In his Oscar predictions for The New Yorker, Richard Brody writes that he “balance(s) punditry with pessimism - I’ve learned to assume that my favorite films won’t win.” Richard, buddy boy, we learned our favorites don’t generally win a long, long time ago. And that is why in our Oscar predictions we balance punditry with absurdism and favoritism.
Totally Unreasonable, Completely Legitimate Oscar Predictions
Best Director: Barry Jenkins, Moonlight. See above.
Best Actress: Isabelle Huppert, Elle. It’s not her “time”, but maybe it should be her “time.” In other words...wait your damn turn, Stone!
Best Actor: Denzel Washington, Fences. Say hello to Meryl, Jack and DDL as they greet you at the oak door, Denzel, of the cozy neo-Georgian edifice in an undisclosed Malibu location. Put your stuff in your locker, settle into your wingback chair and pay homage to the portraits of Ingrid, Walter Brennan and The First Lady of Cinema. You’re gonna be in the The Three Timers Club, my man.
|Kidman Bias prevents us from making the logical pick. We have no regrets & we do not apologize.|
Best Supporting Actor: Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals. To root against your Favorite Actor is to betray The Cause.
Best Original Screenplay: Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea. To paraphrase George Costanza driving home from the Westchester flea market while bragging about his next-level driving skills, Kenneth Lonergan is doing things in his “Manchester by the Sea” script “THAT YOU HAVE NO IDEA ARE GOING ON!”
Best Adapated Screenplay: Barry Jenkins, Moonlight. See seven places above.
Best Foreign Language Film: Toni Erdmann. Though I can only assume the fates are now firmly on the side of “The Salesman”, “Toni Erdmann” (review coming eventually), like Ms. Kidman, has my heart.
Best Documentary: I Am Not Your Negro. Because this is the Oscar night victory speech America needs to hear.
Best Animated Film: I have a four year old source who tells me to go “Zootopia.”
Best Production Design: Jess Gonchor & Nancy Haigh, Hail, Caesar! From the Good Luck Bar in Los Feliz to the ornate, empty Roman-era sets on a Hollywood backlot, this one should be untouchable.
Best Cinematography: Bradford Young, Arrival. “Arrival” is simultaneously a humongous movie, given it centers on first contact, and an intimate one, considering its seen principally from the viewpoint of one character. And Young’s cinematography repeatedly finds ways to personalize a global event.
Best Editing: I’m sitting this category out in protest of Sandra Adair not being nominated for “Everybody Wants Some!!”
Best Visual Effects: John Knoll, Mohen Leo, Hal Hickel and Neil Corbould, Rogue One. Are you kidding me?! They brought [redacted] back to life when we needed her (uh, or him) the most!!!
Best Sound Mixing: Kevin O’Connell, Andy Wright, Robert Mackenzie and Peter Grace, Hacksaw Ridge. Kevin O’Connell has gone 0-21 at the Oscars. He was nominated for “Top Gun” which, as everyone knows, is the greatest sound mixed movie of all time and yet somehow still lost. If it is not Mr. O’Connell’s “time” then, my God, whose “time” is it?
Best Sound Editing: Alan Robert Murray & Bub Asman, Sully. Those sounds of an engine-less plane drifting the Hudson...boy, that’ll put a drop in your stomach.
Best Costume Design: Joanna Johnston, Allied. See above.
Best Makeup/Hairstyling: Eva von Bahr & Love Larson, A Man Called Ove. I suspect this was nominated because of Old Man makeup, and fair enough, but in categories like this it's just not my speed to go for obvious picks like “Star Trek Beyond” and “Suicide Squad” even if I understand those two films require a lot of hard makeup & hairstyling work.
Best Original Score: Mica Levi, Jackie. The score is loud and insistent, telling rather than underlining which itself underlines how this movie so ably telling us about how Jackie Kennedy told us the story of the Kennedy’s as Camelot regardless of whether or not that was myth or reality.
Best Original Song: Oh, the who the hell knows. I hate this stupid category. I always hate this stupid category. (Exception: when Lady Gaga is nominated because then I love this awesome category!) So I will pick “Can’t Stop The Feeling” from “Trolls” without even listening to it so I can imagine it as an homage to “Can’t Fight This Feeling” by REO Speedwagon. (Reader: “You know that’s a Justin Timberlake song, right?” Me: “I TAKE IT BACK!!!” Reader: “Too late, dude. You already submitted your ballot.” Me: “I hate this stupid category.”)
Best Live Action Short: After many years of being entirely up to speed with the live action short nominees, I completely failed for the second year in a row. And because I have no great bead on any of these, I will simply follow the timeless rule of “Summer School’s” Dave Frazier who, when push came to shove on the climactic test, just wrote in “B” for every answer he did not know. Meaning I will select the second short listed on the Oscar web site - La Femme et le TGV.
Best Animated Short: Pearl. 360 degree video, which is how Pearl was filmed, is also sometimes called Immersive Video, which feels apropos because it immerses you in the life of a father and daughter on a road trip for life, given you all manner of views from their window as they cruise the country. Its bohemian spirit might rub some the wrong way but I went all in on this short yet expansive ride.
Best Documentary (Short Subject): The White Helmets. No one has blathered more than me about the absurdity of nebulous criteria such as “importance” when it comes to Oscar nominees but these are perilous times, man. And as the country I call home seems to have fallen under the thumb of a burgeoning isolationist, giving this award to a movie that so ably and harrowingly shines a spotlight on selflessness only seems right.