Awards shows, especially the Oscars, really suck at one thing they should be good at — awarding things. Over the last few years, I would have changed almost every Best Picture winner, except last year's Spotlight.
Heck, go back to the 1990s and I would have changed most of the winners. Silence of the Lambs — yes, it was deserving. Forrest Gump, Braveheart, The English Patient, Titanic, Shakespeare in Love, Crash, The King's Speech, et cetera ... nope.
Still, the Academy Awards is my Super Bowl. I can't wait every year to watch, then voice my opinion.
What will win? What should win? What makes me mad?
Easy answers to those questions this year: La La Land, something other than La La Land, and when the Academy doesn't agree with me.
One thing I am happy about, though, is the increase in black nominees after last year's #OscarsSoWhite.
There’s still a whole lot more that can be improved on with the Academy, but unlike the current political situation, the Oscars are moving in the right direction.
No black actors were nominated last year; this year has six, with potentially three winning.
There’s a black director, three movies about the lives of black people, three documentaries, and the first ever Oscar-nominated black cinematographer. Next year, let’s work on fixing the issue of not enough women nominees.
Politics aside, though, these predictions will surely help you win your Oscars pool, or just give you some general knowledge on what will happen come the biggest night in film.
Best Picture: Arrival, Fences, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures, La La Land, Lion, Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight
Will win: La La Land
If I voted: Moonlight
La La Land has won virtually everything for which it has been nominated thus far. This is as sure of a thing as it gets. Yes, the movie is overhyped, but it’s what you look for in a best picture. It was nominated for every category possible (minus visual effects), so you know the entire Academy likes it, plus Moonlight, its biggest competitor, didn’t even win top prize at SAG when La La Land wasn’t even nominated.
Fun fact: La La Land would be the first film since 1995’s Braveheart to win best picture without a SAG Ensemble nomination.
Best Director: 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
If I voted: Barry Jenkins
Again, despite three of the past four years, the Academy does not tend to split these categories. Before 2012, it last happened in 2005 for Crash’s HUGE upset over Brokeback Mountain. Since, it happened with Argo and Ang Lee for Life of Pi (Ben Affleck was not nominated for director), 12 Years A Slave and Alfonso Cuaron for Gravity, and last year with Spotlight and Alejandro G. Inarritu for The Revenant. This year, both awards will go to La La Land, making Chazelle the youngest director to win.
Fun fact: Only five times ever has the winner of the Directors Guild gone on to lose the Oscar race for Best Director. Three times, the DGA winner wasn’t even nominated.
Best Actress in a Leading Role: Isabelle Huppert, Elle; Ruth Negga, Loving; Natalie Portman, Jackie; Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins; Emma Stone, La La Land
Will win: Emma Stone
If I voted: Isabelle Huppert
This race could have been an interesting one had Portman won the SAG award, but that did not happen, solidifying this category for the La La Land star and Arizona native. If there would be an upset (doubtful), it will go to Huppert, though Amy Adams probably gave the best lead performance and was not nominated, probably because of Streep's Golden Globes speech.
Fun fact: Stone would be the first Oscar-winning actor to be from Arizona.
Best Actor in a Leading Role: 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
If I voted: Casey Affleck
This is the closest major category of the entire show — it's between Affleck and Washington. My confidence in Affleck was at 95 percent until Denzel’s name was read as the winner at SAG. The actors' branch is the biggest of the entire Academy, so Washington definitely has an edge. On the other hand, Affleck won the Golden Globe and BAFTA (not usual predictors of the Academy). What’s going against Affleck here is he is facing fresh scrutiny over sexual harassment allegations from nearly a decade ago. I still think despite Washington’s “upset” at SAG, Casey Affleck will prevail.
Fun fact: Since it started in 1994, the Best Actor SAG winner has gone on to win the Oscar all but four times — once for Benicio Del Toro winning Supporting Actor at Oscars instead of lead actor, and then three years in a row from 2001 to 2003.
Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Viola Davis, Fences; Naomie Harris, Moonlight; Nicole Kidman, Lion; Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures; Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea.
Will win: Viola Davis
If I voted: Naomie Harris (only because Viola should be in lead and would easily win there, too). Short and simple, nobody will touch Viola Davis. She was snubbed of a victory for The Help five years ago and won’t be this time. Honestly, I wish she was submitted as a lead so she and Naomie Harris could both win, but this is not a perfect world.
Fun fact: Viola is the first African-American actress to receive three Oscar nominations. She will also become the 28th person to win the Critics Choice, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, BAFTA, and Oscar for the same performance, unless something terrible happens. #IfViolaLosesWeRiot. I’m starting that hashtag.
Best Actor in a Supporting Role: 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
If I voted: Mahershala Ali
First thing’s first. Ma-her-shuh-la. That’s how to pronounce this future Oscar winner’s name. He should win, he will win, and he gives my favorite performance of 2016. Every second he is on screen, he steals every scene. Every second he is not on screen, his absence is felt, and it drives the emotion this very emotional movie has.
Fun fact: His birth name is Mahershalalhashbaz Gilmore, but shortened his first name to his nickname and changed his last name when he became a Muslim.
Now we get into some of the minor categories, the ones that will make or break your Oscars ballot, if you so choose to fill one out.
Original Screenplay: 20th Century Women, Hell or High Water, La La Land, The Lobster, Manchester by the Sea
Will win: Manchester by the Sea
If I voted: Hell or High Water
Most people believe La La Land will win this award, but I am here to say La La Land’s screenplay was maybe the worst part of the entire film. The movie HAS to lose some awards, and this category is one it definitely should not win. I feel Manchester, which was once considered a top-three Best Picture candidate, has to win at least one award, and if not Casey Affleck, Kenneth Lonergan will win best screenplay, though personally, I want to see Hell or High Water leave with an award and if not here, I don’t see it happening.
Adapted Screenplay: Arrival, Fences, Hidden Figures, Lion, Moonlight
Will win: Moonlight
If I voted: Moonlight
Barry Jenkins will leave the Oscars with a trophy. Plain and simple.
Best Animated Feature: Kubo and the Two Strings, Moana, My Life as a Zucchini, The Red Turtle, Zootopia
Will win: Zootopia
If I voted: Kubo and the Two Strings
Ahhh, finally a category without La La Land, but unfortunately another sure thing. Zootopia is as good of a bet to win as La La Land is to take top prize. Kubo should win, though. Don’t get me wrong; I absolutely adored Zootopia, and had it in my top five best movies of 2016, but Disney always wins. Laika has never won; they are the studio that brought Coraline, ParaNorman, and Boxtrolls to life, earning each an animated Oscar nomination, but they have zero wins. Kubo is my favorite of those four, plus it became the first animated film since The Nightmare Before Christmas in 1993 to earn a visual effects nomination. That is impressive.
Best Documentary Feature: 13th, Fire at Sea; I Am Not Your Negro; Life, Animated; O.J.: Made in America
Will win: O.J.: Made in America
If I voted: 13th
Oh look, another sure bet to win. And also, oh, look it involves O.J. Simpson. First, American Crime Story: The People vs O.J. Simpson won virtually every TV award, and now this documentary will win the Oscar and I have one major problem with that — it’s not even a movie. It should be considered a TV docu-miniseries since it has seven parts and runs more than seven hours long. It’s well done, I will admit, but Ava DuVernay should be getting an Oscar for her Netflix documentary, 13th, about racial inequality in prisons in America. It only took her 100 minutes to tell the story, not seven hours.
Best Foreign Film: A Man Called Ove, Land of Mine, The Salesman, Tanna, Toni Erdmann
Will win: Toni Erdmann
If I voted: The Salesman
This category should only be voted on members of this branch in the Academy, not by all members. Honestly, I think that is how it should go for all categories except best picture. Every member does not see all five nominees, and will usually just vote for the popular opinion. That leaves it to The Salesman and Toni Erdmann. Everybody has been talking about The Salesman since it premiered at Cannes, but with President Agent Orange’s executive travel order, The Salesman’s director Asghar Farhadi announced he was not able to attend the awards ceremony because he is a Muslim, nor would he want to if allowed.
Best Cinematography: Arrival, La La Land, Lion, Silence, Moonlight
Will win: La La Land
If I voted: La La Land or Arrival
Even just from the trailers, you could tell how beautifully shot La La Land would be, and it was. It was a gorgeous film aesthetically, and this is probably its most-deserving award. Lion surprised at the American Society of Cinematographers by winning, but I don’t see that happening here. It’s also nice to not see Emmanuel Lubezki’s name here after winning the last three years. (Gravity, Birdman, The Revenant). I would love to see Arrival with an upset since it earned a black cinematographer, Bradford Young, a nomination for the first time.
Best Film Editing: Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, La La Land, Moonlight
Will win: Arrival
If I voted: Arrival
It’s pretty common for the Best Picture winner to take Best Editing as well, but like I said before, La La Land will lose some categories. Or at least I hope it will. I don’t want to be stuck watching another boring awards show where every category goes to the same project. I really want Arrival to win awards because I think it’s the one Best Picture nominee nobody seems to be talking about and it was SO GOOD. Arrival also won the ACE Eddie award for best editing so that has to be a sign, right?
Best Original Song:: "Audition (The Fools who Dream)," La La Land; "Can’t Stop the Feeling," Trolls; "City of Stars," La La Land; "How Far I’ll Go," Moana; "The Empty Chair," Jim: The James Foley Story
Will win: "City of Stars"
If I voted: "How Far I’ll Go"
I really, really hope voters will split on La La Land’s two nominees here and go for Moana. I liked this song more than Frozen’s "Let it Go," and for the voters who are aware, a win here would give everybody's favorite human, Lin-Manuel Miranda, an EGOT. (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony).
Good luck to you in your Oscars pool, and be sure to follow @phoenixnewtimes on Twitter as I live-tweet the Oscars!
The 89th Academy Awards will be televised live on ABC Sunday, February 26, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel.
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