This is my eighth season providing Oscar picks and predictions for OnlineAthens and the Banner-Herald, but it just might be the first time I actually watch the show.
In an observable attempt to become culturally relevant in the wake of last year’s embarrassing and controversial ceremony (none of the 20 major nominations were for persons of color, prompting multiple celebrity boycotts), the Academy has chosen to recognize artistic contributions of a much broader and well-deserving group.
With “La La Land” walking in carrying a record-breaking number of Golden Globe wins and tying “All About Eve” and “Titanic” with 14 Oscar nominations, it’s clear what kind of film the Academy favors, so there’s still a good chance that many of the golden statues will end up in predictable hands.
Today’s cinephile is aware of – and has access to watch – a far greater landscape of films than in years past, and sees the Oscars as little more than the self-important fashion show it has turned into. Breaking from tradition isn’t just something we should reward filmmakers for doing. It should also be something we expect from those who hand out the honors.
Here are my picks and predictions for the 2017 Academy Awards:
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Who will win: Mahershala Ali for “Moonlight.” If the Academy decides to take the baby steps it looks to be set up for, the supporting categories are where those will all happen.
Who should win: Dev Patel for “Lion.” Ali walked away with some of the most powerful scenes in “Moonlight,” but Patel’s is a Best Actor performance nominated for a supporting role.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Who will win: Octavia Spencer for “Hidden Figures.” There’s a possibility that this is the film that could pull a surprise sweep, and Spencer is a favorite after winning for “The Help” (2011).
Who should win: Viola Davis for “Fences.” This is the second time she and Spencer have been nominated the same year for the same award, and she more than earned it playing Rose.
Who will win: Ryan Gosling for “La La Land.” Though “La La” isn’t my favorite, Gosling’s only other nomination was 10 years ago (for “Half Nelson”) and he’s been consistently great.
Who should win: Denzel Washington for “Fences.” If he never steps behind the camera again, what he pulled off as both actor and director was massive even for a giant like him.
Who will win: Emma Stone for “La La Land.” She deserved the Oscar in 2015 for her supporting role in “Birdman” (but lost to Patricia Arquette), so this is the chance to remedy that.
Who should win: Isabelle Huppert for “Elle.” It’s safe to assume all her fellow nominees would’ve turned this role down, so Huppert should get a prize for bravery as well as ability.
Who will win: Damien Chazelle for “La La Land.” What his film lacked in the script department, it made up for in overall ambition. The dance that went on behind the scenes was impressive.
Who should win: Barry Jenkins for “Moonlight.” His film is a masterpiece that went against the grain in every possible way and still managed to be an intensely personal vision.
What will win: “Hidden Figures.” Hollywood loves movies about itself (“La La Land”), but Oscar loves period pieces and biopics, especially ones as deservedly successful as this.
What should win: “Moonlight.” This is the greatest movie I saw in 2016, and it moved me in the way that Best Pictures are supposed to. If Oscar wants to have a future, it should look like this.