#OscarsNotsoWhite…but Still Pretty Darn White

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Hear me out…

In a few days, the Oscar selection committee will commence making mistake after mistake in the films they award. Fortunately for the Rio’s Reads follower, there is nothing but objective and unbiased film selections here. Have I seen every movie nominated? Nah, but I’ve seen 71% of the films involved. Apologies to the smaller categories in advance. I will still fearlessly make my selections purely based on titles and stuff I think I’ve heard. The major categories; fully researched and ready to go. Full disclosure… I am not smitten by La La Land. There. I said it. The movie was fine, it was good, I think both lead actors were impressive and the film was well shot. To make sure that I wasn’t a soulless robot by not thinking it was the best movie of 2017, I watched it twice. I really tried, just wasn’t eternally moved. None of what I just said means I won’t pick La La Land in many categories. I’m unbiased but I’m still aiming for a 70% accuracy rate compared to the actual winners. Without further ado, I give you the official 2017 Oscar selections from Rio’s Reads.

MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING 

A Man Called Ove

Star Trek Beyond

Suicide Squad

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Joel Harlow at the helm

Out of all three nominees the only one I’ve actually seen is Suicide Squad and it’s safe to say that disaster won’t be winning an Oscar, which is nothing against the makeup crew. A Man Called Ove looks like a good film but they won’t take this home. The team for Star Trek Beyond had to do intergalactic makeup and hairstyling and for that, they win.

SOUND MIXING

Arrival

Hacksaw Ridge

La La Land

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

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Ai-Ling Lee

Tough for anything to beat a revered musical specifically in terms of audio pleasantries. The discussions I’ve read share that Hacksaw Ridge is the best potential upset. My guess is that La La Land is a shoe in. Tepid take complete.

COSTUME DESIGN

Allied

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Florence Foster Jenkins

Jackie

La La Land

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Mary Zophres – Head of Costume Design

I want to pick Jackie but I’m weak and understand the ease in which crowd pleasers like La La Land take these categories. La La Land had beautiful costumes and is a deserved winner. When Jackie upsets in this category, I’ll feel like a real coward. I begrudgingly will stick with La La Land.

SOUND EDITING

Arrival

Deepwater Horizon

Hacksaw Ridge

La La Land

Sully

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Sylvain Bellemare – Sound Editor

Arrival is one of the best films of the year and the sound is atmospheric yet delicate with impressive results. When Heptapods are speaking future alien tongue to Amy Adams the quality is pristine. Hacksaw Ridge had some loud sounds, I’ll give them that. The winner had the task of making Jeremy Renner sound like a physicist. Impressive edits accomplish that objective, I got Arrival on this one.

VISUAL EFFECTS

Deepwater Horizon

Doctor Strange

The Jungle Book

Kubo and the Two Strings

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

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Industrial Light & Magic – Visual Effects Team

Wars in space look pretty cool on the big screen. The intergalactic warfare of Rogue One was particularly a sight to behold. Animation films require detailed effects but there’s something about lasers shooting across the screen that beats everything.

FILM EDITING

Arrival

Hacksaw Ridge

Hell or High Water

La La Land

Moonlight

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Tom Cross

I can see Arrival shocking people and taking this one but I’m not brave enough to pick it. My bet’s on the the darling of the night. La La Land continues to rack them up.

CINEMATOGRAPHY

Arrival

La La Land

Lion

Moonlight

Silence

ARRIVAL
Bradford Young – Cinematographer

I’m going with Arrival for the win in cinematography. I probably just cursed the film with this pick but have to go with my gut. Aliens and Amy Adams for the win!

MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)

Jackie

La La Land

Lion

Moonlight

Passengers

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Justin Hurwitz

Moonlight really deserves this one. The track “Middle of the World” is a moving piece and my favorite of 2017. This is a competitive category and I have to make the conservative choice of La La Land because it’s a musical. Not an equal playing field. Before I move on, I have to mention that Hell or High Water deserved a nomination. I ride for Nick Cave and Warren Ellis making scores for movies.

MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG)

“Audition (The Fools Who Dream),” La La Land

“Can’t Stop The Feeling,” Trolls

“City Of Stars,” La La Land

“The Empty Chair,” Jim: The James Foley Story

“How Far I’ll Go,” Moana

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Justin Hurwitz – Songwriter

On sheer catchiness and power to reverberate in your ears days later, I have to go with “City of Stars.” Although not the biggest fan of this film, this song was stuck in my head for 32 hours after watching the musical. Damn you, Gosling this one’s a hit!

PRODUCTION DESIGN

Arrival

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Hail, Caesar!

La La Land

Passengers

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Team of David Wasco and Sandy Reynolds-Wasco

Music numbers on highways are not to be outdone. I get it, there’s a bunch of pretty costumes and people dancing for a couple hours. Something like this requires the design of a production to be sound. This one hurts, Fantastic Beasts, I did not find you.

ANIMATED SHORT FILM

Blind Vaysha

Borrowed Time

Pear Cider and Cigarettes

Pearl

Piper

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Director – Theodore Ushev

A choice purely based on strength of title. I will see Blind Vaysha soon. Before I do, I award it the Oscar.

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

Kubo and the Two Strings

Moana

My Life as a Zucchini

The Red Turtle

Zootopia

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Lin-Manuel Miranda

Lin Manuel Miranda is involved, done deal. It’s a wrap. I don’t care if this has nothing to do with Hamilton. The movie is still associated with Hamilton. Everyone loves Hamilton. Moana hoists the trophy and someone thanks Hamilton.

LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM

Ennemis Intérieurs

La Femme et le TGV

Silent Nights

Sing

Timecode

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Kristof Deak and Anna Udvardy

I think I’ve heard of Sing. Can’t confirm if I’ve heard of Sing. I really wanted to pick Ennemis Intérieurs based on the majestic sounding title. Will stick with Sing because I’m pretty sure I heard about it. Go Sing.

DOCUMENTARY (FEATURE)

Fire at Sea

I Am Not Your Negro

Life, Animated

O.J.: Made in America

13th

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Directed by Raoul Peck

I left OJ: Made in America as my pick for weeks. Then I remembered that documentary is 7 hours and 47 minutes long and I watched it on ESPN. What a miniseries, one of the best of the year! Only insanely dedicated viewers sit for that amount of time in a theater. Instead I’ll go with the highly deserving I Am Not Your Negro. When you sit down to watch it you know within minutes this documentary will stay with you far after the credits roll. Watch it if you haven’t yet.

DOCUMENTARY (SHORT SUBJECT)

Extremis

4.1 Miles

Joe’s Violin

Watani: My Homeland

The White Helmets

 

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Directed by Orlando Von Einsiedel

I have not seen any of these but I know The White Helmets involves humanitarian workers who rescue people from bomb rubble in Syria. Give them the Oscar and do it yesterday. Nothing else is close to that.

WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)

Arrival

Fences

Hidden Figures

Lion

Moonlight

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Barry Jenkins – Writer and Director

When it’s all said and done, Moonlight, regardless if it takes home every award it’s nominated for will still be underrated. Fences was stellar, but Moonlight was transcendent. Adapting with the best in the game.

WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)

Hell or High Water

La La Land

The Lobster

Manchester by the Sea

20th Century Women

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Kenneth Lonergan is Writer and Director

Man, both The Lobster and 20th Century Women were severely underserved this award season. Particularly 20th Century Women which definitely deserved a Best Actress nod and Best Picture nod. Looking at you Hacksaw Ridge, go ahead and hop on out of the running. All of this being said, best screenplay will go to Manchester by the Sea a film quite unique in it’s raw despair. Well done, Kenneth Lonergan.

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

Land of Mine

A Man Called Ove

The Salesman

Tanna

Toni Erdmann

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Directed by Maren Ade

The Toni Erdmann praise is universal and the American remake is already in production with Jack Nicholson and Kristen Wiig starring. I initially thought The Salesman might take this one but this one’s for the Erd. I have not yet seen this movie, I will. I heard it’s 2 hours and 47 minutes. Will not be easy. Power to Toni.

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water

Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea

Dev Patel, Lion

Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals

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The character of Juan plays a complex moral compass in Moonlight. A drug-dealer who plays mentor to the central character of Chiron in the film while also indirectly supplying his mother’s addiction. This is a compact role only appearing in the first third of the film. Mahershala Ali makes the absolute most of the screen time. This is a fiercely competitive category and I was really impressed with the performances of the other four. In a close fight I’ll go with Ali.

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Viola Davis, Fences

Naomie Harris, Moonlight

Nicole Kidman, Lion

Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures

Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea

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One thing is clear, Viola Davis is nowhere close to being a supporting role in Fences. Davis should have been nominated for Best Actress since her presence on Fences is equal to Denzel Washington, a Best Actor nominee. Her character of Rose Maxson demolishes the scenes she’s in. I’m on Team Davis all day but she should be carrying the highest award for actresses home on Sunday. Honorable mention, Michelle Williams who excelled in Manchester by the Sea. A highly talented pool of nominees in this category. Davis is a guarantee.

DIRECTING

Arrival

Hacksaw Ridge

La La Land

Manchester by the Sea

Moonlight

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Damien Chazelle

This should be Barry Jenkins for Moonlight or Kenneth Lonergan for Manchester by the Sea. I would even appreciate Denis Villeneuve for the expertly crafted Arrival. We all know none of them stand a chance. I’m picking Damien Chazelle from La La Land because life’s not fair. City of stars…

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge

Ryan Gosling, La La Land

Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic

Denzel Washington, Fences

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Immediately dismiss Garfield and Gosling from any chance of winning. Viggo Mortensen is always a beast but Captain Fantastic isn’t enough. The back and forth between Affleck and Washington is the closest race of the Oscars outside of Best Picture. When I watched Manchester by the Sea I thought “Casey’s taking it home.” When I watched Fences a few days later a similar thought went through my head but it went more like “Denzel’s to lose now.” I rewatched both and in the tough decision between the two I went with a haunted and broken Affleck in his portrayal of Lee Chandler. Looking forward to seeing this category unfold on Sunday.  

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

Isabelle Huppert, Elle

Ruth Negga, Loving

Natalie Portman, Jackie

Emma Stone, La La Land

Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

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Did I mention Jackie is really great, Portman is magnificent as Jackie Kennedy. I randomly say “not another Camelot, not another Camelot” because of Portman’s quote from the movie. My other opinion on this category is that Annette Benning merited a nomination for her dynamic role in 20th Century Women. I’m bummed La La Land is going to take home so many of the major awards. You were good, Emma Stone but Viola Davis should’ve been taking this one. I’ll keep saying it and you can’t tell me different.

BEST PICTURE

Arrival

Fences

Hacksaw Ridge

Hell or High Water

Hidden Figures

La La Land

Lion

Manchester by the Sea

Moonlight

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I feel like nine nominations is a lot of nominations especially when 20th Century Women is none of those nine. Hacksaw Ridge is nowhere near anything remotely associated with an Oscar film. Perfectly fine product but not critically acclaimed quality. Moonlight was the Best Picture of 2017 and is in a deep field of competition. Besides Hacksaw Ridge, I really enjoyed the other nominees and think several have a chance to upset La La Land. Moonlight was an experience and for that it gets the highest honor. For the love of humanity, please don’t give this to La La Land. Aim for the moon instead.

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The time spent watching the nominated movies was truly a pleasure. This year was the closest I got to watching every movie involved. I encourage you to tell me how wrong I am on my picks in the comments. I have my sights set on 70% accuracy and I’m optimistic on my prospects. I don’t foresee many upsets on Sunday night but I’m certainly rooting for them to occur all the same. Until Sunday we truly don’t know. Except for me, I know.

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