Awards Forecast: ‘Spotlight’ Is (Maybe) The Front-Runner Again?

Uproxx’s Awards Forecast offers a weekly look at the front-runners in several key Academy Award races, based on pundit chatter and pre-Oscar awards. (The pundit analysis is based on opinions put forward by major Oscar-tracking outlets, including Vulture, the expert panel at Gold Derby, Indiewire, Awards Daily, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, and Awards Circuit. Pre-Oscar awards consider recent winners announced by industry and critic organizations that annually recognize achievement in film.)

Last week, The Big Short, winner of the Producers Guild’s top award, seemed to be the new front-runner in the Best Picture category. Then Spotlight won the Screen Actors Guild prize for Best Ensemble, the acting union’s equivalent of Best Picture. Since the acting branch is by far the Academy’s largest, this suggests that perhaps Spotlight — presumed front-runner early on in awards season — really is poised to take the Oscar after all. At the very least, it confirms that predicting a Best Picture winner is a total crapshoot this year. In the other big six categories, SAG wins went down exactly as expected: DiCaprio, Larson and Vikander all got trophies. Idris Elba won, too, but since his performance in Beasts of No Nation was not nominated for an Oscar, the Supporting Actor category remains unaffected, meaning that, according to most pundits, Sylvester Stallone’s moving performance in Creed still looks likely to be deemed the champ. As for Best Director, George Miller remains the favorite for Mad Max: Fury Road, with the caveat that a different outcome on Feb. 6, at the often predictive DGAs, could change that forecast.

Most pundits are still expecting Spotlight and The Big Short to be the respective victors in the screenplay categories, although that perception could change if the Writers Guild of America opts to honor other work during its ceremony on Feb. 13. The Eddie Awards, trophies annually handed out by the American Cinema Editors, singled out Mad Max: Fury Road and The Big Short for the best editing of the year, with the former winning in the dramatic category and the latter in comedy. Pundits are split as to which one will take home the Oscar, but I am leaning toward Mad Max because its breakneck cuts are so crucial to making that film the adrenaline rush that it is. Emmanuel Lubezki looks like a lock in cinematography for The Revenant; if he wins, this will be his second Oscar in a row following last year’s for Birdman. There’s no strong consensus among predictors about who will win for costume design, but given Oscar’s tendency to lean toward period pieces with pretty costumes, Carol seems like a good bet, though The Danish Girl should not be counted out. And in the Original Score category, the spaghetti Western legend Ennio Morricone, who has won an honorary Academy Award but never one for his individual work on a film, will be hard to beat for The Hateful Eight.