OOH, “LA LA”! OSCAR PREDICTIONS

By Steve Warren

On the surface, this year’s Academy Awards are the easiest to predict, perhaps ever. But don’t bet the house. La La Land was the right movie at the right time. With all the stress and consternation from last year’s election people we’re looking for an old-fashioned musical to cheer them up. While most of the studios were releasing typical “award bait” that’s totally depressing.

So if you bet that La La Land will win in every category it’s nominated in, you’ll be right more often than not. But be careful how the bet is worded. It has two nominees in the Best Song category so all 14 of its nominations can’t result in a win. (A tie for Best Song? Get serious!) That means that after tying Titanic and All About Eve for the most nominations, La La Land can’t win more than 13, one more than it needs to beat the record of 11 held by Ben-Hur (not the dreadful 2016 version), Titanic and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

With the Academy often sharing the wealth between the Best Picture and Best Director awards (last year, Spotlight and The Revenant, e.g.), could La La Land lose one of them to its closest competitors this award season, Moonlight or Manchester by the Sea? In any case, the losing director has a shot at a Best Screenplay award, Barry Jenkins (Moonlight) for Adapted, Damien Chazelle (La La Land) and Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester) for Original.
Three of the four acting categories appeared to be locks, with only Best Actress somewhat up in the air. Best Actor became less certain last week after the Screen Actors Guild honored Denzel Washington and actress Constance Wu blasted frontrunner Casey Affleck over sexual harassment accusations from 2010. (He was never charged, let alone convicted.) This will probably cost Wu more votes in TV awards than it does Affleck at the Oscars, but politics are on everyone’s mind this year.

BEST PICTURE:
La La Land

It’s only two years since Birdman scored the double play, and we’re going out on a limb to predict it again:

BEST DIRECTOR:
Damien Chazelle, La La Land

BEST ACTOR:
Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

BEST ACTRESS:
Emma Stone, La La Land

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:
Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
Viola Davis, Fences

With three of the five documentary nominees dealing with race in America, thus splitting the vote, and refugees being front page news, I’ll pick the latter issue to prevail:

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE:
Fire at Sea

Moana could take some Disney votes away from Zootopia, letting Kubo and the Two Strings score an upset; but I’ll go with the one that’s won the bulk of the early awards:

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE:
Zootopia

I’ve been disappointed with three of the four foreign language nominees I’ve seen, but this is about my prediction, not my choice. Iran may be too controversial this year, even though their entry isn’t political, so I’ll go with Germany:

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM:
Toni Erdmann

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY:
Linus Sandgren, La La Land

The writing awards are often consolation prizes to Best Picture also-rans. Original Screenplay is an easy call but Adapted has at least three strong contenders:

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:
Manchester by the Sea

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:

Moonlight

BEST FILM EDITING:
La La Land

Two songs will split the La La Land vote (and besides, composer Justin Hurwitz will win for his score), leaving the field open to this year’s King of All Media, Lin-Manuel Miranda:

BEST ORIGINAL SONG:
“How Far I’ll Go,” Moana

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE:
Justin Hurwitz, La La Land

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN:
Hail, Caesar!

BEST COSTUME DESIGN:
Florence Foster Jenkins

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING:
Suicide Squad

BEST SOUND EDITING:
Arrival

BEST SOUND MIXING:
La La Land

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS:
The Jungle Book

I didn’t get to see the short film nominees until after deadline, but with some research here are my wild guesses.

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT:
4.1 Miles

BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM:
Piper

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM:
Sing

Hmmm, that’s only seven for La La Land. Hardly a sweep but not too shabby.

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