The Oscars 2017 Showdown


Photograph: Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

The Oscars will be televised on ABC on February 26, 2017, which will signify the end to the dramatic 2016 awards season. As always, the Oscar voters made some mistakes, but not as many as last year when they found themselves in the #OscarsSoWhite controversy after nominating white actors for all 20 of their acting spots. The following are the films and actors that will win and should win, as well as those that missed out.

Alex R. Hibbert in Moonlight – Photograph: A24/Dave Bornfriend
Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in La La Land – Photograph: Lionsgate/Summit
Ben Foster and Chris Pine in Hell or High Water – Photograph: Lionsgate
Denzel Washington and Viola Davis in Fences – Photograph: David Lee/Paramount

Best Picture:

Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
Hidden Figures
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea

These nominees were all expected, and a good variety were nominated. There is a science fiction film, a biographical war drama, a musical romantic comedy-drama, and even a neo-Western crime thriller.

Will Win: La La Land
Hollywood. Two stars as the leads. Universal critical acclaim. Romance drama. Historical influence. La La Land was one of the best films of 2016, so it would be a fine Best Picture winner. It is a bit irritating, however, that quality is not the only reason why it will win.

Should Win: Moonlight
The only film that had more acclaim than La La Land in 2016 was Moonlight, and it is completely deserving of it. Moonlight is a coming-of-age drama film about a black boy’s personal life during the War on Drugs period. It has an interesting narrative structure with each third of the film being dedicated to his child, teenager, and adult life, each stage having different actors playing the same characters. Everything about it from acting to writing to directing is outstanding.

Potential Nominees: American Honey, Certain Women, Jackie, The Lobster, Paterson
Best Picture nominees are largely debatable, but there were several films from 2016 that received better acclaim and were just as good, if not better, than some of the nominated films, like Hacksaw Ridge, Hidden Figures, and Lion.

Casey Affleck in Manchester by the Sea – Photograph: Claire Folger/Roadside Attractions

Best Actor:

Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea
Andrew Garfield – Hacksaw Ridge
Ryan Gosling – La La Land
Viggo Mortensen – Captain Fantastic
Denzel Washington – Fences

These nominees were also all expected.

Will Win: Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea
Should Win: Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea
Affleck’s performance as a sulky handyman is more distressing than probably any other performance in 2016, and with this performance, he won nearly every Best Actor award in sight. Unfortunately for him, Denzel Washington unexpectedly won the extremely crucial Best Actor award from the Screen Actors Guild, so it is entirely possible for him to take the Best Actor Oscar too.

Should Have Been Nominated: Dave Johns – I, Daniel Blake
Johns received critical acclaim as the center of the politically controversial film condemning the United Kingdom’s welfare system. Politicians have actually been discussing about the film.

Isabelle Huppert in Elle – Photograph: Sony Classics
Amy Adams in Arrival – Photograph: Jan Thijs/Paramount
Natalie Portman in Jackie – Photograph: Fox Searchlight/Stephanie Branchu

Best Actress:

Isabelle Huppert – Elle
Ruth Negga – Loving
Natalie Portman – Jackie
Emma Stone – La La Land
Meryl Streep – Florence Foster Jenkins

In this ridiculously talented category, the only surprise nomination is Ruth Negga, who lost traction earlier in the awards season. Amy Adams was expected to take her place instead for Arrival.

Will Win: Emma Stone – La La Land
There is no one campaigning harder for an Oscar this year than Emma Stone, who, as a high-profile star, ironically gave a great performance of an aspiring actress trying to make it in Hollywood.

Should Win: Isabelle Huppert – Elle
Huppert has had a career-defining year, starring in two of the best films of 2016, Elle and Things to Come. In Elle, she was as cold as one could be, portraying a rape victim with some serious issues. In Things to Come, she was a warm philosophy teacher who strives to actualize herself.

Should Have Been Nominated:
Amy Adams – Arrival
Not nominating Adams for her brilliant and bleak performance as a linguist investigating spaceship landings is a crime against humanity. This oversight could be attributed to a potential Oscar bias against science-fiction films or a potential vote-split with her other great performance in Nocturnal Animals, depending on who you ask.
Annette Bening – 20th Century Women
This is the year’s defining performance of a 20th century woman (or man).
Isabelle Huppert – Things to Come
Just give her all of the awards, honestly.

Mahershala Ali and Alex R. Hibbert in Moonlight – Photograph: A24/David Bornfriend
Lucas Hedges in Manchester by the Sea – Photograph: Claire Folger/Roadside Attractions
Issei Ogata in Silence – Photograph: Paramount

Best Supporting Actor:

Mahershala Ali – Moonlight
Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water
Lucas Hedges – Manchester by the Sea
Dev Patel – Lion
Michael Shannon – Nocturnal Animals

In this list of lead actors that get nominated in the supporting actors category, Michael Shannon’s nomination was a surprise. His Nocturnal Animals co-star, Aaron Taylor-Johnson had more Oscar hype after winning Best Supporting Actor at the Golden Globes. Hugh Grant was also supposed to be nominated for Florence Foster Jenkins.

Will Win: Mahershala Ali – Moonlight
Should Win: Mahershala Ali – Moonlight
Like Affleck, Ali has won the vast majority of the Best Supporting Actor awards. He deserves them too, playing the best “drug dealer with a lot of heart” since The Wire years.

Should Have Been Nominated:
Issey Ogata – Silence
As Inquisitor Inoue, Ogata plays a calm but stern old man to perfection.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson – Nocturnal Animals
In a film with Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Michael Shannon, Taylor-Johnson somehow ended up stealing the show playing a creepy gang leader who takes a family hostage.

Naomie Harris in Moonlight – Photograph: A24

Best Supporting Actress:

Viola Davis – Fences
Naomie Harris – Moonlight
Nicole Kidman – Lion
Octavia Spencer – Hidden Figures
Michelle Williams – Manchester by the Sea

These actresses all had solid strangleholds over their nominations.

Will Win: Viola Davis – Fences
Davis (and Denzel Washington) won Tonys for playing the same characters in the play version. Also, she’s Viola Davis and is well overdue for an Oscar.

Should Win: Naomie Harris – Moonlight
Shooting her performance in only three days, Harris played a crack addict mother with about 20 years of beautiful progression.

Should Have Been Nominated: Hayley Squires – I, Daniel Blake
Squires gave a strong performance opposite Dave Johns in one of the most powerful scenes of 2016, a scene in a food bank that would speak to any moviegoer who has went through destitution.

Charlize Theron and Art Parkinson in Kubo and the Two Strings – Photograph: Focus Features
Jason Bateman and Ginnifer Goodwin in Zootopia – Photograph: Buena Vista/Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures


Best Animated Feature:

Kubo and the Two Strings
My Life as a Zucchini
The Red Turtle

These nominees were expected.

Should Win: Kubo and the Two Strings AND Zootopia
Will Win: Zootopia
2016’s animated films can’t compare to Inside Out and Anomalisa from 2015, but Kubo and Zootopia were the best of the year’s bunch and should be recognized.