Oscars 2017: Predictions

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.

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Best Picture

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.

Best Director

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.

Best Actor

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.

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Best Actress

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.

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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.

Best Cinematography

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.

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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.

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Oscars 2015: Nominations Reaction

The 2015 Oscar Nominations have caused quite a stir. One being the sudden upset of the controversial American Sniper garnering several nominations, (and breaking box office records, many screenings have been sold out) Also the twenty actors nominated are all white (for the first time since 1998) causing backlash with the twitter hashtag #OscarsSoWhite. As well as the exclusion of several key female artists. I’m going to take a look at the leading categories, what I personally feel was left out or more deserving of a nomination.

SELMA

Best Picture

Nominated: American Sniper, Birdman, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Selma, The Theory of Everything, Whiplash

American Sniper has caused a lot of political controversy.  Many, mostly conservatives or those in the military, feel that he is an American hero who should be celebrated, while others feel he is a racist psychopath who murdered innocent Islamic people. For me, politics aside, it’s just not even that great of a film. It sits idly on the fence post, refusing to make a statement. It does not go into depth into the lead character’s psyche, leaving you very detached and uncaring about him (or his wife). There were only two scenes, and they were sniper ones, where I was emotionally on the edge of my seat. Like Chris Kyle, the audience is debating what to do. There is a sense of moral ambiguity in the character, one that is not seen in the rest of the film. But the rush from those two scenes dissipates quickly. However, many servicemen have been reacting strongly to the film, so it obviously touches them. But I think it is undeniable that this film doesn’t really touch new ground, or go above and beyond. I don’t think it deserves a Best Picture nomination. (But I will say, I think it’s pretty disgusting that this film outsold Selma on Martin Luther King Jr. weekend) The rest of these films nominated are deserving, though I’d argue to add Nightcrawler onto the list. Though it may have been too much pulp for the Academy.

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Best Actor 

Nominated: Steve Carrell in Foxcatcher, Bradley Cooper in American Sniper, Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game, Michael Keaton in Birdman, and Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything

Now, addressing the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, I’d like to address the fact that I believe you shouldn’t nominate someone just because of race (or gender) but it is downright baffling and a shame that David Olyweo was not nominated for his role in Selma as Martin Luther King Jr. He is astounding. He completely commands the role and, though the film doesn’t completely center around him, he carries it. Also, I would’ve like to see Jake Gyllenhaal nominated for Nightcrawler, his performance of the gaunt and eerie modern-day Travis Bickle was completely committed and transfixing. I did think Steve Carrell was chilling in Foxcatcher, so I understand the nomination. Bradley Cooper also, though I did not love American Sniper, I still felt his performance elevated it. However, I would definitely have swapped Cooper and Carrell for Gyllenhaal and most definitely David Olyweo. Or how lovely would it have been to see Miles Teller get a nomination for Whiplash?

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Best Actress

Nominated: Marion Cotillard in Two Days, One Night, Felicity Jones in The Theory of Everything, Julianne Moore in Still Alice, Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl, Reese Witherspoon in Wild

What a great category this year! A snub that shocked many was Jennifer Anniston for Cake, after much campaigning. Many of the other nominees were locks, but Marion Cotillard was the surprise spot. I’m very happy with this, for Marion Cotillard is top-notch and does incredible work. I can’t think of anyone else to add.

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Best Supporting Actress

Nominated: Patricia Arquette in Boyhood, Laura Dern in Wild, Keira Knightley in The Imitation Game, Emma Stone in Birdman, Meryl Streep in Into the Woods

While her “Stay With Me” performance is incredible, Meryl Streep does not deserve a nomination for Into the Woods. She doesn’t deserve one for EVERY SINGLE movie she shows up for! In her place, I would’ve loved to have seen Jessica Chastain in A Most Violent Year instead. Laura Dern for Wild was another surprise, but she was very effective in the film.

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Best Supporting Actor

Nominated: Robert Duvall in The Judge, Mark Ruffalo in Foxcatcher, J.K. Simmons in Whiplash, Ethan Hawke in Boyhood, Edward Norton in Birdman

This wasn’t the strongest category this year, no one else I could think of to put in place of these.

INHERENT VICE

Best Adapted Screenplay

Nominated: American Sniper, The Imitation Game, Inherent Vice, The Theory of Everything, Whiplash 

The screenplay categories are odd this year, things that are adapted are in original and vice versa. Whiplash is based off a short film, so they’ve counted that as adapted screenplay. Would’ve been better in Original. I’m surprised Inherent Vice was nominated, but I have not read the source material. Many have said Paul Thomas Anderson did a good job echoing the author’s work. (I was just left in the theatre dumbfounded as to what I was watching) The biggest thing missing though is Gillian Flynn for Gone Girl! How on earth was she not nominated??? She would’ve been the first woman to adapt her own material to be nominated for an Oscar. (Or possibly win!) I would’ve also liked to see Wild here. I enjoyed how they intertwined the flashbacks throughout the main narrative.

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Best Original Screenplay

Nominated: Birdman, Boyhood, Foxcatcher, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Nightcrawler

Foxcatcher was based off a book I believe, so I do not understand how it was nominated for Best Original Screenplay? Boyhood‘s nomination also puzzles me, for the film did not really have a “script” throughout shooting, it was more of an organic process that developed throughout the years.

THE IMITATION GAME

Best Director

Nominated: Alejandro G. Iñárritu for Birdman, Richard Linklater for Boyhood, Bennett Miller for Foxcatcher, Wes Anderson for The Grand Budapest Hotel, Morten Tyldum for The Imitation Game 

I highly disliked Foxcatcher. It looked beautiful, but was painfully slow. It lost so much momentum and left me uninterested in the story. I do not feel that Bennett Miller deserved a nomination. Ava DuVernay was highly overlooked for Best Director. Her work in Selma was incredible. Her use of slow-motion work during the riot scenes is chilling. She completely deserved that slot in place of Miller. (She also would’ve made history, the first female director of color to be nominated.)

(Also side note, I wish Interstellar was nominated for more…but I’m one of the few who loved it and thought it was genius)

2015 Golden Globes: Predictions

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Best Motion Picture – Drama

Will Win: Boyhood 

Should Win: Boyhood

I’ve debated a lot about this, because I very much enjoyed The Imitation Game. I thought it had a rousing and enthralling story, led brilliantly by Benedict Cumberbatch. But it is a typical Hollywood triumph story (albeit a well-done one) that we have seen many times before. Boyhood is a filmmaking marvel, on the technical side. It is quite a simple story, the moving moments are a lot smaller. They may not hit you as hard as The Imitation Game, but I think we have to honor that. Selma is another strong front-runner, but it is pretty safe to say Boyhood has a lock.

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Best Actor – Drama

Will Win: Eddie Redmayne for The Theory of Everything

Should Win: Benedict Cumberbatch for The Imitation Game

Eddie Redmayne’s complete physical transformation as Stephen Hawking is stellar. He is able to convey so much through his eyes and facial expressions when words eventually fail him. While I do think that he deserves it and should win, but I also loved Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game. He was perfectly suited for the dishelved and socially awkward Alan Turing. He completely lived his character. But there is also no denying the physical feats that Redmayne went through to accurately portray Stephen Hawking.

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Best Actress – Drama

Will Win: Julianne Moore for Still Alice

Should Win: Julianne Moore for Still Alice

I have not seen all of Still Alice yet, but from what I have seen Julianne Moore yet again brings her immense talent in this heartbreaking story of a woman with early onset Alzheimer’s. This is another tight category, for we also have Rosamund Pike who brilliantly brought to life Amy Dunne in Gone Girl, a complex role that is no easy feat to tackle. There is also Reese Witherspoon in Wild, giving her best performance to date as Cheryl Strayed. However, Julianne Moore deserves this one.

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Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Will Win: Birdman

Should Win: Birdman

There is no contest in this category. One of the most wholly original films of the year, Birdman is a trippy and intimate journey into the artists’ mind, one that pokes fun at Hollywood and the image of celebrity. Birdman has astounding direction, cinematography, rousing jazz drums score, and outstanding meta-performances from Michael Keaton and Edward Norton, who’s roles poke fun at their own images. I actually didn’t LOVE it at first, there’s so much that you’re hit with. It definitely requires a re-watch, it hits you hard with a lot and there’s so much more to be absorbed from it than on a first watch.

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Best Actor – Musical or Comedy 

Will Win: Michael Keaton for Birdman

Should Win: Michael Keaton for Birdman

Again, there is no contest for this category. Michael Keaton is outstanding and fearless in Birdman. The film s the perfect showcase for his talents, he is able to deftly craft this absurd satirical comedy.

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Best Actress – Musical or Comedy

Will Win: Amy Adams for Big Eyes

Should Win: Amy Adams for Big Eyes

Although this is under comedy, Amy Adams’ performance as Margaret Keane was more dramatic. She plays a quiet woman allows herself to be steamrolled and manipulated by her husband. It’s hard to make someone so passable likable and empathetic. While Emily Blunt is talented in Into the Woods, overall the whole film and performance feels very tepid.

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Best Supporting Actor 

Will Win: J.K. Simmons for Whiplash

Should Win: J.K. Simmons for Whiplash

J.K. Simmons is bone-chilling as this vindictive teacher in Whiplash. There are other strong performances in this category, specifically Edward Norton as the pompous method actor and Ethan Hawke as the absent dad in Boyhood. But J.K. Simmons gives a powerhouse performance that deserves to be recognized.

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Best Supporting Actress 

Will Win: Patricia Arquette for Boyhood 

Should Win: Emma Stone for Birdman 

I have not seen A Most Violent Year yet, for which Jessica Chastain is nominated, so unfortunately I cannot consider that in my choices. Meryl Streep is her usual great self in Into the Woods, particularly during “Stay With Me.” But the rest of the role doesn’t leave much of an impression or reach great heights. Patricia Arquette as the mother in Boyhood is wonderful (especially in the scene where her boy goes off to college) It is no easy feat navigating and maintaing a character for twelve years, especially when you do not know their arc. (Boyhood was written as the years went along, not before shooting) I do feel that she should win the prize, but I also cannot ignore Emma Stone in Birdman. Her temper tantrum monologue in the film is her best work, showing a great range that goes beyond her penchant for sarcasm.

Boyhood-BikeBest Director 

Will Win: Richard Linklater for Boyhood

Should Win: Alejandro González Iñárritu for Birdman 

This is a tough category, for Richard Linklater definitely deserves to be recognized for helming this ambitious project could have easily failed, and it succeeds in tenfold. Boyhood is an impressive work that manages to redefine cinema. But there is also no denying the other talents in this category, specifically Alejandro González Iñárritu for his utterly inventive direction of Birdman and David Fincher for perfectly bringing to life the dark thriller of Gone Girl.

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Best Screenplay 

Will Win: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo for Birdman

Should Win: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo for Birdman

Gillian Flynn does a great adaptation of her novel, but again there is no denying the sheer originality of Birdman‘s creative story.