Oscars Watch 2017: The Less-Depressing Campaign: The Real Race Begins

Well, one of the major competitions of February ended only in heartbreak for me, so let’s not dwell there. Instead, it’s time for the Oscars! The nominations have given way to the actual race, where things have narrowed down significantly. The dark horses are out of the way, and now it’s time for the big boys to duke it out.

Not gonna lie. Way back when, I would have called this for a tighter race, more fiercely fought competitions. But as the Guilds begin to hand out their individual awards, it’s becoming clearer and clearer that there’s one juggernaut named La La Land in this game and everything else is picking up whatever’s left in the wake.

Unless you’re Ryan Gosling.

But yeah, let’s get into it.

Best Picture:
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
Hidden Figures
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea

  • Like I said, we’re pretty much seeing no real challenge to La La Land here. It’s running ramshod over every competitor, and the love the industry has for this movie pretty much points to nothing being able to find another foothold. Moonlight hasn’t managed to find its angle yet and that’s the only real possibility here.
  • By the way, when La La Land wins, can we all agree to a moratorium on the “What Does This Particular Win Mean in TRUMP’S AMERICA” takes? They’re exhausting already and it’s been less than a month. They’re happening after basically every major cultural event, and they’ve never found a single new angle or interesting insight. This way of engaging with art as solely indicative of political utility is deleterious, not to add on with the danger of placing the Awards Season context onto the film itself.

Best Actor:
Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
Ryan Gosling, La La Land
Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic
Denzel Washington, Fences

  • So, here’s your nailbiter this year. There’s a crazy amount of momentum on both Casey Affleck and Denzel Washington’s side. Affleck has the super wide critical acclaim and the momentum on his film’s side as well as a host of critics and other organizational awards. He’s also got sexual harassment allegations that seem to pop back into the public consciousness from time to time. Washington has super wide critical acclaim without momentum on Fences‘ side, but he has the SAG Award, which is one of the better predictors. But SAG has differed from the Oscars before. In other words, no one has the clear path, we’ll see how people are feeling closer to.

Best Actress:
Isabelle Huppert, Elle
Ruth Negga, Loving
Natalie Portman, Jackie
Emma Stone, La La Land
Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

  • As much as everyone talks Portman, I really don’t see ANY momentum for her performance anywhere, and losing the SAG was a coup de grace. That’s where Portman could have won and I think that wrecked any momnetum. And Huppert is never gonna find the wide support. So this is Stone’s to coast into.

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

  • God, what a great category. But yeah, Mahershala Ali (minus a few weird diversions) has this one on lock. Good, he should.

Best Supporting Actress:
Viola Davis, Fences
Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Nicole Kidman, Lion
Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures
Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea

  • Same as Supporting Actor. Davis probably would have ran away with Actress, but she’s especially gonna run away with Supporting Actress. Great category, but she’s got this one on lock.

Best Director:
Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge
Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Denis Villeneuve, Arrival

  • Yeah, I’m willing to believe there’s gonna be a surprise here, but between Moonlight moving to Screenplay (giving Jenkins a clear award for recognition) and the DGA win for Chazelle, it’s becoming pretty clear that all momentum is shifting to him.

Best Original Screenplay:
20th Century Women
Hell or High Water
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea
The Lobster

  • Still holding the line here for now. We’ll wait for the WGA Award, but I really think Manchester‘s script is gonna end up being the ultimate sign of its recognition.

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Hidden Figures

  • Yeah, this was a clear lock once Moonlight moved in.

Best Original Score:
La La Land

  • If you think there’s a chance for anything else…

Best Original Song:
“Audition (The Fools Who Dream) – La La Land
City of Stars” – La La Land
Can’t Stop the Feeling” – Trolls
“The Empty Chair” – Jim: The James Foley Story
“How Far I’ll Go” – Moana

  • Again, if you think there’s a chance for anything else…you’re not totally wrong. Lin-Manuel’s EGOT is a powerful narrative and if La La Land‘s two songs split the vote, that would be the one to sneak in. But I think they’re gonna end up totally pushing “City of Stars” given that it’s become the movie’s theme song,

Best Cinematography:
La La Land

  • I’ll see how things are being felt closer to, which is why my prediction is holding where it is, but Lion won the ASC, which makes this race kind of interesting. Granted, the ASC is a small part of the Academy, but that’s where the passion for this category is.

Best Costume Design:
Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them
Florence Foster Jenkins
La La Land

  • It’s that canary-yellow dress. It’s pretty much one of the iconic film looks this year, La La Land‘s general love will get it this one.

Best Editing:
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
La La Land

  • Yeah, technical sweep, same deal, no surprises. It’s how Titanic and Lord of the Rings and Ben-Hur got the awards they did. Movies people love that are really technically well put-together.

Best Production Design:
Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them
Hail, Caesar!
La La Land

  • Drinking game idea. Make primary colored Jello shots. Take one every time La La Land wins. Your liver will hate you.

 Best Sound Editing:
Deepwater Horizon
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land

Best Sound Mixing:
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

  • Just a quick review. Sound Editing is the creation of the sounds, Mixing is the way they’re put together. Editing almost always goes to Action flicks of some kind due to what you have to produce. Mixing is usually a toss-up but if a film is on a tech sweep, it’s got a pretty good shot. La La Land being a musical means the Mix is probably going to be at the forefront and people may just vote for the musical because why not. Hacksaw Ridge is the most prestigey action flick here, so my guess is it takes Editing.

Best Visual Effects:
Deepwater Horizon
Doctor Strange
The Jungle Book
Kubo and the Two Strings
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

  • There’s some seriously great challengers here, but no one is going to be able to touch the photorealism of The Jungle Book and its mo-capped animals.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling:
A Man Called Ove
Star Trek Beyond
Suicide Squad

  • Tons of seamless prosthetics? Yeah, Star Trek Beyond is the right sort of impressive for this makeup work.

Best Animated Feature Film:
Kubo and the Two Strings
My Life as a Zucchini
The Red Turtle

  • Zootopia has sooooo much momentum here. Kubo is the only possible challenger (and one I would love to see win) but I have a feeling Laika can’t match Disney’s awards campaign cash.

Best Documentary:
Fire at Sea
I Am Not Your Negro
Life, Animated
OJ Made in America

  • OJ: Made in America is about as buzzy as any of these have got. 13th is your challenger here thanks to Netflix DYING to get something a win to legitimize themselves here, but I think the sheer density of love for OJ: Made in America keeps this in the competition.
  • Fun fact. If OJ: Made in America wins, it will be the longest winner in Oscars history.

Best Foreign Language Film:
Land of Mine
A Man Called Ove
Toni Erdmann
The Salesman

  • Prediction here. The Salesman is from currently-banned (sort of, it’s complicated) from the United States filmmaker Asghar Farhadi. The Foreign Language competition so tends to get overlooked that I get the feeling anything to get the name in front of people will help. The Salesman just got a name in front of a whole bunch of people and I’m sure Hollywood would love to make a political statement as a big “SCREW YOU TRUMP.” The Salesman has a WAY better shot than it did before,  so much so that I think it’s the quiet frontrunner even with the love for Toni Erdmann. 

Best Documentary Short
4.1 Miles
Joe’s Violin
Watani: My Homeland
The White Helmets

Best Animated Short
Blind Vaysha
Borrowed Time
Pear Cider and Cigarettes

Best Live Action Short
Ennemis Interieurs
La Femme et le TGV
Silent Nights

  • *shrugs* Shorts are hard.