Oscars season is here! 2016 was a great year for movies, even if there were a few abominations (looking at you Zack Snyder). I for one, am excited to see which film comes out on top with the most award wins. There will be surprises, people crying, and more than likely a few political speeches. Tune in at 8:30 pm on ABC!
Best Picture: (Manchester by the Sea, Hacksaw Ridge, La La Land, Moonlight, Arrival, Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures, Lion, Fences)
Gordon: We have ourselves a stacked lineup for best picture this year. In my opinion, it’s basically a two horse race between Moonlight and La La Land though. Hacksaw Ridge was great, but I doubt the Academy will give Gibson the Oscar. I gave both La La Land and Moonlight a 3.5. However, Moonlight had a more successful outing from its cast than La La Land did. La La Land succeeded because of the absolutely stellar performance from Emma Stone. She and Gosling carried the film, but Chazelle’s directing choices helped the film stand out from the pack. While our review of La La Land highlighted that Chazelle took too many swings on different shots in the film, his directing in it was still top notch. La La Land was a film that brought joy to audiences everywhere and it was a cinematic achievement that highlights Chazelle’s talent.
Bryan: I agree that La La Land and Moonlight are the favorites but I think that Hell or High Water is not getting nearly enough attention. The modern day western provides a career best performance from Chris Pine and Ben Foster surprised me with his role of Pine’s brother. Jeff Bridges is fantastic and is desirably earned a best supporting actor nomination. The cast is fantastic from a great story and script. The story feels smart, grounded and sincere. The film does a great job creating a dynamic where the audience is conflicted over who they should be rooting for. As much as I loved Hell or High Water, La La Land should win Best Picture. I believed that the film was nearly a masterpiece and all in on Chazelle. I loved Whiplash and I love this film though I think Whiplash was better. I can’t put my finger on my issue with the film, but somehow I know that something was missing.
Best Actor: (Casey Affleck, Andrew Garfield, Viggo Mortensen, Denzel Washington, Ryan Gosling)
Gordon: I have not seen three out of the five films on this list yet, but I did see Hacksaw Ridge and La La Land. I’m not sure the Academy is going to give the Oscar to Affleck since there has been controversy surrounding him. Brie Larson’s shunning of him during the Golden Globes may provide insight into how the Academy may view him now. I highly doubt that Viggo Mortensen wins it because Captain Fantastic did not gain enough national traction even though it seemed like a good film. Gosling was great in La La Land, but he did not do enough to win the Oscar. I like that he tried to sing, but I would prefer for him to keep his pipes down (Ryan, you’re only bad at singing, nothing else). I’m going to go with a surprise and say that Andrew Garfield wins this Oscar. I don’t want to lie and say that Denzel should win it based off of pedigree. I did not watch Fences, so I don’t want to make any judgements about it. Garfield’s mannerisms and accent in Hacksaw Ridge impressed me. He was able to encapsulate the kind of person Desmond Doss was in real life. That, to me, was an Oscar worthy performance.
Bryan: I think Denzel wins but I think Gosling should win. I love the strong year from Garfield and validates my argument that the Amazing Spider Man films were not his fault. I think he has been great from The Social Network. Affleck is also out for me because of the controversy. It kind of bugs me that people talk about Gosling on the piano or his singing, but not enough attention is put on his actual performance. I think he provided emotional depth in the movie, especially the last scene. This is a great actor with a great performance. You can argue Gosling was in two of the top five movies last year if you include The Nice Guys. Denzel is the safe legacy pick because there is no clear cut winner because of the Affleck controversy.
Best Actress: (Emma Stone, Isabelle Rupert, Ruth Negga, Natalie Portman, Meryll Streep)
Gordon: For me, this one is easy. Emma Stone should win this in a landslide. Her performance in La La Land was a revelation to just how talented she really is as an actress. Unlike Gosling, Stone was actually a very good singer (Gosling tried and gave it his best shot, which I commend). She was absolutely perfect for the role she was given. Stone was magnificent in La La Land and I believe that it was the best performance she has ever done. I’m sure Natalie Portman will be the runner up though, because she seemed like she did great in Jackie. While I believe that every actress nominated here deserved to be there, Stone should win easily.
Bryan: I agree that Stone is a lock I believe she has won every major award so far and that should not stop at the Oscars. After playing supporting roles in acclaimed films like The Help and Birdman she finally got a chance to be the face of a major awards contender and she completely delivered.Streep is Streep and this nomination is a testament to that. I love Portman but this is Emma Stone’s year. I have not seen Elle but I do not think Rupert could top Stone.
Best Director: (Damien Chazelle, Mel Gibson, Denis Villenueve, Kenneth Lonergan, Barry Jenkins)
Gordon: If someone told me that Mel Gibson would be nominated for an Oscar for Best director two years ago, I would have asked them what drugs they were taking. Gibson has engineered quite a comeback with his film Hacksaw Ridge, however, he won’t win an Oscar. I do not think the Academy will be that forgiving with him. Mel should be proud of what he achieved with Hacksaw Ridge, it was a triumphant return to form for him. Barry Jenkins will have a much better chance of winning best director than Gibson will in my opinion. I just watched Moonlight yesterday and I was thoroughly impressed with it. I was impressed with Jenkins’s vision to include three different versions of Chiron. Although Moonlight was a very good film, I would have to give a slight edge to La La Land because of the joyful product Chazelle puts out. The music selections, choreography, chemistry of the leads, and the beautiful shots all come together to highlight the superb film that Chazelle created. I think that Manchester by the Sea will be further hindered by the Casey Affleck controversy. The Academy will not help Kenneth Lonergan out. I was not able to watch Arrival, but I could see it being a dark horse candidate for best picture.
Bryan: The winner for best director is simple to me. Both Moonlight and La La Land are fantastic films and both deserve numerous awards. I believe that whichever picture wins Best Picture, that they should come in second in Best Director. I may be Chazelle’s biggest fan but I appreciate Barry Jenkins’s work. Neither deserves to leave empty handed. It is worth mentioning that in my La La Land review I criticised Chazelle for taking too many home run swings in the director’s chair. Not every stylistic choice landed and sometimes felt flat. I also felt that Mel Gibson went over the top in a few scenes in Hacksaw Ridge.