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2017 Oscar Preview – La-La-La-La-La
By James Jay Edwards
January 23, 2017

The last few months have been packed with two-and-a-half hour epic movies loaded down with big stars, and you know what that means!  It’s Oscar season!  The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has released the list of nominees for the 89th Academy Awards, with the ceremony scheduled to take place on February 26, 2017.  If you follow other awards races, the 2017 Oscar nominees will hold few surprises, so the only drama of the night will be if there are a few upset wins.  Here’s a little look at the nominees, as well as some predictions for who might walk away with the statues.

DISCLAIMER: Once again, these are the opinions of me, James Jay Edwards, and do not necessarily reflect those of FilmFracture or the other writers therein.  These opinions might not even reflect my own thoughts by the time the ceremony rolls around.

 

2017 Oscar Preview

 

Best Picture

Arrival

Fences

Hacksaw Ridge

Hell or High Water

Hidden Figures

La La Land

Lion

Manchester by the Sea

Moonlight

 

Hacksaw Ridge is the closest thing to a surprise that we’ve got here.  Could this mean Hollywood has finally forgiven Mel Gibson?  Maybe enough for a nom, but not enough to win.  I wasn’t a huge fan of Moonlight, although it’s a clear frontrunner for this award.  Although, Manchester by the Sea and La La Land are solid combatants, too.  And the academy loves a feel-good story, especially if it’s true (I’m looking at you, Hidden Figures and Lion).  Oh, and don’t count Hell or High Water out, either.

Prediction – I’d love to see Hell or High Water take this, but it’ll come down to La La Land vs. Moonlight.  I’ve already made my thoughts on Moonlight clear, so let’s go with La La Land.

 

2017 Oscar Preview

 

Best Actor

Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea

Andrew Garfield – Hacksaw Ridge

Ryan Gosling – La La Land

Viggo Mortensen – Captain Fantastic

Denzel Washington – Fences

 

This is the safest bet of the night.  This award is Casey Affleck’s to lose, provided the sexual harassment allegations against him don’t derail his campaign.  If the Academy votes on the merits of personality rather than performance, this category is blown wide open, as all of the other performances are great, just not as great as Affleck’s.

Prediction – I think Affleck will weather the storm of bad P.R. and take this one, and deservedly so.

 

2017 Oscar Preview

 

Best Actress

Isabelle Huppert – Elle

Ruth Negga – Loving

Natalie Portman – Jackie

Emma Stone – La La Land

Meryl Streep – Florence Foster Jenkins

 

Oh, boy.  This one is a two-horse race, and neither are Meryl Streep.  This will come down to Isabelle Huppert and Natalie Portman.  Jackie was a better movie than Elle, but Huppert gave a better performance than Portman.

Prediction – If Streep wins, it will be for her performance at the Golden Globes and not for her performance in Florence Foster Jenkins.  My hope is for Huppert to take it, and that’s not an unrealistic one.

 

2017 Oscar Preview

 

Supporting Actor

Mahershala Ali – Moonlight

Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water

Lucas Hedges – Manchester by the Sea

Dev Patel - Lion

Michael Shannon – Nocturnal Animals

 

I guess if Nocturnal Animals is going to be held to a single nomination, this should be it.  Michael Shannon stole every scene he was in.  Jeff Bridges was good, but Hell or High Water was more of an ensemble than tiers of lead and supporting actors.  Shannon’s main competition will come from Mahershala Ali.

Prediction – The Academy will get this one wrong and give it to Ali.  Michael Shannon will be unaffected by the loss.

 

2017 Oscar Preview

 

Supporting Actress

Viola Davis – Fences

Naomie Harris – Moonlight

Nicole Kidman – Lion

Octavia Spencer – Hidden Figures

Michelle Williams – Manchester by the Sea

 

And here we have this year’s first case of category fraud.  Why is Viola Davis in here as a Supporting Actress when she was clearly the lead actress in Fences?  Michelle Williams deserves this one – she was only in about eight minutes of the one-hundred-and-fifty minute Manchester by the Sea, but she lit up the screen for every second that she was on it.

Prediction – Viola Davis, because she was put here to win, and she would lose to Portman or Huppert in the Lead Actress category.

 

2017 Oscar Preview

 

Director

Denis Villeneuve – Arrival

Mel Gibson – Hacksaw Ridge

Damien Chazelle – La La Land

Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester by the Sea

Barry Jenkins – Moonlight

 

Yep, Hollywood has forgiven Mel Gibson, and this Best Director nom proves it.  He won’t win; there are better guys in the running.  Manchester by the Sea was a labor of love for Kenneth Lonergan, and that love spills out all over the screen, but Damien Chazelle directed the hell out of La La Land.

Prediction – Damien Chazelle and La La Land will take this one.

 

Animated Feature

Kubo and the Two Strings

Moana

My Life as a Zucchini

The Red Turtle

Zootopia

 

Here’s our first huge snub.  Where is Trolls?  The foreign offerings here, The Red Turtle and My Life as a Zucchini, don’t have as much hype around them as the others, so they’re doomed.  Of the remaining three, I’d say this award is a toss-up between Kubo and the Two Strings and Zootopia.

PredictionKubo and the Two Strings is just artsy and creative enough to take this one (and having previous Oscar winners Charlize Theron and Matthew McConaughey in the cast of voice actors doesn’t hurt, either).

 

2017 Oscar Preview

 

Documentary Feature

Fire at Sea

I Am Not Your Negro

Life, Animated

O.J.: Made in America

13th

 

Which brings us to our next case of category fraud.  O.J.: Made in America is a television mini-series that forced a week’s worth of audiences to sit through its eight hour running time in a movie theater just so that it would qualify for the Academy Awards.  Sure, it’s a great documentary, and it’s incredibly thorough – it probably crams way more about the O.J. Simpson case into its work-shift length than any one person cares to know.  But come on!  Sweep the Emmys, and leave the Oscars for the movies!

PredictionO.J.: Made in America will probably win, because the ploy will work, while amazing documentaries like Gleason, Weiner, and Tower have all gone un-nominated.

 

Foreign Language Film

Land of Mine (Denmark)

A Man Called Ove (Sweden)

The Salesman (Iran)

Tanna (Australia)

Toni Erdmann (Germany)

 

Where’s The Handmaiden? Demon? Julieta? Things to Come?  This category is snub-city.

 

PredictionA Man Called Ove is the best of this bunch, although Toni Erdmann has the buzz.  Toni Erdmann will take it.

 

2017 Oscar Preview

 

Original Screenplay

Hell or High Water – Taylor Sheridan

La La Land – Damien Chazelle

The Lobster – Torgos Lanthimos, Efthimis Filippou

Manchester by the Sea – Kenneth Lonergan

20th Century Women – Mike Mills

 

This category is tough.  There’s literally not a clunker in this bunch, and they’re all such different stories.  Hell or High Water has the most engaging script, while The Lobster is the nuttiest.  La La Land is the most fun, while Manchester by the Sea has the most feels.  Yeah, 20th Century Women is good, too, but it seems improvised rather than scripted, which is a testament to the cast more than it is to the screenplay.

Prediction – Oh, boy.  This one’s hard.  My heart says Hell or High Water, my head says Manchester by the Sea.  The head usually wins.

 

Adapted Screenplay

Arrival – Eric Heisserer

Fences – August Wilson

Hidden Figures – Allison Schroeder, Theodore Melfi

Lion – Luke Davies

Moonlight – Barry Jenkins, Tarell Alvin McCraney

 

This one’s little easier.  Fences is a faithful adaptation that doesn’t quite translate to the movie screen.  Lion is half of a good movie, and Moonlight is two-thirds of one (and what the hell is Moonlight adapted from anyway, an unproduced play?  More category fraud!).  Hidden Figures and Arrival are both solid choices.

Prediction – I’d love to see Arrival take this, because Eric Heisserer also writes horror movies (he killed the A Nightmare on Elm Street and The Thing franchises with his remakes), but since Moonlight doesn’t belong in this category anyway, it will win.

 

2017 Oscar Preview

 

Original Score

Jackie – Mica Levi

La La Land – Justin Hurwitz

Lion – Dustin O’Halloran, Hauschka (Volker Bertelmann)

Moonlight – Nicholas Britell

Passengers – Thomas Newman

 

At first, it might seem that La La Land is a lock for this, since it’s a musical, but it’s got Original Song nailed down.  Since no one bothered to nominate the best score of the year (which was Swiss Army Man), Mica Levi and her hauntingly patriotic soundtrack for Jackie is the strongest contender here.

Prediction – In case it wasn’t clear, Jackie will win.

 

Original Song

“Audition (The Fools Who Dream” – La La Land – Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek, Justin Paul

“Can’t Stop the Feeling” – Trolls – Justin Timberlake, Max Martin, Karl Johan Schuster

“City of Stars” – La La Land – Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek, Justin Paul

“The Empty Chair” – Jim: The James Foley Story – J. Ralph, Sting

“How Far I’ll Go” – Moana – Lin-Manuel Miranda

 

Since none of the songs from Sing Street are nominated here, the biggest competition that La La Land has is from itself.  Sure, the others have the big names (Justin Timberlake! Sting! Lin-Manuel Miranda!), but La La Land has the tunes.

Prediction – “City of Stars” is the more memorable of the two songs from La La Land, so that should take home the statue.

 

2017 Oscar Preview

 

Cinematography

Arrival – Bradford Young

La La Land – Linus Sandgren

Lion – Greg Fraser

Moonlight – James Laxton

Silence – Rodrigo Prieto

 

Emmanuel Lubezki taking the year off blows this category wide open this season.  Unfortunately, perennial bridesmaid Roger Deakins didn’t get a nom for Hail, Caesar!, so he’ll miss his moment in the sun.  La La Land was flawlessly shot, with setups that were intricate and complex – it almost looks like a Lubezki film.  Silence is a beautiful disaster, a long and tedious affair that looks amazing.

Prediction – They’ve got to give something to Silence, and the cinematography is far and away the best thing about the movie.  Rodrigo Prieto will win.

 

Film Editing

Arrival – Joe Walker

Hacksaw Ridge – John Gilbert

Hell or High Water – Jake Roberts

La La Land – Tom Cross

Moonlight – Nat Sanders, Joi McMillon

 

Best Film Editing should come down to a three-horse race – Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, or Hell or High Water.  From an editing standpoint, La La Land and Moonlight are out-classed.

Prediction – Based solely on its second half, Hacksaw Ridge should grab this one.

 

2017 Oscar Preview

 

Sound Editing

Arrival – Sylvain Bellemare

Deepwater Horizon – Wylie Stateman, Renée Tondelli

Hacksaw Ridge – Robert MacKenzie, Andy Wright

La La Land – Ai-Ling Lee, Mildred Iatrou Morgan

Sully – Alan Robert Murray, Bub Asman

 

Ok, so, for a musical, La La Land had pretty lackluster sound (I’m being way more polite than many internet pundits).  Why is it nominated here?

Prediction – This is a category where the Academy gives an award to a movie that should win something, but no one knows what.  With that thought in mind, Sully will win.

 

Sound Mixing

Arrival – Bernard Gariépy Strobl, Claude La Haye

Hacksaw Ridge – Kevin O’Connell, Andy Wright, Robert MacKenzie, Peter Grace

La La Land – Andy Nelson, Ai-Ling Lee, Steve A. Morrow

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – David Parker, Christopher Scarabosio, Stuart Wilson

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi – Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush, Mac Ruth

 

And there’s La La Land again.  For sound mixing.  Poof.

Prediction – For the same reason that Sully wins Sound Editing, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will win sound mixing.

 

2017 Oscar Preview

 

Check out all of the nominees for the 89th Academy Awards (without my snarky comments) at http://www.oscars.org/oscars/ceremonies/2017.