Monday, February 27, 2017

My Thoughts on Last Night's Oscars

If only the election ended in the same manner as last night's Oscars. For those of you not in the know (and if you are not in the know, why are you even reading this post about the Oscars?), at the end of last night's telecast, the wrong film was announced for Best Picture. Granted, the better film, at least in this critic's opinion, was deemed the winner, but what a blow for the poor schmucks who thought they won for about ninety seconds or so. Yup, after La La Land was named the winner, the stage manager and the folks from Price Waterhouse scrambled about, and finally revealed that Moonlight was the actual winner. A bunch of people are whining about La La Land losing (after winning Best Director, and five other awards, including a predictable but still idiotic choice for Best Actress), but what is done is done. The better film won. I just hope this puts to rest the ridiculous theory that Jack Palance said the wrong name when he gave the Oscar to Marisa Tomei.

And speaking of this fiasco. Everyone is blaming poor Warren Beatty. To his credit, when he opened the envelope and saw it read Emma Stone for La La Land (he was given the wrong envelope by the accounting firm), he questioned it and tried to get Faye Dunaway to look at it, but she thought he was just joking around, and proceeded to yelp out the name of the film on the card. But it was fixed rather quickly, and the producer of La La Land was gracious enough announce to everyone what had happened, and to hand over the Oscar to the folks from Moonlight. A rare class act in today's society. But hey, leave it to Bonnie & Clyde to cause a ruckus.

As for the rest of the show, we had the first Muslim person to win an acting award (congrats to Moonlight's deserving Mahershala Ali), the first black woman to win an Emmy, Tony, and Oscar for acting (way to go Viola Davis), and an undeserving bubble girl take home Best Actress (come on people, the weakest link of La La Land was Emma Stone!). We also got to see Casey Affleck take home Best Actor (which I predicted correctly). He already won almost every precursor award, until Denzel took home the SAG, an award that has translated to Oscar, every year since 2006. Many thought Denzel would take the award, especially with everyone yelping about alleged sexual assaults that were once thrown at Affleck, but which were never brought to fruition. There are still people today, whining all over the interwebs, about how they gave the Oscar to a sexual predator. Really? The whole innocent until proven guilty thing doesn't matter to ya'll? Oh well.

As for the rest of the rest of the show, Jimmy Kimmell was a great host, and his constant Matt Damon bashing was hilarious. He really missed an opportunity when the wrong film was announced, to blame that too, on Damon. We also got to see a surprised tourist group brought in for a comedy routine, only to be hijacked by one of the tourists (who is my new favourite person), who kept snapping pics, and even yanked Mahershala Ali's Oscar from his hands, and made the actor take  a selfie of the two of them with the Oscar. We also saw Kevin O'Connell, win his first Oscar, after losing twenty other times, and an Iranian director win Best Foreign Language Film, only to not be allowed in the country due to Trump's unconstitutional ban. All this, and candy falling from the sky too. Oh, and Ruth Negga in that red dress!

Oh, and my predictions. Oh well, I managed just 18 out of 24 (one off of my record), with my only major category miss, being (oddly enough) Best Picture. I do like that the Oscars can still surprise us a little bit, though. And, in the end, when all the confusion ended, we got ourselves the first film with a gay protagonist (Jon Voight's gay-for-pay male hustler in Midnight Cowboy, notwithstanding), to take home the Best Picture Oscar! Now that is progress! That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

My Final Oscar Predictions

So here we go kids! Time for my annual attempt at predicting the Academy Awards. My goal this time around, as it is every other time, is to finally break that 20 barrier. For those who do not know, there are 24 categories in which to predict. My record, which I have accomplished on multiple occasions, is 19. Here's to hopin' for that 20th correct prediction. But enough rambling. Let's get on with the show.

Best Picture
Will Win: La La Land
Could Win: Moonlight (but unlikely)
Surprise Win: Hidden Figures (but doubtful)
Should Win: Arrival

With it's record tying 14 nominations, La La Land is pretty much a lock to take home the top prize. Personally, I found the film to be fun, and a well done homage to the musical genre of the past (and deserving of several of the technical awards), but not exactly as hoopla worthy as everyone is making it out to be. My favourite of the nine nominees is Arrival, which has no shot at winning, followed by Moonlight, which has the slightest of slight chances to pull off an upset. But yeah, the money is on La La Land. I mean, it is a movie about the very place most of the Oscar voters live and work. But then again, we could get a surprise in Hidden Figures. Okay, probably not.

Best Director
Will Win: Damien Chazelle for La La Land
Could Win: Barry Jenkins for Moonlight
Should Win: Barry Jenkins for Moonlight

The Academy has been prone to splitting the top two awards in recent times, and such a thing could happen here, with the voters giving Jenkins Best Director, but the solid moola is still on Chazelle, as La La Land is set to take the night.

Best Actress
Will Win: Emma Stone in La La Land
Could Win: Isabelle Huppert in Elle
Should Win: Natalie Portman in Jackie

Stone has been the frontrunner from day one, but lately, Huppert has been gaining ground. Whether it is enough ground to make up for the predictable La La Land sweep, is another story. I am going with that it is not.

Best Actor
Will Win: Casey Affleck in Manchester by the Sea
Could Win: Denzel Washington in Fences
Should Win: Either Casey or Denzel work for me

This is easily the closest race in any of the acting categories. Yes, Affleck has won just about every award out there, but two things do go against him, The first being the allegations against him. Yes, the charges were dropped, but you know how people are. The second being that, after Affleck won almost every award, Denzel took home the SAG for Best Actor, an award that has translated into Oscar gold for a decade straight now. But still, I think Affleck is going to pull it off. Or maybe not. Or maybe. Or maybe not. Okay, it is probably going to be Denzel. I guess. Maybe. No! Let's go with Affleck! Yeah, Affleck!! Who the hell knows!? Aaaaaahhhhh!!! Casey at Bat!

Best Supporting Actress
Will Win: Viola Davis in Fences
Could Win: Viola Davis in Fences
Should Win: Viola Davis in Fences

Best Supporting Actor
Will Win: Mahershala Ali in Moonlight
Could Win: Mahershala Ali in Moonlight
Should Win: Mahershala Ali in Moonlight

Yeah, the supporting acting categories are pretty much as sewn up as anything could be. It would be a huge (simply YUUUUGE) shock to see anyone but Davis and Ali take home these prizes. Sure, someone like Dev Patel or even Jeff Bridges could surprise Ali, but that is very doubtful. As for Davis' competition, they probably have no need to write an acceptance speech.

Best Foreign Language Film
Will Win: The Salesman
Could Win: Toni Erdmann
Should Win: The Salesman

In any other year, a fun film like Toni Erdmann, would probably easily walk away with this award. But today, in Trump's America, where the director of this Iranian film is not allowed to enter the country to accept his Oscar, this is one of the (most likely) many political statements at the Oscars this year.

Best Original Screenplay
Will Win: Manchester by the Sea
Could Win: La La Land (one of the few categories where La La Land is not the frontrunner)
Should Win: The Lobster (I would love to see this happen)

Best Adapted Screenplay
Will Win: Moonlight
Could Win: Arrival
Should Win: Moonlight

La La Land will likely sweep this year, but in this category, I think Kenneth Lonergan is going to finally get his Oscar. As for Adapted, when the WGA gave out their awards, Arrival took home Adapted, while Moonlight won for Original. But here at The Oscars, they are both considered Adapted. Moonlight is actually based on a play, but the play was never produced, so their is a bit of confusion. Anyhoo, when put head to head, Moonlight will prevail.

Best Animated Feature
Will Win: Zootopia
Could Win: Kubo and the Two Strings
Should Win: The Red Turtle

Best Documentary Feature
Will Win: O.J.: Made in America
Could Win: 13th (maybe)
Should Win: 13th (definitely)

Best Cinematography
Will Win: La La Land
Could Win: Moonlight
Should Win: Moonlight

Best Production Design
Will Win: La La Land
Could Win: Arrival
Should Win: Hail, Caesar! ... though La La Land looks great too

Best Film Editing
Will Win: La La Land
Could Win: Hacksaw Ridge or Arrival
Should Win: La La Land

Best Costume Design
Will Win: Jackie
Could Win: La La Land
Should Win: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Best Makeup & Hairstyling
Will Win: Star Trek Beyond
Could Win: Suicide Squad or A Man Called Ove
Should Win: Star Trek  Beyond

Best Original Score
Will Win: La La Land (love this mesmerizing score)
Could Win: Jackie
Should Win: La La Land

Best Original Song
Will Win: City of Stars from La La Land
Could Win: Moana or Trolls (if La La Land's two nominees cancel each other out)
Should Win: Is their a sixth choice?

Best Sound Mixing
Will Win: Hacksaw Ridge
Could Win: Arrival (but unlikely)
Should Win: La La Land

Best Sound Editing
Will Win: Hacksaw Ridge
Could Win: La La Land (pretty much a two way race here)
Should Win: Arrival

Best Visual Effects
Will Win: The Jungle Book
Could Win: Doctor Strange (maybe)
Should Win: The Jungle Book (loved this film)

Best Animated Short
Will Win: Piper
Could Win: Pearl (maybe)
Should Win: Blind Vaysha

Best Live Action Short
Will Win: Ennemis Interieurs
Could Win: Sing or Timecode
Should Win: ?????

Best Documentary Short
Will Win: The White Helmets
Could Win:  Extremis or Watani
Should Win: ?????

So, I have La La Land winning 9 awards. That will not be enough for it to tie the record of 11, though if it pulls off Sound Editing and Costumes (which it damn well could), that record could be tied. A Screenplay win (less likely) could allow it to break that record. But I don't see that happening. Anyhoo, nine Oscars ain't nothin' to sneeze at. No film has won that many since The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, won that elusive eleven Oscars back in 2002. Now let's get on with the Oscars. I'll be back tomorrow with some comments on the results, and on how well I did in my predictions.

That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.