89th ACADEMY AWARDS: Who Will Win and Who Should (A Subjective Guide)

Craig SchroederMiscellaneous, Movies, OpinionLeave a Comment

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I am historically bad at predicting Oscar winners. In the past ten years I have pompously and confidently claimed Mickey Rourke, Jessica Chastain, Mark Ruffalo and Hellboy 2 (it was nominated for makeup so that wasn’t a completely out-of-left-field predication) would all win Oscars. However, I am perfectly adept at bloviating and articulating strong opinions on who should win an Oscar. So here are my predictions for who WILL WIN and who SHOULD WIN at tomorrow night’s 89th Academy Awards*. The Academy offers this handy checklist if you want to make your picks (or keep track of how wrong mine were).

 

BEST PICTURE
Arrival
Fences
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
Hidden Figures
La La Land
Lion
Manchester by the Sea
Moonlight
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WILL WIN: La La Land
It’s a tight race between Moonlight and La La Land. And though the backlash against La La Land has come on strong since the Golden Globe, Hollywood’s historic tendency to vote for itself gives La La Land the edge.
SHOULD WIN: Moonlight
While I do not subscribe to the La La Land backlash (La La Lash?), I will be passionately rooting for Moonlight to score the upset. It is not only the best film nominated this year, it’s one of the most compassionate, humanist films of the 21st century.

BEST LEAD ACTRESS
Isabelle Huppert, Elle
Ruth Negga, Loving
Natalie Portman, Jackie
Emma Stone, La La Land
Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins
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WILL WIN: Isabelle Huppert, Elle
I’m doing a bit of a meta-prediction here. I’m predicting Emma Stone and Natalie Portman splitting a large number of votes and Isabelle Huppert slips in the win.
SHOULD WIN: Emma Stone, La La Land
Emma Stone’s performance as Mia in La La Land is the film’s life-blood. It is a charming film and Stone is responsible for the majority of that charm.

BEST LEAD ACTOR
Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
Ryan Gosling, La La Land
Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic
Denzel Washington, Fences
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WILL WIN: Casey Affleck, Manchester By the Sea
This seems like the biggest lock of the night. However, considering the gross details in Casey Affleck’s sexual harassment allegations, I could imagine him losing votes from members of the Academy.
SHOULD WINCasey Affleck, Manchester By the Sea Andrew Garfield, Silence
Casey Affleck’s performance in Manchester By the Sea is undeniably powerful. But I do feel a bit awkward lauding Affleck amidst such disgusting allegations. So because of this (and because BEST ACTOR is a weak category this year), I’m going to cheat and say Andrew Garfield should win Best Actor for Silence, even though he was nominated for a lesser performance in Hacksaw Ridge. Silence is an amazing accomplishment for Martin Scorsese (and I believe in thirty years, cineastes will still be lamenting the fact it was not nominated for Best Picture this year) and it is Andrew Garfield’s greatest performance to date.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Viola Davis, Fences
Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Nicole Kidman, Lion
Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures
Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea
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WILL WIN: Viola Davis, Fences
Momentum is strong for Viola Davis. I don’t think it’s a lock but this is her category to lose.
SHOULD WIN: Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Naomie Harris has a lot of responsibility in Moonlight. In a lesser film, Harris’ Paula–a drug addicted, single mother–would merely be a tool to propel the protagonist’s story. But Naomi Harris’ performance (as well as Jenkins screenplay) gives Paula a complete, tragic arc with minimal screen time.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea
Dev Patel, Lion
Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals
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WILL WIN: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Between Moonlight and his turn as the villainous Cottonmouth in Luke Cage, 2016 was turning up all Mahershala. Ali seems to have all of the momentum going into tomorrow night’s ceremony, but there’s one nominee who is lurking in the cut…..
SHOULD WIN: Lucas Hedges, Manchester By the Sea
I will be thrilled if/when Mahershala Ali wins, but I think Lucas Hedges gave the best supporting performance of the year in Manchester By the Sea. It is a film layered in complexity and Hedges is working in perfect symbiosis with the screenplay, bringing to life one of the year’s most impenetrable characters.

BEST ANIMATED FILM
Kubo and the Two Strings
Moana
My Life as a Zucchini
The Red Turtle
Zootopia
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WILL WIN: Zootopia
 Considering only one non-Disney movie has won this category in the last ten years (2011’s Rango), I think we can narrow the competition to Moana and Zootopia. And given the year that was 2016, I expect Zootopia will win out with its surprisingly relevant message.
SHOULD WIN: Kubo and the Two Strings
Laika Studios has yet to win an Oscar despite producing mesmerizing animated films (ParaNorman is a modern masterpiece). Kubo and the Two Strings is a delightful bit of fantastical filmmaking and deserves to be rewarded. (And, hey, maybe the two Disney films will split votes and allow Kubo to steal the win).

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Arrival
La La Land
Lion
Moonlight
Silence
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WILL WINLa La Land
While I think there is going to be some stiff competition for La La Land’s Best Picture chances, I predict it will make a meal out of the technical categories. Linus Sandgren’s cinematography is wonderful (the planetarium sequence will be some of 2016’s most persistent cinematic imagery) and will rightfully deserve its Oscar.
SHOULD WIN: Silence
Rodrigo Prieto’s work on Silence is a tour de force. And Prieto went home empty handed in his only other Oscar nomination (his work on Brokeback Mountain lost to Dion Bebee’s cinematography in Memoirs of a Geisha at 2006’s ceremony). Prieto deserves this award, but given the Academy’s lack of recognition for Silence as a whole, it seems unlikely.

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Allied
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Florence Foster Jenkins
Jackie
La La Land
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WILL WINJackie
This is going to be a toss-up between La La Land and Jackie. I’m giving it to Jackie but, again, I think La La Land’s status as Oscar frontrunner may carry it to Best Costume victory.
SHOULD WINLa La Land
Its costuming isn’t as flashy as other nominees, but it perfectly compliments the technicolor haze that Damien Chazelle and company have created.

BEST DIRECTOR
Denis Villeneuve, Arrival
Mewl Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge
Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
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WILL WIN: Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
This is a tough one. Historically, Best Picture winners tend to receive director gold as well. And if La La Land takes home best picture, that would make Damien Chazelle the logical choice for Best Director. However, a trend has risen in recent years of giving Best Director as a sort of consolation prize to films that didn’t take home the Best Picture Award (it’s happened three times in the last four years). So, my money is on Barry Jenkins for Moonlight.
SHOULD WIN: Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Moonlight is undeniable. My favorite of all the nominees, Barry Jenkins deserves this award (and he and I are both Florida State University alums, so I’ve got a personal investment as well).

BEST DOCUMENTARY (FEATURE)
Fire at Sea
I Am Not Your Negro
Life, Animated
O.J.: Made in America
13th
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WILL WINO.J.: Made in America
While the more relevant subject matter in 13th and I Am Not Your Negro certainly resonate more, Ezra Edelman’s sprawling eight-hour documentary seems like the clear front-runner.
SHOULD WINO.J.: Made in America
It’s the frontrunner for a reason. O.J. Made in America is a nuanced, delicate, invasive, and thorough dissection of one of America’s most notorious tragedies. It is essential viewing.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Hell or High Water
La La Land
The Lobster
Manchester by the Sea
20th Century Women
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WILL WIN: Manchester By the Sea
La La Land’s front-runner status will hit a brick wall when it’s pitted against Lonergan’s masterful screenplay.
SHOULD WIN: Manchester By the Sea
This is the best category of this year’s Oscar ceremony (and it gives the wonderful films 20th Century Women and The Lobster their sole nominations). These are five screenplays that will be studied by filmmakers for years to come. Manchester By the Sea is my favorite screenplay of the year so I will be rooting for Lonergan, but really, any of these films winning is a win for film fans.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Arrival
Fences
Hidden Figures
Lion
Moonlight
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WILL WIN: Moonlight
Moonlight’s biggest competition of the night is La La Land. And seeing as the latter isn’t nominated in this category, Moonlight seems like a sure thing.
SHOULD WIN: Arrival
This one’s a grueling choice. Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight is a revelatory screenplay. But Eric Heisserer’s screenplay takes a short story and extrapolates it into a stunning piece of poignant science-fiction that won’t soon be forgotten. Tough call, but I’m going Arrival.

BEST EDITING
Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
La La Land
Moonlight
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WILL WINLa La Land
Even the most virulent of La La Land detractors can’t deny the film’s raw energy. And a lot of that energy can be attributed to Tom Cross’ vibrant editing, turning Justin Hurwitz’s musical numbers and Damien Chazelle’s direction into a cohesive whole.
SHOULD WIN: Moonlight
It’s not as conspicuous as La La Land, but the editing in Moonlight is essential to such an intimate, quiet story. Need more reasons to root for Moonlight in this category? Joi McMillan is the first black woman nominated for Best Editing. EVER.  (And sure, maybe I am rooting for more of my fellow alums, as  both McMillan and her co-nominee Nat Sanders are also FSU graduates).

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING
A Man Called Ove
Star Trek Beyond
Suicide Squad
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WILL WIN: Star Trek: Beyond
This is a weak category this year and proves that the Academy recognizes the most makeup and not necessarily the best. And by nominating the abysmal Suicide Squad, the Academy continues its horrific trend of recognizing seriously misguided outliers (Suicide Squad joins the likes of Norbit, The Wolfman, Click, and Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa as official Oscar nominees for Makeup and Hairstyling). Assuming Suicide Squad will not win, that makes this a Star Trek v. Ove battle and I’m giving the edge to Star Trek as the Academy tends to award the louder makeup.
SHOULD WINStar Trek: Beyond
Sure. Let Star Trek have it. That Jaylah makeup was pretty neat.

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE:
Jackie
La La Land
Lion
Moonlight
Passengers
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WILL WIN: La La Land
Britell’s score for Moonlight has a bit of momentum, but Hurwitz’s score for La La Land will almost certainly take the prize.
SHOULD WIN: La La Land
Hurwitz’s score hits a perfect combination of Old Hollywood nostalgia and 21st century melancholy. It’s a great score and that piano motif hasn’t left the annals of my brain since I first heard it.

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
“Audition (The Fools Who Dream),” La La Land
“Can’t Stop The Feeling,” Trolls
“City Of Stars,” La La Land
“The Empty Chair,” Jim: The James Foley Story
“How Far I’ll Go,” Moana
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WILL WIN: “How Far I’ll Go”, Moana
I’m going out on a limb here. La La Land seems to be the clear favorite in this category, but I think Lin-Manuel Miranda’s chance to strike EGOT gold with a win for “How Far I’ll Go” may sway a few votes. Also, there are two La La Land songs that may split votes and open the door even wider for Miranda.
SHOULD WIN: “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)”, La La Land
I’d love to see Lin-Manuel get his EGOT. But my favorite cinematic musical moment of 2016 is Emma Stone’s introspective audition scene. It’s not a show-stopping number but it is a fantastic song.

PRODUCTION DESIGN
Arrival
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Hail, Caesar!
La La Land
Passengers
Hail-Caesar
WILL WINLa La Land
I know we are getting repetitive here, but we’re going to be hearing a lot from La La Land in the technical categories.
SHOULD WIN: HAIL, CEASAR!
If La La Land is recreating an Old Hollywood “feeling”, the Coen Brothers created Old Hollywood from whole cloth in Hail, Caesar!. Taking place almost entirely on a Hollywood Studio lot, Hail, Caesar! gets to run wild with elaborate set-pieces and fun recreations of movie-land from yesteryear.

SOUND MIXING
Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi
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WILL WIN: La La Land
 Same story, different category.
SHOULD WIN: La La Land
 The music really is an achievement here and it all works wonderfully when pulled together into the world of the film.

SOUND EDITING
Arrival
Deepwater Horizon
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land
Sully
hacksaw
WILL WINHacksaw Ridge
While the winner of sound mixing is a good predictor for the winner of sound editing (it happens often, but not as often as you’d think), I don’t think that’s the right way to predict this year’s winner. Hacksaw Ridge’s climactic battle sequence (which is to say, the whole last third of the film) is a sound editor’s dream. There are great sound effects and a lot of them, but there is at least one film who uses sound a bit better….
SHOULD WIN: Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge has the most sound editing but not the best. Bellemare’s sound editing for Arrival creates a surreal, yet grounded atmosphere that perfectly compliment’s the film’s aesthetic. And without giving too much away (Arrival is a film with both massive twists and small, seemingly inconsequential moments that I don’t think should be revealed), the scenes inside the extra-terrestrial object are euphonic showpieces.

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Deepwater Horizon
Doctor Strange
The Jungle Book
Kubo and the Two Strings
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
jungle book
WILL WIN: Toss-up between Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Doctor Strange.
 I’m not confident in this category at all. I’m picking these two because they seem like the safe bet. But not the best bet…
SHOULD WIN: The Jungle Book
The Jungle Book is one, huge special effect, creating almost a whole film on green screen without looking boring or flat (Zack Snyder, take note).

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

Land of Mine
A Man Called Ove
The Salesman
Tanna
Toni Erdmann

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 WILL WIN: Toni Erdmann
I may not be qualified to speak on this category because I haven’t seen nearly enough of the nominated films. But I think the buzz around the news of an American Toni Erdmann remake (starring Kristen Wiig and an out-of-retirement Jack Nicholson) will keep its momentum strong.

 

SHOULD WIN: The Salesman

I haven’t seen The Salesman but I will be rooting for director Asghar Farhadi, given his recent travails.


 

*Unfortunately, I have seen none of the shorts, so I have excluded them from this exercise.

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Craig Schroeder89th ACADEMY AWARDS: Who Will Win and Who Should (A Subjective Guide)