Usually I do a “Will Win” and “Should Win” but this year I feel that I agree with most of what will end up winning. So instead, I’m going to do a “My Win” and put who I would vote for if I was an Oscar voter. Again, I’d like to reiterate that I do largely agree with who is going to end up winning on Oscar night, and that any alternative choices are really more of my other favorites this year.
Will Win: La La Land
My Win: Manchester by the Sea or Hidden Figures
Since Hollywood is in love with itself, La La Land – a twisted homage of the class studio musicals – is the clear winner and a lock for Best Picture.While I certainly admire a lot of aspects of La La Land, I do admit that on my second viewing the film’s spell lost its luster. (Although I do not subscribe to the hyperbolic reactionary hate its been getting lately) I do agree that this should get Best Picture, but I also adored Manchester by the Sea, quite possibly one of the most beautiful examinations of tragedy and family dynamics I’ve seen. I also wish Hidden Figures, while receiving tremendous box office success, got more recognition. It is one of those feel-good life stories can be universally adored as well as an integral story about WOC that begs to be told. To see Hidden Figures win Best Picture would be quite a wonderful feat.
Will Win: Damien Chazelle for La La Land
My Win: Damien Chazelle for La La Land
Like many categories this year, I find it next to impossible to pick my own winner. The directing for all of the nominees, Moonlight, Manchester by the Sea, Arrival, and yes, I did think Mel Gibson’s work in Hacksaw Ridge was incredible, I know that is problematic. Chazelle is certainly the lock for this category, and I do believe he deserves it for visionary his pet/dream project. However, some may argue that Chazelle isn’t really doing anything original and instead co-opting, rather than homaging, his Hollywood influences.
Will Win: Casey Affleck for Manchester by the Sea
My Win: Casey Affleck for Manchester by the Sea
I know the problematic history surrounded Casey Affleck, and I understand that my support contributes to that. But at the same time, his performance in Manchester by the Sea is one of the greatest male performances I have ever seen.
Will Win: Emma Stone for La La Land
My Win: Natalie Portman for Jackie
La La Land is definitely the role of a lifetime for Emma Stone, and I do think she was perfect for it. Her particular comedic flair really shines through in the musical numbers. I do wish that she had a bit more vocal power, though perhaps that fits with La La Land‘s aesthetic of “regular” people in a half-real half-Hollywood dream. “The Fools Who Dream” scene is definitely the height of her performance, and after I first saw the film I declared it as the singular lock for her Oscar win. However, I must also acknowledge the strength of Portman’s performance as Jackie O. Portman manages to skate past the cliched traps that a weaker actor would have fallen into, and this is no easy task with such an iconic figure. Her tour de force performance culminates in the raw, emotional post-assassination scene.
Best Supporting Actor
Will Win: Mahershala Ali for Moonlight
My Win: Michael Shannon for Nocturnal Animals
This is another strong category with many potential winners. Ali is the clear front runner, and I definitely support that. I would also have trouble choosing between Lucas Hedges, the young nominee from Manchester by the Sea who brought an equal amount of emotional gravitas and wry humor. Another personal favorite of mine is Dev Patel for Lion. I would also be inclined to choose Michael Shannon, an underrated actor that always brings his A game. He brings a certain eerie understatement to his frequently twisted and dark characters. His role in Nocturnal Animals as a caustic and vengeful cop left a strong impression on me long after the end credits rolled.
Best Supporting Actress:
Will Win: Viola Davis for Fences
My Win: Michelle Williams for Manchester by the Sea
Viola Davis was absolutely incredible in Fences and is long overdue for an Oscar. (Sorry, but I’ll never get over Streep winning for The Iron Lady. Davis should’ve won for The Help.) If not for Fences, I would vote for Michelle Williams. Williams always delivers a nuanced and tender performance, and this is never more true than in her small but heart-wrenching scene as a grieving mother begging for forgiveness.
Best Original Screenplay
Will Win: Kenneth Logerman for Manchester by the Sea
My Win: Kenneth Logerman for Manchester by the Sea
La La Land is another possible win, and The Lobster also deserves recognition here for its twisted Brechtian romance, but I would ultimately choose Logerman’s devastating American tragedy. His deliberate use of flashbacks is some of the most finely crafted storytelling I’ve seen in recent times.
Best Adapted Screenplay:
Will Win: Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney for Moonlight
My Win: Theodore Melfi and Allison Schroeder Hidden Figures
Moonlight has been (rightfully) highly regarded by critics, but also overshadowed by La La Land‘s success. This category may be one of the few wins that it wins. Arrival and Lion are other worthy choices, but in my opinion Fences is too close to the play to win. I would choose Hidden Figures because the writers were able to craft an emotional and soaring story from a non-fiction account of historical figures that we have neglected to honor.
Will Win: Linus Sandgren for La La Land
My Win: Rodrigo Prieto for Silence
La La Land is all about its “look,” one that evokes the Technicolor heyday of Old Hollywood. The film will likely sweep the awards this year, and the cinematography category will be another likely win. I think Moonlight is another strong contender for its gorgeous pastel and neon Miami landscapes. But Silence‘s imagery really stuck out to me, from the idyllic rolling Japanese hillsides to the dark, unsettling prisoner camps made barely discernible by the small licks of fire.
Best Film Editing
Will Win: Tom Cross for La La Land
My Win: John Gilbert for Hacksaw Ridge
I would vote for Hacksaw Ridge for its elegant battle sequences and the tight pacing of the leading character’s heroic rescues. However, La La Land‘s well-crafted musical sequences will edge all other nominees out.
Best Original Score
Will Win: Justin Hurwitz for La La Land
My Win: Mica Levi for Jackie
Hurwitz’s sweeping, jazz-influenced score will likely win, but Levi’s haunting, discordant score added to both the grandiosity of the Camelot myth and the tragedy of the Kennedy family’s life.
Best Visual Effects
Will Win:Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones, Dan Lemmon for The Jungle Book
My Win: John Knoll, Mohen Leo, Hal T. Hickel, Neil Corbould for Rouge One: A Star Wars Story
I still have yet to see The Jungle Book, but I’ve heard the praise its received for the astounding CGI animal characters and environments. I’m certain I’d agree, but I’d also like to acknowledge Rouge One for its fantastic mix of both practical and computer effects, as well as its well-crafted use of scale.
Best Costume Design:
Will Win: Madeline Fontaine for Jackie
My Win: Madeline Fontaine for Jackie
Fantastic Beasts and Allied have stunning period costumes, but this category is actually between La La Land and Jackie, although I think Jackie has more of an edge. Fontaine had the difficult task of capturing Jackie O’s iconic historical fashion sense. I think it would be a shame for La La Land to win for what looks like budget ModCloth dresses.