by Blaine Payer `18
This past year was many things, not all of them particularly positive. We lost a number of Hollywood’s most beloved names—Alan Rickman, Gene Wilder, Carrie Fisher, and Debbie Reynolds, just to name a few. We experienced cinematic disasters like the Ben-Hur remake; Independence Day: Resurgence, a sequel that nobody asked for; and World of Warcraft, which became one of the least successful videogame-to-film transitions of all time. Actors used their stardom to try and sway the US election, while others threatened to leave the country after its result.
Amidst all of the tragedy, both on and off the screen, a few shimmering lights gleamed through and reminded everyone that things will be okay.
With the Academy Awards right around the corner, news syndicates have begun to predict which films will take home Oscars, which will be regrettably forgotten, and which may just surprise everyone.
La La Land is both the fan and critic favorite for not only entering the night with the most nominations, but also for leaving with the most wins. Many believe that it is all but guaranteed to win Best Picture and Best Director (Damien Chazelle), and most of the technical awards, such as Best Cinematography, Editing, Sound Mixing, Costume Design, and the like.
However, it has some competition with gritty and visually striking films like Mel Gibson’s WWII drama Hacksaw Ridge and Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival. Gibson is no stranger to the Academy Awards, with his 1995 directorial debut Braveheart taking home the awards for Best Picture and Best Director. Villeneuve, on the other hand, is a favorite amongst critics who has been overlooked by the Academy for the last three years. TIME Magazine predicts that Arrival will receive 10 nominations, the second most behind La La Land.
This year is also a pivotal year for the Academy Awards and their treatment of race as a factor in choosing nominations and winners. Last year saw an extremely controversial protest of the Oscars by many black stars, who were outraged by the complete lack of black nominees for the big six categories—Best Picture, Director, Lead Actor/Actress, and Supporting Actor/Actress.
Moonlight has stolen the attention of many critics, who call it one of the most difficult but important films of the year. Denzel Washington’s role as director and lead actor in his stage-to-screen adaptation of Fences has also garnered quite a bit of attention, with Viola Davis already winning the Golden Globe for best supporting actress. Although both are excellent films and will definitely get Best Picture and other big nominations, Moonlight may be the only one that has a chance of winning over La La Land and other powerhouses.
Of course, there is always the possibility for a film to rise from the depths and sweep the night, like Mad Max: Fury Road in 2016, entering the night with 10 nominations and leaving with six wins. Could a film like Deadpool, a Golden Globe front runner, or Manchester by the Sea pull off a stunt like that this year? Will the premonitions come true and see La La Land dance off with the big six, or does Moonlight have enough steam to pull an upset for Best Picture like Spotlight did last year by besting the obvious favorite, The Revenant? We will have to wait and find out on Sunday, February 24. Until then, I stand by my prediction that La La Land will sweep, but not without some dark horses giving it a run for its money.
Note: The official list of Academy Award Nominations came out on Tuesday, January 24, two days after this was written and two days before it was published.