Academy Awards nominees, 2017

I’m really late making this post, the ceremony is in two weeks’ time! In all honesty, I was waiting to see the main contenders before writing this post, but now I feel like I’ve seen enough of them…

Best Picture
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell Or High Water
Hidden Figures
La La Land
Manchester By The Sea

Nine nominees this year -and not too bad in terms of genre and scales. My favourite of the bunch is of course Arrival but it has very little prospect of winning despite its numerous nominations. There’s one favourite looming large and ahead of everyone, and that’s of course the much-loved, fantastic La La Land. I personally loved it, although my personal preference still goes to Arrival. But I can see why La La Land is such a favourite -it’s about the industry, the manufacturing of dreams, the limitless power of those dreams. And to top it all off, it’s a musical. Not a grand musical like Hollywood used to make, but a more intimate and contemporary one. So yeah, I can see why La La Land is the big contender. Not too far behind is Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight, a miraculous coming-of-age story, the epitome of artistic, independent cinema. If there is a political statement to be made, surely this would be the right way of doing it. And with Hidden Figures winning the SAG and Lion being shephered by the Weinstein Company, you just never know. However it’s a safe bet to say that with its 14 nominations, La La Land is a very strong favourite.

Best Director
Arrival – Denis Villeneuve
Hacksaw Ridge – Mel Gibson
La La Land – Damien Chazelle
Manchester By The Sea – Kenneth Lonergan
Moonlight – Barry Jenkins

My favourite category, but there’s little suspense here -Damien Chazelle won the DGA last week, so he’s the main contender here. There’s been talk of Barry Jenkins being the first African-American director to win, which would be fantastic indeed, but sadly the Academy is far more predictable than we think it is. Fabulous inclusion of Denis Villeneuve here and a rather less fabulous, if not disgusting, inclusion of Mel Gibson for directing Hacksaw Ridge. Ugh.

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 one is a really close one between Casey Affleck and Denzel Washington. On the one hand Casey Affleck seemed like such a contender, but on the other hand, the SAG went to Denzel and there might be an obligation from the Academy for reflecting the changes it undertook last year for more diversity into actual changes. Not too say that Denzel should win because of that, as we all know his talent transcends the idea of race, but I’m just not sure which way the Academy will be leaning. I’d say it’s a 60/40 chance at the moment of seeing Casey Affleck win.

Best Actress
Isabelle Huppert – Elle
Ruth Negga – Loving
Natalie Portman – Jackie
Emma Stone – La La Land
Meryl Streep – Florence Foster Jenkins

Emma Stone is a lock on this one. Yes Isabelle Huppert is looming large and working the circuit, but with the Golden Globe and SAG, it’s Emma’s year. Do I think her performance in La La Land is Oscar-worthy? Not sure. Did I think Ruth Negga’s performance in Loving was less showy and more subtle? You bet. Nevertheless, it’s Emma Stone’s time to shine, and ultimately the only thing that annoys me about this category is the omission, and massive SNUB, of Amy Adams in Arrival. That’s the annoying part.

Best Supporting Actor
Mahershala Ali – Moonlight
Jeff Bridges – Hell Or High Water
Lucas Hedges – Manchester By The Sea
Dev Patel – Lion
Michael Shannon – Nocturnal Animals

Ooohh, so this one is a bit of a special this year, with Mahershala Ali being the frontrunner and Jeff Bridges tailing second. I’m a fan of both their performances although I was surprised at how short Mahershala Ali’s runtime in Moonlight was. Newcomer Lucas Hedges was also amazing, so well-done him for getting an Oscar nomination for his breakthrough performance. I hope, and I think, Moonlight will get this one. Jeff Bridges was outstanding but c’mon, it’s no different than all the other roles he’s been playing for these past years.

Best Supporting Actress
Viola Davis – Fences
Naomie Harris – Moonlight
Nicole Kidman – Lion
Octavia Spencer – Hidden Figures
Michelle Williams – Manchester By The Sea

I believe Viola Davis won the Tony Award for this exact role, so it’s hard to see how she could miss out on this award. Naomie Harris was all kinds of incredible in Moonlight but Viola has been sweeping awards for this role -Golden Globe, SAG, so there’s little competition here.

Best Original Screenplay
Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan
La La Land, Damien Chazelle
The Lobster, Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthimis Filippou
Manchester by the Sea, Kenneth Lonergan
20th Century Women, Mike Mills

Great inclusion of the Lobster here, although La La Land‘s presence in this categoy is looming very large indeed. Will Damien Chazelle be a double Oscar winner? Or will this Oscar be handed to Kenneth Lonergan as a consolation prize? Since that’s what very often happens, I think the latter is the more probable option. Also with the WGA taking place only next week, it’s kind of hard to tell. But I’ll go with Manchester by the Sea on this one.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Arrival, Eric Heisserer
Fences, August Wilson
Hidden Figures, Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi
Lion, Luke Davis
Moonlight, Barry Jenkins with story by Tarell Alvin McCranley

This one is -thankfully, Moonlight‘s to lose. I of course love Eric Heisserer’s work on Arrival, but I can’t see a scenario in which it upsets Moonlight. Same for all the other nominees. So keeping my fingers crossed to see Moonlight winning here.

Best Foreign-Language Film
Land of Mine
A Man Called Ove
The Salesman
Toni Erdmann

This one is split two ways at the moment: The Salesman as a political statement to resist Trump’s anti-immigration stance, or Toni Erdmann, the critics’ favourite since Cannes. I think it might be the latter, although never underestimate Hollywood’s will to make a statement.

Best Animated Film of the Year
Kubo and the Two Strings
My Life as a Zucchini
The Red Turtle

This category is always representative of Hollywood’s deep division: the indies on one hand and the blockbuster machines on the other. Two French films here, so cocorico! But the massive, looming shadow of Disney is irresistible and either Moana or Zootopia, with its box-office strength, will be the winner here.

Best Documentary Feature
Fire at Sea
I Am Not Your Negro
Life Animated
O.J.: Made in America

A lot of potential for political statements here as well, with Ava DuVernay’s 13th leading the charge. I actually think O.J. will win here, it’s such a massive subject matter for Americans.

Best Production Design
Arrival,” Patrice Vermette, Paul Hotte
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” Stuart Craig, Anna Pinnock
Hail, Caesar!,” Jess Gonchor, Nancy Haigh
La La Land,” David Wasco, Sandy Reynolds-Wasco
Passengers,” Guy Hendrix Dyas, Gene Serdena

Amazing work from all of these teams, and 1 of 2 nominations for Passengers (the 2nd nomination will be discussed hysterically in a couple of paragraphs below). La La Land is the heavy favourite here, and deservedly so, although I must say all other nominees –Arrival, Hail Caesar and Fantastic Beasts, have fantastic production design in their respective universe.

Best Cinematography
Arrival,” Bradford Young
La La Land,” Linus Sandgren
Lion,” Greig Fraser
Moonlight,” James Laxton
Silence,” Rodrigo Prieto

Ooooh so this one is a very tight one, with Prieto’s inclusion for Silence, the film’s only nod. And Lion, surprisingly enough, won the ASC awards a couple of weeks ago. I also figured both Arrival and La La Land are favourites here. Will La La Land sweep technical Oscars as well, or will this one follow the guild and hand it to Lion? I can’t tell…

Best Costume Design
Allied,” Joanna Johnston
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” Colleen Atwood
Florence Foster Jenkins,” Consolata Boyle
Jackie,” Madeline Fontaine
La La Land,” Mary Zophres

This one is also La La Land‘s to lose. But the Academy’s bias towards all things period drama also means Jackie, Florence Foster Jenkins and Allied could also be recognised. And what of uber-favourite Colleen Atwood? Utimately I would still hand this one for La La Land to win, but with less certainty than say, Best Feature and Best Actress.

Best Editing
Arrival,” Joe Walker
Hacksaw Ridge,” John Gilbert
Hell or High Water,” Jake Roberts
La La Land,” Tom Cross
Moonlight,” Nat Sanders and Joi McMillon

We all now how strongly linked to Best Picture this category is, so in all logic La La Land should win this one. Also it won the Eddie award alongside Arrival (the guild splits drama and comedy like the Golden Globes), so that means the race is closest between those two. But regardless if the guild has declared Tom Cross as the winner then he should be a shoo-in for the Oscar as well.

Best Makeup & Hairstyling
A Man Called Ove,” Eva von Bahr and Love Larson
Star Trek Beyond,” Joel Harlow and Richard Alonzo
Suicide Squad,” Alessandro Bertolazzi, Giorgio Gregorini and Christopher Nelson

The weirdest category. EVER. The omission of La La Land here is… interesting, and it’s fair to say Star Trek might win this one. Or perhaps Suicide Squad? Nah, I’ll keep my odds on Trek!

Best Music (Score)
Jackie,” Mica Levi
La La Land,” Justin Hurwitz
Lion,” Dustin O’Halloran and Hauschka
Moonlight,” Nicholas Britell
Passengers,” Thomas Newman

LUCKY NUMBER 14! OH WAIT, Thomas Nemwan still hasn’t won and still won’t be winning for his brilliant work on Passengers. Great. Just the idea of recognising him though, means there is so much love from this branch of the Academy for his work, it’s just that… Well it’s a La La Land year and Justin Hurwitz won the Golden Globe so he is (deservedly so) the heavy favourite. Next time Thomas, really…

Best Music (Song)
“Audition (The Fools Who Dream),” “La La Land” — Music by Justin Hurwitz; Lyric by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
“Can’t Stop the Feeling,” “Trolls” — Music and Lyric by Justin Timberlake, Max Martin and Karl Johan Schuster
“City of Stars,” “La La Land” — Music by Justin Hurwitz; Lyric by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
“The Empty Chair,” “Jim: The James Foley Story” — Music and Lyric by J. Ralph and Sting
“How Far I’ll Go,” “Moana” — Music and Lyric by Lin-Manuel Miranda

Oooh I really hope Moana wins, but I have a strong feeling one of the two La La Land songs will win -perhaps ‘Audition’ has a slight edge? Either way, the songs are absolutely gorgeous in La La Land so no complaints here.

Best Sound Mixing
Arrival,” Bernard Gariepy Strobl and Claude La Haye
Hacksaw Ridge,” Kevin O’Connell, Andy Wright, Robert Mackenzie and Peter Grace
La La Land,” Andy Nelson, Ai-Ling Lee and Steve A. Morrow
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” David Parker, Christopher Scarabosio and Stuart Wilson
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi,” Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush and Mac Ruth

Oooh this one is also though to call. The guild hasn’t held their awards yet, but I think, as usual, that La La Land is a great favourite here. Unless Arrival can perhaps win the sound categories? There’s something quite specific in the way sound is used in Arrival, I’m thinking if there are categories where it can beat La La Land it might be these ones. Unless Rogue One pulls it off, but I doubt it. And obviously the inclusion of two war films here is not to be underestimated. But I think this one might go to La La Land.

Best Sound Editing
Arrival,” Sylvain Bellemare
Deep Water Horizon,” Wylie Stateman and Renee Tondelli
Hacksaw Ridge,” Robert Mackenzie and Andy Wright
La La Land,” Ai-Ling Lee and Mildred Iatrou Morgan
Sully,” Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman

Again, I’m a bit uncertain of this one between Arrival and La La Land. It’s a tough one. And both Deepwater Horizon‘s and Sully‘s only nominations are here. But I think La La Land will most certainly win, in terms of sound editing, it’s just so outstanding.

Best Visual Effects
Deepwater Horizon,” Craig Hammack, Jason Snell, Jason Billington and Burt Dalton
Doctor Strange,” Stephane Ceretti, Richard Bluff, Vincent Cirelli and Paul Corbould
The Jungle Book,” Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones and Dan Lemmon
Kubo and the Two Strings,” Steve Emerson, Oliver Jones, Brian McLean and Brad Schiff
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” John Knoll, Mohen Leo, Hal Hickel and Neil Corbould

Will the Academy pull off a surprise like last year? Gold Derby has the Jungle Book as a favourite, so it might be this one, although I can also see Rogue One winning this one. Or Doctor Strange but I can see they’re all ILM films anyway. Kubo would be such a nice win, like last year’s, but can it pull it off versus such heavyweights?

And finally, as usual:

Best Documentary Short
“4.1 Miles,” Daphne Matziaraki
“Extremis,” Dan Krauss
“Joe’s Violin,” Kahane Cooperman and Raphaela Neihausen
“Watani: My Homeland,” Marcel Mettelsiefen and Stephen Ellis
“The White Helmets,” Orlando von Einsiedel and Joanna Natasegara

Best Animated Short Film
“Blind Vaysha,” Theodore Ushev
“Borrowed Time,” Andrew Coats and Lou Hamou-Lhadj
“Pear Cider and Cigarettes,” Robert Valley and Cara Speller
“Pearl,” Patrick Osborne
“Piper,” Alan Barillaro and Marc Sondheimer

Best Live Action Short Film
“Ennemis Interieurs,” Selim Azzazi
“La Femme et le TGV,” Timo von Gunten and Giacun Caduff
“Silent Nights,” Aske Bang and Kim Magnusson
“Sing,” Kristof Deak and Anna Udvardy
“Timecode,” Juanjo Gimenez

La La Land can win anywhere from 8 to 12 Oscars, wow! Let’s see if it really dominates this year, with the ceremony on 28th Feb. See you then!

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