This is my ranking of the Oscar nominees from best to worst. Having finally seen everything I can express my opinions without reservation. My Life As a Zucchini took too long for such a short film. The bold ones are my predictions to win.
Hell or High Water
Manchester by the Sea
La La Land
The only one in this group that I’m truly embarrassed to see there is Hidden Figures, at least it’s better than 2011.
Denis Villeneuve – Arrival
Barry Jenkins – Moonlight
Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester by the Sea
Mel Gibson – Hacksaw Ridge
Damien Chazelle – La La Land
So many young and first time nominees.
Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea as Lee Chandler
Denzel Washington – Fences as Troy Maxson
Viggo Mortensen – Captain Fantastic as Ben Cash
Andrew Garfield – Hacksaw Ridge as Desmond T. Doss
Ryan Gosling – La La Land as Sebastian Wilder
Casey Affleck may not win this because a strange number of people hear “accused of sexual harassment” and turn him into a rapist in their minds. I’m hoping he will.
Natalie Portman – Jackie as Jackie Kennedy
Isabelle Huppert – Elle as Michèle Leblanc
Ruth Negga – Loving as Mildred Loving
Meryl Streep – Florence Foster Jenkins as Florence Foster Jenkins
Emma Stone – La La Land as Mia Dolan
Emma Stone deserves awards, just not for this. Natalie was a revelation.
Best Supporting Actor
Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water as Marcus Hamilton
Mahershala Ali – Moonlight as Juan
Michael Shannon – Nocturnal Animals as Detective Bobby Andes
Lucas Hedges – Manchester by the Sea as Patrick Chandler
Dev Patel – Lion as Saroo Brierley
Jeff Bridges won me over by a hair.
Best Supporting Actress
Viola Davis – Fences as Rose Maxson
Nicole Kidman – Lion as Sue Brierley
Michelle Williams – Manchester by the Sea as Randi
Naomie Harris – Moonlight as Paula
Octavia Spencer – Hidden Figures as Dorothy Vaughan
One of those comical supporting vs leading situations.
Best Original Screenplay
The Lobster – Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthimis Filippou
20th Century Women – Mike Mills
Hell or High Water – Taylor Sheridan
Manchester by the Sea – Kenneth Lonergan
La La Land – Damien Chazelle
The Lobster has a confusing presence this year as it competed in other awards last year. Great category overall, hopefully La La Land doesn’t get the rolling vote for this.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Arrival – Eric Heisserer from “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang
Moonlight – Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney from In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue by Tarell Alvin McCraney
Fences – August Wilson from Fences by August Wilson
Lion – Luke Davies from A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley and Larry Buttrose
Hidden Figures – Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi from Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
Hidden Figures getting a Best Picture nomination is one thing. People responded to it with alarming enthusiasm. But how can someone objectively look at the writing and celebrate it?
Best Animated Feature Film
Kubo and the Two Strings – Travis Knight and Arianne Sutner
Moana – John Musker, Ron Clements, and Osnat Shurer
My Life as a Zucchini – Claude Barras and Max Karli
Zootopia – Byron Howard, Rich Moore, and Clark Spencer
The Red Turtle – Michaël Dudok de Wit and Toshio Suzuki
Fantastic field this year, so much so that Finding Dory didn’t even get a nomination.
Best Foreign Language Film
Toni Erdmann (Germany) in German – Maren Ade
Land of Mine (Denmark) in Danish – Martin Zandvliet
A Man Called Ove (Sweden) in Swedish – Hannes Holm
The Salesman (Iran) in Persian – Asghar Farhadi
Tanna (Australia) in Nauvhal – Martin Butler and Bentley Dean
Excellent group of films. The Salesman will likely win thanks to Trump.
Best Documentary – Feature
13th – Ava DuVernay, Spencer Averick, and Howard Barish
I Am Not Your Negro – Raoul Peck, Rémi Grellety, and Hébert Peck
O.J.: Made in America – Ezra Edelman and Caroline Waterlow
Fire at Sea – Gianfranco Rosi and Donatella Palermo
Life, Animated – Roger Ross Williams and Julie Goldman
The top three here make an excellent trio. I suggest a marathon. It’s also a strange year with the mini-series getting a place as a feature film.
Best Documentary – Short Subject
Extremis – Dan Krauss
The White Helmets – Orlando von Einsiedel and Joanna Natasegara
Watani: My Homeland – Marcel Mettelsiefen and Stephen Ellis
4.1 Miles – Daphne Matziaraki
Joe’s Violin – Kahane Cooperman and Raphaela Neihausen
Decent group this year. Extremis tells the best story.
Best Live Action Short Film
Ennemis intérieurs – Sélim Azzazi
Timecode – Juanjo Giménez
Sing – Kristóf Deák and Anna Udvardy
Silent Nights – Aske Bang and Kim Magnusson
La Femme et le TGV – Timo von Gunten and Giacun Caduff
There is such a huge disparity in quality between the Ennemis and the rest of the field. La Femme et le TGV was painful to watch at times.
Best Animated Short Film
Piper – Alan Barillaro and Marc Sondheimer
Borrowed Time – Andrew Coats and Lou Hamou-Lhadj
Pear Cider and Cigarettes – Robert Valley and Cara Speller
Pearl – Patrick Osborne
Blind Vaysha – Theodore Ushev
How did Blind Vaysha make it into this category? It’s the quality of a first year film student. Absolute garbage.
Best Original Score
Jackie – Mica Levi
Moonlight – Nicholas Britell
Passengers – Thomas Newman
La La Land – Justin Hurwitz
Lion – Dustin O’Halloran and Hauschka
Jackie’s score was earth shattering and beautiful. It was largely responsible for the transforming and emotional journey having such power. La La Land was just the score to a forgettable musical.
Best Original Song
“How Far I’ll Go” from Moana – Music and Lyric by Lin-Manuel Miranda
“Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” from La La Land – Music by Justin Hurwitz, Lyric by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
“City of Stars” from La La Land – Music by Justin Hurwitz, Lyric by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
“The Empty Chair” from Jim: The James Foley Story – Music and Lyric by J. Ralph and Sting
“Can’t Stop the Feeling!” from Trolls – Music and Lyric by Justin Timberlake, Max Martin, and Karl Johan Schuster (Shellback)
Moana had the best songs this year, but Shiny should have been the song choice. I would love to have seen Jemaine Clement perform it.
Best Sound Editing
Arrival – Sylvain Bellemare
Hacksaw Ridge – Robert Mackenzie and Andy Wright
Sully – Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman
Deepwater Horizon – Wylie Stateman and Renée Tondelli
La La Land – Ai-Ling Lee and Mildred Iatrou Morgan
Both sound categories this year snubbed some of the best action films. BvS, Civil War, Deadpool, Doctor Strange, Fantastic Beasts, Warcraft, Star Trek Beyond, among others. Bizarre choices. Arrival’s use of sound however really added to the storytelling.
Best Sound Mixing
Arrival – Bernard Gariépy Strobl and Claude La Haye
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – David Parker, Christopher Scarabosio, and Stuart Wilson
Hacksaw Ridge – Kevin O’Connell, Andy Wright, Robert Mackenzie, and Peter Grace
La La Land – Andy Nelson, Ai-Ling Lee, and Steve A. Morrow
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi – Greg P. Russell,[a] Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush, and Mac Ruth
Best Production Design
Arrival – Patrice Vermette and Paul Hotte
Passengers – Guy Hendrix Dyas and Gene Serdena
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – Stuart Craig and Anna Pinnock
Hail, Caesar! – Jess Gonchor and Nancy Haigh
La La Land – David Wasco and Sandy Reynolds-Wasco
There was nothing unique in La La Land’s production design, but it’s expected to win.
Silence – Rodrigo Prieto
Arrival – Bradford Young
Moonlight – James Laxton
La La Land – Linus Sandgren
Lion – Greig Fraser
How is it that Silence only ended up here? One of the best of the year.
Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Star Trek Beyond – Joel Harlow and Richard Alonzo
Suicide Squad – Alessandro Bertolazzi, Giorgio Gregorini, and Christopher Nelson
A Man Called Ove – Eva von Bahr and Love Larson
Creative creatures and villains top old man makeup.
Best Costume Design
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – Colleen Atwood
Jackie – Madeline Fontaine
Allied – Joanna Johnston
Florence Foster Jenkins – Consolata Boyle
La La Land – Mary Zophres
I often stress that modern films don’t get enough attention for costume design. La La Land is not a good example of one that should.
Best Film Editing
Moonlight – Nat Sanders and Joi McMillon
Arrival – Joe Walker
Hell or High Water – Jake Roberts
Hacksaw Ridge – John Gilbert
La La Land – Tom Cross
Moonlight and Arrival use editing in a deep way to tell their stories effectively. Hell or High Water and Hacksaw Ridge show expert level craft. La La Land just passes by.
Best Visual Effects
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – John Knoll, Mohen Leo, Hal Hickel, and Neil Corbould
Kubo and the Two Strings – Steve Emerson, Oliver Jones, Brian McLean, and Brad Schiff
The Jungle Book – Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones, and Dan Lemmon
Doctor Strange – Stephane Ceretti, Richard Bluff, Vincent Cirelli, and Paul Corbould
Deepwater Horizon – Craig Hammack, Jason Snell, Jason Billington, and Burt Dalton
Jungle Book is the favorite to win and it was impressive. Exciting for a stop motion animation feature to get into this category. The uncanny valley aspect of Rogue One nearly kept it off my list but it really is pushing technology to its limit.
Strange year overall. We knew it would be after the controversy last year. Reactionary media reared its ugly head. Unfortunately it also gave us a mediocre, fluffy, and terribly overrated front runner. Gimmicky films winning always hurts.