Usually the most annoying or boring thing about the Academy Awards is how few surprises there are and how every winner is almost a lock, making office pools come down to best live-action short which is just not fair because you cannot accurately guess that winner no matter how much you know about movies. This year will be no different - in fact, it might be the worst one yet, in terms of expected surefire winners. Yawwwwn. As I'm sure you know, "La La Land" is going to sweep, whether it deserves to (like for music) or not (*cough* Emma *cough*). We'll have some political winners, some consolation prizes in categories where "LLL" isn't nominated or can stand to sit that one out (like...costumes), and some lazy down-ballot voting that gives it awards just because the voters don't know what else to do, like in political elections (except 99% of the time it is appropriate to just vote an entirely democratic ticket you morons). So heeeere weeee goooooo! (Now we...oh no...I know...oh no...(anyone?))
HELL OR HIGH WATER
LA LA LAND
MANCHESTER BY THE SEA
OH before we move on, I must say, this bunch of nominees is REDONK. "Hidden Figures" was a TV movie and maybe would have deserved an Emmy nomination if nothing about O.J. came out to fight it, but a Best Picture Oscar? You cray. "Manchester By The Sea"? Can you repeat this with me: NOT EVERY DECENT ARTHOUSE MOVIE THAT HAS LOTS OF SIGHING AND TORMENTED WHITE MEN IN WINTRY LANDSCAPES IS BEST PICTURE WORTHY. My five - yes five, as I say every year, because this expanded list does not work for me - would be "Lion", "Moonlight", "La La Land", and...and then I don't even know. "Fences" and "Arrival", maybe? You know what I'd give my last two spots to Clipping's new "Splendor & Misery" album and..."You've Got Mail".
ISABELLE HUPPERT - Elle
RUTH NEGGA - Loving
NATALIE PORTMAN - Jackie
EMMA STONE - La La Land
MERYL STREEP - Florence Foster Jenkins
CASEY AFFLECK - Manchester by the Sea
ANDREW GARFIELD - Hacksaw Ridge
RYAN GOSLING - La La Land
VIGGO MORTENSEN - Captain Fantastic
DENZEL WASHINGTON - Fences
VIOLA DAVIS - Fences
NAOMIE HARRIS - Moonlight
NICOLE KIDMAN - Lion
OCTAVIA SPENCER - Hidden Figures
MICHELLE WILLIAMS - Manchester by the Sea
MAHERSHALA ALI - Moonlight
JEFF BRIDGES - Hell or High Wate
LUCAS HEDGES - Manchester by the Sea
DEV PATEL - Lion
MICHAEL SHANNON - Nocturnal Animals
DENIS VILLENEUVE - Arrival
MEL GIBSON - Hacksaw Ridge
DAMIEN CHAZELLE - La La Land
KENNETH LONERGAN - Manchester by the Sea
BARRY JENKINS - Moonlight
I've seen some reports saying that this is the category that "La La Land" might lose, to spread the wealth with "Moonlight", but as much as I would love for that to happen, it won't. Damien Chazelle is the golden boy of Hollywood and is responsible for this super beloved movie, and he really is a phenomenal director. I think he deserved it more for "Whiplash" than "La La Land", the former of which was tight and flawless while the latter gets a bit loose in the cage for a while. "Arrival" is a very well directed movie too, so controlled and meticulous and nuanced, but "Moonlight" does those traits even better. "Moonlight" clearly demonstrates an even-keeled hand and eye for subtlety and careful pacing. "Manchester" tries for that careful pacing but ends up being way too slow and thudding instead of just aware. I would probably vote for Barry and would be thrilled if he scored the upset but "La La Land" is Damien's movie and the Academy will want to make sure he still likes them.
HELL OR HIGH WATER - Taylor Sheridan
LA LA LAND - Damien Chazelle
THE LOBSTER - LOLOL
MANCHESTER BY THE SEA - Kenneth Lonergan
20TH CENTURY WOMEN - Mike Mills
ARRIVAL - Eric Heisserer
FENCES - August Wilson (? he dead)
HIDDEN FIGURES - Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi
LION - Luke Davies
MOONLIGHT - Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin
Adapted screenplay is much harder for me to decide on. "Hidden Figures", no, it's screenplay was probably the biggest culprit in the amateurish feel. Or the direction. Either way, not going to win. "Arrival" was a very well done movie, but I guess it's direction shone more than the screenplay. I love that August Wilson is nominated for "Fences" when he died like more than a decade ago. I looked into it because I thought maybe they were just straight up using the play without significant changes or something to explain this. But no, he just happened to have worked on this that many years ago, and it took that long for this film adaptation of his beloved play to come to fruition. Part of the delay was that August wanted a black director, and during the intervening years Hollywood was like, 'hey we already have a black man in the White House; isn't that enough for you?' or something other horrible nonsense excuse for not hiring enough diverse people in the super white business, but then luckily Denzel was like fuck it I'll direct and I'll do a magnificent job and I better win an acting Oscar for it. But I'm hoping for either "Moonlight" or "Lion" to win, and I honestly can't decide. Both were the strongest movies of the year, mostly due to their bones - direction and writing. If I were forced to vote - which I'm not because I'm not a member of the Academy but hello to whoever might be reading this I would like to be - I have to go with "Moonlight". So well done and meticulous.
"Audition (The Fools Who Dream)" - LA LA LAND, BENJ PASEK & JUSTIN PAUL
"Can't Stop The Feeling!" - TROLLS, JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE ET AL.
"City of Stars" - LA LA LAND, JUSTIN HURWITZ AND PASEK & PAUL
"The Empty Chair" - JIM: THE JAMES FOLEY STORY, J. RALPH AND STING
"How Far I'll Go" - MOANA, LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA
Oh and obviously "La La Land" will win best score, there didn't even have to be other nominees in that category.
So what about the actual show? As we said in the height of the 2016 misery fest, the Oscars telecast should just be 3 hours of the In Memoriam so all the many, many greats that passed can get a decent send-off, and then just hand out awards to the winners for 20 minutes tops. If I were Meron and Zadan (I assume they are the producers, don't they get hired to produce everything), what would I do? First, I would have a Kennedy Center Honors-style Broadway legend tribute to the more musical losses we suffered. It’s especially important to copy the Kennedy Center Honors format since that legendary arts event is now going to be an orange cheeto honoring Ted Nugent and 311. Then there would be an amazing modern dance extravaganza for Bowie and Prince. Later would come long clips of “Singin’ in the Rain” with Debbie Reynolds followed by footage of all her “Will & Grace” appearances. ALL OF THEM! Bonus points for humanity if there is hidden footage of Mama Adler’s performance as Queen Lear or in Death of a Saleswomen. Then we would see all of Carrie Fisher’s late night appearances. ALL OF THEM! That would be justice. Especially because this crop of Oscar movies aren’t as great as Debbie was on W&G and Carrie was on every late night talk show. I don't think anything ever could be, actually.
Anyway, on that note, enjoy the Oscars! What do you think will win? What do you want to win? What wasn't nominated that should have been? Tell me things.