89th Academy Awards Predictions

It’s that special time of year when all the armchair movie critics like myself huddle around the television with their thumbs ready to pounce on Twitter. I hold my breath as each new presenter struts onto the stage. I think to myself, “I know movies. I know who’s gonna win. I’m just as good as all of these so-called real critics.”

As the presenter opens the envelope and reads the embossed card, they smile. I smile. We’re on the same page. I proudly announce in tandem with the television, “And the Oscar goes to…”

Best Visual Effects

Nominees: Deepwater Horizon, Doctor Strange, The Jungle Book, Kubo and the Two Strings, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Who win win: The Jungle Book
Who SHOULD win: The Jungle Book

Sigh… It pains me to give The Jungle Book credit. But when it’s due, it’s due. The animal effects are outstanding and this category should focus solely on the merits of the artwork. Not the fact that the movie is morally corrupt and Mowgli deserves to be eaten.

Best non-nominee: Warcraft

When the animated characters are the best aspect of the movie, the visual effects artists did something right. You know, I guess the same exact thing could be said for The Jungle Book.


Best Original Score

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling Dancing

Nominees: Jackie, La La Land, Lion, Moonlight, Passengers

Who will win: La La Land
Who SHOULD win: La La Land

La La Land has zero competition from any of these competitors. Jackie is just sad tremolos for two hours. Moonlight’s music is good but doubles as sleepy-time music. Passengers is forgettable. Lion is, by default, the closest competitor. But some nice piano interludes won’t be enough to take down the musical juggernaut.

Best non-nominee: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

I can fully accept someone for having the opinion that Batman v Superman is not a good movie. I disagree, but whatever. We all like different things. But you cannot for one second try and convince me that the the score for BvS is anything but superb.


Best Original Song

Nominees: “Audition” 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

Who will win: Audition from La La Land
Who SHOULD win: Audition from La La Land

I’m probably in minority, but “Audition” isn’t even the best song in La La Land. Neither is “City of Stars”. But whatever, the same people will get the award so it doesn’t really matter. Just kinda weird, right? I mean, “Another Day of Sun” is the best song in La La Land. But “Audition” is the crux of the movie, so I won’t raise too big of a stink about it.

Best non-nominee: Karate Guy from Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

No song from any movie last year was in my head more than Karate Guy. Listen to it, I dare you.


Best Cinematography

Nominees: Arrival, La La Land, Lion, Moonlight, Silence

Who will win: La La Land
Who should win: La La Land

I’m kinda rooting for Arrival, but I can’t fully commit. La La Land’s camera is full of life and energy. Next to the music, the cinematography is the second best thing about La La Land. Whip pan! Zoom! Spin! Do a flip! The camera in La La Land dances better than Ryan Gosling.

Best non-nominee: Kubo and the Two Strings

Can animated movies be nominated for cinematography? Sure. Why not. Stop-motion animators are using cameras just like any other movie. And Kubo is filled to the brim with jaw-dropping shots.


Best Animated Feature Film

Kubo

Nominees: Kubo and the Two Strings, Moana, My Life as a Zucchini, The Red Turtle, Zootopia

Who will win: Zootopia
Who SHOULD win: Kubo and the Two Strings

I really like Zootopia. I won’t be mad when it wins. But I gotta root for Kubo and the Two Strings. The artists at Laika deserve an Academy Award. The painstaking manner in which they created this movie (and the ones before it) is incredible. And it’s not just out of pity for lack of awards. Kubo is highly entertaining while still tackling complicated themes in a children’s movie. Give them a trophy!

Best non-nominee: Sausage Party

My options are rather limited here. I guess I gotta go with the penis joke movie. I thought it was funny, albeit completely juvenile and perverted. I laughed. Sue me.


Best Original Screenplay

Nominees: Hell or High Water, La La Land, The Lobster, Manchester by the Sea, 20th Century Women

Who will win: La La Land
Who SHOULD win: Hell or High Water

I just know the Academy is going to give La La Land this award despite the fact that La La Land is a simple story with average dialogue. It’s gonna win everything else, might as well throw in a screenplay award, right?

NO! Don’t fall victim to the trap! Give the statue to a movie with clever dialogue and a unique story. If not Hell or High Water, give it to The Lobster, or Manchester by the Sea, or 20th Century Women. Please.

Best non-nominee: Kubo and the Two Strings

Give it to an animated movie for once. They have screenplays too, ya know!


Best Adapted Screenplay

The Monster

Nominees: Arrival, Fences, Hidden Figures, Lion, Moonlight

Who will win: Moonlight
Who SHOULD win: Arrival

Moonlight’s structure was genius. But outside of Mahershala Ali’s performance, nothing really stick out to me despite my yearning to be blown away. Moonlight does not stick the landing. Maybe I just wanted it too much. However, I also wanted Arrival to blow me away and it totally did. And while Moonlight just wrote around three consecutive time periods, Arrival had the challenge of writing around the concept of perceiving all time simultaneously.

Best non-nominee: A Monster Calls

A boy is taught lessons by a giant tree monster in order to cope with his mothers terminal cancer. It sounds ridiculous but it’s  actually as well written as a Roald Dahl story, but a lot more sad.


Best Supporting Actor

Nominees: Mahershala Ali, Jeff Bridges, Lucas Hedges, Dev Patel, Michael Shannon

Who will win: Mahershala Ali
Who SHOULD win: Mahershala Ali

Mahershala’s relatively short appearance in Moonlight carries the bulk of the weight in a weight-filled movie. It’s no competition. Jeff Bridges was great, but he’s already played this character in True Grit. Lucas Hedges was annoying. Dev Patel was fine. Michael Shannon… shoot… I haven’t seen Nocturnal Animals and I really like Michael Shannon. I won’t be so mad if he wins, but it should go to Mahershala Ali, and John Travolta should have to announce his name.

Best non-nominee: Ben Foster

Ben Foster plays a piece of shit in Hell or High Water, but he’s such a lovable piece of shit. But so deplorable. But so cool. But so disgusting and awful and great. Only a great actor can make me feel so conflicted.


Best Supporting Actress

Michelle Williams

Nominees: Viola Davis, Naomie Harris, Nicole Kidman, Octavia Spencer, Michelle Williams

Who will win: Michelle Williams
Who SHOULD win: Viola Davis

I haven’t actually seen Fences. I’m sure Viola Davis is really good in Fences. She’s good in everything, even Suicide Squad. And besides, Michelle Williams doesn’t deserve it. She’s barely in her movie and had very little to do. Any of the nominated actresses could have had the flu, said hello at a funeral, been put in an ambulance and mumbled in an alley. Viola did more in the trailer for Fences than Michelle did in an entire (and overly long) movie.

Best non-nominee: Felicity Jones

Poor Felicity. She’s had a tough go of it this year. Her characters just can’t manage to stay alive. When she’s not blowing up in Rogue One and Inferno, she’s dying slowly of cancer in A Monster Calls. Of all her instances of demise, it’s the latter performance that haunts me.


Best Actress

Amy Adams

Nominees: Isabelle Huppert, Ruth Negga, Natalie Portman, Emma Stone, Meryl Streep

Who will win: Emma Stone
Who SHOULD win: I don’t care

La La Land is the only movie I’ve seen in which the lead actress was nominated. I wanted to see Loving. I don’t really care about seeing Florence Foster Jenkins. Maybe I’d watch Jackie if it were on Netflix. But none of that matters because the best Actress award this year is a fraud. The real winner wasn’t even nominated…

Best non-nominee: Amy Adams

I shouldn’t even need to explain myself. Watch Arrival and tell me why any of the above actresses deserve the award more than Amy Adams.


Best Actor

Nominees: Casey Affleck, Andrew Garfield, Ryan Gosling, Viggo Mortensen, Denzel Washington

Who will win: Casey Affleck
Who SHOULD win: Denzel Washington

If this category was named “Best Actor in a police station scene” then I would agree that Casey Affleck should win. But it’s not and I can’t ignore the bulk of Manchester by the Sea when Casey wanders around saying, “I don’t want to talk about it.”

So why should Denzel win despite the fact that I’ve never seen Fences? The award has to go to someone and it’s just a process of elimination. Andrew Garfield too sappy. Ryan Gosling was better in The Nice Guys. And I’m willing to bet that Viggo Mortenson wasn’t actually acting Captain Fantastic. I imagine that’s just how he is, but maybe I’m wrong and he’s just that good of an actor.

Give it to Viggo or Denzel.

Best non-nominee: Chris Pine

Chris Pine is the under-rated heart of Hell or High Water. While Jeff Bridges and Ben Foster garnered more attention, the movie simply doesn’t work without Chris Pine’s performance. But maybe all the silly faces he makes while getting punched in Star Trek will prevent him from ever getting nominated.


Best Director

Dancing at a Jazz Club

Nominees: Denis Villeneuve, Mel Gibson, Damien Chazelle, Kenneth Lonergan, Barry Jenkins

Who will win: Damien Chazelle
Who SHOULD win: Damien Chazelle

The best aspects of La La Land are all thanks to Damien Chazelle. La La Land is such a magical experience thanks to his vision. Damien took a basic story and made it into something special.

Meanwhile, Mel Gibson made half of a good movie, Kenneth Lonergan made a slow and repetitious movie, and Barry Jenkins couldn’t quite bring the pieces of his movie together to fully realize the potential impact of his story. Denis Villeneuve is a close second. Although, I would have rather seen him win for Sicario. But oh well, I would be fine with him winning for Arrival.

Best non-nominee: David Mackenzie

You can’t have a movie with so many nominations if the director didn’t do his or her job. There is a reason Hell or High Water has so many nominations.


Best Picture

Nominees: Arrival, Fences, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures, La La Land, Lion, Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight

Who will win: La La Land
Who SHOULD win: La La Land

La La Land is a sum greater than all its parts. The music is spectacular. The cinematography is great. The acting is good. The script is fine. Pieced together it creates a wildly entertaining spectacle. Is it the perfect movie? Hell no. But no movie made me walk out of the theater buzzing like La La Land.

Besides, all of the nominated movies have issues. The first half of Hacksaw Ridge is a Hallmark movie. Hidden Figures is a template movie. Lion loses a momentum when Saru is an adult. Manchester by the Sea is kind of boring. Nobody saw Fences.

La La Lands toughest competitors are Arrival, Hell or High Water and Moonlight. All of these movies are solid movies with big messages. Arrival is great but seems to be missing a piece. Moonlight relies too heavily on mumblecore. Hell or High Water is… well… it’s actually a pretty darn good movie. But a western isn’t going to win best picture.

Best non-nominee: A Monster Calls

I dare you to watch A Monster Calls and not weep openly during the film and long after the film ends. Do it. Don’t be a wimp. Watch the movie. When it’s over, find a friend and explain to them the plot and Connor’s truth. See how far you get before choking up.