The 2017 Academy Award Nominations have just been announced. Like every year there are a few snubs, and of course some things worth noting. One being La La Land’s record of 14 nominations. Incredible! Also, Mel Gibson finally being forgiven by Hollywood, nominated for best director for Hacksaw Ridge. Below I’ll go over each major category, giving you a front runner, dark horse, and a snub.
Hell or High Water
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea
The front runner here of course is La La Land. Regarded as the best movie this year by most critics and some fans, it’s hard to bet against it. However, there’s the fact that the #Oscarssowhite campaign of 2016’s Oscars. On some occasions they like to divide the awards, meaning giving one film love for best director, and another best picture. I usually don’t like that because the best picture of the year had to be helmed by the best director. On the other hand I do appreciate giving each film some notoriety.
My dark horse has to be Moonlight or Hacksaw Ridge. Moonlight because of how powerful it is, telling a story from childhood to adulthood is no easy feat. It’d be a sign of good faith from the Academy to the people, showing them that they got the message. Hacksaw Ridge is my favorite film of 2016, so personally I’m rooting for it. The story of Desmond Doss is one of courage, and bravery that needed to be told on the big screen. If the Oscars are going for the redemption of Mel Gibson here, they may give him the Award, or earlier in the ceremony for Best Director. Of the 9 nominees, I believe the one that has the best chance of over throwing La La Land is Manchester by the Sea. Of the 9 it is the second best film, if you’re going purely off of that than you could see it winning. Moonlight and Hacksaw are dark horses for more of an outside narrative perspective. If there is a film to knock off La La Land, it’s Manchester.
I never understood why the Oscars can nominate 10 films but nominate less most years. I know they have this crazy algorithm for picking the nominees, but leaving off Sully, Birth of a Nation and Deadpool for the sake of the integrity of your awards show is a bit bizarre. Deadpool really picked up steam because of its inclusion at the Globes. I thought the Oscars would’ve picked up on the forward thinking they showed, but who are we kidding.
Damien Chazelle: La La Land
Mel Gibson: Hacksaw Ridge
Barry Jenkins: Moonlight
Kenneth Lonergan: Manchester by the Sea Denis Villeneuve: Arrival
So the front runner here definitely is Chazelle for La La Land. At the end of the day I do expect this film to clean up. Don’t get me wrong it’s a beautiful film, I just appreciated some films more this year.
You have to look out for Lonergan and Villeneuve for Manchester and Arrival. I believe Villeneuve should win this year, Arrival was directed beautifully, he manages to ground such a grand concept in reality. You don’t question it for a second. I believe you’ll know who is going to win Best Picture based on who wins here. If anyone other than Chazelle wins, La La Land will win best picture. If Chazelle does win, expect Moonlight or Manchester to win later.
I did expect Denzel Washington to be nominated for his direction of Fences. To take a play, that is just dialogue in one setting and turning that into such an enthralling film was incredible. I believe he deserved some recognition. Also Silence being snubbed for Best Picture and Scorsese for Director is truly bizarre as well. How does that happen? When he puts something out, it’s usually a foregone conclusion that we’d be talking about it here at Oscar time.
Isabelle Huppert: Elle
Ruth Negga: Loving
Natalie Portman: Jackie
Emma Stone: La La Land
Meryl Streep: Florence Foster Jenkins
The first category where a La La Land representative isn’t a front runner. I believe Natalie Portman should win here. Her portrayal of Jackie Kennedy was moving. The film around her may not have been the best, but she was the best actress this year. Emma Stone could win, but I believe Portman deserves this award more than anyone on this list, and for me it’s not close.
It’s hard to call Isabelle Huppert a dark horse because she just won at the Globes over all of these actresses. I have to mention her because her performance in Elle has been getting buzz leading up to the Oscars.
You could’ve had Amy Adams on this list for Arrival, personally I bump Streep and add her to the list. Streep is one of the greatest, but Adams deserved some recognition for Arrival.
Casey Affleck: Manchester by the Sea Andrew Garfield: Hacksaw Ridge
Ryan Gosling: La La Land
Viggo Mortensen: Captain Fantastic Denzel Washington: Fences
I’m going to say this now, Casey Affleck will win the Oscar this year. Again, for me it’s not close. The sadness, hurt, and just brokenness that he shows on his face makes him not only the front runner, but an obvious choice.
The second best performance here is Garfield in Hacksaw Ridge. Playing someone as courageous as Doss is hard to pull off. Watching Garfield go through so much as Doss makes you root for him here.
No Tom Hanks as Captain Sully? Hanks playing someone like Sully, a true American hero, not being recognized is a head scratcher. Until I saw Manchester, Hanks was my front runner for this award. Leave it to the Oscars to have a hippie pick like Viggo Mortensen over Tom Hanks. Nothing against Viggo, he’s great in Captain Fantastic. Hanks as Sully is infinitely better in my opinion.
Best Supporting Actress
Viola Davis: Fences
Naomie Harris: Moonlight
Nicole Kidman: Lion
Octavia Spencer: Hidden Figures
Michelle Williams: Manchester by The Sea
This is the hardest category to pick a winner. Right now I have to go with Viola in Fences. So powerful. The scene in the backyard with Denzel as she tells him that she’s been standing with him is so moving. If there’s a scene that can win someone an Oscar it’s that one.
Naomi Harris and Michelle Williams aren’t dark horses. They could very well win this award too. Harris as the drug addict mother in Moonlight was haunting. She loses herself into that role. Michelle Williams in Manchester is a heartbreaker. What she and her husband have to deal with in the film make it hard to pick against that.
No real snubs here. I believe everyone who deserves to be recognized for their work is in this category.
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
Mahershala Ali is the front runner here. He’s in Moonlight for the first act just about, which may hurt his chances some.
How he takes Chiron under his wing, treating him as his own gets your heart strings. That relationship in the first third of the film really sets up Chiron’s path for the rest of his life. Ali plays a great father figure. This is his coming out party.
Jeff Bridges is my dark horse. Hell or High Water is a brilliant modern day western. Bridges is magnificent in it as a sheriff that is on his way out, that takes up this case which is no easy task. There’s no one better in Hollywood to play an older sheriff than Bridges. I also loved Shannon in Nocturnal Animals, also playing someone on the police force evidently.
I don’t really see Vince Vaughn in Hacksaw Ridge as a snub, but I believe he should’ve been recognized. The arch of his character from hating everything Doss stands for to appreciating his courage was beautiful. Vaughn portrayed that beautifully in the best performance of his career.
Best Animated Film
Kubo and the Two Strings
My Life as a Zucchini
The Red Turtle
This is a two horse race between Kubo and Moana. Two beautiful animated films. Kubo is the first action packed animated feature in a long time. On top of that its about finding yourself and the importance of family. I also believe Moana could win. Moana’s music is some of the best this year. Muai and Moana’s journey together is fun to watch and that dynamic is very interesting. If I had to pick one it’d be Moana, but this is the hardest choice for me.