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And the Oscar goes to…

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After seeing six of the nine films nominated for Best Picture as well as a few other nominees,* I hereby present my wish list for tonight’s awards. Even though I liked many of the nominated films, I’m not really rooting for anything in particular; mostly I’m just hoping for one or two surprises and that La La Land doesn’t sweep. My personal favorite of the Best Picture nominees is Arrival, but if I had to vote for one, I might pick Hell or High Water, since, of everything I saw, it had the fewest flaws. I just can’t think of anything I would have changed in that film, either technically or in its structure or performances.

I thought Hidden Figures was wonderful—because it’s a great story, not because it was especially hard to tell. It’s almost like a glorified Movie of the Week. Moonlight and Hacksaw Ridge were really very good, but I don’t think of them as a best picture. La La Land was tremendously enjoyable, but not all that deep or memorable. That left me with Manchester by the Sea and Hell or High Water, two compassionate movies that were incredibly well written, directed and acted. Hell or High Water isn’t going to win, but it was my favorite, and it will be remembered as a true American classic.

—Quote from Brutally Honest Oscar Ballot No. 1

With that said, and based on what I’ve seen, here is what or who the oddsmakers think will win tonight, what or who I would like to see win, and, in some categories, those I feel should (or shouldn’t) have been nominated. As always, if I propose a “new” nomination, I take a current nominee off the list: This doesn’t necessarily mean the person or film is undeserving (though it can), but it’s easy to say that so-and-so should have been nominated when the reality is that there are only five slots to fill.

I normally don’t like musicals, but because everything’s so f*cking miserable in the world, La La Land—even though it doesn’t end on a positive note—took me out of the moment and found a place in my heart. It was a good distraction.

—Quote from Brutally Honest Oscar Ballot No. 3

Best Picture
Will win: La La Land
Should win: Arrival
Should have been nominated: American Honey, The Handmaiden
Shouldn’t have been nominated: Hacksaw Ridge

Ah-ga-ssi (The Handmaiden) is one of the most entertaining movies I saw last year while still maintaining a real personal (and gorgeous) style. It also was a fantastic example of resetting an excellent novel in a completely different time and place and having it work just as well. As for American Honey, I’m sorry I didn’t see this road movie in the theater because it was gorgeously filmed and as relevant to today’s America as anything else nominated. Plus, any movie that is relatively plotless for well over two hours and still keeps my attention deserves some sort of award.

Sasha Lane in Andrea Arnold's American Honey

Sasha Lane in Andrea Arnold’s American Honey

Directing
Will win: Damien Chazelle for La La Land
Should win: Denis Villeneuve for Arrival
Should have been nominated: Andrea Arnold for American Honey, Park Chan-wook for The Handmaiden
Shouldn’t have been nominated: Mel Gibson for Hacksaw Ridge, Kenneth Lonergan for Manchester by the Sea

Adapted Screenplay
Will win: Moonlight
Should win: Arrival
Should have been nominated: The Handmaiden, Love & Friendship
Shouldn’t have been nominated: Fences, Moonlight (see below)

Original Screenplay
Will win: Manchester by the Sea
Should win: Hell or High Water
Should have been nominated: Moonlight
Shouldn’t have been nominated: La La Land

Let me tell you, I did not understand The Lobster—it made me nuts. 20th Century Women is a terrific screenplay—very unconventional in its structure and storytelling—and it really worked for me. I didn’t think La La Land’s screenplay was that great, it was just serviceable. It was very close for me between Manchester, because Lonergan is so great at creating complex characters and layered stories, and Hell or High Water, which I loved even more, largely because of the artful but not arty writing.

—Quote from Brutally Honest Oscar Ballot No. 2

The Handmaiden, an adaptation of Sarah Water's Fingersmith

The Handmaiden, an adaptation of Sarah Water’s Fingersmith

Actor in a Leading Role
Will win: Casey Affleck for Manchester by the Sea
Should win: Viggo Mortensen for Captain Fantastic
Should have been nominated: Colin Farrell for The Lobster
Shouldn’t have been nominated: Ryan Gosling for La La Land

I loved, loved, loved Viggo Mortensen’s performance. He is an actors’ actor, and I voted for him. Unfortunately, it’s probably the only vote he’ll get.

—Quote from Brutally Honest Oscar Ballot No. 1

Actress in a Leading Role
Will win: Emma Stone for La La Land
Should win: Ruth Negga for Loving
Should have been nominated: Amy Adams for Arrival
Shouldn’t have been nominated: Meryl Streep for Florence Foster Jenkins

I love French films, but Isabelle Huppert was just doing what she often does, playing a sophisticated Frenchwoman with a secret.

—Quote from Brutally Honest Oscar Ballot No. 2

Actor in a Supporting Role
Will win: Mahershala Ali for Moonlight
Should win: Mahershala Ali for Moonlight
Should have been nominated: Sunny Pawar for Lion
Shouldn’t have been nominated: Dev Patel for Lion

Actress in a Supporting Role
Will win: Viola Davis for Fences
Should win: Michelle Williams for Manchester by the Sea
Should have been nominated: Greta Gerwig for 20th Century Women
Shouldn’t have been nominated: Nicole Kidman for Lion

The adorable (and incredible) Sunny Pawar in Lion

The adorable (and incredible) Sunny Pawar in Lion

Cinematography
Will win: La La Land
Should win: Lion
Should have been nominated: The Innocents, The Light Between Oceans
Shouldn’t have been nominated: Arrival, Silence

I hated Silence—there were 85 really good minutes in a three hour movie. He [Scorsese] is so wonderful, but he has got to get over his Catholic guilt. I know it’s not the cinematographer’s fault, but damn.

—Quote from Brutally Honest Oscar Ballot No. 3

Film Editing
Will win: La La Land
Should win: Arrival
Should have been nominated: Green Room
Shouldn’t have been nominated: La La Land

Production Design
Will win: La La Land
Should win: Passengers
Should have been nominated: The Handmaiden
Shouldn’t have been nominated: Hail, Caesar!

Fantastic Beasts looked great, but not as great as Passengers. The movie sucks, but it looked f*cking cool—I mean, that’s the cruise I want to go on, without the hell they had to experience. I want to be able to get off at some point.

—Quote from Brutally Honest Oscar Ballot No. 3

Costume Design
Will win: La La Land
Should win: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Should have been nominated: The Dressmaker, Handmaiden, Love & Friendship, The Love Witch
Shouldn’t have been nominated: Allied, Florence Foster Jenkins, Jackie, La La Land

The four above categories are really where La La Land wins by default based on the weaknesses of the other nominees. After seeing it pointed out on Twitter how poorly lit the opening scene was (compared to Jacques Demy’s Les Demoiselles de Rochefort), I just can’t get behind it for cinematography, and a nomination for costume design is simply ludicrous. Furthermore, I would never in a million years pick it for editing. A nomination for production design is fine I suppose, but there are plenty of films I would rather have seen nominated and win there.

Some of the fabulous costumes in The Dressmaker

Some of the fabulous costumes in The Dressmaker

Original Score
Will win: La La Land
Should win: Jackie
Should have been nominated: Arrival
Shouldn’t have been nominated: Passengers

Original Song
Will win: “City of Stars” from La La Land
Should win: “City of Stars” from La La Land
Should have been nominated: “I’m So Humble” from Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, “Drive It Like You Stole It” from Sing Street
Shouldn’t have been nominated: “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” from La La Land, “The Empty Chair” from Jim: The James Foley Story

As I’ve stated before, it’s b*llshit that Arrival wasn’t eligible for its score. And Passengers was only nominated because it’s Thomas Newman. That said, I think that Best Score is one nomination that La La Land can rightfully lay claim to, so I’m fine with it winning. It almost certainly will win for “City of Stars” which I think is at least a legitimate nomination in a category that I maintain is due for elimination.

And with that, I think I’ve exhausted the categories I really care about, so I will just leave you with this beauty from one of the anonymous Oscar voters interviewed by The Hollywood Reporter.

I’m not big on animation or animators. I know a girl who only has sex with animators—she works over at Disney. In any event, my least favorite was Moana—just typical Disney fare. I really, really liked Kubo and the Two Strings, My Life As a Zucchini and Zootopia. But I loved The Red Turtle—it was so simple and it spoke about life and it looked like a watercolor painting to me. Plus I have a fetish for turtles—I’ve just written a project about a turtle.

—Quote from Brutally Honest Oscar Ballot No. 3

Oscar Statues

Who would you like to see take home one of these golden boys?


*Oscar-nominated features I’ve seen to date: Allied, Arrival, Captain Fantastic, Elle, Florence Foster Jenkins, Hail Caesar!, Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures, Jackie, La La Land, Lion, The Lobster, Loving, Moonlight, O.J.: Made in America, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, 13th, 20th Century Women, Zootopia

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