Oscars Predictions: Final Round - Another Day of Sun

Ryan Gosling in Oscar's next Best Picture winner, La La Land
It’s the final few hours of award season! This year has ample speculation that the circus in the land of Lady Liberty will inspire the Oscars to get political. At the very least, a few of the speeches are bound to be good TV.

Every film someway and somehow finds shape in the context with which one sees it. Whether it’s a good mood, a hectic schedule, or a crazy buffoon that effects the film experience, any film finds a degree of influence from the viewer’s frame of mind.

For this reason and many other reasons, La La Land is the film to beat.
Another day of 🌞
Politics might influence someone to pop a screener in the DVD player, but whatever happens from there is up to chance. Some people might watch The Salesman since director Asghar Farhadi drew considerable attention when he announced that he would not be able to attend the Oscars due to the travel ban, but the film was already a nominee and a Cannes award winner when the news of the ban came into effect. It’s frankly among the weaker of the foreign nominees, especially if one brings to it expectations set by his Oscar winning masterpiece A Separation. A few anti-Trump votes might help, but that’s probably it: a few votes.
The Salesman.
Elevation Pictures
On the other hand, the feature documentary and doc shorts race are bound to offer winners that reflect anti-Trump sentiment. How can they not, if one considers the subject matter of the frontrunners: racism, injustice, migration, Syria, and more. Short doc Watani: My Homeland might find the most favour with its sentimental (if relatively conventional) story about a Syrian family that moves to Germany when ISIS arrests the father, who is never seen again. It’s the weaker of the two Syrian-themed doc compared to the extraordinary The White Helmets, but it offers a subject that directly echoes into the the dangerous implications of the Muslim ban.

There are many think pieces, arguments, Tweets, and time that could be better spent elsewhere that make arguments why film X, Y, or Z is the film audiences need right now. Moonlight is the cure to #OscarsSoWhite, The Salesman is a “screw you!” to Donald Trump, Lion is a timely portrait of love that crosses borders, Hidden Figures proves that women and people of colour can rally audiences, and so on. All these claims are fair, but there’s a lot more to all these nominees than basic click-baiting hot takes. They’re all worthy nominees (except Hacksaw Ridge) and could have won in any other year.

But the thing that moviegoers, and by extension voters, need right now is another day of sun.

Emma Stone in La La Land.
Dale Robinette, courtesy eOne Films
La La Land is all about the power of escapism, the joy that movies and the arts bring to our lives, and, more importantly, the great power that one finds in pouring oneself into the creative process in pursuit of a dream. It’s also a delightfully cinematic film and exquisitely crafted work, so the artistic achievements of the film only make its entertainment value and nostalgia factor even sweeter. La La Land might be the most apolitical nominee of the bunch, and that fact works in its favour. La La Land reminds us that, for two hours and change, we can check our troubles at door. What a joy it is to simply sit back, feel good, and leave the theatre with a smile.

Expect a near-sweep for La La Land with Best Picture, Best Director for Damien Chazelle, and numerous technical awards very likely. Ditto the awards for score and song, which should be no-brainers in any Oscar pool.
Isabelle Huppert as Michèle in Elle.
Guy Ferrandis/ SBS Productions, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
Best Actress favourite Emma Stone will probably add to the La La Land tally, but her category is the one big race of the night. It’s the first real match-up between Stone and wild card, critical favourite, and surprise Golden Globe winner Isabelle Huppert for Elle. Huppert, an industry veteran, has an impressive body of challenging work playing ice queens in edgy art films that generally don’t attract a wide enough of an audience to net an Oscar nomination. Kudos to voters and the campaign team at Sony Pictures Classics for getting a performance as wild, brave, and twisted as Huppert’s through award season. Huppert might have missed the SAG nominations, which helped Stone scoop a victory, and wasn’t eligible at the BAFTAs due to Elle’s release date, which gave Stone another win. The only time they faced off, though, was at the Critics’ Choice Awards where the winner was… Natalie Portman for Jackie.

Huppert has never been nominated and Elle might, in a way, be for her what Michael Clayton was to Tilda Swinton: a rare chance to honour an industry vanguard for doing the kind of challenging work for which she should be lauded in a film that, somehow, broke through.

However, when it comes to Best Actress, I’ll just throw my hands up in the air and wave the flag for Natalie Portman.

In the other lead race, La La Land’s Ryan Gosling deserves to add to the film’s haul, but, unfortunately, his natural charm makes his soulful performance as jazz pianist Sebastian seem easy. He should win, but Casey Affleck’s withdrawn—and, frankly, boring—performance in Manchester by the Sea has dominated the season too much to let Denzel Washington’s SAG win derail it. Dark horse Viggo Mortensen has a win in his nomination for the offbeat Captain Fantastic, while Andrew Garfield’s impressive physical work in the weirdly religious and repugnantly violent Hacksaw Ridge is the film’s one redeeming quality.
Best Performance in a Role Campaigned as Supporting: Viola Davis in Fences
Viola Davis will finally get her first Oscar as Best Supporting Actress for Fences. Her win is a bit of a backhanded compliment since she’s a leading actress working at the top of her game in a lead role worthy of her calibre. She deserves Best Actress and putting a performance this big and showy in Best Supporting Actress just puts an asterisk beside her win. If Davis wins, this will be the third year in a row in which Best Supporting Actress goes to a lead role. She has no competition though, despite a lot of support for all these performances, particularly Moonlight’s Naomie Harris, who have been consistently present all season.

Best Supporting Actor sees a race between a lead performance campaigned as supporting and a true supporting performance as Lion lead Dev Patel squares off with Moonlight’s Mahershala Ali. The win could go either way, but given the overwhelming support for Moonlight, it’s bound to win something.

The ballots are cast and it’s up to winners to get political if they’d like the opportunity.
Whatever happens, though, Monday’s still another day of sun.

Without further ado, here are picks for who will win and should win on Oscar night.
I’ve been able to see most of the nominees except Doctor Strange, Rogue One, 13 Hours (not watching a 2.5 hour Michael Bay movie for a sound nomination--which thankfully got rescinded!) and will catch Land of Mine this weekend.

Final Oscar Predictions:

Best Picture:
Hacksaw Ridge
Will win: La La Land
Should win: Since the ballot asks for a ranked ballot, mine goes: 1) Arrival 2) Hell or High Water 3) La La Land 4) Moonlight 5) Lion 6) Hidden Figures 7) Manchester by the Sea 8) Fences 9) Hacksaw Ridge  
Should have been there: Jackie, Nocturnal Animals, Love & Friendship

Best Director
Damian Chazelle, La La Land
Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge
Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Denis Villeneuve, Arrival

Will win: Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Should win: Denis Villeneuve, Arrival
Should have been there: Pablo Larraín, Jackie; David McKenzie, Hell or High Water

Best Actress
Isabelle Huppert, Elle
Ruth Negga, Loving
Natalie Portman, Jackie
Emma Stone, La La Land
Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

Will win: Emma Stone, La La Land
Should win: Natalie Portman, Jackie
Should have been there: Amy Adams, Arrival; Jessica Chastain, Miss Sloane

Best Actor
Casey Affleck, Manchester By the Sea 
Andrew GarfieldHacksaw Ridge 
Ryan Gosling, La La Land 
Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic
Denzel Washington, Fences

Will win: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Should win: Ryan Gosling, La La Land
Should have been there: Peter Simonischek, Toni Erdmann

Best Supporting Actress
Viola Davis, Fences
Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Nicole Kidman, Lion
Octavia SpencerHidden Figures
Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea

Will win: Viola Davis, Fences
Should win: Nicole Kidman, Lion
Should have been there: Dakota Johnson, A Bigger Splash, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Miss Sloane, Helen Mirren, Eye in the Sky

Best Supporting Actor
Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea
Dev Patel, Lion
Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals

Will win: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Should win: Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
Should have been there: Tom Wilkinson, Denial

Adapted Screenplay
Hidden Figures

Will win: Moonlight
Should win: Arrival
Should have been there: Nocturnal AnimalsLove & Friendship

 Original Screenplay
Hell or High Water
La La Land
The Lobster
Manchester by the Sea
20th Century Women

Will win: Manchester by the Sea
Should win: Hell or High Water
Should have been there: Jackie, Eye in the Sky

Best Documentary

Will win: OJ: Made in America
Should win: I am Not Your Negro
Should have been there: Miss Sharon Jones!, Cameraperson
-->Read more on the Oscar doc race at POV!

Best Foreign Language Film
Land of Mine (Denmark)
A Man Called Ove (Sweden)
The Salesman (Iran)
Tanna (Australia)
Toni Erdmann (Germany)

Will win: Toni Erdmann
Should win: Tanna
Should have been there: Sieranevada (Romania), Elle (France)

Best Animated Film
The Red Turtle

Will win: Zootopia
Should win: Kubo and the Two Strings
Should have been there: The Little Prince

Best Film Editing
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
La La Land

Will win: La La Land
Should win: Arrival
Should have been there: Jackie 

Best Cinematography
La La Land

Will win: La La Land
Should win: Arrival
Should have been there: JackieNocturnal Animals, Hell or High Water

Best Score
La La Land

Will win: La La Land
Should win: Jackie
Should have been there: Arrival, Nocturnal Animals

Best Song
Jim: The James Foley Story, "The Empty Chair"
La La Land, “City of Stars
La La Land, Audition - Fools Who Dream
Moana, “How Far I'll Go
Trolls, "Can't Stop this Feeling"

Will win: "City of Stars"
Should win: "City of Stars"
Should have been there: "The Ballad of Wiener-Dog," Wiener-Dog; "Drive It Like You Stole It," Sing Street (and pretty much any other song that was better than the pandering crap from Trolls)

Best Costumes
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Florence Foster Jenkins
La La Land

Will win: Jackie
Should win: Jackie
Should have been there: Love & Friendship

Best Production Design
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
La La Land

Will win: Arrival
Should win: Arrival
Should have been there: Jackie

Best Hair and Make-Up
A Man Called Ove
Star Trek Beyond
Suicide Squad  

Will win: Suicide Squad
Should win: None, honestly.
Should have been there: Hacksaw Ridge, Florence Foster Jenkins, Hail Caesar!

Best Sound Mixing
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
13 Hours

Will win: La La Land
Should win: Arrival
Should have been there: Silence

Best Sound Editing
Deepwater Horizon
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land

Will win: Arrival
Should win: Arrival
Should have been there: Hell or High Water

Best Visual Effects
Deepwater Horizon
Doctor Strange
The Jungle Book
Kubo and the Two Strings
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Will win: The Jungle Book
Should win: Kubo and the Two Strings
Should have been there: Arrival, A Monster Calls

Best Animated Short
Blind Vaysha
Borrowed Time
Pear Cider and Cigarettes

Will win: Piper
Should win: Blind Vaysha

Best Live Action Short
Ennemis Interieurs
Le femme et le TGV
Silent Nights

Will win: La femme et le TGV
Should win: La femme et le TGV

Best Documentary (Short Subject)
4.1 Miles
Joe's Violin
Watani: My Homeland
The White Helmets

Will win: The White Helmets
Should win: White Helmets

What are your picks for Oscar Night?