Saturday, February 25, 2017

The 89th Academy Awards: Predictions

Oscar weekend is a weekend that I look forward to every year. I look at the predictions year round and do my best to see all of the movies that get Oscar buzz. Yes, I usually end up getting angry at many of the specific nominations and wins, but it's totally worth all the time and effort. There's a ton of politics and campaigning that goes into everything. The movies that get a lot of the nominations and wins don't always reflect what was actually the best of the year. Oscar voters are usually biased to specific types of movies and often forget that movies are actually released between January and October. So yes, the process has a ton of flaws to it. That's not even mentioning the controversy the last few years that the Oscars are racist, which they seem to have purposely overcompensated for this year to prove they aren't racist. All this said, why do I love the Oscars so much? Well, despite all the flaws, a lot of the movies that get Oscar buzz (not necessarily nominations or wins) are usually great movies that I think people should see. And it's fun to do this yearly post where I give you all my predictions along with my personal picks. So without further ado, let's dive in!

Best Picture:

Nominations:

- "Arrival" - Paramount
- "Fences" - Paramount
- "Hacksaw Ridge" - Lionsgate
- "Hell or High Water" - CBS Films
- "Hidden Figures" - 20th Century Fox
- "La La Land" - Summit
- "Lion" - The Weinstein Company
- "Manchester by the Sea" - Roadside Attractions/Amazon Studios
- "Moonlight" - A24

Will Win:

- "La La Land" - Summit

Should Win:

- "La La Land" - Summit

This is the sixth year where I've written something about the Oscars on this blog. Not coincidentally, this is also the sixth year of me doing this blog. So yes, I've done something on the Oscars every year that this blog has existed. This is the fourth straight year I've done predictions. In this six year time period, not once has my favorite movie of the year won best picture. Several times my favorite movie of the year got in second place, but it's never won. Barring some major upset (which I will take full credit for if it happens given my history), that all looks to change this year. I saw "La La Land" back in November and have been madly in love with it ever since. Outside it being a phenomenal movie, there are many reasons to believe it will win. First, it has been winning everything leading up to the Oscars. It tied the record for most Oscar nominations with 14. And it's a movie about Hollywood that also gives tribute to the Golden Age of Hollywood. The Oscars love movies that pay tribute to movies.

Directing:

Nominations:

- Denis Villeneuve - "Arrival"
- Mel Gibson - "Hacksaw Ridge"
- Damien Chazelle - "La La Land"
- Kenneth Lonergan - "Manchester by the Sea"
- Barry Jenkins - "Moonlight"

Will Win:

- Damien Chazelle - "La La Land"

Should Win:

- Barry Jenkins - "Moonlight"

This might surprise you with my personal choice. Yes, I love "La La Land," but instead of picking it to win in every category that it's been nominated just because it's called "La La Land," I try to take this category by category. Yes, Damien Chazelle is going to win. No question there. And I'm going to be happy because it will be a deserving win. And I also did a phone interview with him for my internship in November, so that'll be cool to brag about. But there's something about "Moonlight" and it's three different casts portraying the same cast of characters at different ages that is super impressive, especially they all seem like the same people. It feels like the did exactly what "Boyhood" did, but they didn't. And in my mind, it takes some incredible directing to pull that off, so that's why I'd give Barry Jenkins the win.


Actor in a Leading Role:

Nominations:

- Casey Affleck - "Manchester by the Sea"
- Andrew Garfield - "Hacksaw Ridge"
- Ryan Gosling - "La La Land"
- Viggo Mortensen - "Captain Fantastic"
- Denzel Washington - "Fences"

Will Win:

- Denzel Washington - "Fences"

Should Win:

- Casey Affleck - "Manchester by the Sea"

This is the category that's the most up in the air as far as who is going to win. And it's either Casey or Denzel. Casey is the official favorite, but there's a big support for Denzel and it's Denzel that I'm leaning slightly towards. Casey himself is not the most model citizen, so that might push some for Denzel. Denzel also directed the film he's in, so that might give some weight to him, especially since he didn't get nominated for director. And he's black, so the Academy might pick him to win just to prove they aren't racist. As far as my personal pick, both are fantastic. I'd pick Casey because while Denzel did a lot of fast talking and yelling, Casey became a depressed character who's gone through a whole bunch of crap, so I think he pulled off the better performance. But just slightly.

Actress in a Leading Role:

Nominations:

- Isabelle Huppert - "Elle"
- Ruth Negga - "Loving"
- Natalie Portman - "Jackie"
- Emma Stone - "La La Land"
- Meryl Streep - "Florence Foster Jenkins"

Will Win:

- Emma Stone - "La La Land"

Should Win:

- Natalie Portman - "Jackie"

No doubt here that Emma is getting the win. And I will be happy for her. Not only is she one of my favorite actresses, but she pulled off a fantastic performance as an average aspiring dreamer that a lot of people can relate to. And her and Ryan Gosling put a whole ton of work into their performances as they did all of their singing and dancing. But Natalie Portman became Jackie Kennedy. She got her accent, her voice, her movements and her mannerisms down perfectly. I wasn't a huge fan of the movie "Jackie" as a whole, but I do think Natalie Portman pulled of legendary performance on the level of Daniel Day-Lewis in "Lincoln." Go watch YouTube videos of Jackie Kennedy and go watch the movie "Jackie" and you'll know what I mean.

Actor in a Supporting Role:

Nominations:

- Mahershala Ali - "Moonlight"
- Jeff Bridges - "Hell or High Water"
- Lucas Hedges - "Manchester by the Sea"
- Dev Patel - "Lion"
- Michael Shannon - "Nocturnal Animals"

Will Win:

- Mahershala Ali - "Moonlight"

Should Win:

- Jeff Bridges - "Hell or High Water"

This is a weird category, if I'm being honest. How do we define supporting? Because Jeff Bridges and Dev Patel are both leads in their movie, but they're in the supporting category. The supporting actress category that we'll get to has the same problem. Mahershala Ali is winning this. I'd be shocked if Dev Patel pulled the upset. But how do I pick? Mahershala does a great job, but he's only in the first third of the movie. Yet that shouldn't count against him because this is supposed to be the supporting category, which is the justification behind why he is going to win. But Jeff Bridges played a bigger role in the movie and gave the much better performance, in my opinion. But should I pick against him because he shouldn't be in this category? Yeah, it's a big mess. So I'm ignoring it all and just picking the better performance, which is why I'm sticking to Jeff Bridges.

Actress in a Supporting Role:

Nominations:

- Viola Davis - "Fences"
- Naomi Harris - "Moonlight"
- Nicole Kidman - "Lion"
- Octavia Spencer - "Hidden Figures"
- Michelle Williams - "Manchester by the Sea"

Will Win:

- Viola Davis - "Fences"

Should Win:

- Viola Davis - "Fences"

This is the easiest and most obvious picks of the night. Viola is practically the guaranteed winner and it's well deserved because she gave one of my favorite performances by any actress or actor in any role during a 2016 movie. But she shouldn't be winning the gold statue for supporting actress. She should be winning lead actress. "Fences" was her movie and she was in almost every scene. So what the heck is she doing here in supporting? Yes, that means Emma gets the win. But if we're being fair, Viola should win best actress and thus pave the way for Michelle Williams to win best supporting actress. Because Michelle is the second best performance out of this bunch and I think she would win if Viola were in the right category.

Original Screenplay:

Nominations:

- "Hell or High Water" - Taylor Sheridan
- "La La Land" - Damien Chazelle
- "The Lobster" - Efthimis Filippou & Yorgos Lanthimos
- "Manchester by the Sea" - Kenneth Lonergan
- "20th Century Women" - Mike Mills

Will Win:

- "Manchester by the Sea" - Kenneth Lonergan

Should Win:

- "The Lobster" - Efthimis Filippou & Yorgos Lanthimos

I won't be surprised if "La La Land" takes this, but "Manchester" is the current favorite and it seems like this is the one category where the Academy will let someone else win. If "Manchester" doesn't win this category, it might come up blank unless Casey can pull of the win over Denzel. I hope "Manchester" gets something, though, because it was my second favorite movie of the year. However, in terms of my picking my favorite original screenplay, it must be noted that we're judging screenplay here and not movie. "The Lobster" may not have made my top 10 of the year, but that was one of the most original and creative ideas that I've seen from a film in a long time, so I'd give it the win if it were up to me.

Adapted Screenplay:

Nominations:

- "Arrival" - Eric Heisserer
- "Fences" - August Wilson
- "Hidden Figures" - Allison Schroeder
- "Lion" - Luke Davies
- "Moonlight" - Barry Jenkins & Tarell McCraney

Will Win:

- "Moonlight" - Barry Jenkins & Tarell McCraney

Should Win:

- "Lion" - Luke Davies

This category always slightly confuses me, too. Is it the best adaptation of something or is it the best screenplay that happens to be adapted. I'm going to go with the latter. I wouldn't be able to judge if it were the other way around. With no "La La Land" in this category, "Moonlight" is the obvious winner because if "La La Land" is going to sweep the night, the Academy is going to want to give "Moonlight" something because it has a lot of well-deserved support. For me, I had a tough time picking between "Lion" and "Moonlight" as far as who I want to win. Remember we're thinking screenplay here, not movie. But I give the edge to "Lion" because this is an absolutely beautiful, inspiring story. If you haven't seen "Lion" yet, go fix that.

Animated Feature Film:

Nominations:

- "Kubo and the Two Strings" - Laika
- "Moana" - Walt Disney Pictures
- "My Life as a Zucchini" - GKIDS
- "The Red Turtle" - Sony Pictures Classics
- "Zootopia" - Walt Disney Pictures

Will Win:

- "Zootopia" - Walt Disney Pictures

Should Win:

- "Kubo and the Two Strings" - Laika

"Zootopia" should win this category, but it's not a runaway favorite. "Kubo" could play spoiler here. And I hope it does. I really appreciate the Academy for always giving love to stop-motion animation when no one else seems to do so. I really want a stop-motion movie to get a win, though, because that's something that hasn't happened. "Kubo" was my favorite animated movie of the year, so I also hope it wins for that reason, but "Zootopia" is an extremely close second place for me, so I'm happy either way. I haven't seen "My Life as a Zucchini" or "The Red Turtle," but I really want to see both. They just haven't had a wide enough release, so when the opportunity presents itself, I will see both.

Production Design:

Nominations:

- "Arrival" - Patrice Vermette & Paul Hotte
- "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" - Stuart Craig & Anna Pinnock
- "Hail, Caesar!" - Jess Gonchor & Nancy Haigh
- "La La Land" - David Wasco & Sandy Reynolds-Wasco
- "Passengers" - Guy Hendrix Dyas & Gene Serdena

Will Win:

- "La La Land" - David Wasco & Sandy Reynolds-Wasco

Should Win:

- "Hail, Caesar!" - Jess Gonchor & Nancy Haigh

Get ready for a lot of "La La Land" predictions in these smaller categories. In terms of production design, it came down to "Fantastic Beasts" and "Hail, Caesar!" for my personal pick. I loved the world they built for "Fantastic Beasts," but I ended up going with "Hail, Caesar!" because I was really impressed with how they created a 1950's Hollywood studio with a ton of different movie sets. The movie itself didn't go anywhere and was thus disappointing because it was just a week in the life of a fictional movie studio from back in the day, but there were a lot of great individual moments and a lot of wonderful fictional movie sets, so I'd say it would be a deserved win.

Cinematography:

Nominations:

- "Arrival" - Bradford Young
- "La La Land" - Linus Sandgren
- "Lion" - Greg Fraser
- "Moonlight" - James Laxton
- "Silence" - Rodrigo Preito

Will Win:

- "La La Land" - Linus Sandgren

Should Win:

- "Arrival" - Bradford Young

This is where I would give "Arrival" a win. It got a well-deserved eight nominations, but it looks like it may end up coming up blank in a very competitive year, which will be sad. The cinematography and the score made "Arrival" as amazing as it was and when I look at all of these nominations, Bradford Young's work in "Arrival" is easily the best with "Lion" being a fairly distant second. But "La La Land" will get the win.

Costume Design:

Nominations:

- "Allied" - Joanna Johnston
- "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" - Colleen Atwood
- "Florence Foster Jenkins" - Consolata Boyle
- "Jackie" - Madeline Fontaine
- "La La Land" - Mary Zophres

Will Win:

- "Jackie" - Madeline Fontaine

Should Win:

- "Jackie" - Madeline Fontaine

One of the few categories where I'm going to pick "La La Land" to lose. But before you laugh at the idea of "La La Land" being included here, pay close attention to the musical numbers and you might see why it deserves to be here. But come on. When you're portraying a historical event or telling the story of a famous character from history and you do a perfect job of making everyone in your movie look like the historical characters with the costume designs, you deserve an Oscar and I hope that "Jackie" actually gets the Oscar that I think it will. "Fantastic Beasts" and "Allied" are tempting choices here, though.

Film Editing:

Nominations:

- "Arrival" - Joe Walker
- "Hacksaw Ridge" - John Gilbert
- "Hell or High Water" - Jake Roberts
- "La La Land" - Tom Cross
- "Moonlight" - Nat Sanders & Joi McMillon

Will Win:

- "La La Land" - Tom Cross

Should Win:

- "Hacksaw Ridge" - John Gilbert

Editing usually goes to the best picture winner. Which is why I think "La La Land" is getting the win. I'm not the prefect judge in editing, but having done a bit of it myself I have all the respect in the world for editors because it's a difficult process to even edit together one short scene. When I watch "Hacksaw Ridge," I can only imagine how difficult it was to put those war scenes together in the second half of that movie, which is why I would give it the win.

Makeup and Hairstyling:

Nominations:

- "A Man Called Ove" - Eva von Bahr & Love Larson
- "Star Trek Beyond" - Joel Harlow & Richard Alonzo
- "Suicide Squad" - Alessandro Bertolazzi, Giorgio Gregorini & Christopher Allen Nelson

Will Win:

- "Star Trek Beyond" - Joel Harlow & Richard Alonzo

Should Win:

- "Star Trek Beyond" - Joel Harlow & Richard Alonzo

After one cruddy year when it comes to critical reviews, this is where DC gets the last laugh because out of all the superhero movies from 2016, "Suicide Squad" is one of two movies to actually pick up an Oscar nomination. The other being "Doctor Strange" for visual effects. But I find it strange because I thought our makeup and hairstyling would have better options to pick from because there were a lot of deserving candidates. I haven't seen "A Man Called Ove," so in judging between "Suicide Squad" and "Star Trek Beyond," I guess that means I'm judging between Harley Quinn/Joker and the one lady character. In that battle, I go Star Trek. And I think that's where the Academy is going, too.


Sound Mixing:

Nominations:

- "Arrival" - Bernard Gariepy Strobl & Claude La Haye
- "Hacksaw Ridge" - Kevin O'Connell, Andy Wright, Robert Mackenzie & Peter Grace
- "La La Land" - Andy Nelson, Ai-Ling Lee & Steven Morrow
- "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" - David Parker, Christopher Scarabosio & Stuart Wilson
- "13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi" - Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush & Mac Ruth

Will Win:

- "La La Land" - Andy Nelson, Ai-Ling Lee & Steven Morrow

Should Win:

- "Hacksaw Ridge" - Kevin O'Connell, Andy Wright, Robert Mackenzie & Peter Grace

What's the difference between sound mixing and sound editing? That always confuses me. So I looked up and the easy answer is that sound editing comes first. Sound editors puts all the initial sounds together and then the sound mixers shape the sounds, adjusting volume and whatnot. Thus I can't say I'm the best judge here, but based on heresay, "Hacksaw Ridge" is predicted to win one of the awards with "La La Land" winning the other. But I honestly think "La La Land" will take both. If I'm wrong, then I'll at least I'll get one right. If I'm wrong and "Hacksaw Ridge" takes home both, then I'll be happy. This seems like something our war movie should win. I imagine it was difficult to recreate the sounds of war.

Sound Editing:

Nominations:

- "Arrival" - Sylvain Bellemare
- "Deepwater Horizon" - Wylie Stateman & Renee Tondelli
- "Hacksaw Ridge" - Robert Mackenzie & Andy Wright
- "La La Land" - Ai-Ling Lee & Mildred Iatrou
- "Sully" - Alan Robert Murray & Bub Asman

Will Win:

- "La La Land" - Ai-Ling Lee & Mildred Iatrou

Should Win:

- "Hacksaw Ridge" - Robert Mackenzie & Andy Wright

Copy and paste my previous comment. I want the war movie to win these. I think our musical is taking it, though. If it splits, I won't be surprised. Adding to the confusion of these two categories, apparently "Rogue One" and "13 Hours" were good enough to get sound mixing nominations, but not sound editing nominations. Vice versa for "Deepwater Horizon" and "Sully." I'll let the experts here explain why.

Visual Effects:

Nominations:

- "Deepwater Horizon" - Craig Hammack, Jason H. Snell, Jason Billington & Burt Dalton
- "Doctor Strange" - Stephane Ceretti, Richard Bluff, Vincent Cirelli & Paul Corbould
- "The Jungle Book" - Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones & Dan Lemmon
- "Kubo and the Two Strings" - Steve Emerson, Oliver Jones, Brian McLean & Brad Schiff
- "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" - John Knoll, Mohen Leo, Hal T. Hickel & Neil Corbould

Will Win:

- "The Jungle Book" - Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones & Dan Lemmon

Should Win:

- "The Jungle Book" - Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones & Dan Lemmon

I'm really happy that our stop-motion movie got into the visual effects category. That was a pleasant surprise. And I would love to see "Doctor Strange" win here or even "Rogue One" or "Deepwater Horizon." If it weren't for "The Jungle Book," that is. I mean, "The Jungle Book" made practically their whole movie on a computer and made it look like they had actual sets and actual animals. I don't know how that will hold up 20 years from now and I don't think we should make this a habit, but as of now that is dang impressive and the easy pick to win.

Original Score:

Nominations:

- "Jackie" - Mica Levi
- "La La Land" - Justin Hurwitz
- "Lion" - Dustin O'Halloran & Volker Bertelmann
- "Moonlight" - Nicholas Britell
- "Passengers" - Thomas Newman

Will Win:

- "La La Land" - Justin Hurwitz

Should Win:

- "La La Land" - Justin Hurwitz

"La La Land" is a musical. It should be no surprise to see it win the music categories. Just remember, though, this is talking about the score here and not the musical numbers. And this whole score was all Jazz music, which fits into the theme of Gosling's character not wanting Jazz music to die. I also took six years of band class in grade school, so when we have a score that's all Jazz, I absolutely love it. The other scores are good, but nothing comes close, so I'll plan on giving this win a round of applause. The score for "Lion" comes in a distant second, if you are curious as to what I would give if "La La Land" wasn't here.

Original Song:

Nominations:

- "Audition (The Fools Who Dream)" - Emma Stone ("La La Land")
- "Can't Stop the Feeling!" - Justin Timberlake ("Trolls")
- "City of Stars" - Ryan Gosling & Emma Stone ("La La Land")
- "The Empty Chair" - Sting & J. Ralph ("Jim: The James Foley Story")
- "How Far I'll Go" - Auli'i Cravalho ("Moana")

Will Win:

- "City of Stars" - Ryan Gosling & Emma Stone ("La La Land")

Should Win:

- "Audition (The Fools Who Dream)" - Emma Stone ("La La Land")

"City of Stars" is getting all the buzz and should win. No complaints here because I love the song. But if you make me pick, "Audition" is the song that hits me emotionally. Emma singing this in the movie is one of four scenes in the movie that had my jaw on the floor while I was watching. Second time around, this scene destroyed me emotionally because it hit me in all the right places. I really hope the Oscar voters don't end up splitting the vote and giving the surprise win to "Moana," That would be a disaster. "How Far I'll Go" was trying way too hard to be the next "Let it Go," yet failed miserably.

Documentary Feature:

Nominations:

- "Fire at Sea" - Gianfranco Rosi & Donatella Palermo
- "I am Not Your Negro" - Roaul Peck, Remi Grellety & Hebert Peck
- "Life, Animated" - Roger Ross Williams & Julie Goldman
- "O.J.: Made in America" - Ezra Edelman & Caroline Waterlow
- "13th" - Avu DuVernay, Spencer Averick & Howard Barish

Will Win:

- "13th" - Avu DuVernay, Spencer Averick & Howard Barish

Should Win:

n/a

I'm still working on this category. "Life, Animated" is on Amazon Prime and "13th" is on Netflix. I did see "Life, Animated" and loved it and I'm partway through "13th." I want to see the rest when they are made available. "O.J.: Made in America" is available, but is like eight hours long. Speaking of which, I'm happy that an ESPN 30 for 30 got an Oscar nomination. That's cool. But is it too much of a TV special for the Oscars to give it the win? I'm not sure, but based on what I started with "13th," I have a feeling that it's the perfect type of documentary for the Oscars.

Foreign Language Film:

Nominations:

- "Land of Mine" - Denmark
- "A Man Called Ove" - Sweden
- "The Salesman" - Iran
- "Tanna" - Australia
- "Toni Erdmann" - Germany

Will Win:

- "The Salesman" - Iran

Should Win:

n/a

I haven't seen any of these, but I really want to. They just never made it to a theater near me, so I'm waiting for an opportunity to see them. I've heard a lot of great things about "The Salesman," though and when I look at all the premises, it also seems like the perfect Oscar movie.

Live Action Short Film:

Nominations:

- "Ennemis Interieurs" - Selim Azzazi
- "La Femme et le TGV" - Timo von Gunten & Giancun Caduff
- "Silent Nights" - Aske Bang & Kim Magnusson
- "Sing (Mindenki)" - Kristof Deak & Anna Udvardy
- "Timecode" - Juanjo Gimenez Pana

Will Win:

- "Ennemis Interieurs" - Selim Azzazi

Should Win:

n/a

These last three categories are short films and I think they're categories that get way too overlooked by the masses. I love short films and the Oscar nominated short films are usually all fantastic. They usually show up on YouTube or Netflix at some point, but none of these live action shorts have done so. I almost took the 30 minute drive to see them in theaters, but I didn't. So when they are made available online for me, I plan on watching them. Looking at the premise for each, "Ennemis Interieurs" seems like our winner.

Animated Short Film:

Nominations:

- "Blind Vaysha" - Theodore Ushev
- "Borrowed Time" - Andrew Coats & Lou Hamou-Lhadj
- "Pear Cider and Cigarettes" - Robert Valley & Cara Speller
- "Pearl" - Patrick Osborne
- "Piper" - Alan Barillaro & Marc Sondheimer

Will Win:

- "Piper" - Alan Barillaro & Marc Sondheimer

Should Win:

- "Pearl" - Patrick Osborne

Unlike our live action shorts, these animated shorts have shown up online. All of them except for "Pear Cider and Cigarettes." The other four are on YouTube and are all great. As far as predictions, "Piper" is the safe pick because was our Pixar short this year that played before "Finding Dory." It's absolutely adorable. But there's something special about "Pearl." If you have a fancy phone, you can download the Google Spotlight Stories app and essentially watch this in VR. If not, you can go to the YouTube channel and watch it in 360. Either way, it's a pretty awesome experience as you're sitting in a car watching the story unfold before you and you choose where to look. I really love it.

Documentary Short Film:

Nominations:

- "Extremis" - Dan Krauss
- "4.1 Miles" - Daphne Matziaraki
- "Joe's Violin" - Kahane Cooperman & Raphaela Neihausen
- "Watani: My Homeland" - Marcel Mettelsiefen & Stephen Ellis
- "The White Helmets" - Orlando von Einsiedel & Joanna Natasegara

Will Win:

- "The White Helmets" - Orlando von Einsiedel & Joanna Natasegara

Should Win:

- "The White Helmets" - Orlando von Einsiedel & Joanna Natasegara

Last but not least, we have our documentary shorts. "Extrimis" and "The White Helmets" are on Netflix. "4.1 Miles" and "Joe's Violin" are on YouTube. I have seen all four of these. I haven't seen "Watani: My Homeland," but really want to and will when it becomes available. Out of the other four, I really liked "The White Helmets" most, but all are great. "The White Helmets" tells the story of an organization called The White Helmets that spend their time rescuing people caught in the Syria bombings that happen constantly. Phenomenal documentary that I also seems like the perfect choice for the Oscars. "Extremis." which is about the struggle of what to do when a loved one is on life support, is the one being predicted to win by most, but these short films are always unpredictable at the Oscars, so I don't feel obligated to go with the masses here.

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