Sunday, February 26, 2017

Feel Free to Consider These Oscar Predictions Blah Blah Bland -- The 89th Academy Awards, Feb. 26, 2017

I love musicals, both live on stage and on celluloid (or DVD, Blu Ray or streaming digital code).

As I write this, three feet away is a rack containing over 75 prime film musicals, including classics like Singin' in the Rain, West Side Story, My Fair Lady, On the Town, The Sound of Music, Oklahoma, Oliver and The Fiddler on the Roof, lesser-known oldies like The Pirate, The Band Wagon, Funny Face and Cover Girl, atypical musicals such as A Hard Day's Night, Moulin Rouge and 8 Mile, and anything recent & worthwhile, such as Sweeney Todd, Les Miserables and Into the Woods.

I also own, digitally, Jacques Demy's wondrous The Umbrellas of Cherbourg and have seen and enjoyed, though a bit less, its successor The Young Girls of Rochefort.

And from the time I first heard about it, and saw its trailer, there was no 2016 movie I anticipated more than La La Land, which was clearly influenced by many of the above. 

In Chicago, it was released on the same weekend as Rogue One, the latest Star Wars film. I wound up seeing both the same day, but La La Land first and more eagerly.

Having heard good things from critics I respect and friends with whom I often concur, I wanted and expected to love the film, and thought the opening sequence--as hokey as a massive traffic jam singalong may sound to some--was brilliant.

Emma Stone is absolutely beguiling and her chemistry with the likewise superb Ryan Gosling is terrific.

I admire the chutzpah it took for Damien Chazelle to get such a labor of love made--still just 32, the clearly gifted writer/director had to find success with Whiplash (which I also didn't love as much as some) before getting backing for La La Land, which he had written earlier.

And I like what I had previously heard from Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who had written music & lyrics for A Christmas Story: The Musical and current Broadway smash Dear Evan Hansen, though here just the lyrics.

Justin Hurwitz, a Harvard classmate of Chazelle's composed the music for La La Land, and before I went to see the film, I made a point of listening to the soundtrack on Spotify a few times. There are some nice tunes on it.

And you know what? I really liked La La Land and look forward to seeing it again, probably even buying the Blu-ray when it's released. 

But I don't think it's anywhere near the best movie of 2016 or on par with some of the truly great movie musicals of the past.

And though it's the favorite and likely will win Best Picture at the Oscars tonight, I don't think it should.

Except for Mel Gibson's Hacksaw Ridge, I've seen all the other Best Picture nominees, and many films up for awards in other major categories.

Though I don't really care who wins the Oscars, it's fun as sport for film buffs, and thus I'll once again devote a blog post to suggesting who I think will and should win, and who else I would've nominated. 

Those who may care what I think will probably have seen my Best Movies of 2016 post at year end, and I'll note that since I wrote it, I've seen Best Picture nominee Hidden Figures, Best Foreign Language Film Nominee The Salesman and Best Documentary nominee I Am Not Your Negro. All were excellent.

I did not see every movie in every category--particularly the Shorts--so in some cases I'll refrain from any forecasting or note my limited purview. To see all the nominees, you can click the nearby ballot image to enlarge it, or download it from

Best Picture
Will win: La La Land
Should win: Manchester by the Sea
Deserved a nomination: Loving, Sing Street
Didn't see among nominees: Hacksaw Ridge

Best Director
Will win: Damien Chazelle - La La Land
Should win: Kenneth Lonergan - Manchester by the Sea

Best Actor
Will and should win: Casey Affleck - Manchester by the Sea
Deserved a nomination: Joel Edgerton - Loving
Didn't see: Andrew Garfield, Viggo Mortensen

Best Actress
Will and should win: Emma Stone - La La Land
Deserved a nomination: Amy Adams - Arrival or Nocturnal Animals
Didn't see: Meryl Street, Isabelle Huppert, Annette Bening (not nominated for 20th Century Women)

Best Supporting Actor
Will and should win: Mahershala Ali - Moonlight
Deserved a nomination: Ben Foster - Hell or High Water, Jack Reynor - Sing Street

Best Supporting Actress
Will and should win: Viola Davis - Fences
Deserved a nomination: Sarah Gadon - Indignation

Best Original Screenplay
Will and should win: Manchester by the Sea

Best Adapted Screenplay
Will and should win: Moonlight
Deserved a nomination: Indignation

Best Documentary Feature
Will win: O.J.: Made in America
Should win of those I saw: I Am Not Your Negro
Didn't see: O.J.: Made in America, Life, Animated, Fire at Sea

Best Foreign Language Film
Will and should win: The Salesman
Didn't see any other nominees

Best Animated Feature
Will win: Zootopia
Should win: Kubo and the Two Strings
Didn't see: My Life as a Zucchini, The Red Turtle

Best Cinematography
Will win: La La Land
Should win (of those I saw): Arrival
Didn't see: Silence
Deserved a nomination: Nocturnal Animals, Hell or High Water

Best Costume Design
Will and should win: Jackie
Didn't see: Fantastic Beasts..., Allied, Florence Foster Jenkins
Deserved a nomination: Sing Street

Best Film Editing
Will win: La La Land
Should win: Moonlight 
Didn't see: Hacksaw Ridge
Deserved a nomination: Manchester by the Sea, Jackie
Best Original Score
Will and should win: La La Land
Deserved a nomination: Sing Street
Didn't see: Passengers

Best Original Song
Will and should win: "How Far I'll Go" from Moana
Will be excited to see Lin-Manuel Miranda win; would give him a career EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony) at the age of 37.
Deserved a nomination: "Brown Shoes" from Sing Street

Best Production Design
Will and should win: La La Land
Deserved a nomination: Rogue One
Didn't see: Fantastic Beasts..., Passengers

Best Makeup & Hairstyling
Will win: Star Trek Beyond
Didn't see any of the nominees

Best Visual Effects
Will win: Rogue One
Should win (of those I saw): Kubo and the Two Strings
Didn't see the other 3 nominees

Best Sound Editing
Will and should win: La La Land
Didn't see: Deepwater Horizon, Hacksaw Ridge, Sully
Best Sound Mixing
Will and should win: La La Land
Didn't see: Hacksaw Ridge, 13 Hours... 

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