February 24, 2017
by Tyler Edwards
As a society, we love to project feelings and analogies on to big cultural events—the Patriots coming from behind for a shocking last-minute win the Super Bowl is just like Donald Trump winning the election, right?
Well, the Academy Awards are no different. The nominees all seem to represent some part of our current culture: America’s growing diversity in the African American and queer “Moonlight,” the plight of poor white America in “Hell or High Water,” the escapism of “La La Land,” the Trumpian patriotism of “Hacksaw Ridge” and the hard fought battles women of color face in “Hidden Figures.”
Despite living in tougher times post-election, this year’s batch of Oscar nominees are actually an encouraging beacon of diversity. After last year’s #OscarSoWhite controversy, the Academy decided to acknowledge an incredible slate of talent and diversity this year.
And while most of the awards appear to be “La La Land”’s to lose, don’t count out of some of the dark horses! So here is a handy guide to help you not lose your office Oscar-pool.
Predicted win: “La La Land” Dark Horse: “Hidden Figures”
Winning Best picture seems like a foregone conclusion for the hit musical “La La Land.” Despite being a movie about jazz staring two white people, “La La Land’s” escapism and joy—and Hollywood loving to award movies about itself—this is the safest bet for the night’s most coveted award. “Manchester by the Sea” and “Moonlight” are stunningly beautiful and poignant films, but they just aren’t going to have the popular appeal that “La La Land” does to bring home the Best Picture award. If anything does have a chance at upsetting “La La Land,” my money would be on “Hidden Figures.” While not the best film of the year, it’s the highest grossing of all the nominees and the way the best picture voting works could allow it to slip in under the radar.
Predicted win: Casey Affleck (“Manchester by the Sea”) Dark Horse: Denzel Washington (“Fences”)
This award was in the bag for Casey Affleck and his incredible performance in “Manchester by the Sea,” but some late breaking sexual assault allegations have put a damper on some of his award-season buzz. While still the front-runner, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Denzel Washington take home the award for “Fences.”
Predicted win: Emma Stone (“La La Land”) Dark Horse: Natalie Portman (“Jackie”)
“La La Land” is going to rack-up on the lion’s share of the awards, but the only acting recognition it is going to get is for Emma Stone’s sure-fire win for Best Actress. Natalie Portman’s turn as Jackie Kennedy was the front-runner early on, but all the buzz around her performance seems to have faded. That being said, it’s never smart to count out Meryl Streep!
Best Supporting Actor
Predicted win: Mahershala Ali (“Moonlight”) Dark Horse: Dev Patel (“Lion”)
“Moonlight” was probably my favorite movie of the year, and while I would love for it to win more major awards, it seems what most likely is Mahershala Ali for Best Supporting Actor. While he’s certainly the front-runner, it’s not out of the realm of possibilities for Dev Patel or Lucas Hedges to sneak up on him for their performances in “Lion” and “Manchester by the Sea,” respectively.
Best Supporting Actress
Predicted win: Viola Davis (“Fences”) Dark Horse: A literal dark horse has as much of a chance of winning as any of the other four nominees.
Viola Davis will win this award. There is no question. She scream-cried with snot coming out her nose at Denzel Washington. She just needs to go ahead and clear a spot on her mantle.
Predicted win: Damian Chazelle (“La La Land”) Dark Horse: Barry Jenkins (“Moonlight”)
This is Damian Chazelle’s award to lose. While “La La Land” is probably more of a lock for best picture, the director of the film that is now tied for most nominations ever seems to be in a pretty good place. The only scenario in which he loses is if Oscar voters split their votes for Best Picture and Best Director and give Best Director to “Moonlight’s” Barry Jenkins.
Best Animated Film: “Zootopia”
Best Original Screenplay: “La La Land”
Best Adapted Screenplay: “Moonlight”
Best Original Song: “Audition (Fools who Dream),” “La La Land”