The Oscars have been announced, and they offer up the most surprising contenders the show has seen in years. Some, like “Lion,” “Hidden Figures” and “La La Land” are pretty par for the course. There are others that are more unconventional, though. Films like “Moonlight” and “Arrival.” For the sake of this article, everything from best picture, director and the acting categories will be covered.
It is no surprise that “La La Land” will likely take the trophy for Best Picture come Oscar night. The movie has received 14 Oscar nominations and is the year’s big popular entertainment.
Everyone hates it when politics gets bought up, but is this the right time for “La La Land?” This is a year where we have elected a President who has openly went after people of color and many in LGBT community are living in fear. This is not to inject the Oscars with more self-importance than they already have, but, aside from being a masterpiece, “Moonlight” is the film that should take the trophy.
Another easy prediction is the success of Damien Chazelle as director of “La La Land.”
Many will talk about the ending of “La La Land” as one of the most masterfully crafted moments of 2016 and the praise is well-earned. Chazelle is clearly going places, so while that could be used as an argument to wait on awarding him later in favor of Barry Jenkins or Kenneth Lonergan, it could easily be used as an argument to acknowledge him now.
Casey Affleck is likely to take home the honor of Best Actor. Nothing against Affleck, but Lonergan’s direction and script are the stars of “Manchester,” he merely gets to reap the benefits. Denzel Washington, with “Fences,” must deliver a one-man tour-de-force, biting into every scene and commanding the screen. Nonetheless, it seems he will be leaving the Oscars empty handed in the wake of “Manchester by the Sea.”
Best Actress is a bit more up in the air. Emma Stone is simply delightful in “La La Land,” it must be the strongest performance of her career thus far, and she’s rarely had a bad day. While Stone’s performance is strong, Natalie Portman still poses a threat to taking to the award—however, it is unlikely.
It may be an unconventional pick, but Mahershala Ali’s performance seems most deserving of Best Supporting Actor. His performance in “Moonlight” is like the culmination of something he has been building up to since he burst onto the scene in “The Place Beyond the Pines.” His performance in “Moonlight” is brief, but it has the feeling of a soon to be iconic display.
Viola Davis is more than deserving of Best Supporting Actress. While Denzel is the headliner, Davis is given all the subtle character work–she has more to chew on. She delivers one of the best scenes of the year and her acting is heart-wrenching. Even if it weren’t one of the best performances of the year, recognition of Davis’s talent would still be long overdue.