Oscars Watch 2017: The Less-Depressing Campaign: What Should Win?

Hi folks. We’re just 5 days away from the Oscars, so while you’re getting your predictin’ hats on, let’s have a little talks about preferences.

As much an annual tradition as the gowns and the jokes and the speeches, the Oscars bring about a whole lot of talk about what should “actually” be winning. Whether it’s for political reasons, simple preference, or the fact that you tend to love stuff that would never make it into competition, everyone has their Oscar also-rans and things to get up in arms over. Hell, I haven’t agreed with a Best Picture winner since 2006 (The Departed). 

So, why not give some of mine? After all, I’m some jerk with a blog. That makes me perfect to shout about what should be winning in these categories (instead of what will win) and shout about what should have made it in. To keep this from going too long? I’m gonna write about the big categories and just give my preferences on the Below-The-Line, minus a few notes.

Best Picture (Ranked in order of preference):
Moonlight/La La Land

Arrival
Manchester by the Sea
Lion
Hell or High Water
Fences
Hidden Figures

A severe and vicious beating around the genitals.

Hacksaw Ridge

  • Should Win: So, actually choosing between the two frontrunners this year is probably about as hard as it gets for me. I love both dearly for entirely different reasons (well, I absolutely marvel at the craft of both), and I think both absolutely, in a perfect world, should win. I understand what’s at stake here, and for those reasons, my preference would be that Moonlight wins on Sunday night. That being said, this is my own article, so both are gonna tie for right now.
  • Should Be Here: Silence over Hacksaw Ridge. Silence is everything Hacksaw Ridge isn’t.

Best Actor:
Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

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

  • Should Win: As fraught as it is, Casey Affleck is giving a truly next-level performance. Manchester by the Sea almost wholly rests on him and what he’s capable of as an actor, and I can’t deny how great he is in this role.
  • Should Be Here: Adam Driver in Paterson over Andrew Garfield in Hacksaw Ridge. Driver gives a truly powerful performance in Paterson with the most subtle tools possible.

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

  • Should Win: Yeah, I’m not particularly taken with Streep here, and I have serious reservations about Elle as a film. Negga and Portman are great, but I don’t think I love them quite as much as the simplistic performance of Stone and the way she pulls the rhythms of La La Land along.
  • Should Be Here: Amy Adams in Arrival over Meryl Streep in Florence Foster Jenkins. You’re telling me the woman around which a film that has received 8 nominations revolves doesn’t deserve a nomination? Amy Adams does not get the respect she deserves.

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

  • Should Win: Really, if I could give an award to everyone here? I totally would. If you could name a list of people who deserves Oscars, it would be everyone on this list. Especially Michael Shannon, who is the best. Let’s remember how great he is for a second.
    gettyimages-602226388That being said, the final scene that Ali has in Moonlight has him on rightful top here. Ali is doing work that any other actor would dream of, and it’s time to recognize him for it.
  • Should Be Here: Let’s just go ahead and say Trevante Rhodes, who plays the adult Chiron. The best performance of the year and the fact that it’s not here is a failure of campaigning and imagination.

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

  • Should Win: Viola Davis is incredible in Fences, a reconfiguring of the role that she won a Tony for in a really powerful way. She’s the object around which the gravity of this film orbits, yet she never feels like she’s overpowering the screen.
  • Should Be Here: Janelle Monae in Hidden Figures for Octavia Spencer in Hidden Figures. That entire ensemble is great, but Monae is the true star there, an almost impossible to look away from talent.

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

  • Should Win: Again, an almost impossible competition (minus one), but Jenkins does extraordinary work in Moonlight, telling a story of raw artifice, something that few filmmakers in America can try and even fewer can pull off. Calling to mind directors like Wong Kar-Wai or European masters, Moonlight is imbued with a rare sensuality and remarkable care and sweetness.
  • Should Be Here: Realistically? Let’s say David Mackenzie from Hell or High Water who elevated what could have been a standard pissed-off drama into the artful and heat-drenched mediation it was. Unrealistically? The Daniels from Swiss Army Man for the sheer audacity of what they pulled off. Either way, they should be here over Mel Gibson, who I can’t believe I might have to see make Suicide Squad 2. 

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

  • Should Win: Manchester by the Sea is just a staggering piece of writing, the kind of thing that just awes you every time you realize how universal and relatable a story Kenneth Lonergan composed in such a specific space.
  • Should Be Here: Paterson. It’s just such a perfect piece of form-meets-function writing and such a lovely world that it crafts and lives in.

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Arrival
Fences
Hidden Figures
Lion
Moonlight

  • Should Win: Honestly, just read Moonlight and tell me that isn’t the best script read you’ve ever had. Shout out to Arrival too, which would absolutely be my choice any other year, and would have been if Moonlight hadn’t moved to Adapted.
  • Should Be Here: The Handmaiden. That mid-movie twist alone is a feat of screenwriting magic.

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

  • Should Win: Kubo and the Two Strings is a really impressive piece of animated filmmaking and scripting, thematically interesting and ambiguous in a way films like this often aren’t. Plus just a total visual masterwork. It’s time for Laika to get a win dammit!
  • Should Be Here: Sausage PartyDon’t @ me.

 Best Documentary:
13th
Fire at Sea
I Am Not Your Negro
Life, Animated
OJ Made in America

  • Should Win: I’m gonna be honest, I think I Am Not Your Negro would make top 10 if I had seen it before my deadline for last year. An incredible piece of filmmaking that absolutely deserves to be seen by everyone and everybody. Baldwin has never looked better than in cinema.
  • Should Be Here: Weiner over Life, Animated. Weiner is a hilarious and incredibly relevant piece of filmmaking, where Life, Animated is sweet and kind of a total puff in terms of what it pulls off.

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

  • Haven’t had the chance to see any of these yet. Hope to rectify that by Sunday.

Best Original Score:
Jackie
La La Land
Lion
Moonlight
Passengers

  • Should Be Here: Arrival. Its disqualification was total bullshit.  

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

  • Should Be Here: So much. Honestly, let’s just give an alternate category.
    Another Day of Sun” – La La Land
    Drive It Like You Stole It” – Sing Street
    “I’m So Humble” – Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
    “Try Everything” – Zootopia
    “How Far I’ll Go” – Moana

Best Cinematography:
Arrival
La La Land
Lion
Moonlight
Silence

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

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

Moonlight

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

Should Be Here: Nocturnal Animals. On every level, I don’t think there was a better designed movie this year, but that should be no surprise from Tom Ford.

 Best Sound Editing:
Arrival
Deepwater Horizon
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land
Sully

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

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

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

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