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 *

Golden Globe Predictions 2017

golden globes, awards, awards shows, predictions, S. A. Young

I’m blowing the dust off of this blog with a quickie Golden Globes prediction post.

Here are my (semi-eductated) guesses, which will probably change by the time the Academy Awards roll around, especially since nominations haven’t even been announced yet, and the Golden Globes are not necessarily Oscar harbingers. The one thing that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association does oh so right, is divide the Best Picture and Best Actor/Actress categories into Drama and Musical/Comedy. This just makes sense to me. Why wouldn’t you compare apples to apples, oranges to oranges, etc?

But then, quizzically, they lump all of the directors, writers and supporting actors/actresses in their respective fields together. So essentially that’s just as head scratching as the Oscars. There are ten “Best Picture” nominees with only five nominated directors and five nominated writers. If there is logic to this, I have not been able to find any evidence of it. The internet, so chock full of experts and theorists, has let me down on the subject. If I live to be a thousand, I may, someday, be able to puzzle it out.

Oh well, as usual, I digress. I did say this was to be a “quickie” post, after all. Here are my picks, with categories in no particular order:

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Best Picture-Drama

Manchester By the Sea

La La Land, Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, Golden Globes, predictions, S. A. Young

Best Picture – Comedy or Musical

La La Land

Best Actor – Drama

Casey Affleck – Manchester By the Sea

Best Actor – Miusical or Comedy

Ryan Reynolds – Deadpool ( It’s the battle of the Ryans. I’m going with Reynolds by hair. call me crazy but Deadpool did HUGE money overseas)

Best Actress – Drama

Natalie Portman – Jackie (because Natalie Portman)

Best Actress – Musical or Comedy

Emma Stone – La La Land

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Best Supporting Actor

Mahershala Ali – Moonlight

Best Supporting Actress

Viola Davis – Fences

Best Director

Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester By the Sea (this is a race between Lonergan and Damian Chazelle and I think HFPA will want to reward an older, first time {directing} nominee. It’s a tough category and any one of the nominees – Lonergan, Chazelle, Gibson, Jenkins, or Ford could pull off a win)

Best Screenplay – Motion Picture

Barry Jenkins – Moonlight (This will be the category where the amazing Moonlight is rewarded)

Zootopia, golden globes, predictions, S. A. Young

Best Animated Feature

Zootopia (though I adored Sing)

Best Foreign Language Film

Elle (Isabelle Huppert won’t win for her performance so I think the HFPA will reward her film)

Best Original Score – Motion Picture

La La Land

Best Original Song – Motion Picture

“City of Stars” from La La Land (Everyone I saw this movie with left the theater either humming or singing this catchy tune – although this is tricky. Justin Timberlake could steal for “Can’t Stop the Feeling” from Trolls. It was a radio hit worldwide.)

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Best Television Series – Drama

“The Crown”

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Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy

“Atlanta”

Best Actor – Television – Drama

Billy Bob Thornton – “Goliath”

Best Actress – Television – Drama

Caitriona Balfe – “Outlander” (if anyone beats her it will be Claire Foy for “The Crown”, but I live in hope)

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Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

“The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”

Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television

Sarah Paulson – “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”

Best Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television

Courtney B. Vance – “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” (another tough category but I think the OJ:Crime Juggernaut will win out)

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Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy

Issa Rae – “Insecure”

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy

Donald Glover – “Atlanta”

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Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

Thandie Newton – “Westworld”

Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture MBest ade for Television

John Lithgow – “The Crown”

Hugh Jackman Gives Prisoners Conviction

Prisoners, Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, poster, movie

I still hate this overly photoshopped mess of a poster. I mean, who is that?

It was way back in May that I first talked about Prisoners with Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal. At that time I posted the trailer and asked if it was just me, or did the thing give away too much of the movie? As it turns out, it was just me and no, while the trailer might have led us (notice how I’m now including others) to believe that we could figure out where director Denis Villeneuve and writer Aaron Guzikowski have gone, believe me when I tell you that it only took us about a quarter of the way.  So first, let me just admit that I was wrong; happily, thankfully wrong, and then say, “Well done, sirs!”.

Prisoners, is not an easy film to watch. It’s a spellbinding and morally complex thriller with an unquestionably career-best performance from Hugh Jackman.  It’s also the harsh and often brutal story of two Pennsylvania families as they suffer the soul-rending experience of a parent’s worst nightmare after their daughters are both kidnapped.  It’s dark,  twisted,  and harrowing . What starts with a bucolic image of father and son on a hunting expedition, builds and builds and builds (with help from the great cinematographer Roger Deakins and his steely gray/blue color palette and Johan Johannsson’s haunting score) until the tension becomes, at times, almost unbearable.

The film turns “been there, done that, seen it before” tropes and stereotypes on their heads, though, starting with the fact that Hugh Jackman’s Keller Dover and Terrence Howard’s Franklin Birch are so effortlessly friends. They spend holidays together (the movie begins at Thanksgiving). Their wives are friends, their children are friends, including the two older teenagers. Why this is worth noting is not just the obvious, but that the Birches are the more affluent of the two.  Howard is white collar with a bigger, nicer house, nicer car etc. Keller is a carpenter. Blue-collar, whose family has probably been in the same area of rural Pennsylvania for generations; a man of faith who still teaches his son to “be ready” for anything.  All things considered (and especially when we find out what he’s storing in his basement), in another movie we would expect Dover and Birch to be at odds. It is but one deftly avoided cliché.

Another is that suspect number one, Alex (an amazingly creepy Paul Dano), lives with his aunt (Melissa Leo) in the kind of run-down, single-story, cookie-cutter aluminum sided example of depressed suburbia where all serial killers, pedophiles and drug dealers tend to reside, at least in the movies. But Villenueve, and Gruzikowski’s script, let us know that not only are they aware of these things, they let us know  that it’s okay if we’re aware of them, because they’re just the tip of the iceberg.  We know from the trailer that the police are forced to let Alex go, at which point Keller, who is as sure as we are that Alex is guilty, takes matters into his own hands, abducting the suspect and chaining him up. Again, we know this from the trailer. But if we think we’re in for another tired, trite and banal story of vigilante justice, we are wrong. This is only the beginning.

We first see Jake Gyllenhaal’s Detective Loki  watching the rain come down in sheets against the window of a Chinese restaurant (more like a diner). Despite the bright fluorescent lighting, the rain closes in the space, making it feel very forlorn. He’s spending Thanksgiving alone, flirting with the waitress, and on call, ready to respond to his radio. Loki is a study in contrasts. We are told that he has never failed to solve a case, which lets him get away with insulting his superiors.  Despite his wide blue eyes, Loki’s face is closed, like the top button on his shirts, the collars of which don’t entirely cover what look like gang tatts.  He’s so solemn that when he does smile, we’re instantly on our guard and expecting him to explode in barely-contained rage.

But Hugh Jackman is the heart of this movie. Keller Dover is always at the epicenter despite the puzzles and twists and turns that Guzikowski’s brilliant script has laid out for us. More suspects crop up and seem to fall away while Jackman’s character comes apart at the seams, his family in shreds.  Meanwhile Loki , who has become single-mindly obsessed with the case is in a similar state, but manages to internalize his damage.

Every single character is absolutely vivid and multi-dimensional. We are given details that define them,  allow us glimpses into their lives, but do not define their actions and vice versa.  Villeneuve maintains a delicate balance between holding the audience in a death grip and yet still manages to allow the film to take its time without rushing through scenes another director might decide were unnecessary.  I don’t mean to suggest that there is anything superfluous that does make it on screen.  I don’t think there was a single aspect that was simply for “shock value” either, (although there was a scene that I wish I’d known about going in. Anyone who knows me and has seen the film, knows to what I refer).

The acting is, as you would expect from a cast like this, stellar. Despite very limited screen time, Maria Bello and Viola Davis both give us indelible portraits of the various stages of a mother’s desperation and grief.

One of Gyllenhaal’s greatest strengths as an actor is that he is continuously underrated so that he’s still capable of astonishing us. If you ‘ve seen David Fincher’s Zodiac, you’ll understand what I mean when I say that it’s as though Gyllenhaal is almost giving us the flipside of the detective he played in that film.  Loki is almost Robert Graysmith several years on, his eagerness beaten down by time and circumstance into Loki’s haunted dread.

The final reel belongs to Melissa Leo, who despite being given a role front-loaded with opportunities to chew up and spit out the scenery, instead takes things down so far and so quiet that we have to pay attention and hang on her every word while our empathy slowly turns to horror and disgust.

Still and all, it is Jackman that will be remembered come awards season. His Keller Dover is an earthy, rugged “every man”; a true believer gut-punched into questioning his beliefs and pushed to the edge of hopelessness. It has been suggested that he should now hang up his adamantium claws and mutton-chop whiskers lest he be typecast; that he shouldn’t have to toil in the land of the comic book heroes any longer because now the world will see his “range”. I submit that not only has it been there all along (one has only to look at his CV on imdb), even if, like so many other actors, he is the best thing about a questionable movie, but that part of his appeal is that he can do a movie like Prisoners as well as Real Steel or The Wolverine or even voice a character in an animated film like Flushed Away.  But beyond that, I don’t see anything wrong with making a movie, provided it’s done well, purely for the sake of entertainment. I enjoyed Australia (even if it didn’t quite reach the heights of the classic Hollywood romances like Casablanca to which it aspired) and I liked The Fountain and The Prestige and Deception as well.  (Oddly enough, the one role I can honestly say I wasn’t entirely thrilled with, is the one for which he received his first ever Oscar nomination, that of Jean Valjean in Les Miserables. I know I’m out on a limb with that opinion.)  Frankly, I think Hugh Jackman is one of those actors, nay those people, that are so appealing that we’ll buy them in anything. (The only comparison I can think of is Tom Cruise and before you tell me I’m nuts, you have to remember that whatever we think about him here at home, he’s still the biggest movie star in the world.) I submit that Jackman won us over during that song and dance during the Oscars in ’02 and he hasn’t looked back.  Not to mention, with X-Men: Days of Future Past, he will have played Logan/the Wolverine in 7 films and produced the two stand-alones. I think he’s okay with it.

The best thing about this film, in my humble opinion is its restraint. In the pacing certainly, in the acting definitely, but most of all,  despite the fact that we and the characters involved are faced with the weighty issues of morality, justice, right and wrong, we aren’t ever taken by the hand and led to an “obvious” conclusion. What might have, in less gifted hands, been nothing more than the best, most brutal “procedural” ever, becomes something more. Avoiding cliché and focusing on the drama, Villanueve allows us to absorb everything and draw our own conclusions and that applies to both the joyous moments and the horrific ones. We are spoon fed nothing. To my mind, the ending, the final shot, was perfectly spot on. (Some members of the audience I saw it with disagreed. Especially the man who yelled “Seriously?” at the screen.)

Prisoners with Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Maria Bello, Terrence Howard, Melissa Leo, Paul Dano, Len Cariou, Dylan Minnette, Zoe Soul, Erin Gerasimovich, Kyla-Drew Simmons, Wayne Duvall, and David Dastmalchian, directed by Denis Villanueve from a screenplay by Aaron Guzikowski has been embraced by audiences in the US (succeeding not only due to word of mouth, but to a large extent due to Jackman’s appeal) and just opened in the UK.  It is a two-and-a-half hour slow-burn that probably won’t lose anything in the translation to home viewing, but it’  an intelligent “adult” movie, the likes of which are few and far between. So go to the theater and support it. Prisoners is at times difficult to watch, but watch it you must.

So, have you seen it? Do you agree? Disagree? Anything? Bueller…. Feel free to sound off below.

 

 

Trailer or Spoiler? First Look at Prisoners

Prisoners, poster, Hugh Jackman, kinopoisk

poster via kinopoisk.ru

Hugh Jackman stars in Incendies director Denis Villanueve‘s new film, Prisoners, due out later this fall. It’s been a long time coming too.  Originally Mark Wahlberg was to star under the direction of Bryan Singer. Jackman was first attached with Olympus Has Fallen‘s Antoine Fuqua directing, but both left the project. Leonardo DiCaprio was attached, but he eventually dropped out as well. After several years in development hell, Jackman returned. Ever since filming finally began in January of this year, I’ve been hearing good things. There are already whispers in the wind of “awards worthy” with reference to Jackman’s performance.

Also starring Terrence Howard, Maria Bello (in a role that was originally rumored for Jessica Chastain), Viola Davis, Melissa Leo and Paul Dano, Prisoners casts Jackman as a blue-collar Boston father (despite the fact that it was filmed in Georgia. Pffft) on the trail of the man he believes responsible for kidnapping his young daughter and her friend.Jake Gyllenhaal plays the detective assigned to the case.

Ultimately, the film seeks to ask, to what lengths would an ordinary person be prepared to go for their children?

The first trailer has just landed on line and while I was anxious to get first look, after watching it, I think we can all guess the answer. I have to wonder what’s left to discover and why should I buy a ticket? Take a look:

YouTube video via JoBlo Movie Network

Is it me or does this give way too much away? We get the setup, then we’re told what the crime is. We see how tied the hands of the criminal justice system are and we watch as Hugh Jackman starts to go all vigilante. We see Paul Dano, who may or may not be the kidnapper bound and gagged in Jackman’s bathroom, we see his mother defend him, then we see the beginning of a confrontation with whoever will more than likely turn out to be the actual kidnapper. Wam Bam, two minutes and thirty seconds and we’ve seen the whole thing.

It has been argued that there are but a handful of basic plots. I’ve continually espoused the tenet that there is nothing new under the sun and it’s all in the delivery, but there’s nothing in this trailer that tells me I’m going to see anything new, other than this time it’s Hugh Jackman’s turn to go all Charles Bronson.

Am I just jaded? Should I be giving Villanueve, here making his English-language debut, the benefit of the doubt? (side bar: Villanueve has two movies coming out this year, and if their current release dates hold, within eight days of each other and both starring Jake Gyllenhaal.) It seems to me that with a cast this good, Warner Brothers shouldn’t need to show us all of their cards to stir up interest.  This is just supposed to be a first tease for a movie that doesn’t open until September. How much more are we going to see between now and then? Is it possible there is a helluva twist that we can’t see coming? JMHO, but when a trailer gives so much away all at once, it signals a lack of confidence in the finished product. I predict a LOT of advance screenings in a lot of cities.

There is a fine line to be walked between generating interest in the product and just plain giving too much away too soon. Internet-connected fans are more movie savvy than any generation before them and while they are ravenous for news and “inside” intel, their affections are fickle. I’ve talked quite a bit recently about how social media is changing the face of movie marketing, but there have been quite a few examples of blitzkrieg-like campaigns that started out looking like marketing genius, only to have the masses revolt when the hype is not to be believed. Prometheus anyone? How about the recent resurrection of “Arrested Development”?

What do you think? Does this trailer for Prisoners fill you with anticipation? Are you anxious to see the movie or has this trailer spoiled the whole thing for you?