Golden predictions

It’s Oscar season. RN&R’s movie critic weighs in on who should win, who will win, and who got snubbed.

Will La La Land suffer enough backlash before the Oscar ceremony on Feb. 26 to lose the Best Picture Oscar? Will Matt Damon show up dressed as Batman to foil Jimmy Kimmel’s big hosting gig? Will Ben Affleck stop pouting about how badly Live By Night bombed and reaccept the directing chores of his upcoming The Batman?

I know that last part was off subject, but if you mention Damon you have to mention Affleck. Alternative weekly writers are fined $78.53 if they fail to do so.

Honestly, it’s odd to see so many people hating on a movie that is cleaning up at the awards. I’ve personally, as well as publicly, recommended La La Land to many people, feeling it was a sure thing, only to be met with scowls the next time they saw me. One person actually punched me in the face and threw their drink at me. It was awkward—and it was wine, so it stained. Lawsuit pending.

I just don’t understand the backlash. Ryan Gosling is so dreamy.

So, here’s a detailed rundown of the major categories, along with some quick picks of the secondary ones. This year’s Oscar drinking game is as follows: every time Meryl Streep takes a jab at Donald Trump, drink two tequila shots and go tell your neighbor you despise their taste in shoes. By the time the evening is over, you should be sufficiently wasted, and your neighbor’s garbage can will be overflowing with gaudy pumps and stinky sandals.

Best Picture




Hacksaw Ridge

Hell or High Water

Hidden Figures

La La Land


Manchester By the Sea


The least deserving nominee in this pack is Fences, although it does qualify as an acting powerhouse, and the nominations it received in acting categories are much deserved. Overall, it felt a bit narrow with its staging, something more appropriate for HBO or Netflix than the big screen.

La La Land has been scoring this year. It’s hard to think it will lose out on the biggest prize, but, if it does, I think Moonlight would be the film responsible for an upset.

Snubs: The Witch was an outstanding horror film, an audacious directorial debut, and possibly the year’s best looking film. Of course, it got zero nominations. Not even a nomination for costumes or best evil goat performance.

Should and will win: La La Land

Best Director


Denis Villeneuve (Arrival)

Mel Gibson (Hacksaw Ridge)

Damien Chazelle (La La Land)

Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester By the Sea)

Barry Jenkins (Moonlight)

It’s so bonkers to see Gibson nominated. Granted, he did a great job, but there were others more deserving, so it feels a bit showy for the Academy to put him in there. They love their controversy.

No matter, Chazelle is taking this one home. If it’s not him, it’s Jenkins.

Snubs: David Mackenzie (Hell or High Water), Robert Eggers (The Witch)

Should and will win: Chazelle

Best Actress


Isabelle Huppert (Elle)

Ruth Negga (Loving)

Natalie Portman (Jackie)

Emma Stone (La La Land)

Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins)

Stone is the most deserving. Her performance was a major feat and will not be ignored. While Streep is fun in Jenkins, she has no chance of winning, and it’s a wasted nom. As for Huppert, she’s a great actress, but Paul Verhoeven’s Elle is an embarrassingly bad film.

Snubs: The worst snubs of the year happened in this category. Amy Adams should be here for The Arrival, a film that got many nominations, and a film that wouldn’t have worked as well without her at its center. So, a nomination would’ve made complete and total sense, but Oscar likes to do at least one or two truly dopey things a year.

Even worse, Annette Bening’s career best performance in 20th Century Women is nowhere to be found. Perhaps not enough Academy viewers were able to see it in time? That can be the only explanation because she was incredible—and would be my second choice after Stone.

Should and will win: Stone

Best Actor finalists


Casey Affleck (Manchester By the Sea)

Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge)

Ryan Gosling (La La Land)

Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic)

Denzel Washington (Fences)

It looked like Affleck was going to make a clean sweep of the majors but, uh oh, he lost the SAG award, and that award is a consummate predictor of who will get the Oscar. Being that Affleck is plagued with controversy this year, I’m thinking that trend won’t be broken, and the Oscar is going to Denzel.

My second choice in this category after Affleck would be the oh-so-dreamy Gosling, who learned how to play jazz piano for La La Land and delivered an engaging, funny, sweet performance as well. Some day, this guy is going to get an Oscar.

SNUBS: I love me some Viggo, and Garfield was powerful in Ridge, but Jake Gyllenhaal (Nocturnal Animals) and Joel Edgerton (Loving) should’ve gotten noms in their places.

Should win: Affleck

Will win: Washington

Best Supporting Actress


Viola Davis (Fences)

Naomie Harris (Moonlight)

Nicole Kidman (Lion)

Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures)

Michelle Williams (Manchester By the Sea)

All nominated in this category are deserving, and this is one of the more “snub-free” categories. It’s a tough one to pick, but Williams shared, perhaps, the most memorable dramatic scene of the year with Affleck in Sea, and she absolutely rocked it. Davis is the favorite here, but Williams is the most deserving.

Should win: Williams

Will win: Davis

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)

There’s no question with this one; it’s going to Ali for playing the controversial father figure in Moonlight. If I were picking, Hedges would get it for Sea, but the inevitable Ali win is almost as deserving.

Snubs: While I don’t think there were major snubs in this category, it was a category where there were plenty of equally deserving actors, such as Ben Foster in Hell or High Water and Woody Harrelson in The Edge of Seventeen.

Should win: Hedges

Will win: Ali

Animated Feature Film


Kubo and the Two Strings


My Life as a Zucchini

The Red Turtle


While Kubo is the more ambitious and better film, Zootopia will get the most votes.

Snubs: Whoa, no Finding Dory? That’s just silly.

Should win: Kubo and the Two Strings

Will win: Zootopia

Additional categories

Cinematography: La La Land

Costume Design: Jackie

Documentary Feature: O.J.: Made In America

Documentary Short Subject: The White Helmets

Short Film Animated: Piper

Short Film Live Action: Sing

Film Editing: La La Land

Foreign Language Film: The Salesman

Music Original Score: La La Land

Music Original Song: “City of Stars” (La La Land)

Production Design: La La Land

Sound Editing: Hacksaw Ridge

Sound Mixing: La La Land

Visual Effects: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Adapted Screenplay: Moonlight

Original Screenplay: Manchester By the Sea