That time of the year when I post my Annual Oscar Selections BlogPost is here! I have been very lucky to have watched all of the major nominated movies (except two) this year thanks to all the prints coming out in time! I always look forward to this particular post in February and have been posting this every year since 2011 now!
The Oscar Buzz started in November when the Golden Globe nominations were announced with the usual murmurs around all the predictions. The nominations were announced on 24th January 2017 which were mostly on the predicted lines except for some snubs and surprises for which the Academy is quite famous for! For the first time in the Academy’s history the nominees were revealed via global live stream at the Academy’s official websites (oscars.org and oscars.com), and through local broadcasters, including Good Morning America.
And now for some 2017 Oscars Trivia, Facts and Figures! This I find very exciting and have included this category every-time in my annual posts!
- La La Land is tied with Titanic and All About Eve for the most Oscar nominations with 14.
- Viola Davis became the first Black actress to receive three Oscar nominations, when she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress Fences (2016) in 2017.
- Meryl Streep received her 20th acting nomination, breaking her own record.
- The late writer August Wilson received a posthumous Oscar nomination in 2017 for the movie “Fences”. He passed away in 2005.
- This marks as the first time since 1976 that a Best Supporting Actor winner at the Golden Globes didn’t receive an Oscar nomination in the category. Aaron Taylor-Johnson won the award but didn’t get the nomination which instead went to his co-star Michael Shannon in the same film Nocturnal Animals (2016).
- Re-recording sound mixer Kevin O’Connell received his 21st Oscar nomination (he never won in previous editions). Would he get lucky this time?
- Among the Best Picture nominees, two films has actors as producers: Matt Damon and Denzel Washington, who previously appeared together in Courage Under Fire (1996).
- Ruth Negga’s appearance in the Best Actress race was a bit of a surprise. Amy Adams, on the other hand, was left out of the Best Actress race for her more widely-appreciated performance in “Arrival.”
- Other surprising omissions include Hugh Grant for “Florence Foster Jenkins,” Taraji P. Henson and Janelle Monae for “Hidden Figures,” Annette Bening for “20th Century Women,” Tom Hanks for “Sully,” and legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese whose somewhat polarizing passion project “Silence” was left out of the Best Picture race.
- The well-deserved recognition for “Moonlight” could also be seen as politically-charged embrace of its subject matter, which includes a compassionate look at a young black man and LGBTQ culture.
- The Best Picture race is one of the most eclectic in years — one of the goals when the academy expanded the list of potential nominees from five to as many as 10 in 2009. A sci-fi film is up against intimate family dramas, period films, a war movie and a full-blown musical.
- At the time of the nominations announcement on January 24, 2017, the combined gross of the nine Best Picture nominees at the North American box offices was $483.8 million, with an average of $53.8 million per film.
- Arrival was the highest-grossing film among the Best Picture nominees with $95.7 million in domestic box office receipts. La La Land was the second-highest-grossing film with $90.5 million, followed by Hidden Figures ($85 million), Hacksaw Ridge ($65.5 million), Fences ($48.8 million), Manchester by the Sea ($39 million), Hell or High Water ($27 million), Lion ($16.5 million) and Moonlight ($15.8 million).
- Of the top 50 grossing movies of the year, 35 nominations went to 13 films on the list.
- Iranian director Asghar Farhadi who is nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film for The Salesman, was revealed to initially be unable to attend the ceremony due to President Donald Trump’s immigration ban. He boycotted the event saying, “I have decided to not attend the Academy Awards ceremony alongside my fellow members of the cinematic community.
- A record seven performers of color were recognized in the top acting categories this year, a sea change from 2015 and 2016, where no minorities were included.
And now for the major nominations, my choices and the predictions! (I have not included all the nominations and only the ones which I feel I am good enough to predict the winners).
Will Win: La La Land
Could Win: Moonlight
My Choice: “Lion”
I have watched all 9 movies and enjoyed all of them wholeheartedly except “Arrival” which seemed quite out of the place and without any context to me. “Fences” was fabulous because of the 2 impressive lead actors – Washington and Davis. “Hacksaw Ridge” was monumental because of the story and how the action scenes have been shot. “Hell or High Water” was impressive with a Western theme perfectly adapted for the modern times and then there is The Dude! “Hidden Figures” was fabulous because I never knew about the story & incidents it is based on plus also because of the stupendous acting of the 3 leads and how they came victorious even after all the obstacles they faced. “La La Land” was a beautiful symphony with an easy-going plot, a touching romance and one the most awesome endings you will ever see in a Romantic Drama. “Manchester by the Sea” was a beautifully made haunting tale of a man troubled by his past and how he overcome his pain and frustration. Casey Affleck has given an absolutely awesome performance. “Moonlight” was like a slow and effective wine with 3 phases of life beautifully depicted in this tale about a young man confused about his identity and desires.
But the movie which created the biggest impact on me was clearly “Lion” for many reasons. Firstly because it is a movie about hope and victory and secondly (even though it might sound biased) because it has an Indian theme and was also shot in India!
- Denis Villeneuve, Arrival
- Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge
- Damien Chazelle, La La Land
- Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
- Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Will Win: Damien Chazelle for “La La Land”
Could Win: Barry Jenkins “Moonlight”
My Choice: “Damien Chazelle”
This won is a clear 2-way battle between Chazelle and Jenkins. But I am sure Chazelle would win it for his rendition of a seemingly cliche plot but the way he has dealt it with perfection, it is worthy of all the accolades. Musicals usually get monotonous, over the top and boring but he overcame all of those and made a beautiful movie! I don’t see either of the other 3 Directors getting this coveted trophy though.
BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
- Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
- Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
- Ryan Gosling, La La Land
- Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic
- Denzel Washington, Fences
Will Win: Casey Affleck for “Manchester by the Sea”
Could Win: Denzel Washington for “Fences”
My Choice: “Casey Affleck”
This one is a tough battle unlike last year when Leonardo DiCaprio was the clear favourite last year. Andrew Garfield‘s nomination feels more like a consolation for a good year of work. Ryan Gosling, even though he was very good and was a clear winner for the Golden Globe “Musical” category, I don’t see him winning this big one. Viggo Mortensen would take the 5th spot after doing the same at the Golden Globes and BAFTAs. Denzel Washington was as always brilliant but I feel this wasn’t his best performance and also, Viola Davis clearly outshone him. Casey Affleck is my clear top choice for his absolutely brilliant rendition of playing the recluse and at times violent man and deserves all the accolades he has got. He has always been a good actor and with this movie he has proved that he is very much part of the big league. Hope he wins the big one!
BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
- Isabelle Huppert, Elle
- Ruth Negga, Loving
- Natalie Portman, Jackie
- Emma Stone, La La Land
- Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins
Will Win: Emma Stone for “La La Land”
Could Win: Isabelle Huppert for “Elle”
My Choice: “Natalie Portman”
This is the category which was the most surprising when the nominations were announced. No Annette Bening for 20th Century Women; no Amy Adams for Arrival and no Taraji P. Henson for Hidden Figures. Ruth Negga’s nomination was a big surprise as she was good but not worthy of a nomination in pace of the above 3 performances. The biggest shock was the inclusion of yet another Meryl Streep performance – bringing her total nomination count up to twenty – in a decent but nowhere close to a great movie and her performance was also strictly OK for me and nowhere close to her brilliant repertoire. I just didn’t like the movie Elle so the nomination for Isabelle Huppert was also saddening for me but she has won big accolades for her performance including a Golden Globe too! Emma Stone has also done a wonderful job in playing the intelligent romantic and her singing, dancing & acting clearly were a big highlight of La La Land but my winner is Natalie Portman who was absolutely brilliant in her performance of Jackie Kennedy and portrayed and impeccable range, from a steely political strategist to brittle mourner in the public eye. She definitely deserves this trophy!
BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Will Win: Mahershala Ali for “Moonlight”
Could Win: Jeff Bridges for “Hell or High Water”
My Choice: “Dev Patel”
While there are no major surprises in this line-up, it was a delight to see Michael Shannon get his due for his dark & funny performance in Nocturnal Animals, particularly after it seemed like his co-star Aaron Taylor-Johnson would soak up all the glory. Jeff Bridges was always charismatic, in the face and brilliant but then he could play that role in his sleep! Lucas Hedges was superb too and held his fort ably against a powerhouse performance from Affleck. Mahershala Ali, who has had a career-defining year thanks to his work in Moonlight, Luke Cage and Hidden Figures is a clear favourite for his award even though I found his performance strictly average and for me the performance of Trevante Rhodes as Adult Chiron clearly much better than Ali. My clear favourite of this category is Dev Patel who deserves this award not only for his standout performance (which is a lead one) but the way he has carried the film on his shoulders. The last scene when he finally meets his real mother is one of my most favourite ones of this year and he should get this award only for those 10 minutes! Hope he gets this against all odds which he faces!
BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Will Win: Viola Davis in “Fences”
Could Win: Octavia Spencer in “Hidden Figures”
My Choice: “Viola Davis”
This is a category whose nominations have were locked down for many months , with women of color refreshingly dominating in three out of the five spaces. Clearly, this is this is Viola Davis Show to the very end. She is a clear winner for her beautiful performance. I only see minor threats from Octavia Spencer or Michelle Williams.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
- Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan
- La La Land, Damien Chazelle
- The Lobster, Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthimis Filippou
- Manchester by the Sea, Kenneth Lonergan
- 20th Century Women, Mike Mills
Will Win: “Manchester by the Sea”
Could Win: “Hell or High Water”
My Choice: “Hell or High Water”
Manchester by the Sea is a clear favourite in this category but I am hoping against hope that Hell or High Water wins this one for a plot which pays great homage to the Westerns of old era while making it relevant for today’s age. Well, who doesn’t love the clever and timely final scene!
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
- Kubo and the Two Strings
- My Life as a Zucchini (Haven’t watched this film)
- The Red Turtle
Will Win: Zootopia
Could Win: Kubo and the Two Strings
My Choice: “Zootopia”
It’s Disney versus Disney this year, with no Pixar movie competing (Finding Dory surprisingly didn’t make the cut!). Disney had a great year with the billion-dollar smash hit Zootopia – the 3rd highest grossing movie of 2016 – and Moana, its latest addition to the princess genre. Both the movies were beautiful ones with very interesting plots and superb animation design. I watched Zootopia on the big screen and had a great time! Kubo and the Two Strings might just get the nod for it’s beautiful visuals and the amazing animation design though.
- Arrival, Bradford Young
- La La Land, Linus Sandgren
- Lion, Greig Fraser
- Moonlight, James Laxton
- Silence, Rodrigo Prieto
Will Win: Linus Sandgren for La La Land
Could Win: Bradford Young for Arrival
My Choice: “Linus Sandgren”
La La Land looks like a clear winner for me here, thanks to the beautiful pastel colours portrayed and also the fact that it was shot on cinema scope. Sandgren deserves this award and I hope he gets it too!
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
- Land of Mine (Denmark)
- A Man Called Ove (Sweden)
- The Salesman (Iran)
- Tanna (Australia)
- Toni Erdmann (Germany)
Will Win: Toni Erdmann
Could Win: The Salesman
My Choice: “Land of Mine”
Toni Erdmann is the sureshot winner of this award but I hope it doesn’t win it as I didn’t like the movie one single bit! It’s already been planned for an English-language remake. The Salesman might just come on top because of all the Donald Trump controversy which has ensured that Iranian director Asghar Farhadi won’t be attending the ceremony. I loved A Man Called Ove immensely too; the movie is touching, funny, lighthearted, charming and engrossing which people of all ages will enjoy. Tanna was an engaing & engrossing watch too but this clearly is a token nomination for me.
My favourite in this category is Land of Mine which is a chilling movie about atrocities committed by the allies after the war, showing what happens when hatred drives victors to get quick and simple revenge. It talks about people who at first sight might appear evil and brutal, can still prove to be inherently good once they overcome their anger and hatred. The performances are top-notch and the best part is that the Director has not taken any sides. This is definitely one of the best movies I have watched in the recent times. The end sequence is insanely awesome and brought tears to my eyes. I am definitely rooting for it even though I know it doesn’t stand any chance!
Hope you enjoyed reading my post; it would be great to discuss your thoughts in the comments section below. I am sure that some of your choices would be considerably different than mine but that is quite obvious. Do share your thoughts.
2017 has started on a good note for me and I have already watched some 60-odd movies so far. There are some brilliant movies lined up for the rest of the year and I am very excited about all of them!
So till the time we meet again…
Cheers to life…
Till then ride safe and have safe sex…
Hasta la Victoria Siempre…