Filming location for spaghetti westerns in Almería, Spain

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Scott Larson





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Building façade in Cannes, France

My 2017 Academy Award Predictions (for movies released in 2016)

The pressure is really on this year. I actually did such a good job of predicting the Oscars® last year that there is nowhere to go but down this time around. I did, however, get off to a shaky enough start a year ago when, in making my predictions when I wrote, “The one thing that seems to be a dead cert is that Leonardo DiCaprio will get Best Actor for the same reason that Hillary Clinton will be elected president—it is his/her turn.” This probably explains why I get more hits on my movie blog than on my political blog.

Do you want to know the dirty little secret of how I—and a whole lot of other people—did such a good job forecasting last year? (To be fair, it is not really that dirty or, for that matter, that secret.) The fact is that the Academy Awards have gotten nothing but more and more predictable. Lots of people were able to come up with lists that matched pretty closely, if not necessarily in all cases exactly, the eventual nominees. Let’s face it, the technology and inter-connectedness of our 21st century make us all too aware of what everyone else is thinking in real time. It takes practically all of the guesswork and the suspense out of predicting award winners and presidential elections. (Damn, I have to stop bringing presidential elections into it; that only seems to undermine my point.)

The other weird thing about my predictions is that, over time, there is more and more crossover between the Most Likely to Win category and the Most Deserving to Win category. That also takes a lot of the fun out of predicting.

It’s enough to make me wonder if it is really worth staying up all night watching the Oscars® anymore. On the other hand, what other excuse do I ever have for pulling an all-nighter with alcoholic beverages in front of the telly? Oh yeah, the one I use the other 51 weeks of the year. Anyway, I will probably keep at this for a while longer yet. I just did a quick count and realized, to my utter horror, that this is the 22nd consecutive year I have been doing this—ever since the time I correctly predicted Titanic would win Best Picture and Best Director, that Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt would win the top acting awards for As Good As It Gets and that Ben Affleck and Matt Damon deserved to win for writing Good Will Hunting (which they did). People now well into high school were not even born when all that was going on.

So what about the nominations themselves? Well, last year I joked (and it really was just a joke!) that the Irish had done well in the nominations because they were simply asserting their white privilege. (Remember the whole #oscarssowhite thing?) The Academy must have been paying attention because this year it went and nominated the only prominent Irish actor (that I am aware of anyway) born in Ethiopa. That would be the extremely talented Limerick-bred Ruth Negga, whose work has spanned from Irish films like Isolation and Breakfast on Pluto to the hugely influential Irish drama Love/Hate to the Marvel universe’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to such international productions as World War Z (in which she played a W.H.O. doctor alongside Peter Capaldi who, ironically, then took over Doctor Who), Duncan Jones’s Warcraft and, of course, Jeff Nichols’s Loving for which she is now nominated.

Not much else really to say, except please do not give another Oscar® to Meryl Streep. Yes, she was fine in Florence Foster Jenkins, which was one of my favorite movies of the year, but she has enough awards already and we already heard her speech. Also, personal shout-outs to (again) my onetime seat neighbor Isabelle Huppert for Paul Verhoeven’s Elle and to Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Lobster for being filmed in a hotel which I have driven past many times and even stayed in once.

Category

Most Likely to Win

Most Deserving to Win

Should Have Been Nominated But Wasn’t

Best Picture

La La Land

Arrival

Sing Street

Best Actor

Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea)

Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea)

Hugh Grant (Florence Foster Jenkins)

Best Actress

Emma Stone (La La Land)

Ruth Negga (Loving)

Kate Beckinsale (Love & Friendship)

Best Supporting Actor

Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)

Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)

Jack Reynor (Sing Street)

Best Supporting Actress

Viola Davis (Fences)

Naomie Harris (Moonlight)

Tilda Swinton (Hail, Caesar!)

Best Director

Damien Chazelle (La La Land)

Denis Villeneuve (Arrival)

John Carney (Sing Street)

Best Original Screenplay

Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea)

Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea)

John Carney (Sing Street)

Best Adapted Screenplay

Barry Jenkins (Moonlight)

Eric Heisserer (Arrival)

Whit Stillman (Love & Friendship)

Best Animated Feature

Zootopia

Kubo and the Two Strings

Finding Dory

Best Foreign Language Film

Toni Erdmann (Germany)

Toni Erdmann (Germany)

It’s Only the End of the World (Canada)