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.