Oscars With Josh #8: Independent Film Leads The Pack

This was my first weekend in a while that I haven’t gone to the movies. Starting with Hell or High Water at the end of August, it has been a pretty good couple of weeks for movies. Specifically, it’s been good for the “movies for grown ups” genre. Hell or High Water, Sully, Snowden, The Magnificent Seven, The Birth of a Nation (RIP it’s Oscar chances), even The Accountant can be respected for not being a dumb blockbuster (make no mistake, it’s still bad). Out of all of those films, it is looking like Sully will make waves in the Oscar race, I’m still hoping Hell or High Water is recognized across the board (a screenplay and supporting nod for Jeff Bridges is most likely to happen).

This weekend saw the release of Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, that Madea Halloween film, and Keeping Up With The Joneses. Needless to say, I took a break from my local multiplex. Strange enough, next week will be the same, I have approximately .02% interest in seeing Inferno. Though Moonlight started its limited run, I won’t be able to see that until the coming weeks, so these last two weeks in October make for a short break before we jump into craziness.

Whether it be the onslaught of Oscar contenders or the Winter blockbusters (Doctor Strange, Rogue One, Assassin’s Creed), November and December will be a busy time for film fans. It looks like I’ll be averaging at least two releases a weekend all the way through mid-January (thanks to a handful of films getting their “qualifying run” in the last week of December). I like this break from the theater, gives me some time to recoup, because the next three months will be insane (in the best way possible).

Gotham Nominations

Manchester By The Sea

We have our first nominations in this year’s awards race! Due to coming out so early in the year, we need not read too much into this year’s Gotham nominations, but they are still helpful in seeing what indie gems are gaining notoriety. Very comparable to the Independent Spirit Awards, the Gothams help recognize some of the best independent films of any given year.

The two main winners (as far as the Gothams relates to the Oscars) this year are Moonlight and Manchester By The Sea. Moonlight was nominated for Best Feature and given a special jury award for the strength of its ensemble. Taking place over three separate times in this boy’s life, the recognition of Moonlight’s ensemble feels like a prediction for SAG’s best ensemble…and that recognition is making Moonlight feel more and more Oscar-worthy by the day.

Manchester By The Sea picked up nominations in areas we can start to expect as forecasting for other awards. Best Feature, Best Writing (Kenneth Lonergan), and acting awards for Casey Affleck and Lucas Hedges. Though Moonlight is bursting into theaters this week with a 99% rating from Rotten Tomatoes, Manchester By The Sea has been in the race the longest, making its debut back at Sundance.

Viola Davis Goes Supporting in ‘Fences’


Within the blogosphere of Awards watchers, there was a huge question surrounding Fences. We know that Viola Davis held her own with Denzel Washington in August Wilson’s play, but what category would her beefed-up role be considered when it comes to the screen. Everyone has been predicting her in Lead Actress, it just made sense. But similar to Rooney Mara in Carol last year, the decision has been made, and Davis will be campaigning as Supporting Actress.

This is not a bad thing by any means. As it stands right now (i.e. no one has seen the movie), Davis is getting nominated, period. Whether it was Lead or Supporting we are all sure of the nomination. Though it may be sad to see Davis leave the leading race, this probably gives her a greater chance of winning her category.

While Best Actress is (excitingly) competitive this year with Emma Stone (La La Land), Natalie Portman (Jackie), and either or Amy Adams’ performances (ArrivalNocturnal AnimalsBatman v Su….just kidding),  Supporting Actress is a little more open for Davis to jump to front runner status. Conventional wisdom says she will be squaring off with Michelle Williams (Manchester By The Sea) and Naomi Harris (Moonlight). Listen, whether Lead or Supporting, there is a strong lineup of Women in this year’s awards race, and that needs to be celebrated every chance we get.

Weekly Spotlight: Hidden Figures

Full Predictions (as of 10/17/16)

An asterisk* denotes a change in a film’s position from last week.

Best Picture

  1. La La Land
  2. Moonlight*
  3. Manchester By the Sea*
  4. Fences*
  5. Silence
  6. Arrival
  7. Jackie
  8. Sully
  9. Lion
  10. Live By Night
  • Loving
  • A Monster Calls
  • Jackie
  • Hidden Figures
  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • 20th Century Woman
  • Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

Best Director

  1. Damien Chazelle (La La Land)
  2. Martin Scorsese (Silence)
  3. Denzel Washington (Fences)
  4. Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea)
  5. Barry Jenkins (Moonlight)
  • Clint Eastwood (Sully)
  • Denis Villeneuve (Arrival)
  • Ben Affleck (Live By Night)
  • Ang Lee (Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk)

Best Actress

  1. Emma Stone (La La Land)
  2. Natalie Portman (Jackie)
  3. Amy Adams (Arrival)
  4. Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins)
  5. Ruth Negga (Loving)*
  • Annette Bening (20th Century Woman)

Best Actor

  1. Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea)
  2. Denzel Washington (Fences)
  3. Tom Hanks (Sully)
  4. Joel Edgerton (Loving)
  5. Michael Keaton (The Founder)
  • Miles Teller (Bleed for This)
  • Andrew Garfield (Silence)
  • Dev Patel (Lion)
  • Ryan Gosling (La La Land)

Best Supporting Actress

  • Viola Davis (Fences)*
  • Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea)
  • Naomi Harris (Moonlight)
  • Felicity Jones (A Monster Calls)
  • Nicole Kidman (Lion)
  • Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures)

Best Supporting Actor

  • Liam Neeson (Silence)
  • Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water)
  • Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea)
  • Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)
  • Aaron Eckhart (Bleed for This)

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • Fences (August Wilson)
  • Silence (Jay Cocks)
  • Live by Night (Ben Affleck)
  • Lion (Luke Davies)
  • Arrival (Eric Heisserer)
  • Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (Simon Beaufoy, Jean-Chistophe Castelli)*

Best Original Screenplay

  • La La Land (Damien Chazelle)
  • Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, Tarell McCraney)
  • Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan)
  • Loving (Jeff Nichols)
  • Hell or High Water (Taylor Sheridan)

Best Animated Feature

  • Moana
  • Kubo and the Two Strings
  • Finding Dory
  • Zootopia
  • The Red Turtle*

*I’m pretty confident in the first four. That fifth slot will definitely go to a film I’ve never heard of it. Which is fine btw, it means that a (hopefully) worthwhile film can get some exposure it wouldn’t normally get.

Best Documentary

  • 13th
  • Weiner
  • OJ: Made In America

Best Original Song

Though I don’t have detailed predictions, I think it is safe to say we have two frontrunners here. I foresee two films duking it out in this category: La La Land and Moana. La La Land is our overall frontrunner…that just so happens to be full of original songs. Moanais the double threat of not only being a Disney musical (always a sure Best Original Song bet), but also being written by Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda. Though both movies will have a plethora of songs to pick from, the studios will each pick one song to champion, and these two films will go head-to-head for the prize.

Best Sound Mixing/Editing

Nope. Not gonna try and understand the difference between these two categories. I know there is a difference, and I know it is important to the professionals in this field, but it is outside my expertise to differentiate here. I like these two awards because it gives more opportunity for tech-heavy films to be recognized. Between the two awards, there are usually only 1 or 2 differences in the nominees, so let’s take a look at our “Sound Award” contenders:

  • Sully
  • Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
  • La La Land
  • Deepwater Horizon
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • 10 Cloverfield Lane
  • Passengers
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
  • A Marvel Movie (Captain America: Civil War/Doctor Strange)

Best Production Design

  • Silence
  • La La Land
  • Arrival
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Best Cinematography

  • Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
  • Silence
  • La La Land
  • Arrival
  • Hail, Caesar!

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

  • Jackie
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
  • Star Trek Beyond

Best Costume Design

  • Live by Night
  • Silence
  • Jackie
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Best Film Editing

  • Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
  • Live by Night
  • Sully
  • Silence
  • La La Land

Best Visual Effects

Best Visual Effects has long been my favorite award for obvious reasons. This is the place where nerd movies get to shine.

  • The Jungle Book
  • Arrival
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
  • A Monster Calls
  • Passengers
  • Doctor Strange

There are five categories I excluded from my predictions. Three of them are the “Shorts” (Documentary Short, Live Action Short, Animated Short), I’m not sure if I’ll ever predict those, I just won’t have enough exposure to make a knowledgable prediction.

Next exclusion is Foreign Language Film, same reasoning, not enough knowledge here.

The last one, as surprising as it may seem, is Original Score. This is a category I love, and you could make predictions based on name alone (John Williams-The BFG, Johan Johansen-Arrival), but this is the one category I actually want to see (hear?) all the contenders before making predictions.

Special thanks to the following folks/sites (I’m pretty much just rewording what they have already said):

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