- Best Picture
- Best Adapted Screenplay
- Best Original Screenplay
Most likely winner : Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu, Arnon Milchan, Steve Golin, Mary Parent, Keith Redmon for The Revenant. A chance for Iñárritu to win back to back Best Picture and Best Director Oscars for this superb revenge film. Heavily carried by the strength of Leonardo DiCaprio's performance set against beautiful backdrops of Western Canada, the film seems to tread a path of literary stature in the tale of struggle and vengeance.
Backup Pick : Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, and Jeremy Kleiner for The Big Short. Hard to adapt to screen with a sprawling cast and disparate stories, directed by a director taking his first foray into more dramatic material. Comedy-drama is a hard field to stand out in and do successfully because of the conflict of these two styles and they can seem to detract from each other (comedy taking away from the seriousness, primarily). But this film is perfectly timed (with the guest cameos explaining finance and the regular breaking of the third wall) in a way that the comedy punctuates the film to stop it from being too heavy or (as is always possible for a film on finance) too confusing or dull.
Most deserving : George Miller and George Mitchell for Mad Max: Fury Road. I've regularly said there's been far too much reboots of old franchises recently. I didn't have high hopes for this even though George Miller was doing the reboot himself. I was, of course, completely wrong. Fury Road is every bit as action-packed as the original with much deeper themes and ideas packed into the film. The visuals and stunts are amazing feats of design and choreography and the film has surpassed the original in claim to be one of the best action films of all time. It's hard to embed deep stories into action films with the films dragging and when it's done, there should be recognition of that success.
Most likely winner : Adam McKay and Charles Randolph for The Big Short from The Big Short by Michael Lewis. The screenwriters have performed almost to an unprecedented level to create a wholly original type of film. Wholly original was the only way the book could become a movie. Quite a good book on finance, as expected from Michael Lewis but until Moneyball it hadn't seemed possible any of his books could ever be adapted for screen (several options had been bought to convert the books but nothing ever happened). Moneyball is very much a film based on the book ("based on" is loosely used) whereas The Big Short is an adaptation and a very successful one at that.
Backup Pick : Nick Hornby for Brooklyn from Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín. I have not read the original novel but judging by the past novels from Colm Tóibín, this would seem to follow in the same mold of describing a character cut off from their feelings. Hornby has had several of his own novels adapted for screen (High Fidelity, About a Boy, Fever Pitch) and has adapted memoirs previously but this is his first adaptation of a novel that is not his own. Since I can't speak much about how well the screenplay was adapted, I can say that screenplay itself is filled with clever and moving dialogue which manages to convey the feelings of alienation, homesickness and the sparks of romance.
Most deserving :Adam McKay and Charles Randolph for The Big Short from The Big Short by Michael Lewis. This book was one I'd read multiple times while I was at university as it gave me a better understanding of the financial crisis than any of my textbooks did. Without it, I doubt I'd have been able to write any essays with even a bit of coherence. It is not the kind of book that anyone would think would be perfect to make into a film. It doesn't even seem possible to make into a movie. Extremely deserved.
Most likely winner : Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer for Spotlight. Going at around 1/12 by most bookmakers, it's almost sure that Spotlight win pick up the Oscar. A very interesting film driven by a strong plot which has the feel of a police procedural and the pacing of a conspiracy thriller (perhaps better paced than fellow nominee Bride of Spies). While I don't believe it's the strongest option, it's definitely one of the best written films of the year.
Backup Pick : Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley and Ronnie del Carmen for Inside Out. Usually Pixar films are dominated by visuals. The screenplay is always solid for Pixar films, as previous nominations for Up, Wall-E and Ratatouille show. However, this might be the first Pixar film that is carried by brilliant and inventive storytelling more than it is by animation (though those are excellent as usual). Coming off a period of derivative screenplays based on sequels, it's an excellent film at a great time for the studio.
Most deserving : Jonathan Herman, Andrea Berloff, S. Leigh Savidge, and Alan Wenkus for Straight Outta Compton. A screenplay about the origins and rise of N.W.A. seems to be almost the opposite of what would be considered Oscar bait. One of the best films of 2015 with huge broad appeal despite what must have seemed like a niche topic (when I first heard of it I thought it would have been a band movie about music creation process). Obviously the broad appeal comes from having a screenplay that isn't genre specific but broad enough to tell a story that can be related to by a large audience. It's a huge achievement.