89th Academy Awards
The nominees for the 89th annual Academy Awards were released almost two weeks ago. As always, there are some obvious choices, some snubs, and some “WTF” nominations (Suicide Squad for Best Makeup and Costume?). Leading the pack is perhaps not surprisingly Damien Chazelle’s neo-musical La La Land with an unprecedented 14 nominations, a tie with All About Eve and Titanic for the most nominations in Oscar history. Following close behind is Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight with eight nominations. Other big hitters include Manchester by the Sea, Fences, Hidden Figures, Lion, Hell or High Water, Hacksaw Ridge, and Arrival. All of which earned a Best Picture nomination.
The Academy Awards wouldn’t be the Academy Awards without the shrouded criticism. La La Land has gained a great deal of criticism for its apparent failure to accurately represent the African American roots of jazz music. Manchester by the Sea’s Casey Affleck has been accused of multiple sexual assault cases, questioning if he deserves to be praised. In recent years the Oscars have gotten a significant amount of backlash for its lack of diversity. While not completely out of the woods, the Academy showed some progress, honoring a record six black actors for movies like Moonlight, Hidden Figures, and Fences.
As per tradition, the Internet jumped to express their opinions on the categories. Does La La Land deserve the enormous amount of praise it is receiving? Where is Amy Adams’ nomination for Arrival? Why are there no nominations for Sing Street? And again, Suicide Squad for Best Makeup and Costume? Here are the lists for the some of the most popular categories and my personal predictions for each.
• “Hacksaw Ridge”
• “Hell or High Water”
• “Hidden Figures”
• “La La Land”
• “Manchester by the Sea”
Prediction: “La La Land”. You will soon find out that I am a firm believer that “La La Land” deserves the hype it is getting. It is a masterpiece of filmmaking that is as beautiful as it is inspiring. However, I wouldn’t mind if “Moonlight” wins.
Surprising: “Arrival” seemed to be losing much of its hype as award season dawned. I am both surprised and elated that it received a Best Picture nom.
• Denis Villeneuve, “Arrival”
• Mel Gibson, “Hacksaw Ridge”
• Damien Chazelle, “La La Land”
• Barry Jenkins, “Moonlight”
• Kenneth Lonergan, “Manchester by the Sea”
Prediction: Damien Chazelle, “La La Land”. This is the hardest category for me to decide for a multitude of reasons. Denis Villeneuve is one of my favorite-working directors (“Prisoners”, “Enemy”), Damien Chazelle is a mastermind who I’ve come to love dearly (“Whiplash”), and Barry Jenkins did something with “Moonlight” that cannot be put into words. I wouldn’t be surprised if Barry Jenkins wins this one.
• Casey Affleck, “Manchester by the Sea”
• Andrew Garfield, “Hacksaw Ridge”
• Ryan Gosling, “La La Land”
• Viggo Mortensen, “Captain Fantastic”
• Denzel Washington, “Fences”
Prediction: Casey Affleck, “Manchester by the Sea”. “Manchester by the Sea” is such a minimalist film that would not work without Affleck’s performance. He is able to portray grief in a way that is so heartbreakingly real.
Surprising: While Andrew Garfield’s nomination is not surprising considering the hype he’s gotten, I just thought I would add that this is divine retribution for his snubbed performance in “The Social Network”.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:
• Mahershala Ali, “Moonlight”
• Jeff Bridges, “Hell or High Water”
• Lucas Hedgers, “Manchester by the Sea”
• Dev Patel, “Lion”
• Michael Shannon, “Nocturnal Animals”
Prediction: Mahershala Ali, “Moonlight”. This is another difficult category that could go to any of the nominated actors. Mahershala Ali’s performance in “Moonlight” added an incredible emotional layer and stability to the film. Also, he has been in a ridiculous amount of films and TV shows this past year so he deserves an award just for that.
Surprising: Michael Shannon over Aaron Taylor-Johnson for “Nocturnal Animals”. Taylor-Johnson won the Golden Globe for Supporting Actor so seeing Shannon get the nomination over him is interesting, and in my opinion, well deserved.
• Emma Stone, “La La Land”
• Natalie Portman, “Jackie”
• Ruth Negga, “Loving”
• Meryl Streep, “Florence Foster Jenkins”
• Isabelle Huppert, “Elle”
Prediction: Emma Stone, “La La Land”. I will admit I haven’t seen most of the films in this category so my personal opinion is skewed. That being said, I do know that Emma Stone gave the performance of her career in “La La Land” and that audition scene was incredible.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
• Viola Davis, “Fences”
• Naomie Harris, “Moonlight”
• Nicole Kidman, “Lion”
• Octavia Spencer, “Hidden Figures”
• Michelle Williams, “Manchester by the Sea”
Prediction: Viola Davis, “Fences”. Listen, this is Viola Davis’ award. “Fences” is a film that heavily relies on dialogue due to it being adapted from a play. Because of this, it could be slow or uneventful. It is Davis’ performance that makes this film believable, relatable, and incredibly emotional. Davis has to do so much with so little.
The 89th Academy Awards will take place on Feb. 26th, 7:00 PM EST, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel.