I briefly debated sharing my thoughts on the Oscar-nominated movies from this year, seeing as I have not been able to see most of the films (even though I really want to, more so than other years). But then I found out that even my limited viewing is more extensive than some of the Oscar judges assigned to vote for Best Animated Feature Film. Thus, here are some of my predictions for this year’s Academy Award winners, derived from opinion, word of mouth, previous honors and common frames of logic.
Starting with Best Actors and Actresses, it feels likely that “La La Land” will take at least one of these titles. Should it be just one, my guess is Emma Stone. I feel that either Casey Affleck or Denzel Washington could easily beat out Ryan Gosling. Both Fences and Manchester by the Sea are also movies that could easily hold a lot of sway in these categories, with Lucas Hedges, Michelle Williams and Viola Davis all nominated for Supporting Roles. Hedges could become tied for the youngest actor to win an Academy Award, or perhaps Meryl Streep will add another to her stack of them for a movie that few people even saw (except for me, oddly enough).
Moving on to Music, these are two other categories that “La La Land” will likely take, with Original Score seeming like a bit of a no-brainer with the only musical in the running, and two nominations for Original Song. I, however, would also love to see Lin-Manuel Miranda receive his EGOT for “How Far I’ll Go” from “Moana,” so this is the song I personally hope will win.
Then we have the nominees for Best Animated Feature. This is actually the category for which I have seen most of the nominated films, these being all of the ones produced in the United States. And as much as I want “Kubo and the Two Strings” to win, for Laika to get more recognition, be it for this or Best Visual Effects, I know in my heart that it won’t. There are two Disney movies on the board, and it has to be one of them. And looking at these two movies, the consensus seems pretty clear. I love “Moana,” I think it has one of the most appealing visual styles and animation out of any of these films, as well as some of the best music, but in terms of the writing, “Zootopia” has it clearly beat. Besides acting as commentary on modern race relations in America, all in a way that children can understand, the film is hilarious and entertaining and the story flows smoothly. Not to mention, with “Moana,” there’s a specific formula being put into place. Even though the characters make fun of these tropes, “Moana” checks off every single one on the “Disney Princess movie” list. Disney doesn’t have a formula for a buddy-cop movie, so they already give themselves freedom to be more inventive. If better writing is what makes the better movie (as it did with “Spotlight” last year), then the result already clear. And seeing as “Zootopia” took the Golden Globe for Best Animated Picture already, the assumption is strengthened even further.
Speaking of writing, I will be pretty shocked if “Fences” doesn’t take Best Adapted Screenplay. I know that Moonlight is another favorite this year, but August Wilson is a legend. As for Original Screenplay, my prediction leans towards “Manchester by the Sea,” maybe “Hell or High Water.” What can I say, everyone loves a good grief story this time of year.
And finally, we get to Best Picture. An interesting thing here is that the only one of these films that I have yet seen is “La La Land,” and I am positive when I say that it is not going to win. I enjoyed the movie, I liked what they were trying to do and my problems with it do not center around the ending, but mostly around the small things that they could have done and didn’t (a Busby Berkeley-style dance number, adjusting the camera angle here and there to make it look more similar to the styles of the 1940’s, telling the actors in the recording booth to sing louder, making Ryan Gosling’s character more likable, etc). In regards to the two most highly-rated nominees, my bets are on “Moonlight.” Yes, it “checks all the boxes” of what people look for in an Oscar-nominated film, centering around matters of race, sexuality, poverty, family and identity, meaning that this is a movie the world needs right now. And I can easily agree. (Granted, one could also make an argument for the film “Arrival,” with its emphasis on the importance of communication, but when has a science-fiction movie ever won Best Picture?) With “Moonlight,” history could be made. We could see the first Best Picture winner to feature a homosexual protagonist, as well as the first black man to win Best Director, and I would love for this to happen! Hence, this is my number-one prediction for Best Picture, with my second probably being “Manchester by the Sea.” If “La La Land” actually does win, it would be just too easy to write it off as a love letter to Hollywood, and I think the judges have the capacity to see more than that.
I look forward to seeing all of the results this Sunday night, and eventually, of course, the films themselves.