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89th Academy Awards (Predictions and Thoughts)

Who Should win:

Best Picture: Manchester by the Sea

Best Director: Denis Villeneuve (Arrival)

Best Actor: Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea)

Best Actress: Emma Stone (La La Land)

Best Supporting Actor: Dev Patel (Lion)

Best Supporting Actress: Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea)

Best Original Screenplay: Manchester by the Sea

Best Adapted Screenplay: Arrival

Best Editing: Hacksaw Ridge

Best Cinematography: Moonlight

Best Original Score: Moonlight

Best Documentary: 13th

Who probably will win:

Best Picture: La La Land

Best Director: Damien Chazelle (La La Land)

Best Actor: Denzel Washington (Fences)

Best Actress: Emma Stone (La La Land)

Best Supporting Actor: Mahreshala Ali (Moonlight)

Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis (Fences)

Best Original Screenplay: Manchester by the Sea

Best Adapted Screenplay: Moonlight

Best Editing: La La Land

Best Cinematography: La La Land

Best Original Score: La La Land

Best Documentary: OJ: Made in America

Thoughts

* La La Land, though not nearly the equal of Chazelle’s Whiplash, will be the big winner with the key awards + most of the techies (costumes, sound etc). I suspect a total haul of 7-9 Oscars followed by a bit more backlash and rep as an ‘undeserving’ winner. From my end, it’s hard to work up any irritation as the film is a) perfectly charming and likeable b) by no means the weakest BP winner in recent years c) no obvious injustice in its triumph i.e. no Crash vs Brokeback or Boyhood vs Birdman chaos. It’s nice to have a popular hit film at the front of the pack with solid production values, good, memorable dance sequences and two winning performances. It’s not the best, but that doesn’t much matter. People actually like it!

* There’re no duds in there this year except for Fences, which is too stagey and shouldn’t have been adapted to film. Denzel Washington has never been much of a director. Hidden Figures and Lion are conventional oscarbait pap, albeit both fairly well done for what they are. Dev Patel should be in the leading actor category rather than support, as should Viola Davis. Taraji Henson should probably be nominated for HF. Hacksaw Ridge rises above inadequate writing through technical accomplishment and brilliant battle sequences. Unlike some, I’m pleased Mel Gibson has been welcomed back after a decade’s penance.

* The terrific Hell or High Water feels more like a wannabe cult midnight movie than something that’s floating around an awards ceremony. If it’s entitled entry to the party, why no love for High Rise, Green Room or The Invitation? Hopefully the Academy recognizes the perennially brilliant Ben Foster at some point soon.

* Moonlight, Manchester by the Sea and Arrival are, from my end, the best of the nominees. My ideal night would involve them carving up every award three-ways.

* I suspect the domestic violence stuff has tanked Casey Affleck’s campaign for Best Actor. Denzel is the safe, boring, cuddly choice – the black Tom Hanks. I’d like to be wrong. I make no comment on the veracity of any accusations against Affleck, but as an acting performance it was the extraordinary centre of a completely brilliant piece of dramatic filmmaking. I love Manchester by the Sea. I love it.

* Scorsese’s Silence should be nominated in most major categories.

* Viggo Mortensen was quite good in Captain Fantastic.

* Amy Adams in Arrival is probably the best performance of her career. I’m extremely surprised she missed the cut. The obsessive desire to shortlist Meryl Streep for the most rote of performances has long since stopped being funny. This was Adams’ year for that fifth nomination slot!

* Ava DuVernay deserves to win Best Documentary for her brilliant 13th. Might go some way to making up for the stunning fuckuppery that occurred with Selma a couple of years ago. There’s an alternate timeline where Boyhood and Selma split those Birdman honours!

* On the point of Selma and DuVernay’s exclusion in Feb 2015, I’m generally supportive of this whole #oscarssoblack trend. Dragging a more diverse membership into the Academy is no bad thing if it improves the range of features pushed during awards season. There are wider concerns beyond the Academy about studios hiring female and p.o.c film directors/cinematographers which seem bigger issues than an award ceremony register – but some improvement is better than no improvement. If a great project like Moonlight finds it easier to source financing and find an audience next year and the year after, that’s no bad thing.

* When the fuck is Sarah Polley going to make another movie?

* I’m pleased Alejandro González Iñárritu doesn’t have anything out this year. I’m sick of throwing rotten fruit at the television screen as he steals Best Director from more deserving nominees.

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