My 2017 Oscar Picks


oscars

The film awards season finally reaches its pinnacle on February 26th when this year’s Oscars® will be given out. The big event will broadcast here in HK live on Monday morning starting at 6 am, so if you want to immerse yourself in all the excitement you have two options: (1) Park yourself in front of your TV at that hour and go to work late, or (2) Shut yourself off from all communication all day until the evening repeat broadcast comes on. I’ve tried both over the years with varying degrees of success, which is why this year I’ll be watching the highlights of the show the next day.

In any case, here are my picks for this year’s awards:

Actor in a Leading Role

The nominees are:
Casey Affleck, for MANCHESTER BY THE SEA
Andrew Garfield, for HACKSAW RIDGE
Ryan Gosling, for LA LA LAND
Viggo Mortensen, for CAPTAIN FANTASTIC
Denzel Washington, for FENCES

A few months ago, everyone was singing Ryan’s praises but I think the Oscar buzz has petered out and his performance is quickly being forgotten. It’s just as well, as I don’t think it is worthy of an Oscar. I like him (he’s Canadian, after all, so what’s not to like?) but, to put it bluntly, he’s no Gene Kelly or Fred Astaire. Denzel’s performance was very good but FENCES was, at the end of the day, the film version of a really good stage play… and it looked that way. It’s not going to be his year. I’m a big Viggo fan but how many people saw his movie? Not his year either. That leaves Casey and Andrew and I think both actors gave the best performances of their careers. My vote, though, is with Casey.

manchesterbythesea

Actress in a Leading Role

The nominees are:
Isabelle Huppert, for ELLE
Ruth Negga, for LOVING
Natalie Portman, for JACKIE
Emma Stone, for LA LA LAND
Meryl Street, for FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS

I’m not sure why Viola Davis wasn’t included in this category for her role in FENCES. Instead, she’s in with the Best Supporting Actress group. Perhaps the producers didn’t want to put her up against Emma Stone. Speaking of Emma, she is the odds-on favourite but I wasn’t gaga over her performance or the film. I’ll admit that I haven’t seen ELLE or LOVING yet so I can’t comment on these two performances. Natalie was excellent but I don’t think her performance was Oscar®-worthy. That leaves Meryl, who is Hollywood’s most award-winning actress or, as a certain person recently called her, “completely overrated”. I’m going to go out on a limb and say she’s going to win only because Hollywood hates reality TV stars-turned-presidents. This is political!

florence foster jenkins 2

Actor in a Supporting Role

The nominees are:
Mahershala Ali, for MOONLIGHT
Jeff Bridges, for HELL OR HIGH WATER
Lucas Hedges, for MANCHESTER BY THE SEA
Dev Patel, for LION
Michael Shannon, for NOCTURNAL ANIMALS

There is some good competition in this category. I’ll start with Dev because he shouldn’t be here at all though. His hair, maybe, but not the rest of him. The one who should be here is Ben Foster for his performance in HELL OR HIGH WATER. He keeps surprising me, and in a good way. I’ll admit that I haven’t seen Michael’s performance so I can’t comment. Lucas was excellent but it won’t win him an Oscar®. That leaves Mahershala and Jeff. My virtual vote is with Mahershala because I think MOONLIGHT is going to win a few Oscars®, and deservedly so, but the Academy voters may have gone sentimental and voted for Jeff. This is his seventh nomination dating back to 1972 and he’s only won once (in 2010 for CRAZY HEART).

moonlight

Actress in a Supporting Role

The nominees are:
Viola Davis, for FENCES
Naomie Harris, for MOONLIGHT
Nicole Kidman, for LION
Octavia Spencer, for HIDDEN FIGURES
Michelle Williams, for MANCHESTER BY THE SEA

One of these actresses doesn’t deserve being here and that’s Nicole. Janelle Monáe for HIDDEN FIGURES should be here instead. Speaking of HIDDEN FIGURES, Octavia is always a delight to watch but I don’t think her performance is Oscar®-worthy. Michelle was excellent though her part in the film was small. If she does win, it’s because of that one scene near the end where her character tries apologising to Casey Affleck’s character. Heartbreaking! That leaves Viola and Naomie, both worthy of the award. I’m going to put my virtual vote with Viola though, just because she’s the more experienced actress and she’s yet to win an Oscar®.

fences

Foreign Language Film

Up until a few weeks ago, TONI ERDMANN, was the favourite to win this category and with good reason — it’s a off-beat comedy from Germany. How often does that happen? But then along came the “travel ban”, which affected the Iranian director of THE SALESMAN, Asghar Farhadi. Hollywood may vote for his film just to thumb their collective noses at the government. My virtual vote, however, goes to TONI ERDMANN.

toni-erdmann

Music (Original Score)

Justin Hurwitz, who composed the music for LA LA LAND, is the favourite to win this category but my virtual vote goes to Mica Levi, for JACKIE. Her music is dreamy yet disquieting — perfectly emotive for this story.

jackie

Documentary (Feature)

My virtual vote goes to I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO. (By the way, this film will be coming to the Hong Kong International Film Festival in April.)

i-am-not-your-negro

Documentary (Short Subject)

Admittedly, I’ve only seen two films in this category — THE WHITE HELMETS and JOE’S VIOLIN — and both were excellent. My virtual vote goes to THE WHITE HELMETS though.

white-helmets

Directing

The nominees are:
Denis Villeneuve, for ARRIVAL
Mel Gibson, for HACKSAW RIDGE
Damien Chazelle, for LA LA LAND
Kenneth Lonergan, for MANCHESTER BY THE SEA
Barry Jenkins, for MOONLIGHT

This category should be a no-brainer. Damien Chazelle will win, not because he made the best film but because Hollywood loves itself and LA LA LAND plays to that sentiment. My virtual vote, though, goes to Barry Jenkins. MOONLIGHT is a masterpiece.

moonlight

Best Picture

The nominees are:

ARRIVAL
FENCES
HACKSAW RIDGE
HELL OR HIGH WATER
HIDDEN FIGURES
LA LA LAND
LION
MANCHESTER BY THE SEA
MOONLIGHT

Only one film doesn’t deserve to be here and that’s LION. Okay, the first half of LION deserves to be here. The second half doesn’t. Of the rest, LA LA LAND might be the most ambitious but it is also the weakest. Nevertheless, it will probably win because, as I said above, Hollywood loves itself. My virtual vote, however, goes to MOONLIGHT.

moonlight

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