Who’ve we got now? Hmm….
Best Actor. Two words. Casey Affleck.
I love Viggo, and I don’t love Denzel (no I haven’t seen Fences but I’ve endured the film’s trailer at least four times. Way too forced, too much of a strident over-the-top theater piece.). Gosling? Surely you jest. And I didn’t like Garfield in Silence. So that leaves…..yes! Casey Affleck a true existential hero who brings fresh authenticity and beauty to the idea of angst.
Best Actress: Should go to the stunning Isabelle Huppert, but the film Elle is such a difficult, often horrifying, always perplexing film to watch that I doubt the Academy will go for it. Nope to Emma Stone. Nope to Meryl Streep in a silly role. Ruth Negga? perhaps. But most likely Natalie Portman for embodying an American icon, Jackie. But if the Academy unloads its all-American needs on La La Land (in all the other categories), it will go to the brilliant Huppert.
Best Supporting Actor.
I would so love it if the remarkable Dev Patel took it for Lion. He just won the BAFTA, so it’s very very possible. But it might go, for many political and alternative reasons, to Mehershala Ali in Moonlight.
Best Supporting Actress.
Viola Davis. But so help me Nicole Kidman has never been better than she was as the generous Australian mother in Lion. Even her Oscar-winning portrayal of Virginia Woolf in The Hours wasn’t this moving.
Best Director. Should be Kenneth Lonergan for his work in creating an indelible tragic master piece in Manchester by the Sea. He’s been overlooked for fine work in the past. This is a richly-deserved bit of film orchestration. But given the severe case of hype-ola and self-congratulations going on around La La Land, it will probably be Damien Chazelle.
Best Cinematography. Silence. This film is even more gorgeous and pungent than Scorsese’s Last Temptation of Christ. But I wouldn’t mind if Lion got it. Just not please please not La La Land.
Best Original Score. Lion would be great. Yes another big yes for this wonderful film. Dustin O’Halloran and Hauschka create undulatant musical aching in their sound track strong on augmented harp and prepared piano. Magical and rhapsodic. (But yes, I do know that La La Land is the odds-on favorite in this category too.)
Best Sound Editing: Arrival, thanks to the eerie intertwining of animal sounds, including birds and camels, slowed down, manipulated, and interspliced with samples of Maori native music and plastic. The results are sonic poetry, altogether other-worldly, yet somehow recognizable. I know I said this film would NOT win an Oscar, but in this case I kinda hope I’m wrong.
Best Production Design: Why fight it? That enormous tide of promotional spin that insists upon beating us over the head with how terrific it looks, how much clever stuff went into orchestrating each scene, etc. etc. it will just have to be…..La La Land.
Best Picture: In my dreams it would be Lion, even more perfectly realized in every way—sight, sound, writing, acting, scope—than even Man-by-the-Sea. But in the harsh glare of daylight, it will be La La Land.