As I wrote at the outset of these posts, the point of the Academy Awards is to celebrate achievement. Even though I don’t think that the best horse is always even in each of the categories, I’ve seen films that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise gone to see because they were Oscar-nominated. Would Moonlight or Fences have crossed my radar otherwise? Very doubtful. To that end, I don’t mind too much that some billion-dollar monsters have missed out on awards despite being great: Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a film I’ve watched a good few times now and I think it is as good or better than any of the films nominated in 2015, which was a strong year.
Just so I can be proven wrong, here are my picks for all the non-technical categories, and my hope is that if you haven’t seen these films, this will help get you to.
Actor in a Leading Role will be won by Casey Affleck for Manchester by the Sea, unless his private controversies derail his campaign.
Actor in a Supporting Role should be won by Mahershala Ali for Moonlight, but will go to sentimental favourite Jeff Bridges for growling his way through Hell or High Water. Guy Pearce should have been nominated, and won, for his role in Brimstone.
Actress in a Leading Role could theoretically go any which way, but Emma Stone will win for La La Land; hers is the only performance I’ve actually seen, and it didn’t strike me at the time as a Best Actress worthy outing. The award should go to Viola Davis for Fences, but as per usual the Academy hasn’t picked the right people for the right categories. Kate Beckinsale also should be in the nomination mix for Love and Friendship, but Dakota Fanning from Brimstone was the Best Actress in a Leading Role that I saw last year.
Actress in a Supporting Role is packed with great performances that I have seen. Assuming Viola Davis won for her genuinely leading role in Fences this award should go to Octavia Spencer for Hidden Figures.
Animated Feature Film is emphatically Kubo and the Two Strings. Kubo deserved to beat it, but Your Name should have been in the conversation.
Cinematography is another very strong category, and I’d be happy with anyone winning except Moonlight which had a half-dozen amazing scenic shots in between some pretty conventional lensing. The Academy will give it to La La Land to help with their record-breaking sweep of the awards. It was, however, the cinematography of Goldstone that nudged it ahead of its rivals for my favourite film from TIFF2016, and I think that should have been in the mix more.
Costume Design will go to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
Directing will be won by Damien Chazelle as part of La La Land‘s sweep.
Best Picture will be La La Land, virtually anointed at this point.
Production Design should go to Hail, Caesar! for its perfect recreation in miniature of Hollywood’s Golden Age. When they don’t make films like that anymore, the correct answer is Hail, Caesar!
Writing (Adapted Screenplay) should go to Arrival, though that is stretching the concept of adaptation, as it purportedly has little to do with the original short story.
Writing (Original Screenplay) will be part of La La Land‘s sweep.