89th Academy Awards: Predictions

Oliver Barlow and Jonnie Barrow speculate which films will win big at the Oscars

Well what an incredible film year it’s been. We’ve seen Marvel smash box office records, the DCEU continue to struggle in its quest for superhero domination and a massive increase in popularity for independent films across the UK and the World. However, once more, it is that time of the year when our focus turns to the Oscars, that one incredible night when the entire entertainment world is watching. Funnily enough, if anyone needed any proof as to how important the night is to Hollywood, when I was having lunch one day in the Hard Rock Café in Los Angeles, I was told that instead of Christmas Day, the one day off work the waitresses had all year was the day of the Oscars. Anyway, without further ado, here are my Oscar predictions for the awards on Sunday 26th February. Will La La Land dance its way to glory, or will Moonlight’s luck shine upon its chances? Only time will tell, but until then, here are my predictions:

Best Film Editing—La La Land

As is traditional, the Best Editing Oscar is a key precursor to the Best Picture victor. Although not the same result that year, Tom Cross walked away with the Oscar for Whiplash, and will most likely do so again for his terrific work on making a painstakingly-shot musical feel like a fleeting glimpse at Seb and Mia’s life. Expect him to become a winner once more.

Best Original Song- ‘City of Stars’—La La Land

It is extremely unlikely that anything other than La La Land will walk away with both (or even either of) the awards for the music on the big night itself, and rightly so. Hurwitz’s music is magical, inspiring, and tremendously catching, and ‘City of Stars’ is the emotional centre of the film. If I were a betting man, this would be my most sure-fire category; it’s basically already won.

 Best Original Score—La La Land

See above for an explanation as to why La La Land will win this awards: once more, it’s almost a guarantee.

Best Animated Feature—Kubo and the Two Strings

This is a very interesting category once more this year. Until one month ago, it seemed that Zootropolis would calmly stroll away with this award, but then came the Oscar Nominations, and the BAFTA awards. Kubo was nominated for special effects at the Oscars (almost unheard-of for an animated film) and won the BAFTA, signifying that there is a lot of love for the film. Expect it to pull off an upset on Oscar night and win the prize.

Best Foreign Language Film—The Salesman

Although Toni Erdmann has all of the critical praise imaginable for a foregin film (and perhaps should have made it onto the Best Picture list), the director of The Salesman has had very public troubles in attending the ceremony due to President Trump’s border controls, so expect the political force behind the Academy to push The Salesman to victory. This will be the evening’s ‘Protest Vote’.

Best Adapted Screenplay—Moonlight

Although Arrival won the WGA award in this category(a usual precursor to this category), expect the Academy to lavish some praise on Moonlight here, a film that will not find much love in the major categories except for Supporting Actor. This will be their chance to reward the film with a big-ish trophy, so expect this one to be a major victory for Barry Jenkins’ sophomore outing.

Best Original Screenplay: Kenneth Longergan—Manchester by the Sea

This is one of the most difficult awards to predict. La La Land won many of the precursor awards for his category, but in all honest Kenneth Lonergan’s screenplay for Manchester by the Sea exudes such raw, emotional power it would be a true shame if it weren’t to win. Even though you have to be a brave man to bet against La La Land in almost any category this year, I expect Kenneth Lonergan to win his first Oscar here.

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Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis—Fences

It is extremely unlikely that anyone other than Viola Davis will walk away with the Best Supporting Actress Oscar this Sunday night. Don’t get me wrong, she is terrific. But in no way is it a supporting performance: she is in well-over half of the film, and dominates almost every screen she appears in. Without Davis, Michelle Williams would surely win for her emotionally-devastating turn in Manchester by the Sea, which is a true supporting performance. However, expect Viola Davis to walk away an Oscar winner on Sunday night.

Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali—Moonlight

As I suggested earlier, it is very likely that the Academy will look to give Moonlight some serious awards love here. Mahershala Ali is terrific in the film, fulfilling a true supporting-role and becoming such an emotional crux of the narrative it’s impossible for the audience to forget him during every frame in which he does not appear. Although it is a shame that Jeff Bridges will miss-out for the brilliant Hell or High Water, Ali is a deserving winner this year.

Best Actress: Emma Stone—La La Land

Discarding Meryl Streep’s guaranteed nomination for the poor Florence Foster Jenkins, it is a very strong field for Best Actress once more this year. Although it seemed that Natalie Portman had the early momentum, and that Isabelle Huppert has the support of the foreign critics, expect Emma Stone to dance her way to the stage to finally collect a well-deserved Oscar this year for her brilliant work in La La Land.

Best Actor: Casey Affleck—Manchester by the Sea

This is, in a welcome change of events, the most unpredictable category this year. The race has been terrifically well-fought, with both Casey Affleck and Denzel Washington holding first place for significant periods of time. Although Washington has much of the current goodwill after a SAG win (a good precursor for the Oscar), I still expect Affleck to win for his magnificently-understated performance in Manchester by the Sea, a film the Academy clearly loves (it received six nominations this year). Especially if La La Land were to take Original Screenplay from under MBTS’s nose, expect Affleck to emerge victorious.

Best Director: Damien Chazelle—La La Land

Once more, expect La La Land to dance away with another well-deserved trophy. It is so brilliantly directed, choreographed, shot and edited, there is no way all of that could not come together without an incredible director. Now don’t get me wrong: although only thirty-two years old, Damien Chazelle is an incredible director with a long career ahead of him. He fully deserves this prize, and will definitely be leaving the Dolby Theatre an Oscar winner on Sunday night.

Best Picture: La La Land

So here we are: the biggest award of the night. As anyone who has been following my earlier predictions will realise, there is a clear favourite: the awards juggernaut that is La La Land. It will win Best Picture on Sunday night, and rightly-so. It is truly joyous: an ever-shining light in the current world that is so-often characterised by darkness and despair. La La Land is one of those rare films that manages to be released at just the perfect time: if one were to watch it at any point over the next four years (or however long Trump lasts), they can expect to be transported from the current times to ‘Another Day of Sun’, a ‘City of Stars’ or even an ‘Epilogue’ of Twenties movie-sets, complete with tap-dancing extras, stunning hand-painted backgrounds and perhaps a different future entirely. Without sounding too fawning of its brilliance, it is one of the best films of the decade, and will walk away a multiple Oscar winner on Sunday night, with Best Director in one hand and Best Picture in the other. – Oliver Barlow

 

As any of my friends will tell you, my attempts to see all of this year’s Oscar contenders have been nothing less than exhaustive (or exhausting, depending on who you ask). Having seen every film nominated in three or more categories, including every Best Picture nominee, now comes my chance to show off and wildly speculate about who I think is most likely to win and, more subjectively, who I think ought to win in each major category.

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Let’s kick off with the biggest prize of all: Best Picture. My prediction is that La La Land will win, but, really, Moonlight should win. We’ve all heard the extraordinary hype for La La Land by now (I even gave it a 5-star review), but it’s also one of the safest, most “Oscar-friendly” nominees in years. It’s my favourite of the BP nominees, but it’s hard to argue it’s the best. It’s likely to sweep many of the technical categories (Costume Design, Cinematography, Original Song/Score) anyway, so it would be nice to see the Academy give the top prize to a bolder, more interesting, and arguably more accomplished film like Moonlight.

The category for Best Director is a little closer than the two-horse race for Best Picture—after all, it’s also extremely plausible that Damien Chazelle will win for La La Land, since these nominations tend to go hand-in-hand. Nevertheless, Jenkins displays such a command of the material in Moonlight, and such a unique and compelling vision, he really should (and probably will) win this category.

The competition for Best Actor has generated lots of talk about Casey Affleck, so there’s an outside chance he’ll take this one, but Gosling put the prep in for his role and it shows, so he will probably take the Oscar. Nevertheless, Garfield’s stoic, empathic performance as Desmond Doss in Hacksaw Ridge really deserves more attention than it’s getting—so Garfield deserves the trophy in my opinion.

We all know that Emma Stone will win Best Actress for La La Land, but my vote would go to Amy Adams for Arrival. Before you argue with me: yes, I’m well aware that Adams wasn’t nominated. But I’m also aware this is one of the biggest Oscar snubs in years; her performance in Arrival is incredible and to be honest, this category is a hot mess this year—actresses like Adams and Taraji P. Henson have gone un-nominated for truly sterling work.

Mahershala Ali deserves Best Supporting Actor, because his incredible performance is the bedrock of what makes Moonlight great. That said, Dev Patel’s work in Lion is an incredible combination of preparation and performance. Lion is one of my favourite Best Picture nominees, and if it deserves any award, it’s this one.

Though I didn’t care much for Fences, Viola Davis’ performance was nothing short of masterful. If anyone else wins Best Supporting Actress, it’ll be a real upset.

Finally, to cartoons: Zootropolis is a brilliant film, and because it was released by Disney and grossed a billion dollars it’s almost a lock that it’ll win the Best Animated Feature category. However, Kubo and the Two Strings is one of the most beautiful and engrossing animated films ever made, jaw-dropping both technically and emotionally. Watch it now if you haven’t yet, so you have something intelligent-sounding to say if it becomes an underdog champion on the night.

So there you have it: possibly the most subjective guide to an Oscar’s ceremony that’s ever been written, and one I hope you’ll have fun rereading once the results come in and proven heinously wrong. Jonnie Barrow