7 min read

Oscar 2016 predictions

For the past three years, I have tried to predict the winners in all categories at the Academy Awards. But last year, I was able to combine my passion for both movies and statistics: as part of my Data Analysis course at McGill University, we had to come up with a prediction model for four categories: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Actress. And my model performed quite well: it was the only one to predict correctly the four winners.

This year, I decided to repeat the experience again, especially since the Best Picture category is more competitive this year than last year. I have shared my predictions below, for all categories; however, I have used a statistical model only for the four categories mentionned above. All other categories are based on my own judgement (and readings I have done). My predictions are in bold font.

After the Academy Awards, I will update this post and point out the winners (I will indicate them in italics). I may also write a post on my prediction model.

Update (2016/02/28): Well, I didn’t do as well as I would have liked: 14/24.


  • The Big Short (10.87%)
  • Bridge of Spies (0.39%)
  • Brooklyn (0.19%)
  • Mad Max: Fury Road (10.59%)
  • The Martian (4.82%)
  • The Revenant (44.10%)
  • Room (1.03%)
  • Spotlight (28.01%)


  • Adam McKay, The Big Short (0.03%)
  • George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road (0.09%)
  • Alejandro G. Inarritu, The Revenant (99.82%)
  • Lenny Abrahamson, Room (0.02%)
  • Tom McCarthy, Spotlight (0.04%)


  • Bryan Cranston, Trumbo (0.04%)
  • Matt Damon, The Martian (0.09%)
  • Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant (99.80%)
  • Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs (0.05%)
  • Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl (0.02%)


  • Cate Blanchett, Carol (2.02%)
  • Brie Larson, Room (94.27%)
  • Jennifer Lawrence, Joy (0.97%)
  • Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years (1.32%)
  • Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn (1.42%)

Supporting roles are more difficult to predict using a statistical model. Sometimes the winner is an older actor who is being rewarded for her/his entire career; recent examples would be Christopher Plummer in 2011. For this reason, I expect Sylvester Stallone to win this year, especially after his win at the Golden Globes. If he doesn’t, I suspect the award will then go to Mark Rylance, who was nominated for the SAG award.

Best supporting actress is definitely the most difficult acting category to predict. Kate Winslet won the Golden Globe, Rooney Mara won the Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival. However, I suspect Alicia Vikander will win, especially since she won the SAG award (which has correctly predicted the Academy Award winner since 2009) and she had two noteworthy roles in 2015, the other being in Ex Machina.


  • Christian Bale, The Big Short
  • Tom Hardy, The Revenant
  • Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight
  • Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
  • Sylvester Stallone, Creed


  • Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight
  • Rooney Mara, Carol
  • Rachel McAdams, Spotlight
  • Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
  • Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs


Inside Out is strongly favoured to win: both a critical and commercial success, it was even nominated for Best Original Screenplay.

  • Anomalisa
  • Boy and the World
  • Inside Out
  • Shaun the Sheep Movie
  • When Marnie Was There


The weakest nominee of this very strong category is Mad Max; any other film could win. But I suspect Emmanuel Lubezki will win his third award in a row, with his extraordinary work on The Revenant.

  • Carol
  • The Hateful Eight
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Revenant
  • Sicario


Period drama are typically favoured in this category, which plays against Mad Max. I predict The Danish Girl will come out with the win.

  • Carol
  • Cinderella
  • The Danish Girl
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Revenant


This should be an easy win for Amy, which won essentially every precursor award.

  • Amy
  • Cartel Land
  • The Look of Silence
  • What Happened, Miss Simone?
  • Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom


The Big Short is definitely the front-runner here: it’s the kind of movie where the editing work is actually quite obvious (unlike Birdman last year, which wasn’t even nominated), and it was recently rewarded by the American Cinema Editors.

  • The Big Short
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Revenant
  • Spotlight
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens


Son of Saul has been a favourite on the art-house circuit, it won the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, and it also won Golden Globe.

  • Embrace of the Serpent
  • Mustang
  • Son of Saul
  • Theeb
  • A War


The makeup was great in Mad Max, but DiCaprio’s performance in The Revenant relies heavily on convincing makeup and hair(non)styling. In any case, the consensus seems to be that Mad Max should win this award.

  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared
  • The Revenant


Ennio Morricone is a living legend when it comes to film music, and his score for The Hateful Eight is arguably the best thing this movie has to offer. He also won the Golden Globe.

  • Bridge of Spies
  • Carol
  • The Hateful Eight
  • Sicario
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens


“Writing’s On The Wall” is far from being the best James Bond song ever, but it did win the Golden Globe. On the other hand, even the fact that Lady Gaga’s “Til It Happens To You” is nominated speaks volume to the fact it is a strong contender: who even heard of the documentary The Hunting Ground?

  • “Earned It”, Fifty Shades of Grey
  • “Manta Ray”, Racing Extinction
  • “Simple Song #3”, Youth
  • “Til It Happens To You”, The Hunting Ground
  • “Writing’s On The Wall”, Spectre


In a typically CGI-heavy genre, Mad Max’s production was a major reason behind the Critics' Associations' choosing it as the best picture of 2015.

  • Bridge of Spies
  • The Danish Girl
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Martian
  • The Revenant

The “short” categories are notoriously difficult to predict, since most people will only see a few of the nominees, if any.

Sanjay’s Super Team in the animated category, and Ave Maria in the live action category, seem favoured by pundits to win. The documentary short on Claude Lanzmann, which explores the making of the 10-hour documentary Shoah, looks like a possible frontrunner, with Last Day of Freedom another strong contender.


  • Bear Story
  • Prologue
  • Sanjay’s Super Team
  • We Can’t Live without Cosmos
  • World of Tomorrow


  • Ave Maria
  • Day One
  • Everything Will Be Okay (Alles Wird Gut)
  • Shok
  • Stutterer


  • Body Team 12
  • Chau, beyond the Lines
  • Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah
  • A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness
  • Last Day of Freedom

First, let’s settle one thing: what is the difference between sound editing and sound mixing? For a thorough answer, I suggest you have a look at this blog entry on Never Too Early Movie Predictions. For the short answer: sound editing is concerned with creating/recording individual sounds (e.g. the cry of a dinosaur, the explosion of a spaceship, but also footsteps on a wooden floor), and sound mixing is concerned with layering and mixing all these individual sounds.

With this in mind, I am positive Mad Max will win for Sound Editing. And since Sound Mixing is typically more closely related to the Best Picture category, I will go with The Revenant for Sound Mixing.


  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Martian
  • The Revenant
  • Sicario
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens


  • Bridge of Spies
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Martian
  • The Revenant
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens


Mad Max had great visual effects, and its critical success should help it win in this category.

  • Ex Machina
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Martian
  • The Revenant
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens


Aaron Sorkin won the Golden Globe for his work on Steve Jobs, but since he wasn’t even nominated for an Academy Award, I will go with The Big Short.

  • The Big Short
  • Brooklyn
  • Carol
  • The Martian
  • Room


This category will be won by either Spotlight or Straight Outta Compton. But given the fact that the latter is concerned with a reality and subject that is foreign to most Academy voters, I suspect Spotlight will be the winner.

  • Bridge of Spies
  • Ex Machina
  • Inside Out
  • Spotlight
  • Straight Outta Compton