Saturday, January 21, 2017

Oscar Predictions 2016: Cry Havok, and Let Slip the etc., etc.

Here's the deal--I know this space is currently a travel blog, and I intend to get right back to those pithy anecdotes about public transit, but I am who I am. A tiger can't change its spots (if it had any), and I can't stop myself from writing up Oscar predictions, even if I'm doing it on a train and this is theoretically the quiet car and I should probably stop typing like I'm mad at my keyboard. These are my spots, and I'm sticking with them.

Things will be a little different this year: Normally I do an entire series of posts and give a detailed profile of every category. It's a blast (for me) but it takes hours and hours and an entire week to post in its entirely. I only have 55 minutes before I have to get off this train, so we're doing Oscar Predictions: Lightning Round. I'll just give my predictions and a (hopefully) brief rundown of what to look out for. We'll see if I can finish before Wurzburg--if not I guess I'll just have to miss my stop again to finish.
(Note: I'm not going to miss my stop. I'm going to look out the window in a blind panic every two minutes in fear of missing my stop. ICE trains aren't quite as forgiving as regional German transport.)

Without further ado...

(note: all predictions presented in order of likelihood)

Best Picture
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea
Hell or High Water
Hacksaw Ridge
Hidden Figures
Nocturnal Animals
Alternate: Fences

The top 5 are safe--everything below is a free-for-all. I hope Mel Gibson's latest ode to brutality misses the cut, but for whatever reason it feels safe here. It's probably a risky call having Nocturnal Animals in there instead of Denzel Washington's Fences, but I'm feeling risky (writing on a train makes me feel kind of like Daredevil, if he could see and were writing about movies in Europe). Look out for Silence to surprise--it's been DOA in the precursor season but the Academy does love them some Scorsese.

Damine Chazelle-La La Land
Barry Jenkins-Moonlight
Kenneth Lonergan-Manchester by the Sea
Denis Villeneuve-Arrival
Martin Scorsese-Silence
Alternate: Mel Gibson-Hacksaw Ridge

It's probably silly of me to call Scorsese for a lone director slot (these rarely happen in the new expanded best picture category), but I'm going for it--if he can get nominated for Hugo of all things he can get nominated for an actual good movie. I'm nervous for Villeneuve and Arrival--he's so deserving, but when does the Academy go big for brainy sci fi?

Casey Affleck-Manchester by the Sea
Denzel Washington-Fences
Ryan Gosling-La La Land
Andrew Garfield-Hacksaw Ridge
Viggo Mortenson-Captain Fantastic
Alternate: Joel Edgerton-Loving

This five feels fairly set. Loving has no steam, and I don't even know who else might take an alternate spot--Michael Keaton? Adam Driver? There's a pretty significant dearth of Academy-ready candidates here.

Emma Stone-La La Land
Natalie Portman-Jackie
Amy Adams-Arrival
Isabelle Huppert-Elle
Meryl Streep-Florence Foster Jenkins

This category is a bloodbath--other than the first two slots, no one is safe. And any of the above women could just as easily be replaced by any of the following: Annette Bening in 20th Century Women, Taraji P. Hensen in Hidden Figures, Ruth Negga in Loving, or Emily Blunt in The Girl on the Train.

Supporting Actor
Mahershala Ali-Moonlight
Jeff Bridges-Hell or High Water
Dev Patel-Lion
Hugh Grant-Florence Foster Jenkins
Lucas Hedges-Manchester by the Sea
Alternate: Aaron Taylor-Johnson-Nocturnal Animals

Another tough category--look for the bottom two (especially Hedges) to fall out in favor of the alternate or Issey Ogata in Silence, Ben Foster in Hell or High Water, Stephen Henderson in Fences, etc.

Supporting Actress
Viola Davis-Fences
Michelle Williams-Manchester by the Sea
Naomie Harris-Moonlight
Nicole Kidman-Lion
Octavia Spencer-Hidden Figures
Alternate: Greta Gerwig-20th Century Women

This five feels set as well, although Gerwig could still surprise, and I'd love to see an out-of-left-field nod like Lily Collins in Certain Women or Molly Shannon in Other People.

Original Screenplay
Manchester by the Sea
La La Land
Hell or High Water
The Lobster
20th Century Women
Alternate: Toni Erdmann

Can this be as straightforward as it looks? My guess is the last spot is a free for all, with Zootopia, Captain Fantastic, and Florence Foster Jenkins all in the running, but they have to give 20th Century Women something, right? Maybe it's The Lobster that falls out, but I hope not.

Adapted Screenplay
Hidden Figures
Nocturnal Animals
Alternate: Fences

Again, stupid to be betting against Fences but here I go again. I'm incorrigible. Silence could easily surprise here as well.

Production Design
La La Land
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Hail, Caesar!
Alternate: Silence

I don't feel confident about any of these other than La La Land. Arrival could easily take the sci-fi spot (which is kind of a thing these days), and things like Hidden Figures or Nocturnal Animals could slip in based on their popularity. Maybe we even see something strange like The Handmaiden showing up?

Costume Design
La La Land
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
The Dressmaker
Alternate: Florence Foster Jenkins

I have a silly hunch about Allied, and I love The Dressmaker, so I'm betting against more obvious candidates like Jenkins, Hidden FIgures, or Silence. Again, look for The Handmaiden to pull a shocker here.

Visual Effects
The Jungle Book
Rogue One
Doctor Strange
Deepwater Horizon
Kubo and the Two Strings
Alternate: Captain America: Civil War

What a silly thing I've just done. No way two underdogs (Deepwater and Kubo) make it in, but hey. Note: this category has already been narrowed down to 10 eligible candidates by the Academy: the other eligible films are Arrival, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Passengers, and The BFG.

Makeup and Hairstyling
Star Trek Beyond
Suicide Squad
Alternate: Florence Foster Jenkins

Ugh, what a lineup. Academy Award Nominee Suicide Squad, ladies and gentlemen.
Note: another category that has already been narrowed down: the other eligible films are A Man Called Owe, The Dressmaker, and Hail, Caesar!

Film Editing
La La Land
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
Alternate: Manchester by the Sea

Devastatingly silly to not pick Manchester here, but I'm prone to bouts of silliness. Other best picture hopefuls like Lion and Hidden Figures could appear here--or maybe we get a curveball and something like Deadpool (heaven forbid) gets in.

La La Land
Live by NIght
Alternate: Lion

For whatever reason, it feels like it's down to these six. Maybe something like Nocturnal Animals or even Rogue One could surprise, but I wouldn't count on it.

Original Score
La La Land
Rogue One
Alternate: Jackie

An interesting conundrum--almost all the buzzed-about scores this year have been from composers who have thus far never been Oscar-nominated, and the music branch rarely nominates more than one or two new composers each year. So what do you do? Try to pick the not-buzzed-about soundtracks from established composers that might be most popular. Tough work--look for Florence Foster Jenkins here, as they do love them some Alexandre Desplat.

Sound Mixing
La La Land
Rogue One
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or HIgh Water
Alternate: Sully

I'm always garbage at prediction sound categories. Just toss some darts or something.

Sound Editing
Rogue One
Hacksaw Ridge
Deepwater Horizon
Alternate: The Jungle Book

See above, re: me, predictions, gargabe.

Original Song
"City of Stars"-La La Land
"Audition (The Ones who Dream)"-La La Land
"How Far I'll Go"-Moana
"Can't Stop the Feeling"-Trolls
"Drive it Like You Stole It"-Sing Street
Alternate: "I'm Still Here"-Miss Sharon Jones

This category is always a nightmare--they leave off huge contenders on a whim, they pick things that no one has even heard of, etc. Nothing is safe.

Animated Film
Kubo and the Two Strings
The Red Turtle
My Life as A Zucchini
Alternate: Miss Hokusai

As always, the job here is to figure out which indie or foreign contenders muscle their way in over mainstream US titles like Sing or Finding Dory. My money's on Turtle, but look for Hokusai or even Your Name to get in.

Foreign Language Film
Toni Erdmann-Germany
Land of Mine-Denmark
The Salesman-Iran
A Man Called Owe-Sweden
Alternate: My Life as a Zucchini-Switzerland

Since I've seen none of the eligible movies in this category, I have to guess on reputation alone. So here I go!

Documentary Feature
OJ: Made in America
Fire at Sea
I am Not Your Negro
Alternate: Gleason

Also haven't seen any of these, and for whatever reason I can never bring myself to care too deeply about this category (I never see much in the way of documentaries, even though I generally enjoy the ones I see), so consider these predictions particularly half-hearted.

For those counting at home, I'm predicting that the movies with the most nominations will be:

La La Land-13
Manchester by the Sea-6
Hacksaw Ridge-5

Look out for a La La Land Streamroller, in other words--and I'm sure I'll be singing that tune come Oscar night as well.

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