The 2017 Oscars

Some predictions for some timely reading

24 February 2017

February 26th, so this weekend, it’s time for the best celebration ever. No, we’re not referring to carnival, but to the Oscars. Let’s get to who should win, who actually will win and why. And expect 94,3% of this to be totally wrong.

Best picture
Should win: Moonlight
Will win: La La Land

Granted, La La Land is a fantastic movie. It’s a beautiful ode to classic Hollywood filmmaking, driven by powerful performances and gorgeous music. Basically, you’ll run out of superlatives when you talk about it. Which is why it’s got 14 nominations.

So… then why shouldn’t it take home the prize? Well… because it’s a very safe picture and a vary traditional pick. The kind of the film that the Academy selects because it makes them feel good about themselves and the world they occupy.

Moonlight on the other hand is a film that celebrates diversity, underdogs and deals with pressing subject matters like poverty, addiction, sexuality and gender and race conventions. In short: it’s an important film. If it wins, it’s not just the celebration of a powerful and beautiful piece of cinema, but also a political victory. And the perfect follow-up to last year’s #OscarsSoWhite.

Best actor in a leading role
Should win: Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge)
Will win: Ryan Gosling (La La Land)

Gosling will likely win this award, because of all the buzz surrounding La La Land. Usually best picture buzz signifies increased odds of winning for the nominees in the acting categories who perform in that particular film. What also helps is that Gosling is just very good in La La Land, even though it’s not a part that requires any heavy lifting. It just fits well with the movie it’s part of.

Garfield on the other hand plays a soldier who refuses to pick up a gun because of his believes, is prosecuted and shamed for his stance in the US, and ultimately manages to save a lot of people during World War II. It’s a role that does require a lot of heavy lifting and a wide range of emotions. And Garfield delivers with a beautifully nuanced performance. So yeah, he deserves that Oscar.

Best actress in a leading role
Should win: Emma Stone (La La Land)
Will win: Emma Stone (La La Land)

Remember how I wrote Gosling doesn’t do any heavy lifting in La La Land? Well, Emma Stone does. She carries the film and her nuanced and vibrant performance is mesmerizing. That the film works as well as it does is because of her. Now… let’s just hope that Meryl Streep doesn’t win; lately every time she shows up, she gets an award.

Best actor in a supporting role
Should win: Dev Patel (Lion)
Will win: Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)

Let’s start off by saying Ali definitely deserves that Oscar for a supporting role. He plays an incredibly important role in Moonlight and his performance is acting gold: he plays a beautiful paradox of a character, and sells everything about him.

So why should Dev Patel win? Well… because he is the lead performer for a half of Lion, and he is magnetic. Patel portrays a character who has been adopted and struggles with both the loyalty to his adoptive parents and the longing to find out about what has happened to his biological family. It’s a powerhouse lead performance that has been squeezed into the supporting role category for… reasons. But if this nets Patel the prize, I’m not complaining.

Best actress in a supporting role
Should win: Naomie Harris (Moonlight)
Will win: Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures)

Back in 2012 Spencer won the Oscar for her supporting role in The Help, which was quite Oscar-baity. This would make her an Oscar darling, which in part is totally earned: she’s a wonderful actress. Now she stars in Hidden Figures, another Oscar-baity film, this time a true story about women of color who worked for NASA but have been forgotten by history. All in all a film that the Oscars are likely to show support for via a win for Spencer’s performance.

But in terms of performance, Noamie Harris really ups the ante. She plays the mother of Moonlight’s main character, a woman who struggles with a crack addiction. The beauty of it is that Harris turns what could be a showy performance into a wholly human and naturalistic one. And some of the film’s developments definitely move you to tears because of her incredible feat.

Best animated feature film
Should win: Kubo and the Two Strings
Will win: Moana

Kubo is just a F|<&:#% amazing movie, alright? That’s all there is to it. It’s gorgeous and lovingly crafted (a mix of stop-motion animation and computer animation), tells a beautiful and important story while never talking down to its audience AND it features damn’ good voice work and music. In other words: it's an animation masterpiece by top studio LAIKA. But… usually Disney/Pixar wins the animation award, because well… they’re Disney and Pixar. And this year the cultural diversity angle (of a US state) of Moana may just strike a chord with the Academy. So, yeah, sorry Kubo.

So, what should you take away from this piece? Nothing really except for the fact that you should really check out some of these movies. So do yourself a favor and do that. You know you want to.

Thijs

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