Final Oscar Predictions

February 21, 2017

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The 89th Academy Awards will take place this Sunday, February 26, 2017. Here are my final predictions:

Best Picture

Arrival

Fences

Hacksaw Ridge

Hell or High Water

Hidden Figures

La La Land

Lion

Manchester by the Sea

Moonlight

Leading the year with 14 nominations (also tying the record for most nominations of all-time), La La Land is the Best Picture to beat. It’s beloved by practically everyone and has been winning every precursor leading up to the Oscars. Is there any chance it will lose? Not likely, though there is still some love out there for Moonlight, and lots of technical love for Arrival (both Moonlight and Arrival have the second-most Oscar nominations with 8). There is also a lot of momentum in the Hidden Figures camp. Needless to say, if La La Land loses, it will certainly be up there with the biggest upsets in Best Picture history. I’m not counting on an upset here.

Prediction: La La Land

Actor in a Leading Role

Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge

Ryan Gosling, La La Land

Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic

Denzel Washington, Fences

This might be the most interesting race of the Oscars. Casey Affleck was the clear frontrunner throughout most of awards season, but then SAG gives their award to Denzel Washington. And while it would be nice if the Oscars only looked at the acting performances in this category, the truth is that the extracurricular things count just as much. This is where Denzel has the clear edge. If the Oscars really want to put #OscarsSoWhite behind them, this would be a very strong message to have Denzel beat out Casey Affleck. On the other end, Affleck is still feeling the negativity from his alleged sexual harassment from 2010’s filming of I’m Still Here. Meanwhile, we can’t forget about Ryan Gosling completely because there is a sense that a lot of voters might just check off every box next to La La Land. If that’s the case, then Gosling could find himself up on stage as the winner. This might be the toughest pick of the night.

Prediction: Denzel Washington

Actress in a Leading Role

Isabelle Huppert, Elle

Ruth Negga, Loving

Natalie Portman, Jackie

Emma Stone, La La Land

Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

This is one of the more competitive Best Actress races in a while. It looks as though Emma Stone is the clear frontrunner, but she is certainly receiving a good amount of heat leading up to Sunday. Mainly from Isabelle Huppert, who won the Golden Globes Drama Actress award, which really catapulted her into the conversation. Sure, the Academy loves to reward the young, popular actress such as Brie Larson (last year) and Jennifer Lawrence, but the Academy also loves to reward the deserving, veteran actress such as Julianne Moore and Kate Winslet. The main problem is that there is an overpowering amount of love for La La Land and I’m not sure how many people have actually seen Elle (only 1 nomination).

Prediction: Emma Stone

Actor in Supporting Role

Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water

Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea

Dev Patel, Lion

Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals

There isn’t much to comment on here than Mahershala Ali is the favorite, with Dev Patel in a distant second place.

Prediction: Mahershala Ali

Actress in a Supporting Role

Viola Davis, Fences

Naomie Harris, Moonlight

Nicole Kidman, Lion

Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures

Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea

This is a slam dunk category for those filling out their Oscar pools. Do not bet against Viola Davis. My only comment here is that Davis could have really been nominated (and possibly have won) in the Best Lead Actress category. How is this allowed? There has to be some kind of criteria that separates Lead and Supporting.

Prediction: Viola Davis

Best Director

Arrival

Hacksaw Ridge

La La Land

Manchester by the Sea

Moonlight

Prediction: La La Land

Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

Arrival

Fences

Hidden Figures

Lion

Moonlight

With the Moonlight win at the SAG awards, it’s the clear frontrunner here. Sure, that was for the Original Screenplay category (I still don’t know how that worked out), but that should give it more of a reason it will win here (because it beat out Manchester and La La Land). If there is any upset potential, it should be from Hidden Figures that has been gaining plenty of momentum throughout the awards season.

Prediction: Moonlight

Best Writing (Original Screenplay)

Hell or High Water

La La Land

The Lobster

Manchester by the Sea

20th Century Women

This is one of the categories where La La Land is actually an underdog to win. Manchester by the Sea is the favorite here for two reasons. First, (imo) it’s the better screenplay and Kenneth Lonergan deserves this award. But second, musicals never win this category. The prime example here is West Side Story, who won 10 of its 11 nominations. The only category they lost was the Screenplay category. Can La La Land break this mold and win over Manchester by the Sea?

Prediction: Manchester by the Sea

Best Cinematography

Arrival

La La Land

Lion

Moonlight

Silence

Prediction: La La Land

Best Costume Design

Allied

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Florence Foster Jenkins

Jackie

La La Land

While it’s not a lock, La La Land has found its way to the frontrunner spot in this category, but there is some love for Jackie to win. Jackie is your more traditional period piece that usually goes on to win Best Costume, but it’s hard to go against La La Land here.

Prediction: La La Land

Best Film Editing

Arrival

Hacksaw Ridge

Hell or High Water

La La Land

Moonlight

Prediction: La La Land

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

A Man Called Ove

Star Trek Beyond

Suicide Squad

Prediction: Star Trek Beyond

Best Production Design

Arrival

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Hail, Caesar!

La La Land

Passengers

There are a lot of people saying how Arrival should win this award. While I do agree with them, I don’t think that it’s going to stand a chance against the La La Land train on Sunday.

Prediction: La La Land

Best Score

Jackie

La La Land

Lion

Moonlight

Passengers

Prediction: La La Land

Best Song

“Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” from La La Land

“Can’t Stop The Feeling” from Trolls

“City Of Stars” from La La Land

“The Empty Chair” from Jim: The James Foley Story

“How Far I’ll Go” from Moana

Can Lin-Manuel Miranda win the EGOT? Don’t count on it.

Prediction: City of Stars from La La Land

Best Sound Editing

Arrival

Deepwater Horizon

Hacksaw Ridge

La La Land

Sully

Prediction: Hacksaw Ridge

Best Sound Mixing

Arrival

Hacksaw Ridge

La La Land

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

Prediction: La La Land

Best Visual Effects

Deepwater Horizon

Doctor Strange

The Jungle Book

Kubo and the Two Strings

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Prediction: The Jungle Book

Animated Feature Film

Kubo and the Two Strings

Moana

My Life as a Zucchini

The Red Turtle

Zootopia

Prediction: Zootopia

Best Foreign Language Film

Land of Mine

A Man Called Ove

The Salesman

Tanna

Toni Erdmann

Prediction: The Salesman

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2017 Oscar Nominations (and snubs)

January 24, 2017

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Here are a few snippets of my opinions from the Tuesday announcement of Oscar nominations.

The Nominations:

To no one’s surprise, La La Land received a ton of nominations, but did anyone really expect the romantic musical to tie the record for most Oscar nominations ever? With 14 nominations, La La Land now finds itself with the company of All About Eve and Titanic with 14 Oscar noms. Both preceding films went on to win Best Picture.

I haven’t seen Nocturnal Animals, but I predicted that Aaron Taylor-Johnson would pick up a nomination in the Best Supporting Actor category. The Academy went for another actor in the same film, Michael Shannon, giving him his second Oscar nomination.

One of the biggest surprises to me was how Mel Gibson received a nomination for Best Director for his film Hacksaw Ridge. I thought that Martin Scorsese and Garth Davis had the upper hand in front of Gibson, but I was wrong. Has The Academy forgiven him? It seems likely so.

Biggest Snubs:

Amy Adams for Best Actress – She has received recognition and nominations throughout the awards season, including the nominations from the Golden Globes, SAG Awards, and the BAFTAs. She is a five-time Oscar nominated actress. Yes, this is the biggest surprise from Tuesday’s nominations.

Another snub in the Best Actress category goes to Annette Bening for her performance in 20th Century Women. With four Oscar nominations to her resume, I had her as the fifth slot to get in, but my prediction was wrong. Never underestimate the power of Meryl Streep.

While I wouldn’t really consider this a snub, the Deadpool possibility was a fun one to monitor throughout awards season. Starting with nominations from the Golden Globes and recognition from the DGA, WGA, and PGA, Deadpool looked like it was on its unlikely way to a Best Picture nomination. But the Cinderella story ended with a thud with Deadpool being completely shut out of The Academy Awards. Let’s be honest, it would’ve been really strange to see “Best Picture nomination” on every Deadpool DVD.

I’ll have some more detailed posts about the Oscar nominations this week. But for now, what do you think? My initial thought is that this is going to be a boring Oscars telecast. I would much rather prefer a number of races where we really don’t know who’s going to win. But this year isn’t about whether or not La La Land will win, it’s about how many will La La Land will win. Don’t get me wrong, I love La La Land, but this makes for a much more boring (than usual) Oscars ceremony. For now, here is the complete list of Oscar nominees (via Variety):

Best Picture:
“Arrival”
“Fences”
“Hacksaw Ridge”
“Hell or High Water”
“Hidden Figures”
“La La Land”
“Lion”
“Manchester by the Sea”
“Moonlight”

Lead Actor:
Casey Affleck, “Manchester by the Sea”
Andrew Garfield, “Hacksaw Ridge”
Ryan Gosling, “La La Land,”
Viggo Mortensen, “Captain Fantastic”
Denzel Washington, “Fences”

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

Supporting Actor:
Mahershala Ali, “Moonlight”
Jeff Bridges, “Hell or High Water”
Lucas Hedges, “Manchester by the Sea”
Dev Patel, “Lion”
Michael Shannon, “Nocturnal Animals”

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

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

Animated Feature:
“Kubo and the Two Strings,” Travis Knight and Arianne Sutner
“Moana,” John Musker, Ron Clements and Osnat Shurer
“My Life as a Zucchini,” Claude Barras and Max Karli
“The Red Turtle,” Michael Dudok de Wit and Toshio Suzuki
“Zootopia,” Byron Howard, Rich Moore and Clark Spencer

Animated Short:
“Blind Vaysha,” Theodore Ushev
“Borrowed Time,” Andrew Coats and Lou Hamou-Lhadj
“Pear Cider and Cigarettes,” Robert Valley and Cara Speller
“Pearl,” Patrick Osborne
“Piper,” Alan Barillaro and Marc Sondheimer

Adapted Screenplay:
“Arrival,” Eric Heisserer
“Fences,” August Wilson
“Hidden Figures,” Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi
“Lion,” Luke Davies
“Moonlight,” Barry Jenkins; Story by Tarell Alvin McCraney

Original Screenplay:
“20th Century Women,” Mike Mills
“Hell or High Water,” Taylor Sheridan
“La La Land,” Damien Chazelle
“The Lobster,” Yorgos Lanthimos, Efthimis Filippou
“Manchester by the Sea,” Kenneth Lonergan

Cinematography:
“Arrival,” Bradford Young
“La La Land,” Linus Sandgren
“Lion,” Greig Fraser
“Moonlight,” James Laxton
“Silence,” Rodrigo Prieto

Best Documentary Feature:
“13th,” Ava DuVernay, Spencer Averick and Howard Barish
“Fire at Sea,” Gianfranco Rosi and Donatella Palermo
“I Am Not Your Negro,” Raoul Peck, Remi Grellety and Hebert Peck
“Life, Animated,” Roger Ross Williams and Julie Goldman
“O.J.: Made in America,” Ezra Edelman and Caroline Waterlow

Best documentary short subject:
“4.1 Miles,” Daphne Matziaraki
“Extremis,” Dan Krauss
“Joe’s Violin,” Kahane Cooperman and Raphaela Neihausen
“Watani: My Homeland,” Marcel Mettelsiefen and Stephen Ellis
“The White Helmets,” Orlando von Einsiedel and Joanna Natasegara

Best live action short film:
“Ennemis Interieurs,” Selim Azzazi
“La Femme et le TGV,” Timo von Gunten and Giacun Caduff
“Silent Nights,” Aske Bang and Kim Magnusson
“Sing,” Kristof Deak and Anna Udvardy
“Timecode,” Juanjo Gimenez

Best Foreign Language Film:
“A Man Called Ove,” Sweden
“Land of Mine,” Denmark
“Tanna,” Australia
“The Salesman,” Iran
“Toni Erdmann,” Germany

Film Editing:
“Arrival,” Joe Walker
“Hacksaw Ridge,” John Gilbert
“Hell or High Water,” Jake Roberts
“La La Land,” Tom Cross
“Moonlight,” Nat Sanders and Joi McMillon

Sound Editing:
“Arrival,” Sylvain Bellemare
“Deep Water Horizon,” Wylie Stateman and Renee Tondelli
“Hacksaw Ridge,” Robert Mackenzie and Andy Wright
“La La Land,” Ai-Ling Lee and Mildred Iatrou Morgan
“Sully,” Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman

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

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

Original score:
“Jackie,” Mica Levi
“La La Land,” Justin Hurwitz
“Lion,” Dustin O’Halloran and Hauschka
“Moonlight,” Nicholas Britell
“Passengers,” Thomas Newman

Original song:
“Audition (The Fools Who Dream),” “La La Land” — Music by Justin Hurwitz; Lyric by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
“Can’t Stop the Feeling,” “Trolls” — Music and Lyric by Justin Timberlake, Max Martin and Karl Johan Schuster
“City of Stars,” “La La Land” — Music by Justin Hurwitz; Lyric by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
“The Empty Chair,” “Jim: The James Foley Story” — Music and Lyric by J. Ralph and Sting
“How Far I’ll Go,” “Moana” — Music and Lyric by Lin-Manuel Miranda

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

Costume design:
“Allied,” Joanna Johnston
“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” Colleen Atwood
“Florence Foster Jenkins,” Consolata Boyle
“Jackie,” Madeline Fontaine
“La La Land,” Mary Zophres

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


Movie Review: Arrival

December 2, 2016

Arrival (2016)
116 minutes
Rated – PG-13
Starring: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker
Directed by Denis Villeneuve

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Grade: A

I never like to write any kind of review and say how I cannot completely discuss it because it would spoil the essence and the experience that the film offers, but this is true with Denis Villeneuve’s latest sci-fi flick, Arrival. It starts out like many other alien invasion films. There is heightened panic and confusion when alien ships enter the Earth’s atmosphere and land all over the globe. As the audience, we share a unique perspective from other Hollywood films, which is being in the same shoes as the characters. They’re all scared and they know close to nothing about anything. Will humanity have to bond with one another to overcome the extraterrestrial? Will the foreigners invade and conquer the human race? Who will be the hero to save the day?

What is refreshing about this film is how serious it takes itself, but also remains complex enough to be truly science fiction. This isn’t your popcorn sci-fi film like Independence Day; this is more like Interstellar but with a much more satisfying conclusion. Our protagonist is Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams), a brilliant professor of linguistics that is contacted and brought in to help figure out why the aliens are here and what they want. She pairs up with physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) and together they have the impossible task of deciphering the advanced alien language as time is ticking down to intergalactic warfare.

Arrival is a film that will force you to pay attention, because like those certain lessons in school that were critical tools you need for your future, Arrival throws a lot of information at you and expects you to understand. While a good majority of the film was predictable, it was still done with great precision and suspense from Villeneuve, one of the better directors of this generation. Every scene is full of excitement and mystery and even when nothing is happening, the details are worth talking about. Villeneuve always had this gift from past films like Prisoners and Sicario; he can extract the best from his actors, make a screenplay punch you in the face, and at the same time deliver an entire project that will leave you breathless at the end.

There are so many things that work well in Arrival that it’s a film I cannot wait to view for a second time. I fully expect a second and third viewing of this sci-fi gem to only enhance the experience. While Amy Adams did give a very strong performance, it was overshadowed by the intelligence of the overall movie and how realistic it all felt (a rare occasion with a sci-fi movie). And one thing that you can always anticipate from Villeneuve is that you won’t get an entirely “movie” ending with his films. For those who give Arrival a chance and accept its theories that drive the plot, it will instantly become a science fiction classic.

 


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