Oscars 2017: Who Will (and Who Should) Win
It’s one of our favorite times of year: Oscars time! There were, as always, some snubs and some surprises with this year’s batch of nominees. The other awards shows—Golden Globes, SAG, BAFTAs, Critic’s Choice—leading up to the Oscars have essentially cemented certain category wins, but have left a few up for grabs. So, naturally, we prepped our predictions for many of the main categories:
Hell or High Water
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea
Who will win: La La Land. This musical film has taken Hollywood by storm and has been winning awards left and right. It will be a surprise if it does not win Best Picture. (Aside: while it is a well-done film, I had several issues with it that, in my mind, makes its almost shoe-in win unwarranted.)
Who should win: For me, it’s a toss-up between Arrival and Moonlight. Arrival has the feel of the big, soaring Oscar-winners of the past. It’s also about understanding things that are different, working together, and the beauty of life—all big ideas that the Academy loves. Moonlight, on the other hand, is an exquisite examination of one man. It is told with restraint. Its themes of discovering who you are and the strength of love are universal.
Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Denis Villeneuve, Arrival
Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge
Who will win: Damien Chazelle, La La Land. It’s pretty rare for the Best Director to NOT win Best Picture, so Chazelle is also the clear leader in this race.
Who should win: Barry Jenkins, Moonlight. It is beautiful, heart wrenching, and boasts several really wonderful performances. It takes a skilled director to make all of that happen and keep it more restrained in feeling and tone.
Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Denzel Washington, Fences
Ryan Gosling, La La Land
Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic
Who will win: Denzel Washington, Fences. He won a few awards for this role already (both this film version and the stage version he was in).
Who should win: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea. If he weren’t plagued by sexual harassment allegations, I would say Affleck would be a shoe-in for this award. His quiet performance with an underlying, simmering rage was mesmerizing.
Emma Stone, La La Land
Natalie Portman, Jackie
Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins
Isabelle Huppert, Elle
Ruth Negga, Loving
Who will win: Emma Stone, La La Land. She’s been winning many of the awards this season so she’s likely to win this, too, despite the role being relatively flat and underwritten.
Who should win: Isabelle Huppert, Elle. She did win the Golden Globe for this role, and this role is MUCH meatier than Stone’s in La La Land.
Best Supporting Actor
Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
Dev Patel, Lion
Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea
Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals
Who will win: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight. Even though his character has little screen time compared to some of these others nominated, Ali commands the screen. He also brings a vulnerability to the character that is simply lovely.
Who should win: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight. (I will say, though, that Lucas Hedges in Manchester by the Sea was surprising with his raw and authentic performance. He’s definitely going to be someone to watch.)
Best Supporting Actress
Viola Davis, Fences
Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea
Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Nicole Kidman, Lion
Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures
Who will win: Viola Davis, Fences.
Who should win: Viola Davis, Fences. She’s been nominated twice before, but never won. As Rose, she has an inner strength that, when it cracks, is a moment of masterful acting. (Another aside: Michelle Williams gave a heartbreaking, visceral performance in her limited amount of screen time in Manchester by the Sea. If Viola weren’t in the running, I’d give this one to Michelle. This is her fourth nomination, and I’m sure it won’t be her last.)
Best Foreign Language Film
Land of Mine
A Man Called Ove
Who will win: The Salesman. Asghar Farhdi is a brilliant director. His last film, A Separation, was nominated and won Best Foreign Language Film a few years ago. Because of the nuanced way the story is told, this should be the clear winner.
Who should win: The Salesman. For more of my thoughts on this wonderfully done film, read our film review.
Best Animated Feature
Kubo and the Two Strings
The Red Turtle
My Life As a Zucchini
Who will win: Zootopia. This engaging film is not just entertaining; it is also a very smart commentary about systemic racism.
Who should win: Zootopia. Full disclosure: it was one of our favorite films of 2016. (Aside: I’d be happy with a Moana win, as well, with its catchy music and celebration of the time-honored ideas that you must be be true to yourself and believing in yourself. Also, girls make great leaders!)
Best Original Song
“City of Stars,” La La Land
“Audition (The Fools Who Dream),” La La Land
“How Far I’ll Go,” Moana
“Can’t Stop the Feeling,” Trolls
“The Empty Chair,” Jim: The James Foley Story
Who will win: “City of Stars,” La La Land. Despite its repetitive sound, this one has won previously so it’s likely to again.
Who should win: “How Far I’ll Go,” Moana. The message, the vocals, the music…everything about this song screams Best Original Song to me. Plus, if Lin-Manuel Miranda wins this one, he’s going down in history as only the thirteenth person to have the prized EGOT (Emmy-Grammy-Oscar-Tony-awards).
Have your own Oscars ballot? Who do you think will win? Let us know!