The Nominees: La La Land Manchester By The Sea Hidden Figures Moonlight Arrival Fences Lion Hell or High Water Hacksaw Ridge
What Will Win: La La Land
What Should Win: Manchester By The Sea
Should Have been Nominated: The Lobster (and also what should have won)
Does La La Land have some flaws? Yes. Is it the best musical ever? No. But it is maybe the most joyful film of the year and one of the few I have wanted to see more than once. I already feel the backlash if it wins. But it will not be a tragedy like Crash or Shakespeare In Love or others. So calm down film snobs and elitists, who don't get the irony of their own racist attacks.
I would very much want to revisit La La Land on the big screen in 15 /20 years if/when they rerelease it. Its a fun strong movie
Also, I would vote for Manchester By The Sea.
Nominees: Denzel Washington Casey Affleck Andrew Garfield Ryan Gosling Viggo Mortenson
Who Will Win: Denzel Washington
Who Should Win: Casey Affleck
Should Have Been Nominated: Colin Farrell (The Lobster)
Affleck has won nearly every award. Garfield is strong. As is Gosling as always. Making things look natural and easy is actually to Gosling's awards detriment to this point in his career.
Viggo is strong in a pretty weak movie.
I like Denzel Washington. He is a top tier actor. But that does not mean I think he gives the best performance out of these choices. He is strong as usual, but Affleck is more quietly heartbreaking. I'd place Denzel's performance as my 4th or 5th favorite of this list.
We know Matt Damon was originally cast and we can make an educated guess that Affleck is far superior to what Damon (a strong actor) could have brought to the role.
While Washington is strong in Fences, we don't have to imagine another actor in the role. We can see James Earl Jones in the same role. Just look it up online. And Jones is superior. People that win SAG, as Washington did, usually win the Oscar. Affleck was accused of sexual harassment a few years ago and that is coming back to haunt him now. That and making the Academy "more inclusive" could trip him up at the finish line.
Nominees: Emma Stone Natalie Portman Isabelle Huppert Meryl Streep Ruth Nega
Don't discount Streep's chances here. She is playing up the Trump is evil card at every possible turn. Which voters love. It has been confirmed with getting her more votes this awards season. As divided as the country seems right now, voters might well salivate over whatever speech they know she would make. She is a longshot but not as much as one might think. Don't be shocked if her name gets called in this wide open field.
Who Will Win: Isabelle Huppert
I am in the minority but I just see this happening. Heavy favorite Emma Stone gives an Oscar caliber performance and I'd be more than happy if her name gets called. But part of me thinks and has thought for months Huppert would take this one. Maybe its just my intuition, which means very little.
Who Should Win: Natalie Portman
Portman has a nearly impossible task. Play one of the most famous people in the world. Pull off heaps of emotion while at times seeming oddly cold. Give an accent that is not quite this and not quite that but most concede is crazy accurate to the subject without being a carbon copy Rich Little imitation. Look regal while also walking rigidly and sounding odd. All things Jackie Kennedy was at this time. Time has been kind to this first lady, who in footage was often stiff and uncomfortable.
And if at times Portman looks as if she is acting, it is because Jackie herself seemed to always be doing so. When the cameras are not on her we get a different person.
While it might not be everyone's most enjoyable performance of the year, try and imagine anyone else doing it better or even as well.
Should Have Been Nominated: Hailee Steinfeld (The Edge of Seventeen) and Amy Adams (Arrival or Nocturnal Animals)
Best Supporting Actor
Nominees: Jeff Bridges Mahershala Ali Lucas Hedges Dev Patel Michael Shannon
Who Will Win: Mahershala Ali
Who Should Win: Lucas Hedges
Ali is great in a performance that feels as if it is just starting when "poof" we never see him again. In an odd way this has played to his advantage as we want to see him again. So I can not say his Oscar will not be deserving. Still, it feels like unfinished work. By contrast, Trevante Rhodes has a role that feels far more complete. And his performance I think is even superior to Ali's. Playing an older version of the main character, Ali looks like a bodybuilder that resembles nothing of the character we saw last. But then just as quickly we see the younger version in his face through his surprising vulnerability. It is the performance that should have been nominated from Moonlight.
Lucas Hedges performance is a breakout. He holds his own as a teenager that is selfish, kind, grieving, and a bit of an asshole all at once. Which feels quite realistic for most teenagers, in spite of or sometimes because of what tragedy they might be going through. His performance is the one that would get my vote. But he will have other chances and his nomination alone was a small surprise.
Should Have Been Nominated: Hayden Szeto (The Edge of Seventeen) Hugh Grant (Florence Foster Jenkins)
Best Supporting Actress
Nominees: Viola Davis Michelle Williams Naomie Harris Nicole Kidman Octavia Spencer
Who Will Win: Viola Davis
Who Should Win: Viola Davis
Editing and direction can influence a performance. Make it better or worse. Davis cries to the point of doing that ugly cry; full of snot. You almost can not watch it it is so uncomfortable both physically and what it represents as happening to her character.
I looked at her Tony Award winning performance of this same role on Broadway. Same scene. Same performance given. And there you only get one take. Davis is incredible in a career defining role. You can not find anyone else that plays the role better. The only possible criticism being she outshines costar Denzel Washington she is so good.
Nominees: Moonlight Silence Lion La La Land Arrival
What Will Win: La La Land
Who Should Win: Pretty much any of these are worthy. Maybe La La Land, Silence, Arrival, Lion, and Moonlight in that order.
Best Original Screenplay
Nominees: Hell or High Water La La Land The Lobster Manchester by the Sea 20th Century Women
What Will Win: Manchester by the Sea
What Should Win: The Lobster and Manchester by the Sea are both great screenplays. The nomination is The Lobster's reward.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Nominees: Arrival Fences Hidden Figures Lion Moonlight
What Will Win: Moonlight
What Should Win: Arrival
Best Original Song
"City of Stars" La La Land
"Audition (The Fools Who Dream)" La La Land
"Can't Stop The Feeling" Trolls
"The Empty Chair" Jim: The James Foley Story
"How Far I'll Go" Moana
What Will Win: City of Stars La La Land
What Should Win: Audition (The Fools Who Dream) La La Land
What Should Have Been Nominated: "Lovely Night" La La Land
My favorite song of the movie that contained both Gosling and Stone together. I get the regard for "Audition." If Stone wins the Oscar, maybe 40 years from now she and Anne Hathaway can do the Vegas circuit where she sings this and Hathaway sings "I Dreamed a Dream." It will be nearly as big a reason she wins the Oscar as that song is to Hathaway. But "City of Stars" is my least favorite song in the whole film. (Though lyrically important)
What Should Have Been Nominated: "Drive It Like You Stole It" Sing Street
Carney's Sing Street is not his best film, but it does have an exuberance that all his movies possess. Set in the 80's, this is a song meant to sound like one from that time period (it does) while also encapsulating the feeling of the young main character (It does that too). It's also pretty catchy.
Best Original Score
Nominees: Moonlight Jackie Passengers La La Land Lion
What Will Win: La La Land
What Should Win: La La Land
What Should Have Been Nominated: Swiss Army Man