It is here…are you ready? The moment we have all been waiting for…OSCAR NIGHT!!! There have been a lot of crazy nights this past year, from the night when a silver-spooned, needle-dicked, orange-haired douchebag became the "leader of the free world"…to the night that bulwark of white supremacy, The Grammys, chose that Wagnerian, Brunhilde-esque, Cockney-Nazi, Adele for Best Album winner over America's Black Madonna, Beyonce. God willing, Oscar night will not be as stress inducing for us dopey, low-life bastards who live and die at the whim of our vile Overlords of the Aristocracy….like Trump and Adele!!!
Predicting the Oscars this year is not as simple as it has been in years past. With the #OscarsSoWhite nonsense from last year, the Academy made big changes to its membership…shuffling off some old-timer white guys and bringing some women and people of color in…and in some cases…GASP!!...WOMEN OF COLOR!!! We could be dealing with a situation similar to The Young Pope, where business as usual gets turned on its head by a wave of upstarts.
The new Academy members will be difficult to calibrate just yet as this is their first go around at being the gatekeepers of all that is good and holy…the Oscars. As a citizen of the People's Republic of Hollywood it is my duty to try my best to read their minds, and the tea leaves and point you, dear reader, in the right direction for your Oscar picks.
I must remind you though, that the Oscars, for all their pomp and circumstance, and there is a lot of pomp and circumstance, are a most sacred event, so please no wagering. Also, keep an eye out for some political speeches, not necessarily from the big named folks, but from the lesser known winners who will voice resistance to Emperor Trump's rule. And be sure to watch King Donald's twitter feed for his witty and incisive counter-attacks. He will probably pull out a classic like…"Meryl Streep is a beautiful woman…NOT". He's clever like that.
Anyway…be sure to buckle up come Oscar night as it is sure to be a bumpy ride. And you might as well get some practice now…so sit back, don your head gear, tighten your chin strap, and relax…and enjoy my Academy Awards predictions!!
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Viola Davis - Fences : Viola Davis is a terrific actress, of that there is no Doubt. (See what I did there?) That said, I thought her performance in Fences was pretty derivative of her earlier and better work, and frankly lackluster. I do not need to see another Davis performance where she has snots running down her face as she nobly cries over whatever is tormenting her. I am sure that on stage, Ms. Davis' acting would have been flawless, on screen it was less than notable.
Naomie Harris - Moonlight : Harris' performance has grown on me the more I've watched Moonlight (I've seen it three times). Her screen time is not very much but she brings an energy and vitality to every scene she inhabits. A finely crafted and passionate portrayal of a woman spiraling out of control.
Nicole Kidman - Lion : I admit it, I haven't seen Lion, which might make me anti-Indian or anti-orphan, not sure which, maybe it is both…I hope not. I really do want to see it though, but time constraints haven't allowed it. Ms. Kidman is at times a phenomenal actress, and at other times rather mundane. I must withhold judgement at this time until I can see for myself.
Octavia Spencer - Hidden Figures : I have a confession to make…I haven't seen Hidden Figures. Having seen commercials and the trailer I admit I am not interested in seeing it. It looks like a run of the mill, conventional movie. That said, Octavia Spencer is a very engaging actress and inviting screen presence. When I see Hidden Figures, and I promise I eventually will, I am sure I'll be glad Ms. Spencer is in it.
Michelle Williams - Manchester by the Sea : Michelle Williams is one of the best actresses on the planet. She never fails to bring a vibrancy and originality to her work. Manchester by the Sea is no exception. Ms. Williams, with very little screen time, creates a genuine and specific human being, not a caricature, no small feat in a film populated by caricature. Williams' delicate and fragile performance is fueled by a magnetic inner life and wound that pulsates every moment she is on screen. Fantastic and complex work.
WHO WINS : Viola Davis - Ms. Davis has won every award leading up to the Oscars, and no doubt will continue her magical awards season on Sunday. I do not think she gave an Oscar worthy performance, but I do believe she is an Oscar worthy actress.
WHO SHOULD WIN : Michelle Williams - Ms. Williams, unquestioningly, gave the very best performance of this group. In another year the awards may have been hers, but this year, for a variety of reasons, it just won't happen.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Mahershala Ali - Moonlight : Mr. Ali is a terrific actor and his work in Moonlight is well done. While I liked his acting, I think the role itself is a little less fleshed out than it needed to be. Mr. Ali brings a sensitivity and groundedness to his character that is compelling, and he is a vital asset to the storytelling of the film, but he is never given any artistic heavy lifting, and that is mildly disappointing.
Jeff Bridges - Hell or High Water : Bridges is one of the all-time greats. His work in Hell or High Water is tremendous. He creates a complicated and at times, repulsive character, who you can't take your eyes off. There is a single scene where Bridges gives a guttural wail that is maybe the best acting caught on camera this year.
Lucas Hedges - Manchester by the Sea : Hedges does a very solid job as the somewhat complicated teen at the heart of Manchester by the Sea. Hedges never falls into the trap of melodrama or sentimentality that could cripple a role like this, and for that he deserves great praise.
Dev Patel - Lion : Again, I havent seen Lion. I like Dev Patel as an actor though. I look forward to seeing his work in Lion.
Michael Shannon - Nocturnal Animals : Michael Shannon is one of my favorite actors. His work in the dreadful Nocturnal Animals is not Oscar worthy. It isn't even worth watching. Michael Shannon does the best he can with the garbage that is Nocturnal Animals, but even he cannot polish this turd.
WHO WINS : Marhershala Ali - It is his year, for a variety of reasons. The #OscarsSoWhite campaign is having an effect, for good or for ill, and Ali will benefit from that. The demographics of the Academy have changed, and with Trump as President, liberal Hollywood will want to reward a Black, Muslim man and have him give a stirring speech. That is the reality of the situation, which is unfortunate for Mr. Ali's sake, since he is actor of great quality and worth.
WHO SHOULD WIN : Jeff Bridges - Bridges does the best, and most substantial work of all of these nominees. He will be overlooked because he has won an Oscar before and in the eyes of Hollywood this is not the year for older, white, established men to be celebrated.
Isabelle Huppert - Elle : I haven't seen Elle, which might make me a Franco-phobe, I am not sure, but, regardless, Isabelle Huppert is an always remarkable actress. She is such a luminous screen presence that it is impossible not to be captivated by her. I am excited to see Elle when I get a chance.
Ruth Negga - Loving : I am a bad person…I haven't seen Loving. I am not sure, but this might make me racist. I hope not. I have heard nothing but good things about Ms. Negga's work in the film though, and I am excited to see it when I can.
Natalie Portman - Jackie : Natalie Portman is remarkable in Jackie. In a role that begs for caricature, she brings specificity and honesty. Portman brings Jackie, in all of her manifestations, to life and never plays a sour note. Portman's command of craft is fully on display with her meticulous and stunning portrayal.
Emma Stone - La La Land : Emma Stone is as delightful and charming as La La Land. Without Stone's charisma and appeal, the film would have fallen flat. Stone has proven herself to be an excellent actress in recent years (Birdman) and La La Land brings together all of her talent and skill.
Meryl Streep - Florence Foster Jenkins : The 11th commandment reads, "Thou shalt not have an Oscar ceremony without Meryl Streep!" I have not seen Florence Foster Jenkins, and at first I had zero interest, but then I saw a clip of Streep's work and now you can count me in. Streep is one of the greatest actresses in cinematic history, and you can never complain when she garners a nomination. I mean, you can…but she will have you killed if you do. She is that powerful, trust me….no one crosses Queen Meryl.
WHO WINS : Emma Stone - Stone is a well-liked and charming presence on the Hollywood scene, and goodness knows Hollywood likes charming actresses. She will win, and frankly, deservedly so, because she embodied all of the heartache, turmoil, tumult and despair that goes into being an actress in this business. I look forward to seeing more and more interesting work from her in the years ahead.
WHO SHOULD WIN : Natalie Portman - I think Portman did stellar and hypnotic work as Jackie, which was as difficult a role to play as we have seen this year. Stone is more than deserving, but if Portman wins I would be just as happy.
Casey Affleck - Manchester by the Sea : Casey Affleck does exacting and precise work as the emotionally distant uncle who must become guardian to his nephew. I think Affleck is a fantastic, and often overlooked actor, and I am glad he is nominated this year. I thought the film, and the character, were less than top-notch when it comes to originality, but I was throughly impressed by Affleck's work.
Andrew Garfield - Hacksaw Ridge : Andrew Garfield is terrible in Hacksaw Ridge. Terrible. He is remarkable in Martin Scorsese's overlooked and under appreciated Silenced, but in Hacksaw Ridge he is embarrassingly bad. Yuck.
Ryan Gosling - La La Land : Gosling does solid and at times spectacular work in La La Land. His charisma alone is able to overcome his character's at times off-putting demeanor and that is critical for the film. He also does an amazing job on the piano and I tip my cap to him for that. I like Gosling as an actor a great deal, he has the ability to be funny without forcing, and serious without pushing.
Viggo Mortensen - Captain Fantastic : I haven't seen Captain Fantastic, which might make me a hippie-hater…I am not sure. I heard from a reliable friend that it is well worth seeing. It is on my rather long list.
Denzel Washington - Fences : Denzel is one of the great actors of our time. His career is littered with forceful performances and well-crafted, acting masterpieces. On Fences, Denzel wears a director's hat as well as acts, and both arts suffer greatly. Denzel gives a very sub-par and somewhat derivative performancee that is note-worthy only for how average it is compared to his other works of genius.
WHO WINS : Denzel Washington - People like Denzel, always have. He is a movie star and a great actor, a combination that is hard to find. That said, he may also benefit from the political climate and the #OscarsSoWhite protest movement. Denzel has lost out on Oscars he has deserved in the past, so if he wins here when he doesn't deserve one, I certainly won't complain.
WHO SHOULD WIN : Casey Affleck/Ryan Gosling - This is a toss up. Affleck gives a layered and deeply internalized performance where Gosling gives a more charming and humorous one, but both do magnificent jobs. I think Affleck's work was actually better but the character was unoriginal, and I think Gosling's role was less showy but just as difficult in its own way.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Hell or High Water - Taylor Sheridan : Sheridan is an actor who has become a screenwriter and he is awesome at it. He wrote the stellar screenplay for Sicario last year. Hell or High Water is a tremendous screenplay and Sheridan has become one of my favorite writers in all of Hollywood. His films are fascinating, original, interesting and have satisfying and pulsating sub-texts.
La La Land - Damien Chazelle : Chazelle's writing on La La Land is very well done. He has re-made the Hollywood musical for the millennial age and told a political and cultural story as well. This film is much more than it seems on the surface…and Chazelle's writing is to thank for that.
The Lobster - Yorgos Lanthimos, Efthimis Filippou : The Lobster is as original a film as I have seen in years. Lanthimos creates a unique and compelling dystopian world and populates it with the most interesting and intriguing characters. The Lobster was overlooked in the directing and best picture (and acting!!) categories, I am glad it is nominated in writing.
Manchester by the Sea - Kenneth Lonergan : the Academy loves Lonergan…why I am not sure. The script for Manchester by the Sea is mundane at best. It is also rather unoriginal and imitative. Enough with the Boston tough guy stories already!!
20th Century Women - Mike Mills : I haven't seen 20th Century Women. Do I want to? If I answer honestly I will definitely be labeled a misogynist. Best to not say anything.
WHO WINS : Damien Chazelle - Chazelle was snubbed with his first film Whiplash and Hollywood loves films about itself, so they give him the writing award here. There is a chance that they give it to Lonergan, whom they adore, but I think Chazelle pulls it off.
WHO SHOULD WIN : Yorgos Lanthimos - Lanthimos wrote the most original and unique work among the nominees. He deserves the award…but will have to settle for being happy with the nomination.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Arrival - Eric Heisserer : I liked Arrival. It isn't a great film, but it is certainly good and kept my interest. I actually though the weakest part of the film was its script (and cinematography), but what the hell do I know?
Fences - August Wilson : Wilson is one of the greatest playwrights of the modern era…but he is a dreadful screenwriter. Writing for the stage and writing for the screen are two very different skills. Wilson mastered the former and butchered the latter.
Hidden Figures - Alison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi : Have not seen the film. Yes…I am a terrible human being. Absolutely terrible. I also think I may be an anti-mathist…I hope not, but it sure looks that way.
Lion - Luke Davies : Have not seen the film. See my human being status above.
Moonlight - Barry Jenkins and Tarrell Alvin McRaney : Jenkins does a wonderful adaption of McRaney's play. I thought the last act was weak, but the first two were transcendently wonderful. The level of intimacy and humanity on display in the first two acts is as good as it gets, it is a shame the third act didn't live up to its lead in.
WHO WINS : MOONLIGHT - Jenkins is probably going to lose out for Best Director, so the Academy will give him the Screenplay award. This is what they do, they give a director a writing award so that he doesn't go home empty handed. That said, there is a real chance that August Wilson wins. Wilson has been dead for over a decade but the Academy loves playwrights and posthumously honoring one of the all-time greats is a distinct possibility. That said, there is no chance anyone other than Jenkins or Wilson wins this award. None.
WHO SHOULD WIN : MOONLIGHT - I think Jenkin's adaptation is terrific. I didn't like the third act, but thought the first two acts were remarkably well done.
Denis Villeneuve - Arrival : Villeneuve is a hit or miss director for me. He hit with Sicario and missed with Prisoners. With Arrival he is middle of the road. I thought the film and his direction were fine but not stupendous.
Mel Gibson - Hacksaw Ridge : This movie is atrocious. Mel Gibson's direction is abysmal. Just an amateur hour piece of crap. Why is this film and its director and its leading man nominated. What the hell is going on? I hated this movie so much I wish they used real bullets when filming it.
Damien Chazelle - La La Land : Chazelle has proven himself quite the phenom with his first two films, Whiplash and La La Land. It will be very intriguing to see where he goes from here, as I think he has milked the jazz subject for all it is worth at the moment. His direction on La La Land was incredibly well done as the film and its musical numbers are intricate and difficult to pull off.
Kenneth Lonergan - Manchester by the Sea : I am underwhelmed by Lonergan as director…and writer. I don't get it. His films are all basically the same, where a struggling male character goes through the emotional ringer but never learns anything or changes at all. Why the Academy, or anyone else, thinks Lonergan is a talent is beyond me.
Barry Jenkins - Moonlight : Jenkins burst upon the film scene this year in spectacular fashion with Moonlight. I am really looking forward to seeing the films he makes in years to come. He is an artist with a deft and subtle touch who creates intimate worlds and invites viewers in to them.
WHO WINS : Damien Chazelle - I think it is Chazelle's year. He made a movie about Hollywood and Hollywood loves it some Hollywood. He also does a very good job with a very difficult film to direct, and the Acadamy will appreciate the degree of difficulty.
WHO SHOULD WIN : Damien Chazelle - He did the best job of all of these nominees. I think that is undeniable.
Arrival : I liked Arrival…but I do not think it is an Oscar worthy film…does that make me an anti-alien bigot?? Probably…but I hope not. The film's flaws are too glaring and while the story is great, in execution it makes some mis-steps. I think Amy Adams does stellar work in the lead, and deserved a nomination for her work, but I think the film is not Best Picture material.
Fences : Fences is a mess, both technically and artistically. The script, the acting and the direction are for the stage not the screen. Denzel Washington is a great actor but a most horrific director. A wasted opportunity as August Wilson's play is fantastic. But this ain't theatre…it's film.
Hacksaw Ridge : Just a horrendous piece of crap movie. The acting, directing and writing are so awful as to be amazing. How in the hell is this film nominated for anything but a Razzie?
Hell or High Water : One of the very best films of the year. The performances across the board are outstanding, even the bit parts. The script is an original one and the direction taut and compelling. Hell or High Water is the film of our time, and for our time. If you haven't seen it…go see it now. Right now.
Hidden Figures : I haven't seen the film. I am a truly bad person and most likely a racist and anti-mathist monster.
La La Land : La La Land is more than the piece of fluff some think it is. There is a lot going on beneath the surface of this film. I truly enjoyed the movie on multiple levels. The writing, directing and acting are absolutely topnotch. A fantastic film of quality and worth. I get why people hate it, hell…I am shocked I like it, but it is a much more considerable and worthy film than the atrocious The Artist or Chicago…both of which won Oscars.
Lion : I am going to see Lion…I promise. I really want to see it. I'm going to see it…stop bugging me about it.
Manchester by the Sea : An underwhelming movie. We've seen it all before. The story and the characters are not all that interesting. The film does boast two superb performances from Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams, and for that it is note-worthy, but beyond that, it is an exercise in the familiar.
Moonlight : Two-thirds of a most amazing movie. The last third falls flat, but not enough to scuttle the ship entirely. The film has a very solid cast that do yeoman's work in propelling the compelling narrative forward. A well-made, well-crafted and genuine piece of cinematic art that fell just short of greatness.
WHO WINS : La La Land - I think this is La La Land's year. There is a chance there is some backlash against the film, but there are hurdles for the competition to overcome that seem too great. Hollywood loves films about itself, and loves musicals. So La La Land may have a record breaking, or tying evening. I think it will win Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, Actress and Score and Song as well as other technical awards (cinematography, editing, sound editing, sound mixing). Gonna be a big night for La La Land.
WHO SHOULD WIN : Hell or High Water - Hell or High Water is far and away the best film of all the nominees. Ben Foster, Jeff Bridges and the rest of the cast do tremendous work. The script is outstanding and the direction exceptional. if you haven't seen the film, make sure you see it soon. This film is a glimpse into the heart, soul and DNA of America. The same America that elected the silver-spooned con-man, and orange-topped charlatan Donald J. Trump as President. God Help Us All. If you want to know why, go watch Hell or High Water.
And thus ends another Oscar prediction article. As previously said, this year could be topsy turvy with all the new Academy members. Add to that the fact that we are in a "Level 4 Rebellion Wave" according to my Isaiah Wave Theory©™., and we could be in for a crazy night. My evidence for that? Trump winning the presidency, Brexit prevailing in the UK and the rapid growth and expansion of anti-establishment parties across the globe over the last few years. This anti-status quo energy is in the collective, and the Academy is effected by that as well, so beware the upsets come Oscar night!!
That said, this years Oscars could also be a signal of the swing back toward the establishment…sort of like "The Empire Strikes Back". Backlash against the anti-establishment wave is inevitable, the trick is to figure out when one wave crests and the other starts to swell. Oscar could…could…be an early indicator of whether or not the big swell continues or begins its slow decline.
Thanks for reading and I hope you have a fun Oscar night!!