I get teased quite often by family, friends, colleagues about my efforts each year to see as many of the Oscar nominees that I can (not always easy considering sometimes some aren't even out in Spain when the Oscars roll round), but this year's batch has reminded me again why I do it.
In part it's because I love the movies and the Oscars and want to "try and guess the winners", but also because once the big night comes and goes I might not feel so much "pressure" to go and see the non-winners (I honestly don't think you can call a nominated film a "loser") and I might miss out on a gem. After all, when over 6000 film professionals come up with a list of movies to reward, you can be pretty damn sure those are going to be excellent films with something to say!
This year, if it weren't for the Oscars, I probably wouldn't have gone to see Manchester by the Sea or Moonlight or Fences or Jackie or Lion (or Hell or High Water which I still haven't seen but fully intend to on dvd - or an airplane, was only out for a week in English just after New Years, and the family chose another movie to see). And I would have missed out BIG TIME! All of them surprised me and moved me deeply. The depths of the human experience they allow us to witness, the huge talent of the actors bringing those characters to life, it just blew me away! I just came back from seeing Fences and I'm still in awe. Someone give Denzel Washington and Viola Davis their Oscars already, sorry for any competition (was sure Casey Affleck would win, until just now).
I don't mention the other big nominees (La La Land, Hidden Figures, Arrival, Loving...) because there's no way I would have missed those (period films, musicals, science fiction, space... all totally up my alley!).
I'm noting below my personal list of preferences & predictions, but I sure am glad I don't get a vote 'cause I honestly don't know how to choose in some of these categories!!!
BEST PICTURE - My favorite remains La La Land, but after tonight I'd have to re-watch to be sure I'd still vote for it instead of Fences. In any case with 14 nominations my guess is it will continue its awards sweep and take home the Oscar. I know Moonlight is a potential upset, and although an amazing film, I didn't care for the filming style, too "in your face and up close" for my taste.
BEST DIRECTOR - La La Land for sure! Damien Chazelle is the genius behind this film. That opening number alone is insane!
BEST LEAD ACTOR - Up until a few hours ago I would have said Casey Affleck (he was amazing!), but no way now. Denzel Washington just blows any competition out of the water in Fences!
BEST LEAD ACTRESS - Honestly here is where I'm weakest, not having seen either Elle or Florence Foster Jenkins. I'm sure Meryl Streep is amazing as always in the latter, but from what I've read it's not necessarily awards-worthy. I'm going to go with the one I enjoyed the most: Emma Stone for La La Land.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR - If I could vote I would totally give this to Dev Patel for Lion (what a tale!)! But if I follow conventional wisdom I think Mahershala Ali will probably win for Moonlight. He was excellent, but I prefered Patel, and I think there's too much of a feeling he is "owed" it for years of great overlooked work (I wish they'd stop doing that! It just means they create other people who are overlooked ☹)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS - No competition: Viola Davis for Fences! Slam dunk, moving on.
Further down I have no idea what the precursors have been, so I can't really compare my preferences to possible wins, so I'm just saying where my vote would go. 😋
CINEMATOGRAPHY - I'm never quite sure what they're looking for in this category, but for its visuals my vote would go to Silence which was gorgeous!
COSTUMES - Please a win for Fantastical Beasts and Where to Find Them! The fabulous work of bringing out period clothes, and adapting them to the Wizarding World and making them "fit" their characters so well... was wonderful!!!
EDITING - Honestly I don't know if I'd vote for Hacksaw Ridge or La La Land for this one!
SOUNDTRACK - My preference is definitely for Justin Hurwitz for La La Land! Not only is the movie almost as much to his credit as classmate Damien Chazelle, but I can't stop myself from playing the soundtrack and those songs over and over!
SONG - I figure this one is between La La Land and Moana, but I knew my preference the moment I walked out after seeing the former! Only problem was choosing between the 2 songs! 😋 Which sadly might actually give Moana the lead in this, split vote and all... But after - as I said above - listening to the soundtrack I don't know how many times this past month, my preference would definitely be for "Audtion (The Fools Who Dream)". (And my brain just started playing it in my head... Leapt without looking... and tumbled into the Seine...)
PRODUCTION DESIGN - My preference would be for Fantastic Beasts... but I think La La Land will take this in its sweep of the board.
VISUAL EFFECTS - How to choose??? My heart will always go to Star Wars (Rogue One), but I think Doctor Strange was probably visually more complex. But considering The Jungle Book is pretty much ALL Visual Effects... I'm guessing it will win.
WRITING - I always have trouble with Adapted Screenplay, 'cause I'm of the opinion I'd need to compare it to the original to evaluate. Still, I'd give it to Moonlight (if only because I don't feel like there was much "adapting" for Fences). And for Original, I think Manchester by the Sea was an amazing story!!! (And La La Land is a bit weak on the dialogue)
Rest of the categories: haven't seen enough, or don't find myself knowledgable enough to emit an opinion.
How about you? Any preferences/predictions?