The 88th Academy Awards can be boiled down to one specific hashtag: #OscarsSoWhite.

This year is possibly the most controversial year that the Academy has ever seen regarding its nominations. The lack of diversity, specifically in the acting categories, is shocking, despite many wonderful performances by individuals from diverse backgrounds. This has prompted many celebrities to boycott the awards, including Jada Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee. Other actors, such as David Oyelowo and George Clooney, have also spoken about how this lack of diversity is problematic.

Having seen the majority of films that were nominated, I will say that there are performances worthy of Oscar recognition.

However, there were also performances in “Concussion,” “Straight Outta Compton,” and “Beasts of No Nation” that were Oscar-worthy. The only difference is that the actors in the aforementioned films were African-American.

I wonder if there weren’t specific categories for actresses, if women would even get nominated.

One of the most interesting things about this Academy Awards is the host: Chris Rock. He has been relatively quiet about the lack of diversity included in this year’s Oscars. I feel as though that might change when he does his opening monologue during the show, as it should.

The Oscars will be haunting this year, due to the lack of worthy performances that the Academy did not include.

However, Oscar picks must still be made. Here are the nominees for the most anticipated awards:

Best Picture

“Spotlight”

“The Big Short”

“The Revenant”

“Mad Max: Fury Road”

“The Martian”

“Bridge of Spies”

“Brooklyn”

“Room”

 

Frontrunner: “Spotlight.”

This dark film is truly one of the most resonating films that I ever watched. With an incredible cast that includes Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams, this film will be hard to beat.

Who should win: “The Revenant.”

This film is a classic Innaritu film: visually stunning and beautifully and uniquely shot. It will probably snag an award for cinematography as well. Not to mention, this film stars Leonardo DiCaprio in his best performance to date.

 

Actor in a Leading Role

Bryan Cranston,“Trumbo”

Matt Damon, “The Martian”

Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Revenant”

Michael Fassbender, “Steve Jobs”

Eddie Redmayne, “The Danish Girl”

 

Frontrunner: DiCaprio.

Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the most, if not the most, talented actor of the current generation. He dazzled in films like “Catch Me If You Can,” “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?,” “The Aviator” and “Django Unchained.”

This is his fifth nomination for an Academy Award and he has never won. I truly believe this has to be his year. If he doesn’t win, there is definitely a curse on that beautiful man.

 

Who should win: DiCaprio.

I mean, the guy ate an actual bison liver for this film. He is really hungry for that award.

 

Actress in a Leading Role

Cate Blanchett, “Carol”

Brie Larson, “Room”

Jennifer Lawrence, “Joy”

Charlotte Rampling, “45 Years”

Saoirse Ronan, “Brooklyn”

 

Frontrunner: Larson.

Brie Larson was impeccable in “Room.” She was touching and emotional throughout the film. Having already won the Golden Globe this year, she seems like a shoe-in for the little golden man.

 

Who should win: Blanchett.

Cate Blanchett is an Oscar darling coming off her win for “Blue Jasmine” a few years ago. She is excellent in “Carol” and truly deserves another award. Her talent level is as high as her cheekbones.

Actor in a Supporting Role

Christian Bale, “The Big Short”

Tom Hardy, “The Revenant”

Mark Ruffalo, “Spotlight”

Mark Rylance, “Bridge of Spies”

Sylvester Stallone, “Creed”

 

Frontrunner: Stallone.

Stallone has been a beloved actor and writing for many decades in Hollywood. While he was pretty good in “Creed,” this award seems more like a Lifetime Achievement Award than one for acting.

 

Who should win: Ruffalo.

Rather than the mumbling and grumbling Stallone, Ruffalo gave the performance that should win the Oscar. Ruffalo played his character in “Spotlight” so well that in times I hated him, in times I loved him and in times I felt like I was in his shoes. Performances like that are not that common.

 

Actress in a Supporting Role:

Jennifer Jason Leigh, “The Hateful Eight”

Rooney Mara, “Carol”

Rachel McAdams, “Spotlight”

Alicia Vikander, “The Danish Girl”

Kate Winslet, “Steve Jobs”

 

Front runner – Vikander or Winslet.

To me, these two actresses are very similar in talent and acting style. Winslet just happens to have more films under her belt. Both actresses are even tied to Michael Fassbender. Winslet co-starred with him in “Steve Jobs,” while Vikander is currently dating him. If either actress won, the Oscar would be going to a worthy home.

Who should win – Jason Leigh.

She had blood thrown on her face and took it like the proverbial man. Despite being the only main female character in “The Hateful Eight” (and the only actor to be nominated from the film), Jason Leigh had one of the most powerful performances in the film that was dominant and unique.

 

The 88th Academy Awards will be held on February 28, 2016 at 7pm on ABC.