The Oscars: as unpredictable as a five-year-old child. More often than we’d like, these awards end up being a shocker, naming Best Picture of the year a film that no one remembers as being “that great” five years later.
But with all its uncertainty, some of the awards are a given, even months before the ceremony is broadcast. Some will be obvious because of the amount of PR put into winning them, while other times it will be just because someone actually deserves that statuette more than anyone else. So with me my predictions for this year’s edition:
Best Picture: escapism vs. reality
If Hollywood decided to name Moonlight the best film of the year, it would be rewarding a movie that on a different time wouldn’t even haven got funding to get made. But alas, everyone seems to want to escape reality instead of making a powerful statement (2017 is the year to do it), so the musical La La Land is everyone’s obvious choice as the winner. There have been surprises in the past (like when Birdman won over Boyhood), but if the Oscars follow the natural progress of the awards season, then the musical will win over the raw drama.
The youngest director to win an award
That is what will happen to 32-year-old Damien Chazelle when he wins Best Director at the Oscars. So far, it has been a close race between Chazelle and Moonlight director Barry Jenkins, but the La La Land filmmaker just won the big prize at the Directors Guild of America Awards, so there is nothing else to say on this subject.
That is, unless the Academy decides to reward the director on Moonlight as a way of compensating the film for not winning Best Picture. It has happened many times before – more recently, Alfonso Cuarón won for Gravity but 12 Years a Slave took home the big prize, and Ang Lee won for Brokeback Mountain when Crash won. And yes, who can forget that Steven Spielberg won a deserving Oscar for Saving Private Ryan right before Shakespeare in Love was named film of the year?
The brother vs. the veteran
In the Best Actor category, Casey Affleck would seem like a sure win to everyone, but the weight of the sexual harassment accusations against him have become a bit heavy on his back.
Could this mean that he will lose the statuette that would finally make him be known as Casey Affleck instead of “Ben’s brother”? Probably not. But the SAG awards, which are voted exclusively by actors, recognised Denzel Washington, and not Affleck, as the best of the year. And when Mr Washington is your direct competition, it is time for you to panic.
Emma Stone is taking an Oscar home
Surely, it is Stone’s performance that holds La La Land together, an even though some critics have been quick to condemn the original musical, there is no doubt the American actress will win the coveted prize this year.
The only person who could take this away from her is Isabelle Huppert for her raw performance in Elle, about a woman taking revenge on the man who raped her.
Another contender could be Natalie Portman for Jackie, but she won’t win, which is a shame, because Portman gives the performance of a lifetime –possibly stronger than everyone else’s, but the Academy seems set on rewarding the uplifting musical.
Supporting actors: the sure thing and the sure-thing-but-there-may-be-surprises
This is Viola Davis’s year. She is going to win for Fences, no question here, and same goes for Mahershala Ali for his small but key role in Moonlight.
The only person who could make Ali’s chances go away would be Michael Shannon for his no-nonsense role in Nocturnal Animals, his second nomination after Revolutionary Road. The Academy sure loves Shannon –after all, they have chosen to nominate him instead of his co-star Aaron Taylor-Johnson, who won the Golden Globe in January for what is his best and spookiest performance to date.
Song and score can only go to the musical
Lin-Manuel Miranda will not have his EGOT completed with an Oscar for his award-deserving song How Far I’ll Go from Moana, because La La Land will take home the prize for City of Stars, a song that serves as a recurring theme throughout the film.
That is, unless voters have a change of heart and decide to reward the Hamilton creator, considering La La Land will definitely win Best Score –and it has the added difficulty of having two songs nominated, which can divide the votes. The upside of this category, however, is that Justin Timberlake will show up to perform his catchy nominated song Can’t Stop The Feeling, which will make the three-hour gala a bit less tedious.
Screenplays: who knows
When it comes to original text, La La Land might win just to go with the flow, even if the script itself is not that original, and any of the other four nominees (Hell or High Water, Manchester by the Sea, 20th Century Women and The Lobster) are probably more deserving. La La Land’s strong point is not its script, but its cinematography.
As for adapted screenplay, it will be a competitive race, because the five nominees are outstanding, but the money is on either Moonlight or Hidden Figures, with a special mention to Fences -sorry to Lion and Arrival. This is truly a year when they all deserve to win.
Animated feature: it’s all about animals
Zootopia has left such a mark as a film that deals with diversity without never addressing the issue directly that it will certainly win.
It is a shame that Moana is nominated on the same year as its fellow Disney film, because otherwise it would be a sure win for this epic Hawaiian story with an all-Polynesian cast.