Oscar Experts: DiCaprio the Likely Best Oscar, but Other Categories Less Certain

Theatre, film and pop culture experts discuss who they think will win and what is most likely to be the biggest surprise of the night, including host Chris Rock’s handling of the #OscarsSoWhite controversy.

It's Oscars time again, and movie experts from Texas Tech University predicted their likely winners, discussed what surprises viewers should look for and just how host Chris Rock will address the backlash against the Academy for nominating only white actors for the second year in a row.

 

  Tim Day Dean Nolen Rob Peaslee Paul Reinsch Rob Weiner
Best Picture "The Revenant" "The Revenant" "Spotlight" "Spotlight" "The Revenant"
Best Actor Leonardo DiCaprio Leonardo DiCaprio Bryan Cranston Leonardo DiCaprio Leonardo DiCaprio/
Bryan Cranston
Best Actress Brie Larson Brie Larson Brie Larson Brie Larson Charlotte Rambling/
Brie Larson
Best Supporting Actor Sylvester Stallone Sylvester Stallone Sylvester Stallone Sylvester Stallone Mark Ruffalo
Best Supporting Actress Alicia Vikander Alicia Vikander Rachel McAdams Alicia Vikander Jennifer Jason Leigh/
Alicia Vikander
Best Director Alejandro G. Iñárritu - George Miller - Alejandro G. Iñárritu/
George Miller
Day

Tim Day

College of Media and Communication

Film instructor, blogger at Day at the Movies.

Best Picture and Director

“The Revenant” and its director and star will run the night. Alejandro G. Iñárritu just won Best Director for the Directors Guild Award, and my guess is the movie will snowball and win the top two awards of Best Picture and Best Director.

Best Actor

Leonardo DiCaprio for “The Revenant.” This is a political win based on the larger body of work. “The Revenant” isn’t even his third or fourth best performance, but his larger body of work and previous nominations will secure the win.

Best Actress

Brie Larson for “The Room.” It isn’t even close.

Best Supporting Actor

Sylvester Stallone in “Creed.” Another lifetime achievement award here. And doesn’t the crowd all want to do a standing ovation to the theme of Rocky?

Best Supporting Actress

Alicia Vikander for “The Danish Girl.” She probably should have been nominated for “Ex Machina” instead, but with two solid movies this year, she will win. The Academy likes to use this category to give a nod to new talent.

Biggest surprise of the night

“Mad Max: Fury Road” winning anything outside of technical awards.

As far as #OscarsSoWhite, expect Chris Rock to capitalize, and not just with jokes. There may be some serious commentary. Also expect lots of presenters of the awards to be people of color to try and offset the public image that has been created.

Nolen

Dean Nolen

School of Theatre & Dance

Head of the acting/directing program.

Best Picture

“The Revenant”

Best Actor

Leonardo DiCaprio

Best Actress

Brie Larson

Best Supporting Actor

Sylvester Stallone

Best Supporting Actress

Alicia Vikander

Biggest upset(s) could be:

“Mad Max: Fury Road” and/or George Miller take(s) Best Picture or Best Director, respectively. Mark Rylance or Christian Bale takes Best Supporting Actor over Stallone

Peaslee

Robert Peaslee

College of Media and Communication

Chairman, Department of Journalism & Electronic Media

Best Picture

Although “The Revenant” started with plenty of momentum, the overall buzz from film people I know is the two best films on this list are “Spotlight” and “Mad Max.” Given its genre, I think “Mad Max” wins by being nominated, so I’m going with “Spotlight” here.

Best Actor

Despite my thinking about Best Picture, I think you’ll see Leo at the podium on this one. Dark horse pick: Bryan Cranston.

Best Actress

Brie Larson. Devastating and devastatingly good.

Best Supporting Actor

Sly. Did you see that standing O at the Globes? The industry is behind him.

Best Supporting Actress

Rachel McAdams has put in some great work this year. If the momentum shifts as I think it might around “Spotlight,” she may come out on top here.

Best Director

Although I initially thought Iñárritu, I’m now embracing the notion that George Miller will win Best Director. The work he put into making this film look the way it does (production design, practical effects instead of CGI) is as impressive as what Iñárritu did with “The Revenant,” albeit in a very different way, and I think the Academy will see this as a kind of Lifetime Achievement award, particularly since Iñárritu won last year.

Reinsch

Paul Reinsch

Department of Theatre & Dance

Assistant professor of practice in cinema.

Best Picture

“Spotlight.”
The Academy loves “issue” movies and the competition is either too slight (“The Revenant”) or too unapologetically thrilling (“Mad Max: Fury Road”). They also always favor drama over genre (musical, western, comedy, action).

Best Actor

Leo DiCaprio.
Convincingly plays cold and angry (though I think lots of folks can do this). Really a career achievement award.

Best Actress

Brie Larson.
She has swept previous awards and the acting in “Room” is remarkable, in part because other aspects of the film are only adequate.

Best Supporting Actor

Sly Stallone.
He builds on and expands his work in “Rocky Balboa” because he’s working with a director (Ryan Coogler) more talented than himself. Also a career achievement award and industry folks know Stallone is not actually Rocky/Rambo.

Best Supporting Actress

Alicia Vikander.
Toughest race to call, and Vikander should have been nominated for “Ex Machina” instead.

Biggest surprise:

No real surprises in awards this year. Surprise is perhaps how swiftly the Academy adjusted membership and voting rules in response to #OscarsSoWhite.

Weiner

Rob Weiner

Texas Tech University Libraries

Pop culture librarian

Best Picture

“The Revenant,” but I’d love to see “Mad Max” win.

Best Actor

Leonardo DiCaprio has been snubbed so many times and is the favorite of many. Still would love to see Bryan Cranston win.

Best Actress

I still hope Charlotte Rambling wins for best actress but I also think Brie Larson is a good contender.

Best Supporting Actor

Mark Ruffalo

Best Supporting Actress

Jennifer Jason Leigh but I’d love to see Alicia Vikander win.

Best Director

Would not be surprised if Alejandro G. Iñárritu won again, but personally want to see George Miller win.

Biggest upset

George Miller or “Mad Max” winning anything (Best Picture or Director)