31 January 2017

The New ULTRA-Accurate Oscar Predictions

Now that we've let the Oscar Nominations settle for a bit, it's time once again to call out all 24 categories with these, the most scientifically accurate, well-researched, and validated predictions you will ever see on the Internet. To be honest I usually get this about 60% right. Oh how I pine for 2014 when I ran the table. Here's where I've finished ever since starting this madness:

2010: 12/24
2011: 14/24
2012: 16/24
2013: 14/24
2014: 20/24
2015: 13/24
2016: 14/24

Why do I feel like I'll hit 14 again? This is an interesting year - La La Land is the easy pick to run the table, although I don't really think it will. I'm confident that will hurt me. Last year I doubted Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) to my bane. Let's get in this:

Best Actor in a Leading Role:

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

Predicted Winner: Casey Affleck

This is suddenly a three-way race between Denzel, who won the SAG, Gosling who is riding La La Land sweeper status, and Lil' Affleck, the presumptive forerunner. I think Casey will hold despite having all of the sexual assault accusations that prevented Nate Parker from being in contention. I'm sure that has nothing to do with race. America is fun. Manchester has enough goodwill and enough "not going to win anything else"-ness that I'm confident here.

Best Actress in a Leading Role

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

Predicted Winner: Emma Stone

This is a clear one between Huppert, who won the Golden Globes and Stone, who just won the SAG. Huppert was the frontrunner until late. The Academy tends to fawn over young starlet It Girls in this category, and Emma Stone weirdly feels due, even though she's really young. Her relatability is approaching J-Law levels, and this is as much for Birdman (2014) as La La Land. That audition scene will be her highlight, even if it's overracted more than anything.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

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

Predicted Winner: Mahershala Ali

This has always been Ali's to lose, with a pretty high profile 2016. Aaron Taylor-Johnson for some reason snuck away with the Golden Globe, but failed to get a nomination here. The major competition is Jeff Bridges, but there's a feeling that he's already been honored and Hell or High Water, although fantastic, isn't really his best. Ali through and through.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

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

Predicted Winner: Viola Davis

This is possibly the most expected Acting Category win, which is fantastic for the oft-seen but underappreciated Viola Davis. It'd be amazing if her and Denzel could both pull off awards for Fences (not to mention a 3/4 Black win), but I don't think he will. There's not much other competition here - Michelle is probably the other contender but this is the one category that's never been in much precursor dispute.

Best Original Screenplay

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

Predicted Winner: Manchester by the Sea

This is a tough one - La La Land can't win everything, right? That's my thought, although I'm sure I'll eat my words come Oscar Night. Manchester is the next obvious choice, and Screenplay always gets a bit wonky. If it's a sweep it'll go, but these films are so diametrically opposed I doubt the votes will split. People who hated La La Land will go for Manchester. It's probably a better screenplay, anyway. Damn I'm doubting myself now. I still think this is the category to stumble and get upset, since the love for La La is far from pure.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Hidden Figures

Predicted Winner: Moonlight

Moonlight may not end up winning too much else being in the shadow of La La Land, but without that competition here, the path is clear towards victory. Its difficult three-part structure adapted by Barry Jenkins from Barry Jenkins' own unproduced play is also the best of the lot, even if Arrival's twisty revealing irony is although smooth and breathtaking. The Academy rarely goes for sci-fi. Moonlight is a perfect winner here.

Best Cinematography

La La Land

Predicted Winner: La La Land

There's a lot of excitement here - after years and years of Deakins vs. Lubezki, with Lubz winning every time, the veteran here is Rodrigo Prieto for Silence, although it's only his second nomination. Everyone else is a rookie, but despite the breathtaking Arrival and emotionally piqued Moonlight, La La Land did pull off sunshine, darkness, sunsets, and long takes that the Academy loves. I'll try to lean into the sweep, which just seems inevitable now.

Best Film Editing

Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
La La Land

Predicted Winner: La La Land

Getting bored, yet? Arrival nabbed the ACE Eddie Award for Drama, but La La Land's win for comedy in addition to its presumptive sweep gives it a clean edge here. Hacksaw Ridge is actually getting some weird love here as well, and there was enough goodwill for that flick that it could upset here, but La La is the by and large safe pick, even if there wasn't actually that much editing involved. Final scene, perhaps, which is masterful.

Best Visual Effects

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

Predicted Winner: The Jungle Book

I would actually be deeply saddened if The Jungle Book doesn't come away with this. For all its hype, it totally lived up to the expectation. Doctor Strange is immersive, but also expressly fiction. It's intriguing to see the animated Kubo here, which could bode well for its Animated Feature chances. There's not really a question, though, that The Jungle Book dominated, and the Academy tends to disfavor superhero films anyway.

Best Production Design

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Hail, Caesar!
La La Land

Predicted Winner: Arrival

I'm going out on a weird limb here - Production Design hasn't lined up with Best Picture in a while, usually going to reward something a bit off-kilter. It's a place that's a bit friendlier to bigger, crazier films, although in the past five years, three have gone to more domestic pictures like Lincoln (2012), The Great Gatsby (2013), and The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014). Hail, Caesar! would be the obvious pick in this case, but this is also a great opportunity to acknowledge Arrival, which despite popular opinion, will likely otherwise go home empty-handed.

Best Costume Design

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Florence Foster Jenkins
La La Land

Predicted Winner: Jackie

I haven't gotten this category right in four years. Here's another La La Land anti-sweep prediction though, since the Academy always favors period over modern, and there's nothing really special about La La's outfits, except for maybe Gosling's 80s jackets (if they don't have scorpions on them I'm not interested), and the sweet primary colors in "Someone in the Crowd." Jackie has love but nothing really in the front - this is the kind of bold prediction that earns me that 61% accuracy.

Best Makeup and Hairstying

A Man Called Ove
Star Trek Beyond
Suicide Squad

Predicted Winner: Star Trek Beyond

My rationale is that everyone hates Suicide Squad (can you imagine the "Academy Award-winning" moniker on the DVD covers? Is that anachronism?), and no one's heard of A Man Called Ove. Star Trek Beyond didn't really get enough credit for being one of the Summer's best blockbusters (the muddled villain was actually enough to bring it down a few notches), but this is a nice consolation.

Best Original Score

La La Land

Predicted Winner: La La Land

Micah Levi for Jackie has gotten a lot of love this season, and Thomas Newman is looking at his 14th nomination for Passengers, but the former will surely win at some point and the latter film no one really likes (nor has a memorable score). It's been a while since a musical actually won this, dating back to Pocahontas (1995), the last live action musical being Purple Rain (1984). Does Purple Rain count as a musical? La La Land is the presumptive winner until proven otherwise.

Best Original Song

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

Predicted Winner: "City of Stars"

Yes, Lin Manuel-Miranda could become the youngest EGOT with a win here, but "How Far I'll Go" is no "Let it Go." Timberlake could also become an Oscar winner, and although "Can't Stop the Feeling" was way more popular than Trolls, let's get real. "City of Stars" has that magic touch you need in this category - not a cash grab song but the heart of the whole movie. No brainer.

Best Sound Editing

Deepwater Horizon
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land

Predicted Winner: Hacksaw Ridge

The last time this award went to a non-action oriented film was Hugo (2011), and you could make a solid argument that it's not even non-action oriented. Other than that, this virtually always goes to some kind of war film or action blockbuster. The next closest we get is The Ghost and the Darkness (1996), which again, definitely straddles some lines. La La Land is obviously the frontrunner again, but it'd be really breaking with tradition to win. Hacksaw Ridge seems to fit in here nicely.

Best Sound Mixing

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

Predicted Winner: La La Land

Chazelle's last movie, Whiplash (2014) won here two years ago, and La La Land fits in well with Les Misérables (2012), Slumdog Millionaire (2008), Dreamgirls (2006), Ray (2004), and Chicago (2002). There's almost no doubt here.

Best Animated Feature

Kubo and the Two Strings
My Life as a Zucchini
The Red Turtle

Predicted Winner: Zootopia

There's actually some life in Kubo, but Disney has won two out of the past three years, and Zootopia is just as good if not better than Big Hero 6 (2014) and probably on par with Frozen (2013) in quality, if not quite the cultural phenomenon. There's not really a question, although this category has seen its share of upsets lately, though mostly in down years for the medium.

Best Documentary

Fire at Sea
I Am Not Your Negro
Life, Animated
O.J.: Made in America

Predicted Winner: O.J.: Made in America

Three of these docs ostensibly deal with race in America, and all three had a lot of late-year love, but none as much as O.J. At 467 minutes it's the longest feature ever nominated, although I don't even know how this TV miniseries got in contention. It did have a limited theatrical run over a few days last May, which is bonkers, but none of that should detract from how good it is, along with the legitimacy a win would give the excellent ESPN 30 for 30 brand. OJ was big in 2016 for some reason, maybe with our reality TV star President we had to look back at the original reality TV fiasco - a story so unbelievable we had to watch again and think, "We could have never been that insane, right?"

Best Foreign Language Film

Land of Mine
A Man Called Ove
The Salesman
Toni Erdmann

Predicted Winner: Toni Erdmann

There's not too much of a debate on this. Erdmann got a lot of mainstream love here in the states and that should be enough to put it over the edge. Then again, I hear that A Man Called Ove has great makeup and hairstyling!

Best Documentary Short Subject

"4.1 Miles"
"Joe's Violin"
"Watani: My Homeland"
"The White Helmets"

Predicted Winner: "Extremis"

I've actually heard of Extremis, so I'm going with that one. That's not just from Iron Man. I'd be curious if Watani or White Helmets gets a surge from their sudden relevancy with the anti-refugee ban, but I would also garner that no one has heard of these films or knows what they are actually about.

Best Animated Short Subject

"Blind Vaysha"
"Borrowed Time"
"Pear Cider and Cigarettes"

Predicted Winner: "Borrowed Time"

Pixar's Piper is the frontrunner, but Disney and Pixar shorts actually rarely win this, even when they're spectacular. It much more often goes to something weird, foreign, or obscure. Borrowed Time splits the difference well - a more adult film from some former Pixar people that gained some notoriety when it dropped. I actually didn't think it was all that great, and I can see a cool premise like Blind Vaysha pulling it off, but for now let's go with that.

Best Live Action Short

"Ennemis Entreniers"
"La Femme et le TGV"
"Silent Nights"

Predicted Winner: "Timecode"

"Silent Nights" and "Sing" come from a production studio with a solid amount of Oscar history, and "Ennemis Entreniers" is the frontrunner right now, but "Timecode" is defintiely the coolest and also gaining the most traction. This is also a fucking crapshoot.

Best Director

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

Predicted Winner: Chazelle

See?! I saved the best categories for last so you get to scroll down and here my thoughts on "Borrowed Time." Jenkins is solid runner-up and Villeneuve ought to get this at some point (although similarly intense folk like Kubrick, Tarantino, and P.T. Anderson have never won this). Chazelle is ridiculously young, but in a year without much other fearsome competition (This is Jenkins' second feature, Lonergan's third), it's in the bag.

Best Picture

Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
Hidden Figures
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea

Predicted Winner: La La Land

While it may seem like a foregone conclusion, keep in mind that Moonlight is still pretty popular, actors seem to love Fences, and Hidden Figures just won the SAG for best ensemble. Let's get real, though. No film panders to Hollywood like La La Land, and you simply don't get 14 nominations without winning Best Picture. This is set to run the train.

What do you think? Will my predictions hold up? Will La La Land sweep in all categories I doubted it? Will "Piper" emerge triumphant? Stay tuned for my annual LIVE BLOG February 26th, 2017 at 8:00 pm EST for my championship winning predictions to come true!
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