Oscar Predictions 2017: Does La La Land Take It All?

It’s the biggest night of the year in Hollywood and in anticipation, here’s my complete, finalized, no-take-backsies Oscar predictions for 2017.

The Top of the Ballot

Best Picture

The Golden Avocado goes to: Lion
The Oscar will go to: La La Land
For a little while it looked as though La La Land might have peaked but with the ceremony only a few hours away the hype-train seems to still be on track. There’s a colourfulness and cheeriness to La La Land that is undeniably contagious. Sure it’s been done better before – but this musical is certain to be singing from the rooftops tonight, even if it’s a little off-key.

Best Actor

The Golden Avocado goes to: Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea)
The Oscar will go to: Denzel Washington (Fences)
Best Actor (often awarded late in the evening) is the biggest nail-biter on this list for me. With apologies to Gosling, Mortensen, and Garfield, Best Actor is a two-man race between Casey Affleck and Denzel Washington. Casey should win, without a doubt – but his settlement (which I won’t get into here) hasn’t made him a favourite with Oscar voters and he’s up against Denzel’s hand-shaking, baby-kissing, charm. I suspect it might be too difficult a set back to overcome.
If we’re looking at the films alone though, Casey says with one look what Denzel says in a massive monologue. I just don’t think there’s a contest here. If it’s an Affleck loss, as I’ve predicted, it’s almost exclusively politically based.

Best Supporting Actor

The Golden Avocado goes to: Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)
The Oscar will go to: Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)
This is a weird category because of how non-competitive it is. Mahershala Ali is going to win for Moonlight, as he should, but I just wish he was up against a better field. Jeff Bridges plays Jeff Bridges in Hell or High Water, Dev Patel is outshone by Sunny Pawar in Lion (who arguably should have been nominated here instead), and no one saw Nocturnal Animals (sorry Michael Shannon). The only one that could give Mahershala a run for his money is Lucas Hedges, but I doubt it.

Best Actress

The Golden Avocado goes to: Isabelle Huppert (Elle)
The Oscar will go to: Emma Stone (La La Land)
Despite the fact that Isabelle Huppert is one of the best actresses currently working in Europe, we’re probably going to see an Emma Stone win tonight. I can’t really wrap my head around this one – I just don’t think Stone’s performance was that remarkable. I suspect it may be more of a young career award for her past work in films such as The Help (2011).

Best Supporting Actress

The Golden Avocado goes to: Viola Davis (Fences)
The Oscar will go to: Viola Davis (Fences)
I didn’t like Fences. I did like Viola Davis. The Academy loves snot-crying. This one is a lock.

Best Animated Feature Film

The Golden Avocado goes to: Moana
The Oscar will go to: Zootopia
I have a soft spot for the Disney musical, but it goes more or less without saying that the time is ripe for a Zootopia win. With themes of cultural diversity and acceptance, it fits within the 2016 narrative. The raving critical reception and strong box office (over a billion!) certainly don’t hurt either!

Achievement in Cinematography

The Golden Avocado goes to: Moonlight
The Oscar will go to: La La Land

Moonlight is a beautifully crafted film with both explicit and implied storytelling. Scenes are beautifully shot and lighted in order to reinforce characterization. The end shot alone deserves this award – but ultimately, I think Moonlight will fall victim to La La Land‘s colour and vibrancy. The scene in which a dance number is carried out around a pool, for instance, features sweeping camera movements that eventually find the camera underwater before reemerging – all in one seamless shot. I’m calling this one for La La Land.

Achievement in Directing

The Golden Avocado goes to: Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea)
The Oscar will go to: Damien Chazelle (La La Land)
Damien Chazelle is no stranger to the awards circuit, having been through the process in 2015 for Whiplash. He’s been sweeping up awards for months now, including the Golden Globe and Directors Guild awards. This one feels like a lock – with his biggest competition coming from Barry Jenkins for Moonlight. I personally admired Kenneth Lonergan’s work in Manchester by the Sea for his ability to let scenes play out as awkwardly and uncomfortably as they would in real life. Great performances like Affleck’s are supported by great directors.
With that said, if we see a Jenkins win in the director category, we’re likely up for a big Moonlight upset for Best Picture – which would certainly add some excitement!

Best Documentary (Feature)

The Golden Avocado goes to: OJ: Made in America
The Oscar will go to: OJ: Made in America
Though I adored Life, Animated, the sheer advertising and marketing force behind OJ: Made in America is undeniable. I think this is another lock.

Adapted Screenplay

The Golden Avocado goes to: Lion
The Oscar will go to: Moonlight
Moonlight was bumped from the original screenplay category on a technicality as it is based on an unproduced stageplay. There’s little doubt that it will win – though I’d argue that Lion deserves a second look.

Original Screenplay

The Golden Avocado goes to: Manchester by the Sea
The Oscar will go to: Manchester by the Sea
This is one of the few categories where I sense that La La Land is going to fall short. Kenneth Lonergan’s ability to write realistic scenes in Manchester by the Sea is unparalleled. For instance take the scene in which Casey Affleck’s character arrives at the hospital, only to learn that his brother died before his arrival. In this scene, Lonergan lets the awkwardness and discomfort of the situation rest on the dialogue, as we are shown Affleck signing for his brother’s belongings. It feels like you are in a real hospital, witnessing a real tragedy. There’s no montage or even music to lean on – it just happens.

Best Original Score

The Golden Avocado goes to: La La Land
The Oscar will go to: La La Land
As much as I harped on the singing in La La Land, the film was beautifully scored. I think this is an easy win for the musical.

Best Original Song

The Golden Avocado goes to: “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana
The Oscar will go to: “City of Stars” from La La Land
I just want to see Lin Manuel Miranda EGOT – and we just might if the La La Land double-entry splits Academy votes, but I doubt it. Thankfully the live performances of La La Land‘s Best Original Song entries will be performed by John Legend at the ceremony tonight instead of Gosling and Stone.

The Best of the Rest

Achievement in Film Editing

The Golden Avocado goes to: Moonlight
The Oscar will go to: La La Land

Achievement in Production Design

The Golden Avocado goes to: La La Land
The Oscar will go to: La La Land

Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling

The Golden Avocado goes to: Star Trek Beyond
The Oscar will go to: Star Trek Beyond

Achievement in Costume Design

The Golden Avocado goes to: La La Land
The Oscar will go to: La La Land

Best Animated Short Film

The Golden Avocado goes to: Piper
The Oscar will go to: Piper

Best Live Action Short Film

The Oscar will go to: Sing

Achievement in Sound Editing

The Golden Avocado goes to: Hacksaw Ridge
The Oscar will go to: La La Land

Achievement in Sound Mixing

The Golden Avocado goes to: La La Land
The Oscar will go to: La La Land

Achievement in Visual Effects

The Golden Avocado goes to: The Jungle Book
The Oscar will go to: The Jungle Book

Best Documentary (Short Subject)

The Oscar will go to: Watani: My Homeland

Best Foreign Language Film

The Oscar will go to: The Salesman

So that leaves us with 11 awards for La La Land out of a possible 14, including Best Picture. All that’s left is to see where the chips fall.

What do you think of my predictions? Let me know in the comments.



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