The surplus of excellent films this year, the diversity of subject matter and people represented was, dare I say, tremendous. While the Academy settled on nine nominees for best picture, they easily could have added a tenth.
Here are my picks for this year’s annual scar contest. Again, voting from my heart. I refuse to vote strategically.
Best Picture – Moonlight
La La Land, Hidden Figures and Hell or High Water made me cheer. Arrival made me a proud Canadian. Fences, Lion, Hacksaw Ridge and Manchester By the Sea made me weep. But Moonlight moved me like no film has in a long, long time.
Best Director -Barry Jenkins
Denis Villeneuve – Arrival, Mel Gibson – Hacksaw Ridge, Damien Chazelle – La La Land, Kenneth Longergan – Manchester by the Sea, and Barry Jenkins – Moonlight are all the right nominees. For this award I am banking on my view of the quality of the nominations versus the quantity each director’s film has received. While La La might have more, Moonlight’s are heavier weighted and for that reason I’ve picked Barry Jenkins.
Best Actor – Denzel Washington
The actors in the category are fabulous this year. While Casey Affleck may be rumoured to be a jerk in real life, the boy can act. Andrew Garfield delivered a strong “passificist” performance. Ryan Gosling was dreamy and entertaining. Viggo was brilliant as wilderness dad. But Denzel directed himself in this incredibly nuanced performance, and so he wins my vote.
Best Actress – Isabelle Huppert
I am not convinced, nor are many others, that the Academy got the nominees for this one right this year. What about Annette Benning and Amy Adams? I’d say that Isabelle Huppert, Ruth Negga and Natalie Portman were probably good choices, but Emma Stone dancing and Meryl Streep screeching were not enough for me. While I hated Elle the film, I’m putting money on Isabelle Huppert in her portrayal of the victim turned predator. It is quite a performance.
Best Supporting – Actor Mahershala Ali
Sometimes you see a performance, and even though you haven’t seen all the year’s movies yet, you still know that its an award winning performance. Mahershala Ali in Moonlight is one of those performances. I do think that the Academy made good choices with the other nominees. Jeff Bridges, Lucas Hedges, Dev Patel and Michael Shannon should not be discouraged by Mahershala’s performance, but it is miles beyond all of theirs put together.
Best Supporting Actress -Viola Davis
The academy didn’t necessarily get the nominees right in the category either, plus they put them in the wrong categories. And maybe this is reassuring because if you think it tells us the parts for women are getting stronger. But no matter because Viola knocks it out of the yard. Naomie Harris, Nicole Kidman, Octavia Spencer and Michelle Williams better practice blubbering snot scenes because that is what it takes these days!
Best Original Screenplay – Manchester by the Sea
Kenneth Lonergan has won awards for his screenplay already, so I’m going with Manchester by the Sea for this one. It is a beautiful script. You forget you are watching a movie. It’s like you are watching peoples lives unfold in front of you. La La Land, The Lobster, Hell or High Water and 20th Century Women shouldn’t be discouraged, this was a brilliant script.
Best Adapted Screenplay – Moonlight
Fences was true to the play, Arrival was cool, Hidden Figures was witty and triumphant, Lion a true story of personal discovery , but Moonlight was a human story with depth and beauty that stayed with me for a long time.
Best Foreign Language – Toni Erdmann
I’ve only seen two of the nominees, The Salesman and Toni Erdmann, and hands down the father-daughter laugh out loud Toni Erdmann is a destined to be a classic. Usually I’ve seen all of the foreign films by now, but with my decision locked in early, I have not been in a rush to see the others. My apologies to Land of Mine (Denmark), A Man Called Ove (Sweden) and Tanna (Australia) as you are not getting fair consideration from me. Hope you get the attention you deserve from the Academy.
Best Documentary Feature -13th
I really did not enjoy Fire At Sea. It taught me how to make a slingshot and fold a neat bed, but I didn’t need to lose 2 hrs for that. This race is between OJ, 13th and I am Not Your Negro. Given I am a huge Ava DaVernay fan, she is getting my vote. 13th is an eye opening film that hopefully will start a dialogue around a pervasive issue in the US.
Best Animated Feature – Kubo and the Two Strings
I rely on my sixteen year old daughter, who is a budding animator for this category and her favourite was Kubo and the Two Strings. While the Zootopia might be cute, Kubo is different. I have not seen The Red Turtle, My Life as a Zucchini or Moana, but I will.
Best Cinematography – Lion
This one is tough. Can I pick them all? I am tempted to pick Silence just to show Martin Scorsese some love. Arrival, La La Land and Moonlight were all gorgeous, but I’m going with Lion on this one.
Best Film Editing -Hacksaw Ridge
I’m going with the film with the most editing for best editing because more probably means they worked harder and deserve an award.
Best Production Design -La La Land
La La Land was gorgeous, colourful and dreamy, I’ll give it that.
Best Costume Design – Jackie
Jackie took First Lady style to the next level.
Best Original Score – La La Land
La La Land is a musical, and a good one. Let’s recognize the music.
Best Original Song – City of Stars – La La Land
The only competition I see for La La Land’s City of Stars is The Trolls’ Can’t Stop the Feeling, but my money’s on City of Stars.
Best Visual Effects – Doctor Strange
I did not see Doctor Strange, but all I heard was how amazing the effects were.
Best Make-Up & Hair Styling – Star Trek Beyond
Star Trek is known for its wild and incredible alien transformations.
Best Sound Editing – Hacksaw Ridge
Say Hacksaw Ridge, it sounds harsh, it was. Lots of hacking, cracking, shooting and blowing up on that ridge.
Best Sound Mixing – Hacksaw Ridge
As I said, all that action needed mixing.
These next three are pure guesses…..
Best Live Action Short – Sing, Best Animated Short – Piper and Best Documentary Short – The White Helmets
As I was saying, possibly the best year for movies in a very long time.
I cannot wait for Sunday. May the speeches be long and appropriately political because while they may be elites, their voices will have a huge audience. It will be tremendous!