Why we shouldn’t be surprised by Moonlight’s victory

February 28, 2017

moonlight-wins

Listen, I am still shocked to the bone, but like everything that I can’t make sense with, I do my best to really analyze the situation and give myself some reasons why whatever was surprising really shouldn’t have been all along. So here we go…

The lack of SAG Best Ensemble nomination. This is a stat that goes all the way back to 1995 when Braveheart became a very rare instance to not receive a SAG Best Ensemble nomination but ended up winning Best Picture anyway. Of course, we all thought that La La Land was going to break that spell, but at the end of the night, the SAG Ensemble nomination seems to be quite a telling factor in awards season. Looking back at recent Oscar history, movies certainly in contention for Best Picture such as Gravity and The Revenant got bit by the lack of SAG Ensemble as well. Needless to say, you better snag a SAG nom in order to win Best Picture!

The La La Land backlash was real, but effectively quiet. Listen, I talked about it with my friends, critics talked about it, we have to face it that everyone talked about it. Was La La Land really deserving of making history throughout the awards season? It had ridiculously high standards since the Golden Globes being the only film to sweep the movie categories. And then receiving a record-tying 14 nominations, it just looked like La La Land was a too strong of a force to stop. So what about the rest of The Academy who didn’t love La La Land? The murmur grew larger and there seemed to be a consensus at what film was in the #2 spot: Moonlight. I’m guessing that a lot of people who didn’t want La La Land to win voted for Moonlight. And let’s face it, was La La Land really one of the greatest films in history? Can you really compare it to the likes of Titanic, Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, All About Eve, and Ben-Hur? Apparently, a lot of people didn’t think so.

I guess this is a good time to bring up the preferential ballot that took over the Best Picture voting in 2009. By the preferential ballot, Best Picture winners seem to go to safer, more universally-liked films when up against a more daring and polarizing film. The King’s Speech won over The Social Network; The Artist over The Help; Argo over Lincoln; and Spotlight over The Big Short and The Revenant. If I were to guess, I would guess that La La Land had more #1 votes than Moonlight did, but taking the votes for additional rounds, the support for the bottom films ended up in Moonlight’s favor in the long-run. So what films were at the bottom? And did the voters who supported those films really have so much love for Moonlight to place it in as their #2?

Reaction to #OscarsSoWhite. The last two years there hasn’t been an acting nominee of color, sparking controversy and outrage among Hollywood and the world who tunes into movies and entertainment. Now I’m not saying that Moonlight doesn’t deserve the Best Picture win, but let’s say that the reaction to last year’s #OscarsSoWhite caused more people than usual to vote for a progressive, challenging and important film such as Moonlight. Is that how this huge upset happened?

Finally, maybe La La Land wasn’t as loved as people thought. Aside from the backlash, there is a simple possible explanation that Academy voters didn’t think that La La Land was great, but instead just very good. And as for all of those nominations, La La Land was simply very darn good in every detailed aspect, but as the film lost category-after-category, it was evident that it wasn’t as loved as we might have speculated. Out of 14 nominations, La La Land only won 6 Oscars. It won the most awards that night, but lost out on big awards such as Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Lead Actor, and Best Editing. It even lost out on both Sound Editing and Sound Mixing, the latter an award that usually goes to musicals. For those who watched, it took about 2 hours into the telecast for La La Land to win its first award. Being completely objective, this should’ve have been huge red flags indicating that La La Land would not win Best Picture. Finally, there have been splits between Best Director and Best Picture for four of the last five years now. So when Damien Chazelle won Best Director, it should have seemed likely that La La Land would lose Best Picture.

Does this answer all the questions? Most definitely not, but it does allow me to try and understand what could be considered the biggest Best Picture upset in Oscar history.


How Many Oscars Will La La Land Win?

February 22, 2017

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Usually there is some kind of discussion about what film will win Best Picture on the night of the Oscars. It actually makes it a lot more fun when you don’t know or at least when there are two films in the running. Last year, it was anyone’s guess between The Revenant, Spotlight, and The Big Short. The year before that it was down to Boyhood vs. Birdman. The year before that was Gravity vs. 12 Years a Slave. And before that was Argo vs. Lincoln. I guess it has been 5 years since we had a guaranteed Best Picture winner (when The Artist won). Coincidence that both The Artist and La La Land have to do with the movie business?

That being said, no one is wondering what film will win Best Picture this year, but an interesting turn of events happened the day the Oscar nominations were announced. La La Land tied the all-time Oscar record for the most nominations (14)! Only two other films have done that before: All About Eve and Titanic. Now we have something to talk about! The discussion shifted from “Who will win Best Picture?” to “How many awards will La La Land win?”

This is significant because since the Oscars changed to having more than 5 Best Picture nominations, there hasn’t been this type of momentum for any one film. Here are the Best Picture winners since the change and how many total awards they won:

2016: Spotlight (won 2 awards)
2015: Birdman (won 4 awards)
2014: 12 Years a Slave (won 3 awards)
2013: Argo (won 3 awards)
2012: The Artist (won 5 awards)
2011: The King’s Speech (won 4 awards)
2010: The Hurt Locker (won 6 awards)

As you can see, no Best Picture winner has won more than 6 total awards since the change, and the average awards won by a BP winner in the past 4 years is just 3 awards! Why is that? The short and sweet answer is that there has been a split between what film is considered Best Picture and what film is the Best Technical Film. This year it’s different and it’s a reason why even though La La Land is locked to win Best Picture, it’s still worth watching.

The big number to keep in mind here is the number: 11. There have only been 3 films to win 11 Academy Awards in one night: Ben-Hur, Titanic, and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Can La La Land win 11? Can La La Land win even more, becoming the biggest Oscar winner of all-time?!

According to my count, the answer is no. But it will come close. For starters, although La La Land has 14 nominations, it can only win 13 awards because it is nominated twice in the Best Original Song category. Will this split voters and lead the way for a Lin-Manuel Miranda EGOT? Maybe?

Here are the awards that I feel La La Land are LOCKED to win:

Best Picture
Best Lead Actress
Best Director
Cinematography
Film Editing
Original Score
Original Song
Sound Mixing

So La La Land is definite to win at least 8 awards. It will likely win more, but I really feel that these 8 categories are in the bag for La La Land. That being said, here are the categories in question:

Best Lead Actor
Best Original Screenplay
Costume Design
Sound Editing
Production Design

Let’s break them down one-by-one:

Best Lead Actor is a race between Denzel Washington and Casey Affleck. It is probably La La Land’s weakest chance to win out of every nomination. Bet against La La Land here.

Best Original Screenplay – La La Land very well could win this award. Its main contender is Manchester by the Sea and many consider Manchester the favorite here, but both La La and Manchester lost to Moonlight at the WGA. The funny thing is that while all three of those films mentioned were in the same category at the WGA, Moonlight was moved to Adapted Screenplay for the Oscars, leaving this match-up between Manchester vs. La La Land. Intriguing! To make matters even more deadlocked is that both Manchester and La La Land tied for Best Original Screenplay at the Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards! Will voters check the box next to La La Land like the rest of the categories? Or will voters side with Manchester trying to give them one award for the night?

Best Costume Design usually goes to a period piece. Sure, the costumes in La La Land are elegant, colorful, and flashy, but it’s not your traditional winner in this category. Past winners include: The Great Gatsby, Anna Karenina, The Young Victoria, and The Duchess. But to be fair, The Artist did beat out Jane Eyre during the 84th Academy Awards. Will La La Land have the same fate? Jackie is La La Land’s biggest opponent in this category.

Best Sound Editing almost always goes to a war film or an action film. Past winners include: Mad Max Fury Road, American Sniper, Gravity, Zero Dark Thirty, Inception, The Hurt Locker, and The Dark Knight. This will put Hacksaw Ridge at a huge advantage over La La Land here. Do not confuse this with Best Sound Mixing, because that category usually goes to the musicals. Past winners include: Whiplash, Les Miserables, Dreamgirls, Ray, and Chicago. None of these films won Sound Editing. To bring this point even higher, West Side Story won 10 Oscars from 11 nominations. The only award it didn’t win was for Sound Editing.

Best Production Design – While La La Land is favorite to win this award, there is a lot of love for Arrival to come through here. Arrival was suppsoed to be this Oscars’ technical darling like in the way Mad Max was last year and Gravity was a few years ago. But La La Land has been stomping on everyone’s dreams like the happy-go-lucky kid at the beach knocking over your sand castle. Will the voters rally behind Arrival to give it one award? Or is the La La Land train too powerful to stop?

My Final Tally:

La La Land will win: 10 awards

Best Picture
Best Lead Actress
Director
Cinematography
Costume Design
Film Editing
Production Design
Original Score
Original Song
Sound Mixing

La La Land will lose:

Best Lead Actor
Best Original Screenplay
Sound Editing

Still, not too shabby if you asked me. If this happens, La La Land will tie West Side Story for 10 Oscar awards. Coincidence that they’re both movie-musicals?


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


Podcast: Best Lead Actress

February 19, 2017

best-actress-stone-huppert

My buddy, Mike, and I recorded a podcast episode discussing the race for Best Lead Actress. Is Emma Stone really a lock to win for her performance in La La Land? How much of a threat is Isabelle Huppert? Listen up!

Listen to the episode here.


2017 SAG Awards Predictions

January 28, 2017

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I’ll make this post quick. The SAG Awards take place this Sunday and while La La Land has been racking up all of the attention and buzz (both good and bad), this year’s SAG Awards are a bit unpredictable mainly because La La Land is not nominated for the main award: Best Film Ensemble. Weird. So what does this mean?

This is Moonlight’s big chance to gain some ground while behind La La Land. With a SAG Ensemble win for Moonlight, it will certainly boost its momentum to try and upset for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. But if Moonlight loses, possibly to Fences or Manchester by the Sea, you can practically kiss its chances goodbye.

That being said, there is another big story surrounding this awards, and that is the opposite of the #OscarsSoWhite discussion from last year. It seems like in the supporting acting categories, Mahershala Ali and Viola Davis should win. There is even a good amount of talk saying that Denzel Washington could very well win his FIRST SAG award trophy. You read that corrently, Denzel has never won a SAG award before. Just for that reason alone, I feel like he has a slight edge over Casey Affleck.

But if Washington, Davis, and Ali go on to win, that is 75% of the acting awards going to African Americans. Quite the turn-around from years past. Then again, if Stone, Affleck, Hedges, and Williams win then we might have some more complaints.

Anyway, here are my predictions:

Best Film Ensemble: Moonlight
Best Actor: Denzel Washington (Fences)
Best Actress: Emma Stone (La La Land)
Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)
Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis (Fences)


2017 Oscar Nomination Predictions

January 22, 2017

It’s time! The Oscar nominations will be announced this Tuesday, January 24 so it’s time to make some predictions. Here we go!

Best Picture

Since we don’t know how many films will be nominated (5 to 10), I’m just going to rank the films that I feel have the best chance and see how accurate my guesses are.

  1. La La Land
  2. Moonlight
  3. Manchester by the Sea
  4. Fences
  5. Arrival
  6. Lion
  7. Hacksaw Ridge
  8. Hidden Figures
  9. Hell or High Water
  10. Silence

Best Director

Damien Chazelle (La La Land)
Barry Jenkins (Moonlight)
Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea)
Denis Villeneuve (Arrival)
Martin Scorsese (Silence)

Best Actor

Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea)
Denzel Washington (Fences)
Ryan Gosling (La La Land)
Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic)
Andrew Garfield (Silence)

Best Actress

Emma Stone (La La Land)
Natalie Portman (Jackie)
Amy Adams (Arrival)
Isabelle Huppert (Elle)
Annette Bening (20th Century Women)

Best Supporting Actor

Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)
Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water)
Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea)
Dev Patel (Lion)
Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Nocturnal Animals)

Best Supporting Actress

Viola Davis (Fences)
Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea)
Naomie Harris (Moonlight)
Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures)
Nicole Kidman (Lion)


Oscars Nominations Predictions 2016

January 4, 2016

The polls have been open since December 30, and they will be closing later this week on Friday, January 8. The nominations won’t be announced until Thursday morning on January 14. In the time being, let’s make some predictions!

Best Picture

Spotlight
The Martian
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Big Short
Carol
The Revenant
Bridge of Spies
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Brooklyn
Room

Notes: Obviously I have no idea how many nominations there will be this year, but I think assuming there will be 8 or 9 is a safe bet. That being said, I did rank them in order with the movies I’m more certain about at the top. I really believe my top five are definitely receiving a Best Picture nomination, but from The Revenant and below, I’m not so sure. I do have Star Wars as my 8th ranked film, so yes, I do believe the positive reviews plus the enormous box office total will push it above the more traditional and small Oscar films like Brooklyn and Room.

Best Director

Tom McCarthy (Spotlight)
Ridley Scott (The Martian)
George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road)
Adam McKay (The Big Short)
Todd Haynes (Carol)
Alternate: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (The Revenant)

Notes: Right now, Spotlight seems to be the front-runner all around, but I still believe that Ridley Scott has a very good chance at winning this award. With three nominations and zero wins, this might be the 78-year-old’s last chance at winning this award. Meanwhile, George Miller has a lot of momentum throughout awards season. This will be his first Best Director nomination. Can Inarritu repeat Best Director two years in a row? Don’t count on it because I don’t have him being nominated, but he definitely could spoil the likes of Haynes or McKay come Thursday.

Best Actor

Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)
Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs)
Bryan Cranston (Trumbo)
Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl)
Will Smith (Concussion)
Alternative 1: Johnny Depp (Black Mass)
Alternative 2: Matt Damon (The Martian)

Notes: Could this finally be Leo DiCaprio’s year he wins an Oscar? I’m saying yes and many experts also agree that this will be his year. First off, he’s well over-due for the golden statue and number two, this isn’t a crazy competitive year. Sure, Fassbender, Cranston, and Redmayne are practically locks to receiving a nomination, but who will sneak into that fifth slot? I’m guessing Will Smith, but it can very well be Depp or Damon.

Best Actress

Brie Larson (Room)
Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn)
Cate Blanchett (Carol)
Jennifer Lawrence (Joy)
Charlotte Rampling (45 Years)

Best Supporting Actor

Michael Keaton (Spotlight)
Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies)
Sylvester Stallone (Creed)
Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight)
Paul Dano (Love and Mercy)
Alternative: Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation)

Notes: Keaton lost to Redmayne last year in the Best Actor race. Not that he doesn’t deserve it for his performance alone, but it’ll definitely help get him some sympathy votes this year for the Best Supporting Actor race.

Best Supporting Actress

Rooney Mara (Carol)
Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs)
Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl)
Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight)
Rachel McAdams (Spotlight)

Best Original Screenplay

Spotlight
The Hateful Eight
Inside Out
Bridge of Spies
Straight Outta Compton

Best Adapted Screenplay

Steve Jobs
Carol
Room
The Big Short
The Martian


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