Tuesday, January 10, 2017

2016 Final Best Picture Predictions

Best Picture is a three way race right now.  Moonlight, La La Land and Manchester by the Sea are the only ones with a chance to win.  Moonlight is the progressive vote, the scrappy new voice that represents the current reality of race and sexuality.  La La Land is the nostalgic vote, a film about filmmaking and old fashioned idealism.  Manchester by the Sea is not as strong as the other two, but it will be an emotional vote.  Audiences are connecting with its themes about grief and it has a strong impact.  Manchester has the potential to sweep in if there is a divide between Moonlight and La La Land.

With the Academy's preferential voting system it doesn't seem like we will never see ten Best Picture nominees again.  There will be 8-9 nominees, I am going to predict 9 nominations because that is the usual number.  Hell or High Water and Arrival are sure nominees, but they don't have a chance at winning.  Fences and Hacksaw Ridge aren't as strong, but expect them to be among the 9 as well.  The final two will most likely be Lion and Hidden Figures, although if anything upsets those two will be out.

Here are my predictions and analysis for the Best Picture race:

La La Land
Manchester by the Sea
Hell or High Water
Moonlight gets the progressive vote.  After years of lacking diversity, this is a film that acknowledges race and sexuality in a powerful way.  Moonlight may be too small but that hasn’t stopped Hurt Locker and others from winning.  It is also not overexposed in the precursors; films that are preordained to win early on often fizzle out.  Moonlight is still being discovered and discussed.
La La Land gets the nostalgic vote.  It is comfortable and idealistic.  It is about Hollywood and voters can really respond to that (The Artist, Argo).  Musical films can feel really fresh after the genre not being popular for a while.  La La Land has enough serious contenders in directing, acting, writing and technical categories to be taken seriously.  But it missed out a SAG ensemble nomination and may be getting too many precursors, votes may look elsewhere after this being hyped for so long.
Manchester by the Sea gets the sentimental, emotional vote.  It is about grief, voters really respond to that.  Add in a frontrunner for Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay, this has a chance at winning.  However precursor support isn’t as heavy and Affleck’s controversies could still weigh it down.  It isn’t making the same impact as Moonlight or La La Land.  But it could benefit from vote splits between the two.  Manchester needs just enough voters to rank it Number One.  It may make a big enough emotional impact for that to happen.
This is a small summer limited release that became a sleeper and good word of mouth has grown.  It has a great ensemble and many are viewing this as a good look at Trump’s America.  This film is sympathetic to the working class American, which is an important issue.  It won’t have the support to win, but it is assured its nomination and will be up for several important categories.
This will be nominated for sure.  A critical success that had people talking and earned great box-office.  Amy Adams is a sign of quality and Denis Villeneuve has been working towards a Best Picture nominee.  This will be up for screenplay and important technical nominations.  It may not win much, but it will receive a lot of nods.
Hacksaw Ridge
Hidden Figures
Powerful drama incredibly adapted from an important play.  Plays don’t always translate to Oscar nominations but with the two strong lead performances and screenplay you can count on this nomination.
This earlier release has stayed in the conversation and done consistently well among precursors.  It is strong enough to get Gibson a directing nomination and Garfield his first acting nod.
Not a strong contender, but it has outlasted a lot of competition.  Expect it to be among the nominees.
If the Oscars make it to 9 films, Hidden Figures will be among them.  Its strong box-office shows real interest in this subject.  Octavia’s guaranteed nomination doesn’t hurt.  Not incredibly strong and might be left out if only 8 films are nominated.
Have Sully as the first alternate.  Doubtful ten films will ever be nominated again (Oscar voting is so messed up).  Sully did good business, had decent reviews and is associated with Eastwood and Hanks.  Good enough to make it in.
Florence Foster Jenkins
Nocturnal Animals
Respect for Scorsese is what will get this in.  But looking at precursor and the film’s overall potential nominations it is not looking great.
Loving just hasn’t received the precursor notice required.  More likely than other films, but it is pretty much out of the race.
Streep may be able to carry this film to a nomination.  It did good box-office and has a supporting actor nomination and potential writing nomination.  Just good enough to be a safe vote (ala Extremely Loud).
Some voting bodies are really responding to this, others are not.  Think this is out of the race for the most part.  Especially since Amy Adams nomination will be for Arrival.  Still strong enough to surprise.
Yes, this got a PGA nomination.  They have nominated other genre fare (Ex Machina) and films that don’t make it to the Oscars (Sicario).  Deadpool won’t make it in, but it has surprised enough that I have to mention it.

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