Their track record for prognostication isn’t too shabby. When we gathered their predictions for what would win at last year’s ceremony, they correctly identified the outcome in 11 of the 13 categories (missing only on the best feature prize for “Birdman” and the John Cassavetes Award upset for “Land Ho!”).
In addition to their picks for this Saturday, each critic also singled out the film or performance that they’d prefer to see end up in the winners circle. Below, we have the tabulated totals ready for your perusal in a variety of categories.
Who Will Win: “Spotlight”
After falling short among the collective critical Oscar prognostication, Tom McCarthy’s “Spotlight” is the clear pick for Saturday’s ceremony. 69.2% of critics picked “Spotlight” for the top prize, while all but one of the remaining votes went to “Carol” (28.2%).
Who Should Win: “Carol”
In what was a noticeable trend among Spirit favorites, “Carol” was a clear favorite, taking 51.3% of the responses for what should receive the rightful honor. Sean Baker’s “Tangerine” finished in second at 20.5%, with “Spotlight” right behind at 17.9%.
Who Will and Should Win: Todd Haynes, “Carol”
While other individuals and films pulled off the Will Win/Should Win feat this year, no one did it as consistently as Haynes. With two-thirds of the predictions and 69.4% of the Should Win tally, he appeared in both spots on a number of ballots. 30.8% of the remaining predictions went to McCarthy for “Spotlight” and the rest of the Should Wins were dispersed fairly evenly among the rest of the nominees.
Who Will Win: Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer, “Spotlight”
Even if “Carol” takes both of the above two categories, this does seem to be safely in the bag for McCarthy and Singer. 81.6% see the duo winning on Saturday, with only Charlie Kaufman and “Anomalisa” (10.5%) getting more than a tenth of the picks.
Who Should Win: Phyllis Nagy, “Carol”
Just a single vote separated her and the “Spotlight” crew, but Nagy ended up as the collective choice for the category’s rightful champion. Kaufman (who was last nominated in 2008 for “Synecdoche, New York”) finished with 21.1%.
Best First Feature
Who Will and Should Win: Marielle Heller, “Diary of a Teenage Girl”
Heller’s debut has already won her critical acclaim, but she may soon have some hardware to go along with it. 86.5% picked her to win on Saturday, while two-thirds of participants would argue that it’s the proper outcome. Among the other preferred winners, Josh Mond and “James White” took 24.2%, with “Manos Sucias” and “Mediterranea” splitting the remaining votes.
Best First Screenplay
Who Will and Should Win: Emma Donoghue, “Room”
Literary adaptations ruled the day in this category, as Donoghue’s “Room” script from her own novel (70.3%) and Heller’s version of Phoebe Gloeckner’s graphic novel (24.3%) took all but two of the prediction votes. The two screenplays respectively got 32.4% and 27% of the Should Win vote, with considerable support for Jesse Andrews’ own novel adaptation for “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.” John Magary’s debut script for “The Mend” joined Andrews with 18.9% of the approval selection.
Up next: A handful of surprises in the acting categories…
John Cassavetes Award
Who Will and Should Win: “Heaven Knows What”
Before “Blue Ruin” was the runaway winner in our poll last year (even though “Land Ho!” won at the actual ceremony), this was usually a Will Win/Should Win split (“Computer Chess”/”Museum Hours” in 2014 and “Middle of Nowhere”/”The Color Wheel” the year before). But Josh and Benny Safdie’s “Heaven Knows What” topped both sides of the equation, taking 71.4% of the predictions and appearing on two-thirds of the Should Win ballots. Among the rest of the nominees, the upcoming film “Krisha” took most of the remaining picks, with 23.2% of critics arguing Trey Edward Shults’ debut feature should land the prize.
Best Female Lead
Who Will and Should Win: Brie Larson, “Room”
It’s a double win here for Larson (quadruple if you count taking the Will Win and Should Win on the Oscars side as well), and in convincing fashion. 87.2% think that she’ll kick off the weekend in style and 38.5% approve of the choice. The Should Win side is significantly more spread out, with Bel Powley getting 15.4% and “Carol” actresses Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara taking 23.1% and 17.9%.
Best Male Lead
Who Will Win: Jason Segel, “The End of the Tour”
Segel’s performance as David Foster Wallace is the closest predicted win of any of the acting categories. Although 46.2% picked him to win, he faces stiff competition from newcomer Abraham Attah (30.8%) and Christopher Abbott (20.5%).
Who Should Win: Christopher Abbott, “James White”
Speaking of the “James White” star, Abbott eked out one vote more than Segel in the Should Win category, accompanied by a strong showing for “Mississippi Grind” co-lead Ben Mendelsohn (23.7%). All nominees appeared on this side of the ballot, including 13.2% for Attah and a vote for Koudous Seihon from “Mediterranea.”
Best Supporting Female
Who Will and Should Win: Mya Taylor, “Tangerine”
If things go the way these critics see it, the ambitious campaign for “Tangerine” will end happily on Saturday. The movie’s co-star “Tangerine” took a majority of predictions (56.8%) for the Supporting Actress Prize. However, this does look to be the closest-contested race of the weekend, with Jennifer Jason Leigh’s turn in “Anomalisa” (27%) and Cynthia Nixon’s performance (16.2%), each finding a reasonable chance to claim the prize. As for the performance that critics would like to see honored, Taylor topped the Should Win section with 39.5%, closely followed by Leigh at 31.6% and Nixon at 26.3%.
Best Supporting Male
Who Will Win: Idris Elba, “Beasts of No Nation”
Continuing his recent awards streak (which includes his SAG award for “Luther”), 79.5% of our participants feel that Elba will win on Saturday for his “Beasts of No Nation” role. Among the would-be spoilers, Paul Dano and Michael Shannon each received 10.3% of the upset vote.
Who Should Win: Elba/Michael Shannon, “99 Homes”
The only category tie for both the Oscars or the Spirits this year comes here, with Elba and Shannon each taking 31.6% of the vote. Each of the other nominees each received at least three votes, with Dano (18.4%) and Kevin Corrigan from “Results” (10.5%) both getting their fair share.
Up next: Clear predictions, but are they for the right films?
Who Will and Should Win: Ed Lachman, “Carol”
In our Oscar poll, Lachman faced significant opposition from awards season regular Emmanuel Lubezki and “Mad Max: Fury Road” cinematographer John Seale. But with both of those absent from the indie ranks, Lachman took 92.1% of the predictions and received the highest Should Win percentage by far (84.2%). Cary Fukunaga and Mike Gioulakis’ work on “Beasts of No Nation” and “It Follows,” respectively, split the remaining ideal winner picks.
Who Will and Should Win: “The Look of Silence”
In a similar case of an absent Oscar frontrunner, Joshua Oppenheimer’s film was the clear prediction among the six honorees. Aside from the two votes for Laurie Anderson’s “Heart of a Dog,” Oppenheimer’s “The Act of Killing” followup took the remaining Will Win picks (94.7%). “Silence” (54.3%) and “Dog” (20%) also finished one-two in the approval voting, with each of the other four nominated films getting at least one ballot of their own.
Best International Film
Who Will and Should Win: “Son of Saul”
With three of the same nominees up for awards in the comparable Oscars category, it’s interesting to see that “Son of Saul” is still the favorite here, but not by as much. Five votes for “Mustang” foiled another unanimous prediction. 47.1% thought that Laszlo Nemes’ film should take the prize, compared to 29.4% for “Mustang.” The rest of the votes were split between “A Pigeon Sitting on a Branch Reflecting on Existence” (11.8%), “Girlhood” (8.8%) and a single vote for “Embrace of the Serpent.”