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Monday, January 23, 2017

Oscar Predictions 2016: Round Two (Final Nomination Predictions)

Best Picture:
1. La La Land (Previous Ranking: 3)
        There are a grand total of three movies that feel completely assured for a nomination (see below). La La Land gets the edge because its story traverses Hollywood's favorite subject: itself.

2. Moonlight (Previous Ranking: 23)
        The most universally adored movie of the year, I would bet my theoretical first born child we hear this movie's name tomorrow morning.

3. Manchester by the Sea (Previous Ranking: 6)
        The last of the assured combatants, Manchester has been lauded ever since its first screening, and showed up at every important precursor.

4. Hidden Figures (Previous Ranking: Not Ranked)
          I might be over-thinking this one given that Hidden Figures didn't show up at the DGA, but nods from SAG, PGA, and WGA are mightily impressive, as is the film's status as the top grossing movie in the country right now. The voters will be swayed by the rapturous audience reaction.

5. Lion (Previous Ranking: Not Ranked)
        Here's where things get tricky. Lion doesn't have the same following as any of the movies listed above (and even some listed below, for that matter), but it does have infamous Oscar whisperer Harvey Weinstein's backing. Throw in its appearances at the various guilds, most tellingly director Garth Davis' nomination from the DGA, and we should be set.
6. Arrival (Previous Ranking: 15)
        I love Arrival to an unhealthy extent, which is perhaps why I've felt oddly pessimistic about its chances unto now, but the guilds seem to agree with me. WGA and PGA were one thing, but when Denis Villenueve popped up at DGA, I started to believe.

7. Fences (Previous Ranking: Not Ranked)
        The actors represent the biggest voting block in the academy, and Fences is obviously cat nip to them, having snagged a nomination for Best ensemble at SAG, and standing a real chance of boasting two Oscar winners come late February (Denzel Washington and Viola Davis). Love from the PGA and WGA only make it more certain.

8. Hell or High Water (Previous Ranking: Not Ranked)
        The first three feel like guarantees, and the next four seem more likely then not; here's where it gets reeeeally messy. PGA and WGA sided in its favor, which gives it about as strong of a case as anything listed below, but missing out on SAG might have been a sign of things to come.

9. Silence (Previous Ranking: 1)
        There is no evidence to support this prediction. Silence was shut out of every major guild, and isn't even having a particularly strong run on critics' top 10 lists. That said, this is a Martin Scorsese passion project, and until one of his late-year releases actually misses on a Best Picture nomination, I'm marking them all down.
I am predicting these nine films to be nominated (I don't have some crazy math equation that helped me determine this number; these just seem like the ones). The following is where I rank the next movies in line.
10. Hacksaw Ridge (Previous Ranking: 40)
        No one will be surprised if we hear Hacksaw Ridge announced as Best Picture nominee tomorrow morning, as it is the sort of stately war epic the voters tend to favor. That said, if I'm picking Silence, someone has to step aside, and snubs at every guild save the PGA (plus Mel Gibson's lingering personal history) have me predicting a miss.

11. Loving (Previous Ranking: 10)
        Somehow I'm already taking total fliers even though I'm only at the #11 slot on the list. No one saw Loving (including the voters, if the guilds taught us anything), but it's got meaty subject matter and a pair of lauded performances. Just don't wager on it.

12. Nocturnal Animals (Previous Ranking: 16)
        The latest from Tom Ford certainly has its champions, and the film's strong showing at BAFTA makes one wonder. Still, it's an absurdly salacious flick that came out in a year where the Picture nominees already feel fairly assured.

13. Deadpool (Previous Ranking: Not Ranked)
        Nominating a superhero film, let alone one as crass as Deadpool, would be an unprecedented act by the academy, so I'm certainly not predicting it, but the path to a nod is certainly there. Not only is Oscar always trying to figure out how to more greatly popularize his awards gala, but citations from both the PGA and the WGA reveal a much more positive reaction than anyone could have expected.

Best Director:
1. Damien Chazelle---La La Land
        The top three on this list already have their plane tickets purchased and their hotel rooms booked. Chazelle takes the first slot because of the ambition of making a modern original musical, but as far as mere nominations are concerned, ranking this trio against each other is a mere formality.

2. Barry Jenkins---Moonlight
        Call him 1A. Chazelle and Jenkins are headed for a photo finish, so the nod is a no-brainer.

3. Kenneth Lonergan---Manchester by the Sea
        He doesn't have nearly the odds of winning as either the names you see above, but all signs point to Lonergan being just as safe when it comes to making the final five.

4. Denis Villeneuve---Arrival
        Now we drop from 100%, iron-clad locks to a couple smart bets. Villeneuve has been slowly amassing a cult following the past handful of years, and Arrival is the type of 'big' movie that gets you votes. The DGA nod might have sealed the deal.

5. Garth Davis---Lion
        I certainly never thought we'd end up here, but Davis snuck into the DGA's (supposed) final slot, and competition below him seems relatively slight. Except for...
6. Martin Scorsese---Silence
        I'll probably end up kicking myself for leaving Marty off my list come tomorrow morning, but there's literally no evidence that this surprise is coming. It seems insane that Scorsese could miss the cut for a period epic, but there's still nothing else to go on here.

7. Mel Gibson---Hacksaw Ridge
        Not gunna lie, I thought this might be a perfect moment for Gibson's big comeback, but missing out at the DGA hurt a lot. If he can't get back in Oscar's graces with a well-respected war drama, we might be wise to just cross his name off in future races.

8. Theodore Melfi---Hidden Figures
        Every year at least one flick makes a much bigger splash than we expect. I'm going with Hidden Figures, and by that measure, Melfi is my pick for Best Director upset if we end up having one.

9. David Mackenzie---Hell or High Water
        Copy and paste everything I just said about Melfi, but for a movie whose odds I like just slightly less.

10. Denzel Washington---Fences
        It's a long shot, but couldn't you imagine the Academy's glee at inviting Denzel to the ceremony as a double nominee? And again, the acting branch is likely to go ga-ga over this one.

Best Actor:
1. Denzel Washington---Fences
        I can't picture either Affleck or Washington missing the cut, and the precursors have certainly taught us to think of Casey as the frontrunner, but his recent scandals make him only a 99.9% certainty. Denzel is at 100%.

2. Casey Affleck---Manchester by the Sea
        As was the case when I was discussing the top three directors, having a number by Affleck's name is largely a formality. This is happening.

3. Ryan Gosling---La La Land
        In all my years of wasting time caring too much about the Academy Awards, I have never seen this barren of a Best Actor lineup. In all honesty, Gosling's slot still feels up for grabs, but he's in the presumptive Best Picture winner, and are there really three names below that could keep him out?

4. Andrew Garfield---Hacksaw Ridge
        SAG, BAFTA, and the chaos of war should be enough to garner Garfield his first Oscar nomination, but again, no promises. If he hadn't shown up at those two spots, would we even be considering this?

5. Viggo Mortensen---Captain Fantastic
        Speaking of no guarantee, am I really picking Captain Fantastic for major category representation? Like Garfield he has both SAG and BAFTA's backing, but seriously, what a strange year?
6. Joel Edgerton---Loving
        Loving appears to be juuuuust on the outside of every major race it aspires to run, so if Oscar likes it even just slightly more than we think he does, Edgerton and some of his peers might sneak in.

7. Andrew Garfield---Silence
        This is a pure 'how much might they secretly love Silence?' play. If the answer turns out to be 'a lot,' then this is a big, meaty role that could swap places with his Hacksaw Ridge performance.

8. Tom Hanks---Sully
        It does seem like the Academy will invite Hanks back at some point, his last nomination having occurred some 15 years ago, and the wide-open nature of this race could still do the trick.

9. Jake Gyllenhaal---Nocturnal Animals
        I guess this is what you call a qualitative judgment, something I try to avoid as often as possible when making Oscar picks. We've seen enough from the guilds to know that there's at least some love for Nocturnal Animals within the voting body, and damn if Jake isn't great in the flick.

10. Adam Driver---Paterson
        Can you imagine the gasps if this were to happen? Driver is nothing if not an up-and-comer, has been endlessly adored for his work in the film, and like I keep on saying, those last three slots seem ripe for the taking.

Best Actress:
1. Emma Stone---La La Land
        Everyone's favorite performance in half of voters' favorite movie. Tinseltown will burn to the ground before she misses for La La Land

2. Natalie Portman---Jackie
        What once seemed like the performance to beat has seen its respective film saddled with poor box office results and almost no buzz. Still, I can't really see Portman missing out.

3. Amy Adams---Arrival
        She's been nominated by just about everyone in the planet, and Arrival might have even been a Best Picture nominee in the old format when they only invited five films. Seems like the only question is wether she can finally win.

4. Meryl Streep---Florence Foster Jenkins
        Uuuhhhhhhh. I know why this is happening, and so do you. I have no doubt that Streep is great in FFJ, but if literally any other actress were to take her place, would they even be in the top 20 of this race? When will this stop?

5. Isabelle Huppert---Elle
        Moreso than any other acting race, Lead Actress seems more inviting to foreign performers. Emily Blunt may have taken the fifth slot at SAG, but Huppert has the power of passion on her side, as many believe she not only deserves the nomination, but the eventually trophy as well.
6. Emily Blunt---The Girl on the Train
        No one saw The Girl on the Train, and critics almost uniformly shrugged their shoulders. I know she got in for SAG, which is more than anyone below her on this list can say, but I'm predicting the middling reaction to her film as a deal-breaker.

7. Annette Bening---20th Century Women
        We're used to seeing Benning in the 'always a bridesmaid, never a bride' role from her supposed second place finishes for American Beauty and Being Juila. Now she's similarly on the bubble, but for the nomination, not the win. Might they finally just have mercy?

8. Taraji P. Henson---Hidden Figures
        Hey, I guess the horse is dead, so why not keep kicking it? If something manages to shock tomorrow morning, expect it to be Hidden Figures. Henson might be able to ride the wave.

9. Ruth Negga---Loving
        Someday I will stop saying the same things about Hidden Figures and Loving (and Silence, for that matter). If Loving has more champions than we expect, this is much more than merely conceivable.

10. Jessica Chastain---Miss Sloane
        This would basically represent Chastain's coronation as the new Meryl Streep. I certainly don't expect it, but more than a few will vote for her on name alone.

Best Supporting Actor:
1. Mahershala Ali---Moonlight
        My favorite of this year's major categories, the Supporting Actor race feels wide, wide open. I wouldn't bet my life on any of these gentlemen, but the fact that Ali gives everyone's favorite performance in such a beloved film should do the trick.

2. Dev Patel---Lion
        I still have yet to see Lion, but I get the impression that Patel has little-to-no chance of winning this award. That said, if I'm really putting chips on this flick to get both Picture and Director nominations, predicting him seems safer than all these other chumps.

3. Hugh Grant---Florence Foster Jenkins
        Good god... this is my #3? An industry vet whom many might feel is long overdue in a film that tons of voters will see just so they can say how great Meryl Streep was? Sure. At least he's not splitting votes with anyone in his own movie, unlike...

4. Lucas Hedges---Manchester by the Sea
        Oscar loves to nominate unknowns in this category... but usually only older unknowns. That said, Hedges is a major player in many voters' favorite film of the year, and that SAG nomination emboldens me.

5. Jeff Bridges---Hell or High Water
        I know, I know, predicting an industry legend below those four is a risk, but Bridges already has his golden naked man, and there will be a lot (and I mean a lot) of voters that will lean in favor of Foster if there's only one Hell or High Water nominee. I still give The Dude the edge.
6. Aaron Taylor-Johnson---Nocturnal Animals
        If you've read this far into my predictions, you probably noticed that the Golden Globes don't really effect my predictions, so ATJ's victory there means little to nothing to me. That said, the BAFTA citation certainly moves the needle, and means more to his campaign than anyone below him on my list can boast of.

7. Ben Foster---Hell or High Water
        If he makes it in tomorrow, I'll be kicking myself for not having the guts to predict Foster. He gives the most showy performance in a much-beloved film, but missing out on every major precursor gives me pause.

8. Michael Shannon---Nocturnal Animals
        This is honestly the same logic as Foster, only with a slightly more celebrated actor, and a slightly less celebrated film. He too has a co-star in the way.

9. Kevin Costner---Hidden Figures
        This would just be silly, but again, if I think Hidden Figures might be tomorrow's big surprise...

Best Supporting Actress:
1. Viola Davis---Fences
        I've felt the need to mince words on several frontrunners in other categories, so let me be abundantly clear; Davis already owns this Oscar, and everyone else is just here for decoration.

2. Michelle Williams---Manchester by the Sea
        The next two on my list are likely nominees based largely on how beloved their respective films are. Yes, I do think Moonlight is the more adored of the two, but Williams is so admired among her peers that I'll give her the slight lead.

3. Naomie Harris---Moonlight
        ... not that it genuinely matters, because Harris missing for her work in Moonlight would send a tremor of shock through just about anyone who's been following this race.

4. Nicole Kidman---Lion
        Known, lauded actress in a film that's about to land Best Picture nomination. Again, I've yet to see Lion, but in a category this barren, Kidman seems like the logical choice.

5. Octavia Spencer---Hidden Figures
        This is theoretically where chaos should reign supreme, but Spencer has shown up at every imaginable precursor, and there's simply no one there to steal her spot. It's a funny thing that happens when the eventual winner feels so assured.
6. Janelle Monae---Hidden Figures
        ... Again... If Hidden Figures goes nuts tomorrow, everything is on the table.

8. Greta Gerwig---20th Century Women
        20th Century Women doesn't have a whole lot of buzz behind it, but as I keep saying, this category is wide open, and Gerwig has been appreciated by many (myself included) for years now. It might finally be time to strike.

7. Hayley Squires---I, Daniel Blake
        Look, I'll come clean; I literally have no earthly idea what this movie is about, and it has yet to make any sort of impression stateside. That said, the brits completely love this film, and Squires appears to be their favorite performer. Every so often the British voters observably sway things, and this category is just up-in-the-air enough to make it possible

Best Original Screenplay:
1. Kenneth Lonergan---Manchester by the Sea
        This and La La Land feel completely safe, but Manchester is dialogue-driven, so if I have to put someone in first place, this is the obvious choice.

2. Damien Chazelle---La La Land
        If you really think that the Best Picture favorite might miss out in a category that will likely include talking animals, you are nuts.

3. Taylor Sheridan---Hell or High Water
        The two screenwriters listed above Sheridan both penned Best Picture locks. Hell or High Water is the only other film in this category with a real chance at sitting at the big kids' table, and is thusly almost just as assured.

4. Efthimis Filippou and Yorgos Lanthimos---The Lobster
        I am in no way, shape, or form the first person to notice that the screenplay categories almost serve as an alternate universe wherein indie film snobs get to see their personal Best Pictures awarded. That's not exactly my position on The Lobster, but it sure seems like the obvious choice for that sort of nod.

5. Byron Howard, Jared Bush, Rich Moore, Josie Trinidad, Jim Reardon, Phil Johnston and Jennifer Lee---Zootopia
        You wouldn't assume as much, but animated films have been sneaking into the screenplay categories more often than not in the recent years. The film listed directly below feels like an obvious threat to steal this spot, but I'll stick with the global box office phenomenon.
6. Matt Ross---Captain Fantastic
        Like The Lobster, Ross' work here seems like the stuff that film geeks would likely cherish. That might be enough, but seriously, who saw this movie?

7. Noah Oppenheim---Jackie
        Like the film listed above, but with a splashier lead performance to draw voters to the flick, but less overt passion amongst the masses thus far.

8. Mike Mills---20th Century Women
        This one is pretty far out there, but Mills' screenplay is a soul-baring labor of love, and if we see either Benning or Gerwig tomorrow, this suddenly becomes more likely.

Best Adapted Screenplay:
1. Barry Jenkins and Tarell McCraney---Moonlight
        In case you suddenly started reading this article on the last category I'm covering today, Best Picture has only three obvious invites. Moonlight is one of them, and the only one represented in this category. Bet the house.

2. Eric Heisserer---Arrival
        Even as an avowed fan of Arrival, I was (and still am) a bit skeptical on the feature's overall chances... and yet even I knew Heisserer's work had to be Oscar-bound.

3. Allison Schroeder---Hidden Figures
        Wait... did I tell you that I love Hidden Figures' chances tomorrow morning? Did I say it enough?

4. Luke Davies---Lion
        As the only other film on my shortlist that feels comfortably in the Best Picture race, Davies seems like a fairly sure thing.

5. August Wilson---Fences
        If this was an original screenplay, I don't think there would be any possibility of Wilson's work missing out. It's not, but even if all we're talking about is a simple copy-paste job, I don't know how voters love Fences (as I predict they will), without taking her along.
6. Tom Ford---Nocturnal Animals
        After both BAFTA and SWG nominations, this one feels almost impossible to leave out. But here's the thing; I've seen Tom Ford's movie, and I can simply envision to many voters being made queasy by its amorality.

7. Jay Cocks and Martin Scorsese---Silence
        Seriously though, what is Silence goes bananas tomorrow? I know it's little seen and esoteric in its own way, but if we know anything about these voters, Scorsese+period+epic+religion is mighty tantalizing.

8. Andrew Knight and Robert Schenkkan---Hacksaw Ridge
        This is the 'if my movie shows out more than we all expect' slot.

9. Jeff Nichols---Loving
        This is the 'if my movie shows out more than we all expect' slot... again!

10. Whit Stillman---Love & Friendship
        I simply can't shake the thought of this sneaking in at the last second. Again nooooooooobody saw this movie, but I still can't shake the idea of it's 'people's champion' possibilities.


  1. Was there a round one?

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