I hate the Oscars; I know that they are entirely meaningless and serve little purpose other than to reward those who gave the most money to the Academy. I know that the same types of films are nominated every year, as they follow the same focus group-tested algorithm and were factory-built for award season. And I know that it is a tacky ceremony that spends most of its time congratulating itself and the many white people who didn’t do much to deserve it. But I watch it every year. I love complaining to no one when my favorites don’t win, I love the ridiculous over-polished musical performances and I love placing my bets. So here they are.
- Arrival – Shawn Levy, Dan Levine, Aaron Ryder, and David Linde
- Fences – Scott Rudin, Denzel Washington, and Todd Black
- Hacksaw Ridge – Bill Mechanic and David Permut
- Hell or High Water – Carla Hacken and Julie Yorn
- Hidden Figures – Donna Gigliotti, Peter Chernin, Jenno Topping, Pharrell Williams, and Theodore Melfi
- La La Land – Fred Berger, Jordan Horowitz, and Marc Platt
- Lion – Emile Sherman, Iain Canning, and Angie Fielder
- Manchester by the Sea – Matt Damon, Kimberly Steward, Chris Moore, Lauren Beck, and Kevin J. Walsh
- Moonlight – Adele Romanski, Dede Gardner, and Jeremy Kleiner
Who Will Win: La La Land is undoubtedly going to take it this year. We all know Hollywood loves giving awards to movies about Hollywood. 2016 was a bleak and endless string of one depressing story after another, and we as a nation desperately needed a nostalgic musical tribute to old-Hollywood and young dreamers with some jazz, bright colors and tap dancing. The inevitable backlash has come in waves but I would shoot myself in the foot before I fully admit that this movie is just processed, American cheese, escapism. (It probably is, but still). This is not a time to be a cynic. I need this.
Who Should Win: La La Land, Moonlight or Arrival.
- Denis Villeneuve – Arrival
- Mel Gibson – Hacksaw Ridge
- Damien Chazelle – La La Land
- Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester by the Sea
- Barry Jenkins – Moonlight
Who Will Win: Damien Chazelle.
Who Should Win: Denis Villeneuve, for a gorgeous homage to Kubrick and one of the best science fiction films of the decade.
- Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea as Lee Chandler
- Andrew Garfield – Hacksaw Ridge as Desmond T. Doss
- Ryan Gosling – La La Land as Sebastian Wilder
- Viggo Mortensen – Captain Fantastic as Ben Cash
- Denzel Washington – Fences as Troy Maxson
Who Will Win: Either Casey Affleck or Denzel Washington.
Who Should Win: Denzel Washington. Manchester by the Sea falls under a genre of Oscar bait called “sadness porn” and while I don’t want to downplay the difficulty of playing a character like Lee Chandler, I’ve grown tired of Oscars automatically going to performances that consist of 90% crying.
- Isabelle Huppert – Elle as Michèle Leblanc
- Ruth Negga – Loving as Mildred Loving
- Natalie Portman – Jackie as Jackie Kennedy
- Emma Stone – La La Land as Mia Dolan
- Meryl Streep – Florence Foster Jenkins as Florence Foster Jenkins
Who Will Win: Emma Stone.
Who Should Win: Isabelle Huppert is one of the greatest actresses working today, and she is excellent at playing such a twisted and perverse character who waffles between being victim and predator. Nobody could have pulled this off quite like her. Meryl Streep is not going to win but I’ll be damned if an Oscar-baity role isn’t hastily written for her every year for the rest of her life until her ghost haunts the Academy.
- Mahershala Ali – Moonlight as Juan
- Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water as Marcus Hamilton
- Lucas Hedges – Manchester by the Sea as Patrick Chandler
- Dev Patel – Lion as Saroo Brierley
- Michael Shannon – Nocturnal Animals as Detective Bobby Andes
Who Will Win: Mahershala Ali
Who Should Win: Mahershala Ali. Moonlight was a character piece featuring three great actors portraying the protagonist during different stages of his life. Had it been up to me, all three of them would have gotten a nod, but Ali was the glue- subtle and tough when needed as a father figure to a troubled and lonely boy he saw so much of himself in.
- Viola Davis – Fences as Rose Maxson
- Naomie Harris – Moonlight as Paula
- Nicole Kidman – Lion as Sue Brierley
- Octavia Spencer – Hidden Figures as Dorothy Vaughan
- Michelle Williams – Manchester by the Sea as Randi
Who Will Win: I would be shocked if it were anyone but Viola Davis.
Who Should Win: Viola Davis.
- Hell or High Water – Taylor Sheridan
- La La Land – Damien Chazelle
- The Lobster – Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthimis Filippou
- Manchester by the Sea – Kenneth Lonergan
- 20th Century Women – Mike Mills
Who Will Win: La La Land
Who Should Win: The Lobster– I’m pleasantly surprised by the overwhelmingly positive reactions to a film I thought would be more polarizing. Yorgos Lanthimos spearheads our soulmate-obsessed world by using surrealism and absurdist comedy to show that seeing the world in such a black and white way is silly and antiquated. The award is for best original screenplay and The Lobster is nothing if not original.
- Arrival – Eric Heisserer from “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang
- Fences – August Wilson from Fences by August Wilson (posthumous nomination)
- Hidden Figures – Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi from Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
- Lion – Luke Davies from A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley and Larry Buttrose
- Moonlight – Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney from In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue by Tarell Alvin McCraney
Who Will Win: Fences
Who Should Win: Barry Jenkins. Moonlight was his second feature film ever, and his first one in eight years. And what a promising return this was. I hope he doesn’t disappear for another eight years- I really appreciate films that give representation to closeted kids who grew up to be intensely private and solitary adults.
- Kubo and the Two Strings – Travis Knight and Arianne Sutner
- Moana – John Musker, Ron Clements, and Osnat Shurer
- My Life as a Courgette – Claude Barras and Max Karli
- The Red Turtle – Michaël Dudok de Wit and Toshio Suzuki
- Zootopia – Byron Howard, Rich Moore, and Clark Spencer
Who Will Win: Moana– beautifully animated Disney film with some conscious feminist effort.
Who Should Win: Zootopia or Kubo and the Two Strings. The former was one of the funniest satires of the year and the latter featured some of the most intricate and gorgeously rendered stop-motion animation since Coraline. And we need more stop-motion epics.
- Land of Mine (Denmark) in Danish – Martin Zandvliet
- A Man Called Ove (Sweden) in Swedish – Hannes Holm
- The Salesman (Iran) in Persian – Asghar Farhadi
- Tanna (Australia) in Nauvhal – Martin Butler and Bentley Dean
- Toni Erdmann (Germany) in German – Maren Ade
Who Will Win: The Salesman. Asghar Farhadi, an Iranian director, was affected by the travel ban recently put in place and he talks about this injustice here. I’m hoping that whoever accepts the award on his behalf uses the attention as a platform to address the issue.
Who Should Win: The Salesman or Toni Erdmann
- Jackie – Mica Levi
- La La Land – Justin Hurwitz
- Lion – Dustin O’Halloran and Hauschka
- Moonlight – Nicholas Britell
- Passengers – Thomas Newman
Who Will Win: La La Land.
Who Should Win: I have listened to nothing but the La La Land soundtrack since December.
- “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” from La La Land – Music by Justin Hurwitz, Lyric by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
- “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” from Trolls – Music and Lyric by Justin Timberlake, Max Martin, and Karl Johan Schuster (Shellback)
- “City of Stars” from La La Land – Music by Justin Hurwitz, Lyric by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
- “The Empty Chair” from Jim: The James Foley Story – Music and Lyric by J. Ralph and Sting
- “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana – Music and Lyric by Lin-Manuel Miranda
Who Will Win: “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)”.
Who Should Win: “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)”. La La Land had a lot of great songs and while my two favorites (“Someone in the Crowd” and “Another Day of Sun”) didn’t get a nomination, I would gladly give it to “Audition”. And the best song in Moana was “You’re Welcome” and by snubbing it of a nomination we have missed out on Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson singing it on live television.
- Arrival – Patrice Vermette and Paul Hotte
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – Stuart Craig and Anna Pinnock
- Hail, Caesar! – Jess Gonchor and Nancy Haigh
- La La Land – David Wasco and Sandy Reynolds-Wasco
- Passengers – Guy Hendrix Dyas and Gene Serdena
Who Will Win: Arrival or La La Land.
Who Should Win: Arrival or La La Land. The former for the fact that everything relating to the aliens and the way they communicate was so creative and carefully crafted, and the latter for that one scene at the planetarium.