Ford On Film

Chronicles of a silver screen addict

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.

Best Picture

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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.

Best Director

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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.

Best Actor

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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.

Best Actress

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

Follow Ford On Film on twitter: @Ford_On_Film

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