The Academy Awards ballots were handed in this past Tuesday, Feb. 21. We have stewed on this for months now, looking for alternatives in different sectors of the film year. Everything has pointed to “La La Land,” with a few subtle hints along the way that it COULD be something else. Pending the biggest shocker since “Crash” bested “Brokeback Mountain” in 2005, “La La Land” should be winning Best Picture accordingly. The big question is how many other awards can it win?
Before we get to that number, let’s go through the categories that it is predicted to NOT win (and where it isn’t nominated).
In one of the tightest Best Actor races, both Casey Affleck (“Manchester by the Sea”) and Denzel Washington (“Fences”) have duked it out admirably all season. The former won virtually everything in his path except for the coveted SAG prize where he was bested by two-time Academy Award winner Washington, who had never won at SAG previously. Since I first saw “Fences,” I shared a prediction that Affleck would win everything up until SAG, where the tide would turn à la Jean Dujardin. Might as well ride that ship into pasture.
Supporting Actor is a firestorm of possibilities as Mahershala Ali (“Moonlight”) walks in the door with Critics’ Choice and SAG prizes. BAFTA threw some much needed love to Dev Patel (“Lion”). Perhaps foolishly, I’ve spoken at length about keeping a close eye on Michael Shannon (“Nocturnal Animals”). Believing that we are doomed to repeat history, the last time a Golden Globe winner for Supporting Actor won and failed to get Oscar nominated, his co-star from the same film won. As tempting as it is, though, I’m sticking with the passionate Ali to hold his Oscar on Sunday.
There’s not much conversation needed in Supporting Actress where Viola Davis (“Fences”) has won every award on the planet. She’s the surest thing walking into the night. One other thing would be “The Jungle Book” taking home Visual Effects, but “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” may tempt some voters to reward the resurrection of beloved characters and youth.
Going back to “La La Land” running the table, it’s in play for every award it’s up for. The tightest race is Original Screenplay, where it’s lost to “Manchester by the Sea” at BAFTA and “Moonlight” at WGA (though it’s nominated in Adapted at the Academy). Being so bullish on a musical not winning this category for months, in the end, I was drawn back to it to become the first winner since 1968’s “The Producers” by Mel Brooks. This will be one that I’ll kick myself for on Sunday.
Adapted Screenplay is a whole other animal. Any of the five can win…and I mean it. ANY. Safe bet is to go with “Moonlight” which won the Writers Guild of America award in Original Screenplay. That probably measured up to passion, but late “Hidden Figures” trajectory at the SAG Awards, and most recently, Costume Designers Guild Awards, makes me think we could have our “Gods and Monsters” Part 2 on our hands.
Animated Feature showed itself as a potential shocker when we saw “Kubo and the Two Strings” beat out “Zootopia” at BAFTA. Though the campaign from Laika and Focus Features was impressive, “Zootopia” has won too much to fall apart by the end. I wonder if “Moana” could become a “default” choice?
Makeup and Hairstyling seems like a passionless category. The blockbuster “Star Trek Beyond” should prevail, but “A Man Called Ove” is rumored to have very vocal admirers.
So where else will we see “La La Land” win?
Production Design has a fight between the musical and the BAFTA-awarded “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” With that, I’m going with “La La Land.”
Cinematography is usually tailor-made for a science fiction film like “Arrival.” However, the ASC awarded “Lion” and its DP Greig Fraser a few weeks back. Critics’ Choice and BAFTA went with Damien Chazelle’s musical. With that, I’m with “La La Land.”
Film Editing is a tad trickier. The ACE Eddies bestowed prizes on “Arrival” and “La La Land” before BAFTA said “Hacksaw Ridge” was the best editing of the year by John Gilbert. While it will hurt to see “Arrival” go home potentially empty-handed, with that, I’m still sticking with “La La Land.”
The Costume Designers have given award after award to “Jackie” for the past three months. That is, up until it lost the Costume Guild this past week to the surging “Hidden Figures.” “La La Land” won the contemporary category in a walk surely. With all that, I’m staying with the film about the former first lady of the United States of America. I think “Jackie” manages to edge “La La Land” out.
The Sound categories are crazy weird. Musicals win Sound Mixing and that’s always the safe bet. This is proven by past winners like “Ray” and “Les Miserables.” But a musical has never been nominated in Sound Editing. How does an Academy member interpret that? Could “La La Land” be an easy check off in both categories? BAFTA threw a wrench with “Arrival” taking the prize but “Hacksaw Ridge” did well with its own guild awards. With that, I’m going with “Hacksaw Ridge.” When in doubt, choose the war film.
Original Score and Song aren’t worth too much breath. Both made for “La La Land” and “City of Stars,” respectively.
Documentary Feature has felt like “O.J.: Made in America” to many but I’ve had my doubts for some time. A few Academy members expressed their disapproval of the film competing because it was on TV. Netflix also mounted a perfect campaign for “13th” with TV spots and advertisements any place an Academy member would look. My suspicion is that Ava DuVernay will win her first Academy Award (and hopefully not her last).
Foreign Language Film is also open to any three of “A Man Called Ove,” “The Salesman” and “Toni Erdmann.” With the Muslim Ban and Asghar Farhadi not attending the ceremony, I think some voters may have been persuaded to not only watch the film but vote for it. Farhadi should become a two-time winner on Sunday.
The shorts are always a crap shoot, and usually the thing that makes you either win or lose your Oscar office pools. Simply put, I’m going with “Pearl,” “Joe’s Violin” and “Ennemis Interieurs.” All with no certainty at all.
And of course, the Director Oscar will go to Damien Chazelle, who will be the youngest winner in the Academy’s history.
So the final tally for “La La Land” will be…10. Tying the record with “West Side Story” as the most awarded musical in the Academy’s history but one short of tying “Ben-Hur,” “Titanic” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” as the most awarded film ever.
You can check out all the final predictions via the sidebar and visit each page for commentary on each race.
CLICK THROUGH THE FINAL OSCAR PREDICTIONS:
PICTURE |DIRECTOR | LEAD ACTOR | LEAD ACTRESS |SUPPORTING ACTOR |SUPPORTING ACTRESS |ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY |ADAPTED SCREENPLAY |ANIMATED FEATURE |PRODUCTION DESIGN | CINEMATOGRAPHY | COSTUME DESIGN | FILM EDITING | MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING | SOUND MIXING | SOUND EDITING | VISUAL EFFECTS | ORIGINAL SCORE | ORIGINAL SONG | DOCUMENTARY FEATURE | FOREIGN LANGUAGE | LIVE ACTION SHORT | ANIMATED SHORT | DOCUMENTARY SHORT
COLLECTIVE OSCAR PREDICTIONS LISTING:
- BEST PICTURE – “La La Land”
- BEST DIRECTOR – Damien Chazelle, “La La Land”
- BEST ACTOR – Denzel Washington, “Fences”
- BEST ACTRESS – Emma Stone, “La La Land”
- BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – Mahershala Ali, “Moonlight”
- BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – Viola Davis, “Fences”
- BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY – Damien Chazelle, “La La Land”
- BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY – Barry Jenkins, Tarell McCraney, “Moonlight”
- BEST ANIMATED FEATURE – “Zootopia”
- BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN – “La La Land”
- BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY – “La La Land”
- BEST COSTUME DESIGN – “Jackie”
- BEST FILM EDITING – “La La Land”
- BEST MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING – “Star Trek Beyond”
- BEST SOUND MIXING – “La La Land”
- BEST SOUND EDITING – “Hacksaw Ridge”
- BEST VISUAL EFFECTS – “The Jungle Book”
- BEST ORIGINAL SCORE – “La La Land”
- BEST ORIGINAL SONG – “City of Stars” from “La La Land”
- BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE – “13th”
- BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM – “The Salesman”
- BEST ANIMATED SHORT – “Pearl”
- BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT – “Joe’s Violin”
- BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT – “Ennemis Interieurs”