Tuesday, January 24, 2017

2017 Oscar Nominations Predictions

It's that time of year again -- the Golden Globes are in the rearview and the next exit is Oscar Nomination Tuesday (if we can get through the traffic jam on the 110, that is). As usual, I will have plenty of catching up to do, but I've at least seen the consensus frontrunners of La La Land, Moonlight, and Manchester by the Sea. Just on the merits of those three alone, it's a stronger field than last year (to say nothing of Arrival, Silence, and Hell or High Water -- also fantastic). I have yet to see a number of the more awards bait-y potential nominees, but I'm confident I'll once again be able to see all the major category nominees before the big show. (Thank the cinema gods for leaked FYC screeners! Trust me, it's not a big deal.) But even with a few blind spots, it's time to get my predictions on record. I set a high bar last year with 39/44 correct picks. While I'm not expecting to do that well again (this is a tougher year to predict), I'll settle for doing better than the 31/45 from the year before. As usual, this is just for the top 8 categories (with all nominees listed in order of likelihood).

* = haven't seen it
^ = early winner prediction

Barry Jenkins – Moonlight^
Eric Heisserer – Arrival
Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi – Hidden Figures*
August Wilson – Fences*
Tom Ford – Nocturnal Animals
Next in line:
Luke Davies – Lion*
Andrew Knight and Robert Schenkkan – Hacksaw Ridge*
Todd Komarnicki – Sully*
Jeff Nichols – Loving

Comments: I'm only 100% confident on Moonlight's gripping "a life in three acts" masterpiece. Any of the other four could miss out and I wouldn't be shocked. Arrival seems to be in the next-best shape, with a likely Best Picture nomination coming its way. It's nearly flawless script should pick up a nom as well. Hidden Figures and Fences -- stories focused on race -- should benefit from topicality and a (hopeful) backlash against the "#OscarsSoWhite" nonsense of the past couple nomination mornings. (Will both get nominated though?) I think Tom Ford's complex, if uneven, writing for the excellent Nocturnal Animals will prove a bigger draw for the writers than Lion (supposedly too maudlin -- but then, I haven't seen it). Hacksaw Ridge and Sully seem to still have a little bit of buzz about them, so a nom here wouldn't be shocking, while Loving seems to have lost whatever momentum it had -- and it's probably too low-key for a nomination. (Too bad though -- it's very good.) There is also a good a good possibility for a left-field nominee here (Deadpool?).

Wishful thinking: Park Chan-wook and Chung Seo-kyung – The Handmaiden

Damien Chazelle – La La Land^
Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester by the Sea
Taylor Sheridan – Hell or High Water
Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou – The Lobster
Noah Oppenheim – Jackie
Next in line:
Various – Zootopia*
Matt Ross – Captain Fantastic*
Paul Laverty – I, Daniel Blake*

Comments: Speaking of left-field nominees, this category is famous for them. Can 20th Century Women sneak in here? Toni Erdmann? My left-field nominee of choice is Jackie for no other reason than it looks prestigious on the ballot. Truthfully, it could be any of the "next in line" options -- but I haven't seen them (that said, none of them strikes me as Oscar material). The Lobster might strike some as a left-field choice as well, but it's unique enough (not necessarily in a good way) that it has likely stuck in voters' heads. (The top three -- two best picture shoo-ins and the indie darling of the summer -- seem secure.) This will be the first category I look for in the morning.

Wishful thinking: Jeremy Saulnier – Green Room, Shane Black and Anthony Bagarozzi – The Nice Guys, Joel and Ethan Coen – Hail, Caesar!, Various – Sausage Party (great year for screenplays)

Viola Davis – Fences*^
Naomie Harris – Moonlight
Michelle Williams – Manchester by the Sea
Nicole Kidman – Lion*
Octavia Spencer – Hidden Figures*
Next in line:
Janelle Monae – Hidden Figures*
Greta Gerwig – 20th Century Women*

Comments: This one seems too easy to call, which makes me nervous. It'd be an upset if any of the top four miss out in the morning, going by precursors and prognostications. Spencer -- a previous nominee and a showier performer than Monae (who I preferred to Harris in Moonlight, by the way) -- figures to take the last slot. Williams is probably the least sure thing given her relative lack of screentime, but she makes up for it with some of the most powerful scenes of the year. If anyone falters, Monae or Gerwig would be the beneficiary. I don't really see a wild card here, but you never know.

Wishful thinking: Janelle Monae – Moonlight, Abbey Lee – The Neon Demon

Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water
Mahershala Ali – Moonlight^
Dev Patel – Lion*
Hugh Grant – Florence Foster Jenkins*
Lucas Hedges – Manchester by the Sea
Next in line:
Aaron Taylor-Johnson – Nocturnal Animals
Ben Foster – Hell or High Water
Kevin Costner – Hidden Figures*

Comments: This one also seems too easy -- Bridges and Ali are locks, Patel seems safe, and there is the growing sentiment that Grant is "overdue" for an Oscar nomination (I don't particularly want to see his film, so I'm hoping he misses out for selfish reasons). Hedges' performance isn't as polished as the rest of the nominees or "next in line" guys, which might work against him, but he nails the minutiae of teenage grief better than just about anyone I've ever seen. If he misses out, I'd be happy to see Taylor-Johnson or Ben Foster in his stead (for two very similar performances). Costner has a good shot if Hidden Figures has a big morning. These guys seem to be about the only real contenders here.

Wishful thinking: Yƍsuke Kubozuka – Silence, Michael Shannon – Nocturnal Animals, ‎Alden Ehrenreich – Hail, Caesar!, John Goodman – 10 Cloverfield Lane

Emma Stone – La La Land^
Natalie Portman – Jackie
Amy Adams – Arrival
Meryl Streep – Florence Foster Jenkins*
Isabelle Huppert – Elle*
Next in line:
Annette Bening – 20th Century Women*
Ruth Negga – Loving
Emily Blunt – Girl on the Train*

Comments: Note to self -- see more female-led films next year. That's over half the contenders for the two actress awards I have not seen. Yeesh. Anyway, this is a crowded field -- there are really 7 strong contenders for 5 spots. This much I know -- Stone and Portman are in. No need to discuss those two. Adams is probably safe, but it seems like she's been nominated every year recently, which might work against her. I wonder if that same logic applies to Streep? I'll keep her in the fold just to be safe, especially after that Golden Globes speech. That leaves Huppert (also a winner at the Globes), Bening, and Negga for the last spot. (I doubt Blunt gets there -- I mean, she somehow missed for Sicario -- but she's Emily fucking Blunt, so who am I to doubt her?) None of them is a particularly big movie -- no Best Pic nom figures to be forthcoming to boost their chances here -- so you gotta go with who has the most hardware, which would be Huppert. (But I'd *love to be wrong and see Tulip -- I mean, Negga -- get nominated.)

Wishful thinking: Kim Min-hee – The Handmaiden, Kim Tae-ri – The Handmaiden

Casey Affleck – Manchester By the Sea^
Denzel Washington – Fences*
Ryan Gosling – La La Land
Andrew Garfield – Hacksaw Ridge*
Viggo Mortensen – Captain Fantastic*
Next in line:
Tom Hanks – Sully*
Joel Edgerton – Loving
Andrew Garfield – Silence

Comments: As with most of the acting categories, I'm going chalk by picking the SAG nominees. (I only differed in the acting categories by not picking Blunt for Actress.) I don't feel nearly as confident about this category as I do the other acting categories, mostly because I thought the trailers for Hacksaw and Fantastic were laughably bad. Garfield's accent? Big Vig in Little Mister Sunshine? Give me a break. But both films were well reviewed and now their leads look a lot like frontrunners for a nomination here on Oscar Tuesday Eve. However it shakes out, it looks like I'll have to catch up on at least one movie I was hoping not to have to slog through, as Tom Hanks in Sully looks like a contender as well. (I don't think I've ever really liked an Eastwood movie that he didn't star in himself, although there are plenty I haven't seen.) In an ideal world, Edgerton and Garfield would sneak in for their excellent work in movies I have seen. But, as seems to be the theme, Loving just isn't melodramatic enough, while what little buzz there is for Silence is only equalled by what little music is used in the film. (Affleck, Washington, and Gosling -- for the wrong film, see below -- are untouchable.)

Wishful thinking: Ryan Gosling – The Nice Guys

Damien Chazelle – La La Land
Barry Jenkins – Moonlight^
Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester By the Sea
Denis Villeneuve – Arrival
Martin Scorsese – Silence
Next in line:
Garth Davis – Lion*
David Mackenzie – Hell or High Water
Denzel Washington – Fences*

Comments: This is one of the tougher categories despite (seemingly) four safe bets -- Chazelle, Jenkins, Lonergan, and Villeneuve, who also, conveniently, directed the top four Best Picture bets. That leaves one slot for... many, many men (although I'd love to be proven wrong my Maren Ade for Toni Erdmann!). This is where we could see a true out-of-the-blue nomination -- remember, this is the category that has given us Benh Zeitlin and Lenny Abrahamson in recent years. Someone like Ken Loach or Ade wouldn't *shock* me this year. And there are a ton of other respected vets in addition to the "next in line" guys who could surprise (Gibson -- yes, that Gibson -- Ford, Mills, Nichols, etc.). But I'm betting on a different "out-of-the-blue" candidate in Scorsese. While his (very) challenging film might not have enough general support to crack the Best Picture race, it's not that tough to imagine the director's branch carrying him to a well-deserved nomination. This one will be a lot of fun to unpack in the morning.

Wishful thinking: Park Chan-wook – The Handmaiden, Nicolas Winding Refn – The Neon Demon, Robert Eggers – The Witch

La La Land^
Manchester By the Sea
Hell or High Water
Hidden Figures*
Hacksaw Ridge*
Next in line:
Nocturnal Animals

Comments: I'm reasonably confident in 1 through 7. You can take the top four to the bank (although they'd probably look at you like you're crazy, bringing four movies to the bank), and the next three feel pretty secure. Lion sounds like perfect awards bait, High Water has the indie cred, and Figures... figures to be safe given its box office numbers and feel-good story. Fences and Hacksaw are shaky, but they would seem to have the actors behind them, while most of the "next in line" movies don't figure to as much. So I'm going with nine nominees, which is one more than last year. But could one of my last two projected nominees fall off? Sure. Could Loving or Nocturnal Animals cobble together enough support to make it an even ten for the first time since 2010? Why not. Regardless, there doesn't look to be a lot of, ahem, drama here -- this will come down to La La Land vs. Moonlight. I'll have much, much more to say about the race as we get closer. For now, suffice to say that I loved them both.

Wishful thinking: The Handmaiden, Captain America: Civil War (not kidding)

And a couple bonus categories before I call it a night:

Category I'll Be Most Wrong About: Best Original Screenplay
Movie I'll Be Most Wrong About: Lion
Film I'm Most Rooting For: Nocturnal Animals

And that's a wrap with just about 5 hours to go. Time to get some shuteye before one of my favorite mornings of the year. Keep a lookout for my favorite movies of 2016 post, as well as proper Oscar predictions (hopefully both before the ceremony, but I make no guarantees). Thanks for reading, as always!

No comments:

Post a Comment