The Academy Awards are upon us. Tonight, February 26, 2017, at 5:30 PM PST the 89th Annual Academy Awards will begin, presenting Oscars to the best in cinema from this past year. While “this year’s best” is certainly up for debate and personal preference, here’s my take on who will bring home the golden statue in each category (i.e. who I believe will win, not necessarily who I want to win). Do you agree? Share your thoughts in the discussion board below or vote who you think will win in the polls located here.
I’ll start with the big ones. For Best Picture I’m going with the obvious choice by taking La La Land. Ever since the film first premiered in the festival circuit, La La Land has been the favorite to win for Best Picture and many others (as you’ll see below). Even though it’s status as a sure thing has dwindled recently with a slight social media backlash and movies like Moonlight and Hidden Figures gaining strong backing, I’d be very surprised if La La Land didn’t win. Not only is it a strong feature (my favorite of the year), but director Damien Chazelle managed to create an original modern musical that’s a throwback to the Hollywood of old (and the Academy loves nods to the past).
Following suit, Damien Chazelle will bring home the Best Director Oscar for La La Land for the reasons listed above. There have been instances in recent years where the Best Picture and Best Director awards didn’t go to the same film, but they’ve gone hand-in-hand seven of the last ten years. It will happen again.
Best Actor is one of the toughest races to call. Casey Affleck was the frontrunner from the start and appeared to be cruising through award season. He won the Golden Globes and BAFTA and it looked like an Oscar was in the bag for the younger of the Affleck siblings. However, two things happened. One- sexual assault allegations arose against Casey, a civil case where he’s accused of harassment and abuse against his producer and cinematographer during the filming of the Joaquin Phoenix mockmentary “I’m Not Here”. Two-Denzel Washington began to really pick up stream for his excellent work in Fences (which he also directed and is a role he previously won a Tony for). On the one hand, a person’s private life shouldn’t come into consideration, these are awards given for what the individual did on the screen. Still, it’s impossible for voters to ignore. While it’s a difficult choice, I’m expecting that Denzel Washington will win the Oscar. That would be his third award and only 6 actors/actresses have won at least three times (Katharine Hepburn won 4). It would put the star in very elite company.
Emma Stone is my pick for Best Actress. Yes, I loved La La Land and I’ve really liked Emma Stone for years. Honestly while she’s one of the most likable people, I never was too high on her as an actress. Even in Birdman, which garnered her a supporting actress nomination, I felt like it was because she was playing against type and not a true stand out performance. She thoroughly impressed me in La La Land. “Audition” alone earned her the nomination and felt similar to Jennifer Hudson’s “I’m Telling You I’m Not Going” and Anne Hathaway’s “I Dreamed a Dream” where I wanted to stand up and hand them the statue as soon as they finished the song. In addition to that song, the scene that stood out to me was towards the end when Ryan Gosling’s Sebastian went to her parent’s house to try to convince her to go for the audition and she was trying to hold it together while telling him she’s giving up on her dream of acting. I leaned over to my wife and whispered that would be the clip the play when they announce her nomination and I’m curious to see if I’m right. The best bet for someone to beat her out is Isabelle Huppert for Elle, who won a Golden Globe for the role.
My pick for Best Supporting Actor is Mahershala Ali for Moonlight. I have not seen Moonlight yet so I can’t pour out my love for his performance or compare it to the other candidates. My favorite of the films I watched this year is Jeff Bridges for Hell or High Water. Ali is heavily favored to win and I’ll listen to all the experts.
Another safe bet for the night is Viola Davis winning Best Supporting Actress. Yes there are other impressive performances such as Michelle Williams in Manchester by the Sea, but Davis was the best of the year in Fences (a role that also earned her a Tony) and this will also kinda act as a lifetime achievement award for a talented actress who really should’ve won by now (similar to DiCaprio last year).
Here are my picks for the remaining categories:
Best Animated Feature Film – Zootopia
Best Foreign Film – The Salesman
Best Original Screenplay – Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan)
Best Adapted Screenplay – Moonlight (Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McRaney)
Best Costume Design – Jackie (Madeline Fontaine)
Best Original Song – City of Stars (La La Land)
Best Original Score – La La Land (Justin Hurwitz)
Best Documentary – O.J.: Made in America
Best Documentary (Short) – The White Helmets
Best Makeup and Hairstyling – Star Trek Beyond
Best Production Design – La La Land (Sandy Reynolds-Wasco and David Wasco)
Best Film Editing – La La Land (Tom Cross)
Best Cinematography – La La Land (Linus Sandgren)
Best Sound Editing – Hacksaw Ridge
Best Sound Mixing – Hacksaw Ridge
Best Visual Effects – The Jungle Book
Best Short Film (Animated) – Piper
Best Short Film (Live Action) – La Femme et le TGV
What do you think? Do you agree with my choices or do you think other individuals/films are going to win in the various categories? Share your thoughts in the discussion board below. I’m going to live blog the Oscars so during the show you can check in for my thoughts and chime in with your own during the proceedings.