As you likely know by now, this weekend brings us The Academy Awards to officially close out the 2016 movie season. I genuinely care about the Oscars. Not in the same way that I care about my kid or Dirk Nowitzki or human rights, you understand, but still, I care. The Oscars cannot and should not define a movie nor an entire year in movies but an Oscar can serve as the cherry on top of the Great Movie Sundae, validation for the movie you love that no one saw, or occasionally a decade of angst over a terrible injustice. We here at Mad About Movies quite enjoy the Academy Awards, partly because of the opportunity it presents us to interact with you (some or all of us will be live tweeting the festivities and of course we’ll record our Oscars postgame episode right after the show ends) and partly because, more than anything else, the Oscars are a celebration of the year in film. So, in preparation for Sunday’s show, we present to you our respective predictions for the eight major awards, as well as a few notes on who we would vote for if given a vote.
What Will Win: La La Land (all three)
What Should Win: La La Land (Kent), Hell or High Water (Brian), Moonlight (Richard)
Kent: In a year with very little flair when it came to directing or originality, Chazelle paid homage to the classics while using all of today's technology to push the medium further. La La Land represented the best of the best in acting, directing, and cinematography for 2016.
Richard: If MacGruber isn't eligible--and I looked into it and it is, apparently, not-- I suppose La La Land is a fitting substitute. But, more I think about it, the more I feel that Moonlight is a more definitively 2016 movie. I'm fine with La La Land winning, but I don't know if it represents its era well, both to its credit and detriment.
Who Will Win: Damien Chazelle (all three)
Who Should Win: Damien Chazelle (all three)
Brian: I’m in love with what Barry Jenkins did with Moonlight and any case you want to make for his winning over Chazelle, I’m okay with. But I just can’t overlook Chazelle’s overall vision and the exquisite detail of every single frame of La La Land.
Kent: Can we just pencil in Chazelle for a Best Director nomination every time he releases a film? His vision is unbelievable. His respect for classic techniques and the timeless quality of filmmaking is extremely refreshing. He should win Best Director for pulling off the opening dance sequence in La La Land alone.
Who Will Win: Casey Affleck (Kent), Denzel Washington (Brian and Richard)
Who Should Win: Andrew Garfield (Kent), Casey Affleck (Brian), Denzel Washington (Richard)
Kent: I LOVED Gosling in La La Land, but I keep going back to Garfield's performance in Hacksaw Ridge as my favorite standout performance of the year. I expected a C, and Garfield delievered an A+. Affleck was great, but I felt Andrew Garfield's performance was more of a stretch from what we typically expect from him, especially playing an American soldier with a thick southern accent.
Richard: I think Denzel narrowly beats out Casey Affleck's performance for me. Denzel is so good that sometimes we don't laude him enough as an actor and simply credit him at a movie star (this is, of course, also true). I think the Academy (thanks to some anti-Casey feelings) will help correct this.
Brian: I think Denzel has this in the bag and while I’m always down with praising him in just about any form imaginable, I think Affleck ran circles around him and every other contender in the field this year.
Who Will Win: Natalie Portman (Kent), Emma Stone (Brian and Richard)
Who Should Win: Emma Stone (all three)
Kent: For some reason, the Oscars LOVE biopics. They also love movies about politics. Combine those two and add in an Oscar nominated actress in Natalie Portman? BOOM! Formula for Oscar gold. But Emma stone was INCREDIBLE in La La Land. She made me weep. And that's a good thing.
Brian: I’m still angry that Amy Adams isn’t in this category for Arrival. Makes zero sense whatsoever. Regardless, I find it hard to believe that this isn’t Stone’s year and deservedly so.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Who Will Win: Mahershala Ali (All three)
Who Should Win: Mahershala Ali (All three)
Richard: Dev Patel is great in Lion, but isn't that a leading role? Ali delivers the quintessential supporting performance of the year. Mesmerizing.
Brian: There’s this great bit in The Office, maybe season five, in which Michael Scott says to a rival branch manager, “If you so much as harm one hair on Stanley’s head…we will burn this place to the ground.” Richard and I joke about this all the time. It’s such an earnest moment in spite of its insanity. Well, if the Academy gives this award to anyone but Mahershala Ali…we will burn this place to the ground. Ali gave the best performance of the year in any category for my money and it is UNFATHOMABLE that anyone else would come out with the trophy.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Who Will Win: Octavia Spencer (Kent), Viola Davis (Brian and Richard)
Who Should Win: Viola Davis (All three)
Richard: To me, along with Chazelle, this is the biggest lock of the night--and totally deserved!
Brian: I’m not quite ready to riot over a potential Viola Davis snubbing as I am for Mahershala Ali but it’s very close. In his long, illustrious career, how many people (men or women), have gone toe to toe with Denzel Washington and come out on top? Davis BURIED Denzel in Fences and also she is beautiful and regal and eloquent and I just love her so DON’T SCREW THIS UP, ACADEMY.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
What Will Win: La La Land (All three)
What Should Win: Hell of High Water (All three)
Kent: Hard to imagine La La Land not sweeping every single award, especially for Chazelle's sharp and swift writing. But Hell or High Water combined action, suspense, drama, and comedy so well that it was the most memorable script of the year in my opinion.
Richard: I'd love to see Hell or High Water get one win on the evening, and I think this is its best shot. But I think La La Land nabs this one.
Brian: To me, this is the toughest category in the field. 20th Century Women wasn’t my thing but all four of the other contenders have a claim here. I’m 90% sure La La Land comes out with the trophy and can’t complain about that. But Taylor Sheridan’s script for Hell or High Water is an absolute masterwork.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
What Will Win: Moonlight (All three)
What Should Win: Arrival (Kent and Brian), Moonlight (Richard)
Kent: Arrival was adapted from a short story into one of the most imaginative science fiction films of all time, but Moonlight brought every emotion into each and every line, and it felt the most authentic and realistic when it came to the dialogue.
Brian: As good as Moonlight is (and while it lurks as a potential La La Land spoiler in several categories), I actually think the script is the “weakest” part. Still an “A”, mind you, but definitely not what I’m going to remember about the film. Arrival, however, is brilliantly written and the distilling of extremely complex concepts into something anyone can understand without losing any of the film’s intelligence is a stroke of genius.