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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Final Oscar Predictions 2016

Best Picture:
1. La La Land (Previous Ranking: 1)
2. Moonlight (Previous Ranking: 2)
3. Manchester by the Sea (Previous Ranking: 3)
4. Hidden Figures (Previous Ranking: 4)
5. Arrival (Previous Ranking: 6)
6. Hacksaw Ridge (Previous Ranking: 10)
7. Fences (Previous Ranking: 7)
8. Lion (Previous Ranking: 5)
9. Hell or High Water (Previous Ranking: 8)
        The last time the incumbent Best Picture winner felt this assured was nearly a decade ago, when Slumdog Millionaire never showed any true signs of weakness on its 6 month march to the podium. The much-beloved Moonlight is the only real threat to derail the La La Land freight train, but we're talking about a movie that tied the record for most nominations ever and it's about Hollywood, the Academy's favorite subject. Bet the house.

Best Director:
1. Damien Chazelle---La La Land
2. Barry Jenkins---Moonlight
3. Kenneth Lonergan---Manchester by the Sea
4. Denis Villenuve---Arrival
5. Mel Gibson---Hacksaw Ridge
        Copy and paste literally everything I said above but with ever-so-slightly less confidence. A Jenkins win here would be a nice concession to a movie many feel was the year's best, but if La La Land sweeps the technical categories (which is to be expected) how can you not give its director the top prize? The other three are just along for the ride.

Best Actor:
1. Denzel Washington---Fences
2. Casey Affleck---Manchester by the Sea
3. Ryan Gosling---La La Land
4. Viggo Mortensen---Captain Fantastic
5. Andrew Garfield---Hacksaw Ridge
        A short time ago this felt like Affleck in a lock, but sexual harassment scandals are no joke. That said, the one thing that's wise to keep in mind when predicting the Oscars is that 'best' really just means 'most,' and lord knows that Washington ACTED the most of anyone in this category. His SAG win seems to have sealed the deal, but there could still be a late surge from Affleck's camp, or even a Gosling win if La La Land just takes over the whole show. Even Mortensen, who has shown up at every awards gala despite his movie being completely ignored in every other category, has a puncher's chance, but smart money remains with Denzel taking home his third statue.

Best Actress:
1. Emma Stone---La La Land
2. Natalie Portman---Jackie
3. Isabella Huppart---Elle
4. Ruth Negga---Loving
5. Meryl Streep---Florence Foster Jenkins
        Much like Best Actor, Stone is the prohibitive favorite here after winning the SAG, but she's only just emerged after months of being stuck in Portman's shadow. Then there's Huppart, nominated for a little-seen film which is always a sign of strong support. I'm tempted to bump her up to the second spot, but Portman plays a real-life icon, which is always a boost. It's a three-horse race where I simultaneously feel like Stone is in front by a considerable margin, but could still cough up the lead at the last second. Can you imagine how ticked off people would be if Streep won?

Best Supporting Actor:
1. Mahershala Ali---Moonlight
2. Michael Shannon---Nocturnal Animals
3. Jeff Bridges---Hell or High Water
4. Lucas Hedges---Manchester By the Sea
5. Dev Patel---Lion
        This one is tricky because Ali feels very vulnerable for the upset given his limited screen time compared to the other nominees, but there's no one on this list who screams out as the underdog able to pull off the upset. This award almost always goes to an industry veteran with a lengthy resume, which would point to Bridges, but this just doesn't feel like the time to give him a second Oscar. Shannon isn't quite old enough to qualify for that description, but he's a much-beloved actor's actor, and his citation for a movie that missed out everywhere else could mean something. Even Hedges has a shot, given his participation in what voters likely feel is the best acted movie of the year. No way Patel sneaks in. I'm going with the safe money (Ali), but a Shannon or Bridges surprise wouldn't be that surprising.

Best Supporting Actress:
1. Viola Davis---Fences
2. Naomi Harris---Moonlight
3. Michelle Williams---Manchester By the Sea
4. Octavia Spencer---Hidden Figures
5. Nicole Kidman---Lion
        In a year where more categories feel like locks than usual, Davis is as assured as anyone. There's no doubt in my mind that certain voters still feel that Meryl Streep's The Iron Lady win was a straight-up theft from Davis (nominated that year for The Help), and she has enough screen time in Fences to be considered a lead in some people's eyes. Harris is the challenger simply because her movie has so many champions (and because she's fantastic in it), but they're not giving Williams her first for such a tiny role, and there's no way in hell that Kidman or Spencer wins another before Davis nabs her first.

Best Original Screenplay:
1. Kenneth Lonergan---Manchester By the Sea
2. Damien Chazelle--- La La Land
3. Taylor Sheridan---Hell or High Water
4. Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou---The Lobster
5. Mike Mills---20th Century Women
        I hope this category is presented early in the night, because if La La Land wins, we might be looking at it going 14 for 14. Why is this, you ask? Because no reasonable person could claim that Manchester By the Sea isn't by far the better written movie, and if voters are so in love with Damien Chazelle's musical to mark it down in this category, why not just give it everything? I suppose there's a small chance of Hell or High Water sneaking in, given its timely subject matter and broadly awesome dialogue. The other two received their award by being nominated.

Best Adapted Screenplay:
1. Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney---Moonlight
2. Eric Heisserer---Arrival
3. Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi---Hidden Figures
4. August Wilson---Fences
5. Luke Davies---Lion
        Now here it gets interesting. The Writer's Guild awarded both Moonlight and Arrival, somehow assigning the former to the Original Screenplay category (... it's based on a play), making this one of the tougher picks of the night. I'll go with Moonlight simply because I think voters will be looking to honor the movie wherever it doesn't get in the way of going nuts over La La Land, but Arrival is a worthy competitor, and has a real shot at the naked golden man. Hidden Figures is the dark horse, a movie that I believe Oscar really loved, but just can't find a category for. The other two are also-rans.

Best Animated Feature:
1. Zootopia
2. Kubo and the Two Strings
3. Moana
4. My Life as a Zucchini
5. The Red Turtle
        Zootopia cleaned up at the Annie's (animation awards), and has a timely message, especially as the academy works overtime to convince us they're not all racists. Kubo's Special Effects nomination proves that the movie has some real love throughout the voting body, and could potentially be a spoiler given how amazing its animation truly is. I personally don't know how Moana isn't fighting for this prize, but after losing every precursor there's no real reason to have faith. There are somehow always a couple of foreign nominees in this category; they never win.

Best Foreign Language Feature:
1. The Salesman
2. Toni Erdmann
3. A Man Called Ove
4. Land of Mine
5. Tanna
        Writer/director Asghar Farhadi is being compared to Ingmar Bergman; I think that says about all you need to know as to why The Salesman is then obvious frontrunner. Toni Erdmann is still alive and well as a rapturously-reviewed spoiler, especially given that Farhadi has already won in this category (A Separation), but I'll stick with the favorite. The other three movies can take a walk.

Best Documentary:
1. OJ: Made in America
2. 13th
3. I Am Not Your Negro
4. Fire at Sea
5. Life, Animated
        This is a comparatively buzz-filled year for Best Documentary, the top three candidates more than capable of taking home the prize. Negro sports fantastic reviews, while 13th was directed by Ava DuVernay, who might be looking at a make-up win after being inexplicably snubbed for Selma just two ceremonies ago. That said, a slew of critics felt that Made in America was the best movie of the year, not just the best documentary. That kind of passionate following should be enough.

Best Cinematography:
1. Linus Sandgren---La La Land
2. Greig Fraser---Lion
3. James Laxton---Moonlight
4. Bradford Young---Arrival
5. Rodrigo Prieto---Silence
        Here's where we start our infinite plunge into the La La Land deep end. Fraser took home the ASC award, but that's only cinematographers; when we open it up to the whole academy, do you really see enough people voting in favor of the little-seen Lion for it to take Sandgren's award? In my mind, Laxton's work is the single best thing about Moonlight, but it still ranks third due to what was just described. Young will have more chances, and the fact that Prieto was Silence's lone citation should speak for itself.

Best Editing:
1. Tom Cross---La La Land
2. John Gilbert---Hacksaw Ridge
3. Joe Walker---Arrival
4. Joi McMillon and Nat Sanders---Moonlight
5. Jake Roberts---Hell or High Water
        Much like Supporting Actor, this is a category where the favorite seems incredibly vulnerable, but the right challenger is no where in sight. Gilbert is my spoiler simply because war epics tend to fare well in this category, but man, this one feels like a foregone conclusion. Remember, with Oscar, 'best' just means 'most.'

Best Production Design:
1. David Wasco and Sandy Reynolds-Wasco---La La Land
2. Stuart Craig and Anna Pinnock---Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
3. Patrice Vermette and Paul Hotte---Arrival
4. Jess Gonchor and Nancy Haigh---Hail, Caesar!
5. Guy Hendrix Dyas and Gene Serdena---Passengers
        And to think I'm only just beginning with my predictions of La La Land carnage. Beasts somehow won at BAFTA, and qualifies under my most-rather-than-best rules, but handing the award to a Harry Potter spinoff over LLL sounds like a steep hill to climb. Arrival takes the third spot due to its presence in the Best Picture race, and the last two sport a collective .00001% chance. Just give the thing to Wasco and Reynolds.

Best Costume Design:
1. Mary Zophres---La La Land
2. Madeline Fontaine---Jackie
3. Colleen Atwood---Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
4. Consolata Boyle---Florence Foster Jenkins
5. Joanna Johnston---Allied
        Much like Original Screenplay, I don't think La La Land has any business winning this category whatsoever; the only difference is this time I actually think it will. It's neck-and-neck with Jackie, a more traditional choice given its period setting, but that logic is most appropriately applied to Victorian-era flicks. Beasts is a little interesting, but is an obvious third wheel. When in doubt, just write La La Land

Best Original Score:
1. Justin Hurwitz---La La Land
2. Nicholas Britell---Moonlight
3. Mica Levi---Jackie
4. Dustin O'Halloran and Volker Bertelmann---Lion
5. Thomas Newman---Passengers
          It's a freakin' musical. This is the single biggest lock of the night. Moonlight is a Picture nominee, and Levi's nomination is inspired enough to suggest real support, but who are we kidding?

Best Original Song:
1. City of Stars---La La Land
2. How Far I'll Go---Moana
3. Can't Stop the Feeling---Trolls
4. Audition (The Fools Who Dream)---La La Land
5. The Empty Chair---Jim: The James Foley Story
        Or is this the single biggest lock of the night? I have How Far I'll Go in the second slot (because in earnestness it should be the front-runner), and Can't Stop the Feeling in third just incase voters want to kiss up to the celebrity of Justin Timberlake in this category (surprisingly not a common occurrence in Original Song). But in all honesty, you might have just wasted your time reading me pontificate about something so obvious.

Best Visual Effects:
1. Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones, and Dan Lemmon---The Jungle Book
2. John Knoll, Mohen Leo, Hal T. Hickel, and Neil Corbould---Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
3. Steve Emerson, Oliver Jones, Brian McLean, and Brad Schiff---Kubo and the Two Strings
4. Stephane Ceretti, Richard Bluff, Vincent Cirelli, and Paul Corbould---Doctor Strange
5. Craig Hammack, Jason H. Snell, Jason Billington, and Burt Dalton---Deepwater Horizon
        Oh my god! What is this? A tech category without La La Land?!?! This is the perfect place to refer to my best-means-most theory, because as spectacular as the last hour of Rogue One proves to be, The Jungle Book is entirely artifice, and will undoubtably impress some voters due to the omnipresence of its effects. Kubo's shocking inclusion in this category means it also has some deeply-felt support, but there will undoubtably be voters who feel an animated feature has no business in this category. Go with the most.

Best Make-up and Hair Styling:
1. Joel Harlow and Richard Alonzo---Star Trek Beyond
2. Eva Von Bahr and Love Larson---A Man Called Ove
3. Alessandro Bertolazzi, Giorgio Gregorini, and Christopher Allen Nelson---Suicide Squad
        There are three prominent types of make-up, at least as the Academy sees it: Creature, Gore, and Aging. Creature wins most commonly, with Gore seeming to always go home empty-handed. Thereby Star Trek is the clear favorite, with Suicide Squad in second, only there's one problem; Oscar ain't handing shit to Suicide Squad.

Best Sound Editing:
1. Ai-Ling Lee and Mildred Iatrou---La La Land
2. Robert Mackenzie and Andy Wright---Hacksaw Ridge
3. Sylvain Bellemare---Arrival
4. Wylie Stateman and Renee Tondelli---Deepwater Horizon
5. Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman---Sully
        I love that Editing and Mixing are separate categories at the Oscars, but I'm not so sure that voters do. They tend to align more often than not, and also deeply favor war movies, which is why I have Hacksaw Ridge listed in second in both categories. Do I really need to explain my front-runners? It's a musical!!! You think these voters consider it more deeply than that?

Best Sound Mixing:
1. Andy Nelson, Ai-Ling Lee, and Steven Morrow---La La Land
2. Kevin O'Connell, Andy Wright, Robert Mackenzie, and Peter Grace---Hacksaw Ridge
3. Bernard Gariépy Strobl and Claude La Haye---Arrival
4. David Parker, Christopher Scarabosio, and Stuart Wilson---Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
5. Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush, and Mac Ruth---13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi
         Copy/past everything said directly above, without a single deviation.

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