Monday, January 23, 2017

2016 Oscar Nominations: What I think

It's one of my most favorite times of the year: the Oscar nominations will be announced tomorrow morning. I've been reasonably (ha) obsessed with the Oscars since the 1980s, and so we make an effort to see every movie and performance nominated for the major awards before the Oscar telecast. (If what happens tomorrow is what I think, we won't have much more to see, thanks to a very movie-heavy holiday season.)

For a while now, I've been making my predictions for which movies and performances I think will get nominated, then after the nominations are announced I come back and analyze how well I did. (Note: this isn't necessary who I think deserves to get nominated; often there's a pretty gap between what I want and what actually happens, because the Oscars are as much about paying back old slights, trying to take advantage of popularity, and other crazy politics as they are about who gave the best performances. But I digress.)

So, here's what I think will happen tomorrow around 8:35 a.m. ET. I know there's bound to be a surprise and/or disappointment (for me) or two, so...

Best Picture
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
Hidden Figures
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea

Analysis: Over the last few years the Academy has played coy with the number of films which will get nominated for Best Picture. Some years it's eight, some years it's nine, sometimes it's ten. I went with 10 this year although I have a feeling it will be either Fences or Silence, not both. And then, if the Academy feels adventurous, they could nominate Deadpool, which would be awesome.

Best Actor
Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
Ryan Gosling, La La Land
Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic
Denzel Washington, Fences

Analysis: I feel fairly secure about these five, but Joel Edgerton could sneak in for Loving. If he does, I think he'd displace Mortensen, whose movie was the least seen in theaters.

Best Actress
Amy Adams, Arrival
Isabelle Huppert, Elle
Natalie Portman, Jackie
Emma Stone, La La Land
Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

Analysis: It breaks my heart not to add Annette Bening to this list for her fantastic performance in 20th Century Women. She should have won an Oscar already, and she absolutely should be nominated this year, but I worry that her multi-layered yet ultimately more comedic performance will get overlooked. Huppert has never been nominated, so I think that plus the Golden Globe win give her momentum. But then again, Ruth Negga (for Loving), Emily Blunt (Girl on the Train), or Jessica Chastain (for Miss Sloane) could surprise, and there's a v-e-r-y o-u-t-s-i-d-e chance that Meryl Streep's Golden Globes speech could actually hurt her chances for a nod. But I doubt it.

Best Supporting Actor
Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
Hugh Grant, Florence Foster Jenkins
Dev Patel, Lion
Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals

Analysis: I'm going out on a little bit of a limb here. I believe Ali, Bridges, Grant, and Patel are locks. That fifth spot is in flux. Aaron Taylor-Johnson won the Golden Globe for Nocturnal Animals but I think the Academy may pick previous nominee Shannon (who has a slightly showier and more sympathetic role) over his co-star. The other possibility is Lucas Hedges, who was really good in Manchester by the Sea. And of course, there's probably someone I'm not thinking of...

Best Supporting Actress
Viola Davis, Fences
Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Nicole Kidman, Lion
Janelle Monáe, Hidden Figures
Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea

Analysis: Other than Annette Bening getting a nomination tomorrow morning, the one thing which will excite me more than anything is if Janelle Monáe gets nominated. She had a great year and proved she has a real future in acting, not to mention she's an amazing musician and drop-dead gorgeous, to boot. I have a feeling the Academy will hedge its bets and go with 2011 winner Octavia Spencer for the same movie, despite the fact that Monáe's role is a little showier. Oh, and don't get me started on Davis, who should be a Best Actress nominee, since she's in 95 percent of Fences (and won a Best Leading Actress Tony Award for the same performance). But this is the Oscars...and the same thing happened with last year's winner, Alicia Vikander.

Best Director
Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Garth Davis, Lion
Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Martin Scorsese, Silence

Analysis: Another crapshoot. The Directors Guild of America nominated Chazelle, Davis, Jenkins, Lonergan, and Denis Villenueve for Arrival. The Golden Globes nominated Chazelle, Jenkins, Lonergan, Mel Gibson for Hacksaw Ridge and Tom Ford for Nocturnal Animals. I have a feeling Gibson may get in, but I never count out Scorsese, since the last time he really had a pet project (1988's The Last Temptation of Christ), he got nominated although the film did not.

And there you have it! Check back tomorrow to see which noms excited me, which enraged me, and which shocked me.

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