Sunday, February 26, 2017

89th Academy Awards Predictions



Welcome, to this year's Academy Awards predictions!  This year has been one of the easiest to predict, based solely on the universal adoration of La La Land. But the Academy Awards are always liable to throw in a surprise or two (looking at you "Ex Machina".) Hopefully, I can help you win your work/school/friend/personal Oscar pool.

(Note: There is an easy to use "Winners" list at the bottom of this page)



BEST PICTURE

Nominees:
Arrival
Fences
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
Hidden Figures
La La Land
Lion
Manchester by the Sea
Moonlight

This category started as a wider race, but Manchester by the Sea has seemingly fallen out of favor in recent months. At this point, the award is La La Land's to lose, and the only real competition seems to be Moonlight. However, there is always a chance that immensely popular latecomer Hidden Figures sneaks in. I'm going with the safe bet and picking La La Land

WILL WIN: La La Land
COULD WIN: Moonlight
SHOULD WIN: La La Land or Moonlight
SHOULD HAVE BEEN HERE: Jackie and Captain Fantastic




BEST DIRECTOR

Nominees:
Dennis Villeneuve - Arrival
Mel Gibson - Hacksaw Ridge
Damien Chazelle - La La Land
Kenneth Lonergan - Manchester by the Sea
Barry Jenkins - Moonlight

This is actually harder to pick than Best Picture. There have been multiple splits in this category of the past few years, and it is definitely possible that if La La Land wins Best Picture, this is the place to honor Moonlight. That being said, it is hard to bet against La La Land for the major categories and Chazelle did an excellent job. Even though there is small chance that he ends up winning, look to see Villeneuve become a regular in this category in coming years.

WILL WIN: Damien Chazelle - La La Land
COULD WIN: Barry Jenkins - Moonlight
SHOULD WIN: Damien Chazelle - La La Land
SHOULD HAVE BEEN HERE: Martin Scorsese - Silence




BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

Nominees:
Casey Affleck - Manchester by the Sea
Andrew Garfield - Hacksaw Ridge
Ryan Gosling - La La Land
Viggo Mortensen - Captain Fantastic
Denzel Washington - Fences

For the entire award season up until December, this was Casey Affleck's award. However, with a SAG win, Denzel Washington is suddenly the front runner. I am very tempted to pick Affleck who gave an excellent performance, but it would be foolish to bet against a performance like Denzel's in Fences. Even though this isn't the year, I'm hoping Viggo gets an Oscar at some point.

WILL WIN: Denzel Washington - Fences
COULD WIN: Casey Affleck - Manchester by the Sea
SHOULD WIN: Viggo Mortensen - Captain Fantastic
SHOULD HAVE BEEN HERE: Colin Farrell - The Lobster




BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

Nominees:
Isabelle Huppert - Elle
Ruth Negga - Loving
Natalie Portman - Jackie
Emma Stone - La La Land
Meryl Streep - Florence Foster Jenkins

At some point they are just going to rename this "the Streep Award." That said, this is not Meryl's year. This award was always thought to be between Portman and Stone, but Huppert has been getting some attention lately. In the end though, I think that Emma Stone will run away with Best Actress and continue La La Land's big night. Side note: I am still not over the Amy Adams snub. 

WILL WIN: Emma Stone - La La Land
COULD WIN: Isabelle Huppert - Elle
SHOULD WIN: Natalie Portman - Jackie
SHOULD HAVE BEEN HERE: Amy Adams - Arrival




BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Nominees:
Mahershala Ali - Moonlight
Jeff Bridges - Hell or High Water
Lucas Hedges - Manchester by the Sea
Dev Patel - Lion
Michael Shannon - Nocturnal Animals

This is one of those years when both Supporting awards seem relatively set in stone. Outside of a Golden Globes loss, Ali has won almost every single possible award for his performance in Moonlight, and deservedly so! Dev Patel was excellent in Lion, and newcomer Lucas Hedges has a very bright future, but it is definitely Ali's night. 

WILL WIN: Mahershala Ali - Moonlight
COULD WIN: Dev Patel - Lion
SHOULD WIN: Mahershala Ali - Moonlight
SHOULD HAVE BEEN HERE: Hugh Grant - Florence Foster Jenkins




BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Nominees:
Viola Davis - Fences
Naomie Harris - Moonlight
Nicole Kidman - Lion
Octavia Spencer - Hidden Figures
Michelle Williams - Manchester by the Sea

This is even easier to predict that Supporting Actor. It will be Viola Davis, and she hands down deserves it. It is a shame that Naomie Harris's Moonlight performance was not in a different year, because it is truly incredible.

WILL WIN: Viola Davis - Fences
COULD WIN: Naomie Harris - Moonlight
SHOULD WIN: Viola Davis or Naomie Harris
SHOULD HAVE BEEN HERE: Janelle Monáe - Moonlight




BEST WRITING - ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Nominees:
Taylor Sheridan - Hell or High Water
Damien Chazelle - La La Land
Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthimis Filippou - The Lobster
Kenneth Lonergan - Manchester by the Sea
Mike Mills - 20th Century Women

I am not seeing nearly as big of a night for Manchester by the Sea as I did in November, but this is the one award I cannot see slipping away from Lonergan and co. His screenplay was the driving force behind an incredible movie. That said, the Writers Guild awarded Moonlight in this category, a film that is nominated as Adapted Screenplay at the Oscars, so it could end up falling to La La Land if the love for that film is as strong as some pundits have predicted. Personally, I would love for The Lobster to sneak one away for sheer creativity, but it isn't going to happen

WILL WIN: Kenneth Lonergan - Manchester by the Sea
COULD WIN: Damien Chazelle - La La Land
SHOULD WIN: Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthimis Filippou - The Lobster
SHOULD HAVE BEEN HERE: Noah Oppenheim - Jackie




BEST WRITING - ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Nominees:
Eric Heisserer - Arrival
August Wilson - Fences
Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi - Hidden Figures
Luke Davies - Lion
Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney - Moonlight

Screenplay awards are harder to predict this year than usual, all thanks to Moonlight. Moonlight was nominated as an Original Screenplay at most other awards, so it is up against a different crowd. However, none of that will likely matter, as it should run away with this award. There is always a chance that this is Arrivals surprise win of the night, and I do think it will surprisingly win one. 

WILL WIN: Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney - Moonlight
COULD WIN: Eric Heisserer - Arrival
SHOULD WIN: Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney - Moonlight
SHOULD HAVE BEEN HERE: Tom Ford - Nocturnal Animals




BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

Nominees:
Kubo and the Two Strings
Moana
My Life as a Zucchini
The Red Turtle
Zootopia

Zootopia has been sweeping this category throughout the year and I don't see that changing tonight, though both Moana and Kubo and the Two Strings have been getting some buzz. Kubo is particularly possible, since it is only the second Animated film to be nominated for Visual Effects (Nightmare Before Christmas.)   

WILL WIN: Zootopia
COULD WIN: Moana
SHOULD WIN: Kubo and the Two Strings




BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

Nominees:
Fire at Sea
I Am Not Your Negro
Life, Animated
O.J.: Made in America
13th

WILL WIN: O.J.: Made in America
COULD WIN: 13th
SHOULD WIN: O.J. Made in America or 13th




BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

Nominees:
Denmark - Land of Mine
Sweden - A Man Called Ove
Iran - The Salesman
Australia - Tanna
Germany - Toni Erdmann

WILL WIN: Iran - The Salesman
COULD WIN: Germany - Toni Erdmann
SHOULD WIN: Germany - Toni Erdmann




BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Nominees:
Bradford Young - Arrival
Linus Sandgren - La La Land
Greig Fraser - Lion
James Laxton - Moonlight
Rodrigo Prieto - Silence

WILL WIN: Linus Sandgren - La La Land
COULD WIN: James Laxton - Moonlight
SHOULD WIN: Rodrigo Prieto - Silence




BEST COSTUME DESIGN

Nominees:
Joanna Johnston - Allied
Colleen Atwood - Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Consolata Boyle - Florence Foster Jenkins
Madeline Fontaine - Jackie
Mary Zophres - La La Land

WILL WIN: Mary Zophres - La La Land
COULD WIN: Madeline Fontaine - Jackie
SHOULD WIN: Madeline Fontaine - Jackie




BEST FILM EDITING

Nominees:
Joe Walker - Arrival
John Gilbert - Hacksaw Ridge
Jake Roberts - Hell or High Water
Tom Cross - La La Land
Nat Sanders and Joi McMillon - Moonlight

WILL WIN: Tom Cross - La La Land
COULD WIN: Nat Sanders and Joi McMillon - Moonlight
SHOULD WIN: Tom Cross - La La Land




BEST MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING

Nominees:
Eva von Bahr and Love Larson - A Man Called Ove
Joel Harlow and Richard Alonzo - Star Trek Beyond
Alessandro Bertolazzi, Giorgio Gregorini, and Christopher Nelson - Suicide Squad

WILL WIN: Joel Harlow and Richard Alonzo - Star Trek Beyond
COULD WIN: Alessandro Bertolazzi, Giorgio Gregorini, and Christopher Nelson - Suicide Squad
SHOULD WIN:Joel Harlow and Richard Alonzo - Star Trek Beyond




BEST MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)

Nominees:
Mica Levi - Jackie
Justin Hurwitz - La La Land
Dustin O'Halloran and Hauschka - Lion
Nicholas Britell - Moonlight
Thomas Newman - Passengers

WILL WIN: Justin Hurwitz - La La Land
COULD WIN: Mica Levi - Jackie
SHOULD WIN: Justin Hurwitz - La La Land




BEST MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG)

Nominees:
Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek, and Justin Paul - "Audition (The Fools Who Dream)" from La La Land
Justin Timberlake, Max Martin, and Karl Johan Schuster (Shellback) - "Can't Stop the Feeling!" from Trolls
Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek, and Justin Paul - "City of Stars" from La La Land
J. Ralph and Sting - "The Empty Chair" from Jim: The James Foley Story
Lin-Manuel Miranda - "How Far I'll Go" from Moana

WILL WIN: Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek, and Justin Paul - "City of Stars" from La La Land
COULD WIN: Lin-Manuel Miranda - "How Far I'll Go" from Moana
SHOULD WIN: Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek, and Justin Paul - "Audition (The Fools Who Dream)" from La La Land




BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

Nominees:
Patrice Vermette/Paul Hotte - Arrival
Stuart Craig/Anna Pinnock - Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Jess Gonchor/Nancy Haigh - Hail, Caesar!
David Wasco/Sandy Reynolds-Wasco - La La Land
Guy Hendrix Dyas/Gene Serdena - Passengers

WILL WIN: David Wasco/Sandy Reynolds-Wasco - La La Land
COULD WIN: Patrice Vermette/Paul Hotte - Arrival
SHOULD WIN: David Wasco/Sandy Reynolds-Wasco - La La Land




BEST SOUND EDITING

Nominees:
Sylvain Bellemare - Arrival
Wylie Stateman and Renée Tondelli - Deepwater Horizon
Robert Mackenzie and Andy Wright - Hacksaw Ridge
Ai-Ling Lee and Mildred Iatrou Morgan - La La Land
Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman - Sully

WILL WIN: Robert Mackenzie and Andy Wright - Hacksaw Ridge
COULD WIN: Ai-Ling Lee and Mildred Iatrou Morgan - La La Land
SHOULD WIN: Sylvain Bellemare - Arrival




BEST SOUND MIXING

Nominees:
Bernard Gariépy Strobl and Claude La Haye - Arrival
Kevin O'Connell, Andy Wright, Robert Mackenzie, and Peter Grace - Hacksaw Ridge
Andy Nelson, Ai-Ling Lee, and Steve A. Morrow - La La Land
David Parker, Christopher Scarabosio, and Stuart Wilson - Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush, and Mac Ruth - 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

WILL WIN: Andy Nelson, Ai-Ling Lee, and Steve A. Morrow - La La Land
COULD WIN: Kevin O'Connel, Andy Wright, Robert Mackenzie, and Peter Grace - Hacksaw Ridge
SHOULD WIN: Andy Nelson, Ai-Ling Lee, and Steve A. Morrow - La La Land




BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

Nominees:
Craig Hammock, Jason Snell, Jason Billington, and Burt Dalton - Deepwater Horizon
Stephane Ceretti, Richard Bluff, Vincent Cirelli, and Paul Corbould - Doctor Strange
Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones, and Dan Lemmon - The Jungle Book
Steve Emerson, Oliver Jones, Brian McLean, and Brad Schiff - Kubo and the Two Strings
John Knoll, Mohen Leo, Hal Hickel, and Neil Corbould - Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

WILL WIN: Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones, and Dan Lemmon - The Jungle Book
COULD WIN: Stephane Ceretti, Richard Bluff, Vincent Cirelli, and Paul Corbould - Doctor Strange
SHOULD WIN: John Knoll, Mohen Leo, Hal Hickel, and Neil Corbould - Rogue One: A Star Wars Story




BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT

Nominees:
Extremis
4.1 Miles
Joe's Violin
Watani: My Homeland
The White Helmets

WILL WIN: The White Helmets
COULD WIN: Joe's Violin
SHOULD WIN: Extremis




BEST SHORT FILM - ANIMATED

Nominees:
Blind Vaysha
Borrowed Time
Pear Cider and Cigarettes
Pearl
Piper

WILL WIN: Piper
COULD WIN: Blind Vaysha
SHOULD WIN: Piper




BEST SHORT FILM - LIVE ACTION

Nominees:
Ennemis intérieurs
La Femme et le TGV
Silent Nights
Sing
Timecode

WILL WIN: Ennemis intérieurs
COULD WIN: Timecode
SHOULD WIN: Ennemis intérieurs




EASY TO READ WINNER LIST

Best Picture: La La Land
Best Director: Damien Chazelle - La La Land
Best Actor: Denzel Washington - Fences
Best Actress: Emma Stone - La La Land
Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali - Moonlight
Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis - Fences
Best Writing - Adapted Screenplay: Moonlight
Best Writing - Original Screenplay: Manchester by the Sea
Best Animated Feature: Zootopia
Best Documentary Feature: O.J.: Made in America
Best Foreign Language Film: The Salesman
Best Cinematography: La La Land
Best Costume Design: La La Land
Best Film Editing: La La Land
Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Star Trek Beyond
Best Music (Original Score): La La Land
Best Music (Original Song): "City of Stars" from La La Land
Best Production Design: La La Land
Best Sound Editing: Hacksaw Ridge
Best Sound Mixing: La La Land
Best Visual Effects: The Jungle Book
Best Documentary Short Subject: The White Helmets
Best Short Film - Animated: Piper
Best Short Film - Live Action: Ennemis intérieurs

Monday, January 23, 2017

Top 10 Films of 2016

2016 is in the books, and since the Oscar nominees come out tomorrow morning, what better time than to recount my 10 favorite movies of the year. 

(Oscar nomination predictions are at the bottom.)

10. Hacksaw Ridge
In a surprising turn, the war film centered around a refusal to fight contains some of the most intense and brutal action of any war film in years. Hacksaw Ridge takes a story of determination, religion, and love and combines them into a film that moves along at an impeccable pace. You might be tearing up one minute and the next be on the edge of your seat. Overall though, what is so impressive about Hacksaw Ridge is that it isn't defined by genre, showcasing directorial tact in the typical military film fight scenes, the budding love typical of a romance, and the impressive shows of faith typical of an inspiring religious film. Mel Gibson is back!


9. Fences
Denzel Washington's Fences seems like the cast showed up every morning, opened a copy of August Wilson's play, and just went for it as they would on stage. Yet, it works incredibly well. Sure, some of that is due to the excellent source material, but the main reason is the acting. Both Denzel Washington and Viola Davis give performances that are arguable as career bests, which based on the actors' careers is all the more impressive. And while the majority of the film takes place in a small number of scenes and settings, the film maintains viewers' attention with its ability to address issues of race, family, and poverty with poise.


8. Manchester by the Sea
In Manchester by the Sea, Lonergan paints a portrait so bleak that it delves beyond the previous realms of modern realism into an entire new category of hyper-realistic family drama and heartbreak. Casey Affleck's acting opus announces that gone are the days when Ordinary People and Kramer vs. Kramer were "intense" portraits of family turmoil. Despite Affleck's impressive performance, the real star might be newcomer Lucas Hedges. This is not a film for the weak of heart and contains some of the most emotionally brutal scenes in modern film.

7. Silence
Scorsese has been working on Silence in some form for many years now, and the efforts of his labor are evident by his directorial brilliance. Thematically, everything is obsessively perfected. And while it is certainly not a film that is likely to appeal to a wide audience, if you let the world he has recreated engulf you, it is easy to become invested in the protagonist's faith (and perhaps have yours reaffirmed.) What Scorsese has made is yet another masterpiece in a category of its own.

6. The Lobster
Dystopian science-fiction romance is a genre that not enough filmmakers approach, but The Lobster more than makes up for it. The messages are not subtle and they aren't meant to be, with director Lanthimos wielding a hammer to pound many of the ideas into your head. But for some reason, it works. It might be the brilliant nuances to the detailed world he has created. It might be the darkly comedic lines interspersed between the overall strangeness. A big part of it is how outstanding Colin Farrell is, somehow seemingly lacking any emotion and simultaneously providing much of the films emotional depth.

5. Captain Fantastic
Viggo Mortensen deserves more credit as one of Hollywood's greatest actors. Captain Fantastic showcases one of his best performances to date and paints a unique tale of coping with loss. The wilderness family of child geniuses quickly endears itself in your heart like a hippie recreation of the Royal Tenenbaums family. Through every twist and turn, you find yourself more and more entertained in this character study that combines drama, dark comedy, and road movie into a truly unforgettable film.

4. Jackie

While this will likely be remembered primarily for Natalie Portman’s portrayal of Jackie Kennedy, it deserves a lot of credit for both the directing and the screenplay. There were certain scenes, such as the car rushing to the hospital and Jackie and Robert walking through the cemetery that were incredibly memorable because of how beautifully shot they are. The soundtrack would be the winner in a non-La La Land year. Director Larraín takes what would normally be an intimate biopic drama and turns it into a stunning technical marvel. This look into the days between the assassination of JFK and his funeral through the eyes of Jackie Kennedy perfectly explores the idea of leaving a legacy through the obsessive nature the former first lady put on her husband’s brief time in The White House.

3. Arrival
Arrival is the type of heady science-fiction movie that 2016 needed. Amy Adams gives one of her best performances in a science-fiction film that, while technically impressive, is rightly more being hailed for its thought-provoking story. You'll find yourself on the edge of your seat just waiting to find out what is going to happen. Don't come in expecting action, come in expecting to feel and come in expecting to become surprisingly attached to the characters.


2. Moonlight
The top two movies on this list are very close. Moonlight is one of the most well-written movies in the past few years and paints a heartbreaking portrait of its protagonist while exploring themes of family and love. Director Jenkins directs with a style and finesse rarely seen from a director. But what might be even more impressive is how perfected every technical aspect is in this smaller independent film, from soundtrack to cinematography. If you haven't been able to see it yet, get excited for one of the most beautiful movies you've seen in years.


1. La La Land
Count me as one of the Chazelle disciples who cannot get enough of La La Land. There are so many aspects to like about this film. The music is excellent and there are multiple scenes that are already being discussed as destined to be considered film classics years from now. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling's charm work perfectly with each other and the story. Furthermore, this movie which took years to get any kind of financing, is important because it shows filmmakers that moviegoers will pay to see a new musical, despite not knowing any of the songs. Original musicals are increasingly rare, and hopefully this masterpiece will help inspire more people to keep making them.



OSCAR NOMINATION PREDICTIONS

Best Picture
Arrival
Fences
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
Hidden Figures
La La Land
Lion
Manchester by the Sea
Moonlight
(if there are 10 nominees) Silence

Best Director
Damien Chazelle - "La La Land"
Barry Jenkins - "Moonlight"
Kenneth Lonergan - "Manchester by the Sea"
Martin Scorsese - "Silence"
Dennis Villeneuve - "Arrival"

Best Actor
Casey Affleck - "Manchester by the Sea"
Andrew Garfield - "Hacksaw Ridge"
Ryan Gosling - "La La Land"
Viggo Mortensen - "Captain Fantastic"
Denzel Washington - "Fences"

Best Actress
Amy Adams - "Arrival"
Annette Bening - "20th Century Women"
Isabelle Huppert - "Elle"
Natalie Portman - "Jackie"
Emma Stone - "La La Land"

Best Supporting Actor
Mahershala Ali - "Moonlight"
Jeff Bridges - "Hell or High Water"
Hugh Grant - "Florence Foster Jenkins"
Lucas Hedges - "Manchester by the Sea"
Dev Patel - "Lion"

Best Supporting Actress
Viola Davis - "Fences"
Naomi Harris - "Moonlight"
Nicole Kidman - "Lion"
Octavia Spencer - "Hidden Figures"
Michelle Williams - "Manchester by the Sea"

Best Original Screenplay
Hell or High Water
Jackie
La La Land
The Lobster
Manchester by the Sea

Best Adapted Screenplay
Arrival
Fences
Lion
Nocturnal Animals
Moonlight

Best Animated Feature
Finding Dory
Kubo and the Two Strings
Moana
The Red Turtle
Zootopia

Best Cinematography
Arrival
Jackie
La La Land
Moonlight
Silence

Best Costume Design
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Florence Foster Jenkins
Jackie
La La Land
Silence

Best Film Editing
Arrival
Jackie
La La Land
Moonlight
Silence

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Deadpool
Jackie
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Best Production Design
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Jackie
La La Land
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Silence

Best Score
Jackie
La La Land
Lion
Moonlight
Nocturnal Animals

Best Song
"Audition (Dreamers)" - La La Land
"Can't Stop the Feeling" - Trolls
"City of Stars" - La La Land
"How Far I'll Go" - Moana
"Runnin'" - Hidden Figures

Best Sound Editing
Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Silence

Best Sound Mixing
Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Silence

Best Visual Effects
Arrival
Doctor Strange
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
The Jungle Book
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story