The format is the same as it always has been. (Can't believe this is year four, by the way) I'll go in reverse alphabetical order through the nominations, and in each category I'll have my pick (who deserves it) for the academy as well as who's the favorite. My "who's the favorite" category is based off Vegas odds found at this site and it should be noted that over the last three years these guys have had a ridiculously high success rate. Soooooo they're probably right. Let's go!
Writing: Original Screenplay
Who's the favorite: Manchester by the Sea
Starting off this list is Best Original Screenplay. It's actually one of the tightest categories for the entire Academy Awards. Initially La La Land was the favorite to win the category, but then suddenly Manchester by the Sea won the BAFTA and AACTA Award for Best Original Screenplay, and so now Vegas isn't so sure. Currently, Manchester by the Sea sits at 8/13, while La La Land is close behind at 6/5. While La La Land did win the Golden Globe for Screenplay, those BAFTA and AACTA awards make it anyone's game. However, to me La La Land is the clear best screenplay of 2016, with the second-best screenplay on the list this year being 20th Century Women, and The Lobster coming in a close third. Remember, I thought Manchester by the Sea was kind of overrated, so I'm definitely pulling for any one of those three to win over Manchester, but I am particularly pulling for La La Land because A) it was my favorite story of 2016 and B) it needs this award if it wants a chance at breaking the record for Oscars won by a film. So here's to hoping its name gets called!
Writing: Adapted Screenplay
Who's the favorite: Moonlight
This one is about as easy as it gets. Much as I loved films like Arrival, Hidden Figures, and Lion, Moonlight's story is just too unique and too bold. Told from three points in the main character's life, Moonlight manages to not only string together 30 years worth of experiences in just a short amount of time, but also do so in a way that emotionally devastates the viewer. Oh! And it does all of this while painting a thought-provoking image of what it was like to be a young black man in the heart of the war on drugs era urban America. There's so much going on here and all of it sticks. It's a perfect film that will unfortunately lose many of its nominated Oscars to La La Land, but this is one category that it is primed to take. Vegas agrees, as right now Moonlight is going at 1/5 with the next closest being Hidden Figures at 8-1.
Who's the favorite: The Jungle Book
Man if you want a case and point about how crappy this year was for the big summer blockbuster....look no further than the Best Visual Effects category. Wow! No nominations for films like Captain America, Ghostbusters, or Independence Day: Resurgence, or really any other big-budget summer blockbuster. Strong statement from the Academy. It also works as a double-edge sword as this category this year is pretty, well, hilarious. I mean Deepwater Horizon? Really? I actually thought the effects there were kind of.....bad. The Jungle Book and Rogue One were fine, but if I had to give it to one of these films I'd hand the award to Doctor Strange. More or less because of just how, well, mind-bending the effects were. I know I know I just used a marketing buzzword to describe them, but you get my point. The effects are pretty cool, and are definitely the calling card for Doctor Strange. However I really don't have any quarrel with any of these. Besides Deepwater Horizon. C'mon, guys.
Who's the favorite: La La Land
So this is one category I have tried to understand more as I've continued to review film. Sound mixing is more about the balance of what you hear versus just what you hear. (which is sound editing) As I've continued to develop as a "critic," I've become more adept at separating the two. So, this year, when it comes to sound MIXING, there is a clear winner in La La Land. The film has an incredible balance between music and other effects, and the other effects are mixed in a way that definitely adds to the overall experience. The mix here is crucial to painting a picture of this nostalgia-filled image of LA. No one else is really even close to La La Land according to our friends at Vegas as it's going at 1/8 with the next closest being Arrival at 6-1. Expect to hear La La Land's name called for this one.
Who's the favorite: Hacksaw Ridge
Aaaaaaand here's where the difference between Sound Mixing and Sound Editing is important. Sound editing is more about the selection of sounds, and when you look at just that aspect of the film, I do believe Hacksaw Ridge deserves it. Much as I want to see La La Land go for 12. However Vegas says this is one of the categories to watch this year (along with Best Original Screenplay) as Hacksaw Ridge is going around 1/2 while La La Land is close behind at 5/2. So keep an eye out for this one! Heck I'd say there's even a good shot at Arrival dark-horsing in the W. Which I wouldn't even be remotely upset about-it did create an entire alien language after all using only sounds.
Short Film, Live Action
Who's the favorite: Ennemis Interieurs
I haven't seen any of these yet, unfortunately, so I won't add any commentary. I will just tell you right now Interieurs is going at 4/6 while Timecode is going at 5/2. These are the categories that are usually pretty up in the air in Vegas, but I'd say it will be one of those two that hears its name called at the Oscars.
Short Film, Animated
Who's the favorite: Piper
Once again I haven't seen all of these yet so I'll refrain from commentary, but I will say I saw Piper and liked it a lot. The Disney/Pixar short is usually the favorite for this category, regardless of the quality of the short. So, when it delivers a good animated short? The rest of the shorts will need a Hail Mary to topple this one. Vegas seems pretty confident too: Piper is going at 1/5, while the next closest is Blind Vaysha at 9/2. Expect Piper to walk away with this one.
Who's the favorite: La La Land
Getting tired of seeing this poster pop up yet? Well, I hope not, because it has a lot more. This one is pretty much a done deal. It wasn't the best year for production design outside of La La Land, so it's going at 1/20 in Vegas with the next closest being Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them at 8-1. I think it's safe to assume that Fantastic Beasts will not be winning an Oscar, so it's safe to assume that La La Land's name will be called here. And absolutely no one can argue this one.
Who's the favorite: "City of Stars" (La La Land)
See the trend that's developing? Well, on this one I am fairly certain there's no chance of La La Land splitting the vote and allowing for something like "How Far I'll Go" from Moana to sweep in and steal it, but I do like the "Audition" from La La Land more than "City of Stars." However, the Academy very much so disagrees with me, as Stars is going at 1/6 while everything else is going at 8-1 and higher. To be fair, "City of Stars" is pretty much the manifesto of this film, as well as Hollywood's love letter to itself, so I can see why the Academy would pick it over "Audition." Just don't expect to hear anyone's name over La La Land when this award comes up.
Who's the favorite: La La Land
Hey look. Another one. And not the last. This one is one of La La Land's more heavily favored categories, as it's going at 1/10 while the next closest, Moonlight, is going at 9-1. And once again I 100% agree-while I loved Moonlight's score, there is absolutely nothing like La La Land's music. It's definitely the best part of this masterpiece.
So I wanna take a moment and talk about soon-to-be Academy Award winner Justin Hurwitz. La La Land director Damien Chazelle gets all the publicity over the fact that La La Land is only his 3rd film he's directed, but Hurwitz is having the exact same success story. He's Chazelle's personal composer, and to this point has only composed three feature-length scores. As in Chazelle's three films. Pretty amazing for someone's third score to be as intricate, complex, and dazzlingly beautiful as La La Land's. While I was stoked to see the legendary Ennio Morricone win his first (and long overdue) Oscar last year, I will be equally stoked to see Hurwitz solidify his place among the Hollywood elite with his first this early in his career. Can't wait to see what he does next!
Makeup and Hairstyling
Who's the favorite: Star Trek Beyond
This category honestly makes less sense to me every year. First off, why are there only three nominees? Does every other film not have any makeup or hairstyling? Because I mean heck can we talk about the hair in Hidden Figures? Or the makeup in Lights Out? And there always seems to be an applicant from left field in this category. Like remember Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa can say it has an Oscar nomination because of this category. This time around though it's pretty much the entire category, as mediocre summer blockbuster duo Star Trek Beyond and FREAKING SUICIDE SQUAD join international film A Man Called Ove to round out this weird band of misfits. That's right. Suicide Squad can now call itself "Oscar nominated" Suicide Squad. Yikes. So, I will refrain from adding a "who deserves it" and instead will just focus on who's the favorite in Vegas. Right now it's Star Trek Beyond, going at 1/3, with A Man Called Ove and Suicide Squad both going at around 5-1. However, I think A Man Called Ove wins this, simply because the Academy couldn't possibly give Star Trek Beyond an award, right? Definitely not Suicide Squad. I'd be laughing for days if Suicide Squad's name was said. We shall see. But real talk, Academy: can you PLEASE fix this category???
Foreign Language Film
Who's the favorite: Toni Erdmann
As usual, since I'm not paid to do this I haven't had the time to see the foreign language films for this year. I will say, though, that Erdmann has made quite the splash around town, so I wouldn't be surprised to hear its name called. Vegas has it at 8/11 with The Salesman close behind at 11/10. This one should be good!
Who's the favorite: La La Land
They just keep coming for La La Land. This is another category where it's heavily favored-it's currently going at 1/8 while its next-closest competitor, Hacksaw Ridge, is going at 5-1. Not a chance Hacksaw Ridge beats out La La Land. Expect its name to be called and for Chazelle's personal editor, Tom Cross, to add another Oscar to his name. In all seriousness though, Chazelle is turning Hollywood on its side, and the editing is a major part of that. In fact, I would say that the editing is the largest reason for it. So expect Chazelle's films to continue to win this award until someone can do it better. Might take a while.
Who's the favorite: Extremis
I haven't seen any of these, which is a shame because Extremis is available to watch on Netflix right now, but Vegas seems pretty confident that Extremis is gonna walk away with it. It's going at 1/2, while the next closest is Joe's Violin going at 11/4. Again I don't know anything about these, but when the gap's that wide in Vegas it means 9/10 the favorite is going to win. So expect to hear Extremis called on Oscar night!
Who's the favorite: O.J.: Made in America
Once again I haven't seen all of these, but O.J.: Made in America has been RAKING in awards left and right, and it's going at 1/8 out in Vegas, so you can certainly expect its name to be called come Oscar night. Which is kind of a shame because there are great names on this list like 13th and I Am Not Your Negro that would win this award in any other year. But, O.J.: Made in America happened, so tough luck for everyone else.
Who's the favorite: La La Land
This category, along with Original Screenplay, are the two categories where La La Land faces the stiffest competition according to Vegas. In Costumes, La La Land is currently going at 4/6 while Jackie is making a strong case at 6/5. Well, as much as I did like Jackie's costumes, (they were pretty much my favorite part of the film) the costumes of La La Land were something else and really added to the film. When I think of clips from the film, I envision the characters wearing whatever costumes they were wearing. Whether it's the beautiful costumes of the "Someone in the Crowd" number, or all the magnificent outfits during the opening "Another Day in Sun," or the entire "Epilogue" sequence, the costumes were pivotal to La La Land, and they were another crucial part to this story. While I wouldn't be opposed to seeing Jackie win this one, because otherwise it probably won't win any Oscars, I really don't see how La La Land doesn't win this.
Who's the favorite: La La Land
This one is pretty clear-cut. La La Land is going at 1/7, and the next closest is Lion at 7-1. I was actually a big fan of Arrival's cinematography, but it looks like it doesn't stand much of a chance at winning this because La La Land, once again, was in an entire league of its own. Just like with the costumes, the cinematography was a crucial part of La La Land, and was just utterly fantastic. I mean "Another Day in Sun" alone is worthy of an Oscar win, and that's just the first few minutes of the film. Then sequences like "Someone in the Crowd" and "Summer Montage" and "Planetarium" solidify La La Land's grasp on this award. I cannot emphasize this enough: this is the best film I have ever reviewed on Enter the Movies, and had a perfect execution of every aspect of film-making. It may be years before another film like La La Land comes along.
Who deserves it: Kubo and the Two Strings
Who's the favorite: Zootopia
Looking at animation this year, there were some absolutely phenomenal films! Disney put out two original animated films in Zootopia and Moana; Laika LLC released another highly original stop-motion feature to add to their catalog of work, Kubo and the Two Strings; Studio Ghibli co-produced the beautiful and subtle La Tortue Rouge (The Red Turtle) with the French-based studio Wild Bunch; and the French-Swiss company Gebeka Films released the small, charming, stop-motion feature Ma vie de Courgette (My Life as a Zucchini). Unfortunately My Life as a Zucchini has yet to have its US release (February 24, 2017), so I have not seen it, but do not expect it to win anyway. Similarly for The Red Turtle, which saw limited release, but being almost entirely without dialogue I do not see it pulling enough attention to win. This leaves our final three, the Disney stalwarts and the stop-motion marvel. Despite great reception, Moana has somehow managed to make itself an underdog this award season, not pulling in nearly as much attention as is often expected of a Disney Princess musical. As far as winning goes, I can see three options: Zootopia wins outright, as it is currently the frontrunner; Kubo and the Two Strings manages to ride the success of its recent BAFTA win, and the Academy awards Laika LLC the equivalent of a lifetime achievement award since it has never won in this category; or Zootopia and Kubo and the Two Strings split the vote and Moana wins from behind, the only way it stands a chance of winning. Ultimately, I see The Academy giving the statuette to Zootopia, but my personal pick for upset and film that should win is Kubo and the Two Strings.
Best Supporting Actress
Who's the favorite: Viola Davis, Fences
So this category is pretty much locked up for Viola Davis as she's going at 1/50 in Vegas. You heard that right. 1/50. Next closest is Michelle Williams, who's going at 14-1. Now let me just say that I LOVED Viola Davis's performance-it's one of the best of the year, and you can expect to see it on my Third Annual Awesome Actor Awards at the end of this week. But you can also expect to see Kidman's name in front of Davis's. I absolutely adored this grounded and emotional performance from Kidman. She was able to emotionally destroy me with just a few looks, and to me she was the central foundation in what was one of my favorite movies of the year. As much as I know she doesn't really stand a chance to win this award, it doesn't change the fact that I absolutely loved this performance. Can't wait to gloat about it some more later this week! That said, Viola Davis is definitely my second-favorite name on this list, and certainly deserves her first Oscar win so I will not complain for a second when her name is called. She's definitely more in need of an Oscar than Nicole Kidman is right now.
Best Supporting Actor
Who's the favorite: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
While I may disagree on Supporting Actress, I EASILY agree on Supporting Actor. Mahershala Ali put in EASILY the best performance from an actor this year with his portrayal as the drug dealer Juan from Moonlight. His character and Naomie Harris have one of the most emotional moments in cinema this year between the two of them, and this sequence netted both of them Oscar nominations and pretty much sealed it for Ali. It is a jaw-dropping and gut-wrenching exchange, and it's one of several great moments Ali has throughout the early stages of this film. He is incredible, and certainly deserving of this award. Vegas seems to agree with me, as Ali is currently going at 1/7 while Dev Patel is next at a distant 6-1. Expect to hear Ali's name called next Sunday!
Who's the favorite: Emma Stone, La La Land
You know, I initially thought this one was gonna be a toss-up between Emma Stone and Natalie Portman for her role in Jackie, but Stone has won nearly every acting award imaginable in the lead-up to the Oscars, so she's currently going at 1/6 in Vegas, with Portman way behind her at 5-1. You know, I've been a huge fan of Emma Stone since waaaaaay back in 2009 with Zombieland. She has definitely become the biggest young actress in Hollywood, and she will likely be walking away from the Academy Awards with her first well-deserved Oscar. To me, she deserves it just for the "Audition" sequence alone, which rivals, in my opinion, the iconic "I Dreamed a Dream" segment from 2013's Les Misérables. If Anne Hathaway deserved an Oscar because of that sequence and literally only that sequence, Stone deserves one here because she has that plus an entire rest of the film. I'm not going to lie-this is my favorite performance of 2016-so I will definitely be rooting for Emma Stone come Oscar night!
Who's the favorite: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Is it sad that I want to give this award to Garfield primarily because he was so good in Silence and should've been nominated for that? This was not a great year for the Best Actor category-which is obvious given the totally out-of-left-field nomination of Viggo Mortensen-and while Affleck is the favorite at 4/7 with Denzel Washington just behind him at 11/8 (he flew into second on this when he won the SAGs award) I will not say Affleck is deserving because of his past and I really didn't think Washington was all that great. He was basically playing himself. I did like Ryan Gosling, and I think he actually has a pretty good shot at dark-horsing this because I think he and Affleck split the vote at the SAGs to let Washington win, but at the end of the day I will say Garfield deserves it simply because of how good a year he did had. But honestly? It's anyone's game. Who knows maybe Mortensen will win just because the Academy remembered it somehow hasn't handed this great actor an Oscar yet. This is easily the most interesting category of the Oscars this year, despite its lack of truly memorable performances, but I would expect it to be a toss-up between Affleck, Washington, and Gosling. Anyone but Casey Affleck, please.....
Who's the favorite: Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Could it be any other way? I'm gonna stand and cheer when Chazelle's name is finally called at the end of the night for Best Director. His meteoric rise in Hollywood will be complete. It's an incredibly deserving win as well, as he, like his film, was EASILY the best thing to happen to Hollywood in 2016. Vegas agrees, as he's going at 1/25, with the next closest being Barry Jenkins (who's awesome, by the way) at 12-1. Much as I love Barry Jenkins, this one is definitely Chazelle's to lose. It would be the upset of the century if anyone's name is called by Chazelle's.
Who's the favorite: La La Land
If you've been reading all the way to this point, well...first off, thank you, but second off, does this surprise you? It shouldn't. This would give La La Land its 11th Oscar if the Academy votes strictly by my "who deserves it" category, which they totally do. Right? But hopefully by this point you see it has a real shot at 12, and I will be so excited if it's sitting at 11 after Chazelle wins Best Director. Because right now Vegas has La La Land at 1/10 to win, with the next-closest film (Moonlight) coming in at 7-1. While we may not be sure whether La La Land is actually gonna pull out the Oscar record, one thing can be said with about as much certainty as I can say it with: La La Land is walking away with a deserving Best Picture. It will mark just the second time in the last 10 years that my top film for the year actually wins Best Picture, (Argo was the other to do it) so I'm very excited about that. There are a lot of La La Land haters out there nowadays, but you have to admit it: if a film has a lot of "haters" that means it's great enough to get people to come out against it. There were several other great films to be released in 2016, but in my opinion one film rose above the rest in a truly spectacular fashion. And that film will walk away with Best Picture come Oscar Sunday.
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