The Movie March Oscar Preview!

oscar-preview

It’s about that time!  The 2017 Academy Awards are almost upon us!  It’s the biggest night of the year in the industry, when the best of the art form from the previous year is celebrated, and it takes place this Sunday night, February 26!  It’s an opportunity to acknowledge those who have mastered their art and to encourage others to raise their game.

Here’s how this is going to work.  It will be more involved than my Golden Globes Preview, which I put together rather quickly.  In this particular preview, I will choose the ten highest-profile categories and score each nominee using my own personal scoring system.  The ratings reflect my own personal opinion.  After choosing my favorite, I will also choose the nominee that I expect to win, regardless of who I’m rooting for.

SCORING SYSTEM:
The scoring system will range from zero Emilia Clarkes (the lowest possible) to ten Emilia Clarkes (the highest possible).  Even one Emilia Clarke is fantastic, because any Emilia Clarke is better than no Emilia Clarke.  Finally, an “N/A” means I didn’t get a chance to see the film.  Away we go!

The 2017 Movie March Oscar Preview!

Animated Feature Film

animated-feature

The Nominees:

  • Kubo and the Two Strings10-emilias

  • Moana

    8-emilias

  • My Life as a Zucchini

    N/A

  • The Red Turtle

    N/A

  • Zootopia

    7-emilias

Want to win: Kubo and the Two Strings

Analysis: Kubo was one of the absolute best movies of the year, but not enough people saw it.  That includes the voters in the Academy.  Had they seen it, they’d vote for it, but nobody is going to vote for something they haven’t seen.  With the current social climate, voters will reward the message of fair-mindedness and inclusion put forth by Zootopia.  I hope Pixar feels the sting of not being nominated and comes firing back on all cylinders, soon.

Prediction: Zootopia

ZOOTOPIA

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Visual Effects

visual-effects

The Nominees:

  • Deepwater Horizon, Craig Hammack, Jason Snell, Jason Billington, and Burt Dalton –

    N/A

  • Doctor Strange, Stephane Ceretti, Richard Bluff, Vincent Cirelli, and Paul Corbould –

    7-emilias

  • The Jungle Book, Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones and Dan Lemmon –

    8-emilias

  • Kubo and the Two Strings, Steve Emerson, Oliver Jones, Brian McLean, and Brad Schiff –

    9-emilias

  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, John Knoll, Mohen Leo, Hal Hickel, and Neil Corbould –

    8-emilias

Want to win: Kubo and the Two Strings

Analysis: The special effects team for Kubo and the Two Strings went above and beyond with their stop-motion animation to the degree that I don’t even understand how they did much of what they did.  I’ve never been so awed, baffled, and astounded by what I was looking at.  But, again, the Academy didn’t see the film.  And they have a history of ignoring the actual visual effects in this category and simply voting for the most serious, least-fun film that’s nominated.  I would love to be wrong, here, but that leads me to one final conclusion.

Prediction: Deepwater Horizon

deepwater-horizon

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Original Screenplay

original-screenplay

The Nominees:

  • Manchester by the Sea, Kenneth Lonergan –
    8-emilias

  • Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan –
    9-emilias

  • La La Land, Damien Chazelle –
    10-emilias

  • 20th Century Women, Mike Mills –
    9-emilias

  • The Lobster, Efthymis Filippou and Yorgos Lanthimos –
    7-emilias

Want to win: La La Land

Analysis: This one is actually a little tough.  It’s a race between Manchester by the Sea and La La Land.  The latter is the better-written film, but the former has gotten a lot of praise and awards.  But Manchester has also gotten some negative publicity, lately, due to Casey Affleck’s past and, fair or not, the entire production’s chances may be affected – even in categories where Affleck isn’t specifically nominated.  Even without that, though, La La Land may be an unstoppable juggernaut.

Prediction: La La Land

la-la-land-still

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Adapted Screenplay

 adapted-screenplay

The Nominees:

  • Lion, Luke Davis –
    10-emilias

  • Arrival, Eric Heisserer –
    10-emilias

  • Moonlight, Barry Jenkins –
    8-emilias

  • Hidden Figures, Theodore Melfi and Allison Schroeder –
    5-emilias

  • Fences, August Wilson –
    7-emilias

Want to win: Arrival

Analysis: For my personal pick, this is a close race between Lion and ArrivalLion was a moving and near-transformational experience whereas Arrival was a brilliant and thought-provoking mind-bender – the very epitome of thinking-person’s science-fiction.  The thought put into Arrival, complete with the trickiness of adapting that story, puts it on top of my personal list.  Hidden Figures was as paint-by-numbers as it possibly could have been and truly underserved that story.  Moonlight and Fences both offered powerful perspectives on varying relationships and the struggle of minorities to find their place in the world.  The darling of the bunch, however, is Moonlight.

Prediction: Moonlight

moonlight

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Actress in a Supporting Role

supporting-actress

The Nominees:

  • Viola Davis, Fences
    10-emilias

  • Naomie Harris, Moonlight
    7-emilias

  • Nicole Kidman, Lion
    7-emilias

  • Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures
    6-emilias

  • Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea
    8-emilias

Want to win: Viola Davis

Analysis: This one seems like an easy pick, on the surface.  Octavia Spencer is the wrong nominee from Hidden Figures (it should have been Taraji P. Henson).  Nicole Kidman and Naomie Harris both gave strong performances but not strong enough to stand out amongst the rest of the brilliance of the films around them.  Michelle Williams was memorable.  But all of them were outperformed by the powerful Viola Davis in Fences.  I doubt this one is even close.  Stranger things have happened, but I feel comfortable saying . . .

Prediction: Viola Davis

viola-davis-fences

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Actor in a Supporting Role

supporting-actor

The Nominees:

  • Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
    10-emilias

  • Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
    8-emilias

  • Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea
    5-emilias

  • Dev Patel, Lion
    10-emilias

  • Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals
    6-emilias

Want to win: Dev Patel

Analysis:  As tough as it is for me to choose who I want to win this one, I think the choice of who will win is a little easier.  Lucas Hedges did fine, but his role essentially amounted to a lot of moping and whining.  Michael Shannon – much like Octavia Spencer in the previous category – was the wrong choice to be nominated, here.  It should have been Aaron Taylor-Johnson, instead.  Jeff Bridges was fantastic, as always, but that particular role did very little to push his abilities.  So, it comes down to Mahershala Ali and Dev Patel.  I had trouble picking a personal favorite between the two as Ali gave a subtle, commanding performance, but Patel really moved me during the conclusion of Lion.  Because of that, I personally would like to see Patel take it home, but I’m pretty sure the Academy will reward Ali for his efforts, which is fine with me.

Prediction: Mahershala Ali

mahershala-ali-moonlight

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Actor in a Leading Role

lead-actor

The Nominees:

  • Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
    7-emilias

  • Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
    8-emilias

  • Ryan Gosling, La La Land
    8-emilias

  • Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic
    6-emilias

  • Denzel Washington, Fences
    10-emilias

Want to win: Denzel Washington

Analysis: This is a tough one.  It’s certainly tougher than it would have been, a month ago.  Mortensen was fine but not challenged.  Gosling and Garfield were tremendous but their roles weren’t quite as dynamic or subtle as others.  Washington absolutely blew me away with a very powerful and complex performance in Fences.  I thought Casey Affleck did a good job in Manchester by the Sea, but I found his part to be a rather restrictive showcase consisting mostly of sadness and melancholy .  Nonetheless, he’s been the favorite of other awards shows.  However, recently some allegations involving Affleck have gained a higher profile.  Regardless of anyone’s opinion regarding whether they’re true or, if so, whether the art should be separated from the artist, I’m going to go way out on a limb and predict (especially after the results of the Screen Actors Guild awards) that enough voters will be swayed away from Affleck to give Washington the much-deserved accolade.

Prediction: Denzel Washington

denzel-washington-fences

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Actress in a Leading Role

 lead-actress

The Nominees:

  • Emma Stone, La La Land
    8-emilias

  • Natalie Portman, Jackie
    8-emilias

  • Ruth Negga, Loving
    7-emilias

  • Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins
    4-emilias

  • Isabelle Huppert, Elle – N/A

Want to win: Emma Stone

Analysis: This one is a little frustrating for me.  First of all, I failed at every turn to see Elle.  It’s the only film up for a major nomination that I could never manage to catch, and I hate that.  It sounds great and I’m anxious to eventually watch it.  Huppert might actually be a favorite in this category after winning the Golden Globe, but the fact that Elle is shockingly not nominated for Best Foreign Language Film makes me think that her chances are slim.  Secondly, Meryl Streep should absolutely not be nominated in this – or any other – category, this year.  Florence Foster Jenkins was a mediocre, mean-spirited movie and Streep’s character required very little of her.  She basically just acts silly throughout the whole thing and gets a free pass to an Oscar nomination because she’s Meryl Streep.  Meanwhile, truly deserving actresses such as Amy Adams for Arrival and Hailee Steinfeld for The Edge of Seventeen (which I just re-watched.  And, yes, it holds up.) are left sitting on the sidelines.  I would actually rate both of those performances above all four of the nominees that I’ve seen.  Regardless, we have three very solid performances, here.  Stone and Portman are neck-and-neck, but it seems to be the year of La La Land.

Prediction: Emma Stone

emma-stone-la-la-land

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Directing

 directing

The Nominees:

  • Denis Villanueve, Arrival
    9-emilias

  • Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge
    8-emilias

  • Damien Chazelle, La La Land
    10-emilias

  • Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
    8-emilias

  • Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
    8-emilias

Want to win: Damien Chazelle

Analysis: This category is stacked.  My personal favorites are Chazelle, for his ingenious presentation methods in La La Land – especially towards the end – and Villanueve for his sleight of hand and skillful misdirection in Arrival.  Villanueve won’t win, though, because his picture is science-fiction.  Gibson won’t win because . . . well, you know.  The other three will be a tight race, but Chazelle takes it home.

Prediction: Damien Chazelle

la-la-land-still-2

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Best Picture

 best-picture

The Nominees:

  • Arrival
    10-emilias

  • Fences
    7-emilias

  • Hacksaw Ridge
    8-emilias

  • Hell or High Water
    9-emilias

  • Hidden Figures
    6-emilias

  • La La Land
    10-emilias

  • Lion
    10-emilias

  • Manchester by the Sea
    8-emilias

  • Moonlight
    8-emilias

Want to win: Lion

Analysis: Best Picture.  The nominees in this category each year are the films that push and challenge us.  They challenge our emotions.  They challenge our minds.  They challenge our perspectives.  They challenge our worldviews.  How to choose the best of these?  Methodically, that’s how.  If a film’s director isn’t nominated for Best Directing, then the film isn’t winning Best Picture.  So, we’re down to five.  Arrival is astounding, but it’s also sci-fi.  Down to four.  Hacksaw Ridge and Manchester by the Sea are plagued by potential political controversy.  Down to two.  And one of those two is a movie about Hollywood.  Sorry, Moonlight.  In any other year, you’d take home the trophy.  But this year, it’s all about . . .

Prediction: La La Land

la-la-land-still-3

And that’s it!  Thank you for reading!  I hope you all enjoy the show and that all of my favorites win!   And if they don’t, then I hope my predictions win!  And if they don’t, I hope your favorites win, as long as you aren’t pulling for Meryl Streep.

And thank you to Emilia Clarke for her help, which she obviously totally knew about, you guys.  How could you even question.  How.  And, on that note, it’s once again time to say goodbye, for now.  Emilia, one more time?  Bye!

emilia-waving-jpg

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The Movie March Oscar Preview!

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