Whet your appetite for tomorrow evening with our Oscars predictions, guaranteed* to net you a win at the bookie’s, brought to you by seasoned Oscars host Laura Morgan, ably assisted by this year’s Best Supporting liveblog team of Ricky Young, Victor Field, Clio and new kid on the block Blake Backlash.
As is now traditional, we will be liveblogging the Oscars here tomorrow night. As is also traditional, we have been warming up by arguing about all the films we’ve seen, as well as doing some half-baked research into those we haven’t, in order to be able to bring you if not the best-informed, at least the most frothingly opinionated coverage out there. In that spirit, here is our attempt at some predictions, which we will certainly delete and never mention again if they all turn out to be wrong.
It wouldn’t be interesting if everybody thought the same, would it? And this has become the least predictable category of all since voting moved to a preferential ranking system which means that a film that is consistently in everyone’s top three can win out over one which is top of a lot of lists and bottom of a lot of others. This is almost certainly what happened with Spotlight vs The Revenant last year, and although we can’t really imagine anything other than La La Land going home with the gong, it’s just possible that a less divisive film – or even one that speaks more eloquently to a world in which hate, fear and injustice are our new daily companions – could sneak up on it at the last minute. (It used to be the case that we would point and laugh at actors doing politics, but now that the President of the United States is a Reality TV star we feel like we are happy for as many political points as possible to be made in front of tomorrow night’s audience of several hundred million.)
Of the likely contenders for an upset the likeliest is the dazzling Moonlight, so we’re going to be bold, risk looking ridiculous, and go for that.
All of which said, you can’t give a film fourteen nominations and not give it one of the big prizes. And if you’ve made a film that lands you fourteen Oscar nominations it is hard to argue the case that you aren’t, at least in the eyes of the Academy, the Best Director. This is pretty much nailed on for Damien Chazelle, regardless of what else happens.
Not as cut-and-dried as first we thought, because although Casey Affleck gives a flawless and mesmerising performance in Manchester By The Sea, stories about his general awfulness have had enough circulation in recent months to potentially impact his chances. But probably not enough to stop him. If he doesn’t win, Denzel will. But he will win. (But we’d like Denzel to win.)
Should go to Viola Davis, but since she is nominated for Best Supporting in as clear a case of category fraud as you could ever imagine, this will go to Emma Stone, who has reportedly hired a bus so that she and all her pals can visit every Oscars after-party, and if you were going to the Oscars parties, wouldn’t you want to go on Emma’s party bus? We would. But she hasn’t invited us (yet!).
There are some terrific performances in this category, and special mention should go to Lucas Hedges who is really a co-lead in Manchester By The Sea, but we agree with the bookies and everyone else that the winner here will be Mahershala Ali, who is not only great in Moonlight, but is playing a part more or less without an archetype in the existing Hollywood canon, so that he is doing twice the work of, for example, Michael Shannon in Nocturnal Animals.
Obviously Viola Davis will win here, even though Fences is not so much a film as an exercise in Acting. If Davis had been nominated in Best Actress this could have gone instead to Michelle Williams, who is electric in Manchester By The Sea and second only to Amy Adams in the list of women you can’t believe don’t have an Oscar yet.
Zootropolis or Zootopia, depending on where you are in the world, is smart and funny and a bit political and looks likely to win this. It also won MostlyFilm’s “Best Film of 2016” poll, but let’s not talk about that.
This category is often a good predictor for Best Picture (though not always: will Moonlight be this year’s Hugo to La La Land’s The Artist? We hope not), but either way we are calling another win for Moonlight here, because it is shimmeringly beautiful and filled with water and colour and light.
There are those among us who don’t think putting Natalie Portman in Chanel is worthy of an award, but there are others who think that recreating those suits which everyone remembers from the 1960s so that they look convincing when you’re filming them in the 2010s is probably harder than it looks. And so although Meryl Streep’s costumes in Florence Foster Jenkins are almost architectural in their complexity, we’re going for a win for Jackie, which won’t win either of its other nominations (Actress is locked for Emma and the score is too edgy to win, though we would love it to) and deserves some recognition.
This is a really strong category this year, and it’s also notable that four of the five candidates are from African-American directors, one of whom will certainly win (and you can still count the number of black directors who have won Oscars on the fingers of one hand, although this year’s ceremony will hopefully change that). I Am Not Your Negro and 13th would both be worthy winners, but we think the Academy, who love films about LA more than they love nearly everything, will give it to OJ: Made In America.
Last year we confidently stated that if there is a film about the holocaust in the Documentary Short category it always wins, and then were immediately proved wrong. There is a film (a bit) about the holocaust in this year’s line-up in Joe’s Violin, but there are also two (very different) films about Syria, and if what we want from documentaries is to examine the depths of horror to which we are capable of sinking, it seems more relevant to do it with things that are still happening. White Helmets has George Clooney-related brand recognition, but in the hope that the majority of voters have seen the films before they make their choice, we are going with the more intimate and personal Watani: My Homeland.
This is another category that the Best Picture winner often takes home, and we are hedging our bets by predicting a win for La La Land.
Foreign Language Film
The Salesman, neat and taut though it is, is less interesting and ambitous than Toni Erdmann, but Asghar Farhadi has in his favour both that he won the same award for A Separation back in 2012, and that he is the most high-profile victim of Trump’s immigration ban, and said after it was imposed that even were he to be allowed into the United States to go to the ceremony, he wouldn’t. So apart from anything else, we want him to win because we all want to see what happens.
Makeup and Hairstyling
They can’t give an Oscar to Suicide Squad, good grief. So this is between A Man Called Ove, where they made a dude look old, and Star Trek Beyond, where they made aliens. We’d love to think the Academy will reward the former, but we’ve a feeling it will be the latter, because when it comes down to it the Academy Awards are entirely political, and Star Trek Beyond has more of the members’ friends and colleagues associated with it than does a relatively obscure Swedish film that doesn’t even have any monsters in it.
Jackie has the most thrilling and memorable score of all the nominees, but it’s likely a bit too outré for some sensibilities. Moonlight would also be a worthy winner, but on the basis that La La Land will lose out for Original Song (see below), they’re going to give it Score, even though the score is essentially just variations on the same theme for 128 minutes. But it’s a musical, you probably have to give it a music prize, right?
The bookies still have La La Land’s City Of Stars as the favourite here, and if catchiness is any measure, it should win, because it is very hummable. But:
- La La Land may well have its vote split because it has two songs nominated.
- Ryan isn’t going to sing at the ceremony, and neither is Emma, and instead John Legend is going to perform both songs.
- And he already has an Oscar for Glory from Selma, which was his song, while these aren’t.
- And although nobody will vote for Justin Timberlake’s song from Trolls (though we are excited about seeing him perform it) or Sting’s song from a film nobody has ever heard of, a win for Lin-Manuel Miranda will see him become the youngest ever winner of the coveted EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony) combination, and everybody loves Lin-Manuel Miranda, because everybody loves Hamilton, the cast of which were politely brilliant towards Mike Pence just after the US election.
- And How Far I’ll Go isn’t as instantly memorable as City Of Stars but it is going to be performed by the crazily adorable Auli’i Cravalho (who also plays Moana in the film).
- And she will be joined onstage by Lin-Manuel himself, though we don’t yet know what he’s going to do.
- And this is a concatenation of circumstances which we think will prove irresistible.
We especially hope we’re right about this one, because some of us have put cash money on it.
Nobody’s going to give an Oscar to Passengers but the other nominees (Arrival, Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, Hail, Caesar, La La Land) are all visually distinctive and interesting, and there isn’t much to choose between them, so on that basis we’ll do what the voters will and lazily plump for La La Land.
We’ve only managed to see the three nominees that definitely aren’t going to win, but Piper is so far ahead in the betting that it seems unwise to go for anything else, especially as some of the ones we’ve seen are Not Very Good (sorry).
Live Action Short
We are saving these for Sunday as a final piece of preparation (yes alright, we ran out of time), so we don’t yet have a favourite. If you need to put your bet on today, go for Ennemis Intérieurs, which the bookies seem to like best.
You guys, this year for the first time we have done some investigation and we have not only found out the difference between sound editing and sound mixing, but we have even remembered it for long enough to write it down! Sound editing, you see, is the art of designing sounds to put in your movie, which is why this award often goes to films which have sounds in that don’t exist in the real world, or only exist in very specific times and locations. So space films and war films are likely winners here, and though Hacksaw Ridge is probably the strongest candidate as far as that goes, and though the Academy might want to reward that film in a way that avoids giving a prize to Mel Gibson, we are going to go with Arrival which is (a bit) more interesting, and has space alien sounds in it.
Whereas sound mixing is how you make it all sound after you’ve recorded it, when you’re in a studio at a mixing desk balancing all the levels and making it so that you can hear people talking even though they’re on a busy street in a high wind. Or maybe on a quiet street, with a full orchestra backing them. Again, it’s hard to get past La La Land when it comes to making it all sound good.
The smart money here is apparently on Doctor Strange, but we aren’t smart and we don’t have any money, so we’re going for The Jungle Book, because those CGI animals were awesome.
Despite having been nominated in the Original Screenplay category in nearly every other awards this season, Moonlight has ended up in Adapted at the Oscars (it is based on an unproduced play, so you could reasonably spin it either way), which is happy news for those of us who love it, because it gives it less competition, even though the other nominees (Arrival, Fences, Hidden Figures and Lion) are all beloved in their own rights. But if Barry Jenkins is going to lose out in Best Director to his pal and fellow youthful auteur Damien Chazelle, this would be a good place to make up for it.
There’s always a rogue entry or two in this category (hello, The Lobster!), but this is between La La Land and Manchester By The Sea, and given that the former has no real story to speak of, we are fervently hoping the prize will go to the latter, which is a dense and devastating piece of writing that deserves recognition.
Of course, what is fun about the Oscars is not knowing what will happen, and even if all the prizes are awarded exactly as we have predicted, or – even more boringly – exactly as the bookies have predicted (but don’t worry, this literally never happens), we are expecting some surprises tomorrow night. After all, we are living in interesting times.
MostlyFilm’s live Oscars coverage begins at 10.30pm UK time on Sunday 26 February.