Unlike most years, who’s going to win the 2016 Oscars, happening Sunday night at 8:30 p.m., is pretty much a lock (unless it isn’t). This is Leo’s year, as we’ve been told, ditto Sly’s and Brie’s (unless Saoirse sneaks in for an upset). Of the major awards, only Supporting Actress is up in the air.
So rather than bore you with predictions that everyone else is saying, we’ll do something even less useful: Here’s our list of who we’d prefer to win, all things considered:
Actor: Matt Damon, “The Martian”
This would go to Michael B. Jordan for “Creed.” But he’s not nominated, leaving a pretty blah field of lilywhite male nominees. Of these, the closest to the best was Damon’s endearingly upbeat, goofy turn as a brainiac botanist who finds craft ways to survive on Mars. Then again, what kind of monster hates ABBA?
Actress: Charlotte Rampling, “45 Years”
The furor over the actress’ thoughtless, defensive response to #OscarsSoWhite — something or other about black performers not deserving it this year — seems to have died down. (And she claimed she was misquoted before backing up her comments.) So now we can safely say this: As a woman who realizes her longtime husband still pines for the One Who Got Away (by dying, as it were), she gave the most heart-wrenching turn of the five female leads. Yes, she was even better than Cate Blanchett in “Carol.” That’s saying something.
Supporting Actress: Rooney Mara, “Carol”
She’s actually a co-lead (along with Cate Blanchett), but so it goes. As a young department store clerk fighting through ’50s oppression to be with an older woman, she, like Rampling, has to show everything in minute facial expressions, her insides a roiling mess of emotions. The same words describe Alicia Vikander in “The Danish Girl,” whose win would also be fine by us.
Supporting Actor: Sylvester Stallone, “Creed”
It will be a sentimental pick, but one that’s right on: Sly found new things in a character he’s lived with for 40 years. He’s played puppy dog his entire career, but this was the one time his self-pity seemed downright tragic. Watching him reawaken at the behest of new blood — not just Jordan’s Adonis but director Ryan Coogler — was the year’s best special effect, and a win will be deserved, even if he did give us the arm wrestling picture “Over the Top.”
Picture: “Mad Max: Fury Road”
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and Leonardo DiCaprio won’t shut up about how hard it was to make “The Revenant.” Whatever: “Mad Max” director George Miller shot the world’s longest car chase in a freakin’ desert and never once complained. Not only that, he made an angry feminist polemic against dumb, old men in the form of a rip-roaring action movie for smart men who want to see the world get better, not go back to being worse.
Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge