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Oscars 2016 predictions for best picture, actor, more

The Oscars are usually easy to predict, with a set of agreed-upon front-runners established over the course of the ever-lengthened awards season. Usually, they're simply given their expected coronations the night of the awards.

This year is different.

There are a few no-brainers -- Leonardo DiCaprio will finally get his moment in the sun -- but the 88th Academy Awards are more unsettled than most, and the best picture race is still an open question.

All that is to say, don't take any of these predictions to the bank. They're informed guesses, at best.

Best actor: Leonardo DiCaprio, 'The Revenant'

In
Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox

In "The Revenant," Leo screams and cries and grunts and crawls; he eats raw liver and devours a live fish. He's one of the most acclaimed and best-known actors to have not yet won his Oscar. It's happening.

Best actress: Brie Larson, 'Room'

Brie Larson is one of the best around,
Photo Credit: A24 Films

Brie Larson is one of the best around, period, having given an awards-worthy performance in the small picture "Short Term 12" a few years ago. (Look it up, it's really great.) She deserves gold on Oscar night for affecting a dynamic in "Room" with young Jacob Tremblay that communicates the vast and immeasurable power of a mother's love for her son.

Best supporting actor: Sylvester Stallone, 'Creed'

He's an icon, he's been playing Rocky Balboa
Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

He's an icon, he's been playing Rocky Balboa for just about 40 years now, and frankly if there's one Sylvester Stallone performance that might be legitimately considered an awards-worthy achievement, it's certainly not Cobra, or Rambo.

Best supporting actress: Alicia Vikander, 'The Danish Girl'

Vikander is one of the hottest rising stars
Photo Credit: Focus Features

Vikander is one of the hottest rising stars and her work as Gerda Elbe, devoted wife of Lili Elbe (Eddie Redmayne), one of the first patients to receive sex reassignment surgery, gives rich texture to the film's portrayal of marriage as a strong and deep connection between two souls.

Best director: Alejandro G. Inarritu, 'The Revenant'

It's going to be two years in a
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Valerie Macon

It's going to be two years in a row for Inarritu, the "Birdman" director who turned in a second straight film crafted with impeccable care in "The Revenant," with its slow-burn intensity and magisterial magic-hour cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki.

Best original screenplay: Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer, 'Spotlight'

This tribute to the importance of investigative journalism,
Photo Credit: Open Road Films

This tribute to the importance of investigative journalism, about the Boston Globe's revealing of the local archdiocese's immense cover-up of sexual abuse by priests, features a methodical screenplay that generates its power by being painstakingly precise, detailed and accurate about the process of reporting.

Best adapted screenplay: Emma Donoghue, 'Room'

Audiences have responded strongly to
Photo Credit: A24 Films

Audiences have responded strongly to "Room," and there's a lot to be said for the subtle truths in a screenplay that manages to produce compelling content out of a story concentrating on two characters in a single small room for a large amount of time.

Best documentary: 'Amy'

The triumph and tragedy of Amy Winehouse is
Photo Credit: A24 Films

The triumph and tragedy of Amy Winehouse is powerfully felt in a documentary that reminds us of her enormous talent and the apparent enabling of her struggles with drugs and alcohol by those closest to her. It's a deeply emotional experience and filmmaker Asif Kapadia finds truths here that are often lost in biographical pictures, so expect him to bring home a statue.

Best animated feature: 'Inside Out'

It's Pixar. It's great. Everyone loves it. Enough
Photo Credit: Walt Disney Studios

It's Pixar. It's great. Everyone loves it. Enough said.

Best picture: 'The Revenant'

The momentum in this race appears to have
Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox

The momentum in this race appears to have shifted toward this revenge epic set amid the primal world of the Upper Midwest's snowy frontier, circa the 1820s. It certainly fits the profile of a classic Best Picture winner better than "The Big Short" or "Spotlight," the other two movies that assumed the front-runner's mantle at different points during the awards season. A surprise is certainly possible, however.

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