Monday, 27 February 2017

Oscars 2017

Best Animated Film Kubo and the Two Strings
Zootopia, easily the bookies favourite, has every right to win, but there's something about Kubo which sets it apart from the pack. The stop motion aspect is interesting, of course, but it also tackles storylines that Disney seem to have distanced themselves from. The death of a young boy's father may reek of The Lion King, but that's almost 25 years old. Combined with more mythical storytelling and I truly believe Kubo to be deserving of the Oscar.

Best Adapted Screenplay Moonlight
Much like Best Animated Film there are so many deserving winners here. Fences, which you can tell came from the stage given the way it's been adapted, and Lion which is heart-wrenching and europhic simultaneously - all of the clich├ęs. However it's Moonlight that surely has to win, set in three parts it follows the development of a young gay, black man and the challenges he has to overcome and the way that his sexuality in particular informs those choices.

Best Original Screenplay Manchester By The Sea
While La La Land is expected to win awards all over the shop I'd be surprised to see it pick up this particular category. I expect it to go to Manchester By The Sea, which is gloriously written. It somehow manages to be about the absolute worst things one could imagine in life, and still manages to be funny. Initially I found it a little confusing the way it cuts between time periods without notice but as the film develops that's part of its allure - the way the characters slowly unfold before you.

Best Director Damien Chazelle
In my mind Damien Chazelle has to take home the award, La La Land perfectly sums up his vision to an absolute tee. It's clearly a labour of love, and while you can pick holes in a number of areas the artistic vision is one you'd be hard pressed to find fault in. This combined with cinematography are the two that I would expect LLL to pick up easily.

Best Supporting Actor Mahershala Ali
In many ways the following doesn't make sense - I think the nominations tilts this in favour of Mahershala. I do not know how the voting system works - whether they cast ballots openly across all films, or if the nominations are first released (or a combination of the two - however I think Aaron Taylor-Johnson is probably who I would have chosen. Failing that I really don't see much competition for Ali; yes Dev Patel won at the BAFTAs but I'm not sure how much the British bias came into that. The only real advantage Patel has is he's the star of his film, but it honestly shouldn't be much of a competition.

Best Supporting Actress Viola Davis
It's not even close, Viola Davis absolutely nails her role in Fences. There's literally nothing else to say.

Best Actor Denzel Washington
If this were to be given for pure acting and irrelevant of how good a person I find particular actors it would probably be edging toward Casey Affleck rather than Denzel - who criminally wasn't even up for the award at the BAFTAs - but that's not the way these things work with me so I'm going with Denzel. Fences relies on its acting; everything about it is very much taken directly from the theatrical production. The entire movie is set in one scene, and that means that Washington and Davis are relied on, and they deliver.

Best Actress Natalie Portman
Slight caveat here that I've actually only seen two of the nominations - Jackie and La La Land. Portman completed embodies Jacqueline Kennedy, the film is quite literally all about her. I wasn't that taken with the film itself but at times I forgot who I was watching. It's a wonderfully immersive performance.

Best Picture Manchester By The Sea
It's actually fairly difficult to call Best Picture as there're a few different ways it could go. The most likely, and most unsatisfactory, is that La La Land scoops. But for me there are two films that deserve it more than Chazelle's entry - Manchester By The Sea and Moonlight. Ignoring the hate for LLL, Manchester By The Sea is a better overall picture. It's funny, emotive, beautifully shot. Moonlight is groundbreaking in many ways. You don't see many films with people of colour playing complex leads, let alone factoring in the sexuality aspect. MBTS edges it for me; I can't name a film that manages to stretch so far while seeming so genuine. The only downside is it stars Affleck.

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