Friday, February 24, 2017

Final Predictions for the 89th Academy Awards

After what has felt like one of the longest awards seasons in history, we'll finally cross the finish line on Sunday with the 89th Academy Awards. It could be an interesting evening, or La La Land could win every award known to mankind. We'll see. But without further delay, here are my final predictions for the highly anticipated ceremony!


Image courtesy of Lionsgate

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

Will Win: La La Land
Should Win: La La Land
Dark Horse: Moonlight

There should be plenty of surprises on Oscar night. In a competitive year, it's bound to happen. Oddly enough, one of the categories where I'm not expecting much of a surprise just so happens to be the biggest category of all- Best Picture. After going through all of the pre-cursor awards and all of the ups and downs of the season, Damien Chazelle's La La Land will come out on top. Sure, there's a slim, less than 1% chance that Moonlight or Hidden Figures could amass enough votes to pull an upset for the ages. But I just don't see that happening. Chazelle's modern resurgence of the movie musical will win Best Picture and cement its place in history.


Image courtesy of Lionsgate

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

Will Win: Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Should Win: Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Dark Horse: Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

While I'm fairly certain of La La Land's chances in the Best Picture category, Barry Jenkins is a slightly better longshot to upset Chazelle for Best Director. Moonlight is a beloved film, and Jenkins emerged as one of the most likable figures of this season. But when I say longshot, I really do mean it. Chazelle has won just about every guild award known to man, and despite plenty of support for Jenkins, the 32 year old wunderkind behind La La Land is going to walk away as the youngest winner in the history of the category.


Image courtesy of Roadside Attractions

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, Manchester by the Sea
Should Win: Ryan Gosling, La La Land
Dark Horse: Denzel Washington, Fences

For a while, it seemed like Casey Affleck was a sure thing for his deeply internalized portrayal of a man destroyed by grief in Manchester by the Sea. But then came Denzel Washington's surprise SAG win for his flashy, commanding performance in Fences, which threw a wrench in the whole thing. Nobody really knows who has the edge at the moment, and while no SAG Best Actor winner has lost the Oscar in 13 years, it's hard to deny the support for Affleck. I'm sticking with the longtime favorite, although it's hard to deny that Washington has some momentum. I would love to see Ryan Gosling pull off a massive upset for just how great of a year he had in 2016 (the double whammy of The Nice Guys and La La Land), but I know that's not gonna happen. I'm sticking with Affleck, but that could very well change.


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: Amy Adams, Arrival (the year's biggest snub, in my opinion)
Dark Horse: Isabelle Huppert, Elle

When La La Land premiered at the Venice Film Festival, Emma Stone was immediately hailed as our Best Actress front-runner. She won the Best Actress award at the festival, and though she lost a bit of steam with the arrival of Natalie Portman, Stone has rarely faltered. I know that plenty of cinephiles would love to see Isabelle Huppert take home her first Oscar for her daring performance in Paul Verhoeven's Elle, but that film is so brutal and so divisive that I can't see a large chunk of the Academy checking her name on the ballot. And of course, we always have to consider the outside chance that Meryl Streep could win, especially after that Golden Globes speech. But I'm sticking with Stone. She's got all the momentum in the world.


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: Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals
Dark Horse: Dev Patel, Lion

This award always seemed like Mahershala Ali's to lose, but after the Golden Globes and BAFTAs, there's a good chance that the Moonlight star could be upset. Dev Patel gained a significant amount of momentum with his BAFTA win, but I'm not sure that he really has enough support to pull it off. I would love to see a wild Michael Shannon upset for his excellent performance in Nocturnal Animals, just like Aaron Taylor-Johnson managed to do at the Globes. But for now, I'm sticking with Ali. I wouldn't be surprised to see a major surprise, but I don't quite see it coming together.


Viola Davis, Fences
Naomie 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
Dark Horse: There is none. Viola wins this easily.

Viola Davis wins. And it won't even be close. End of story, case closed.


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

Will Win: Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Should Win: Taylor Sheridan, Hell or High Water
Dark Horse: Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea

This category is very close, and I have to imagine that there will only be a few votes separating Damien Chazelle and Kenneth Lonergan. I would probably cast my vote for Taylor Sheridan's timely, vibrant work on Hell or High Water, but this race is pretty much coming down to La La Land and Manchester by the Sea. Most would agree that Lonergan crafted the better script, but I'm thinking that Chazelle will pull off the trifecta, especially considering that Manchester didn't win the WGA.


Luke Davies, Lion
Eric Heisserer, Arrival
Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi, Hidden Figures
August Wilson, Fences

Will Win: Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Should Win: Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Dark Horse: Eric Heisserer, Arrival

Eric Heisserer was in good shape for a while, but as soon as Barry Jenkins' outstanding score for Moonlight joined the Adapted Screenplay race, those chances completely evaporated. Jenkins wins an Oscar for his outstanding work, serving as a consolation prize for the losses in the larger categories.


Kubo and the Two Strings
My Life as a Zucchini
The Red Turtle

Will Win: Zootopia
Should Win: Moana
Dark Horse: Kubo and the Two Strings

We're in the unique position of having three masterful films nominated in the Best Animated Film category this year. Kubo and the Two Strings and Moana would probably win in a less competitive year, but it's hard to beat the strength of Zootopia, especially in such a politically divided time. Voters will embrace the message of the film, giving Disney's billion dollar hit an extra Oscar to go along with its incredible success.


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

Will Win: O.J.: Made in America
Dark Horse: I Am Not Your Negro

Just like the animated category, Best Documentary Feature has three remarkably strong nominees this year. I Am Not Your Negro and 13th are beloved by audiences and critics, but nothing quite compares to O.J.: Made in America. You can debate its merits as a film or TV show all day, but there's no denying that it was one of the most vital, acclaimed works of the year. It should take home the Oscar.


Land of Mine
A Man Called Ove
The Salesman
Toni Erdmann

Will Win: The Salesman
Dark Horse: A Man Called Ove

Toni Erdmann seemed like the favorite in this category for as long as I can remember, but with the development of Trump's travel ban and director Asghar Farhadi's refusal to attend the Oscars, The Salesman is now in prime position to take home the win. In a year where many will be desperate to make a political statement, the Iranian filmmaker's drama gives voters an excellent opportunity.


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

Will Win: Justin Hurwitz, La La Land
Should Win: Justin Hurwitz, La La Land
Dark Horse: Nope

Justin Hurwitz wins this one. Next.


Image courtesy of Lionsgate

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

Will Win: "City of Stars" from La La Land
Should Win: "Drive It Like You Stole It" from Sing Street (the second biggest snub of the year)
Dark Horse: "How Far I'll Go" from Moana

Unless there's some kind of major split between both of the nominated La La Land songs, the film's anthem, "City of Stars," should walk home with the trophy. Provided that voters don't go gaga for the idea of giving Lin Manuel-Miranda his EGOT title, this should be another win for La La Land.


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

Will Win: Linus Sandgren, La La Land
Should Win: Linus Sandgren, La La Land

Grieg Fraser took home a somewhat surprising win at the American Society of Cinematographers for his strong work on Lion, but Linus Sandgren is still clearly the favorite in this category. La La Land is one of the most beautiful films of the year, and Sandgren's cinematography is a critical part of the glue that holds it all together.


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

Will Win: Madeline Fontaine, Jackie
Should Win: Mary Zophres, La La Land
Dark Horse: Mary Zophres, La La Land

This one is nearly impossible to predict, as it becomes difficult after a while to continue picking wins for La La Land. The costumes in Chazelle's musical have become iconic, but I have to imagine that people won't be able to resist the classical style of Jackie. La La Land could certainly win this, but Jackie has the edge.


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

Will Win: Tom Cross, La La Land
Should Win: Tom Cross, La La Land

All five of these films are incredibly well edited. But Tom Cross' work on La La Land stands out from the pack. He should win his second Oscar with ease.


Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Hail, Caesar!
La La Land

Will Win: La La Land
Should Win: La La Land

I've seen a few people making predictions for Fantastic Beasts and Arrival in this category, and I just don't understand at all. One of La La Land's strongest assets is its gorgeous art direction and design, and I see no reason that it won't win this award.


A Man Called Ove
Star Trek Beyond
Suicide Squad

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

Everybody hated Suicide Squad and nobody saw A Man Called Ove. So by default, that leaves us with Star Trek Beyond.


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: The Jungle Book
Dark Horse: Kubo and the Two Strings

The Jungle Book was hailed as visionary achievement of visual filmmaking when it was released in April, and no other film managed to come close throughout the rest of the year. Unless voters decide to shake things up and vote for Kubo, the first animated film nominated in this category, Jon Favreau's film takes home the gold.


Deepwater Horizon
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land

Will Win: La La Land
Should Win: Abstain

Many seem to think that La La Land will lose one sound category and win the other. But that fails to acknowledge one important aspect- most voters don't know the difference. If La La Land wins one, it wins both. That's my call at this point.


Image courtesy of Lionsgate

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: Abstain

See above.

As for the shorts, I never seem to predict these categories accurately. I basically accumulated info from what I knew and from Gold Derby, and then I just went ahead and made some predictions. They could be right, they could be totally wrong. Take it all with a grain of salt.


Ennemis Interieurs
La Femme et le TGV
Silent Nights

Will Win: Ennemis Interieurs


Blind Vaysha
Borrowed Time
Pear Cider and Cigarettes

Will Win: Piper


4.1 Miles
Joe's Violin
Watani: My Homeland
The White Helmets

Will Win: Extremis

And that's it! Those are my predictions for Sunday's Oscars. I'm hoping for a fun ceremony with a few surprises, and I'm firmly expecting a great showing from La La Land. Be sure to come back for my recap on Monday!

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