Oscars 2016 nominations: Early predictions from Carol to The Revenant

Will 2016 be the year that Leonardo DiCaprio finally bags an Academy Award?

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

There may still be three months to go until Oscars season hots up again, but all film fans know that the Academy never sleeps and buzz is already building around the possible awards contenders.

From Cannes darling Carol to biopics The Danish Girl and Joy, the probable nominations list is already taking form, meaning it's officially time to take a long hard look at the offerings.

Here are our top tips so far:


Cate Blanchett’s next movie was first tipped as an Oscars contender at Cannes, where it received glowing reviews and won her co-star Rooney Mara the Best Actress gong. Both actresses are early favourites, as is the film itself, about a woman in a loveless marriage who sparks a connection with a 20-something department store clerk. Features a stellar score and beautiful Fifties costumes too.

Read our review here.

The Revenant

Not just any film, but the film that might just prove fifth time lucky for Leonardo DiCaprio. ‘Poor Leo’ has been nominated again and again without taking home a golden man but, as a 19th century fur trapper hellbent on revenge, he’ll be hoping for glory come February. Last year’s Best Director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu is behind the camera and the first trailer looks gritty and awesome. Not to mention the fact that DiCaprio slept in an animal carcass and ate raw bison during shooting.


A true story, which Academy voters tend to enjoy, about The Boston Globe’s investigations into child abuse at the hands of Roman Catholic priests. Reportedly reminiscent of All the President’s Men from 1976, and starring Michael Keaton from last year’s Best Picture, Birdman.


Jennifer Lawrence looks set to be back in the front row at next year's ceremony with a nod for the inspirational-sounding Joy. The former Best Actress winner (Silver Linings Playbook) plays a single mother turned multi-millionaire businesswoman in David O'Russell's biopic of Miracle Mop creator Joy Mangano. Out at Christmas, just in time for peak Oscars buzz.

The Danish Girl

Eddie Redmayne returns in another challenging role as pioneering transgender artist Lili Elbe, one of the first known people to undergo gender reassignment surgery. The 33-year-old Brit won last time around for his performance as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything and was so excited then that we're not sure he could actually cope with the ecstasy of triumphing twice. Alicia Vikander as wife Gerda fully deserves a nomination, if not a win, for Best Actress.

Read our review here.

The Martian

Ridley Scott is already a firm favourite for a Best Director nod, having never won the accolade before. This Matt Damon movie proved a hit with fans and critics alike, so certainly ticks the likeability box. Could it win Best Picture? Doubtful.

Read our review here.

Bridge of Spies

Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks and Mark Rylance make a pretty awesome trio. This Cold War drama about a US lawyer recruited to defend a Soviet spy and then help the CIA exchange him for a captured US plane pilot sounds gripping on paper, but will it cut it as a Best Picture nominee?

Read our review here.


Saoirse Ronan blossoms in this acclaimed drama as a young Irish woman who moves from her small town to New York and undergoes a transformation. The Academy loves a transformation, so it is little surprise to see her being touted as a Best Actress frontrunner. 

Read our review here.


Lenny Abrahamson’s claustrophobic drama Room could throw Brie Larson into the contenders pool. The movie also won the People’s Choice Award at Toronto, the victor of which traditionally goes on to earn Academy votes.

Mad Max: Fury Road

George Miller’s high energy effort has been dubbed ‘the best action movie of the last 15 years’ and Warner Bros is pushing it for an Oscar or two. Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult have the studio’s support but whether it is too mainstream remains to be seen. Let’s hope justice prevails.

Read our review here.

Black Mass

Warner Bros is touting this crime drama as a definite awards season favourite. Following the recent trend for biopics, the film is based on the true story of violent American criminal Whitey Bulger, who became an FBI informant. Johnny Depp stars as Bulger, and - should the Oscars campaigning pay off - this could be the film that turns his career around after a series of box office flops.

Read our review here.

The Hateful Eight

With Quentin Tarantino behind the helm, this western about bounty hunters caught in a blizzard could be a strong bet. Tarantino has a first rate Oscars record with his last two movies Django Unchained and Inglourious Basterds racking up three wins and 13 nominations. After all that hoo-hah with the leaked script...

In the Heart of the Sea

Chris Hemsworth takes on a huge whale in Ron Howard’s ocean-based drama about the true story of a whaling ship attacked by a whale in 1820. Warner Bros clearly backs it, moving its release date from March to peak-awards season in December and the trailer suggests we're in for a stormy ride at sea.

Inside Out

The Lego Movie fans were less than impressed when the film was snubbed at the Oscars last year, but there’s little doubt Inside Out will not suffer the same fate. The clever Pixar movie about the inner workings of the mind is already the animated film of the year, winning five star accolades from a number of critics. The ‘children’s film’ succeeds in appealing to viewers of all ages, from under-10s to adults brushing up on Freudian displacement.

Read our review here.

The Lady in the Van

Could an adaptation of an obscure-sounding Alan Bennett story win over US Academy voters? British films have fared well across the pond in recent years (The Imitation Game, The Theory of Everything and The King’s Speech to name a few), which could give Nicholas Hytner’s movie a boost. Starring Maggie Smith (and we all know how much Americans love Downton), Dominic Cooper and James Corden, this charming film deserves a look in.

Read our review here.

Son of Saul

A sure-fire hit in the foreign language category after winning the Grand Prix at Cannes, Son of Saul focuses on the Holocaust in a uniquely horrifying way. The story is told through the eyes of a Hungarian-Jewish prisoner, who works in Auschwitz burning bodies after gas chamber extermination and is intent on giving his dead son a proper burial. This is the first film from director Laszlo Nemes, who could well leave Los Angeles with new ornaments for his mantlepiece next year.


The Academy do favour a comeback, making Sylvester Stallone a hot bet for an acting nod in this sports drama about Rocky Balboa’s time as a trainer to the son of his late friend and former rival Apollo Creed.


Sean Baker’s Sundance hit about two transgender prostitutes searching for their pimp on Christmas Eve is already making history as the first Oscar campaign for trans actresses. Tangerine was also shot entirely on an iPhone.

Read our review here.

Beasts of No Nation

This could well give Netflix its first Oscars contender, with Idris Elba playing a brutal Commandant who employs and trains an army of child soldiers. The streaming service has enjoyed success at the Emmys and Golden Globes for its TV originals and is now setting its sights on a golden statuette.

Read our review here.

The Oscars 2016 will take place on 28 February, with nominations announced on 14 January.