The 2017 Oscars: Will win, Should win, Should have been nominated
It’s that time of year again when Hollywood’s elite gathers to hand out awards for the best in film. That’s right, it’s Oscar night, and this year is looking as unpredictable as any year in the ceremony’s 89-year history. Though certain films are guaranteed to walk away with a prize, many of the evening’s biggest awards are still up for debate. Just like every sensible person overseas, I’m unlikely to stay up all night watching the event, so I’ll have to wait until tomorrow morning to find out just how accurate my predictions are. Along with my picks for the night’s winners, I’ll also say who deserves to win, and who should have been nominated.
Will Win: La La Land
Who knew a musical about Hollywood would be so popular with voters? Like Birdman, Argo, and The Artist before it, La La Land is looking like this year’s fun, frivolous, but somewhat obvious winner. Having swept every other major awards show, it’s all but guaranteed to win.
Should Win: Moonlight
Though Manchester by the Sea was my favourite of this year’s nominees, I’m secretly rooting for Moonlight, a small-but-powerful underdog, to take the win. Focusing on the types of people rarely seen in films, let alone in a Best Picture nominee, Moonlight is one of the year’s most unique, interesting stories, and deserves to be rewarded.
Should Have Been Nominated: Paterson
Jim Jarmusch’s most beautiful film to date, Paterson was a stunning, lovable film featuring career-best work from its cast. It’s not a likely Oscar-nominee, but very few films made in the last year come close.
Will Win: Damien Chazelle
In La La Land, just his second feature film, Chazelle uses a lifetime of tricks and bagfuls of energy; long takes, whip pans, endless movement. Of all the directors nominated, his direction is certainly the most visual.
Should Win: Barry Jenkins
Working with a different style to most American independent directors, Moonlight‘s handheld cinematography and elegant, Wong Kar-Wai-influenced framing was gorgeous, and Jenkins’ work with young actors was inspiring.
Should Have Been Nominated: Andrea Arnold
Barry Jenkins can work with inexperienced actors, but Andrea Arnold’s work with a large group of non-actors on American Honey was incredible, with debuting star Sasha Lane winning awards for her performance. Arnold’s freewheeling shoot across America is more ambitious than most directors would ever even attempt.
Will Win: Casey Affleck
Many are now predicting a win for Denzel Washington for his great performance in Fences, but I just can’t bet against Casey Affleck, who gave one of the best performances of the decade as the broken, damaged janitor in Manchester by the Sea.
Should Win: Casey Affleck
Given Washington has already won twice (and Fences is hardly a stretch for him), Affleck is untouchable in this category. He really is that good.
Should Have Been Nominated: Adam Driver
Using his lanky frame and friendly gaze for great measure, Driver’s performance as the titular poet in Paterson was a role of perfect comedic timing and deep melancholy.
Will Win: Emma Stone
After a decade winning over moviegoers with her wide eyes and comedic sensibility, Stone seems like the strong favourite to take home the prize for her enjoyable performance in La La Land.
Should Win: Natalie Portman
On a career basis alone, Isabelle Huppert should take it, but Portman’s performance of the heartbroken Jackie Kennedy in Jackie was both a pitch perfect imitation, and a moving look at the woman behind the public persona.
Should Have Been Nominated: Amy Adams
While her work in Nocturnal Animals wasn’t amazing, Adam’s emotional, fierce turn in Arrival was up there with her career best. Given Arrival‘s strong performance in other categories, it’s baffling that she lost out to yet another Meryl Streep nomination.
Best Supporting Actor
Will Win: Mahershala Ali
Sadly, I’m pretty certain Moonlight is going to be shut out of nearly every major category, but one of the few awards it is likely to take home is Best Supporting Actor. Ali is sublime as a charismatic drug dealer and father figure, so good that the film misses him when he leaves.
Should Win: Mahershala Ali
While Michael Shannon deserves an award for a decade of sterling work, Nocturnal Animals isn’t the performance he’s going to win for. Mahershala Ali deserves it this year.
Should Have Been Nominated: Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Despite his great performance, Michael Shannon wasn’t even the best part of Nocturnal Animals. That would be the terrific Golden Globes-winner Aaron Taylor-Johnson, giving the performance of his career by a mile as a psychotic hillbilly.
Best Supporting Actress
Will Win: Viola Davis
Davis is one of the few awards that’s guaranteed on the night. Her performance in Fences is designed to win awards, consisting of tears and speeches. Thankfully, Davis is so sympathetic and powerful, she stops it from feeling like Oscar bait.
Should Win: Michelle Williams
Fences might make you feel a bit weepy, but Michelle William’s brief supporting role in Manchester by the Sea will make you cry like a baby. Her ‘meeting’ scene with Casey Affleck is absolutely devastating.
Should Have Been Nominated: Hayley Squires
Though Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake was popular at the BAFTAS, it was completely shut out by the Academy. It’s a shame that they left out Hayley Squires, who gave a performance as moving and forceful as any other nominee this year.
Best Original Screenplay
Will Win: Manchester by the Sea
Kenneth Lonergan is one of cinema’s great living dramatists, and Manchester by the Sea features his finest writing to date. Award voters may be swayed by La La Land, but I’m hoping they see sense and reward Lonergan’s work.
Should Win: Manchester by the Sea
Juggling moving drama with dry humour is tricky, but Lonergan’s screenplay is full of nuance, warmth, and wit.
Should Have Been Nominated: The Nice Guys
Shane Black’s screenplay was one of the funniest of the year, with two terrific leading characters. Sadly, the Academy already filled its comedy quota with The Lobster.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Will Win: Arrival
This one’s close, and I flipped a coin between this and Moonlight, but ultimately Arrival feels like more of a writer’s film, using a tricky narrative structure and large sci-fi ideas to mesmerising effect. Do the voters go big or small? Given La La Land‘s success, I think they’re going for spectacle.
Should Win: Arrival
Unusually, I’m also going for spectacle this year. Arrival was a great example of how a blockbuster should be, and the complex script was written so nicely, even an idiot like me could understand it. Intelligent but not pretentious, this was a hell of an effort.
Should Have Been Nominated: Hunt for the Wilderpeople
The funniest film of 2016, Hunt for the Wilderpeople had memorable one-liners, unique characters, and a whole lot of heart.
There are obviously a whole lot more nominations this year, but of the remaining categories, I feel somewhat underqualified to say who should win or who should have been nominated. With that said, here are my predictions for every award of the 89th Oscars:
Best Picture: La La Land
Best Director: Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Best Actor: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Best Actress: Emma Stone, La La Land
Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali, Moonlighr
Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis, Fences
Best Original Screenplay: Manchester by the Sea
Best Adapted Screenplay: Arrival
Best Animated Feature Film: Zootopia
Best Foreign Language Film: Toni Erdmann
Best Documentary: OJ: Made in America
Best Original Score: La La Land
Best Original Song: City of Stars, La La Land
Best Sound Editing: Hacksaw Ridge
Best Sound Mixing: La La Land
Best Production Design: La La Land
Best Cinematography: La La Land
Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Suicide Squad
Best Costume Design: Jackie
Best Film Editing: La La Land
Best Visual Effects: The Jungle Book
So there you have it, my predictions for the Academy Awards. Of course, every year I get a lot wrong, especially in the smaller categories, but this year I actively hope I’m wrong about some of these. As good as La La Land is, I can’t help but feel it’s a throwaway film compared to some of the terrific drama on display. It’s likely to sweep the awards (I have it at 9 wins, which would put it at tied-3rd highest winning film of all time), while stunners like Manchester by the Sea and Moonlight will be lucky to win one prize. However, with this year’s awards race providing so many upsets, who knows who the winners will be?
By Harry J. Ford
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