The Oscar Outlook 2017. Part 1 – by RA Bartlett

Best Short Film

Ennemis Intérieurs

La Femme et le TGV

Silent Nights

Sing

Timecode

While Intérieurs has a lot going for it, being relevant with the whole immigration issue, I think people like their shorts to be more crowdpleasing (that’s what she said). So it goes down to Sing and Timecode, however, a lot of actors aren’t the swiftest tailor in the squad, and might think Sing is the jukebox musical with the cartoon animals (Don’t trademark laws prevent this kind of thing?). So I’m picking Timecode.

Best Documentary Short

Extremis

4.1 Miles

Joe’s Violin

Watani: My Homeland

The White Helmets

Being topical is good, but unfortunately, three movies are about the same topic, which means the Academy could default to Social Issues Classic with the Holocaust-centered Joe’s Violin.
Best Documentary

Fire at Sea

I Am Not Your Negro

Life, Animated

13th

O.J.: Made in America

The favorite is O.J. but I don’t know, I’m just not feeling it. I’m sure some voters will be like “Wasn’t that on TV?”, and some will even be “Wasn’t that on TV and not a documentary? Robert Kardashian was played by Ross from Friends.” In general, I just think this won’t feel particularly unique. I’m going to break away from the crowd and predict 13th for the Ava Duvernay cred.

Best Foreign Language

Land of Mine, Martin Zandvliet, Denmark

A Man Called Ove, Hannes Holm,  Sweden

The Salesman,  Asghar Farhadi, Iran

Tanna, Bentley Dean, Martin Butler, Australia,

Toni Erdmann, Maren Ade, Germany

Before the Muslim Ban (yeah that’s what I’m calling it), the category was a lot more competitive. With Iranians unable to even enter the country, a lot of voters could see supporting The Salesman as a pointed political statement, even though Asghar Farhadi is boycotting the ceremony outright over it. Which seems strange–the L.A. community may be a bunch of hypocrites, but I’m pretty sure nobody with a career voted for Trump. What exactly is being boycotted? What member of the Trump administration is going to be sorry that there will be no acceptance speech on behalf of foreign film? Even if they weren’t xenophobic, you know…the subtitles.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Arrival
Fences

Hidden Figures
Lion
Moonlight

Moonlight won original at the WGA’s, which just shows how weird this category can be. However, I think it’s a shoe-in, it’s likely the highest honor the movie can reach, and Screenplay is often considered the “real” award for a lot of cinephiles. Its biggest combination is probably Arrival, a movie people don’t want to see go home empty-handed. The other three are very unlikely. They’re…movies for your parents. Movies for your parents aren’t screenplays for your parents. Screenwriting at its finest is an act of unmitigated defiance of everything your parents stand for, not the least of which is becoming a screenwriter.
Best Original Screenplay

Hell or High Water
La La Land
The Lobster
Manchester by the Sea

20th Century WOMEN

Any other year, I don’t think La La Land would stand a chance at winning–I was even surprised it was nominated. Escapist movies tend not to dominate the category. However, it’s not like the rest of the movies are especially cool kid choices. Nonetheless, Logerman is one those really respected writer people, Manchester is kind of vulnerable in Actor, and Manchester by the Sea is about white male angst, which is you know, the screenwriterest thing ever.

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

That the Academy will give Jeff Bridges nominations for all his mumbly movies except The Seventh Son must feel like a real slap in the face. I’m actually pretty sure most voters think Hedges is his spoiled townie from Manchester by the Sea. The biggest spoiler is Dev Patel, who is his movie’s only chance of a win, but whatever, Harvey Weinstein films have gone home empty-handed before. What really helps Mahershala Ali is his supporting turn in Hidden Figures as well. (I call it the Jim Broadbent factor)

Best Support Actress

Viola Davis, Fences

Naomie Harris, Moonlight

Nicole Kidman, Lion

Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures

Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea

Fun fact, Viola Davis was my godmother’s college roommate and I was seated with her at a wedding reception when I was eight. So it’s very funny when my family describes one of the preeminent actresses of her generation with “Oh, Viola is doing good”. She’s by far the biggest lock of the night, even if some consider it a case of “category fraud”, (When a co-star or lead is in the supporting category) but Kidman’s too much of a “movie star”, Spencer’s role was pretty light, Harris was kind of considered uneven, and Williams was in it for five minutes.

Best Actor

Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge

Ryan Gosling, La La Land

Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic

Denzel Washington, Fences

Just to establish how gender roles in Hollywood work, the woman who is in the musical is almost a lock, the guy is one of the longest shots. Casey Affleck was the frontrunner for a while, but the sexual harassment allegations are clouding over him, (though considering who they’ve awarded in the past, the “harassment” part is probably only a problem because it means he’s not good at it) and so many have been predicting Denzel Washington as a spoiler. But that would be a big statement–three acting awards are the most an actor tends to get, and Washington doesn’t have a rep as a chameleon. And really, he can be kind of annoying as well. “If you don’t read the news, you’re uninformed, if you read the news, you’re misinformed.” Thanks, Denzel, you’re the most insightful person as the cookout. Anyways, I’m going with Affleck, because if Jennifer Affleck’s curse on Ben Affleck’s year doesn’t pan out, that will upturn the entire Hollywood sorcerer community.

Best Actress

Emma Stone, La La Land

Natalie Portman, Jackie

Ruth Negga, Loving

Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

Isabelle Huppert, Elle

You know, I think this is the only category besides Effects where four of the nominees aren’t also best picture nominees? I guess I could go and check, but anyways, this is Stone’s. No way Streep is winning for her obligatory nomination. (God, I hate to even give Donald Trump an inch, but let’s be honest, that she got in for this and Amy Adams missed for Arrival is a pretty strong case for “overrated”) Natalie Portman has a lot of people who thought she was great in Jackie, normally from people who aren’t into biopics, which is exactly why she won’ win. Ruth Negga almost missed, and I think with a lot of socially conscious movies released this year, “Attractive People Can’t Pull Out: The Movie” seems less profound. Isabelle Huppert is long overdue for an Oscar really, but unless the voters spontaneously turn into a community of multiple Quentin Tarantinos, a Paul Verhoven rape revenge movie isn’t going to be ever an Oscar darling. That leaves Emma Stone. When one of Hollywood’s adorable ingenues stands even a chance of winning, you can expect a veritable steamroller.

Best Director

Denis Villeneuve, Arrival

Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge

Damien Chazelle, La La Land

Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea

Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
This is Chazelle’s to lose, but if he does lose, it will be to Barry Jenkins, who stands a chance a being the first black director to ever win. In the past, the more “entertaining” movie would win Picture, while the more “artistic” movie would win Director, but that’s not how it has been in the last ten years or so, making Chazelle the frontrunner still. Chazelle is actually a Rhode Islander like Viola Davis, making this a potentially huge night for the smallest state. However, chances are, Rhode Islanders are just too upset the movie about Vinnie Paz didn’t get nominated. “He shoulda gotten narminated fer his left hook if ya ask me.”

Best Picture

Arrival
Fences
Hacksaw Ridge
Hidden Figures
La La Land
Lion
Manchester by the Sea
Moonlight

This is the big one. If you ask me, I have somewhat weird feelings about La La Land, and especially it winning. It’s kind of dissonant for me to see awards shows having this anti-Trump sentiment and then giving a record amount of love to a movie that goes on about how the good old days were better when people loved jazz and Paris and nice clothes and gluten. I mean, I’m not saying this is the go-to picture for the alt right (girls like it too much), just don’t, you know, go on about how this is the movie we need right now. Anyways, this is the frontrunner, with Moonlight being the only real alternative choice. But La La Land will win, because if anything has defined the Academy this decade, is its love for movies about movies and performing. The Artist, Birdman, Argo, even The King’s Speech after a fashion. But what La La Land has is actually a mainstream, populist love. (At least I think so–it has the box office, but to be honest, all my friends are in showbiz, pretty much) It would be a pretty interesting statement to say the movie that has everything going for it misses out because the plebes actually like it. And it only pretended to be in the 1940’s.



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