Predicting the Oscars Prior to the Program

Possible prize-winners for the prestigious show

by Nick Englander
Staff Critic

2016 was a strong year for the film industry. Much-anticipated movies such as Lucasfilm’s Rouge One: A Star Wars Story and Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War were released to critical acclaim. But 2016 also produced many surprise movies as contenders for Oscar contenders. From movies such as Damien Chazelle’s La La Land to Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight, and even Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester by the Sea, the Best Picture award should be a very close race for the Academy. Other hotly contested votes include Best Actress, Best Actor and Best Screenplay. Nonetheless, here are the picks for each major Academy Award.

Best Picture: La La Land

La La Land revives the musical genre in film, and features strong performances from lead stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. The film also features a brilliant soundtrack, and should be the frontrunner for Best Original Score. Currently the betting frontrunner at 1-3 odds as well, the movie figures to please Oscar voters, who typically vote for joyous movies over more depressing ones.

Nonetheless, the Best Picture award seems to be a far more controversial topic amongst fans. Some feel that other contenders, specifically Moonlight, focus on far more important issues than La La Land. The film is one of the few to focus on poverty and sexuality issues for black people in today’s society. Other contenders include Manchester by the Sea, which looks to be the defining movie of Casey Affleck’s career, and Fences, where Denzel Washington steals the show and pushes the movie to Oscar contention.

Best Actor: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

This is one of the few votes that should be near-unanimous. Casey Affleck puts in his greatest acting performance ever in Manchester by the Sea in which he plays a janitor living in Massachusetts. He’s trying to put his life back together, when he hears of his brother’s death and his new role of being his nephew’s guardian. Initially unmotivated to be the guardian, Chandler spends the film trying to reconnect with his family, friends and old life back when he used to live in Manchester.

Affleck masterfully plays the role of Chandler, who goes through significant struggles throughout the film. Affleck proves that he has the acting chops to be a main star, despite being constantly overshadowed by his brother Ben. Other contenders for this award include Oscar usual Denzel Washington for Fences and first-timer Andrew Garfield for Hacksaw Ridge.

Best Actress: Emma Stone, La La Land

Unlike Best Actor, the pick for Best Actress should be a lot closer. Emma Stone gets the nod due to her shining performance in La La Land, where she proves to not only have acting skills, but also singing and dancing skills as well. Stone plays the aspiring actress Mia, who struggles to receive roles and acclaim for her play. She falls in love with Ryan Gosling’s character Sebastian, who is an aspiring Jazz pianist and hopeful Jazz club owner. Stone demonstrates her acting chops in showing the struggle of actresses in America and her changing emotions from her relationship with Sebastian.

Other contenders for the award include Meryl Streep for Florence Foster Jenkins and Natalie Portman for her role in Jackie, in which she plays Jackie Kennedy and her role after JFK was shot and killed.

Best Director: Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

This is a surprise pick. Moonlight is a fascinating movie, one that is not only powered by great acting but phenomenal directing as well. Barry Jenkins is a clear underdog in this instance to Damien Chazelle, director of La La Land, but this time, the Academy will give Jenkins his deserving award. Jenkins chooses to focus on a far more serious subject than Chazelle, thus causing more difficulty in direction of the film due to having to present a new subject in a different way. Jenkins gives Moonlight a “real-life” feeling, and puts the viewer truly in the perspective of the struggles of the main character.

Other contenders for the award are the previously mentioned Chazelle and Manchester by the Sea director Kenneth Lonergan.

It should be another tremendous and controversial year for the Oscars, and certainly one to keep an eye on.

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