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“And the Oscar Goes To….” JCliff and Chlo’s Oscar Predictions

Tyrone High School movie experts Chloe Makdad and Jonathan Clifton make their 2017 Oscar predictions

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Athletes have their sports and they’re all fun to watch, but there is something different when it comes to award shows such as the Academy Awards. The feeling is something spectacular, sort of like the Super Bowl, where everyone sits around the television and cheers on their team. However with the Oscars, they have anywhere from three to ten nominees fighting for a golden statuette, compared to any sports event where there are usually only two teams fighting for the win. This year the Oscars have nominated a total of 63 movies in some sort of category, but with all eyes focused on the main categories, they are what we, Jonathan Clifton, and Chloe Makdad will be discussing.

Best Original Screenplay Nominees:

HELL OR HIGH WATER, Written by: Taylor Sheridan
LA LA LAND, Written by: Damien Chazelle
THE LOBSTER, Written by: Yorgos Lanthimos, Efthimis Filippou
MANCHESTER BY THE SEA, Written by: Kenneth Lonergan
20TH CENTURY WOMEN, Written by: Mike Mills                                            

Chlo’s Picks:

Will Win: “Manchester by the Sea”

Should Win: “Manchester by the Sea”

Spoiler: “The Lobster”

To “La La Land’s” credit, it wasn’t the stereotypical love story. However, it still was a somewhat typical love story, so I give this one to the reserved yet poignant “Manchester by the Sea.” Be on the lookout for “The Lobster,” by far the most inventive of this year’s nominees.

JCliff’s Picks:

Will Win: “Manchester By The Sea”

Should Win: “Hell or High Water”

Spoiler: “La La Land”

“Manchester by the Sea” is certainly one of the best written movies in years and deserves the award, but I can’t deny the fantastic, darkly humorous writing of “Hell or High Water” which unlike “Manchester” kept me engaged the entire time. If anyone is going to upset in this category it’s “La La Land” which has the gravitas of an old Hollywood film which Academy voters adore.

 

Best Visual Effects Nominees:

DEEPWATER HORIZON, Craig Hammack, Jason Snell, Jason Billington and Burt Dalton
DOCTOR STRANGE, Stephane Ceretti, Richard Bluff, Vincent Cirelli and Paul Corbould
THE JUNGLE BOOK, Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones and Dan Lemmon
KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS, Steve Emerson, Oliver Jones, Brian McLean and Brad Schiff
ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY, John Knoll, Mohen Leo, Hal Hickel and Neil Corbould

Chlo’s Picks:

Will Win: “The Jungle Book”

Should Win: “Kubo and the Two Strings”

Spoiler: “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”

“The Jungle Book” was like an LSD trip, or at least what I imagine one would be like. It seems like something that would appeal to the Academy, though “Kubo and the Two Strings” is a unique visual specimen. A bit of “Star Wars” nostalgia could also spoil the show.

JCliff’s Picks:

Will Win: “The Jungle Book”

Should Win: “The Jungle Book”

Spoiler: “Kubo and the Two Strings”

What The Jungle Book “did was take an old, meh childhood film and turn it into something amazing. Although it was shunned by other categories it should claim to be king of the Visual Effects category and deservingly so. On the other hand I’m a sucker for great art and “Kubo and the Two Strings” is visually pleasing to the eye and a masterpiece, I wouldn’t be upset if either took home the award… just please, not “Star Wars.”

 

Best Original Song Nominees:

AUDITION, La La Land; Music by Justin Hurwitz; Lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
CAN’T STOP THE FEELING, Trolls; By: Justin Timberlake, Max Martin and Karl Johan Schuster
CITY OF STARS, La La Land; Music by Justin Hurwitz; Lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
THE EMPTY CHAIR, Jim: The James Foley Story; Music and Lyrics by J. Ralph and Sting
HOW FAR I’LL GO, Moana; Music and Lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda

Chlo’s Picks:                                                                                                        

Will Win: “City of Stars”

Should Win: “Audition” 

Spoiler: “How Far I’ll Go”

“La La Land” may have my favorite original movie soundtrack, and I think the Academy might agree. If the “La La Land” voters split over “Audition” and “City of Stars,” though, Lin-Manuel Miranda could score his first golden statuette and complete his sweep of the Emmy’s, Tony’s, Grammy’s and Oscar’s.

JCliff’s Picks:

Will Win: City of Stars

Should Win: Audition

Spoiler: Can’t Stop The Feeling

I’m holding onto faith that The Academy can pick the better of the two songs from “La La Land,” but this one is a bit of a stretch. Although “Audition” is the superior choice for “La La Land,” if the votes are to be split between it and “City of Stars,” the award may, unfortunately, go to the obnoxious Summer hit, Can’t Stop the Feeling.”

 

Best Animated Feature Nominees:

KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS, Travis Knight and Arianne Sutner
MOANA, John Musker, Ron Clements and Osnat Shurer
MY LIFE AS A ZUCCHINI, Claude Barras and Max Karli
THE RED TURTLE, Michael Dudok de Wit and Toshio Suzuki
ZOOTOPIA, Byron Howard, Rich Moore and Clark Spencer

Chlo’s Picks:

Will Win: “Zootopia”

Should Win: “Zootopia”

Spoiler: “Moana”

“Zootopia” has broad appeal, combining a children’s narrative with mature humor to make it fit for all ages. To be honest, I would be shocked if it didn’t win, but movies like “Kubo and the Two Strings” and “Moana” are impressive enough that they could play spoiler.

JCliff’s Picks:

Will Win: “Zootopia”

Should Win: “Kubo and the Two Strings”

Spoiler: “Moana”

This year’s animation movie list is staggering and amazing. “Zootopia” sends a message of getting past each other’s differences and the movie is one of my favorites of the year, but “Kubo” is maybe just a little bit better… It also helps that the movie had stunning art direction and the storytelling was incredible. Both are very good movies, but if there’s to be any spoiler it’s “Moana” which is just pure fun and incredibly enjoyable.

 

Best Actress in a Supporting Role Nominees:

VIOLA DAVIS, Fences
NAOMIE HARRIS, Moonlight
NICOLE KIDMAN, Lion
OCTAVIA SPENCER, Hidden Figures
MICHELLE WILLIAMS, Manchester by the Sea

Chlo’s Picks:

Michelle Williams

Will Win: Viola Davis

Should Win: Viola Davis

Spoiler: Michelle Williams

Once again, Viola Davis tore at my heart-strings with her moving portrayal in “Fences.” Her performance, while nominated in the supporting category, helped carry the well-acted film. As amazing as Davis was, don’t discount Michelle Williams, who gave a career performance in “Manchester by the Sea.”

JCliff’s Picks:

Viola Davis

Will Win: Viola Davis

Should Win: Viola Davis

Spoiler: Michelle Williams

Viola Davis a ferocious actress who doesn’t allow her roles to be bad. She is great in everything and Fences is no different. She plays a mother who displays a range of emotions from funny to loving to angry and sad all at the same time. Viola is just amazing in this role and I can’t see anyone beating her. Michelle Williams won’t beat Viola, but her performance is nonetheless great.

 

Best Actor in a Supporting Role Nominees:

MAHERSHALA ALI, Moonlight

JEFF BRIDGES, Hell or High Water

LUCAS HEDGES, Manchester by the Sea

DEV PATEL, Lion

MICHAEL SHANNON, Nocturnal Animals

Chlo’s Picks:

Lucas Hedges

Will Win: Mahershala Ali

Should Win: Lucas Hedges

Spoiler: Jeff Bridges

This is a difficult category to make a pick in. Mahershala Ali is certainly deserving of the award, and it’s likely the Academy will reward him as the SAG’s did. However, the field may still be open. Lucas Hedges gives a raw, realistic, and charming performance in “Manchester by the Sea” that makes him equally as deserving of gold statuette. And as always, Jeff Bridges was fantastic in “Hell or High Water.”

JCliff’s Picks:

Jeff Bridges

Will Win: Mahershala Ali

Should Win: Lucas Hedges

Spoiler: Jeff Bridges

I have a saying, if the supporting cast does a better job than the lead in a great movie, than they should win. In this case that winner would be “Manchester’s” Lucas Hedges who steals the scenes he’s in from co-star Casey Affleck. Mahershala Ali is good in “Moonlight” even though he is barely in it, and to be honest I forgot he was in it, but the Academy seems to be deadlocked on him to win. Then there is spoiler Jeff Bridges who I loved in “Hell or High Water,” he is really incredible. All in all Mahershala is most likely to win, but Hedges or Bridges may be the spoilers in this race.

 

Best Lead Actor  Nominees:

CASEY AFFLECK, Manchester by the Sea
ANDREW GARFIELD, Hacksaw Ridge
RYAN GOSLING, La La Land
VIGGO MORTENSEN, Captain Fantastic
DENZEL WASHINGTON, Fences

Chlo’s Picks:

Denzel Washington

Will Win: Casey Affleck

Should Win: Denzel Washington

Spoiler: Ryan Gosling

This award is a deadlock race between Denzel Washington and Casey Affleck. Affleck gave what was perhaps his most nuanced performance to date and embodied the tragedy and confusion that his character faced. Washington, on the other hand, was passionate and didn’t hold back when it came to making his character a likeable jerk. Both are equally deserving, and in reality that could hurt both their chances. If the votes are split, look for Ryan Gosling to take the cake.

JCliff’s Picks:

Casey Affleck

Will Win: Denzel Washington

Should Win: Denzel Washington

Spoiler: Casey Affleck

As Chloe mentioned this has been a deadlock race between the two actors, however, Denzel took home the SAG Award for best actor which has indicated the best actor winner correctly for the past 13 years. There is a likely chance that Denzel received the SAG just because he never received one so Casey is still in the top spot and this race between who will win will continue until the winner is announced on the stage on February 26th.

 

Best Lead Actress Nominees:

ISABELLE HUPPERT, Elle
RUTH NEGGA, Loving
NATALIE PORTMAN, Jackie
EMMA STONE, La La Land
MERYL STREEP, Florence Foster Jenkins

Chlo’s Picks:

        Natalie Portman

 

Will Win: Natalie Portman

Should Win: Emma Stone

Spoiler: Meryl Streep

Part of the definition of Oscar-bait should be biopic. While “Jackie” did not score a Best Picture nomination, Natalie Portman’s eerily accurate portrayal of Jackie Kennedy could win over the Academy’s voters. As far as who should win, Ruth Negga and Isabelle Huppert both give captivating performances, but I have to give this one to Emma Stone for reasons JCliff will elaborate on with passion. And while she is by far the least-deserving of this year’s nominees (her spot should have gone to Amy Adams or Taraji P. Henson), the same outspoken nature that scored her the nomination could give Meryl Streep a fourth golden statuette.

JCliff’s Picks:

Emma Stone

Will Win: Emma Stone

Should Win: Emma Stone

Spoiler: Natalie Portman

Emma Stone is one of the best actresses of this generation. She’s showed her range in comedy (“Easy A”), in drama (“Birdman”), and even genre movies (“The Amazing Spider Man”), but Emma Stone carries “La La Land” with triumph. She is funny, she is loving, she is sad, she is everything in this movie and without her “La La Land” may not have been the same. Of course she was amazing, but I can’t help but think about Natalie Portman’s portrayal of Jackie Kennedy where she is a little bit more showy with emotion than Stone, but her performance was just truly incredible. I don’t see how there could be an upset considering Stone has been on a roll throughout the awards cycle, but Natalie Portman is the one to watch in this awards race.

 

Best Director Nominees:

ARRIVAL, Denis Villeneuve
HACKSAW RIDGE, Mel Gibson
LA LA LAND, Damien Chazelle
MANCHESTER BY THE SEA, Kenneth Lonergan
MOONLIGHT, Barry Jenkins

Chlo’s Picks:

          Barry Jenkins

Will Win: Damien Chazelle

Should Win: Damien Chazelle

Spoiler: Barry Jenkins

This choice took a lot of thought because of the unfathomably large amount of talent that each of these directors possess, but I have to give this one to Damien Chazelle. His take on a production as extravagant as “La La Land” resulted in a fantastic film. Barry Jenkins could play spoiler after turn on “Moonlight,” however,  as he showed that sometimes less is most definitely more.

JCliff’s Picks:

Damien Chazelle

 

Will Win: Damien Chazelle

Should Win: Damien Chazelle

Spoiler: Denis Villeneuve

I don’t think there has been this great of a list of directors nominated in years. I would have agreed with Chloe that Barry Jenkins may be the spoiler however I can’t help but think that “Arrival” is a rare sci-fi masterpiece that was overlooked in many categories. Denis Villeneuve is finally getting recognition for his strong list of work, but Damien Chazelle will be the winner on February 26th as he masterfully directs “La La Land” to awards glory.

 

Best Picture Nominees:

ARRIVAL, Shawn Levy, Dan Levine, Aaron Ryder and David Lind

FENCES, Scott Rudin, Denzel Washington and Todd Black

HACKSAW RIDGE, Bill  Mechanic and David Permut

HELL OR HIGH WATER, Carla Hacken and Julie Yorn

HIDDEN FIGURES, Donna Gigliotti, Peter Chernin, Jenno Topping, Pharrell Williams & Theodore Melfi

LA LA LAND, Fred Berger, Jordan Horowitz and Marc Platt

LION, Emile Sherman, Iain Canning and Angie Fielder

MANCHESTER BY THE SEA, Matt Damon, Kimberly Steward, Chris Moore, Lauren Beck & Kevin J. Walsh

MOONLIGHT, Adele Romanski, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner

 

Chlo’s Picks:

Will Win: “La La Land”

Should Win: “Moonlight”

Spoiler: “Manchester by the Sea”

It can be hard to compare movies that span such a wide range of genres and tones, but there must be one winner. The Academy loves movies paying homage to Hollywood (three of the last five best picture winners have been about movies), so it seems safe to say that “La La Land” is a lock to win best picture. The surreal piece features excellent cinematography, acting, and music to go on top a of a story appealing to both audiences and the Academy. While I certainly enjoyed “La La Land,” I think “Moonlight” is the most deserving to win of this year’s nominees. “La La Land” is a take on a story we’ve all heard before: a girl meets a boy, they fall in love, and a relationship struggle ensues. While excellently executed, “La La Land” does not tell anything new. By contrast, “Moonlight” is the story we are all familiar with but seldom see told. It’s a minimalist and realistic portrayal of the life of a young boy struggling with his identity growing up in Miami. It may not have the lively music numbers or the wow factor or bells and whistles of “La La Land,” but that’s what makes it so great, and the emotions it elicits through its reserved storytelling last after the credits roll. “Manchester by the Sea” has a similar effect, but “Moonlight” has a smoother execution. Sorry, JCliff and everyone else who fell in love with “La La Land,” but “Moonlight” is the best picture we deserve.

JCliff’s Picks:

Will Win: “La La Land”

Should Win: “La La Land”

Spoiler: “Moonlight”

Let me get it out of the way, “Moonlight” is great, it has a great cast, great performances, great direction, but it just doesn’t feel like something that is typically a Best Picture winner even though it’s amazing. Now to the perceived Best Picture winner, “La La Land.” I personally cannot say enough good things about “La La Land.” It is beautiful and amazing in every sense of the words, and has been rolling through the awards like fire through a pile of paper. It’s Damien Chazelle’s love letter to Hollywood and it works by giving a film that feels like a classic that is embodied with beautifully shot dance numbers, gorgeous colors, magnificent music, and purely likable actors playing characters that are relatable and enjoyable. “La La Land” is the best picture of the year.

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“And the Oscar Goes To….” JCliff and Chlo’s Oscar Predictions