Last-Minute Oscar Predictions Post 2017!

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Well, it’s finally here – the Superbowl of Cinema, the Indianapolis 500 of Film – it’s OSCAR Day!  As you can probably tell, I’m very excited! So, before I put the finishing touches on the hors d’oeuvres and my party shoes on my feet, I have time for a quick predictions post.

Here is your list of nominees in the twenty-four categories that will be televised tonight. (If you’re a novice watcher, you might want to take a nap now. We can expect the show to last until midnight.) The show should be a good one. Jimmy Kimmel is hosting for the first time. For years, his post-Oscars edition of his own show has been a highlight.

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My prognostications for what I think will win are in yellow.  If the film or performance that I think should win is different from what I believe will win, I’ve marked it in red.  I’ll update with an * for the actual winner. My average over the last few years is roughly 75%.  There appear to be quite a few “sure things” this year, so we’ll see whether or not I improve my numbers.

Best Picture

Arrival

Fences

Hacksaw Ridge

Hell or High Water

Hidden Figures

La La Land

Lion

Manchester By the Sea

Moonlight *

Hedging a bit, right off -the-bat? Let me explain. Hell or High Water was my favorite film of the year, followed by Manchester… and Moonlight.  Don’t get me wrong. I thoroughly enjoyed La La Land, but in terms of “Best Picture”? I believe there are other films more deserving. On the other hand, can’t we all use a little bit of simple, lovely, well-made movie magic? So, I won’t really be all that upset when La La Land wins.

Best Actor

Casey Affleck *

Andrew Garfield

Ryan Gosling

Viggo Mortensen

Denzel Washington

I’m sticking with Casey Affleck, though Denzel Washington is surging in most polls.

 

Best Actress

Isabelle Huppert

Ruth Negga

Natalie Portman

Emma Stone *

Meryl Streep

I’m happy that Ruth Negga was recognized for the beautiful Loving, just as I’m mystified that her costar Joel Edgerton, as well as director Jeff Nichols and the film itself, were not.

 

Best Supporting Actor

Mahershala Ali *

Jeff Bridges

Lucas Hedges

Dev Patel

Michael Shannon

Best Supporting Actress

Viola Davis *

Naomie Harris

Nicole Kidman

Octavia Spencer

Michelle Williams

What more can be said about Viola Davis’ fierce performance in Fences? She should have been in the leading actress category and she’d still win.

Best Director

Arrival, Denis Villaneuve

Hacksaw Ridge, Mel Gibson

La La Land, Damien Chazelle *

Manchester by the Sea, Kenneth Lonergan

Moonlight, Barry Jenkins

Adapted Screenplay

Arrival, Eric Heisserer

Fences, August Wilson

Hidden Figures, Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi

Lion, Luke Davies

Moonlight, Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney *

Original Screenplay

Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan

La La Land, Damien Chazelle

The Lobster, Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthimis Filippou

Manchester by the Sea, Kenneth Lonergan *

20th Century Women, Mike Mills

I’ll be very happy for Kenneth Longergan, who wrote a gorgeous movie. Would I be even happier if Taylor Sheridan’s name were to be called? Yes. Yes, I would.

Cinematography

Arrival, Bradford Young

La La Land, Linus Sandgren *

Lion, Greig Fraser

Moonlight, James Laxton

Silence, Rodrigo Prieto

Animated Feature Film

Kubo and the Two Strings

Moana

My Life as a Zucchini

The Red Turtle

Zootopia *

Foreign Language Film

Land of Mine (Denmark)

A Man Called Ove (Sweden)

The Salesman (Iran) *

Tanna (Australia)

Toni Erdmann (Germany)

Documentary Feature

Fire at Sea

I Am Not Your Negro

Life, Animated

O.J.: Made in America *

Lion, Greig Fraser

Moonlight, James Laxton

Silence, Rodrigo Prieto

Film Editing

Arrival, Joe Walker

Hacksaw Ridge, John Gilbert *

Hell or High Water, Jake Roberts

La La Land, Tom Cross 

Moonlight, Nat Sanders and Joi McMillon

Production Design

Arrival, Patrice Vermette and Paul Hotte

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Stuart Craig and Anna Pinnock

Hail, Caesar! , Jess Gonchor and Nancy Haigh

La La Land, Davis Wasco and Sandy Reynolds-Wasco *

Passengers, Guy Hendrix Dyas and Gene Serdena

Costume Design

Allied, Joanna Johnston

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Colleen Atwood *

Florence Foster Jenkins, Consolata Boyle

Jackie, Madeline Fontaine

La La Land, Mary Zophres

Makeup and Hairstyling

A Man Called Ove, Eva von Bahr and Love Larson

Star Trek Beyond, Joel Harlow and Richard Alonzo

Suicide Squad, Alessandro Bertolazzi, Giorgio Gregorini, and Christopher Nelson *

Original Score

Jackie, Mica Levi

La La Land, Justin Hurwitz *

Lion, Dustin O’Halloran and Hauschka

Moonlight, Nicholas Britell

Passengers, Thomas Newman

Original Song

“Audition (The Fools who Dream),” La La Land, music by Justin Hurwitz, lyric by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul

“Can’t Stop the Feeling,” Trolls, music and lyric by Justin Timberlake, Max Martin, and Karl Johan Schuster

“City of Stars,” La La Land, music by Justin Hurwitz, lyric by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul *

“The Empty Chair,” Jim: The James Foley Story, music and lyric by J. Ralph and Sting

“How Far I’ll Go,” Moana, music and lyric by Lin-Manuel Miranda

Sound Editing

Arrival, Sylvain Bellemare *

Deepwater Horizon, Wylie Stateman and Renée Tondelli

Hacksaw Ridge, Robert Mackenzie and Andy Wright

La La Land, Ai-Ling Lee and Mildred Iatrou Morgan

Sully, Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman

Sound Mixing

Arrival, Bernard Gariépy Strobl and Claude La Haye

Hacksaw Ridge, Kevin O’Connell, Andy Wright, Robert Mackenzie, and Peter Grace *

La La Land, Andy Nelson, Ai-Ling Lee, and Steve A. Morrow

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, David Parker, Christopher Scarabosio, and Stuart Wilson

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush, and Mac Ruth

Visual Effects

Deepwater Horizon, Craig Hammack, Jason Snell, Justin Billington, and Burt Dalton

Doctor Strange, Stephane Ceretti, Richard Bluff, Vincent Cirelli, and Paul Corbould

The Jungle Book, Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones, and Dan Lemmon *

Kubo and the Two Strings, Steve Emerson, Oliver Jones, Brian McLean, and Brad Schiff

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, John Knoll, Mohen Leo, Hal Hickel, and Neil Corbould

Animated Short Film

Blind Vaysha

Borrowed Time

Pear Cider and Cigarettes

Pearl

Piper *

Live Action Short Film

Ennemis Intérieurs

La Femme et le TGV

Silent Nights

Sing *

Timecode

Documentary Short Subject

Extremis

4.1 Miles

Joe’s Violin

Watani: My Homeland

The White Helmets *

London Has Fallen Finally Has a Director! – edited

London Has Fallen, movie, poster, teaser, Gerard Butler

1st teaser artwork for London Has Fallen

I have no idea how to feel about this.

The good news is that four months after the announcement that Olympus Has Fallen was getting a sequel, with the catchy title London Has Fallen, which one would think would be a HUGE clue as to the plot line, Millennium has finally signed a director for the project.

The bad news is that his name is NOT Antoine Fuqua. I had been convinced that the reason the director of the original had not signed on for the sequel yet was that he was holding out for more money. After all not only was OHF a huge box office hit, but he’s got The Equalizer (with his Training Day star, Denzel Washington) in the can, a film with such high expectations a sequel to THAT film has already been green-lit. But it seems that Fuqua is moving ahead with his passion project Southpaw, with Jake Gyllenhaal. Or maybe the producers didn’t meet his price.

Either way, London Has Fallen will now be helmed by Fredrik Bond, a director of music videos with one other feature to his credit, the festival favorite (and uber-indie) The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman, with Shia LaBeouf, Evan Rachel Wood and Mads Mikkelsen. (And they weren’t even action &/or violence-laden heavy metal videos. We’re talking Moby.)

Yeah, that’s a head scratcher. Maybe Melissa Leo recommended him, assuming she’s coming back for LHF (hey, she didn’t die in OHF), since she’s in TNDoCC as well.

This actually doesn’t disturb me as much as the fact that Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt’s script has been rewritten by Christian Gudegast. One of the reasons I was ready to buy a ticket to this sequel, which in my humble opinion, with the rare exception of films like Jaws and The Godfather, are generally not a good idea, was that the husband & wife team responsible for the first film was back on board for the second. Again, just my humble opinion, but that their script is being redone by a writer whose biggest claim to fame is the Vin Diesel vehicle, A Man Apart does not inspire confidence. Although in all fairness, it might be the best Vin Diesel vehicle. But having said that, need I say more? (More proof that all roads lead to Gerard Butler – A Man Apart was directed by F. Gary Gray who directed Law Abiding Citizen. Just a bit of trivia.)

As it stands now, the only things London Has Fallen will have in common with Olympus Has Fallen will be its stars Gerard Butler (who will again produce) as Secret Service Agent Mike Banning, Aaron Eckhart as President Asher and Morgan Freeman as Speaker of the House Trumbull.

The plot has them in London to attend the British Prime Minister’s funeral. Of course some brain-trust with an evil bent thinks that they can use this occasion to kill all of the world’s leaders and “unleash a terrifying vision of the future”. Of course. This premise is no more preposterous than that of Olympus Has Fallen, which I believe I’m on record as having enjoyed enormously. So, at least on that score, my disbelief is still safely suspended…for now.

London Has Fallen has a release date of October 2nd, 2015 and production is scheduled to begin in October. Butler is supposed to be in Louisiana in October to film Geostorm for Dean Devlin. Millennium is based in Louisiana, so maybe it’s possible. (Hey, London is expensive.) More to come.

**Edited to add: London IS expensive so London Has Fallen will, if the sets being constructed are any indication, be filmed in Bulgaria.  Production may still begin in October, but filming is set to begin in December. (Hopefully indoors.)  I knew that.

So, what do you think of the latest development? Does the selection of this particular director have any influence on your interest in London Has Fallen?

A Few Words on the Meaning of Play or Pay & Then Some More Olympus Has Fallen Goodies!

When an actor accepts a role and signs on the dotted line of the contract , he or she takes a few things on faith, not the least of which is that he will be paid the agreed upon fee for his services. In exchange, the actor agrees to be physically available during the time period set forth in the contract (which will probably include the contingency of reshoots as well as the promotion of the finished product), to the exclusion of all other offers.

Now, since we all know that “shit happens”, and sometimes the best laid plans of mice, men and producers, go awry,entertainment lawyers have devised something called “a guarantee”.In filmmakers terms, a guarantee refers to a clause in an actor’s (or director’s) contract that guarantees him or her compensation if, through no fault of their own, the individual is released from the contract prior to the completion of their services. This is what is known in “the biz” as “play-or-pay”.

Why are we talking about this?Well, for those of us who follow such things, it’s been in the news recently as regards one of our favorites, Gerard Butler, who is suing the producers of the now-defunct Motor City, which as we know, shut down production late last summer just weeks before cameras were set to roll. Butler is claiming to have had a “play or pay” contract and he wants his money.

Of course the other side is claiming that he had no such contract and that all they had was what amounted to a verbal agreement and they owe him nothing. Seriously, regardless of what anyone thinks of Butler’s acting abilities (or even his ability to choose a quality project), does anyone actually believe he’d agree to do a movie on the basis of a handshake? Would anyone?

While some studios are reluctant to agree to guarantees, they accept them as part of the deal for signing major talent. They also have the advantage of enabling a studio to simply remove a player under such a contract with few legal complications – usually the lesser of two evils between legal and financial). Motor City wasn’t a major studio production, however.

Butler’s camp argues that it was on the basis of his name and bankability (and again folks, remember what I’ve said in the past, regardless of what you perceived to be the quality, Butler’s films generally make money) financing was secured for the flick. This point is difficult to argue since there is ample evidence of him working hard for the money down in the south of France during last year’s Cannes Film Festival.In addition to his duties promoting the sale of Olympus Has Fallen (which he went on to film shortly thereafter), he was doing the same forMotor City, which was to have been his second project of 2012.

Based on his commitment to Motor City, Butler alleges that he had the shooting schedule for OHF modified to accommodate that film.He also did not pursue, and indeed turned down, other projects.Those of you who may have been wondering why he’s been on an extended vacation for the last six months, now know why. Motor City was to have filmed, say late September to late November.Thunder Run, to be directed by Simon West and to costar Sam Worthington and Matthew McConaughey, which was changed from motion-capture, all CGI to live-action, was also pushed back (so that McConaughey could eat a sandwich after whittling himself away to nearly nothing for the filming of Dallas Buyers Club. Skeletons don’t make for very convincing tank commanders). Both of these things left Butler with a huge gap in his schedule.So the carnival rolled on.

Lending credence to Butler’s claims is the fact that he is not the only one unhappy with the producers of Motor City. Members of the various unions, who don’t have the luxury of “pay or play” contracts but who were relying on the weeks or months of employment, were told to pack up and go home. Many of them had turned down other work as well.Then there are the various suppliers of various services that had already been rendered to the location set when the plug was pulled, that have yet to be paid.

The producers can say anything they please (short of libel) with reference to the “frivolousness” of the lawsuit and the ridiculousness of Gerard Butler’s claims. that does not mean it is or they are.That’s for a judge to decide.My money’s on Butler. Whatever else you think he is, he’s not stupid.

Okay after all of that, let’s get back to Olympus Has Fallen.For whatever reasons, whether fairly or unfairly, both of Butler’s 2012 releases, Chasing Mavericks and Playing for Keeps, met with less than enthusiasm from critics and indifference from most of the ticket buying public (although not only did both do much better in foreign markets than domestic, but I do think both will do very well on dvd and VoD ).

As I’ve said before, perception is everything. So, despite the fact that the reasons for his inactivity were technically beyond his control, combined with the perceived failure of his last two films, the need for Olympus Has Fallen to hit and hit big, is even greater.

The good news is that, in my humble opinion, this flick just might do the trick. In Olympus Has Fallen, you’ve got a director not only capable of directing action but he’s also capable of directing actors.Antoine Fuqua directed Denzel Washington to a Best Actor Oscar in Training Day, after all. While I won’t be so bold as to predict any such thing will happen here, he has worked with some really fine actors including Clive Owen, Keira Knightely, Ethan Hawke, Don Cheadle, Richard Gere, Mads Mikkelsen, Joel Edgerton, Stellan Skarsgaard, just to name a few.

Fuqua has assembled a truly talented cast this time around, including Academy Award winners Morgan Freeman and Melissa Leo, nominees Angela Basset and Robert Forster, Independent Spirit Award winners Aaron Eckhart and Ashley Judd as well as Golden Globe winner Dylan McDermott.

The screenwriters for Olympus Has Fallen may be first timers, but the script written by Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt was so hot that it went into production very quickly and with virtually no rewrites. Well, until the producers got a hold of it. Still, practically unheard of, especially for first-timers.

The most promising news, in my humble opinion, is that the usually cynical coterie of movie bloggers and other web-based cinephiles, despite whatever reservations they may have about Butler of late, seem to be willing to give this one a chance. While some may snicker at the “Die-Hard in the White House” label, the majority seem to be saying “Hell yes!” to the full-on action. A lot of those that have been calling for Butler to abandon the rom-coms and return to his perceived (there’s that word again) macho roots are in that number. I even read a tweet from one the other day that said OHF should have been Die Hard 5 over what we were given instead (A Good Day to Die Harder).

We have the first featurette to share with you in which Butler and Freeman discuss the film. If the rest of the clips, featurettes and tv spots that are sure to follow in the next six weeks are met with the same generosity, I predict opening weekend for Olympus Has Fallen will be huge. (Okay at least better than average…Or pretty good…I don’t want to jinx anything!)







images courtesy of ComingSoon and Film District – video courtesy of Yahoo