"The Big Short" collected all the requisite nominations to make it a front-runner: Adam McKay nabbed a direction nod and a screenplay nod (which he shares with Charles Randolph), Christian Bale made an appearance in Best Supporting Actor, and Best Film Editing gave the movie a fundamental boost among the tech kudos. In depicting the insiders who predicted the 2008 housing-bubble burst before it ravished the American economy, "The Big Short" has an urgency about it that could register with voters. But the other movie to amass acting, directing, screenplay and film-editing salutes was "Spotlight" - and "Spotlight, " which tackles sexual abuse within the Catholic Church, is riding a longer front-runner wave.
Walt Disney Studios
- The Academy consistently recognizes Steven Spielberg's work, but only one movie he's directed - 1993's "Schindler's List" - has garnered the top prize. The Cold War espionage drama "Bridge of Spies" seemed like an iffy player in the Oscar derby until the Producers Guild - a reliable predictor of what will score Best Picture nominations - included the movie among its annual awards. A Best Original Screenplay nod also helps, and there's a chance Mark Rylance could walk away with the Best Supporting Actor trophy. But the buzz surrounding the polished, traditionally crafted "Bridge" has been comparatively mute, and it's hard to imagine a majority of voters checking its box over the category's other choices.
Statistically speaking, it's hard to win Best Picture without a Best Film Editing nomination. Why? Because editing is essential to a movie's quality - you're not supposed to notice the tricks that seamlessly unite multiple storylines and characters. "Birdman" stole the top prize last year without a film-editing nod, but that's an anomaly: Since the category was introduced in 1934, only 10 movies have won Best Picture without an editing designation. That doesn't bode well for "Brooklyn, " whose only other categories are Best Actress (Saoirse Ronan) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Nick Hornby), making it 2016's Best Picture title with the fewest nominations.
With 10 nominations, "Mad Max" is second only to "The Revenant" as the year's most-honored film. That means its visibility is high, despite having opened way back in May. The problem is, outside of George Miller's deserved Best Director nod, the other eight are technical plaudits. Charlize Theron's Best Actress absence isn't a deal-breaker, as "Argo" and "Slumdog Millionaire" recently won Best Picture without any acting acknowledgements. More fatal is the lack of screenplay shout-out, as the last movie to win Best Picture without a screenwriting nod was 1997's "Titanic."
20th Century Fox
"The Martian" scored the Golden Globe for Best Picture, but that doesn't mean much because a) the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has no voting overlap with the Academy and b) we can partly chalk it up to the movie sliding into the Globes' comedy categories, where it faced less competition. Still, "The Martian" is a great movie that concludes with the sort of grand sentimentality that registers with the Academy. Ridley Scott's Best Director snub hurts, but Ben Affleck's didn't prevent "Argo" from annexing the prize in 2013. The acting branch liked Matt Damon's performance enough to nominate him, and the writers appreciated Drew Goddard's script, which means "The Martian" may have enough voters championing it to slip ahead.See also:
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