Monday, January 30, 2017

Top 25 Films of 2016 (5-1)

5. Captain America: Civil War (d. Joe and Anthony Russo, Disney)
The Marvel Cineamtic Universe has gotten to the point where it is all forward momentum.  This universe has been so well established that it just keeps growing in natural, fascinating ways.  Marvel can do what nobody else can: build upon years of character growth and focus on their consequences.  The juggling of almost every character in the MCU, along with the introductions to a few new ones, is an incredible feat of writing, direction and acting.  There is not a false beat in this movie, everything is absolutely earned.  Civil War is really a character driven drama that comes down to understandable ideologies that have been bubbling for several films.  On top of those emotional punches, the film is one of Marvel's greatest achievements in action filmmaking.  The airport fight in particular feels like an impossible accomplishment as it give screen time and equal competency to a dozen fighting heroes.  Civil War is thrilling, emotional and the reason you build a shared universe.

4. La La Land (d. Damien Chazelle, Lions Gate)
Creative and complex while feeling familiar and simple.  La La Land is movie that earns its strong sentimental response from audiences.  It has the sincerity of an classic musical, but it plays everything personal.  The lovely songs and performances are not about being grand, it is about emoting feeling and intention.  This is definitely the best performance of Emma Stone's career and Ryan Gosling continues to prove that he isn't afraid of the sentimentality many of his more serious peers would look down upon.  La La Land is relatable for anyone who has been in a relationship and had a dream while making a strong case for everyone to continue to love and dream.

3. Don't Think Twice (d. Mike Birbiglia, Film Arcade)
The movie I recognized the most this year was Birbiglia's ensemble film about improv.  I have been doing improv for a decade and this film gets it.  It pulls no punches in showing the real struggles of improvisers, with the competition, lack of career certainty and general anxiety.  But it is also loving and enthusiastic in presenting long-form improv in a way it has not been represented in movies before.  The entire ensemble is solid as a real-life team should be.  This one hit me hard, but it plays really well for audiences of any background.

2. Fences (d. Denzel Washington, Paramount)
This film brought together most of the cast of the recent Broadway revival and their familiarity shows.  Fences is the best ensemble and best all around acted film of the year.  You feel this family, all of the dynamics and all of their struggles.  You come to know them at such a deep level, which is in part because of August Wilson's brilliant script but also because of how Washington made the play cinematic.  Fences takes advantage of shooting on location which gives a better sense of the characters' world.  It is also smart in showing reaction shots, showing close-ups of a character's reaction, working the subtleties of the performances into the film's pacing.  As much as this is an ensemble film there is a reason that Washington and Viola Davis are getting the attention.  Davis plays a subtle supporting character until events push her into finally standing up in one of her best performances.  Washington has never been this good or this complex on screen.  Normally when actors direct themselves it is as heroes or martyrs.  Washington plays and presents himself as a very real man that is difficult to understand or like.  Fences will stay with you and it is a perfect preservation of one of America's greatest plays that will hopefully find a greater audience through this.

1. Moana (d. Ron Clements & John Musker, Disney)
No film made me happier than Moana.  I love Disney animation more than anything, and their best film of their revival period.  Moana is visually thrilling with its creative use of traditional animation, characterization of the sea and impeccably staged action sequences.  A lot of modern animated features focus on awkward humor or gags with little movement, Moana gets that animation should be about movement and it never feels like it stops moving.  Moana is also a welcome change from most studio animated features that overload their cast with forgettable characters to justify a large celebrity voice cast list.  Moana focuses on a few characters and how they relate to their environment.  Expressive character animation and creatively designed worlds continue to be Disney's strong suit that distinguishes their work from the competition.  The lush visuals are bolstered by the grand score and memorable songs.

The theme of a restless youth struggling to fit in while living the life that they want has been in every Ron Clements and John Musker film since The Little Mermaid.  That theme may be expressed the best in this film.  Moana, one of Disney's best leading characters, is a character anyone can relate to or look up to.  She is adventurous, but full of frustration and self-doubt.  The animation on the character is one of the best performances of the year.

There is so much to gush about with this film.  It is fun, but means a lot too.  Worth noting is that while Disney struggled with diversity before they finally get it right.  Casting voices and hiring key crew members of the represented culture really makes all of the difference.  Moana never pats itself on the back for its diversity or acts comments about its positive female lead, it just presents these things as the status quo and it works.

This film features traditional animation from Eric Goldberg (best part of the film), it was going to be near the top of my list no matter what.  But this is a perfect Disney movie and I hope you all see it.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Top 25 Films of 2016 (15-6)

15. Pete's Dragon (d. David Lowry, Disney)
Far and away the best film to come out of Disney's recent live-action fairy tale brand.  David Lowry took a known title but made it all his own.  Finding the beauty in the story of a boy and his invisible caretaker, the film becomes one of the most touching and pleasant films of the year.  All of the emotional beats are absolutely earned, not a false note present.  Keeping this movie personal and intimate is a welcome change from the dramatic revisionism of Disney's other recent live-action films.  The animation of Elliot is lifelike enough, but it never loses the fantasy of the character.  Also the movie has a good message about not turning to vengeance if you are scared and embarrassed, which is sadly very topical.

14. Hell or High Water (d. David Makenzie, Lions Gate)
Also very topical is this little sleeper that could that is a good look at the hardships of Trump's America.  This is gorgeously shot and performed in a way that shows an authenticity for the setting and lifestyle.  This is one of the films where the actors rise above their written characters.  This is Pine's best leading role and Ben Foster should really be getting more attention.  The best part of the film though is its clever plotting and surprising execution of the bank robberies.  This is the best heist films in a long time and a very solid modern Western.

13. Arrival (d. Denis Villeneuve, Paramount)
Arrival has a clever script that doesn't call out its own cleverness, it has the confidence to let the audience catch on at their own pace.  Things are not explicitly stated, there is a sense of discovery with this movie which is the best way to dramatize its theme of communication.  This is a smart movie that doesn't play down or look down on audiences, which is why I think it received such a strong response.  In addition to the writing the directing, editing and non-flashy special effects are all among the best of the year.  But this film would not have been anything without Amy Adams in the lead.  Her character doesn't have a traditional character arc, which is refreshing to see work so well.  Adams has to play emotions without giving away the entire movie, there are things always present with her that you need to notice but not pay too much attention to.  The timeline of her emotions is not linear, but she makes it work so effectively.  This is the best performance of Adams' career and the movie hinges entirely on her.

12. Hello, My Name is Doris (d. Michael Showalter, Roadside) 
The tone feels old fashioned, but the commentary is very sharp and relevant.  Sally Field proves why she is a screen legend in this return to form.  Field as the spunky but complex Doris is an absolute star performance.  Max Greenfield stretches from his New Girl persona quite ably in this and Tyne Daly gets some of the biggest laughs in any movie this year.  The script and direction from comedian Showalter brings a strong take and attitude that his strong ensemble completely runs with.  The comedy set-ups and emotional pay-offs leave an impact.  This is the type of movie we really should see more of.

11. The Lobster (d. Yorgos Lanthimos, A24)
Among the strangest films this year, The Lobster explores every possible implication of its unique premise.  The film spends quite a bit of time slowly exploring the set-up until it completely changes settings.  This dramatic shift fits the tone of the movie and works to escalate the beginning weirdness.  This works as a slow-paced science fiction film because it has such an interesting take on love and relationships.  Once again Colin Farrell proves his strength as a character actor.  This is a complicated, uncomfortable, pathetic role and he could not be any better.  The straight forward dialogue and the stilted delivery from the cast helps the weirdness to make sense.  The Lobster is beautiful to look at, but difficult to watch and times and confusing afterwards.  A one of a kind experience that leads to some fantastic discussions.

10. The Nice Guys (d. Shane Black, WB)
Once again Shane Black's unique personality, talent for memorable characters and creativity with action makes for one of the most entertaining movies of the year.  Few movies made me laugh more or enjoy myself more than this dysfunctional buddy comedy.  Pairing the intense Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe in a fairly broad comedy could have been a disaster, but Black clearly knew what he wanted from each character.  This is the most exciting Russell Crowe has felt on screen in a long-time and Gosling shows some amazing slapstick chops without losing the dramatic aspects of his character.  Special mention also to young Angourie Rice who out acts most young performers in her age group.  The Nice Guys should have been a big summer hit, this would have played amazing in large audiences.  But there is still a chance to discover and enjoy it.

9. Doctor Strange (d. Scott Derrickson, Disney)
Marvel's second wave of character introductions have a solid set-up: add a different flavor and play with the set up of a traditional Marvel film.  Guardians had the flavor of pop space adventure, Ant-Man had the flavor of comedy sci-fi assisted heist, Doctor Strange has the flavor of trippy mysticism.  Strange himself is a great character that the film beautiful sets up as an almost irredeemable jerk.  His jokes don't play like Tony Stark's and his tragedy is directly tied to his unlikable qualities.  Strange himself is one of Marvel's better leads and he helped by a fun, memorable supporting cast.  The visual style feels right out of a Steve Ditko comic.  This movie is full of set-pieces that change up Marvel's traditional action scenes.  The use of astral plane, levitation cloaks, sling rings and more changes the look, choreography and pacing.  Doctor Strange is just a blast and is yet another Marvel film that adds something special to their growing cinematic universe.

8. Zootopia (d. Byron Howard & Chris Williams, Disney)
Presenting personal prejudice and institutional obstructions in a way that anybody can recognize without resorting to heavy handedness or getting caught up in too many real world comparisons.  It is amazing to think about how Zootopia accomplished what people wanted Crash to accomplish in so much more effectively.  We get to see how prejudices work, not just in bad guys but in heroes.  The comedy and excellent chase scenes helps to keep the message from feeling overwhelming.  This is a movie you enjoy, which makes the serious scenes stand out more.  Disney is in their revival period and they keep knocking them out of the park as they continue to experiment with genre and tone.  Judy Hopps is one of Disney's best all-time lead characters and Zootopia features the level of expressive character animation and complete world building you can't find from other animation studios.

7. Moonlight (d. Barry Jenkins, A24)
Moonlight is one of the most affecting love stories in any film.  Splitting the story into three distinct parts with three different actors for the main character was a brave, genius decision.  It allows the audience to get to know Chiron on such a deep level.  Not just who he is, but where he came.  Seeing the events of a child and teenager unfold into an adult is sure to elicit an emotional response from anybody.  Moonlight will make you feel betrayed, frustrated and confused.  But it is the love story that is waiting to break out that leaves an impact.  Despite all of the difficult things that happened, there are these two men that are experiencing a connection in a slow, meaningful way.  Mahershala Ali and Naomi Harris give their best work in this film, but the ensemble is uniformly excellent with Janelle Monae and the young performers.  The ones that leave the most impact is Trevante Rhodes and Andre Holland with their incredibly moving diner scene in the final segment.  Can't wait to see where writer-director Barry Jenkins goes from here.

6. Kubo and the Two Strings (d. Travis Knight, Focus)
After four films I understand what Laika is about.  They make fantastic morality tales about children that are inspired by creative adults to challenge the cynicism and injustice of their world.  That theme is very much present in Kubo, one of the year's most creative films and biggest visual treats.  Laika will make you believe that stop-motion can do anything, as Kubo shows you a world of adventure.  The designs and cinematography is among the best of any film, stop-motion or otherwise.  The story about Kubo choosing the beauty of the Earth over the cruelness of immortality is a great one for an adventure.  And the two strings from the title really mean something as you will come to care about Kubo and his companions.  Special mention to Matthew McConaughey whose persona completely disappears in this thrilling film.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Top 25 Films of 2016 (25-16)

I have seen 43 films that were released theatrically in 2016.  I know there are a lot more and there are a lot more movies that I would like to see.  But while I go to a lot of movies, I don't have the urgency to keep up with everything anymore.  There is just too much content and if I don't see something, then it is always going to be there.  So if you see a film not represented on the list it is probably just because there are a lot of movies and these are the ones I saw.

For the most part I liked almost everything I saw.  Or at least I found some value in almost every film.  So instead of just doing a top 10 I decided to do a top 25.  These are my 25-16th favorite films that I saw from last year.

Image result for office christmas party 2016
25. Office Christmas Party (d. Josh Gordon & Will Speck, Paramount)
A very well written comedy that excels in setting up memorable gags and turns.  Simple premise that escalates in pleasing bits, just an enjoyable time.  The main reason this film is worth mentioning is its strong ensemble of comedy mainstays.  Karan Soni, Sam Richardson and Vanessa Bayer excel in their first major film roles.  T.J. Miller shows some real sincerity, Courtney B. Vance is fun against type and Jillian Bell continues her run as a breakout supporting player.  Jennifer Aniston is a great bad guy, she really does better in these harsher roles (Wanderlust, Horrible Bosses, We're the Millers) than the America's Sweetheart attempts.  The MVP is unsurprisingly Kate McKinnon as the tightly wound HR Director.  This one got overlooked, but it is a good time.

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24. Kung Fu Panda 3 (d. Jennifer Yuh Nelson & Alessandro Carloni, Fox)
The Kung Fu Panda series has been consistently good and this might be its best one.  Po continues to grow as a character into a teacher rather than a fish out of water.  But, he still has that relatable self-doubt that makes him Po.  The addition of Po's birth father and the tension with his adopted father is a strong, surprising emotional subplot that blended families should appreciate.  The world of the Kung Fu masters and villains continues to be inventive and creative in its exciting action scenes.  A solid end to a good trilogy.

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23. Central Intelligence (d. Rawson Thurber Marshall, WB)
 One of the most topical movies of the year is the little talked about Central Intelligence.  This is a buddy comedy about a former jock and a kid who was bullied in high school.  Central Intelligence is very much about the affects of bullying and celebrates overcoming it.  This is a positive message from a comedy and it absolutely works and is never forced.  This is mainly because Dwayne Johnson delivers the performance of the year.  He plays affable and a natural action star perfect as always, but this is clearly a character who carries his past with him.  You understand why people aren't comfortable with this guy and you see how it always stays with Johnson.  He has amazing chemistry with Kevin Hart, who holds his own against The Rock.  This is a fun comedy with some depth and holds up well in multiple viewings.

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22. Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising (d. Nicholas Stoeller, Univeral)
Comedy sequels are rarely good, but Neighbors 2 justifies its existence easily.  It grows the characters in natural new ways.  Rogen, Efron, Byrne and Franco all feel like natural progressions from the memorable first film.  The returning players are welcome with Gallo, Buress, Kudrow, Carmichael, Mintz-Plasse and especially Barinholtz delivering laughs.  The new addition of Chloe Grace Moretz is really what keeps the film from being a complete retread.  Focusing on a girl shows the set-up of the first film in a new light and is honest about the sketchy reality of frat culture in regards to women.  Moretz has her own character arc, advances the other players and is just a great comedic talent who continues to grow.

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21. Star Trek Beyond (d. Justin Lin, Paramount)
The best Star Trek film yet in the reboot series.  This is a perfect ensemble adventure.  Focusing on pairs of characters really showcased the team perfectly.  Urban remains an MVP as Bones, but Pegg gets better material as Scotty and Quinto finds fun new things for Spock.  The new additions of Sofia Boutella and Idris Elba work great, these are physical performances that can express under the excellent makeup.  The storyline for the villain is great and surprising.  The finale is exciting and the film has a lot more energy than the usual blockbuster.  Could easily see one of these a year if they could keep it up.

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20. Finding Dory (d. Andrew Stanton, Disney)
So I am a huge animation fan, but I have never understood the adoration for Finding Nemo.  It isn't bad, but it never grabbed me as much more than a bunch of overused catchphrases.  Finding Dory on the other hand won me over.  Part of it is understanding families who have children with different abilities.  Dory is really effective at showing the concern many parents have for their children.  The addition of Hank helps a lot as he is an endlessly fun character.  Pixar continues to make some of the best escape sequences in film and the clear geography for the aquatic center is astounding.

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19. 10 Cloverfield Lane (d. Dan Trachtenberg, Paramount)
 Don't get caught up in the Cloverfield brand name, enjoy it for what it is: an incredibly-paced, creative thriller.  Dan Trachtenberg makes a strong debut as he masters tension and directs strong performances.  Mary Elizabeth Winstead is a great final girl, but John Goodman gives a career best performance.  This is not an easy character to figure out or watch, but Goodman leaves a strong impact.

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18. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (d. Gareth Edwards, Disney)
Last year The Force Awakens was my favorite movie of the year, this one Rogue One is not.  And that is absolutely fine, because that means we aren't getting the same Star Wars movie every year.  This film had so many humps to get past and I am excited for the future of these anthology films.  Looking just at this film it is a blast.  Get a lot of new fun characters (Donnie Yen and Ben Mendelsohn, ftw) and settings.  The final battle, which is comparable to the lengthy finale to The Avengers, is the real reason to see the movie.  Gareth Edwards is so strong in staging action scenes and the non-stop battle makes this the first real "war" movie.  Incredible action and editing.  It is also great to see Darth Vader being terrifying again, he was used perfectly.

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17. Passengers (d. Morten Tyldum, Sony)
 The most misunderstood movie of the year was definitely Passengers.  I understand the controversy, but I dislike that it is keeping us from having a real conversation about the movie.  The film has some real complex dilemmas, but they don't endorse them or write them off.  Passengers deals with them and there are consequences.  It is a shame because this film brings up a lot of important issues with our social media age.  This is big idea, high-concept, original sci-fi.  Chris Pratt gives his deepest performance, it is a shame he is being overlooked.  Jennifer Lawrence also does great work that is more subtle.  The production design is gorgeous, special effects are creative and the world is an awe to see on the big screen.  Which is where you should see it if you still can.

16. Swiss Army Man (d. Daniel Scheinert & Daniel Kwan, A24)
This is the weirdest premise for a film, but it is also one of the sweetest films this year.  A man stranded on an island befriends a corpse with odd abilities.  This movie is about accepting things that are unusual and the freedom to love what you love.  Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe are effective with their somewhat static, understated characters.  The fact that they can show growth is a major accomplishment, especially with Radcliffe's commitment to his seemingly inexpressive physicality.  The film is funny and has some real creative staging.  It also features a memorable score.  This is almost like a lullaby, it has a simple message and tells it in a comfortable, intentional way.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

2016 Final Academy Award Predictions

Still have the Director's Guild of America nominations coming out before the Oscar nominations are announced, but I feel strongly enough to make my final predictions for the 2016 Academy Awards.  Click on the following links to view the predictions.

My Oscar predictions are based on following the race, precursors and various Oscar pundits.  My Oscar predictions are not a reflection of my personal favorite films (I can do a post about that later).  This is solely who I think will be nominated and win at this year's Academy Awards.  If I do not mention your favorite movie or who you think should win, that is not a criticism on you.  This is strictly Oscar predictions.  If you are offended by Oscar nominations omitting a movie, then you shouldn't be following the race.

2016 Final Best Animated Feature Predictions

This has been a good year for animation.  Disney's animation revival continues as they should earn their third Oscar in four years with Zootopia.  Disney will also have another nominee with Moana.  Laika will continue there perfect streak with Kubo and the Two Strings.  Expect the two traditional foreign film slots to go to My Life as a Zucchini from GKids and The Red Turtle.  Although there is enough strong competition for potential surprises.

Here are my predictions and analysis for Best Animated Feature:

Kubo and the Two Strings
My Life as a Zucchini
The Red Turtle
Critical darling from early in the year that performed incredibly at the box-office despite being an original film.  Zootopia is the animated film cleaning up in the precursors and having a presence on top ten lists.  This is the animated film to beat this year.  This will get Disney their third animation Oscar.
Oscars love stop-motion and Laika’s previous three films have been nominated.  Kubo is a lock for a nomination and is a strong number two in the category.  Not going to be Laika’s year, but expect them to keep being a staple in this category.
Moana would have been a frontrunner in almost any year, but 2016 was really good for animation.  The film isn’t as hugely discussed as Zootopia and didn’t make Frozen phenomenon status.  It is a lock for a nomination, but no precursors are really waving the flag for this win.
French-Swiss stop-motion film that has been performing well in precursors.  GKids is a staple at the Oscars now and they have several titles in contention.  The main reason Zucchini wouldn’t be nominated in this category is that it is also eligible for Foreign Language film (think Waltz with Bashir being nominated as a documentary rather than animated feature.
New Studio Ghibli film.  Better received Ghibli films have missed out in this category and this one isn’t directed by Miyazaki.  There are a lot of strong American studio features this year and Red Turtle may get left out.  Sony Pictures Classics has gotten Triplets of Belleville and The Illusionist nominations, but they aren’t as consistent as GKids with the Oscars.
Finding Dory
Miss Hokusai
Sausage Party
Secret Life of Pets
Pixar seems to be a given unless it is The Good Dinosaur or a non-Toy Story sequel.  Finding Dory could go either way.  It is better than Cars 2 or Monsters University, but it isn’t beloved Pixar.  Disney is going to put more power between Zootopia and Moana.  Pixar may sit out again this year.
Oscars nominated Illumination once before for Despicable Me 2.  Illumination is a newer studio with some big hits.  Sing has the edge as it is more recent and better received.  Would not be surprised to see this among the nominees.
One of many strong foreign and independent contenders this year.  These are tough to predict because their nominations can come out of nowhere.  GKids may be able to get Miss Hokusai nominated along with My Life as a Zucchini.  They have been able to get two films nominated a few times before.
Well-received and financially successful.  This film has the narrative of being edgy and Rogen has been talking up getting an Oscar nomination.  The narrative is definitely there, but the precursors aren’t.  This category hasn’t necessarily shut out adult animation, but it isn’t ever from American studios.  Although Sony Pictures Animation has scored a few nominations in the past, it is possible.
Still in the conversation.  This was one of the biggest hits of the year and this category responds to that.  Can’t see this and Sing getting nominated, but it could pull ahead of Sing based on name recognition alone.
Kung Fu Panda 3
The Little Prince
The Long Way North
Your Name
The previous two Kung Fu Panda films have been nominated and this was a good movie.  With Katzenberg finally having sold Dreamworks he won’t likely be campaigning much this year.  Should have showed up in more precursors by now.
This is the type of film that could normally be considered a lock in this category, but it is a streaming film.  Had Paramount released it, at least in a qualifying run, it could be a different story.  But the Oscars have not embraced Netflix yet.  Although this is the category that could push that envelope.
Danish film with an Annie Nomination.  Unfortunately it is released by Shout Factory, not GKids.  These smaller distributors haven’t shown an ability to affect the Oscars.  They will most likely not be campaigning.
Same story as The Long Way North.  Released by Funimation, not GKids.  Definitely a movie that people are responding to, but it needs an established distributor that can play the Oscar game.
Performed well enough and is liked well enough to remain in the conversation, but it won’t make the final cut.  Will be overshadowed by Finding Dory, Sausage Party, Sing, Secret Life of Pets and Kung Fu Panda 3 if any other studio feature makes the nominated five.

2016 Final Best Supporting Actress Predictions

The nominees for this category seemed set in stone a month ago.  All the precursors pretty much agree on this lineup.  Viola Davis will finally win her Oscar for FencesMichelle Williams could surprise if Manchester by the Sea sweeps the night.  But Viola has this in the bag.

The other remaining slots are going to go to Naomie Harris for Moonlight, Nicole Kidman for Lion and Octavia Spencer for Hidden FiguresGreta Gerwig and Janelle Monae both had good years in multiple films, but aren't strong enough to break into the five nominees.

Here are my predictions and analysis for Best Supporting Actress:

Viola Davis,
Michelle Williams,
Manchester by the Sea
Naomie Harris,
Nicole Kidman,
Octavia Spencer,
Hidden Figures
Hard-working, veteran actress with previous Oscar nominations.  She was once a frontrunner for The Help and lost to Streep.  It is Viola’s time and this is an amazing performance that none of these others are matching.
A critical favorite actress who has not won at the Oscars yet.  She is the one who could surprise, but she is going to have to wait longer.
Actress who has been around a long-time that has not been seriously up for an Oscar until now.  Moonlight gives her a small, but pivotal role.  She will ride the film’s good will to her first nomination.
Despite not being a big star anymore, Kidman can still stay in the Oscar conversation.  This is her first successful awards bait role in a while.  She has been up for enough precursors to get a nomination.
Octavia hasn’t been back to the Oscars since she won for The Help (even though she has done consistently strong work, namely in Fruitvale Station).  It is time for her to be recognized again.  She has some internal competition with Monae, but Spencer has been getting the precursor nods.
Greta Gerwig,
20th Century Women
Janelle Monae,
Hidden Figures
Helen Mirren,
Eye in the Sky
Molly Shannon,
Other People
Janelle Monae,
Gerwig is a critical, indie darling who hasn’t been up for the Oscars yet.  Pundits keep mentioning her in this role, but she’s missed out on the precursors.  Still not Gerwig’s time.
Monae has been having a good year with this and Moonlight.  She has as good of a chance at upsetting as anybody.  Although she will probably miss out this year, she can ride this year to future nominations.
Mirren is one of those names that is always in contention, even if people aren’t talking much about her.  This was a well-received film, but there doesn’t seem to be much of a campaign in place.
Comedic performer delivering a dramatic performance can sometimes be a winning formula, but we would have seen Molly show up more before now if anything was going to happen.
Again, she’s had a good year and is very good in a small role.  There aren’t too many other names to seriously consider.  But if she makes it for anything it will be Hidden Figures.
Greta Gerwig,
Margo Martindale,
The Hollars
Margaret Bowman,
Hell or High Water
Elle Fanning,
20th Century Women
Gugu Mbatha-Raw,
Miss Sloane
Gerwig has also been in the conversation for Jackie, but that film isn’t a strong contender.  Portman isn’t a strong enough acting contender to carry Gerwig to a nomination for this film.
Veteran actress that has been in the Oscar conversation early on before.  She needs the right role, because this film has been all but forgotten.
Not a big name, but she had the small waitress role that kind of stole the show.  Hell or High Water is going to be up for enough Oscars that this could have been conceivable in another year.
With this and Live by Night, Elle Fanning is definitely working towards Oscar consideration.  But neither film will be strong enough to carry her.
Mbatha-Raw is just waiting for her breakout role.  She is a hardworking actress that critics like, but not going to be her year yet.

2016 Final Best Supporting Actor Predictions

Supporting Actor is probably the weakest category.  As usual there is one strong frontrunner (Mahershala Ali for Moonlight) that kind of overshadows the rest which don't seem as notable.  Hugh Grant will get a career nomination for Florence Foster Jenkins and Jeff Bridges will represent his ensemble for Hell or High Water.  But neither represents the strongest work of the year.  Dev Patel should get his first nomination for Lion, but he is a more vulnerable nominee than the other aforementioned three.

Which leaves a fifth slot that could go several ways, none of them all that strong of contenders.  Going with my gut with Michael Shannon representing the cast of Nocturnal Animals.  But if Manchester by the Sea becomes the favorite we could see Lucas Hedges, if Hell or High Water does incredibly we could see Ben Foster alongside Bridges, Aaron Taylor-Johnson may end up as the representative for Nocturnal Animals instead of Shannon.  But it could also be a less likely contender.  Moonlight, Fences and Silence all have strong male heavy ensembles.  This is the category with room for a surprise nominee this year.

Here are my predictions and analysis for Best Supporting Actor: 

Mahershala Ali,
Hugh Grant,
Florence Foster Jenkins
Jeff Bridges,
Hell or High Water
Dev Patel,
Michael Shannon,
Nocturnal Animals
The clear frontrunner who has been cleaning up every precursor, except the Globes.  Nobody is strong enough to beat him at this point without a SAG win.
This will be his career nomination.  Meryl Streep will carry him to the Oscars for the first-time.  But doesn’t seem strong enough for a win.
Bridges has been representing his ensemble on this surprisingly strong sleeper.  He won recently enough for a similar performance that this won’t get him a second Oscar, but he will get a nomination.
Missed out for Slumdog Millionaire, but this category is open enough for him to finally get a nomination.  He is not quite strong enough to be considered a lock, but has better chances than others.
One of the hardest working supporting players who got his second Oscar last year.  May be too soon for another, but he is the most likely representative of his ensemble.  Although missing out at the Globes (to Taylor-Johnson who won) makes his chances unsure.
Lucas Hedges,
Manchester by the Sea
Ben Foster,
Hell or High Water
Aaron Taylor-Johnson,
Nocturnal Animals
Mykelti Williamson,
Adam Driver,
If Hedges is nominated, you can officially consider Manchester by the Sea as the Oscar frontrunner.  But he is an unknown name that hasn’t been up for many precursors.  This is a weak enough category where it could happen, but betting on not.
Hell or High Water has been doing amazing with precursors and Foster has received some mentions.  He has the flashiest role in the movie and could get in along with Bridges.  If Hell or High Water really resonates with voters then Foster could sneak in here.  He is bound to get a nomination eventually.
Taylor-Johnson not only was nominated for a Golden Globe, he won over Ali, Bridges and Patel.  He was also just nominated for a BAFTA, he may be stronger than expected.  But Globes can often fluke in this category and it is weak enough for a fluke precursor to happen.  Nocturnal Animals isn’t an incredibly strong contender, but Taylor-Johnson could still surprise.
Fences has an amazing ensemble, but only Denzel and Viola seem to be up for any awards.  Out of the four men, Mykelti is the best known name and has the most Oscar friendly role.  The four could cancel each other out.  Fences isn’t a strong enough contender to necessarily carry many surprise acting nominations.
Another ensemble with plenty of great actors that haven’t been in contention.  Driver’s career is getting to the right place for an Oscar nomination, but he isn’t strong enough yet.  Could cancel out votes with Liam Neeson, Issey Ogata and Tadanobu Asano.  None of whom haven’t received precursor notice.
Andre Holland,
Stephen McKinley Henderson,
Aaron Eckhart,
Peter Sarsgaard,
Alan Rickman,
Eye in the Sky
Andre Holland and Trevante Rhodes are an important part of Moonlight’s success, along with the younger versions of Chiron and Kevin.  But Ali and Harris are the only members of the ensemble getting awards attention.  Holland has the edge on the rest with name recognition, but they should have appeared before now.
Last year, Mark Rylance, a stage veteran won in this category despite not having notable screen credits.  Henderson is similar, but should have been in the conversation before now.  Category is weak enough for surprises, but Fences doesn’t seem to be producing them.
Seemed likely earlier in the season when Sully opened great.  But the film has fallen out of serious awards contention and Eckhart will have to wait longer for his Oscar nomination.
Like Eckhart, Sarsgaard’s first nomination seemed possible earlier.  But Jackie is not up for much.  Natalie Portman will be getting a nomination, but she isn’t strong enough to bring other actors with her.
Oscars don’t always give a sentimental nomination, but it has happened.  Rickman’s final screen appearance was in a well-received film, albeit one that was released earlier and isn’t up for serious consideration.  Rickman unfortunately has not been nominated for any Oscars, but doubtful he will get his career nomination.