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2017 Oscar Predictions

Every year I furiously watch as many Oscar nominated films as I can to put together my predictions list. Here’s what I’m thinking for this year:

Best Actor:

Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea

Andrew Garfield – Hacksaw Ridge

Ryan Gosling – La La Land

Viggo Mortensen – Captain Fantastic

Denzel Washington – Fences

Who I think should win: Viggo Mortensen’s performance was so far reaching from what we know him for. Also, it showed layers that I think were lacking in the other performances. But unfortunately is was an indie film that didn’t get a lot of distribution.

Who will win: I think at this point, Denzel’s edged out Casey Affleck because of Affleck’s controversy surrounding the two sexual harassment lawsuits he conveniently settled before the start of an aggressive award season. Even though Denzel has his Tony from the same performance, Fences was completely Viola Davis’ movie, but I still think he can expect an Oscar to keep his Tony company.

Best Actress:

Isabell Huppert – Elle

Ruth Negga – Loving

Natalie Portman – Jackie

Emma Stone – La La Land

Meryl Streep – Florence Foster Jenkins

Who I think should win: Although I have a soft spot for foreign actresses and Isabell Huppert won the Golden Globe and was not nominated for a SAG, Elle is a difficult movie to watch, and I think that will turn off academy voters. Plus, she doesn’t get really ugly in it and for a movie about rape to hit home in a looks obsessed industry, she would have to get ugly – think Charlize Theron, Hallie Berry – and Isabell just…doesn’t. Ruth Negga, however, shows such depth and beauty in Loving that you want to watch it more than once. But, this performance was so quiet, it won’t get a lot of attention.

Who will win: Emma Stone has taken almost every award out there, even though she’s far from the best performance out of the five. I’m mean, I was so incredibly distracted by her the prominence of her skinny shoulder blades sticking awkwardly out of her dress, I could barely ignore the bad singing. The industry has spoken – she’ll get it.

Best Supporting Actor:

Maherhala Ali – Moonlight

Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water

Lucas Hedges – Manchester by the Sea

Dev Patel – Lion

Michael Shannon – Nocturnal Animals

Who I think should win: This category is always difficult. Maherahal Ali’s performance was so memorable it swept this category all award season, with the exception of the Golden Globe. But Dev Patel in Lion was so far from the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel with his emotional arc that you couldn’t help but root for him. It’s a real tossup between these two.

Who will win: Maherahal Ali. His portrayal of a drug dealer and father figure has you liking and hating him at the same time. Tough. Very tough.

Best Supporting Actress:

Viola Davis – Fences

Naomie Harris – Moonlight

Nicole Kidman – Lion

Octavia Spencer – Hidden Figures

Michelle Williams – Manchester by the Sea

Who I think should win: Naomie Harris’ performance was really too short to be considered, even though Judy Dench’s three minute performance in Shakespeare in Love garnered her the statue.  Michelle Williams’ role was small and her devastating final scene with Affleck rivals that of Viola Davis. Davis also took home the Tony for her stage performance and she has swept every one this award season. Her moving scene when she lets Denzel have it is so powerful, it makes almost every woman want to stand up and cheer.

Who will win: Viola Davis. She was absolutely on fire in Fences. She’ll take it home, and I can’t wait to hear her acceptance speech.

Best Director:

Damien Chazelle – La La Land

Barry Jenkins – Moonlight

Denis Villeneuve – Arrival

Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester by the Sea

Mel Gibson – Hacksaw Ridge

Who I think should win: Tough. I have to admit that nothing really moved me this year as much as Moonlight. Such terrible subjects to a terrible story. La La Land left me underwhelmed. Damien Chazelle’s attempt at being the next Orson Wells with his one continuous opening shot was lack luster. And I had enough of leading actors being cast as singers with Pierce Brosnan in Mama Mia and Russell Crowe in Les Miserables – yeah, I said it!!  Arrival was over rated and honestly took way too much brainpower, removing watchers from the story to try to figure out the timeline. Where is she? Who knows what? What, wait? What time is it? Too hard. Manchester by the Sea, although well executed, fell short when it came to Moonlight. And as much as Casey Affleck seemed to stretch in his role, he always comes across as a bit whiney to me. Mel Gibson…well, I won’t lie to you, the film wasn’t good enough for me to forgive his drunken tirade on the side of Pacific Coast Highway.

Who will win: As much as I disagree – it’s Damien’s this year. Hollywood is in the mood to pour some love on an extremely over rated film – just like the horrible film Crash was elevated to an okay film to a masterpiece examining social issues. Hooey. It’s all hooey. But it’s also Hollywood.

Best Picture:

Arrival

Fences

Hacksaw Ridge

Hell or High Water

Hidden Figures

La La Land

Lion

Manchester by the Sea

Moonlight

Who I think should win: It’s pretty well thought that Best Director and Best Picture usually go to the same project. Although last year they did switch it up with Spotlight winning best picture and best director going to Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu for Birdman. Hell or High Water was way too reminiscent of True Grit (for me) and as much as I feel Hidden Figures should be applauded, the story wasn’t strong enough for me. Hacksaw Ridge is the classic Hollywood winner, but it’s been way overshadowed by the fluff of La La Land and the insightfulness of Moonlight and Lion. Arrival had beautiful cinematography, but did I mention it was…REALLY CONFUSING!!!???  All in all, if you ask me what film moved me the most, it was Moonlight by far. But it won’t win.

Who will win: La La Land. This mediocre musical with super bad singers has managed to elbow its way to the front – a by product of the election and the terrible crap that has transpired in political circles. Hollywood would rather place its highest honor on a relatively forgettable film than reward something for serious thought or groundbreaking topics. It wouldn’t be the first time. Plus, La La Land represents the want and need of art in one’s life, as well as love and who doesn’t want both of those?

So those are my thoughts for the big ticket categories. Oscars are starting any minute tonight. Happy watching!

Fantastic Beasts…And What I Think of Them

This review contains SPOILERS and lots of them. Don’t continue reading if you don’t want to know. Really. Stop right here!

trailer fantastic beasts and where to find them

Probably by now all the diehard Harry Potter fans have made their way to the theater to see the latest installment – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The film, written this time, directly by J.K. Rowling herself is a visual delight, although, it does lack in the story department.

Newt Scamander (adequately played by Eddie Redmayne) comes to New York City, fresh off the boat from the U.K., which formulates the first question – Why did he have to come by boat? Can’t he just apparate? I mean, what’s the point of being a wizard if you can’t easily get to point A to point B? Also, he claims he’s come to America to release one of his creatures back into the wild of a magical place known as…Arizona. Couldn’t he just go straight there and bypass NYC all together? It’s a confusing way to start.

There also seems to be every opportunity imaginable to preach the ever popular Potterverse of tolerance. Don’t get me wrong, I like the message of everyone should get along, but the character of Mary Lou, (played by Samantha Morton) a regular ‘ol human who believes there are witches among us, but turns out to be quite a witchy person herself, seems oddly conceived and oddly used. Honestly, there are too many characters in this film and a lot of new Potterverse world building stuff is introduced to propel the plot forward. It would have made it stronger to stick with Newt and what drives him to do what he does, rather than introduce so many new people and the war In America with keeping magic secret, as well as the ever growing powers and threat of the dark wizard Grindewald. Too much. Too much happening!

The film is visually stunning. The beasts are real and beautiful and the wonderment of the wizarding world is experienced by the Muggle, or to use the U.S. lingo, No-Mag, Jacob Kowalski (notice the initials here?), which is delightful. The experience is reminiscent of the magic at the first viewing of the very first Harry Potter film. And who doesn’t want to relive that moment?

Once Upon a Thyme

Conner Montgomery is a thirty-five-year-old painfully shy executive chef at The Imperial Arms Hotel, who has spent most of her life hiding in her kitchen, but dreams of getting out from under the thumb of Wilhelmina Tate, her boss and benefactor. Her chance soon arrives when she’s given the esteemed assignment of preparing the menu for the social event of the year – an extravagant gala for the very wealthy and sophisticated hotel empire heir Philip Garrity. Philip wants to break away from the family business and be a restaurateur and thinks Conner’s unique cuisine can help him do that. The only problem is – he thinks Conner Montgomery is a reclusive, old man.

Afraid if she were to tell Philip the truth it would ruin her chances of getting hired, Conner tells Philip her name is Helen and she’s the sous chef – if he needs to ask Conner anything, it can go through her. The lie rapidly ensnares Conner and she enlists the help of her kitchen family to assist in the deception. She’s finally going to go after what she’s always wanted – even if she’s got to pretend to be man to do it.

Let Down Your Hair

Ruby Lee Lester, daughter of country star, Arnie Lester, is a hard-edged, thirty-five-year-old self proclaimed heathen and one-hit-wonder country singer who spends most of her time holed up in her downtown Nashville honkytonk bar Eden, aka The Garden.

Safely secluded in her home away from home, Ruby tries her hardest to forget how her ex-manager/boyfriend stole all her money and conned her into signing over her song rights. She sets her mind to doing bad things, mostly sleeping around, smoking too much, and drinking to excess. And she vows never to cut her hair, make music, or be “managed” again. For ten years the lifestyle works – until a family tragedy suddenly puts Ruby in charge of her twelve-year-old nephew, Ben, and…his Hebrew school education.