Five Oscar-Worthy 2016 Films that Don’t Stand a Chance

We’re at the end of June, which means you’re going to start to see a lot of “best of 2016 so far” lists, (including one from us later this week) many of which will heap praise at favorite films, rightly so. It’s tempting as a critic to call something from the first half of the year an “Oscar contender,” because they are as good or better than films nominated last year or the year before.

Let’s put that optimism to bed, shall we? My bold, but not-so-bold prediction is that none of the following films will receive an Oscar nomination.

The Lobster

Category: Best Original Screenplay, Best Picture

Yorgos Lanthimos is credited with putting Greek cinema on the map with his surprise Oscar-nominated hit “Dogtooth,” the legend of which still persists to this day. Now he’s back with Colin Farrell, and an all-new absurdist screenplay about a hotel to where people go to find love with one catch – if they don’t find love in 45 days, they turn into an animal of their choice.

With Lanthimos’ pedigree and positive reception, this is sure to garner awards attention, yes? Not so fast. Remember that Dogtooth was nominated as a foreign language film; The Lobster is in the English language, so it will have to compete with all the other English language releases. Outstanding English language films in the first half of the year don’t guarantee anything, whereas a film like Son of Saul was a lock long before the nominations happened.

The Witch

Category: Picture, Director, Score, Screenplay, Cinematography

Pop quiz: how long has it been since a horror movie has been nominated for anything at the Oscars? Answer: 16 years (no, Black Swan does not count) when Willem Dafoe was nominated for his performance in Shadow of a Vampire. I’m sure you’re thinking to yourself “ah, yes. Shadow of a Vampire. The old horror standby,” but, if your thinking is more along the lines of “huh?” I can totally understand.

The Witch is a film that should really run the table this year with Best Picture, Director, Screenplay and Cinematography to say the least, but, even if the nominations were announced tomorrow, The Witch would be left empty-handed because the Academy Awards does not recognize genre films, and especially not horror films.

Any proof I needed was furnished last year when It Follows wasn’t even nominated for Best Original Score, despite the fact that it objectively could have won that year (I personally would have still gone with Ennio Moricone for The Hateful Eight, but it’s very close).

Hail, Caesar!

Category: Screenplay

At this point, you’re certain I’m nuts. I can already hear you typing “picking against a Coen Brother’s movie, are you crazy?!!?” or “don’t quit your day job, you Film School Rejects reject.” Yes, the Coen Brothers are very good at garnering Oscar attention, but let’s take a look at all their Oscar-nominated films.

What do Barton Fink, Fargo, O Brother, Where Art Thou? The Man Who Wasn’t There, No Country for Old Men, A Serious Man, True Grit & Inside Llewyn Davis have in common? None of them are Comedy/Farces. Mysteriously missing from the Coen’s impressively large list of nominations are any for Raising Arizona or Burn After Reading, both of which show the same craft and talent as any of their nominated films, but have nothing to show for it.

Not to mention that Hail, Caesar! came out in February, and the Academy has a notoriously short memory (it’s been 25 years since the last February movie was nominated for Best Picture). Good luck breaking the mold.

10 Cloverfield Lane

Category – Best Supporting Actor

Lots of people are calling for this, and, if the year were over already, I could see this happening. John Goodman definitely had all the subtleties of a madman down – verbal and physical tics, sincerity in his insanity, etcetera – but if I learned anything from last year it’s that Acting races are always too early to call.

Around this same time in 2015, I was calling for an Oscar nomination for Nicholas Hoult for his role as Nux in Mad Max: Fury Road. I don’t regret that prediction. At the time, I was right. He was so engrossed in his role that he was among the best, if not the best supporting actor of that year – so far. And then, the rest of 2015 happened, with eligible supporting roles from everyone nominated, plus Michael Shannon in 99 Homes, Idris Elba in Beasts of No Nation, Jacob Tremblay in Room, Paul Dano in Love & Mercy, Michael Keaton in Spotlight. And Hoult, an actor in a movie that the Academy only begrudgingly nominated in the first place? Forget about it.

While he may deserve it now, I’d hold off before you make any bets on John Goodman.

Green Room

Category: Best Picture, Actor, Screenplay, Director

While I’m tempted to vote with my heavy heart and say that Green Room, the most recent film starring the now-deceased Anton Yelchin, will garner at least one nomination for something, if not an actor nomination. The sad truth is that posthumous acting nominations are rare. Everyone likes to remember how Heath Ledger did it, but in a more understated role like this one, or let’s say James Gandolfini’s role in Enough Said, it hardly ever happens.

That leaves the other three categories, which it seems will all be far too competitive for an ultra-violent indie film without any big name attached to its creative side. The closest comparison I can make to a 2015 film in terms of awards chances is Ex Machina, another indie film with no big names at the helm, but the consensus was that its nominations were a surprise, and probably a fluke.

But hey, we’ll see if any of this ends up on a "5 Stupid Things I Said in 2016" list.