Sunday, February 26, 2017

2017 Academy Award Predictions

The 2017 Academy Awards are tonight and here are my predictions of how things will go down.  Last year, I didn't do as well as I have in the past, so I'm hoping to improve a little.  With the way La La Land is poised to perform, I have a good feeling.

Best Visual Effects
Deepwater Horizon
Doctor Strange
The Jungle Book
Kubo and the Two Strings
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Will Win: The Jungle Book
Should Win: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

The Jungle Book winning is a sure thing, but I'm going to be honest here: I'm not crazy about the visual effects in that film.  They alternate between being mindblowing and slightly wonky.  So I'll throw my personal preference to Rogue One, which makes CG looks so easy that you take it for granted.  Kubo and the Two Strings would be a very close second for me.  But there's no way anything is taking this from Jungle Book.

Best Film Editing
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
La La Land

Will Win: La La Land
Should Win: Arrival

I'm guessing La La Land is going to clean up tonight, starting with this award for its jaunty editing.  However, I think had Arrival's editing had the difficult and more subtle task of presenting a non-linear story in a coherent way.

Best Costume Design
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Florence Foster Jenkins
La La Land

Will Win: Jackie
Should Win: Jackie

The betting odds favor La La Land to win, but I'm taking a slight risk and going with Jackie.  It's got one costume that stands out, but that costume is iconic (the others are pretty good too).

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
A Man Called Ove
Star Trek Beyond
Suicide Squad

Will Win: Star Trek Beyond
Should Win: Star Trek Beyond

I was very close to giving the "Should Win" category to Suicide Squad, because I do think the makeup and hairstyling in it is mostly interesting, but then I remembered Jared Leto's Joker.  So I decided to go with Star Trek Beyond, which I also think will win the award.

Best Cinematography
Arrival, Bradford Young
La La Land, Linus Sandgren
Lion, Greig Fraser
Moonlight, James Laxton
Silence, Rodrigo Prieto

Will Win: La La Land
Should Win: Silence

This is a very strong category.  All of these films have gorgeous cinematography, but my favorite was Silence, which features some astonishing shots of the Japanese countryside.  Still, I think the voters will go with La La Land's crisp and colorful cinematography.

Best Production Design
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Hail, Ceasar!
La La Land

Will Win: La La Land
Should Win: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Here's another strong category.  Passengers seems like a trainwreck of a film, but the glossy sci-fi veneer it has looked to be the best thing about it.  Hail, Ceasar! was a bit of a disappointment for me, but its lavish production design was impressive.  Arrival has a simple, but effective design to its indoor sets and alien craft.  My favorite is Fantastic Beasts, which is basically "Production Design: The Movie."  But I predict this one will end up going to La La Land as well.

Best Sound Mixing
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

Will Win: La La Land
Should Win: Arrival

La La Land will most likely win this one, which is CRAZY.  The sound mixing is the worst thing about it.  You can always count on a Star Wars film to have good mixing, and I haven't seen 13 Hours but you can usually count on a Michael Bay film to have good mixing too.  I'll go with Arrival as my own personal preference though.

Best Sound Editing
Deepwater Horizon
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land

Will Win: Hacksaw Ridge
Should Win: Hacksaw Ridge

I'm not going to take the time to actually look into this, but I feel like films with alot of gunshots tend to do well in this category, so I think that will help Hacksaw Ridge.  And though I haven't seen it, what I've gathered from the trailer indicate that sound effects are superb.

Best Original Song
"Audition (The Fools Who Dream)", La La Land
"Can't Stop the Feeling!", Trolls
"City of Stars", La La Land
"The Empty Chair", Jim: The James Foley Story
"How Far I'll Go", Moana

Will Win: "City of Stars," La La Land
Should Win: "How Far I'll Go," Moana

I'm predicting "City of Stars" will win, although "Audition (The Fools Who Dream)" is the much better La La Land nominated song.  Still, my favorite is "How Far I'll Go," which I hate to admit as someone who loves to poke fun at that dweeb Lin Manuel-Miranda.

Best Original Score
Jackie, Mica Levi
La La Land, Justin Hurwitz
Lion, Dustin O'Halloran and Hauschka
Moonlight, Nicholas Britell
Passengers, Thomas Newman

Will Win: La La Land
Should Win: Jackie

La La Land's very pleasant and catchy score will win, but it's Mica Levi's work on the eerie Jackie score is the one that should win.

Best Animated Short Film
Blind Vaysha
Borrowed Time
Pear Cider and Cigarettes

Will Win: Piper
Should Win: N/A

Piper is the only one of these that I've seen and it's very good, but I don't feel qualified to say what I think is the best from this category.  A Pixar short hasn't won in a long time, but I think they might break the slump here.

Best Live Action Short Film
Ennemis interiuers
La Femme et le TGV
Silent Nights

Will Win: Ennemis interiuers
Should Win: N/A

See above; I'm going with the oddmakers on this one.

Best Documentary -- Short Subject
4.1 Miles
Joe's Violin
Watani: My Homeland
The White Helmets

Will Win: The White Helmets
Should Win: N/A

I've heard from people who have seen these that The White Helmets is the best one, and even though quality isn't always the main factor in the Oscars, I'll go with it anyway.

Best Documentary -- Feature
Fire at Sea
I Am Not Your Negro
Life, Animated
O.J.: Made in America

Will Win: O.J.: Made in America
Should Win: O.J.: Made in America

I wonder if the seven hour length of O.J.: Made in America will hurt its chances of winning, but it's a towering achievement, so let's hope it pulls this off.  Ava Duvernay's 13th would also be a great choice.

Best Foreign Language Film
Land of Mine (Denmark)
A Man Called Ove (Sweden)
The Salesman (Iran)
Tanna (Australia)
Toni Erdmann (Germany)

Will Win: The Salesman
Should Win: N/A

Toni Erdmann is universally acclaimed and the favorite amongst Vegas oddsmakers, but I think voters will go with the political choice of Asghar Farhadi's The Salesman.

Best Animated Feature Film
Kubo and the Two Strings
My Life as a Zucchini
The Red Turtle

Will Win: Zootopia
Should Win: Moana

Zootopia feels like it came out years ago, but I think its political relevance will give it a slight edge over Moana.  Of these films I've seen, I like Moana a slight hair above Zootopia and Kubo and the Two Strings, so I'd be happy with any result.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Arrival, Eric Heisserer
Fences, August Wilson
Hidden Figures, Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi
Lion, Luke Davies
Moonlight, Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney

Will Win: Moonlight
Should Win: Moonlight

I mean, how are you going to try arguing against this?

Best Original Screenplay
Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan
La La Land, Damien Chazelle
The Lobster, Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthimis Filippou
Manchester by the Sea, Kenneth Lonergan
20th Century Women, Mike Mills

Will Win: Manchester by the Sea
Should Win: Manchester by the Sea

If the voters really love La La Land (and it seems like they might), it could end up winning this category.  But I think that Kenneth Lonergan being seen as more of a pure writer than Damien Chazelle might give him the slight edge.  Rightfully so, as the Manchester script is nearly perfect.

Best Supporting Actress
Viola Davis, Fences
Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Nicole Kidman, Lion
Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures
Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea

Will Win: Viola Davis
Should Win: Michelle Williams

I'll be fine with Viola Davis' probable win, but I think she overacts a little in Fences.  Meanwhile, Michelle Williams is characteristically great in the small role she has in Manchester.  Naomie Harris is quite good in Moonlight too.  Kidman and Spencer are a bit forgettable in their roles though.

Best Supporting Actor
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
Should Win: Mahershala Ali

These are all good performances, though I'd pick Aaron Taylor-Johnson if I were to go with a Nocturnal Animals actor.  Regardless, Mahershala Ali is both the likely winner and the one who gives the best performance out of the nominated bunch.  He's just got such a radiating, commanding presence.

Best Actress
Isabelle Huppert, Elle
Ruth Negga, Loving
Natalie Portman, Jackie
Emma Stone, La La Land
Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

Will Win: Emma Stone
Should Win: Natalie Portman

The Oscars love an ingenue, and it looks like it's finally Emma Stone's time to be anointed.  That's perfectly fine -- she's very charming in La La Land and every other film she's in.  If I had seen Elle or Loving, I might pick Huppert or Negga as my Should Win.  Instead, I'm going with Natalie Portman, because even though I occasionally found her performance to be more of an impression, she's able to unlock some powerful emotions in the process.

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

Will Win: Casey Affleck
Should Win: Casey Affleck

This award could go to Gosling if the La La Land love is really that strong, or Washington if people decide that Casey Affleck is too much of a scumbag.  But if Mel Gibson being nominated for Best Director is any indication, the Oscars don't care about how much of a scumbag you are.  Casey Affleck will win for his (admittedly excellent) performance in Manchester by the Sea.

Best Director
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
Should Win: Barry Jenkins

I'd be good with anyone but Mel Gibson winning.  I love Kenneth Lonergan and Manchester by the Sea, but I think his script is what makes it special more than his direction.  So I'll go with Barry Jenkins' graceful work in Moonlight as my Should Win.  But this one's going to Chazelle's energetic and jazzy direction on La La Land, for sure.

Best Picture
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
Hidden Figures
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea

Will Win: La La Land
Should Win: Manchester by the Sea

The only one of these I haven't seen is Hacksaw Ridge, so my ranking from favorite to least favorite would be: Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight, Arrival, La La Land, Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures, Lion, Fences.  And I'd label all of those except the last two as "very good" films, so this was a pretty solid batch of nominees.  There's no way La La Land won't win, right?  It seems like the lock to end all locks.  It's bright, it's happy, it's a celebration of Old Hollywood.  Yeah, there's no way it will lose.

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