Oscars 2017

It’s time for this year’s Oscars. You’d have to live in a cave not to know that La La Land has the momentum and the buzz. As much as I did enjoy the film, I have a feeling it’s not going to sweep everything—I certainly hope it doesn’t, because 2016 saw more important films that actually make La La Land look trite. Regardless, here’s what I see happening this year:

Best Picture

Nine nominations—why do we need that many? We’re not applying to college. And the rules actually allow for ten. TEN! I see four real contenders out of this year’s bunch, and it’s going to come down to two.

Hidden Figures (https://moviebloke.com/2016/12/30/hidden-figures/) can be eliminated right off the bat. The subject matter is worthy and the acting is fine, but it’s just an okay film.

Next, Arrival (https://moviebloke.com/2017/01/27/arrival/) can go away. Interesting? Yes. It fell apart, though. It’s no Best Picture.

Hacksaw Ridge (https://moviebloke.com/2017/01/29/hacksaw-ridge/) is a visual stunner, but in the end it’s a run of the mill war movie. I saw far better films this year. Cut this one.

Lion (https://moviebloke.com/2016/12/29/lion/) is inspirational, but it is really uneven. It’s not a winner.

Manchester by the Sea (https://moviebloke.com/2016/12/18/manchester-by-the-sea/) has a lot going for it. I liked it a lot. I’ll be surprised if it snags Best Picture.

Now we’re down to the real contenders. Unfortunately, Fences (https://moviebloke.com/2016/12/28/fences/) is probably getting kept out. Everything about it is great, but three other films outshine it.

I loved Hell or High Water (https://moviebloke.com/2016/08/27/hell-or-high-water/) so much I saw it twice. It was well done, but I think two other films have a major leg up on it.

That brings it to Moonlight (https://moviebloke.com/2016/11/19/moonlight/) or La La Land (https://moviebloke.com/2016/10/13/la-la-land/). In my not so humble opinion, Moonlight should be the winner—it’s perfect in just about every way. It’s also a weighty and timely film. However, Moonlight probably isn’t going to win—they’ll give Best Picture to La La Land. Hollywood loves to see itself. I could be wrong, and I hope I am—but I doubt it.

My guess: La La Land.

Best Actor

I saw all five films these guys were in. Viggo Mortensen is awesome, but Captain Fantastic isn’t his finest hour. Andrew Garfield isn’t going to win for Hacksaw Ridge, either. So, no to both.

The remaining three were all strong performances, which makes it a tough call. Ryan Gosling is great in La La Land, and I can see him winning. However, Casey Affleck in Manchester by the Sea and Denzel Washington in Fences had tougher, meatier roles. I’m going with Affleck, the first-timer (Washington already has two Oscars).

My guess: Casey Affleck for Manchester by the Sea.

Best Actress

I have a handicap here: I didn’t see Loving—I was supposed to see it last week but plans fell through. Wah. I heard Ruth Negga is spectacular, but I can’t say firsthand whether that’s true. I did see the rest, though.

Natalie Portman can hit the road, Jack. Jackie (https://moviebloke.com/2016/12/18/jackie/) is a dull film.

Meryl Streep has been in better films than Florence Foster Jenkins (https://moviebloke.com/2017/01/13/florence-foster-jenkins/). I suspect this was a courtesy nomination. She’s out.

Isabelle Huppert is awesome in Elle. I’d love to see her win (like she did the Golden Globe). However, I’m going with the buzz.

My guess: Emma Stone for La La Land.

Best Supporting Actor

I saw all five films these guys were in, too. Lucas Hedges and Michael Shannon were both great in Manchester by the Sea and Nocturnal Animals (https://moviebloke.com/2016/11/25/nocturnal-animals/), respectively. However, I think they were outshined.

Dev Patel (Lion) might prove to be an upset, but I don’t think his performance was so strong he’ll get an award for it. Frankly, I was more impressed with Sunny Pawar—why wasn’t he nominated?

Jeff Bridges was great in Hell or High Water, but I doubt he’s getting this one. Mahershala Ali was a much better performance in a much more brilliant film (Moonlight).

My guess: Mahershala Ali for Moonlight.

Best Supporting Actress

OK, I saw all five of these films as well. Jam! Nicole Kidman’s role in Lion is too small. She’s out. No offense to her, but I don’t know what she’s doing here in the first place.

Octavia Spencer isn’t going to win for Hidden Figures. Better luck next time (and it’s probably not going to be the film she did with Chris Evans that’s coming out soon).

I think this category comes down to three contenders. Naomie Harris is awesome in Moonlight, but I think Viola Davis and Michelle Williams in Fences and Manchester by the Sea, respectively, are both stronger performances. Williams made me tear up, but she didn’t carry Manchester by the Sea the same way Davis carried Fences. Davis is a shoo-in.

My guess: Viola Davis for Fences. Duh.

Best Director

Again there are five nominations, but I think Denis Villeneuve (Arrival) and Mel Gibson (Hacksaw Ridge) can both be eliminated right off the bat. Their films are good, but not in the same league as the remaining nominees.

Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea) doesn’t seem to be a serious threat to the last two: Barry Jenkins (Moonlight) and Damien Chazelle (La La Land). Moonlight is beautiful and a superior film, but La La Land has an awful lot going from a technical standpoint.

My guess: Damien Chazelle for La La Land.


I can’t believe Hell or High Water didn’t get nominated in this category! I saw all five of these nominations, and honestly they all look amazing. I say it’s down to two that are a shade above the lot: Moonlight and La La Land.

My Guess: Linus Sandgren for La La Land.


Best Adapted Screenplay is a no-brainer: Barry Jenkins for Moonlight—the only way he’ll lose is if the Academy decides to posthumously award August Wilson for Fences.

I’d love to see Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthimis Filippou win Best Original Screenplay for The Lobster (https://moviebloke.com/2016/05/29/the-lobster/), but they have the grave misfortune of competing with Damien Chazelle’s La La Land. Chazelle is going to win.

I’m shocked The Handmaiden didn’t get a nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. I can see The Salesman winning if only for the fact that Trump’s travel ban kept director Asghar Farhadi from attending the Oscars—though frankly the film is worthy of the award. However, I have a feeling A Man Called Ove (https://moviebloke.com/2016/11/09/a-man-called-ove-en-man-som-heter-ove/) gets it.

Best Original Song has five nominees, but it’s down to two contenders: Justin Timberlake might have won for “Can’t Stop the Feeling” (Trolls) another year, but I’m going with Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek, and Justin Paul for “City of Stars” (La La Land).

Here goes nothing: I only saw one Best Documentary nominee (Fire at Sea)(https://moviebloke.com/2016/10/25/fire-at-sea-fuocoammare/), and I didn’t love it. I probably shouldn’t bother but I’m going to guess 13th wins.


In a few hours, we’ll all know who won. Like last year, I’m looking forward to seeing what I hit and miss here. I’ll be watching from The Gene Siskel Film Center’s gala.