The 2017 Academy Awards: Thoughts and Predictions

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Led by a record-tying 14 nominations for La La Land, the 89th Academy Awards sure look to be a pretty consolidated affair for the front-runner. Regardless, even with the love-lorn and masterful musical inspiring members to cast votes its way, there are sure to be a a few surprises. Best Lead Actor, Best Production Design, Best Animated Feature, and Best Foreign Language Film are all neck and neck races. These are my picks, and I’m positive that a few will end up being wrong, but I’ll take my chances and go with my gut. A few people in your Oscar pool will probably do better on the random guess method; I’m comfortable saying I’ll likely be above the middle of the pack.

Actor in a Supporting Role: Moonlight very well could have taken up three of this category’s slots and I wouldn’t have complained. But I would have preferred Trevante Rhodes been nominated, mostly because he gave the best performance – hands down – that I saw all year. Watch Moonlight again and watch Rhodes even closer. Having said that, the pick for your Oscar pool is Ali. If you’re trying to shake things up, go with Patel. He’s the only other nominee with a shot.

The Nominees: Mahershala Ali (Moonlight), Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water), Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea), Dev Patel (Lion), Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals)

Will Win: Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)

Could Win: Dev Patel (Lion)

Deserved Consideration: Michael Barbieri (Little Men), Ralph Fiennes (A Bigger Splash), John Goodman (10 Cloverfield Lane), Hugh Grant (Florence Foster Jenkins), Yôsuke Kubozuka (Silence), Shia LaBeouf (American Honey), Roland Møller (Land of Mine), Glen Powell (Everybody Wants Some!!), Daniel Radcliffe (Swiss Army Man), Trevante Rhodes (Moonlight)

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Costume Design: I can only justify calling a film great so long as I can visualize its beginning and its ending afterwards, if only because those are finite imprints. Likewise, a Best Costume Design win can and should only go to a movie which not only adorns its performers beautifully, but lingers in a sartorial sense. Jackie doesn’t do the most out of this group, yet it does do the best.

The Nominees: Joanna Johnston (Allied), Colleen Atwood (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), Consolata Boyle (Florence Foster Jenkins), Madeline Fontaine (Jackie), Mary Zophres (La La Land)

Will Win: Madeline Fontaine (Jackie)

Could Win: Mary Zophres (La La Land)

Deserved Consideration: Kym Barrett (The Nice Guys), Erin Benach (The Neon Demon), Marion Boyce & Margot Wilson (The Dressmaker), Courtney Hoffman (Captain Fantastic), Kari Perkins (Everybody Wants Some!!), Arianne Phillips (Nocturnal Animals)

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Makeup and Hairstyling: Once again, the Academy nominated a dumb foreign film with terribly simple makeup and hairstyling. A Man Called Ove requires a bald cap and some cheeky cosmetics. That’s it. Suicide Squad should win out of these three for pure intensive labor, but I can’t imagine voters bellying up and calling such a terrible film an Oscar winner. Go with Star Trek Beyond.

The Nominees: A Man Called Ove, Star Trek Beyond, Suicide Squad

Will Win: Star Trek Beyond

Could Win: Suicide Squad

Deserved Consideration: Deadpool, Hail Caesar!, Nocturnal Animals, Swiss Army Man

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Documentary Feature: Fire at Sea is important but too underseen to win. Life, Animated is emotional, backed by Disney, but altogether too earnest. I Am Not Your Negro leaves the biggest social imprint of the bunch yet is too small. And while I previously believed OJ: Made in America’s drastic length would be a detriment to its chances, especially considering the Netflix availability of the timely yet myopic 13th, I still predict the ESPN documentary to finish on top. It’s a stunning piece of journalism and the most deserving winner in this group.

The Nominees: Fire at Sea, I Am Not Your Negro, Life Animated, OJ: Made in America, 13th

Will Win: OJ: Made in America

Could Win: 13th

Deserved Consideration: Before the Flood, The Eagle Huntress, Gleason, Nuts!, Sky Ladder: The Art of Cai Guo-Qiang, Tower, Weiner

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Sound Editing: If you’re going to push all of your chips in on La La Land, you might as well predict a victory in a category where musicals almost never win. Should the Los Angeles dreamscape beat out any of the competitors besides Sully? Absolutely not. But I’m guessing this one is an early indicator of a near sweep. Hacksaw Ridge packs a loud punch. Arrival is the best of the bunch and I really hope it wins here so that it doesn’t get shut out. Still, I’m going with the musical, a magical film that seems to be steamrolling its opponents.

The Nominees: Arrival, Deepwater Horizon, Hacksaw Ridge, La La Land, Sully

Will Win: La La Land

Could Win: Arrival

Deserved Consideration: The Jungle Book, Kubo and the Two Strings

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Sound Mixing: For as much as I love La La Land and will defend its merits until my dying day, it’s hard to argue against the problems with its sound mixing. Much of the sung audio registers too low and some of the dialogue is too faint. However, musicals typically take this category, mostly because people associate a picture’s sound with the genre. Silence was definitely the best mixed movie of the year even without getting the nomination it so deserved.

The Nominees: Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, La La Land, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

Will Win: La La Land

Could Win: Arrival

Deserved Consideration: Don’t Breathe, Jackie, Nocturnal Animals, Silence

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Actress in a Supporting Role: Here’s where I get angry. The wrong woman from Hidden Figures was nominated (it should be Monáe, not Spencer). Also, your winner is going to be the deserving Davis, although her inclusion in the Supporting field is pure fraud. This is a commanding and leading performance that nearly shares equal screen time with Denzel Washington. Sure, Davis does the finest work of those included, mostly because she has the most to work with. Take a look back at Harris though. She deserved to be the undeniable winner in a tried and true supporting role, elevated by her layered performance. Her mix of a quiet and brash affront is stunning.

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

Will Win: Viola Davis (Fences)

Could Win: Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea)

Deserved Consideration: Greta Gerwig (20th Century Women), Gillian Jacobs (Don’t Think Twice), Janelle Monáe (Hidden Figures), Molly Shannon (Other People), Tika Sumpter (Southside with You)

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Foreign Language Film: A Man Called Ove is basically St. Vincent without the laughs and drenched in suicidal neurosis. How was this garbage nominated? Among these 5, I actually loved Land of Mine most, a film that feels likes All Quiet on the Western Front told from a deeply human and European POV. The winner is a toss-up though. Many are predicting Toni Erdmann, and I’d be fine with that. At nearly 3 hours, the German comedy is a hilarious personal experience. Don’t count out The Salesman though, if only for Academy voters to visualize on stage their frustrations with the selectively xenophobic government leaders currently in office. The Oscars are going to annoy staunch conservatives, and no win will annoy them more than this likely protest vote.

The Nominees: Land of Mine, A Man Called Ove, The Salesman, Tanna, Toni Erdmann

Will Win: The Salesman

Could Win: Toni Erdmann

Deserved Consideration: Aquarius, Elle, The Handmaiden, I Daniel Blake

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