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Which categories will be the most competitive this year?

Oscars envelope 600x340

Of the many things that you can consider when thinking about the Oscar race, one that I like to ponder from time to time is which categories will be the most competitive. I hinted at this in another piece this week, but certain categories are shaping up to be stronger than other ones. That being said, instead of looking at strengths and weaknesses, I figured today I’d see which ones seem like they’ll be the most competitive. That opens things up to more combine quality and quantity, as it were. This is a wide open year in general, so it’s only fitting that so many categories seem to be that way as well…

Below are the half dozen most competitive categories, as it stands right now:

6. Best Actress – After a bit of a drought, we have a group of Actress contenders that we can be quite proud of. Of course, who will win is wide open, but it’s not a situation where there’s only six or seven legitimate contenders for a nod. Vying for a nom here are the likes of Cate Blanchett, Emily Blunt, Blythe Danner, Brie Larson, Jennifer Lawrence, Carey Mulligan, Charlotte Rampling, Saorise Ronan, Maggie Smith, Lily Tomlin, and more. That’s ten right there. Nothing to sneeze at, right? It’s a tight race, and one that’s certainly among the most competitive that the Academy will have to offer us this year.

5. Best Visual Effects – Here’s a category that will really be an embarrassment of riches. Basically, there’s a bunch of different styles on display that voters will have to choose from. Contenders like Ant-Man, Avengers: Age of Ultron, In the Heart of the Sea, Jurassic World, Mad Max: Fury Road The Martian, The Revenant, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Walk, and more will be up for a nomination. Usually, this category has one or two frontrunners and then some also rans, but that’s not the case this year. I can see it going any number of different ways, and that’s a delight.

4. Best Supporting Actor – As jam packed as any category this year, Supporting Actor could be a photo finish. Among the large number of contenders, there are the likes of Paul Dano, Benicio del Toro, Bruce Dern, Joel Edgerton, Idris Elba, Sam Elliot, Ryan Gosling, Tom Hardy, Michael Keaton, Harvey Keitel, Seth Rogen, Mark Ruffalo, Kurt Russell, Mark Rylance, and Jason Segel. That’s 15 right there, not counting whomever could come on at the last moment. This place usually favors a veteran more so than any other category, so it could come down to any of the players who have been in the running at least once or twice before.

3. Best Director – Without a clear frontrunner, Director is a category with some definite competition at the moment. It may be top heavy, but any of the following names could be in line, not just for a nomination, but a win as well: Lenny Abrahamson, John Crowley, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Tom McCarthy, David O. Russell, Ridley Scott, Steve Spielberg, and Quentin Tarantino. Ultimately, this one will often match up with Best Picture more often than not, so those races are essentially tied in together. There’s a chance for a split as well, which only makes this more competitive overall.

2. Best Actor – Sadly, this is usually the most competitive because of how jam packed a category things are…though that’s not the case this year. Now, it’s among the most competitive because there doesn’t seem to be many logical winners. The contenders here are basically Michael Caine, Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston, Matt Damon, Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Michael Fassbender, Jake Gyllenhaal, Tom Hanks, Eddie Redmayne, and Will Smith. Oddly enough, the lack of easy to see victors just makes this all the more competitive a category. My hunch is that it’s a first time winner, but anything is possible right now…

1. Best Picture – This probably comes as no surprise, but right now Picture is the most competitive this year, by far. Conceivably hoping for a nomination are Anomalisa, Beasts of No Nation, The Big Short, Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn, Carol, The Danish Girl, The Hateful Eight, Inside Out, Joy, The Martian, The Revenant, Room, Sicario, Son of Saul, Spotlight, Steve Jobs, and Youth. As I said above, this also ties into the Best Director race, so that helps make this the most competitive race.

Stay tuned to see which categories will continue to remain the most competitive throughout the season!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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