Let’s just keep rolling on with our Oscarathon 2017 coverage. You can check Part 1 of this piece to get my thoughts on Best Picture, Director, and all of the acting awards. Now let’s keep moving on to the rest of the awards I feel comfortable theorizing about.
Best Original Screenplay
This category was likely to be one of the easiest to talk about until Moonlight was surprisingly moved to Best Adapted Screenplay despite being up for original screenplay everywhere else. This surprise decision has left a wide open race for at least one spot. So nothing has brought about a bigger change to the race than that move, not even La La Land‘s Globes win. That Globes win, though, is still a big deal, because it at least suggests that La La Land is a threat to beat Manchester by the Sea come Oscar time, because, well, La La Land might win everything. Manchester is still the likely frontrunner, though, because it has been for the most part, and generally when it’s lost it’s been to Moonlight, not La La Land.
Lonergan’s script won the AACTA and National Society of Film Critics plus got a BAFTA nomination. La La Land, to be fair, got an AACTA and BAFTA nomination as well, but wasn’t even a runner-up with the National Society of Film Critics. Add in that musicals do not tend to win at the Oscars, and this is the best way for the Oscars to get Lonergan a deserved Oscar. I am dubious that the Globes loss will really impact Manchester, but it can’t be discounted that the Globes have planted the idea of people straight voting for La La Land in whatever it is nominated for, and, well, Academy voters are lazy, so you do the math. (Their laziness is somewhat justifiable, because most of them are working professionals who stay very, very busy. But it’s still lazy voting.)
The other lock at this point appears to be Hell or High Water. It has both AACTA and BAFTA nominations to go alongside its Globe nomination, mostly in categories that combined adapted and original screenplays. It was runner-up for the National Society of Film Critics, and writer Taylor Sheridan already has a lot of respect from his past work on Sicario last year. This script won’t win, but it is definitely getting a nomination.
The Lobster is likely heading towards a nomination as well, based on its early success, but the last slew of nominations haven’t helped it become a lock like the other three. It feels like the kind of script that normally gets nominated in this category, and Moonlight‘s departure likely helps this script because it is now battling for two spots against a slew of competition that (except in one instance) have all failed to get a nomination anywhere at all. Those could include Captain Fantastic, something like 20th Century Women, or possibly even Zootopia. Or it could be something completely out of nowhere. This category is not afraid to make bold choices, so this could get weird. That’s why it is almost impossible to say at this point who is next in line, unless you want to say that I, Daniel Blake‘s BAFTA nomination could push it forward, which I guess is possible. The WGA nominations may help clarify this, but Moonlight‘s defection likely means that this category is all even more guesswork than normal until the Oscar nominations actually come.
Nomination Locks: La La Land, Manchester by the Sea, Hell or High Water
Near Lock: The Lobster
Contenders: Now that Moonlight and Loving are gone from the category, your guess is as good as mine.
Best Adapted Screenplay
This had previously been a much harder category to peg, because the Adapted possibilities were so much weaker than Original this year. Most awards shows have only had one category for screenplays, which have been dominated by originals. Then Moonlight moved to this category, and everything changed. Jenkins’ Moonlight script is the absolute clear favorite, considering it was probably the biggest threat to Manchester in a much tougher category that it has actually won awards for in other places. Moonlight actually beat Manchester for the Satellite Award, and was runner-up for the National Society of Film Critics. It got a BAFTA nomination even with its lower than expected overall nomination haul. The only way Moonlight loses at this point is if the voters decide that it shouldn’t be in the Adapted category, which, well, it probably shouldn’t, but that would be a really bad reason for it not to win, especially considering this gives the voters a way to give an Oscar to Barry Jenkins, Lonergan, and Chazelle, which would have been much more difficult before the switch.
Arrival is likely a lock for a nomination, simply because of how strong the film is likely to do in nominations overall. It also got a BAFTA nom, which helps set it above the rest of the contenders, but without any real indicators that it is actually above the rest, it can’t be a lock quite yet. The same could probably be said for Nocturnal Animals, which got a nomination at both the Globes and BAFTA. This also looks like the only other place than supporting actor that there is a real justification for giving this film a nomination, and the Academy does really like Tom Ford. Still, the overall tepid support for this film stops it from being a lock.
Things are messy after those three, though not quite as chaotic as the final spot in Original Screenplay. Both Hacksaw Ridge and Lion got BAFTA and AACTA nominations. Hidden Figures got a BAFTA nomination. Fences is a late comer that is based on a highly successful novel and stage play. Silence had a small share of success earlier in the season, this and may really be the only way that the film gets a nomination. Loving may also get a look now that, like Moonlight, it has been moved from Original (in most shows’ estimation) to the (much weaker this year) Adapted category, thanks to arcane Oscar rules. The nominations will come from this group, but there aren’t enough data points yet to figure out which ones. The WGAs will likely be hugely helpful for this category, as that group’s support could help push some of these films over the top.
Nomination Lock: Moonlight
Near Locks: Arrival, Nocturnal Animals
Contenders: Silence, Fences, Hidden Figures, Lion, Hacksaw Ridge, Loving
This category got a bit of a shake-up when Arrival was deemed ineligible. I am not sure it would have won, but it has gotten multiple other nominations, and likely would have got a nomination here, but now a slot has been opened up. This is a rather competitive category, as this has been a strong year for movie music. The only two locks at this point are the two Oscar favorites Moonlight and La La Land. Admittedly, Moonlight might be a bit of a stubborn lock, considering its lack of BAFTA or even Satellite nomination, but it did get a Globes nomination. Moonlight still looks like it will get a good number of nominations, and Nicholas Britell’s score is one of the major strengths of this Oscar near-frontrunner, so the rest of these snubs just feel like weird noise that shouldn’t be given too much thought.
There is absolutely no doubt in the case of Justin Hurwitz’s La La Land score, especially after his Globes and Satellite wins, combined with his BAFTA nomination. Hurwitz is likely the frontrunner, as La La Land being a musical is almost certainly going to make a lot of people simply pick anything musical related to it, even if the score and musical numbers are really supposed to be somewhat separate, but that is going to be impossible, especially for this film. And the score itself is quite good.
After those two things, the next two noms are likely Lion and Hidden Figures. Lion‘s duo composers Dustin O’Halloran and Hauschka picked up both BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations. This is an underrated score that could honestly sneak in and win when all’s said and done. Hidden Figures picked up a Golden Globe nomination, and its star-powered composer team of Hans Zimmer, Pharrell Williams, and Benjamin Wallfisch is likely to push this film over the top.
After those four, there are a lot of ways you could go. Both Nocturnal Animals and Jackie received BAFTA nominations, and there is always the lingering spectre of Rogue One. If Rogue One had actually been composed by John Williams again, this would be a slam dunk pick, because John Williams has received the second most nominations of all time at the Oscars (only trailing Walt Disney), but Rogue One is actually composed by Michael Giacchino. He’s plenty famous in his own right, but he’s no John Williams. Arrival‘s disqualification really opened the door for one, if not two of these films, but it remains to be seen which is currently in the best position.
Nomination Locks: Moonlight, La La Land
Near Locks: Lion, Hidden Figures
Contenders: Rogue One, Nocturnal Animals, Jackie
Not Eligible: Arrival
It’s best to remember that this category is weird. While the past four years have actually tried, it was only as recently as 2011 that the Academy nominated only two songs, so even though this is a really stacked Best Song year, that doesn’t mean the Academy actually cares. At most only three songs will probably only get to be performed at the show anyhow, so it is a little hard to have too much faith in anything, because who knows if they will nominate enough songs or if they will continue their trend of not picking obvious song choices like last year’s “See You Again.” So even my locks should come with a grain of salt because this category makes silly decisions. Thus, why I am fairly confident on three songs, I am only willing to say with certainty that “City of Stars” from La La Land is going to get nominated. This continues to be strange to me, since this is probably the fourth best song in the film, but that is what La La Land is going with, and so far so good, as it has picked up the Golden Globe, Satellite Award, and Critics’ Choice Award. This is the heavy favorite, and is probably winning when all is said and done.
After that, things get murkier, but it seems very likely that Trolls “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” and Moana‘s “How Far I’ll Go” are getting nominations. Both received Globe noms, and both have star power the Academy would like to bring to the show in the form of Justin Timberlake and Lin-Manuel Miranda. But they aren’t quite the lock that “City of Stars” is.
After those two, things gets iffier. mainly because there is no guarantee that there will be more nominations than even these three. But if there are, the next group looks to be a combination of Golden Globes and Critics’ Choice Award nominees–or honestly, a shit ton more, because there are a lot of solid song choices. Sing Street‘s “Drive It Like You Stole It,” La La Land‘s “Audition (The Fools Who Dream),” and Rules Don’t Apply‘s “The Rules Don’t Apply” all got Critics’ Choice Awards nominations. Meanwhile, Gold‘s “Gold” and Sing‘s “Faith” got Golden Globe nominations. An argument could be made for or against any of these, though. Which means the door is open to something like Zootopia‘s “Try Anything,” Hidden Figures‘s “Runnin’,” and/or even Sausage Party‘s “The Great Beyond” to grab a spot.
Nomination Lock: “City of Stars”
Near Locks: “Can’t Stop the Feeling,” “How Far I’ll Go”
Contenders: “Gold,” “Faith,” “Drive It Like You Stole It,” “Audition (The Fools Who Dream),” “The Rules Don’t Apply,”Try Anything,” “Runnin,” “The Great Beyond”
Best Animated Film
This race has gotten crazy. Sure, Zootopia won the Golden Globe, and is the clear favorite to win the Oscar right now, but there is a lot of uncertainty after that. It is very possible that, depending on how you view Laika, this might be a “Disney film and four smaller studio pictures up against each other” kind of year. This cool idea has had a bit of cold water thrown on it, after the very, very boring and traditional picks made by the PGAs and BAFTA, but there is still far more uncertainty in this race than one might have expected months ago. The only other sure thing so far is that Laika’s Kubo and the Two Strings is also a lock for nomination, as it really feels like the one film that could actually beat Zootopia. It will certainly have its chance to do so at both the PGAs and the BAFTAs. Disney seems to be sensing this as well, and is really start to put their full support behind Zootopia, which is why, though I never thought I would say this, I am no longer sure Moana will get nominated. I’m not sure Disney even wants it to.
It’s one thing for both Disney entries this year to get Globes nominations, because it is easy to sway 90 people or in one way or the other, but the Academy is much, much bigger, and the only way I can see Disney losing this is if votes are split between Zootopia and Moana. This is especially true because it seems like most people have a clear preference between the two (I like Moana slightly better, for example), so even if Disney really pushes for Zootopia, it may not sway enough people away from Moana. So the easiest thing for Disney may be to basically tank Moana to ensure that Zootopia wins, instead of risking a scenario where both getting nomination and Kubo wins. I highly doubt Disney will actually take this tack; for one thing, Moana got both a PGA and a BAFTA nomination. Plus, although Disney usually gets what it wants, it likely won’t admit that this conflict of interest could be a problem. So Moana will probably get nominated, but it is no longer the lock it has long seemed, because this year in animation is chaos.
What I am sure of is that GKIDS is going to get a film in for a nomination (hell, maybe two), and that film at this point looks to be My Life as a Zucchini, especially considering it is also on the shortlist for Best Foreign Film, won the Satellite Award, and is really loved by a lot of people. GKIDS has five films in the nomination pool. Besides My Life as a Zucchini, Miss Hokusai is a real threat for a nomination, while April & the Extraordinary World and Phantom Boy both have outside shots (like, very outside shots, but I just wanted to mentioned both films because they are good). So this uncertainty makes me not quite confident enough in My Life as a Zucchini to say it is a lock, especially considering honestly that its Foreign Film chances may hurt its chances here–with such a stacked category, some may simply hope it gets honored there instead.
Things only get more chaotic from there. The Little Prince is making a late run because Netflix has all the money and is willing to simply outspend everyone else in terms of advertising. The Red Turtle has all the Studio Ghibli juju working for it that will likely get it a nomination, but it hasn’t quite locked things down like you would expect it to. I keep expecting people to ignore Your Name, but instead I am pleasantly surprised that it is hanging in there. My only assumption is that FUNimation is figuring out how to get a lot of voters to watch it, because the biggest thing holding it back is whether anyone would actually see this movie. Considering this allows me to write more about this incredible film, I am cool with it, and I will continue to enjoy the outside hope that this film could snag a nomination through sheer force of awesomeness.
The bigger studio fare is fading fast. Most notably that’s Finding Dory, which has lost tons of buzz and is only still in the game because it made the most money, as of now, of any film from 2016 (and, you know, the whole Pixar thing). This can’t be discounted, and considering it picked up both a PGA and BAFTA nomination, I still heavily question if the Academy is really as willing as most pundits to leave it out. I guess I just have so much less faith in this category then anyone else, because time and time again this category has basically just gone with voters picking what their kids have seen, and, well, a shit ton of kids saw Finding Dory. Still, I kind of wonder if Disney sort of told Pixar to be a bit more tepid in their campaigning this year, in exchange for Disney more or less returning the favor when Pixar releases Coco in 2017, seeing as Disney isn’t releasing an animated film that year.
Meanwhile, Sing and Trolls seem to be almost done, but both still have the star power and the right amount of nominations so far that they can’t be completely discounted. I guess the same could be said for The Secret Life of Pets after its weird PGA nomination (which really just told me that the PGAs give no fucks about this category and just want to reward their favored producers), but I think that more just means that Illumination in general has a lot of respect in the industry, so both of its films are going to get heavy consideration. Then there is Sausage Party, which just picked a bad year to come out, because in other years it being such a subversion of what people expect from an animated film would have easily gotten it a nomination, whereas now it is just up against too many strong players with too many strong movies. That said, I could totally see it slipping in, because this year is so jumbled that it could simply stand out enough to get the votes.
Nomination Locks: Zootopia, Kubo and the Two Strings
Near Lock: One of the GKids films (probably My Life as a Zucchini)
Contenders: Moana, Your Name, The Red Turtle, The Little Prince, Sing (or a slot for Illumination in general), Finding Dory, Miss Hokusai, Sausage Party and I guess Trolls (maybe more, honestly, but these seem like the best bets right now)
Best Foreign Film
This category is a lot simpler now purely because the Academy has released its nine film shortlist, so that kind of limits the competitors for the five slots. As always, this shortlist is weird, and made some odd decisions. Excluding Chile’s Neruda was a bit of a surprise, and the same goes for Golden Globe winner Elle and Spain’s Julieta. Not to mention their rules forcing South Korea to pick between The Handmaiden and The Age of Shadows, and with Shadows then not getting on the list either. The thing is, this category is always a mess, and going from 145 movies to nine is always going to cause create some complaints, so no point in dwelling on this any further.
Those exclusions do make it hard to really say too much about this category after the shortlist reset the race. Germany’s Toni Erdmann is the only film that is an absolute lock, and likely the early frontrunner (which means it will probably lose, just ’cause). Toni Erdmann got a BAFTA and Globes nomination, and has been a favorite ever since its buzz started building at Cannes. After that, Iran’s The Salesman is pretty a good bet, considering it is auteur Asghar Farhadi’s latest film. It won the Satellite Award and was nominated for a Golden Globe, but it hasn’t had quite the buzz that his past films have gotten, so I am not sure I trust the Academy enough to make him a lock.
After those two, the rest kind of all stand together. The only exception is Switzerland’s My Life as A Zucchini, which also could get an Animated Film nomination. The problem is, it is hard to tell whether that will help or hurt this film, considering how strange the Foreign Film voters are compared to everyone else. This looked to be a lot easier before the shortlist eliminated so many early favorites, but as always, the Academy went its own way for these potential nominations, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
Nomination Lock: Toni Erdmann
Near Lock: The Salesman
Contenders: Tanna, It’s Only the End of the World, Land of Mine, The King’s Choice, Paradise, A Man Called Ove, and My Life as a Zucchini
We finally hit the point where I at least feel comfortable dipping my toe into the cinematography waters, with ASC, BAFTA, and some of the other awards offering some hints about the way the winds are blowing in a category that was freed from Emmanuel Lubezki’s unprecedented hold on the category by virtue of him not doing a movie in 2016. One thing that is noticeable is that there is a lot of new blood this year that may lead to a lot of first-time nominees. So far there looks to be three people who have more likely than not emerged from the fray: Bradford Young for Arrival, Linus Sandgren for La La Land, and James Laxton for Moonlight. Bradford Young is the latest cinematographer to try and pair with Denis Villeneuve’s visual style, and found himself following in the footsteps of Lubezki and Roger Deakins–not the easiest acts to follow. Young mostly delivered, and has found himself with ASC and BAFTA nominations, so it seems like he is heading toward an Oscar nomination as well.
Linus Sandgren, meanwhile, also picked up nominations from ASC, BAFTA, and the Satellite Awards, and got runner-up from the National Society of Film Critics. Considering the La La Land buzz, that should all equal a nomination for him as well.
James Laxton might be the slight favorite to win the whole thing. He won the National Society of Film Critics Award and got a ASC and Satellite nomination. He didn’t get a BAFTA, but along with the snub of Jenkins for director, these are probably the hardest snubs to swallow, and are basically making me write off Moonlight‘s BAFTA performance as just a weird disconnect between BAFTA and, well, everyone else.
After those two, it gets a bit messier, but there are two more strong candidates. Rodrigo Prieto for Silence got a ASC nomination and was runner-up for the National Society of Film Critics, but didn’t get a BAFTA nomination. Greig Fraser for Lion got both an ASC and BAFTA nomination, but he also did Rogue One, so honestly he is probably getting a nomination, it is just unclear for which film yet. As good as Lion is, the Academy has long shown a great deal of love for the visuals in Star Wars movies. Finally, Seamus McGarvey continued BAFTA’s Nocturnal Animals love with a nomination, and BAFTA also nominated Giles Nuttgens for Hell or High Water, making both of them potential contenders for a nomination.
Nomination Locks: Bradford Young, James Laxton, Linus Sandgren
Near Locks: Rodrigo Prieto, Greig Fraser (just not sure which movie)
Contenders: Seamus McGarvey, Giles Nuttigen
Just like Cinematography, I am willing to dip my toe into this pool as well, after BAFTA and the PGAs along with the Academy shortlist gave me something to work with. Unlike in Foreign Film, I am not simply going to list all the shortlist films, but you can look at them here. Instead I am just going to highlight which films have stood out so far.
There are three films with decent support, 13th, OJ: Made in America, and The Eagle Huntress, which puts them all in front right now for nominations. 13th won the Satellite Award, was runner-up for the National Society of Film Critics Award, and got a BAFTA nomination. Plus it has the power of Netflix and that company’s absurd coffers behind it. OJ: Made in America won the National Society of Film Critics award, and got a nom from both the PGAs and Satellite Awards. It is likely heading toward a nomination, unless people just don’t want to treat it as a movie because of its five-episode, television structure. The Eagle Huntress hasn’t won things like the other two, but it is the only one of the three to get both a PGA and BAFTA nomination, plus has Disney behind it.
The rest of the choices are all pretty close together, as there has been little consensus, so really anything could get in. One might separate The Beatles: Eight Days a Week from the rest because it has gotten both BAFTA and Satellite support. More importantly, it’s about music, and the Academy has proven time and time again that they love documentaries about music above basically anything else. But it doesn’t have quite the support that the first three do, so it is much closer to the rest of the pack.
Standouts so far (not ready to say anything more): 13th, OJ: Made in America, The Eagle Huntress
Contenders: The Beatles: Eight Days a Week, plus really everything else on the shortlist
That’s it for now. We are getting closer and closer to the point that we can stop wondering what will be nominated and start talking about what can win. I will probably have one more update before the nominations on January 24th, plus final predictions of what will get nominated in every category, so stay tuned to our continued Oscarathon 2017 coverage.