Combustible Celluloid

The 89th Academy Awards

Gold Standard: The Oscars 2016

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

More notes, comments, predictions, etc., coming soon!

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

Two of these, Arrival and Moonlight were on my ten-best list, and if I had a vote, I think I'd give the edge to the latter. Next, my favorite is Hell or High Water, followed by La La Land. Then Fences and Manchester by the Sea were both well-written and acted, but don't necessarily demand a second viewing. Hidden Figures and Hacksaw Ridge would be next, both simplistic but effective dramas based on real life. Finally there's the awful Lion at the bottom. [Note: The surprise winner, revealed after La La Land had already been mistakenly announced, will be one of the most memorable Oscar moments in history.]

If I Had a Vote: Moonlight
My Prediction: La La Land
Overlooked: Deadpool (!), Silence, Paterson
The Winner: Moonlight

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

Andrew Garfield has his first nomination, and Ryan Gosling, Casey Affleck, and Viggo Mortensen all have their second. Denzel Washington, of course, is a two-time winner, and this is his seventh acting nomination in all. I'm not sure who I like best in this bunch; my own personal picks were different from this list. I guess I'd go with either the veteran (Washington) or the first-timer (Garfield). Affleck is the front-runner at the moment, unless his controversy catches up with him, and then Gosling could snag the trophy.

If I Had a Vote: Denzel Washington
My Prediction: Denzel Washington (possibly still Casey Affleck?)
Overlooked: Adam Driver (Paterson), Tom Hanks (Sully), Joel Edgerton (Loving), Andrew Garfield (Silence)
The Winner: Casey Affleck

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

Ms. Huppert and Ms. Negga have their first nominations, and Ms. Stone has her second. This is Ms. Portman's third nomination and she won for Black Swan. Ms. Streep, of course, is a three-time winner, and this is her 20th nomination overall, making her the most nominated performer in history. As of now, our front-runner is Ms. Stone, hot from Birdman, and expected to ride a wave of La La Land awards.

If I Had a Vote: Ruth Negga
My Prediction: Emma Stone
Overlooked: Amy Adams (Arrival), Kate Beckinsale (Love & Friendship)
The Winner: Emma Stone

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

Mr. Ali, Mr. Hedges, and Mr. Patel all have their first nominations. Mr. Shannon has his second, and perhaps this one is an apology for snubbing him last year for 99 Homes. The great Jeff Bridges now has 7 nominations, stretching back to 1971, and is a previous winner for Crazy Heart (this one is better). Mr. Ali is the expected, and would be a much-deserved, winner.

If I Had a Vote: Mahershala Ali
My Prediction: Mahershala Ali
Overlooked: Patrick Stewart (Green Room), Alden Ehrenreich (Hail, Caesar!), Stephen McKinley Henderson (Fences)
The Winner: Mahershala Ali

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

Ms. Harris has her first nomination. Ms. Spencer has her second, and is a previous winner for The Help. Ms. Davis has her third, and Ms. Williams has her fourth. Ms. Kidman also has her fourth, and is a previous winner for The Hours. If I had a vote, I'd probably go with Ms. Harris on the strength of Moonlight, though all these women, and others, were equally great.

If I Had a Vote: Naomie Harris
My Prediction: Viola Davis
Overlooked: Lily Gladstone (Certain Women), Michelle Williams (Certain Women)
The Winner: Viola Davis

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

It was an act of generosity to give Mr. Gibson Best Director in 1996, and now his second nomination is an act of redemption; he is forgiven. The other four directors all have their first nominations in this category, although Mr. Villeneuve is a previous nominee for Best Foreign Language Film (for Incendies) and the other three have various writing nominations. Mr. Chazelle looks to be the winner in this category, and -- I think -- would be the youngest in history. But wouldn't it be something, in these troubled times, if Mr. Jenkins won?

If I Had a Vote: Barry Jenkins
My Prediction: Damien Chazelle
Overlooked: Martin Scorsese (Silence), Jim Jarmusch (Paterson), Clint Eastwood (Sully), Kelly Reichardt (Certain Women)
The Winner: Damien Chazelle

Animated Feature:
Kubo and the Two Strings, Travis Knight and Arianne Sutner
Moana, John Musker, Ron Clements and Osnat Shurer
My Life as a Zucchini, Claude Barras and Max Karli
The Red Turtle, Michael Dudok de Wit and Toshio Suzuki
Zootopia, Byron Howard, Rich Moore and Clark Spencer

My favorite here is Kubo and the Two Strings, though I'm going to try to check out Zucchini soon. I enjoyed Moana more as a "Disney experience," but Zootopia is cleverer, and with a more timely message, a call for understanding in a time of increasing fear and hate. That message should put it over the top for voters.

If I Had a Vote: Kubo and the Two Strings
My Prediction: Zootopia
Overlooked: The Little Prince, Finding Dory, Kung Fu Panda 3
The Winner: Zootopia

Adapted Screenplay:
Arrival, Eric Heisserer
Fences, August Wilson
Hidden Figures, Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi
Lion, Luke Davies
Moonlight, Barry Jenkins; Story by Tarell Alvin McCraney

This one is hugely frustrating. I would have chosen Arrival as a favorite, but the Academy weirdly decided that Moonlight was an adapted screenplay, based on a play that was never produced and no one has seen. So now, though I love both movies, Moonlight gets my vote, and -- I think -- it will get the Academy's vote, too. However, it will be awfully difficult to avoid giving the late August Wilson a posthumous honor for Fences. Watch this space.

If I Had a Vote: Moonlight
My Prediction: Moonlight
Overlooked: Loving, Silence, Indignation, Love & Friendship
The Winner: Moonlight

Original Screenplay:
20th Century Women, Mike Mills
Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan
La La Land, Damien Chazelle
The Lobster, Yorgos Lanthimos, Efthimis Filippou
Manchester by the Sea, Kenneth Lonergan

With Moonlight out of the way, and moved to the other category, I can now choose the best script here, Hell or High Water. However, for the voters, Manchester by the Sea has more awards buzz, and weightier themes.

If I Had a Vote: Hell or High Water
My Prediction: Manchester by the Sea
Overlooked: Paterson, Hail, Caesar!, Everybody Wants Some!!
The Winner: Manchester by the Sea

Arrival, Bradford Young
La La Land, Linus Sandgren
Lion, Greig Fraser
Moonlight, James Laxton
Silence, Rodrigo Prieto

This category usually goes to the movie with the biggest, most stunning vistas, and outdoor cinematography is favored over indoor. Since much of Arrival's genius is that it takes place inside a rectangular room, it's probably out. And Moonlight is too small. I love Silence, and it might have been a possibility, if this weren't the only nomination Scorsese's masterpiece received. So that leaves La La Land, adding to its potential sweep.

If I Had a Vote: Moonlight
My Prediction: La La Land
Overlooked: Hail, Caesar!, Loving, Cafe Society
The Winner: La La Land

Best Documentary Feature:
13th, Ava DuVernay, Spencer Averick and Howard Barish
Fire at Sea, Gianfranco Rosi and Donatella Palermo
I Am Not Your Negro, Raoul Peck, Remi Grellety and Hebert Peck
Life, Animated, Roger Ross Williams and Julie Goldman
O.J.: Made in America, Ezra Edelman and Caroline Waterlow

What a year for docs! Just in time for Trump's mainstreaming of racism in America, three outstanding docs tackle the topic in broad, intelligent, deep, and profound ways. The epic O.J.: Made in America seems to be the front-runner, but I wouldn't count out Ava Duvernay's 13th -- as a makeup for all the snubs her Selma received -- or Raoul Peck's I Am Not Your Negro. Fire at Sea is also remarkable and Life, Animated is touching, but we can count them out.

If I Had a Vote: O.J.: Made in America
My Prediction: O.J.: Made in America
Overlooked: Cameraperson, Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World, De Palma
The Winner: O.J.: Made in America

Best Foreign Language Film:
A Man Called Ove, Sweden
Land of Mine, Denmark
Tanna, Australia
The Salesman, Iran
Toni Erdmann, Germany

This category gives me nothing but trouble, and I have ranted about it at length elsewhere. As usual, three of the films are not even on the radar, and the other two didn't really thrill me much, although my colleagues seem to love them. All I can do is mourn the exclusion of some truly good films, and once again rail at how stupid the rules are for this category. (Note: Toni Erdmann was once the front-runner, but now because of Trump's evil Muslim travel ban, and because director Asghar Farhadi is not allowed to attend the Oscars, his The Salesman could sneak in and win as a small form of protest.)

If I Had a Vote: n/a
My Prediction: Toni Erdmann
Overlooked: Cemetery of Splendor, The Handmaiden, Julieta
The Winner: The Salesman

Film Editing:
Arrival, Joe Walker
Hacksaw Ridge, John Gilbert
Hell or High Water, Jake Roberts
La La Land, Tom Cross
Moonlight, Nat Sanders and Joi McMillon

This category is sometimes a surprise, as voters are sometimes attracted to movies that seem very tightly snapped together, rather than automatically giving the award to whatever the biggest nominee may be. (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was a surprise winner here a few years back.) That said, all four of the runners-up have a pretty much equal chance at sneaking in and upsetting La La Land. But then, La La Land is pretty nicely done, so...

If I Had a Vote: Moonlight
My Prediction: La La Land
Overlooked: Sully, Jackie, Green Room
The Winner: Hacksaw Ridge

Sound Editing:
Arrival, Sylvain Bellemare
Deepwater Horizon, Wylie Stateman and Renee Tondelli
Hacksaw Ridge, Robert Mackenzie and Andy Wright
La La Land, Ai-Ling Lee and Mildred Iatrou Morgan
Sully, Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman

The pundits are saying that this one may likely go to Hacksaw Ridge, throwing a single bone to that movie that everyone seems to like, but may not want to totally embrace (it's an honor just to be nominated).

If I Had a Vote: Arrival
My Prediction: Hacksaw Ridge
Overlooked: Silence, Green Room, Captain America: Civil War
The Winner: Arrival

Sound Mixing:
Arrival, Bernard Gariepy Strobl and Claude La Haye
Hacksaw Ridge, Kevin O’Connell, Andy Wright, Robert Mackenzie and Peter Grace
La La Land, Andy Nelson, Ai-Ling Lee and Steve A. Morrow
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, David Parker, Christopher Scarabosio and Stuart Wilson
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush and Mac Ruth

Some are predicting Hacksaw Ridge here as well, but more are saying La La Land. They're all forgetting about Arrival.

If I Had a Vote: Arrival
My Prediction: La La Land
Overlooked: Silence, Green Room, Captain America: Civil War
The Winner: Hacksaw Ridge

Production Design:
Arrival, Patrice Vermette, Paul Hotte
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Stuart Craig, Anna Pinnock
Hail, Caesar!, Jess Gonchor, Nancy Haigh
La La Land, David Wasco, Sandy Reynolds-Wasco
Passengers, Guy Hendrix Dyas, Gene Serdena

Though Arrival would get my vote in a heartbeat, for its incredible use of production design, the shapes, the clutter, etc., I think this one will go to La La Land as part of its sweep.

If I Had a Vote: Arrival
My Prediction: La La Land
Overlooked: The Handmaiden, Silence, Jackie
The Winner: La La Land

Original Score:
Jackie, Mica Levi
La La Land, Justin Hurwitz
Lion, Dustin O'Halloran and Hauschka
Moonlight, Nicholas Britell
Passengers, Thomas Newman

No doubt on this one: La La Land is a musical, so how could it not win? Arrival was stupidly, unfairly disqualified from this category, so let me just take a second to gripe about that one now. The Jackie score is clearly the year's most unique score, a little controversial, but also extremely fresh. And I love the Moonlight score as well.

If I Had a Vote: Jackie
My Prediction: La La Land
Overlooked: High-Rise, Kubo and the Two Strings, The Founder
The Winner: La La Land

Original Song:
"Audition (The Fools Who Dream)," La La Land -- Music by Justin Hurwitz; Lyric by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
"Can't Stop the Feeling," Trolls -- Music and Lyric by Justin Timberlake, Max Martin and Karl Johan Schuster
"City of Stars," La La Land -- Music by Justin Hurwitz; Lyric by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
"The Empty Chair," Jim: The James Foley Story -- Music and Lyric by J. Ralph and Sting
"How Far I’ll Go," Moana -- Music and Lyric by Lin-Manuel Miranda

Geez. This category again. And "Try Everything" from Zootopia isn't even here. And what's that Trolls song doing here instead? It might be nice to see Lin-Manuel Miranda win for his excellent Moana song, but, once again, La La Land is a musical and if it can't win here, it probably shouldn't win anywhere.

If I Had a Vote: "How Far I'll Go"
My Prediction: "City of Stars"
Overlooked: "Try Everything" (from Zootopia)
The Winner: "City of Stars"

Makeup and Hair:
A Man Called Ove, Eva von Bahr and Love Larson
Star Trek Beyond, Joel Harlow and Richard Alonzo
Suicide Squad, Alessandro Bertolazzi, Giorgio Gregorini and Christopher Nelson

I know nothing about this stuff, but the front-runner seems to be Star Trek Beyond, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

If I Had a Vote: Star Trek Beyond
My Prediction: Star Trek Beyond
Overlooked: ?
The Winner: Suicide Squad

Costume Design:
Allied, Joanna Johnston
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Colleen Atwood
Florence Foster Jenkins, Consolata Boyle
Jackie, Madeline Fontaine
La La Land, Mary Zophres

The pillbox hats could take this, and Jackie could win... or La La Land's beautiful suits and dresses could be part of a sweep.

If I Had a Vote: Allied
My Prediction: La La Land
Overlooked: Silence, Hail, Caesar!, Doctor Strange
The Winner: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Visual Effects:
Deepwater Horizon, Craig Hammack, Jason Snell, Jason Billington and Burt Dalton
Doctor Strange, Stephane Ceretti, Richard Bluff, Vincent Cirelli and Paul Corbould
The Jungle Book, Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones and Dan Lemmon
Kubo and the Two Strings, Steve Emerson, Oliver Jones, Brian McLean and Brad Schiff
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, John Knoll, Mohen Leo, Hal Hickel and Neil Corbould

The Jungle Book was one of the year's biggest hits and one of its most overall acclaimed movies, and here is where it will receive an honor.

If I Had a Vote: The Jungle Book
My Prediction: The Jungle Book
Overlooked: Allied, Star Trek Beyond, Captain America: Civil War
The Winner: The Jungle Book

Animated Short:
Blind Vaysha, Theodore Ushev
Borrowed Time, Andrew Coats and Lou Hamou-Lhadj
Pear Cider and Cigarettes, Robert Valley and Cara Speller
Pearl, Patrick Osborne
Piper, Alan Barillaro and Marc Sondheimer

I sometimes check out all the animated shorts prior to Oscar time, but this year I did not get a chance. Pixar's Piper is quite wonderful, though, and could win.

If I Had a Vote: ?
My Prediction: ?
Overlooked: ?
The Winner: Piper

Best Documentary Short Subject:
4.1 Miles, Daphne Matziaraki
Extremis, Dan Krauss
Joe's Violin, Kahane Cooperman and Raphaela Neihausen
Watani: My Homeland, Marcel Mettelsiefen and Stephen Ellis
The White Helmets, Orlando von Einsiedel and Joanna Natasegara

I have not seen any of these. Pundits seem to think that Extremis has the best chance of winning.

If I Had a Vote: ?
My Prediction: ?
Overlooked: ?
The Winner: The White Helmets

Best Live Action Short Film:
Ennemis Interieurs, Selim Azzazi
La Femme et le TGV, Timo von Gunten and Giacun Caduff
Silent Nights, Aske Bang and Kim Magnusson
Sing, Kristof Deak and Anna Udvardy
Timecode, Juanjo Gimenez

I sometimes check out all the live action shorts prior to Oscar time, but this year I did not get a chance. Pundits seem to think that Ennemis Interieurs has the best chance of winning.

If I Had a Vote: ?
My Prediction: ?
Overlooked: ?
The Winner: Sing

Final Counts:
La La Land - 6
Moonlight - 3
Hacksaw Ridge - 2
Manchester by the Sea - 2
Arrival - 1
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them - 1
Fences - 1
The Jungle Book - 1
O.J.: Made in America - 1
Suicide Squad - 1
The Salesman - 1
Zootopia - 1

Movies Unlimtied