WORDS ON FILM
BY NOLAN LAMPSON
Hello all! Of course, this is the time of the year. The Super Bowl has already passed for sports fans, and now, we film fanatics get ours. The Academy Awards, which televise on February 26th at 5:30pm PST, are the gateway into Hollywood’s proudest and most lavish achievements, and the ceremony always brings surprises, and usually, also, controversy. In the wake of the #OscarsSoWhite movement, the attention now comes to Donald Trump, whose enacted travel bans of several countries in the middle east has led to one prominent nominee not being able to attend (more on that below). It will be a night of celebration and reflection, but such reflection will not always be entirely happy, and the ceremony will likely try to offer a perspective on the issue.
But, of course, we must not forget the underlying factor: films, and those who made them. I have been holding Oscar ballots in my hand every late February for three years, and I am somewhere between the 80-85% range on accuracy (for the Oscars exclusively -- Golden Globes bring that number down pretty significantly). So, it is time to rejuvenate the spark, and make sure, of course, that you come out on top within your Oscar ballot pool. So, let’s go! (Note: I don’t predict shorts. I don’t plan on ever “predicting” something that’s basically circling a random letter on a multiple-choice test.)
Will Win: La La Land
Should Win: Moonlight
And it begins. After Sunday night, La La Land will be one of the biggest films in Oscar history, and will pave its way into permanent Hollywood history with the absolute Indiana Jones-boulder-type smash it will have. And it will end here, at the end of the ceremony, confetti on ready, and it will absolutely be no surprise when Damien Chazelle’s musical takes it all. Don’t trust a tight race; this one won’t be close. Of course, I’d love it if my favorite of the year, Moonlight, took it all, but it will have its due with another few Oscar wins. Again, no secrets to hold back: La La Land takes it 100%.
Will Win: Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Should Win: Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Yeah, again. Not really pulling for an upset here. Those who always connect Picture-Director ‘just because’ are not really factoring anything in historical or likely, but here, it will be the case. Chazelle, at a baby-faced 32 years-old, will be the youngest person to ever win the coveted Director award. It’d seem like a huge achievement, but for Chazelle and Co., it will be just icing on the endless cake of victory. This is turning into less of a prediction post, and more of a “LA LA LAND WILL WIN EVERYTHING” post, but this year, those two are truly interchangeable.
Will Win: Denzel Washington, Fences
Should Win: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
This was really Affleck’s to lose very recently, and it should have been, as his performance was nothing but strong and relatively unmatched in the field. There’s still a chance he wins it, and it would be delightful, but the simple fact is that his public scrutiny and criminal charges, though long past, are still sifting through the minds of Hollywood, and Denzel is making a big push towards the gold. You can hold onto the surefire Affleck bets from weeks ago, but momentum counts for quite a bit, and here, it belongs to Denzel.
Will Win: Emma Stone, La La Land
Should Win: Isabelle Huppert, Elle
Now this is one I can get onboard with. I originally had Natalie Portman in the slot, but as of late, Stone has really impressed me as her role of Mia. Good for me, too, because once again, this award is not in for much contention. Isabelle Huppert pleasantly shocked the Globes, and although it’s really a long, long, shot, such a surprise would be welcomed by me. Trust the juggernaut, and pick the juggernaut’s main character.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR/ACTRESS
Will Win: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight/Viola Davis, Fences
Should Win: Ali/Naomie Harris, Moonlight
If these predictions are correct, and three of the four acting awards go to non-white actors, it will surely be a hit. And it looks to be that way, with both Ali and Davis really separating the gaps in their respective categories. Ali hit the audience with a very good and insightful speech at the SAGs, and is poised to have another return to the podium. Meanwhile, anybody would pick Viola Davis, and they’d be right to do so. It may be a black-actor sweep in these categories, and with the performances at-hand, it’d be a welcomed sweep, too.
BEST ORIGINAL/ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Will Win: Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea/Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Should Win: Lonergan/Jenkins
Love, love, love. If only every category could bring the happiness I expect these ones to bring. Jenkins and Lonergan will pick up their first Oscars for equally impressive scripts, assuming all goes well and nobody on the Academy loses their mind. Of course, a dark horse is Chazelle for his one movie (what was it called again?), but if that movie seriously wins an Oscar for the very thing that brings its film’s quality down, I may actually scream. I need to preserve my vocal chords and screams for during the school week, of course, so hopefully all goes well and Kenny and Barry win what they should.
I haven’t seen La La Land win an award in awhile, what the hell?
Will Win: Linus Sandgren, La La Land
Should Win: Bradford Young, Arrival
Ah, yes, good. I was worried for a second there we were getting off-track. Back to the juggernaut. I’d like if Bradford Young took it for his excellent work on Denis Villeneuve's film, and he certainly has a chance, but….aha, just kidding. It’s Los Angeles at night and with lots of popping color for Sandgren, who strolls his way up to the stage, thanks people, and walks away the winner. It’s written in the stars, guys. Too bad it was the same year as Young and Rodrigo Prieto, who worked on Martin Scorsese’s Silence, some absolutely breathtaking work there.
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Will Win: Toni Erdmann
Should Win: Toni Erdmann
Now this one is tricky. As I mentioned earlier, Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, who has a film nominated in this category (and has won this very category before), has been banned from attending the ceremony due to Donald Trump’s ban on immigrants from several countries, one of them being where Farhadi resides. In some cases, the Academy may try to make a political statement by voting Farhadi’s film The Salesman as the winner, but in pure “filmic quality”, the best foreign film of the year was Maren Ade’s Toni Erdmann, and as such a huge hit in the United States, it seems to be still the favorite here.
BEST DOCUMENTARY (FEATURE)
Will Win: O.J.: Made In America
Should Win: O.J.: Made In America
Considering Ezra Edelman’s near eight-hour doc-epic OJ is one of the single greatest documentaries ever made, it is safe to say the gold is his to lose. His film thrives on all levels, making all of the other possible nominees really far from contention. It’s not them -- it’s simply the power that the clearly best film in this category has on people, and especially on voters. This win is, or should be, locked up already. Look for 13th to provide distant competition, but in the end, yeah, this one’s going to O.J.
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Will Win: Justin Hurwitz, La La Land
Should Win: Mica Levi, Jackie
I don’t want to be a La La Land hater, but Mica Levi’s score...holy shit. Like, in any year it would not probably win (just because, well, listen to it), but there has to be some recognition for this colossal phenomenon before Hurwitz grabs his inevitable victory (it’s like Titanic winning ‘Best Movie About Sinking Boats’.) Maybe we give Levi a little trophy? Like a little, tiny one, just for my happiness? Alright, alright, La La Land wins again. And that’s not all, of course.
Animated Feature: Zootopia // Film Editing: La La Land // Costume Design: La La Land // Makeup and Hairstyling: Star Trek Beyond // Original Song: “City of Stars” (La La Land) // Production Design: La La Land (can Arrival please, PLEASE win this one?) // Sound Mixing: La La Land (it’s a musical) // Sound Editing: Hacksaw Ridge (it’s a war movie) // Visual Effects: The Jungle Book
Well, there you go. With my predicted 10 (!) Oscars, La La Land will be second all-time in most awards for one single film, tied with a few others. And other movies will win tomorrow night....probably. But seriously, thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful Oscar night.
comments on the screen by nolan lampson.