Monday, January 23, 2017

Final Oscar Nomination Predictions for 2016-17

I've been tinkering with the sidebar just about every day for the last three weeks, but there comes a time when you just have to throw your arms up and shout,
"To Hell with it!"

Here are my committed predictions for the 2016-17 Oscar nominations, with some quandaries and rationales for each of the 21 feature film categories*:

Best Picture
Florence Foster Jenkins
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
Hidden Figures
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea
The PGA lineup minus Deadpool seems to be the smart bet, but the Academy has always picked out at least one movie that the PGA passed over. I'm going out on a limb for Florence Foster Jenkins as the sleeper, replacing Fences to yield nine nominees. I don't highly expect it to occur, but I'd love to look like a genius in the unlikely event that it does.

Best Director
Damien Chazelle - La La Land
Barry Jenkins - Moonlight
Kenneth Lonergan - Manchester by the Sea
David Mackenzie - Hell or High Water
Denis Villeneuve - Arrival
The DGA and Academy seldom line up exactly these days, and to have both Chazelle and Garth Davis would be an awful lot of youth for AMPAS' older, more discerning directors branch. I'm taking a stab that David Mackenzie sneaks in.

Best Actor
Casey Affleck - Manchester by the Sea
Andrew Garfield - Hacksaw Ridge
Ryan Gosling - La La Land
Viggo Mortensen - Captain Fantastic
Denzel Washington - Fences
While a 5/5 match-up with SAG is a rarity, the thinness of the field makes it hard to think of a spoiler. Maybe Tom Hanks can finally convert his late-career renaissance into that nomination people thought he'd get for Captain Phillips or Saving Mr. Banks or Bridge of Spies? Could be, but I'm not that brave.

Best Actress
Amy Adams - Arrival
Isabelle Huppert - Elle
Natalie Portman - Jackie
Emma Stone - La La Land
Meryl Streep - Florence Foster Jenkins
Can Huppert's Golden Globe in the middle of that ripe voting period help carry the French legend to her first overdue nomination? I'm guessing that it does, but Annette Bening is knocking at the door. Feels like a Sophie's choice to hope for one over the other.

Best Supporting Actor
Mahershala Ali - Moonlight
Jeff Bridges - Hell or High Water
Hugh Grant - Florence Foster Jenkins
Lucas Hedges - Manchester by the Sea
Dev Patel - Lion
Two of these guys are leads, but that never stopped AMPAS before. That said, I can't be too bitter towards Hugh Grant and Dev Patel, who are quite excellent in their respective films.
I'm not drinking the Aaron Taylor Johnson Kool-aid just yet.

Best Supporting Actress
Viola Davis - Fences
Naomie Harris - Moonlight
Nicole Kidman - Lion
Octavia Spencer - Hidden Figures
Michelle Williams - Manchester by the Sea
This category has been pretty stagnant for months, with a few other names alternating with Spencer for that fifth slot.
Wouldn't be surprised if we saw Janelle Monae usurp her Hidden Figures co-star.

Best Original Screenplay
Matt Ross - Captain Fantastic
Taylor Sheridan - Hell or High Water
Damien Chazelle - La La Land
Y. Lanthimos, E. Filippou - The Lobster
Kenneth Lonergan - Manchester by the Sea
The shift of Moonlight and Loving over to Adapted really thinned this herd out, allowing fringe contenders The Lobster and Captain Fantastic to become likely bets. Colour me thrilled if Mike Mills squeaks in for his marvelous 20th Century Women script.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Eric Heisserer - Arrival
T. Melfi, A. Schroeder - Hidden Figures
Luke Davies - Lion
Barry Jenkins - Moonlight
Tom Ford - Nocturnal Animals
Conversely, this race became a lot more crowded with the addition of Moonlight and Loving (the former a possible frontrunner). That sucks for Luke Davies and Eric Heisserer, who might otherwise have been in it to win it. If Nocturnal Animals' surprising resilience this season is going to be felt anywhere, I suspect it will be here.

Animated Feature
Travis Knight - Kubo and the Two Strings
John Clements, Ron Musker - Moana
Claude Barras - My Life as a Zucchini
Michael Dudok de Wit - The Red Turtle
Rich Moore, Byron Howard - Zootopia
The three American studio entries that have hit every guild and awards group are unlikely to be snubbed, but guessing which will claim the remaining two slots seems next to impossible.
Will they go for Finding Dory when other Pixar sequels (not counting Toy Story 3) have failed to move the needle?

Best Documentary Feature
Ava DuVernay - 13th
Otto Bell - The Eagle Huntress
Raoul Peck - I Am Not Your Negro
Roger Ross Williams - Life, Animated
Josh Kriegman, Elyse Steinberg - Weiner
There has to be at least one big shocking snub every year, and I'm putting my chips on the conservative documentary branch barring ESPN's celebrated mini-series O.J.: Made in America.

Best Foreign Language Film
Norway - The King's Choice
Denmark - Land of Mine
Sweden - A Man Called Ove
Germany - Toni Erdmann
Iran - The Salesman
Honestly, shots in the dark. No prediction is safe with this voting committee, not even critical favourite Toni Erdmann.

Best Cinematography
Bradford Young - Arrival
Linus Sandgren - La La Land
Greig Fraser - Lion
James Laxton - Moonlight
Rodrigo Prieto - Silence
Every now and then the ASC will match up perfectly with Oscar. If anyone is going to crash the party, I'd expect McGarvey (Nocturnal Animals) or Richardson (Live By Night).

Best Editing
Joe Walker - Arrival
John Gilbert - Hacksaw Ridge
Jake Roberts - Hell or High Water
Tom Cross - La La Land
Joi McMillon, Nat Sanders - Moonlight
This would be a highly respectable lineup, populated entirely with ACE nominees which happens about half the time.

Best Production Design
Stuart Craig - Fantastic Beasts
Barry Robinson - Hacksaw Ridge
Jess Gonchor - Hail, Caesar!
Jean Rabasse - Jackie
David Wasco - La La Land
Contemporary films have a tough time breaking through here, but La La Land's Best Picture heat and overall prettiness make it a logical choice. I'm straying a bit common outside pundit logic by picking Hacksaw Ridge to fill a slot, but WWII films have had a better record scoring nods in this category than most people remember.

Best Costume Design
Consolata Boyle - Florence Foster Jenkins
Colleen Atwood - Fantastic Beasts
Cho Sang-kyung - The Handmaiden
Madeline Fontaine - Jackie
Mary Zophres - La La Land
For some reason, Costume Design is more receptive to foreign imports than Production Design (even though they're now both voted on by the same contingent), so I'm praying that this is one spot The Handmaiden can find some recognition. I get that it's not everybody's cup of green tea, but... It. Is. A. Looker!

Best Original Score
John Williams - The BFG
A. Desplat - Florence Foster Jenkins
Justin Hurwitz - La La Land
Hauschka, Dustin O'Halloran - Lion
Abel Korzeniowski - Nocturnal Animals
By far the toughest race to gauge at this point. The music branch is notoriously resistant to new names, so predicting four first-time nominees (Hurwitz, Korzeniowski, Huaschka & O'Halloran) feels risky. I'm not man enough to predict it, but I would not be shocked if they snuffed La La Land. They've given the cold shoulder to song-heavy musicals for many years.

Best Original Song
“I See A Victory” - Hidden Figures
“Audition” - La La Land
“City of Stars” - La La Land
“How Far I'll Go” - Moana
“Drive It Like You Stole It” - Sing Street
Super competitive this year.
I'm prepared to go 2/5 or worse.

Best Sound Mixing
Bernard GariƩpy Strobl - Arrival
Robert Mackenzie - Hacksaw Ridge
Andy Nelson - La La Land
Christopher Scarabosio - Rogue One
John Reitz - Sully
The CAS has gone 4/5 the last three years, so I may as well expect as much.
I'm hoping it's Arrival that bumps Doctor Strange, although other efforts -- Lion, Deepwater Horizon, 13 Hours -- would be worthy alternatives.

Best Sound Editing
Sylvain Bellemare - Arrival
Wylie Stateman - Deepwater Horizon
R. Mackenzie, A. Wright - Hacksaw Ridge
C. Scarabosio, M. Wood - Rogue One
Alan Robert Murray, Bub Asman - Sully
I feel like The Jungle Book, Live By Night and Hell or High Water are threatening here.

Best Visual Effects
Louis Morin - Arrival
Craig Hammock Deepwater Horizon
Stephane Ceretti - Doctor Strange
Robert Legato - The Jungle Book
John Knoll - Rogue One
This is the category in which I have the greatest rooting interest. Should Kubo and the Two Strings manage to get in (a nomination I've been shouting about for half a year), you'll be looking at one happy camper over here. But even if not, these five would still be a swell roster.

Best Makeup and Hair Styling
Love Larson, Eva von Bahr - A Man Called Ove
Dan Phillips, J.R. Helland - Florence Foster Jenkins
S. Anne Carroll, Joel Harlow - Star Trek Beyond
The team behind last year's surprise nominee The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared is behind Best Foreign Language Film hopeful A Man Called Ove. Two years in a row? Maybe, but any of the other four shortlisted contenders (Deadpool, The Dressmaker, Hail Caesar and Suicide Squad) would make sense.

*I gave up trying to anticipate the shorts long ago. Not worth it if I can't seem 'em all before nominations.


  1. Good choices. Personally, I still think that Arrival will miss Director.

    Anyways, here are my choices on my own blog.