Thursday, February 16, 2017


Sunday, February 26th will hold the 2017 Academy Awards telecast, my personal Superbowl. With that, and after taking one year off from writing such a posting, I am back with my Oscar predictions albeit for a cinematic year that feels as if Damien Chazelle's "La La Land" has already won. At any rate, here are my predictions for you!!

MERYL STREEP AND FOUR OTHER WOMEN: Isabelle Huppert ("Elle"), Ruth Negga ("Loving"), Natalie Portman ("Jackie"), Emma Stone ("La La Land"), Meryl Streep ("Florence Foster Jenkins")
SHOULD WIN: Natalie Portman
WILL WIN: Emma Stone
This is Emma Stone's category to lose and there's no way that I can fathom that she would not win the grand prize in this category. While I would love it if Natalie Portman won for her riveting, intricate and harrowing performance in "Jackie," what I would wish for even more is a  greater sense of creativity and open-mindedness when nominating women in this category. I won't again subject you to any rants from me concerning the consistent presence of Meryl Streep in this category at the expense of other women w ho turned in either equal or greater performances. But, really, imagine if say Amy Adams was nominated for "Arrival" and Taraji P. Henson was nominated for "Hidden Figures," for instance? Then, we would have something unpredictable.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Mahershala Ali ("Moonlight"), Jeff Bridges ("Hell Or High Water"), Lucas Hedges ("Manchester By The Sea"), Michael Shannon ("Nocturnal Animals"), Dev Patel ("Lion")
SHOULD WIN: Mahershala Ali
WILL WIN: Mahershala Ali
Again, I have not seen all of the performances within this category so I am unable to fairly judge the group as a whole. That being said, Ali's work in "Moonlight" was powerfully mesmerizing in its fullness and its overall willingness to upend any potential stereotypes and prejudices we, as audience members, may initially bring to his character, a drug dealer within inner city Miami. So far during this awards season, Ali has been the favorite, and I would expect him to rightfully take home the prize on Oscar night.

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
WILL WIN: Michelle Williams
I would be thrilled if either actress won in this category as I do think that this is the tightest section regarding the acting performances. Both Davis and Williams turned in exceptional, heartbreaking work but I do give the edge within my personal preferences to Davis as I felt that she really carved out the full arc of her character's life with a few scant scenes. Williams was indeed wonderful and her late film moment with Casey Affleck is one of quiet, wrenching devastation and I just think t hat may push her over the top.

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: Denzel Washington
WILL WIN: Casey Affleck
Not exactly the tightest category because this is essentially a two-man race, albeit one featuring two men who have indeed given each of their performances their finest efforts. While my money is on Affleck as he does have the momentum, I would be ecstatic if Washington took home his second win for a ferocious performance that ranks with the absolute finest of his work in his long, glorious career.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Luke Davies ("Lion"), Eric Heisserer ("Arrival"), Barry Jenkins ("Moonlight"), Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi ("Hidden  Figures"), August Wilson ("Fences")
SHOULD WIN: August Wilson
WILL WIN: August Wilson 
This category is won I will concede is a bit difficult to predict but I am going to go with the late August Wilson as his enormously celebrated work with the stage version of "Fences" translated to the screen brilliantly and it was  such an enormous pleasure to be able to listen to his luxurious dialogue in the darkened theater. Winning in this category will only cement the status of this specific work even greater than it already has been.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:  Damien Chazelle ("La La Land"), Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthimis Filippou ("The Lobster"), Kenneth Lonergan ("Manchester By The Sea"), Mike Mills ("20th Century Women"), Taylor Sheridan ("Hell Or High Water")
SHOULD WIN: Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthimis Filippou
WILL WIN: Kenneth Lonergan
As always, the key word for me within this category is the word "Original," and there was no other movie released in 2016 that was more original than "The Lobster"!! Now, I know it doesn't have a ghost of a chance so...I'm going to toss my hat in the ring for Kenneth Lonergan as his "Manchester By The Sea" would then have a chance to earn an award (and of course, "La La Land" isn't so beloved due to its screenplay).

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: Barry Jenkins
WILL WIN: Damien Chazelle
Here is another category in which the sweep of "La La Land" is a foregone conclusion although I strongly feel that Barry Jenkins was masterful in his rendering of a much more effective, emotional, wrenching, artful, brilliant film. (And again, I will spare you yet another rant where I dress down the idiocy of the Academy nominating nine films for Best Picture but only having five Best Director nominees...I just shake my head every single year...)

BEST PICTURE: "Arrival," "Fences," "Hacksaw Ridge," "Hell Or High Water," "Hidden Figures," "La La Land," "Lion," "Manchester By The Sea," "Moonlight"
SHOULD WIN: "Moonlight"
WILL WIN: "La La Land"
As I said in my review for the film, "La La Land" will obviously walk away with the Grand Prize.I am so confident about this that I wish they would give the award to the film today and save us the trouble of sitting through the entire three to four hour telecast to simply regard the inevitable. Hollywood LOVES movies about itself and one that is as dazzling to regard as "La La Land" is just bound to win the Best Picture category...even if "Moonlight" is the infinitely better film.

 There you have it...let's see how well I did in a little over one week.

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