Now that Oscar nominations and some of the bigger awards have rolled out, true Oscar prognosticating can begin, as Oscarathon 2017 continues. This year we are going to try something a bit different, as there are going to be four major posts that are just going to be continuously updating once they are up. After different major awards, I’ll be adding new thoughts on each race so you can see how each event changes the race as we go along. This second post is going to be covering the action for the creative awards at the Oscars.
Can your genius overcome La La Land‘s dominance?
- Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
- Damien Chazelle, La La Land
- Taylor Sheridan, Hell or High Water
- Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthimis Filippou, The Lobster
- Mike Mills, 20th Century Women
Will Win: La La Land
Should Win: Manchester by the Sea
Should Have Been Nominated: I am always kind of partial to animated or foreign films getting picked here, so Zootopia, but I also found this to be a pretty strong list, so meh.
This category had a little bit of chaos going into the nomination process after the surprise move of Moonlight
from the category. Four of the slots were pretty well-covered, but that last slot had a lot of competition. Captain Fantastic
both seemed like the favorite for the slot, so their exclusion was a bit surprising. The Lobster
getting a nom likely cost Toni Erdmann
any real chance here. Considering whatever had gotten that last spot has virtually no chance of winning, it is a little sad that this category didn’t really just pick something super out there, but it is hard to complain, especially for me, as I am a huge fan of Mike Mills’ work, and his nomination was a bit of a long shot considering how little buzz 20th Century Women
had at the time that the ballots were due. So let’s just get on with the meat of this discussion.
What a Lovely Surprise
20th Century Women
- As a huge, huge fan of Mike Mills’ script for Beginners, I have no problem seeing him recognized here as well. 20th Century Women is a weird movie, but the script is strong, and helps make Annette Bening’s performance reach an extremely high level. So yay for this script, but there is no way in hell this is winning. It likely only got nominated because Moonlight switched categories, so this nomination is a win in itself.
If the Academy Really Wanted to Mess With Things
- This film is also not winning, but at the very least it has going for it that if the writing branch really wanted to just make a crazy choice, this is the movie it would pick. This has happened to some degree before, so it isn’t impossible, but with a strong batch of scripts ahead of it, I find it very unlikely that The Lobster can pull it off.
Hell or High Water
- Okay, now we are talking. Hell or High Water has a lot going for it in this category. Along with Moonlight, La La Land, and Manchester by the Sea, this film has found itself getting nominations from most places including the WGAs, BAFTA, Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice Awards, and Satellite Awards, so it has been recognized as much as any other film this season. Taylor Sheridan is gaining a lot of clout and respect in the industry between this and Sicario, so it seems likely that he will win an Oscar for writing at some point, if not now. So there is definitely a world in which the Academy talks themselves into this script in order to reward Hell or High Water in at least one category. The problem is that this script has consistently lost all season to the films above it, and there seems little reason to believe anything will change that. Still, if you want a dark horse that has a legit chance of winning, this is probably your best bet.
Best Script, Period!
Manchester by the Sea
- Honestly, this shouldn’t be a race. This is the best script from this year, and the perfect way to get Kenneth Lonergan an Oscar after the whole Margaret fiasco, especially given that this movie was widely considered one of the three best movies of the year (or at least out of this Best Picture group). It has been nominated for awards all over the place, including WGAs, BAFTAs, Golden Globes, and Satellite Awards, but unlike Hell or High Water it has actually won multiple awards, including the Critics’ Choice Awards (in a tie, but it still counts), AACTA, and the National Board of Review. Until recently, it actually only really lost to Moonlight, which is no longer even in this category, so in theory Manchester is primed for an easy win. The problem with that assumption is that this film has basically lost all momentum across the board. It’s faded significantly in the Best Picture race and even sure thing Casey Affleck is suddenly no longer a sure thing. Conversely, La La Land is doing so well that it might drag a win in this category simply because it is likely to win Best Picture. At this point Manchester remains really more of a co-favorite than a close second, but La La Land has the momentum. Both the BAFTAs and WGAs will be really important in showing if Lonergan’s script can withstand the La La Land charge or if it too will fall.
How Crazy Is This La La Land Thing Going to Get?
La La Land
- This may sound familiar, but: while I love La La Land, if it ends up winning this category, people have lost their goddamn minds. Okay, that may be a little bit harsh. This nomination is fine, as there is a lot to like about this script–as someone that likes the original songs in this movie, it’s important that those get to count here–but let it just be said that the strength of this movie is not its script. Thus it would be a shame if it wins here simply due to a Best Picture-fueled sweep. To be sure, the data is on its side: La La Land has racked up quite the nomination haul in the category, as it has spent the awards season dueling Moonlight and Manchester by the Sea for the spotlight. La La Land got WGA, BAFTA, AAFTA, Critics’ Choice Awards, and Satellite nominations among others, while it picked up wins at the Golden Globes and the Critics’ Choice Awards in the aforementioned tie with Manchester by the Sea. Generally the Best Picture winner tends to also win whichever of the two Screenplay categories it qualifies for–especially this century, in which only three films have won the top prize while losing Best Screenplay. Two of these cases happened with films in the Adapted Category, with Chicago losing to The Pianist in 2002 and Million Dollar Baby losing to Sideways in 2004. The third is the only one to happen with the Original Screenplay category, when Midnight in Paris defeated The Artist. So considering how likely La La Land is to win Best Picture, it seems to have a great chance of winning here. Once again, the WGAs and BAFTAs will really help give clarity here, but the real question will be, what wins out: the respect the industry has for Kenneth Lonergan or the domination narrative La La Land is building? History is on La La Land‘s side, but we will just have to see.
Score one for Manchester by the Sea, which got a huge victory at BAFTA. This is a good omen for the film going into the WGAs and ultimately the Oscars. La La Land could still prove too much of a narrative favorite for this to matter, but for now Manchester is at least proving it will not go down without a fight, and should be considered the favorite for now.
WGA Awards Update:
Sigh. Well, that wasn’t helpful at all. The WGAs went with Moonlight, which would be great if Moonlight, was, you know, actually in the Original category at the Oscars. It is not. So that leaves us still with more or less a toss up between Manchester by the Sea and La La Land. History is definitely on La La Land‘s side as it just has become so common for a writing category to match up with the Best Picture winner. Lonergan, though, is the kind of writer that could buck history, so this could really go either way. I will say that if La La Land does win this award, any hope that detractors might have that it won’t win Best Picture is gone, while if Manchester wins, it does leave that door slightly open.
So this is how we are going to give you an Oscar!
- Screenplay by Barry Jenkins; Story by Tarell Alvin McCraney, Moonlight
- Eric Heisserer, Arrival
- Luke Davies, Lion
- Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi, Hidden Figures
- August Wilson, Fences
Will Win: Moonlight
Should Win: Moonlight
Should Have Been Nominated: Deadpool would have been fun (I am not a huge fan of most of this category this year so I am kind of like whatever just pick stuff for Moonlight to beat)
No real surprises in this category, now that everyone has accepted the weirdness of Moonlight
being in here. All five nominees were nominated for Best Picture, and the Adapted category is much less adventurous than the Original category. Plus, this did ensure that 8 of the 9 Best Picture noms received writing noms as well, so it at least shows that the scripts of this year’s Best Picture choices are well respected. For the first time, three African-American writers were honored with nominations in one year, demonstrating that diversity is starting to happen behind the camera as well as in front of it. As for snubs, the only Best Picture film not to get a writing nod, Hacksaw Ridge
, is probably annoyed, but war movies can be hit or miss in this category. Loving
probably didn’t have the resources to make a real push, and unlike Moonlight
it being forced into the adapted category was not all that beneficial. The lovefest for Nocturnal Animals
thankfully ended without a nomination here, but people do strangely love that movie, so it was a bit of a surprise to see it left out. The only real shame is that Deadpool
couldn’t pull of a nomination, especially because the writing would have been by far the most appropriate place for that movie to earn a nomination. Anyhow, let’s look at Moonlight
and all the films that are going to lose to it.
The Best Picture Cluster
- Look, all these films have gotten quite a lot of recognition, but it is hard to really find any real distinction between the three. They each got WGA (okay, Lion didn’t get this, but the rest is true), BAFTA, and Critics’ Choice Award nominations, amongst others, but have all found themselves coming up short for the most part when there is no Adapted category. Arrival actually won the Critics’ Choice Award, and you could argue should be in a different tier, but the history of science fiction scripts (which is what this film will be viewed as, even if that is a questionable distinction) actually winning is spotty at best (this is true for Best Picture as well), so I have a hard time taking this film all that seriously, even though it has the most nominations of these three and the only actual win. It just seems really unlikely any of these movies can win, but we’ll know more after the BAFTAs and WGAs.
If I Am Forced to Pick Something Else
- There really isn’t anything different about this film’s profile compared to the three already mentioned, and Arrival has actually gotten more accolades, but as I said, it is hard to take a movie like Arrival seriously as a threat given the Oscars’ aversion to sci-fi. So that leaves Hidden Figures, which really feels like a movie that is surging even though it started far too late. It would need to pick up some wins at both BAFTA, WGA, and honestly actually beat Moonlight at something like the USC Scripter Awards to be taken seriously as a threat, but right now it probably has the best (albeit almost nonexistent) chance to beat Moonlight.
Completely Wrong Category, but Almost Definite Winner
- It still looks weird that Moonlight is in this category after it was considered an original screenplay at pretty much every other award that actually separates the screenplays into the adapted and original categories, including the WGAs, but the Oscars are consistent, if nothing else. This is a category after all that insisted Whiplash was an adapted screenplay because it was based on the short film version by the same name that was clearly just a proof of concept shot in order to get the real movie made. So of course the fact that Moonlight is based on a play called In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue that never got produced would qualify it as Adapted in the Oscar rules. Honestly, this is likely to work out well for Moonlight, as even though it would seem like Adapted would be a more difficult category to win, considering the other nominees are all Best Picture nominees, in actuality this is a boon because Moonlight gets to escape the knife fight that would have happened between it, La La Land, and Manchester by the Sea. Those three have mostly been racking up all of the awards this season, despite most shows only having one screenplay category, so the other four scripts nominated here are all less lauded than Moonlight, whose script won the Satellite Award and scored nominations from BAFTA, the Golden Globes, and the Critics’ Choice Awards. Add in the fact that director Barry Jenkins wrote the script, and things work out perfectly for Moonlight, because now the Academy can give Jenkins an Oscar without having to do so with Best Director or Best Picture. About the only thing that could stop this win is if the voters simply rebel against the idea of this movie being an adapted screenplay, but that isn’t likely to happen.
USC Scripter Awards Update:
Not much to see here, other than Moonlight actually picking up a screenplay award as an adapted and not original screenplay. The Scripter Awards have been a rather good predictor lately, with the last six winners also winning the Oscar, so just add this to Moonlight’s growing dominance.
Well, this is something. Lion pulled off the win, throwing some disarray into the race. I mean, not in a way that suggests it could actually beat Moonlight, considering Moonlight was in the original category (which to be fair it did lose), and it is hard to say how much stock we should put in this win anyhow, because both BAFTA and AAFTA have shown a greater love to Lion than everywhere else. Still, this is the biggest win for a film in this category to date that isn’t called Moonlight, so if nothing else Lion is now temporarily the film with the best chance to halt Moonlight‘s path to victory.
WGA Awards Update:
Man, poor Arrival. This should have been a huge win for the movie and a potential set up for an Oscar win, especially considering nine out of the last 10 Adapted winners at the WGAs have gone on to win the Oscar. Unfortunately, Moonlight also won at the WGAs, just in a different category, and this is likely going to continue come Oscar night. Still, Arrival now jumps up to number two, and if for some reason people just decide that it makes no sense for Moonlight to be in this category and refuse to vote for it, Arrival could be poised to win instead (though, umm… please, no.).
The multitudes of sets within sets of this movie are staggering.
- David Wasco (Production Design); Sandy Reynolds-Wasco (Set Decoration), La La Land
- Stuart Craig (Production Design); Anna Pinnock (Set Decoration), Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
- Guy Hendrix Dyas (Production Design); Gene Serdena (Set Decoration), Passengers
- Jess Gonchor (Production Design); Nancy Haigh (Set Decoration), Hail, Caesar!
- Patrice Vermette (Production Design); Paul Hotte (Set Decoration), Arrival
Will Win: La La Land
Should Win: Hail, Caesar!
Should Have Been Nominated: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
This is always a bit of a weird category. The Art Directors Guild has three different categories for their awards, Contemporary, Fantasy (though this category also includes Sci-Fi and much more), and Period, which can make it hard to figure out the right nominees. Generally the Oscars have tended to favor Period, but that has changed lately, as Fantasy sets have become more and more amazing in their own right (just look at Mad Max: Fury Road
, for crying out loud). This year Fantasy ended up getting the biggest rub, with three of the Fantasy nominees for the Art Directors Guild getting Oscar noms while just one Contemporary and one Period film got nominated. It is a little, well, strange, that Doctor Strange
and Rogue One
were left out, but I guess you can’t just nominate all the Fantasy choices. Both Hacksaw Ridge
and Hidden Figures
were odd omissions, as was Jackie
. None of the other Contemporary nominees felt like real snubs, considering how often that category is overlooked (though here and Costumes are the only places that Nocturnal Animals
–have been snubbed). La La Land
benefits from, you know, being La La Land
, and also from combining both period and contemporary influences into its production design. This is a really competitive category, as really anything could win at this point.
A Bit Over Shadowed
- Both of these films feel like the longest shots of the group. Both got an Art Directors Guild nomination, but no BAFTA nomination. Arrival has the fact that it is at least a somewhat serious contender for Best Picture, but it is also the least flashy of all the other Fantasy category films, and the look is very contemporary, which also kind of hurts it. Honestly, its best case is that this is a place to give this movie an Oscar, and it not be a huge upset, but even that is thin. Passengers, meanwhile, has to deal with the fact that, quite frankly, the reception to it has been pretty bad. The movie being bad doesn’t automatically mean it can’t win, but it is kind of hard to see Academy members awarding the film at this point.
Never Count Out the Period Piece
- This film has the biggest boom or bust potential of any of them. Period pieces tend to do well in this category, and it has both ADG and BAFTA nominations, plus a little bit of that Coen Brothers magic to help. If it can win the Period category at the ADG Awards, it could shoot up this list, but if it fails to do so it could drop really quickly, simply due to the special nature of two of the other films in this category.
Dual Threat Co-Favorites
La La Land
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
- La La Land is likely the favorite, simply because it is La La Land, but the distance between these two films is quite small even if there is any. Both have BAFTA and ADG Guild nominations, and both pull off quite the trick. La La Land is a contemporary film that blends in period elements, while Fantastic Beasts is a Fantasy film that also blends in period elements (as a period piece). This allows both to appeal to period piece enthusiasts while being more than a period piece. The ADG Awards will give a little clarity to things, but BAFTA might be even more helpful, considering they are both actually competing against each other there.
ADG Awards Update:
Well, that complicates things slightly. Hidden Figures winning for best Period Design highlights how different the views of the Oscars and the ADG can be, and also makes it hard to make a case for Hail, Caesar!, even if that film will still get the shine from being the only official period piece in the category come Oscar night. Meanwhile, Passengers pulled off the Fantasy win, and has at least made itself a real contender. I still have a hard time believing the Academy as a whole will be willing to give Passengers an Oscar, but it now has a very important award to put as a feather in its cap. La La Land thus becomes the biggest winner of the night, because not only did it win the Contemporary category, but Fantastic Beasts lost the Fantasy category. This doesn’t guarantee a win for La La Land, but a BAFTA win might show that this race is done.
And we have a race again, as Fantastic Beasts pulled off the big win over La La Land at BAFTA. This doesn’t move Fantastic Beasts back into the lead, seeing as it is still hard to recover from the fact that it couldn’t win the guild award, and well, the British might have just felt a desire to reward a British movie, so this might ultimately be a blip. But it does mean that La La Land can’t be assured of victory. This is going to be a nailbiter.
I mean, the Hair and Makeup are good. But this will unleash all of the Internet’s salt.
- Alessandro Bertolazzi, Giorgio Gregorini, and Christopher Nelson, Suicide Squad
- Eva von Bahr and Love Larson, A Man Called Ove
- Joel Harlow and Richard Alonzo, Star Trek Beyond
Will Win: Suicide Squad
Should Win: Umm, no one? How about A Man Called Ove just for fun?
Should Have Been Nominated: Umm, Deadpool, just so I wouldn’t have had to listen to all the bitching about it getting zero nominations.
This is a mess of a category, if I do say so. The Academy pretty much ignored what the Hair and Make -Up Guild suggested (considering how many categories that guild has, that is kind of impressive). Instead it went off book and gave A Man Called Ove
its second nomination, and then added a pair of genre movies. This kind of makes this category exciting, as it isn’t tied to any of the Best Picture nominees, like last year with Mad Max
and The Revenant
. At the same time, though, this category feels even more sadly irrelevant than normal as a result. Deadpool
missing out on a nomination hurts because this would have been an easy way to slip it in, and even set up an interesting confrontation between it and Suicide Squad
. Fantastic Beasts
could have used this to attempt to make a run at the visual awards. None of the BAFTA nominees (Doctor Strange
, Florence Foster Jenkins
, Hacksaw Ridge
, Nocturnal Animals
, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
) got a nomination here, so they are all snubs, and now BAFTA offers no real help in predicting this. So really any of these films could win, because there isn’t going to be a lot to offer any real suggestion on which way the race goes.
The Other Genre Film
Star Trek Beyond
- Star Trek does at least have a MUAHS Award nomination from the guild in special effects, so it does have some buzz, and winning there could help here, but this film was just so forgettable that I have the hardest time believing it will win, simply because I don’t think anyone really cares about this movie, even if the hair and makeup are rather good. It could win, because Joel Harlow is now a three-time nominee and a past winner in this category (this is Richard Alonzo’s first nomination), but the other two seem like better bets.
The Very Oscar Pick
A Man Called Ove
- Last year the Oscars went with The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared as its unconventional choice as a nominee in this category, and this year the Academy struck again by picking a film that also got nominated for the Foreign Language Oscar and was also made by the same team that did the make up in The 100-Year-Old Man. Its best claim to winning is how different it is from the other two films in this category, which may very well cancel each other out. But Ove lacks a lot of flash, and that tends to win this category, between that and its lack of guild support, you can’t exactly call it the favorite. Yet considering the love the Academy has for this hair and makeup team and the lack of Best Picture caliber movies going against it, this film also has a real shot.
The Troll Frontrunner
- A lot of people were angered at this nomination, because it meant Suicide Squad could say it was an Oscar-nominated film while Deadpool (among others) could not. It’s a misguided, but understandable complaint, and it makes this film the perfect frontrunner that everyone will be furious at if it wins. The thing is, the hair and makeup in this movie are really good, and unlike Star Trek, this film is certainly memorable, even if not for the right reasons. Suicide Squad has two guild nominations in Special Effects and Period and/or Character Make-Up, so if it can pull off either or both of those wins, it will have some definite industry support. This film definitely feels like it has the best chance at winning right now, even if Twitter will lose its fucking mind if it actually wins.
Florence Foster Jenkins won, but none of the BAFTA nominees, including the winner, got an Oscar nomination, so this is just me trolling you all, as these awards are irrelevant for Oscar purposes in this case.
MUAHS Awards Update:
This makes things interesting. Star Trek Beyond directly beats Suicide Squad in their confrontation in the Best Special Makeup Effects category, while Suicide Squad did win as well in Period and/or Character Makeup. Star Trek winning in direct competition with Suicide Squad bodes well for its chances. At this point A Man Called Ove simply does not have the support to pull off the win, and Star Trek certainly got a lot less hate than Suicide Squad overall, so those two are neck and neck as voting comes to a close.
This film’s dress game is strong.
- Madeline Fontaine, Jackie
- Mary Zophres, La La Land
- Colleen Atwood, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
- Consolata Boyle, Florence Foster Jenkins
- Joanna Johnston, Allied
Will Win: Jackie
Should Win: Nothing stands out for the most part; they are all great choices except for Allied, but I am partial to La La Land
Should Have Been Nominated: Kubo and the Two Strings
This is a good category this year, even if it looks less so after we got the glory that was Mad Max: Fury Road
last season. All the nominees other than Allied
got a Costume Designers Guild nomination, and all of them received BAFTA and Critics’ Choice Award nominations, so these were all solid choices even if some (like Allied
) are a little boring. The CDG made the unprecedented move to nominate an animated film with Kubo and the Two Strings
, and I wish the Oscars had followed their lead to further reward Kubo
for being one of the most visually impressive films in quite some time, animated or otherwise, but the Academy’s love for period costumes is just too strong. Three of the movies nominated were period nominees for the CDGA, and as I mentioned in Production Design, La La Land
has a heavy period influence, while Fantastic Beasts
is just straight up a period film in a fantasy setting. (What’s that you say? Kubo
is also a period piece? Then… look, the Academy just hates animation). It is a little surprising that the Academy didn’t nominate The Dressmaker
, seeing as this category generally just comes down to which movie had the best dresses, dude it’s right there in the name of the movie! Hail, Caesar!
and Hidden Figures
are also tough choices to leave out, and the genre options this year were pretty strong (Rogue One
, Doctor Strange
, and even Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children
). This category did manage to pull off some newish blood with only three-time winner and now 12-time nominee Colleen Atwood being the only previous winner (in fact, the only person who prior to this had earned multiple nominations).
Not Like We Can Leave Out a WWII Movie
- This really feels like the Academy couldn’t resist having a WWII movie here because they love costumes from the WWII era so much. Allied must have been especially appealing as a WWII movie that also gets to have great dresses. But as the only one of the nominees which didn’t get a CDG Award nomination, it doesn’t look like Allied has quite the support the other nominees do. That could change if it wins the BAFTA.
Different Kinds of Period Films
Florence Foster Jenkins
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
- These feel roughly the same in terms of chances. Florence Foster Jenkins has a lot more of the traditional indicators of what will win at the Oscars, with swanky dresses galore, and Fantastic Beasts doesn’t really do much all that special with its costumes to take advantage of it being both a Fantasy and Period film. What Fantastic Beasts does have, however, is the clout of Oscar favorite Colleen Atwood, the aforementioned 12-time-nominee, three-time winner. Florence Foster Jenkins‘s Consolata Boyle does have one previous nomination herself, and compared to anyone else in the category that looks good, but doesn’t stack up against Atwood’s history. Both films feel a bit behind the curve at this junction, because the Period buzz feels to be behind Jackie at this point, but they both have a shot, especially if either win at BAFTA.
Did You See Those Dresses in Jackie?
- It could be argued that Jackie should be the clear favorite, considering it won the Critics’ Choice Award against the same field, and has the best dress game of all the movies. If it wins the BAFTA it will move into that slot assuredly. Still, there are doubts. This is Madeline Fontaine’s first nomination, and the voters may not want to award her right away; and, well, at this point anything up against La La Land should be worried, especially in a category like this one where La La Land is in peak form. Overall Jackie is at worst the co-favorite at this point.
Look La La Land Just Gets Its Own Tier Because La La Land
La La Land
- This is a category that La La Land would have been a heavy contender for even before it became a juggernaut. It is a slick way to get a Contemporary film attention in this category, since it is so heavily influenced by the past. The dress game is pretty staggering as well. This is a competitive category, and Jackie does fit into more Academy boxes, so La La Land might need a pretty big sweep to pull off this award (unless it can win the BAFTA.) Still, it is likely to win the CDGA, and the film in general has lots of momentum, so it is a co-favorite until more data is in.
Jackie pulls off another win, and is definitely the favorite now. In general, La La Land has seen some (and I emphasize some) of its momentum go down, and likely is heading toward a reasonably large number of wins instead of a record breaking number. This is one of the categories that feels like it is slipping away from La La Land.
You might be saying, hey, this wasn’t nominated. Meh, my blog my rules. Just watch.
- “City Of Stars” from La La Land; Music by Justin Hurwitz; Lyric by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
- “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” from La La Land; Music by Justin Hurwitz; Lyric by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
- “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana; Music and Lyric by Lin-Manuel Miranda
- “Can’t Stop The Feeling” from Trolls; Music and Lyric by Justin Timberlake, Max Martin and Karl Johan Schuster
- “The Empty Chair” from Jim: The James Foley Story; Music and Lyric by J. Ralph and Sting
Will Win: “City of Stars”
Should Win: “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” The fact that I don’t think that is “How Far I’ll Go” is still kind of ridiculous and show how strong movies were this year.
Should Have Been Nominated: Oh man! Well, the best actual song from La La Land without added narrative weight is “Another Day of Sun,” so it should have been nominated, as should have Sing Street‘s “Drive It Like You Stole It.”
The biggest questions for this category were whether La La Land
could get two nominations in a stacked year and if there would be a big surprise. The answer to both was yes. The main casualty of this was Sing Street
‘s “Drive It Like You Stole It,” an unfortunate oversight. Of course, that is not the only snub. “The Rules Don’t Apply” from Rules Don’t Apply
got left out, as did “Faith” from Sing
and “Gold” from Gold
(sensing a pattern here). This was quite the competitive category, which means a lot considering six years ago this category might as well have been dead.
Random Song Award
“The Empty Chair”
- The Oscars like to pick at least one really random song to nominate for Best Song, and this is this year’s lucky tune. This song’s one claim is that Sting is a part of it, which is a level of star power not normally associated with a song like this, and could mean it will be performed at the Oscars if Sting will do it. That doesn’t mean “The Empty Chair” can win, but it is friskier than most versions of this sort of nom.
Justin Timberlake is Coming to the Oscars!
“Can’t Stop The Feeling”
- While it hasn’t won anything, this song did get a Golden Globe nomination and a Critics’ Choice nomination. This feels like a song purely nominated so Justin Timberlake can come sing at the Oscars. It hasn’t won anything yet, and I don’t expect that to change, but its star power gives it a chance at the prize.
If La La Land splits the vote
“How Far I’ll Go”
- Let’s be clear: the only reason this song has a shot is because two La La Land songs were nominated and could split the vote. Well, that and Lin-Manuel Miranda could become the youngest person ever to EGOT with a win here. Moana picked the right song to submit, it just may have just picked the wrong year. But don’t count this one out.
La La Land
“City of Stars”
“Audition (The Fools Who Dream)”
- Honestly, this may be the worst thing to happen to La La Land in terms of winning this category. People will be split between these two songs, and that might be enough to let Moana (or I guess one of the others) slip in for the win. Otherwise, this would be La La Land all the way after its Critics’ Choice Award and Golden Globes nominations and wins. “City of Stars” continues to perplex, as it is maybe the fourth best song in the movie, but it is the song with the most awards this season. The Academy clearly wanted a part of that sweet sweet Ryan Gosling/Emma Stone action, so this does makes sense. But it apparently also has a deep love for “Audition (The Fools Who Dream),” and that could lead this song to victory even if it seems unlikely at this time.
I am the first to emphasize that just being nominated is truly an honor, but man, even I think it seems cruel to make Thomas Newman show up to lose again.
- Justin Hurwitz, La La Land
- Dustin O’Halloran and Hauschka, Lion
- Nicholas Britall, Moonlight
- Thomas Newman, Passengers
- Mica Levi, Jackie
Will Win: La La Land
Should Win: Moonlight or La La Land—honestly, I wouldn’t mind a tie here
Should Have Been Nominated: Kubo and the Two Strings, or just to keep it in the ether, Your Name
This was a strong year for movie music, which made the Academy’s decision to once again taunt Thomas Newman with an Oscar nomination in a year that he definitely can’t win all the more confusing. Jackie
was also a bit of a surprise, though not quite as much of one. The most obvious snub was Hidden Figures
, which combined the talents of Pharrell Williams and Hans Zimmer and has been a fixture in most award shows. As mentioned in past posts, Arrival
was deemed ineligible, or honestly it probably would have gotten a nomination. Nocturnal Animals
got support from BAFTA, and its score was good enough, but it is not as surprising that it got left out. Other top musicals from this year, Moana
and Sing Street
, had little chance, because unlike with La La Land
their scores don’t stand up as well without the original songs backing things up. Also, if anyone was going to get the random nomination for being generally excellent that Thomas Newman appears to have gotten, you would have expected John Williams for The BFG
, seeing as he is the second most nominated person in Oscar history (behind Walt Disney). In my continuing attempt to make it clear what a technical marvel Kubo and the Two Strings
is, it must be mentioned that its score is stupendous, and honestly should have been nominated. But as strong as this category is, everything is likely just playing for second behind La La Land
Surprise Nominations that Will Go No Further
- Both of these films were a bit of a surprise, nomination-wise. Mica Levi for Jackie made history by being only the fourth woman to ever get nominated in this category, which is awesome, but it is hard to believe she is going any further. Jackie did get a BAFTA nomination, so if it can pull off a win there things could change, but it feels like just getting nominated was the biggest achievement for this film at this point. Meanwhile, Thomas “kick the football, Charlie Brown!” Newman got his 14th nomination to the surprise of everyone, and is heading toward another loss, cementing his position in the “always a bridesmaid, never a bride” group alongside Roger Deakins, Greg P. Russell, and Kevin O’Connell. Passengers had no real buzz before its surprise nom, and it likely only got nominated because Thomas Newman is always good at his job. Jackie should probably be more of a contender than Passengers, but you can’t count out the Newman factor, so they are really about the same.
- This film’s score, such an integral part of the movie, feels like it should be doing better at awards time then it has been. While it did garner a Golden Globe nomination, it didn’t get one at BAFTA (though that is a common refrain with a lot of categories for BAFTA involving this movie). If Moonlight felt like it had a better chance of winning Best Picture, as opposed to now simply being the clear number two that is going to come up short, this could be a category that Moonlight could win. Instead, it is likely just happy to be nominated, and Nicholas Britall can be content with his first nomination. As a technical Best Picture threat, Moonlight and its score can’t be entirely counted out.
- Lion‘s score is remarkably good and somewhat understated. The collaboration between Dustin O’Halloran and Hauschka created a score that would have a really good chance of winning in a year that didn’t put a musical juggernaut in its path. If you put a gun to my head, this feels like Lion‘s best chance for an Oscar right now. It has both Golden Globes and BAFTA nominations, and the Weinsteins don’t tend to like their films coming back empty handed, so the full court press is going to be on. If La La Land fatigue really hits a fever pitch, this could serve as an alternative. Still, there is nothing to really back this up, as it has lost to La La Land every step of the way.
Umm, The Fucking Musical
La La Land
- Even if you discount the original songs (which is never going to be entirely possible), Justin Hurwitz’s work on the score is pretty amazing, and honestly it seems really difficult to believe that a musical isn’t winning Best Score. Hurwitz has already won the Golden Globe, and has been nominated for a BAFTA. The only real threat might be that maybe if he wins for original song, the Academy will decide to reward someone else here instead of giving Hurwitz two Oscars, but at this point music seems likely to be a clear winner for La La Land.
La La Land pulls off the win, and likely clinches its Oscar win as well. This is one of the few awards that you can pick La La Land for with confidence.
That’s it for the creative categories. There will be two more of these posts soon, so be on the lookout.