3SP’s Guide to the Oscars

Third Stone’s staff makes somewhat informed picks for The Oscars...
It’s that time of the year. It’s the time when we look back at the highlights of the past year and celebrate the best moments 2015. All the while families and friends alike huddle around the TV. Holiday season? Hardly — this is Oscar season. Celebrities and public figures have taken stances on #OscarsSoWhite, Leo has memorized his acceptance speech, Chris Rock returns to host for the second time, and many fans at home wonder: who is going to win the 88th Academy Awards?

Best Picture:

la-et-mn-oscar-2016-scenes-best-picture-nominees-20160114The Big Short
Bridge of Spies
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant


At a glance: Here we are again. Another battle for Best Picture between the studio behemoths (Hello, Revenant and The Martian) and the Indie darlings (Looking at you, Room and Spotlight). Each film on this list brings something unique to the table, but ultimately, only one will get the crown.

Our Picks:

Ryan Dishell

The Big Short. Call it the underdog, but I’d love to see the Brad Pitt-produced film take it all. The Big Short is a defining film for a defining time in world history and in our lifetimes. Save the seamless Iñárritu shots for Best Director.

Jack Minton

Spotlight. Phenomenal film. Great acting, captivating story, important topic. The Big Short also had these three things, but was outdone by Spotlight, albeit marginally. As for The Revenant… give me a break.

Mad MaxCharlie Paige


Mad Max: Fury Road. The constant, action-packed plot movement and character diversity separates Mad Max: Fury Road from the rest. Tom Hardy is an absolute badass alongside Charlize Theron who, remarkably, is just as badass. Also shout-out to the guy shredding his heart out on guitar during the chase scenes.

The Big ShortJulian Passman


The Big Short. I have not seen any of these movies, but from what I’ve heard, Ryan Gosling and Christian Bale were fantastic in their roles.

Leonardo DiCaprioKate Runsdorf 

The Revenant. Despite the movie being pretty boring and painfully long, its unique approach to storytelling will give it the win.

The Big ShortJake Orlin


The Big Short. It was the only movie that featured a Ludacris music video. Also,  Straight Outta Compton was a historic snub.

Leonardo DiCaprioGabriel Connelly

The Revenant. Don’t get me wrong, this is a flawed movie. DiCaprio’s character has about as much depth as a kiddie pool, and at times the narrative borders on becoming a snuff film. However, whether you like it or not, The Revenant has this one in the bag.

Leonardo DiCaprioBronson Diallo

The Revenant. Out of the nominations, this film definitely displays the greatest depth of beauty, adventure, violence, love, and friendship.

Leonardo DiCaprioCharlotte Klein

The Revenant. It is a film done in a way that Hollywood has rarely seen, and that is what makes a best picture.

Best Director:


Adam McKay – The Big Short
George Miller ­– Mad Max: Fury Road
Alejandro G. Iñarritu – The Revenant
Lenny Abrahamson – Room
Tom McCarthy – Spotlight

At a glance: For many, there is always some confusion as to what differentiates Best Director from, for example, Best Picture. Even looking at this list, the category may as well be called “The Best Picture Films That Are Actually Expected to Win.” Still, what sets this category apart from all other films is the critical role the director plays in making sure every little moment that we see on that screen is executed with artistic brilliance. Whether the Academy recognizes Adam McKay for his innovative tongue-in-cheek approach to a historical dramedy, George Miller for his epic depiction of a broken world in Mad Maxi, or for Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s breathtaking visuals, each film on this list has been directed with its own brand of ingenuity — and that’ll certainly pay off for the winner.

Our Picks:

Ryan Dishell

Alejandro G. Iñárritu for The Revenant. It wasn’t the plot that blew me away but the cinematic experience. It’s less about what the film is and more about how we see it. If the opening shot alone could win an Oscar, I bet it would. For this reason alone, it is no question that Iñarritu is the defending champ with which to be reckoned. 

Jack Minton


George Miller for Mad Max: Fury Road. “I live. I die. I live again.” George Miller will be riding to Valhalla with his head held high and an Oscar in-hand.

InnarituCharlie Paige


Alejandro G. Iñárritu for The Revenant. While I wasn’t ecstatic about the movie as a whole, I admire Inarritu’s devotion to making a beautiful film. He certainly went to spectacular lengths to get exactly what he wanted while battling ridiculously low temperatures along the way.

George MillerJulian Passman


George Miller for The Mad Max: Fury Road. The trailer was quite aesthetically pleasing. Quite impressive, George.

InnarituKate Runsdorf

Alejandro G. Iñárritu for The RevenantI don’t really know anything about directing (*hair flip*) but I’d probably choose Alejandro G. Iñárritu.


InnarituJake Orlin

Alejandro G. Iñárritu for The Revenant. While Adam McKay expanded his style the most and George Miller’s world in Mad Max: Fury Road was impressive, Iñárritu has once again proven he is an unmatched auteur. With the help of cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, Iñárritu made one of the most visually compelling films of all time.

InnarituGabriel Connelly

Alejandro González Iñárritu for The Revenant. Cinematic Splash Brothers, Iñárritu and Lubezki have become a force which cannot be stopped.

InnarituBronson Diallo


Alejandro González Iñárritu for The Revenant. For the same reason that his film will win best picture.

InnarituCharlotte Klein

Alejandro González Iñárritu for The RevenantHe poured his heart and soul into the production; the least we can do is give him an Oscar.

Best Actor:oscars-2016-best-actor

Bryan Cranston – Trumbo
Matt Damon – The Martian
Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant
Michael Fassbender – Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne – The Danish Girl

At a glance: What else is there to say really? The category is filled with pretty enticing Oscar bait, but we all know who the real contender here is — and it’s about time he wins it. Breaking it down, we have Bryan Cranston shows his best work since the Heisenberg days (we’re not going to talk about Godzilla). Meanwhile, Matt Damon actually saves himself for once in the exciting odyssey that is The Martian. Then we have Michael Fassbender, delivering a stellar performance per usual in Danny Boyle and Aaron Sorkin’s 1-2-punch of Steve Jobs. Meanwhile, Eddie Redmayne goes for the back-to-back as the first transgender woman to undergo sexual reassignment surgery, and Leo decides to take the phrase, “I’d get mauled by a fucking bear for an Oscar” to the extreme for some serious critical acclaim.

Our Picks:

Ryan Dishell

Leonardo DiCaprio for The Revenant. DiCaprio gives a hell of a performance as man who does not know how to be killed by nature. You would almost swear that he put himself through all of his character’s own traumas just for the statue. Alternatively, I might pick anyone but Leonardo DiCaprio to see the internet’s response.

Side Note:

A huge snub was Will Smith for Concussion. While the film saw its share of some mixed reviews, the Fresh Prince was at his finest while portraying Dr. Bennet Omalu, the man who still might change the NFL forever. His lack of nomination has already seen backlash, as well as the announcement that the Smith family is boycotting the awards altogether. This should be interesting.

Jack Minton

Eddie Redmayne for The Danish Girl. Listen, it’ll probably be Leo, and his performance was the only redeemable aspect of that disappointing film, but Redmayne deserves the hardware.

Leonardo DiCaprioCharlie Paige


Leonardo DiCaprio for The RevenantI am certainly on Team Give-Leo-An-Oscar, which is why he’s my pick for best actor. I can’t remember an actor being more dedicated to grunting, drooling, and crawling since the cerebral palsy phase in Wolf of Wall Street. Please give Leo what he deserves.

Matt DamonJulian Passman


Matt Damon for The Martian. This is mostly because I like his Bourne movies.

Leonardo DiCaprioKate Runsdorf

Leonardo DiCaprio for The RevenantAll about Leo finally winning an oscar. Suck it, internet!

Leonardo DiCaprioJake Orlin


Leonardo DiCaprio for The Revenant. Finally, we can stop feeling bad for Leonardo DiCaprio. According to the internet, everything in his life has been worthless up until this point because he has lacked validation from the Academy.

Matt DamonGabriel Connelly

Matt Damon in The Martian. Matt Damon is the DJ Khaled of the Academy Awards. We literally spend an hour watching him water plants, and yet, we love him for it. LION ORDER!

Side Note: As much as it pains me to say, Leo will win this award for his gritty portrayal of Bear Grylls.

Leonardo DiCaprioBronson Diallo

Leonardo DiCaprio for The Revenant. It’s an Oscar bate role that he did a fair job at portraying.

Leonardo DiCaprioCharlotte Klein

Leonardo DiCaprio for The Revenant. That is, unless The Academy gives it to Eddie Redmayne and absolutely pulls the rug out from Leo. DiCaprio managed to put on an unmatched performance with a script that has minimum dialogue. That’s impressive.

Best Actress:oscars-2016

Cate Blanchett – Carol
Brie Larson – Room
Jennifer Lawerence – Joy
Charlotte Ramping – 45 Years
Saoirse Ronan – Brooklyn

 At a glance: Outside of Cate Blanchett and Charlotte Ramping, this is one of the youngest group of nominees for this category to date. I guess Meryl Streep’s turn in Ricki and the Flash just didn’t call for it this year. That said, we’re looking at a battle of the it-girls as JLaw, Saoise Ronan, and Brie Larson vie for the throne.

Our Picks:

Ryan Dishell

Brie Larson for Room. Call it a bandwagon decision, but there’s little doubt in my mind that another actress’s performance can be called the best of the year.

Jack Minton


Brie Larson for Room. Ever since her world-class performance as “Racing Girl #2” in the 2005 classic Madison, I knew Larson was destined for Oscar glory.

Brie LarsonCharlie Paige


Brie Larson for Room. The general consensus is that it’ll be fairly head-to-head between Saoirse Ronan and Larson, but I’m going with the latter on this one. Larson will carry her momentum from wins at the Golden Globes, Critic’s Choice, and SAG Awards to add the coveted golden statue to her collection.

Screen Shot 2016-02-27 at 4.47.47 PMJulian Passman


Jennifer Lawrence for Joy. Let’s go with Jennifer Lawrence because she is the only actress I know of this list. Easy choice.

Brie LarsonKate Runsdorf

Brie Larson for Room. I haven’t seen Room because I don’t think I’d be able to sleep for at least a week… But I think Brie Larson should win.

Brie LarsonJake Orlin

Brie Larson for Room. According to a prediction model by FiveThirtyEight, Larson is significantly ahead of Ronan and Blanchett. Regardless of the numbers, her performance is difficult to top. Honorable mention to Charlize Theron in Mad Max: Fury Road.

Brie LarsonGabriel Connelly

Brie Larson for Room. I haven’t cried this much during a movie since all the toys held hands in Toy Story 3.

Brie LarsonBronson Diallo

Brie Larson for Room. She was appropriately subtle in her portrayal of a captive—not over-the-top in any way, shape, or form. Her embodiment of her character’s emotional standing within the story was both admirable and grounded in reality.

Brie LarsonCharlotte Klein

Brie Larson for Room. The book was haunting in itself, but Larson really brought the story to life. Her chemistry with the rest of the cast was stellar and her performance was, in my eyes, incredibly believable.

Best Supporting Actor:


Mark Ruffalo – Spotlight
Sylvester Stallone – Creed
Tom Hardy – The Revenant
Mark Rylance – Bridge of Spies
Christian Bale – The Big Short

 At a glance: In one of the most competitive groups of the year, we have Batman, The Incredible Hulk, Rocky Balboa, Mad Max and Mark Rylance all battling it out. Ok, yeah, we don’t know who Mark Rylance is either, but don’t let that subtract from how awesome this group is.

Our Picks:

Ryan Dishell

Christian Bale for The Big Short. While I’ve made it no secret how much I love The Big Short, Christian Bale’s role as Dr. Mike Burry, the man who discovered the housing market bubble through some serious obsessive neurosis, was far and away the best of the entire film. With gentle reminders of Bale’s unforgettable winning role in The Fighter, we get a feel for who this character is, as he is the only one who could see what we now know all too well.

Jack Minton


Sylvester Stallone for Creed. Yo Adriannnnnnn! Sly should bring this home. A Hollywood favorite, I can’t wait to take my son to see Rocky 37 in twenty years.

Tom Hardy RevenantCharlie Paige


Tom Hardy for The Revenant. Hardy is going to make his greatness in 2015 even greater by snatching the Academy Award right out of Stallone’s hands. He was the perfect antagonist to compliment a barely-breathing Leo. I’ll say it again, the man is a badass.

StalloneJulian Passman


Sylvester Stallone for Creed. The real question is, how is Sylvester Stallone still acting? He wins this one based off his dedication to the film industry.

Kate Runsdorf

I had a hard time deciding who I thought would win this category, but not having seen Spotlight, I’d have to say that Christian Bale will totally win.

StalloneJake Orlin

Sylvester Stallone for Creed. Stallone is likely to win here. That being said, I thought Christian Bale’s performance in The Big Short was the best, but plagued by a lack of screen time.

Tom Hardy RevenantGabriel Connelly

Tom Hardy for The Revenant. Using the same murmuring snarl he perfected in Mad Max, Tom Hardy gives an impressive amount of empathy to a seemingly evil character. By the end of the film it seems that Hardy is the only character with any real depth.

Side Note:

How does Mark Ruffalo get a nomination for scrunching his face a few times while highlighting stuff, while Samuel L. Jackson carries The Hateful Eight for a full three hours, yet gets nothing?

Tom Hardy RevenantBronson Diallo

Tom Hardy for The Revenant.  Hardy gave a remarkably believable performance.  In portraying an American frontiersman, he out-shined his leading colleague, Leonardo DiCaprio.

Charlotte Klein

Christian Bale for The Big Short. Christian Bale shines in this role, which is far different than any of his more ‘macho’ roles in movies like Batman. His inflection and body language is unparalleled, and somehow leaves the audience always wanting more when the scene cuts to a new character.


Best Supporting Actress:Oscar nominees for Best Supporting Actress are shown in this combination of file photos (L-R) Alicia Vikander, Rachel McAdams, Rooney Mara, Kate Winslet, Jennifer Jason Leigh. REUTERS/Staff/Files

Rachel McAdams – Spotlight
Rooney Mara – Carol
Jennifer Jason Leigh – The Hateful Eight
Kate Winslet – Steve Jobs
Alicia Vikander – The Danish Girl

At a glance: Lets break this one down. We have Oscars vet Rooney Mara and three time Oscars legend Kate Winslet up against the fresh faces of Rachel McAdams, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Alicia Vikander. FiveThirtyEight has this coming down neck and neck to Vikander versus Winslet. However, dark horse candidate, Jason Leigh should not be counted out.

Our Picks:

Ryan Dishell

Rachel McAdams for Spotlight. We knew True Detective Season 2 (pour one out) wouldn’t be the last we saw of McAdams in a more mature dramatic role. This time things actually came together for her as she was backed by an all-star cast, exquisite writing, and a plot that will make you say “holy shit.”


Jack Minton


Jennifer Jason Leigh for The Hateful Eight. A chilling performance moved her to the top of the ranks of classic Tarantino-inspired performances.

Jennefer Jason LeighCharlie Paige


Jennifer Jason Leigh for The Hateful Eight. In one of the most competitive categories, I’m going with a dark horse. Leigh was absolutely terrifying and hysterical, all while being covered in blood for the entirety of the film. Though I wouldn’t bet my bank account on a win, I’m pulling for her.

Rooney MaraJulian Passman


Rooney Mara for Carol. Once again, I have not seen any of these movies so let’s go with Rooney Mara because I like Kate Mara and they are related.

Alicia VikanderKate Runsdorf

Alicia Vikander for The Danish Girl. I mean, come on. She’s awesome.

Alicia VikanderJake Orlin

Alicia Vikander for The Danish Girl. Vikander will win, but I’m more concerned about Rachel McAdam’s nomination. Her most dramatic scene in Spotlight was when she got frustrated while putting dishes in the dishwasher. The same goes for Mark Ruffalo.

Gabriel Connelly

Kate Winslet for Steve Jobs. For a film that’s essentially just one very long dialogue scene, it takes some serious acting panache to succeed. While ultimately I felt the film fell flat, Kate Winslet’s role as Steve Job’s right hand woman, Joanna Hoffman, did its best to keep the narrative afloat.

Jennefer Jason LeighBronson Diallo


Jennifer Jason Leigh for The Hateful Eight. She was undeniably notable in her line delivery, tone, and appearance.

Charlotte Klein

Kate Winslet for Steve Jobs. While I had my issues with this movie as a whole, I loved her performance. She grounded Fassbender’s mania and nailed the evolving accent.

Best Animated Feature Film:film-news-oscars-2016-best-animated-feature-film-nominations-include-anomalisa-boy-and-the-world-inside-out-shaun-the-sheep-movie-and-when-marnie-was-there

Boy & the World
Inside Out
Shaun the Sheep Movie
When Marnie Was There

At a Glance: Another year of animated films, another year of Disney vs. Everybody. Surely this is a category that will boil down to the Pixar phenomenon Inside Out and the critically-acclaimed and hauntingly realistic Anomalisa.

Our Picks:

Ryan Dishell

Anomalisa. This may be the year that the grown-ups win for animation. In fact, this is the first time ever that an R-rated film has been nominated for the category. The world will always love Pixar, so the Academy should this stop-motion film based on Charlie Kaufman’s 2005 play a chance. Even if it doesn’t win, this is a must-see film that may have flown under the radar.

Jack Minton

Inside Out. So, I didn’t like this movie. But it’s going to win. We’re all going to have to deal with it.


Inside OutCharlie Paige


Inside Out. If number-of-tears-cried-by-audience-member was a determining factor the Academy took into consideration while selecting a winner, I would have skewed the results. Clearly the frontrunner, Pixar’s animated masterpiece will have no trouble getting the W.

Inside OutJulian Passman


Inside Out. I’ve seen two movies this year: Inside Out and Get Hard. Inside Out was the best animated film of the two.

Inside OutKate Runsdorf

Inside Out. I didn’t even have to google which movies were nominated for this category because I’m 1000% sure Inside Out was nominated and theres no question whether it wins or not.

Inside OutJake Orlin


Inside Out. More inevitable than the housing bubble.

Inside OutGabriel Connelly

Inside Out. While part of me would love to see this film go to the R-rated underdog, Anomalisa, I’m not sure the world is ready for a Pixar movie not named Cars to lose this award.

Inside OutBronson Diallo

Inside Out. It’s an interestingly emotional take on a child’s psyche — something we don’t commonly see.

Charlotte Klein

Inside Out. I watched it three days in a row. It’s hilarious for any audience or age and the visuals are incredible. The colors just make me warm and fuzzy inside.

Worst Picture


At a Glance: The Academy Awards is a celebration of the best films from around the globe. However, during this heaping of praise it can be easy to really remember why such movies are at the top of their class. We at Third Stone Pop have decided that the only way to fully appreciate what these films have accomplished is by also looking at some of the year’s less than excellent films. We present to you our newest category, Worst Picture.

Our Picks:

Jack Minton

Pixels. Not even the beloved Peter Dinklage could save this monstrosity. The US government has officially deemed showing this movie to prisoners as cruel and unusual punishment.

Charlie Paige

Get Hard. While it pains me to slander the name of Will Ferrell, I have to do it. You would think putting Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell into the same frame would result in something that would make you laugh more than twice over a span of two hours. This movie was simply a miserable waste of time and money.

Julian Passman

Get Hard. This movie was absolutely miserable. I like Kevin Hart, but this one has absolutely no redeemable qualities.

Kate Runsdorf

Brooklyn. I was utterly baffled at how boring I found Brooklyn to be. You’d think it was going to be a cutesy movie… NOPE.

SpectreJake Orlin

Spectre. This film is perhaps the manifestation of blue balls in cinema form. Not only did it not live up to the hype, Spectre achieved a rare feat for a sequel – it actually made the previous movies worse by adding an unnecessary underlying narrative. That being said, it had an amazing opening sequence.

Gabriel Connelly

Sicario. What the hell was that? I spend the whole movie (like I’ve spent most of my life) in a combination of sadness, fear, and confusion—but maybe that was the point? Screw you, Sicario.

Bronson Diallo

Straight Outta Compton. Out of the Oscar-nominated films, I guess I have to say Straight Outta Compton. I thought that it failed to fully develop as a biopic—the narrative moving too quickly, voiding emotional attachment and ultimately falling flat.

Charlotte Klein

Mad Max. Sorry. I know I’m supposed to love it as everyone else seemed to, but it really scared me.

Will Leo win? Will Chris Rock lay into #OscarsSoWhite like it’s his job (it is his job technically)? Will Phil Lord and Christopher Miller storm the stage to get the award for Best Animated Feature that they deserve? All these questions and more, as well as the rest of the nominees, can be seen February 28 on ABC.