Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Oscars 2016: Nomination Prediction Results

Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in "La La Land", which tied a record with 14 Oscar nominations
After two straight years of hitting on 80% of our Oscar nomination predictions, the Manifesto improved dramatically this year, rocketing all the way up to… 81% (56 out of 69). The Academy’s choices proved relatively middle-of-the-road, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing—sure, I could (and, in this very post, will) quibble about a few candidates that were unjustly omitted, but for the most part, this year’s nominees constitute a respectable and enjoyable slate of movies. Just keep that in mind when you’re reading a bunch of “The Oscars are out of touch!” hot takes over the next month.

Here’s a quick look at the major categories in light of this morning’s announcement.


BEST PICTURE
Arrival
Fences
Hell or High Water
Hidden Figures
La La Land
Lion
Manchester by the Sea
Moonlight
Hacksaw Ridge

Analysis: I went low, they went high. Go figure. Still, although I incorrectly surmised that Hacksaw Ridge would fail to make the cut, I hit on my remaining eight guesses. With the caveat that I’ve yet to see Lion (this weekend!), it’s a strong Best Picture contingent overall; at least four of these nominees are likely to end up on my top 10 list, and the remaining are diverting at worst.

Current favorite: La La Land. The only potential challenger I see is Moonlight, but for it to make headway, the frontrunner is going to have to experience significant backlash. And by “backlash”, I mean something more potent than the current deluge of insufferable “think-pieces” that are popping up online like faux-insightful whack-a-moles.

Snubbed: The Handmaiden. This movie rules, and you are a bad person for not seeing it. (Also, broader distribution might have helped.)


BEST DIRECTOR
Damien Chazelle—La La Land
Barry Jenkins—Moonlight
Kenneth Lonergan—Manchester by the Sea
Denis Villeneuve—Arrival
Garth Davis—Lion Mel Gibson—Hacksaw Ridge

Analysis: Gibson’s half-surprising nomination is raising eyebrows in the industry, but with Hacksaw Ridge scoring a Best Picture nod, it makes sense. It would have been downright strange to nominate the movie but not its maker, given the directorial brawn on display.

Current favorite: Chazelle. He’s young, he’s gifted, and he helmed the Best Picture favorite. No sense in forecasting a split here.

Snubbed: Jeremy Saulnier—Green Room. The term “white-knuckle” was basically invented for this movie.


BEST ACTOR
Casey Affleck—Manchester by the Sea
Andrew Garfield—Hacksaw Ridge
Ryan Gosling—La La Land
Viggo Mortensen—Captain Fantastic
Denzel Washington—Fences

Analysis: Nothing to see here, move along.

Current favorite: Affleck. If La La Land sweeps, then Gosling could pull ahead, and Washington is lurking as an upset pick if Affleck’s sexual assault allegations resurface. For now, though, his devastating work in Manchester by the Sea is unlikely to be denied.

Snubbed: Colin Farrell—The Lobster. In a career-best performance, Farrell plays beautifully against type as a heavyset loner looking for love.


BEST ACTRESS
Ruth Negga—Loving
Natalie Portman—Jackie
Emma Stone—La La Land
Meryl Streep—Florence Foster Jenkins
Amy Adams—Arrival Isabelle Huppert—Elle

Analysis: Oof. On the one hand, I can be proud of myself for correctly predicting that Negga would crack the lineup. On the other…

Translate that, aliens

[h/t @JarettSays]

Current favorite: Stone. You might even say she’s… rock solid.

Snubbed: Marion Cotillard—Allied. Obviously, Adams’ omission for her luminous work in Arrival is inexplicable, but Cotillard was equally spellbinding in Robert Zemeckis’ underrated throwback.


BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Mahershala Ali—Moonlight
Jeff Bridges—Hell or High Water
Lucas Hedges—Manchester by the Sea
Dev Patel—Lion
Hugh Grant—Florence Foster Jenkins Michael Shannon—Nocturnal Animals

Analysis: I was right in my suspicion that Hedges would sneak in, but I figured it would be at the expense of Shannon or his Nocturnal Animals co-star Aaron-Taylor Johnson. Instead, Grant gets left out, as Florence Foster Jenkins picked up only one additional nomination (Best Costume Design) outside of Queen Meryl.

Current favorite: Ali. There’s no clear challenger, and with Moonlight likely to come up short versus La La Land in most categories, voters can reward it here.

Snubbed: Alden Ehrenreich—Hail, Caesar! The movie was hit-and-miss for me, but Ehrenreich is downright revelatory as a bumbling cowpoke.


BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Viola Davis—Fences
Naomie Harris—Moonlight
Nicole Kidman—Lion
Octavia Spencer—Hidden Figures
Michelle Williams—Manchester by the Sea

Analysis: Nailed it! Also, with at least one person of color being nominated in each of the four acting fields, expect a number of “Hey, the Oscars are making progress!” columns to pop up in the next week, followed by outraged “Look, the Oscars are still way too white and male” responses. Awards’ season is awful sometimes.

Current favorite: Davis. Perhaps Williams could rattle her if Manchester develops any momentum, but for now, Davis is in strong shape for her quietly soulful work in Fences.

Snubbed: Lily Gladstone—Certain Women. Sigh.


BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Hell or High Water—Taylor Sheridan
La La Land—Damien Chazelle
The Lobster—Efthymis Filippou, Yorgos Lanthimos
Manchester by the Sea—Kenneth Lonergan
Florence Foster Jenkins—Nicholas Martin 20th Century Women—Mike Mills

Analysis: I knew my Florence Foster Jenkins pick was shaky, but I’m happy to see some recognition for 20th Century Women, a sweet, flawed film with a distinctive voice.

Current favorite: La La Land, though frisky voters could reward the sheer originality of The Lobster or the flavorful wordplay of Hell or High Water.

Snubbed: The Witch—Robert Eggers. As a director, Eggers’ ability to sustain tension is masterful, but it’s his rich dialogue that really sets The Witch apart from its horror peers.


BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Arrival— Eric Heisserer
Fences—August Wilson
Hidden Figures— Theodore Melfi, Allison Schroeder
Lion—Luke Davies
Moonlight— Barry Jenkins, Tarell McCraney

Analysis: Broken clock, twice a day, yadda yadda.

Current favorite: Moonlight, though it’s hardly a lock. Perhaps the inspirational true-life drama of Hidden Figures could sneak in? Hard to say.

Snubbed: Love & Friendship—Whit Stillman. “Decidedly irrational! Not rational at all!”


BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Arrival—Bradford Young
La La Land—Linus Sandgren
Moonlight—James Laxton
Silence—Rodrigo Prieto
Nocturnal Animals—Seamus McGarvey Lion—Greig Fraser

Analysis: I was worried that I might be underestimating the appeal of Nocturnal Animals with the Academy—turns out I overrated it. C’est la vie.

Current favorite: La La Land. And I’ll just say right here, the fact that this movie is going to win a bunch of Oscars and that you’re going to get sick of hearing about it does not in any way diminish its greatness.

Snubbed: Sunset Song—Michael McDonough. Terence Davies’ slow-paced exploration of one women’s hardscrabble life isn’t for everyone, but its cinematography is enrapturing.


BEST FILM EDITING
Arrival—Joe Walker
Hacksaw Ridge—John Gilbert
La La Land—Tom Cross
Moonlight— Joi McMillon, Nat Sanders
Manchester by the Sea—Jennifer Lame Hell or High Water—Jake Roberts

Analysis: Strange to see a Best Picture heavy like Manchester fall short here, but I’m not complaining about further recognition for Hell or High Water.

Current favorite: La La Land. Seriously, get over it.

Snubbed: Manchester by the Sea—Jennifer Lame. The careful unspooling of the film’s central tragedy is heartbreaking, and Lame’s editing is crucial to that process.


BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
La La Land—Justin Hurwitz
Lion—Dustin O'Halloran, Hauschka
Moonlight—Nicholas Britell
Hacksaw Ridge—Rupert Gregson-Williams Jackie—Mica Levi
Nocturnal Animals—Abel Korzeniowski Passengers—Thomas Newman

Analysis: I’m genuinely surprised that Hacksaw Ridge missed here, given how well it fared across the board. Also, seeing that numerous critics will gripe about how the much-derided Passengers received multiple Oscar nominations, I will humbly remind you all that it’s actually pretty good.

Current favorite: Take a guess.

Snubbed: Kubo and the Two Strings—Dario Marianelli. The movie earned a well-deserved Best Animated Feature nomination, but Marianelli’s stirring music warranted individual recognition.


BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
Arrival
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
La La Land
Nocturnal Animals Hail, Caesar!
Silence Passengers

Analysis: This one was always going to be ugly. Pleased to see Passengers pop up for its sleek design, though.

Current favorite: I actually think Fantastic Beasts might take this one.

Snubbed: Doctor Strange. The visual effects were amazing, but the physical design was brilliant as well.


BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Doctor Strange
The Jungle Book
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Arrival Deepwater Horizon
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Kubo and the Two Strings

Analysis: Interesting that Kubo landed here, given that the entire movie is basically a continuous visual effect. Also, the Academy proved that it values clamor over subtlety with the Deepwater Horizon nod. Meh.

Current favorite: It should be Doctor Strange in a walkover, but I could see either The Jungle Book or Rogue One: A Star Wars Story making a push.

Snubbed: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. They’re called fantastic beasts for a reason.


We’ll be back next month to predict the winners.

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