The finish line is in sight. The Golden Globes and the Screen Actor’s Guild Awards are behind us and the Academy Awards will take place in just a couple of weeks on February 26th. They announced their nominations earlier this month and, I am proud to say, I accurately predicted 31 out of 34 nominations in the categories that I looked at. Some surprises were Lion scoring a Best Picture nod, the much deserved inclusion of Michael Shannon in the Best Supporting Actor category for his work as a dying sheriff in Nocturnal Animals, and Ruth Negga’s nomination for her role in Loving, the lone nomination for the film. Her quiet and dignified performance was one of my favorites of the year. The only disappointment is that her nomination left out the equally great work of Amy Adams in Arrival, despite the film receiving eight nominations.
With 14 nominations, tying it with past nominees All About Eve and Titanic, the Oscars are shaping up to be La La Land’s race to lose. Only three films, Ben-Hur, Titanic, and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, have won eleven Academy awards, meaning that if La La Land wants to break the record they can only afford one slip up, given that they are double nominated in the Best Song category. The other loss will most likely come in the competitive Best Actor category. With important wins at the Director’s Guild Awards and Producer’s Guild Awards, twelve wins seems very possible.
Hell or High Water
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea
La La Land’s 14 nominations indicates that it has support from every branch of the Academy. For example, La La Land is nominated for Best Sound Editing, which is the creation of sound effects. Typically action movies dominate this category, even when Chicago won Best Picture it did not receive a nomination in sound editing, which goes to show just how far love of La La Land reaches in the Academy. La La Land failed to receive a nomination for Best Ensemble at the Screen Actor’s Guild Awards. The last film to win Best Picture without an ensemble nomination at the SAGs was Braveheart in 1996. Their perceived “snub” is more likely because it lacks an ensemble than a sign of things to come at the Academy Awards. The DGAs have predicted the Best Picture winner at the Oscars all but 14 times in 68 years and the PGAs have predicted 19 of the past 27 winners. With these awards on La La Land’s side, they shouldn’t sweat the SAGs.
ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
Ryan Gosling, La La Land
Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic
Denzel Washington, Fences
The main surprise at the SAG awards was Casey Affleck’s loss to Denzel Washington in the Best Actor category. Affleck has long been thought to be a lock and a favorite on the awards circuit up until this point. This is either an indicator that the sexual assault allegations against Affleck matter to Hollywood or that Washington, this was his first SAG win, was long overdue for recognition from his peers. Odds lean slightly in Washington’s favor at the moment, but Affleck could spring back in the next couple of weeks.
ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Isabelle Huppert, Elle
Ruth Negga, Loving
Natalie Portman, Jackie
Emma Stone, La La Land
Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins
Emma Stone is starting to appear as the clear winner in what started as one of this year’s most competitive categories. Stone’s main competition, Natalie Portman, lost the SAG award to Stone and buzz for Portman’s film Jackie has gone mostly quiet in the past month. One of the main criticisms of La La Land is that the characters are thinly drawn. Stone carries much of the character on her charm and vulnerability. With another the actress the film might not have worked nearly as well.
ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea
Dev Patel, Lion
Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals
Mahershala Ali is looking to be a sure bet in this category. Save the Golden Globe, he’s taken home every other supporting actor award this season. He gave the most recent of his moving speeches while accepting his SAG award where he spoke of unity and telling his minister mother that he had converted to Islam. In a particularly politically fraught year, speeches like that go a long way. A win for him would be a way to recognize the much loved Moonlight, along with a win for director Barry Jenkins for best adapted screenplay. I can’t imagine anyone else winning in this category.
ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Viola Davis, Fences
Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Nicole Kidman, Lion
Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures
Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea
Powerful acceptance speeches are a trademark of a Viola Davis win. She will get to make another one on Oscar night. She hasn’t lost a major award that she has been nominated for this season.
Denis Villeneuve, Arrival
Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge
Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Damien Chazelle just turned 32. The current youngest Best Director winner, Norman Taurog, was just shy of 33 when he won in 1931. That record is almost guaranteed to be broken at the end of this month. Chazelle also snapped up the Director’s Guild Award that has predicted all but seven Best Director winners in the past 69 years. Chazelle’s direction is ambitious and highly technical and The Academy will likely want to honor such a gifted, young filmmaker.
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Chandler Ferrebee is an aspiring filmmaker and program support intern at Light House Studio.