Does La La Land make it a clean sweep? Oscar Predictions for the 2017 Academy Awards

Many people watch the Oscars for the more flashy categories like acting and picture.  My favorite categories have always been the other fifteen unsung heroes.  I truly geek out at all the technical areas and usually find many of my favorite films hanging out in the cinematography and screenplay categories. If you want to win your Oscar pool this is the place to come. However, this year is one of those years where I’m not so sure the love is going to be spread around as much.  Does LA LA LAND make it a clean sweep with its fourteen nominations? Well it’s going to have to go through the gauntlet of competition in technical awards if it wants to make history of winning more than eleven.  My Oscar Predictions for the 2017 Academy Awards doesn’t quite have it winning everything. But that could also be where I get things wrong.

Best Animated Feature
“Kubo and the Two String”
“Moana”
“My Life as a Zucchini”
“The Red Turtle”
“Zootopia”

While I have a lot of respect for all the nominees here, my allegiance to my two year-old daughter has me rooting for MOANA.  But I was originally all about the race relation themes of ZOOTOPIA so I definitely won’t be disappointed if the film with the greatest cultural issues wins.  KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS is also one to look out for since it landed a second nomination in the Visual Effects category.

Winner: ZOOTOPIA

Zootopia

Best Documentary
“13th”
“Fire at Sea”
“I Am Not Your Negro”
“Life, Animated”
“O.J.: Made in America”

I saw a ton of great Documentaries this past year.  A few of my favorites didn’t make the cut but it was a tough year with some exceptional documentaries.  I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO could be the surprise. 13TH may get the edge because many thought the director, Ava DuVernay, was snubbed for SELMA a few years back.  However, I think the winner will go to everyone’s pop cultural obsession with a certain football player’s murder case.

Winner: O.J.: MADE IN AMERICA

Best Foreign Language Film
“A Man Called Ove”
“Land of Mine”
“Tanna”
“The Salesman”
“Toni Erdmann”

A lot of times there is a clear frontrunner.  But I’m not so sure this time around.  A MAN CALLED OVE is my personal favorite.  I also really like TONI ERDMANN and Hollywood has already decided to make an American version with Jack Nicholson and Kristen Wiig in the leads. So the Academy may want to draw less attention to the original. THE SALESMAN celebrates American author Tennessee Williams and his famous play “Death of a Salesman”.  U.S.A.! U.S.A.!

Winner: THE SALESMAN (Director Asgar Farhadi also directed 2012’s winner A SEPARATION)

Best Adapted Screenplay
“Arrival” – Eric Heisserer
“Fences” – August Wilson
“Hidden Figure” – Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi
“Lion” – Luke Davies
“Moonlight” – Barry Jenkins and Tarell McCraney

The second place film that won’t win Best Picture, usually wins one of the next two categories.

Winner: MOONLIGHT

Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Lucas Hedges in Manchester By The Sea

Best Original Screenplay
“20th Century Women” – Mike Mills
“Hell or High Water” – Taylor Sheridan
“La La Land” – Damien Chazelle
“The Lobster” – Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou
“Manchester by the Sea” – Kenneth Lonergan

There’s two second place films this year that won’t win Best Picture.  Although LA LA LAND could pull an upset, this is the only chance to reward MANCHESTER BY THE SEA.  I would like to make a shout out to two other favorite films of mine in this category – HELL OR HIGH WATER and THE LOBSTER who will go home empty handed.

Winner: MANCHESTER BY THE SEA

Best Original Song
“Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” – “La La Land”
“City of Stars” – “La La Land”
“Can’t Stop the Feeling!” – “Trolls”
“The Empty Chair” – “Jim: The James Foley Story”
“How Far I’ll Go” – “Moana”

This is a rare year where I actually really like all the songs. I’m happy Justin Timberlake’s upbeat summer song for TROLLS got a nomination but I’m not sure it’s Oscar worthy.  Once again my heart leans toward the song that resonates with my daughter the most, which is for MOANA. Coincidentally it’s also written by current “it” man Lin Manuel who will be the youngest person to achieve the rare EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony) if he wins.  LA LA LAND could split its vote to help make that happen but ultimately I think the main song for the one Best Picture nominee will win.

Winner: “City of Stars” – LA LA LAND

Best Original Score
“Jackie” – Mica Levi
“La La Land” – Justin Hurwitz
“Lion” – Dustin O’Halloran and Hauschka
“Moonlight” – Nicholas Brittle
“Passengers” – Thomas Newman

The Best Picture frontrunner also happens to be the only musical nominated.  If the only musical nominated can’t win Best Score does it really deserve to win Best Picture?

Winner: LA LA LAND

Ryan Gosling in La La Land

Best Cinematography

“Arrival”
“La La Land”
“Lion”
“Moonlight”
“Silence”

LA LA LAND isn’t just beautiful, it’s magical.  I think it will put a spell on voters. It is nice to see SILENCE get at least one nomination in this category.

Winner: LA LA LAND

Best Production Design
“Arrival”
“Fantastic Beasts and “Where to Find Them”
“Hail, Caesar!”
“La La Land”
“Passengers”

Even naysayers have to agree, every detail in the vibrantly colorful surreal view of Hollywood is mesmerizing.

Winner: LA LA LAND

Best Visual Effects
“Deepwater Horizon”
“Doctor Strange”
“The Jungle Book”
“Kubo and the Two Strings”
“Rogue One” A Star Wars Story”

DEEPWATER HORIZON looks good but is a surprising nominee. DOCTOR STRANGE did some really neat stuff. Any STAR WARS film always deserves consideration.  KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS accomplishes a rare feat as an animation nominated in this category, last accomplished by A NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS.  I think this will go to the very impressive and difficult task of bringing animals to live action.

Winner: THE JUNGLE BOOK

The Jungle Book

Best Costume Design
“Allied”
“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”
“Florence Foster Jenkins”
“Jackie”
“La La Land”

This is another spot where many might want to just keep checking the LA LA LAND box even though the beautiful clothing was a simple modern day wardrobe. I’m going against the grain and going with the many looks of Jackie Kennedy with a little help from the art production and cinematography who helped it pop and sizzle more than usual.

Winner:  JACKIE

Best Makeup and Hair Styling
“A Man Called Ove”
“Star Trek Beyond”
“Suicide Squad”

An interesting category that I think wins by a process of elimination.  Not everyone will have seen the foreign film A MAN CALLED OVE.  SUICIDE SQUAD was not widely well-received.  So that leaves a choice to go boldly where no man Star Trek film has gone before

Winner: STAR TREK BEYOND

Simon Pegg in Star Trek Beyond

Best Film Editing
“Arrival”
“Hacksaw Ridge”
“Hell or High Water”
“La La Land”
“Moonlight”

The Best Picture winner usually wins this but I actually think I like the other four nominees better here.  It’s going to really depend on how many awards you think LA LA LAND will win.  ARRIVAL probably deserves to win but…

Winner: LA LA LAND

Best Sound Editing
“Arrival”
“Deepwater Horizon”
“Hacksaw Ridge”
“La La Land”
“Sully”

War films have a habit of winning this category.  However, ARRIVAL or LA LA LAND could easily slip in for the steal.

Winner: HACKSAW RIDGE

Best Sound Mixing
“13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi”
“Arrival”
“Hacksaw Ridge”
“La La Land”
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”

Musicals always win this category.  And what do you know, we have one.

Winner: LA LA LAND

Best Short Films

I never pretend to have an inside knowledge of the shorts. I read their synopsis and take a wild guess. Sometimes I hit and sometimes I miss.
Animated Short: PIPER
Live Action Short: SING
Documentary Short: JOE’S VIOLIN

Check out:

Denzel Washington, Casey Affleck or Ryan Gosling? The 2017 Oscar Predictions for Acting

Can anything beat La La Land in the Best Picture Race? The 2017 Oscar Breakdown and Predictions for Picture and Director

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