Tony Earn­shaw

Yorkshire Post - Culture & The Guide - - STAGE - Cul­ture, The York­shire Post, No.1 Leeds, 26 White­hall Road, Leeds LS1 1BE. To ad­ver­tise: Tracey Ball tel 0113 238 8987; Ed­i­to­rial: Sarah Free­man tel 0113 238 8952;­

I don’t make a wager on the Os­cars any­more.

In truth, I never did – at least not in real mone­tary terms. In­stead it was about sit­ting down over a beer and mulling over what I and col­leagues felt were the most de­serv­ing win­ners.

I well re­mem­ber the mo­ment that Steven Spiel­berg won Best Di­rec­tor in 1999 for Sav­ing Pri­vate Ryan. At that mo­ment I thought it was all over bar the shout­ing: he was a dead cert for Best Pic­ture. And the Os­car went to… Shake­speare in Love. I don’t think I’ve ever got over that.

This year’s line-up of nom­i­nees ap­pears to re­flect the chang­ing face of the in­dus­try and to take stock of the per­ceived ‘anti-black’ bias of a cou­ple of years back when cer­tain faces and films were seen to have been some­how ex­cluded. Thus the se­lec­tion of ac­tors is more rep­re­sen­ta­tive. More im­por­tantly the de­mo­graphic has largely shifted away from the elite – though Meryl Streep is in there again – to­wards a 21st cen­tury ‘Brat Pack’.

So, cards on the table time. I spoke to a pal who is a mem­ber of the Academy of Mo­tion Pic­ture Arts and Sci­ences (AMPAS) for his view on the Os­car sit­u­a­tion circa 2017. He said La La Land – long seen as the big win­ner with 11 nom­i­na­tions – will likely pick up a hand­ful, but not nec­es­sar­ily the big­gies. He said Emma Stone was a cinch but that Ryan Gosling had tough com­pe­ti­tion from

Casey Af­fleck (for Manch­ester by the Sea). The other po­ten­tial fly in the oint­ment – and it would be a ma­jor up­set if he won – is Viggo Mortensen for Cap­tain Fan­tas­tic.

Den­zel Wash­ing­ton, nom­i­nated for Fences, ap­pears to have im­ported his stage per­for­mance to the movie. An­drew Garfield for Mel Gib­son’s Hack­saw Ridge is the out­sider.

The other film ev­ery­one’s talk­ing about is Moon­light, slowly creep­ing to­wards the fin­ish line. It could pro­voke an­other shock of 1998 pro­por­tions by nab­bing Best Pic­ture from La La Land whilst al­low­ing that film’s helmer, Damien Chazelle, to bag Best Di­rec­tor.

The cat­e­gories for Best Sup­port­ing Ac­tor and Ac­tress are wide open. My friend thinks Ma­her­shala Ali is in the hot seat for Moon­light, closely fol­lowed by Dev Pa­tel for Lion. Veteran

Jeff Bridges, nom­i­nated for Hell or High Wa­ter, and Michael Shan­non, for Noc­tur­nal An­i­mals, won’t get a look in. The out­sider is Lu­cas Hedges for Manch­ester by the Sea. There is a very strong line-up in Best Sup­port­ing Ac­tress. Oc­tavia Spencer, Vi­ola Davis, Nicole Kid­man, Naomie Har­ris, Michelle Wil­liams. My friend’s vote: Naomie Har­ris for Moon­light.

In 72 hours we’ll all know the an­swers. One thing is for sure: right now, no­body knows any­thing.

This year’s line-up of nom­i­nees

ap­pears to re­flect the chang­ing face of the in­dus­try.

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