Cary, NC – Hello again! It’s my favorite time of year, Oscar time! 2016 was filled with so many incredible and diverse pieces of work and filled with performances by so many wonderful actors, and it’s great to see that this year’s nominees are almost all universally deserved.
A Few of the Snubs
Having said that, there are always snubs, and this year was no different. No Amy Adams for her incredible turn in the fantastic sci-fi film Arrival? Annette Bening gave yet another deeply human performance in 20th Century Women and was again ignored by the Academy. Martin Scorsese finally made his passion project after 30 years with Silence and gave us one of his most thought-provoking and compassionate films to date, but no love here.
And that’s OK! The Oscars are not, and never will be, the end all, be all for great films. Time is the greatest critic of any movie. But for now, let’s take a look at the nominees and have some fun seeing who I think will, and maybe even who I think should, win.
- Emma Stone – La La Land
- Meryl Streep – Florence Foster Jenkins
- Natalie Portman – Jackie
- Ruth Negga – Loving
- Isabelle Huppert – Elle
Newcomer Ruth Negga was so, so good in Loving and this is one of my favorite nominees of the night because I honestly didn’t think she would get recognized at all. However, I don’t think this will be her year. Or Natalie’s or Meryl’s either for that matter.
The front-runner is Stone, who was so heartwarming and charming inLa La Land. However, Isabelle Huppert has gained a lot of traction in recent weeks with a surprise Golden Globe win for Elle. Elle is one of the few movies nominated I didn’t get a chance to see this year and I’m kicking myself for it. Directed by Paul Verhoeven (RoboCop, Basic Instinct), Elle is supposed to be a truly difficult, but fascinating, film.
Still, I think this is Stone’s to lose, and she’s the one I’m rooting for.
Will Win: Emma Stone<
Should Win: Emma Stone
- Ryan Gosling – La La Land
- Andrew Garfield – Hacksaw Ridge
- Denzel Washington – Fences
- Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea
- Viggo Mortensen – Captain Fantastic
I like Andrew Garfield a lot, but personally, I think he should have been nominated for Silence instead of Hacksaw Ridge. Viggo has been nominated a few times now and I think another one of his great performances is going to go unrecognized by the Academy this year.
Now, you can never count out Denzel. You should never count out Denzel. He was electrifying in Fences. I think he has a small chance to take it, more so than Gosling (who was so funny in La La Land).
But this is Affleck’s all day long. He gave one of the most quietly moving performances this year in Manchester by the Sea. He’s won just about every other award in this category and I don’t think much will change come Oscar night.
Will Win: Casey Affleck
Should Win: Casey Affleck
Best Supporting Actress
- Octavia Spencer – Hidden Figures
- Viola Davis – Fences
- Michelle Williams – Manchester by the Sea
- Nicole Kidman – Lion
- Naomie Harris – Moonlight
This is a tough one. I think there is a front-runner here in Davis. She gave Denzel a true run for his money and probably even took some of it for that matter. But I greatly preferred Williams’ devastating turn in Manchester by the Sea. She only had a few scenes, but she made sure her presence was felt.
Kidman and Harris have also received quite a bit of love for their respective performances and have a small shot at walking away with the trophy in hand.
But in the end, I think Davis will take it home.
Will Win: Viola Davis
Should Win: Michelle Williams
Best Supporting Actor
- Lucas Hedges – Manchester by the Sea
- Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water
- Dev Patel – Lion
- Mahershala Ali – Moonlight
- Michael Shannon – Nocturnal Animals
Every year there is at least one “wild card” category where there really isn’t a clear front-runner.
Bridges has taken a handful of awards for his turn in the modern western Hell or High Water, but I don’t think he’ll do it this night.
If I absolutely had to choose a front-runner, I’d go with Ali, who gave a great performance in a movie filled them. Moonlight has a real underdog shot at being the big winner on Oscar Sunday and this could be a good indicator on how the night goes for the film.
I’ve got to give some love to Michael Shannon though. He is one of my absolute favorite actors working, and he does not disappoint in Nocturnal Animals. That being said, he doesn’t stand a chance.
Will Win: Mahershala Ali
Should Win: Michael Shannon
- Damien Chazelle – La La Land
- Denis Villeneuve – Arrival
- Mel Gibson – Hacksaw Ridge
- Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester by the Sea
- Barry Jenkins – Moonlight
Oh man, this category is a doozy. Right off the bat, I’ll admit I’m pulling for Chazelle. I was head over heels for La La Land and I genuinely think he knocked it out of the park.
But even continuing with personal preference for a second, Villeneuve made a somber, thought-provoking science fiction film that got a genuine emotional reaction out of me. And Jenkins made an all-time great coming-of-age story with Moonlight.
I think Lonergan’s day will come down the road, and his work is absolutely deserving to be included here, but it’s not his time.
And honestly, I think Gibson is a terrific filmmaker. I didn’t have the same love for Hacksaw Ridge as a lot of people, but I’m glad he’s making movies again.
Chazelle deserves it and I think he’ll take it, but don’t be surprised if it’s Jenkins name that is called.
Will Win: Damien Chazelle
Should Win: Damien Chazelle
- La La Land
- Hidden Figures
- Hacksaw Ridge
- Manchester by the Sea
- Hell or High Water
Wow. That is a great list of movies right there.
I would be so tickled if Arrival took this one. I would so love it for a sci-fi movie to be named Best Picture. It won’t, but that would be great.
No, I think it comes down to three: La La Land, Manchester by the Sea and Moonlight.
At the beginning of awards season, Manchester by the Sea took the early lead and won a number of high profile awards, but in recent weeks it seems to have lost steam. Still, it has enough love that it could possibly eek out the win.
Moonlight has quietly been taking awards as well, including a surprise victory at the Golden Globes last month. There’s a real chance this could be named Best Picture of the year.
However, La La Land has been a true force in the awards game this year. It came out swinging and just never lost momentum, even as a minor backlash against the movie occurred, with many claiming it to be overrated. I am not one of those critics though. La La Land is a pure delight, an loving ode to classic Hollywood, with fun and catchy songs and superb performances from leads Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. This is the big winner of the night, folks, and deservedly so.
Will Win: La La Land
Should Win: La La Land
As I mentioned before, the only true test for any movie is if it can stand the test of time. But still, I love watching the Oscars and rooting for my favorites.
You can root for yours as well when the awards are handed out on Sunday, February 26, 2017 8e/5p on ABC!
Jordan Hunt reviews movies for CaryCitizen. Read more Movie Reviews. Photos from Facebook (La La Land, Manchester by the Sea, Fences, Moonlight and The Academy) and Cliff. Arts coverage on CaryCitizen is sponsored in part by The Cary Theater.