress Award. She could win if people vote for her based on how much they loved her in both films. Rachel McAdams gives the best performance of her career as a reporter struggling with her own faith after uncovering a scandal of abuse in the Catholic Church. If Spotlight has a strong showing Oscar night, she could benefit and win. Rooney Mara is maybe the one that is least likely to emerge victorious for her role in the lesbian romance Carol, but since there really is no clear front-runner, she could end up winning as well.


Best Adapted Screenplay 

Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling
Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling

The Big Short



The Martian



Who will win: Charles Randolph and Adam McKay, The Big Short

Who should win: Phyllis Nagy, Carol

Who could upset: Drew Goddard, The Martian


The Big Short has a lot of nominations and this is its best bet to win something on Oscar night. It took a very complex subject that could have been boring and not only made it educational, but also very funny at times. The Martian could also win as the biggest crowd pleaser of the nominees and it received a lot of nominations in other categories as well. I thought Phyllis Nagy’s script of repressed love during a time when homosexuality was not understood is the best of the nominees and it was a similar theme that factored into last years Best Adapted Screenplay The Imitation Game. Brooklyn and Room are both solid scripts and Best Picture nominees to boot so they should not be counted out entirely either.



Best Original Screenplayspotlight
Bridge of Spies

Ex Machina

Inside Out


Straight Outta Compton


Who will win: Josh Singer, Tom McCarthy, Spotlight

Who should win: Josh Singer, Tom McCarthy, Spotlight

Who could upset: Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley, Ronnie Del Carmen, Inside Out

Despite the fact that I called Straight Outta Compton the best movie of the year, there is no denying that Spotlight is the superior screenplay. This is the one award that Spotlight has a leg up on its competitors after winning the WGA Best Original Screenplay award. If it is going to win anything on the big night, it will be right here. Straight Outta Compton has a slight chance to win because of the controversy surrounding it and the Academy may want to show support for a predominantly black film, even though the writers nominated are white. Ex Machina even making it to being nominated is a triumph in itself and Bridge of Spies is co-written by Joel and Ethan Coen who have previously won this award for Fargo (1996) and Best Adapted Screenplay for No Country for Old Men (2007), I doubt they will take home anything here despite their film earning a Best Picture nomination. If anything is going to upset Spotlight, I would not be surprised if Inside Out’s writers take home the gold. They scripted the most beloved animated movie in many years and created a film that transcended its genre.


Best Foreign Language Film son of saul
Embrace of the Serpent, Colombia

Mustang, France

Son of Saul, Hungary

Theeb, Jordan

A War, Denmark


Who will win: Son of Saul

Who should win: Son of Saul

Who could upset: Mustang


Son of Saul seems to have all the momentum. I have not heard anyone say any of the other films were great except for Mustang.


Best Documentary Feature Amy_Movie Poster

Cartel Land

The Look of Silence

What Happened, Miss Simone?

Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom


Who will win: Amy


Amy, the Amy Winehouse documentary seems to be getting all the love this year. Cartel Land has a chance since it is powerful and has resonated among those that have seen it. Most likely Nina Simone’s documentary will lose out to Amy Winehouse’s in a battle of posthumous female singers.


Best Animated Feature

The little voices inside our head (from left to right) Anger, Disgust, Joy, Fear and Sadness
The little voices inside our head (from left to right) Anger, Disgust, Joy, Fear and Sadness


Inside Out

Shaun the Sheep Movie

When Marnie was There

Boy and the World


Who will win: Inside Out

Anomalisa was the critical and art house favorite, but Inside Out was too big of a juggernaut to be ignored in this category. The fact that it earned a Best Screenplay nomination boosts its chances of winning here. This is practically a sure thing and anything else winning would be a major upset.


Best Film Editingmad-max-4-fury-road-poster-art-11
The Big Short

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Revenant


Star Wars: Episode VII-The Force Awakens


Who will win: Mad Max: Fury Road


This is where Mad Max starts to take over as the front-runner in a lot of the technical categories. All of these films have legitimate shots to win, but seeing as how the editing was so vital to making Mad Max: Fury Road the most exhilarating thrill ride of the year, it has a slight edge on its fellow nominees.


Best Original Song sam-smith-spectre-00 

Fifty Shades of Grey-The Weekend, Belly, Stephan Moccio, “Earned it”

The Hunting Ground-Diane Warren, Lady Gaga, “Till It Happens to You”

Racing Extinction-J. Ralph, Antony Hegarty, “Manta Ray”

Spectre-Sam Smith, “Writings on the Wall”

Youth-David Lang, “Simple Song #3”

Who will win: Spectre-Sam Smith, “Writings on the Wall”

The most popular song of the nominees and the only one I have actually heard. This has a very good chance of being the only the second song from a James Bond movie to win this award following in the footsteps of Skyfall by Adele from 2012.


Best Original Scoresamuel-l-jackson-hateful-eight-2015-billboard-650

Bridge of Spies-Thomas Newman

Carol-Carter Burwell

The Hateful Eight-Ennio Morricone

Sicario-Johann Johannsson

Star Wars: Episode VII-The Force Awakens-John Williams

Who will win: The Hateful Eight-Ennio Morricone

I would love to see Ennio Morricone finally win this award on his sixth nomination at the ripe old age of 88. He won an Honorary Oscar back in 2008, but he is the sentimental favorite and won the Golden Globe for The Hateful Eight so it would be nice to see the Academy follow suit.


Best Cinematography revenant-gallery-20-gallery-image
Roger Deakins, Sicario
Edward Lachman, Carol

Emmanuel Lubezki, The Revenant
Robert Richardson, The Hateful Eight

John Seale, Mad Max: Fury Road

Who will win: Emmanuel Lubezki, The Revenant

A tougher category to predict but I think Emmanuel Lubezki has the best chance of winning making him the first cinematographer to win this award in back to back years. Roger Deakin’s Oscar losing streak will continue at 0-13 since Sicario has received the least amount of recognition among the other films nominated. John Seale could take this award for his outstanding work on Mad Max: Fury Road, but I really think The Revenant is a heavy favorite in this category.


Best Costume Designmad_max_fury_road_wallpaper_1920x1080_by_sachso74-d8r49ti


The Danish Girl

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Revenant

Who will win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max: Fury Road had the most creative and irreverent costumes by far this year. They most likely will win and deserve to. However, its originality may turn off some older voters and they may want to reward a more traditional film with historically accurate costumes like Carol or The Danish Girl.


Best Makeup and Hairstyling 

From 'Mad Max: Fury Road'
From ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’

Mad Max: Fury Road

The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

The Revenant

Who will win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max: Fury Road also has the best chance to win this technical category and is clearly the most deserving.


Best Production DesignFURY ROAD
Bridge of Spies

The Danish Girl

Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian

The Revenant

Who will win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Ditto for Mad Max: Fury Road here. The Revenant also has a good chance of winning here.


Best Sound Editing The-Revenant-1-1200x716
Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant


Star Wars: Episode VII-The Force Awakens

Who will win: The Revenant

Could be any of them, but I am picking The Revenant because it has the most nominations and is a front runner for best picture, director, actor and cinematography making it the safest bet.


Best Sound Mixing leonardo_dicaprio_the_revenant-HD
Bridge of Spies

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant

Star Wars: Episode VII-The Force Awakens

Who will win: The Revenant

Could be any of them, but once again I’m going with The Revenant because of the reasons I listed above.


Best Visual Effectsstar-wars-force-awakens-quad
Ex Machina

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant

Star Wars: Episode VII-The Force Awakens

Who will win: Star Wars: Episode VII-The Force Awakens

I think that this is the best chance that Star Wars: Episode VII-The Force Awakens has to take home an Oscar because it was the highest grossing film of all the nominees, plus critics and audiences also universally praised it. If it can overcome the Oscar darlings Mad Max and The Revenant it should win, the only time Star Wars will likely be an underdog in anything.


Best Short Film, Animated
Bear Story


Sanjay’s Super Team

We Can’t Live Without Cosmos

World of Tomorrow

Who will win: Prologue

Your guess is as good as mine.


Best Short Film, Live Action
Ave Maria

Day One

Everything Will Be Okay



Who will win: Ave Maria

Same thing here. The fact I got this category right last year was mostly luck and some intuition into Academy politics. This year, I really have no idea.


Best Documentary, Short Subject
Body Team 12

Chau, Beyond the Lines

Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah

A Girl in the River: The Prince of Forgiveness

Last Day of Freedom


Who will win: Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah

A documentary about the Holocaust is a serious and important topic that the Academy usually likes to reward, but with these categories nobody really ever knows who will win.


So there you have it, mark your ballots, know what to pick so you win money and not lose anything and thank me afterwards. Hopefully I get at least the same percentage right as I did last year. Enjoy the Oscars.

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