by Hope Madden and George Wolf
Oscar cometh, and with him the possibility of drawing attention to some of the best films from 2016 that many people didn’t see. By all means, check out Hell or High Water and Moonlight. Watch Natalie Portman’s brilliant turn in Jackie, or Viola Davis’s blistering performance in Fences. And for the love of God, watch Manchester by the Sea already. It won’t kill you.
And while you’re at it, pull out your Oscar score card and compare it with ours.
There are a lot of solid contenders and one possible winner. Such is the case every year, but the best thing about the real race this year is that it’s the movie you enjoyed most versus clearly the best film you saw this year. For us, it’s La La Land versus Moonlight, and however it turns out, we all win. This is how it will turn out:
Will: La La Land
We would love to say David Mackenzie, beautiful visionary behind Hell or High Water, should win but will lose to someone else. But, Mel Gibson got that nomination for Hacksaw Ridge. So Mackenzie can’t lose, at least he has that. The winner, then?
Should: Damien Chazelle, La La Land
This is a stacked category (including Streep, Portman, and Loving‘s Ruth Negga)– one of the strongest pack of contenders for Best Female Lead we’ve seen in years. Congratulations to us that it will be so tough to choose. But here’s the way it’ll likely go:
Should: Isabelle Huppert, Elle
Will: Emma Stone, La La Land
Tightest race this year, and only getting tighter. Even Denzel Washington was surprised to see the Screen Actors Guild award come his way for Fences, and with all the overlap in the voting pool between that organization and the Academy, Denzel’s chances have only gotten better. But we still give Casey Affleck the slightest of leads.
Should: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Best Supporting Actress
Regardless of her limited screen time in Manchester by the Sea, Michelle Williams has every right to this award, only because the great Viola Davis should be nominated in the best actress category. But since she’s not…
Should: Viola Davis, Fences
Best Supporting Actor
This is another group of impressive performances. Nice to see Lucas Hedges included for his great work in Manchester by the Sea. Still, this ranks as the second strongest lock on the ballot (after Viola’s certain win).
Should: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Best Original Screenplay
Wow, the brilliance off all this work could blind you. The Lobster, 20th Century Woman, La La Land and more, some of the most original, most provocative and most moving screenplays we’ve seen in years. There are no losers here.
Should: Taylor Sheridan, Hell or High Water
Will: Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Best Adapted Screenplay
Matching the originals in style and substance is this group of adapted screenplays (including Lion, Arrival, and Fences). Breathtaking.
Should: Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Best Animated Film
Oscar liked some obscure cartoons this year – and good for all of us that they drew attention to such gems as The Red Turtle and My Life as a Zucchini. Still, it’s the big boys who delivered. No, not Pixar. For once, the ultimate behemoth in ‘toon-tainment, Disney, put out the most relevant and gorgeous piece of animation, and will be rewarded for it.
Three films here, including Ava DuVernay’s gripping 13th, are almost equally deserving of this award, each of them speaking to the nation’s racial tensions in a way that illustrates both the history and currency of the topic. We’ll be happy however it turns out, but if it were up to us…
Should: I Am Not Your Negro
Will: OJ: Made In America
Catch the show Sunday night on ABC. Coverage begins at 7pm.