Oscars 2017: Who Will (and Should) Win

The morning of Oscar nominations is one of my favorite of the entertainment year. As always, I make my choices morning-of, so as to not be too swayed by narrative. The past few years, that’s become more difficult, as Oscar punditry has become more popular (and started earlier in the year to boot.) Some of these choices are shoo-ins, some of these are dark horses, and each contains who *should* win as well. As always, feel free to tell me how wrong I am in the comments.

Best Picture
Arrival
Fences
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
Hidden Figures
La La Land
Lion
Manchester by the Sea
Moonlight

Will win: Moonlight; Should win: Arrival

Full disclosure: I’ll never see Hacksaw Ridge. That and Lion are the two movies on here that I haven’t seen. So let’s start there and work backwards. Fences was a really great play that got filmed, but a best picture that does not make. Let’s get this out of the way right now: La La Land was great for a lot of people, and I am not one of them. In fact, I feel like Aziz Ansari:

Hidden Figures had some strong performances (even if Taraji P. Henson scares me in real life, she was great), but it also felt like an afterschool special more than a best picture. Hell or High Water did well just to get this nomination, but unless I’ve missed it, it hasn’t won a single major award this season. And while Manchester by the Sea had the best individual scene I’ve seen this year (Casey Affleck in the police station after [SPOILERS REDACTED]), it’s too bleak to be a consensus choice. Which leads me to Arrival, which might be the best movie I saw in 2016 (and how did Amy Adams not get nominated?). The movie was quiet (and I mean that in the best way possible), thought-provoking and, Forrest Whitaker’s accent notwithstanding, well-acted. But a year after #OscarSoWhite and when our POTUS is, among other things, endorsed by the KKK, I think Hollywood will turn to Moonlight. (Note: Yes, La La Land is the favorite. Yes, it’s a movie about Hollywood, which Hollywood loves. Yes, it got 14 nominations. Yes, it will actually win – I’m just trying to make an original choice here.)

Best Director
Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Denis Villeneuve, Arrival
Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge

Will win: Damien Chazelle; Should win: TIE: Kenneth Lonergan/Denis Villeneuve

Dennis Villeneuve made a realistic movie about the alien invasion that was so gripping and yet so grounded that I am thrilled he is nominated. And Kenneth Lonergan got tremendous performances from actors who are nominated for best actor, best supporting actor, and best supporting actress, respectively. But methinks the man who got Gosling and Stone to dance in the stars is going to win this one.

Best Actor
Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Denzel Washington, Fences
Ryan Gosling, La La Land
Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic

Will win: Casey Affleck; Should win: Casey Affleck

(Again, I didn’t see Hacksaw Ridge, so maybe the former Eduardo Saverin/Spider-Man should win). This is Casey Affleck in a walk, though I will say Denzel was a great scene partner to Viola Davis in Fences.

Best Actress
Emma Stone, La La Land
Natalie Portman, Jackie
Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins
Isabelle Huppert, Elle
Ruth Negga, Loving

Will win: Emma Stone; Should win: NATALIE FREAKING PORTMAN

I mean, did you see Jackie? Natalie Portman was Jackie. That might be the greatest acting performance she’s put on, and she’s the queen. Also, again: Where is Amy Adams? Meryl’s amazing, but I think we can agree that her inclusion for Florence Foster Jenkins resulted in Adams’s snub.

Best Supporting Actor
Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
Dev Patel, Lion
Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea
Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals

Will win: Jeff Bridges (sigh); Should win: Michael Shannon

Michael Shannon is the best actor alive. He took a role in 8 Mile (as abusive stepfather figure Greg Buell) and has since become the greatest living actor since at least Edward Norton’s peak (Primal Fear/American History X/Fight Club). But this seems like one of those times when Oscar voters will go for an upset (Ali couldn’t even win the Golden Globe), and my money is on Bridges prevailing.

Best Supporting Actress
Viola Davis, Fences
Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea
Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Nicole Kidman, Lion
Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures

Will win: Viola Davis; Should win: Michelle Williams

Jen Lindley on Dawson’s Creek had a pretty sad life. Her parents, disappointed in her hard-partying ways, sent her to Capeside to live with her bible-thumping grandmother and dying grandfather. When her grandfather passes away, she seeks solace in Dawson, the boy next door, who rebuffs her for Joey. Jen ends up spiraling into depression until one night she and Abby Morgan drink on the pier, and Abby slips, falls and drowns. (Note: that’s literally just the first season and a half. I could keep going.) The point is: Michelle Williams knows how to play pain. And in any other year, she’d win this easily. But did you see Viola Davis? She won the Oscar just in the trailer (and also by moving into the supporting category).

Best Adapted Screenplay
Moonlight
Arrival
Fences
Lion
Hidden Figures

Will win: Moonlight; Should win: Arrival

Arrival took a complicated story about language and aliens and turned that into an easily-understood hit. But I think voters will reward Moonlight here.

Best Original Screenplay
Manchester by the Sea
La La Land
Hell or High Water
The Lobster
20th Century Women

Will win: La La Land; Should win: TIE: Manchester by the Sea/The Lobster

Manchester by the Sea’s script is funny, depressing (#SoBleak), and also uses flashbacks quite well. And The Lobster is the most original concept in years. And let’s be honest: The plot of La La Land isn’t all that spectacular. That said, it’ll win, and I’ll gripe on twitter. (Follow me! @jacobsjj)

Best Foreign Language Film
Toni Erdmann
The Salesman
Land of Mine
Tanna
A Man Called Ove

Will win: Toni Erdmann; Should win: ?

Toni Erdmann will win because all the critics say they love it. I should actually see these.

Best Documentary Feature
O.J.: Made in America
13th
Fire at Sea
I Am Not Your Negro
Life Animated

Will Win: O.J.; Should win: TIE: O.J. and 13th

O.J.: Made in America was fantastic (and depressing, and violent, and informative). And, well, that’s mostly true of 13th. Both great, and can’t go wrong with either.

Best Animated Feature
Zootopia
Kubo and the Two Strings
The Red Turtle
My Life As a Zucchini
Moana

Will win: Zootopia; Should win: Kubo

I mean, they didn’t nominate The Lego Movie two years ago and I’m still not over it, so I’m not discussing this category more than I have to.

Fine. Kubo did more with two strings than Moana did with like 100 ships.

Best Film Editing
La La Land
Moonlight
Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water

Will win: La La Land; Should win: Arrival

Editing always seems to pair with the film that wins best picture, so see above.

Best Original Song
“City of Stars,” La La Land 
“Audition (The Fools Who Dream),” La La Land
“How Far I’ll Go,” Moana
“Can’t Stop the Feeling,” Trolls
“The Empty Chair,” Jim: The James Foley Story

Will win: The Empty Chair (kidding we all know it’ll be City of Stars because La La Land); Should win: Whatever.

How is the song from Sausage Party not nominated?

Best Original Score
La La Land
Lion
Jackie
Moonlight
Passengers

Will win: La La Land; Should win: Passengers

The musical is probably going to take this one home, you guys.

Best Cinematography
La La Land
Moonlight
Arrival
Silence
Lion

Will win: Moonlight; Should win: Arrival!

Arrival had Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner realistically talking to aliens. La La Land had Emma Stone dancing in a planetarium. Guess which will win.

Best Costume Design
Florence Foster Jenkins
La La Land
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Allied
Jackie

Will and should win: Jackie

“Any movie other than Jackie had the best costume design.” #AlternativeFacts #SpicerFacts

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Star Trek Beyond
A Man Called Ove
Suicide Squad

Will and Should win: A Man Called Ove

I mean…this category…you can’t have Star Trek or Suicide Squad win an Oscar. ESPECIALLY Suicide Squad.

Best Production Design
La La Land
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Hail, Caesar!
Arrival
Passengers

Will win: La La Land; Should win: Arrival

Copy+Paste, am I right? Arrival built ALIEN SPACESHIPS. La La Land built…a jazz club?

Best Sound Editing
Hacksaw Ridge
Arrival
Deepwater Horizon
La La Land
Sully

Will win: ARRIVAL!; Should win: Sully

Arrival is going to win an Oscar. I’m “The Secret”-ing this belief into the world.

Best Sound Mixing
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land
Arrival
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

Will and Should Win: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Can’t imagine anyone is reading this blog and doesn’t know why I think the Star Wars movie should win every award for which it’s nominated.

Best Visual Effects
The Jungle Book
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Kubo and the Two Strings
Doctor Strange
Deepwater Horizon

Will and Should Win: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

See above.

Best Short Film, Live Action
Timecode
Silent Nights
La Femme et le TGV
Ennemis Interieurs
Sing

Will Win: Ennemis Interieurs; Should Win: Arrival (kidding!)

I mean, this is Timecode’s to lose.

Best Short Film, Animated
Piper
Pearl
Borrowed Time
Blind Vaysha
Pear Cider and Cigarettes

Will and Should Win: Piper

Piper played before “Finding Dory,” and, let’s be honest, was about 47% better.

Best Documentary, Short Subject
Joe’s Violin
The White Helmets
Extremis
Watani: My Homeland
4.1 Miles

Will win: Joe’s Violin; Should win: Extremis

Extremis was one of my favorite Marvel plots, and if you caught that reference then let’s please be best friends.

As for who should count up the vote totals? There’s only one man for the job:

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