Oscar Predictions 2017

With such a diverse nominee list this year, the #OscarsSoWhite controversy of last year seems to be pretty much laid to rest. This season’s nominees are a particularly illustrious bunch, but there seems to be quite a number of categories where the winners are pretty locked. La La Land is the belle of the ball with an astounding 14 nominations, and is likely to walk away with a handful of statuettes, but the overly effusive love from the industry is a little puzzling to me, honestly. Sadly I am once again bereft of any Oscar pool or viewing party and so will be abstaining from the documentary and short film categories. Now, on to the predictions:

Best Motion Picture of the Year

Should win: Moonlight

Prediction: La La Land

Moonlight is easily the best movie of 2016 for me, and if it was any other year, it would easily have clinched the award, but with La La Land in the fray… This is a category where I would love to be proven wrong in.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Should win: Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea)

Prediction: Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea)

This is Casey Affleck’s award to lose this year. Denzel Washington could have an outside chance with his mesmerizing performance in Fences, but it’s also a difficult role to identify and empathize with.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Should win: Emma Stone (La La Land)

Prediction: Emma Stone (La La Land)

Emma Stone is likely to win here, especially when it isn’t decided by the Hollywood Foreign Press, which likely explained Isabelle Huppert’s win for the Globes. Stone managed to turn in yet another impressive performance in La La Land, cementing her position as one of the best younger actresses of our time, and it should finally be her moment in the sun this year.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Should win: Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)

Prediction: Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)

Honestly not a very inspiring list of performances to pick from, but I believe Mahershala’s performance just slightly edges out Jeff Bridge’s role in Hell or High Water.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

Should win: Viola Davis (Fences)

Prediction: Viola Davis (Fences)

The African American actresses in this category are simply superb, and it’s a tough choice between Naomie Harris’ devastating turn as a drug-addled mother in Moonlight and Viola Davis’ equally impressive performance in Fences. Viola Davis has a more “Oscar-winning” performance and should win here.

Best Achievement in Directing

Should win: Barry Jenkins (Moonlight)

Prediction: Damian Chazelle (La La Land)

It would be foolish to bet against Damian Chazelle in this category, but once again I feel Barry Jenkins deserves the nod more.

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen

Should win: La La Land

Prediction: La La Land

La La Land should be able to win here, unless they decide to give Kenneth Lonergan a consolation prize here for Manchester by the Sea.

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published

Should win: Moonlight

Prediction: Moonlight

Every nominee here is deserving of the win, honestly, but the beautiful story and handling of Moonlight would hopefully give it the nod.

Best Achievement in Cinematography
Should Win: Bradford Young, Arrival

Prediction: Linus Sandgren, La La Land

Bradford Young did amazing work in Arrival, but Linus Sandgren manages to display a lot of breadth and depth in the lensing of La La Land.

Best Achievement in Editing

Prediction: La La Land

Best Achievement in Production Design

Prediction: La La Land

La La Land is a love story to Old Hollywood, and so should be an easy win here.

Best Achievement in Costume Design

Prediction: Jackie

Perhaps the only other that impresses in Jackie apart from Natalie Portman’s performance is the costume design, and this should be one category that La La Land can’t clinch.

Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling

Prediction: Star Trek Beyond

When in doubt, root for the movie with aliens in it.

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score

Prediction: La La Land

A pretty locked category in my opinion.

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song

Prediction: City of Stars, La La Land

An insane earworm and another lock for La La Land – would be extremely surprising if any other song managed to win here.

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing

Prediction: La La Land

Best Achievement in Sound Editing

Prediction: La La Land

Best Achievement in Visual Effects

Prediction: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

It’s Disney’s award to lose here, as the two most likely winners would be The Jungle Book and Rogue One. Star Wars got snubbed last year so this year it may stand a higher chance of winning.

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year

Prediction: Zootopia

Honestly I hope Kubo and the Two Strings will win here, but it seems silly to bet against Disney.

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year

Prediction: The Salesman

Full disclosure that I have not watched any of the movies in this category, so this is an educated guess based on Oscar buzz.




Fifty Shades Darker

Genre: Drama

Director: James Foley

Screenplay: Niall Leonard, adapted from the novel by E. L. James

Cast: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Eric Johnson, Marcia Gay Harden, Kim Basinger, Bella Heathcote, Rita Ora, Luke Grimes, Eloise Mumford, Max Martini, Victor Rasuk, Robinne Lee, Bruce Altman, Fay Masterson, Andrew Airlie

Running Length:  118 minutes

Synopsis: Daunted by the singular tastes and dark secrets of the handsome, tormented young entrepreneur Christian Grey, Anastasia Steele has broken off their relationship to start a new career with a Seattle Independent Publishing House (SIP); but desire for Christian still dominates her every waking thought, and when he proposes a new arrangement, Anastasia cannot resist. They rekindle their searing sexual affair, and Anastasia learns more about the harrowing past of her damaged, driven and demanding Fifty Shades.

Review: The biggest offense that Fifty Shades Darker commits isn’t that it’s a juvenile, teenage-girl fantasy of a film, or that the leads look great but seem to have virtually no thespian talent to speak of, or that the storyline is nothing short of ridiculous… It’s that the movie is terribly, terribly bland. It’s near impossible to feel vested in any of the characters because of how vanilla and uninteresting they are, and none of the plot’s few twists and turns are worth vesting more than a moment’s thought. It’s not like there was a depth to the source material that failed to make the translation to the silver screen, but it’s kind of surreal how completely lacking in edge a movie that’s supposed to be about S&M is.

Picking up right where Fifty Shades of Grey left off, we are reintroduced to the dewy-eyed Anastasia Steel (Dakota Johnson), who’s secretly still pining for, and eventually rejoined, with the dashing Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan), despite his pervy predilections in the bedroom. And yet, the numerous sex scenes in Fifty Shades Darker barely quickens one’s pulse, much less come across as being an accurate portrayal of deviant sex. At least the actors seemed to enjoy the process, and Dakota Johnson can add “perfected O-face” to her resume.

The second film in a trilogy will almost always suffer from middle child syndrome, having no proper start and no proper ending, and this is of course the case in Fifty Shades Darker. There’s no resolution to the major plot points, and the limp attempt at creating a cliffhanger for Fifty Shades Freed does not impress either. Having not read the source novels in their entirety, it is hard to tell if the flaws in Fifty Shades Darker are merely literal translations from page to screen, or if it’s something that’s native to the film.

However, the film does boast a very ear-friendly soundtrack with a slew of famous performers attached to it, and even though the settings are wildly unrealistic (how Anastasia can afford such a huge apartment on an editorial assistant’s paycheck is a mystery worthy of Sherlock Holmes), it certainly is a rather aesthetically pleasing film to look at (lead actors included). Thankfully.

Rating: * ½ (out of four stars)