Alrighty y'all, it's the time of the year where if I were a betting woman, I would be able to pay for my college education.
Let's get down to business.
La La Land- The surefire frontrunner of the competition this year. This film is so much fun and a welcome break from everything in your life right now. I promise. I personally really liked this movie, even if I do feel it is a tad overhyped (and to an extent, over-criticized!). But when ya got Emma Stone getting her Les Miserables close up moment, it's all good. Bet on it to win.
Moonlight- I was watching the Best of 2016 episode of Movie Fights (shoutout to my Screen Junkies), in which this film was brought up often, when somebody on the panel said that they almost felt uncomfortable watching this movie, because it felt like they were walking in on something private and very intimate. That hits the nail on the head. Moonlight is positively luminous. It really feels like nothing I've ever seen, and probably won't see anything like it ever again. And the cast is beyond amazing. Don't expect it to win the big prize, but don't miss it.
Manchester by the Sea- Another really unique film that positively broke my heart. It's very bleak, but very moving, and a very human story with characters that really feel like real human beings. Michele Williams is standout, but everyone here does a really amazing job with the film. I don't want to spoil anything, because it really is something to watch this story unfold before you, but I definitely recommend this one. Again, don't expect it to win Best Picture tho.
Hidden Figures- YES! This movie is one giant jump-in-the-air-fist-pumping-screaming-at-the-top-of-your-lungs yes! Our three leads, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae (in a wonderful debut performance after creating some awesome jamz), and the incomparable Taraji P. Henson are killing it in this movie. It's worth it for their performances, for sure. There are a couple of moments that fall into feel-good cheesiness, but with a cast of this caliber, they carry it perfectly.
Arrival- This one initially kind of surprised me at ending up in so many categories, but when I finally got the chance to see it, I definitely understood why. This film joins the recent collection of awesome sci-fi films that really make you think about our world at large. Throw in Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner on top of that and it is both a crowd pleaser and and a wonderfully emotional journey.
Hacksaw Ridge- I skipped out on this movie admittedly just because, honestly, I don't like Mel Gibson. So uh....yeah. It's not gonna win Best Picture, and I guess that's all ya really need to know.
Lion- This is a film I predicted would get swapped with Silence for a Best Picture nom, but I was wrong (more about that later). However, it is a very sweet movie, and Dev Patel really shows some amazing growth as an actor. The cinematography is beautiful as well.
Fences- Being the little theater nerd I am (and my awkward encounter with Denzell in New York that one time) I rushed to the theaters as soon as this opened in my town. And for the most part, I definitely really loved it. If anything, I would have liked to have seen this opened up a bit more as a film. You can tell this was a play. Like, it pretty much all but tells you that there's an intermission what with a well done montage. But the performances are great. Sometimes when the star is directing, it feels a little self-indulgent, but I thought Washington showed remarkable restraint, and deft directing capabilities. And Viola Davis si set for gold with the amazing performance she gives in this movie. She is devastating.
Hell or High Water- An interesting little western heist craziness. This film is also a statement of our political times and such. It's very character driven, and again, totally beautiful dusty cinematography. This was another one that kinda snuck into the category for me, but I really did enjoy it.
Consensus: La La Land all the way.
Damien Chazelle (La La Land)
Barry Jenkins (Moonlight)
Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea)
Denis Villenueve (Arrival)
Mel Gibson (Hacksaw Ridge)
Damien has it in the bag, my friends. He updated the movie musical for our modern times and created a beautiful pallette with which to paint his picture. I would have loved to see Scorsese for Silence in here though.
Emma Stone (La La Land)
Natalie Portman (Jackie)
Isabelle Huppert (Elle)
Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins)
Ruth Negga (Loving)
This one has definitely been a little switchy for my these past couple of weeks, but when in doubt, pick La La Land. That's not to say that Emma isn't totally amazing in it though, she really makes the movie what it is. I would have nominated Taraji P. Henson for Hidden Figures over Meryl Streep though. Florense Foster Jenkins was a super fun little movie, but not in the league of other great Streep performances.
Denzel Washington (Fences)
Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea)
Ryan Gosling (La La Land)
Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge)
Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic)
Oh man, I was so happy to see Viggo get a nomination, Captain Fantastic was a really awesome under-rated movie from last year. That being said, it's looking more and more like a Denzel victory these days. Also, Andrew Garfield was way more awesome in Silence, but I guess we just aren't allowed to have any fun.
Best Supporting Actress
Viola Davis (Fences)
Michele Williams (Manchester by the Sea)
Naomie Harris (Moonlight)
Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures)
Nicole Kidman (Lion)
Viola Davis is set to finally get her long due Oscar! Her work in Fences is beautiful, and absolutely not to be missed. No real subs for me here.
Best Supporting Actor
Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)
Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water)
Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals)
Dev Patel (Lion)
Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea)
Definitely a sort of weird lineup over here, but Mahershala has my pick to win. He really pulls the threads of Moonlight together, truly supporting all the other wonderful performances of the film. As far as snubs, I thought Adam Driver in Silence should have been nominated (possibly in place of the weirdly picked Michael Shannon, even though I really enjoyed Nocturnal Animals).
Those are the big categories that I know most people care about. The only other snub that really bothered me was the omission of Michael Giachino's amazing Doctor Strange score. I would have loved to see that represented.
Anyway, have fun betting, and I'll see you after the big show!