Surprise, surprise! The 2017 Oscar nominations were announced today, and, as we saw at the Golden Globes a couple weeks ago, the nominees are pretty much the same, despite one or two changes.
The main difference is that the Golden Globes' best picture and acting categories are separated by drama and comedy/musical, whereas the Academy Awards' are not. This means films like La La Land are up against powerhouses like Moonlight (both films won the GG for Best Picture in their respective genre).
But even though these films and actors are now running against each other, it's still clear to me which films are going to receive the awards.
Both Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea) and Ryan Gosling (La La Land) are nominated, and they both won the Golden Globe. While my first choice would be Denzel Washington for Fences, I think the Academy is going to choose Affleck. It was my prediction at the Globes, and it is my prediction now.
While my prediction for Isabelle Huppert (Elle) came true for the Globes, I can't say for sure that it'll come true for the Oscars. The Academy has grown to love Emma Stone (La La Land), and since she did win at the Globes, there's a good chance she'll win here. While Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins) and Natalie Portman (Jackie) are both Oscar veterans, I think Stone will receive her first win this year. I didn't understand the hype everyone else bought into for La La Land, but Stone is one of my favorite actresses, and I'd be happy if she won.
I was elated to see Michael Shannon nominated for Nocturnal Animals. His was a performance that slipped under the radar. I was disappointed to see Aaron Taylor-Johnson snubbed for a nom, even though he won the Golden Globe. I suppose you can't have everything. Anyway, this category is a tough one for me to determine. My gut is telling me the Academy is going to pick Mahershala Ali (Moonlight). I found Moonlight to be incredibly slow and certainly undeserving to win the Globe over Fences. However, Ali's performance was the best of the cast, so I'm locking in my final answer.
I'm excited to see such a diverse selection for this category. While Nicole Kidman's (Lion) and Michelle Williams' (Manchester by the Sea) performances have been lauded heavily by critics, I believe the Academy is going to pick my Golden Globe prediction-come-true, Viola Davis (Fences). She's the most deserving and, by far, the most talented. I'd love to see her receive her first win for this compelling role.
I've become such a huge fan of Damien Chazelle. Whiplash (2014) has quickly become one of my favorite films. But I was disappointed in La La Land. I think the Academy is going to pick him, but if it were up to me, I'd pick Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea).
Best Adapted Screenplay
It's deadlocked between Fences and Lion for me. Both films were beautiful, torturous and engaging. But, because I'm predicting Lion misses out on all these awards (as it did at the Globes), I really think Lion is deserving of this one. A) Because it's a heartbreaking true story and B) Because I've never seen a more inspiring film in my life.
Best Original Screenplay
As I've said again and again, I wasn't thrilled with La La Land. I love the vision Chazelle was aiming for, but it wasn't properly executed, in my opinion. However, I think the Academy will see differently. Next!
Best Original Score
All together now: La La Land! Those montages were underscored with beautiful melodies that had us floored. Composer Justin Hurwitz also worked on Whiplash, so you know I'm into it. This is one of a few nominations for La La Land I can get on board with.
Best Original Song
And this is one I cannot. As I've mentioned in a previous article, I am gunning for Lin-Manuel Miranda to win for Moana. He is officially EGOT nominated, but this win would secure that prestigious title for him. He is more than deserving of the award, and "How Far I'll Go" is a wonderful song! Hopefully the Academy sees that instead of La La Land.
And finally...Best Film
This is a tough category. The Academy isn't too keen on giving this award to musicals; the last musical that won was Chicago in 2002. Perhaps 15 years is what it takes. My first choice would be Manchester by the Sea, but based on La La Land's whopping 14 nominations, all roads seem to lead there.
The Academy Awards air live on CBS Feb. 26.