Who I think will win the Oscars - and why

This one’s hot! It's close and being debated fiercely.

 |  10-minute read |   26-02-2017
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Best picture

Arrival – Sci-fi adventure of the year, not

My rating: 3/5

We begin with what was supposedly the sci-fi adventure of the year, Arrival. I’m a big sci-fi adventure-mystery film buff but I was disappointed with the film, the canvas was large and the special effects were A-level Hollywood graphics with top production quality, but the alien theme in this particular film did nothing for me. I couldn’t understand what the entire hullabaloo was about, but I must say Amy Adams was fantastic. Some believe she was robbed as she did not land a best actress nomination at the Academy Awards this year, well both Amy and the film were good but not great, so while the film got lucky, Amy didn’t.

Fences - Black is back

My rating: 3/5

Powered by an absolute masterclass by Viola Davis and Denzel Washington, Fences is another surprise Oscar selection. With Hidden Figures, Fences and Moonlight - three films with predominantly African-American actors and themes - the academy tried to make up for all the criticism they received last year for the lack of diversity at the Oscar stage and although "black is back", these entries seem somewhat forced.

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Fences revolves around Denzel Washington who is a garbage collector in Pittsburg , his wife Viola Davis is a homemaker who is committed to a fault. This film is also directed by Denzel Washington but his performance in this sluggish drama is nowhere close to his cult classics such as Training Day and Philadelphia; in fact he deserved an Oscar for Flight where he plays an eccentric and extremely skilled pilot. Fences was just about okay, but didn’t do much for me.

Hacksaw Ridge - Lopsided American glory tale

My rating: 3.5/5

After Braveheart, Passion of the Christ and Apocalypto, Mel Gibson returned with his directorial Hacksaw Ridge, a World War II drama starring Andrew Garfield in the lead. So, it's world war, the Americans are fighting the Japs and one from the US Army has vowed to not use a weapon in combat. The true story of Desmon Doss who, legend has it, saved 75 lives in Okinawa without carrying a weapon or shooting the adversary. Well-made film but just like Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper, this seemed like another lopsided American glory tale; decent watch though.

Hell or High Water - Dripping with machismo

My rating: 3.5/5

This film surprised me; I didn’t expect much but was looking forward to watching Jeff Bridges, because, you know, he is the dude! (Alert: watch The Big Lebowski.)

The pacy thriller from the wild wild west is simply a treat. The performances are great and there is this underlying message with an undertone of the most popular conspiracy theory in the world - the banks are evil and they are taking over the world. Bridges is a Texas ranger who is after two brothers who’ve been looting banks all across the mid-west in the US.

Classic thrills and chills, some mano-a-mano action, this film is dripping with machismo. I enjoyed it.

Hidden Figures - Oscar nomination? Really?!

My rating: 3/5

I was wondering if the standard of films at the Academy Awards had dipped, this after I saw Fences and Arrival but I was convinced that this has been a lean year in terms of quality films when I saw Hidden Figures. A cute little story about 3 African-American math wizards who it seems were principally responsible for the success of NASA’S first mission to space (according to the film) this movie seemed like an episode from a retro TV series, the performances were uniformly fine but an Oscar nomination, really? 3/5 for ‘Hidden Figures’,  let’s move on.

La la Land - A perfectly synchronised escape beyond the stars

My rating: 4/5

I must confess, the only genre of films that I resist watching are musicals because being an Indian we are subjected to musicals (if you can call them that) every single day so why would I watch an American song and dance film?

But just like the elaborate dreamy waltz-ballet between Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, La La Land is a perfectly synchronised escape beyond the stars. A musical adventure that more than just teases you to fall in love, over and over again.  Gosling is a struggling pianist who wants to revive pure jazz, not all this modern hipiti-hop going around but good old school soulful Jazz. Stone is a waitress and an actress in waiting, destiny brings them together and as an audience member you instantly fall for both of them. A beautiful, beautiful film.

Lion - Back to reality

My rating:  4.5/5

The movie is based on the real-life miracle story of five-year-old Saroo played by the immensely adorable and ridiculously gifted eight-year-old child star Sunny Pawar.

Saroo gets separated from his family and ends up in Kolkata, thousands of kilometres away from his hometown. This is an incredible story of hope and survival, the young boy ultimately goes from the streets of Kolkata to the beaches of Australia as he is adopted by an Australian couple, but as the kid grows up, he wants to return to his biological family as their memories haunt him.

Lion is a film that defines India, here is a guy who was in a sense handpicked by god, placed in paradise as opposed to hell, but he wants to go back, the adversity he saw and faced as a young child formed a bond that could not be broken and it is that magical quality and love that unites our unique country together. With a tear in your eye and a smile on your face, the film takes you back to reality.

Manchester by the Sea - Brilliantly curt and painfully hollow

My rating: 4/5

An intense drama, it is perhaps the most brilliantly curt and painfully hollow film that you will ever see. Casey Affleck haunts you even after the film is over, he is the true definition of what some like to call a dead man walking. His transformation from a playful husband and an affectionate father to an empty emotionless individual is scary but the irony is that almost everyone will identify with his situation.

Affleck portrays the character of a depressed janitor who lost his brother and finds himself in a predicament when he finds out that he is now the guardian of his nephew. There are many skeletons in Lee Chandler’s (Affleck) closet and this is in many ways a terrifying tale which deals with the most intricate relationships. Tough film to balance and maintain.

Moonlight - Pure hip-hop, minus the attitude

My rating: 4/5

I was really looking forward to watching Moonlight as I’m a tad obsessed with African-American or let’s just say Black culture, this film was like a low-budget indie film and I saw something new in terms of how the director narrated this drama from the black ghetto. This film has surprisingly earned as many as eight Oscar nominations and is the only deserving coloured theme movie nominated for best film this year.

Moonlight is somewhat the black Boyhood (not in the same league though) AND by the way Boyhood was robbed in 2015. I lost a lot of respect for the Academy Awards the day Birdman won and Boyhood was snubbed, you don’t choose craft over content, that’s just blasphemous.

Coming back to this film, it follows a young black man's journey through his younger days, his teens and adulthood. The man also discovers his sexuality and has to deal with intense emotional turbulence as he grows up without a father and a mother who is a drug addict.

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Who will win?

There’s no doubt La La Land will bag this coveted trophy. Many believe the film is overhyped but it’s been publicised enough to win at the biggest stage of them all, plus it's just the kind of song the Academy likes to hear.

Who should win?

Well I’m convinced that Lion is the best film from last year, not because it deals with an Indian story but because there is an accuracy to Garth Davis’ Lion that beats all the other films hands down.

Puncher's chance

Puncher’s chance for Moonlight, another brilliant film but a bit too dark to perhaps win the big prize.

Direction

Damien Chazelle - La La Land

Barry Jenkins - Moonlight

Kenneth Lonergan - Manchester by the Sea

Denis villeneuve - Arrival

Mel Gibson - Hacksaw Ridge

Who will win?

With 14 Oscar nominations overall, this one’s a lock for Chazelle.

Who should win?

Made on a shoestring budget with brilliant heartfelt narration, Moonlight deserves the best director honour for Jenkins who has a Puncher’s chance too. Jenkins could cause a huge upset at the big stage but it seems highly unlikely.

Puncher's chance

Barry Jenkins; also, Garth Davis (Lion) was robbed

Actress in a supporting role

Viola Davis - Fences

Naomie Harris - Moonlight

Nicole Kidman - Lion

Octavia Spencer - Hidden Figures

Michelle Williams - Manchester by the Sea

Who will win?

This one is over; any actor who can overshadow Denzel Washington deserves an Oscar to be delivered at her doorstep. Viola Davis is winning this one, forget about it. She will win, she should win and she is knocking out everyone else with the puncher’s chance as well.

Who should win?

Viola Davis

Puncher’s chance

Viola Davis

dev-embed_022617061937.jpg Nicole Kidman and Dev Patel star in Lion. (Photo: Reuters)

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

Who will win?

Ten minutes into Moonlight and I was amazed by Ali’s performance, his presence in the film is incomparable. Even though he has a tiny, small bit part (a drug dealer who raises a fatherless kid) he is going to win, he should win but our very own Dev Patel has a puncher’s chance in this category. He did win the BAFTA but I don’t think he’ll win the golden statue this year.

Who should win?

Mahershala Ali

Puncher’s chance

Dev Patel

Actress in a leading role

Isabelle Huppert - Elle

Ruth Negga - Loving

Natalie Portman - Jackie

Emma Stone - La La Land

Meryl Streep - Florence Foster Jenkins

Who will win?

This one is over as well. Emma Stone will finally be rewarded for Easy A, Superbad, The Help and all her earlier films that made us fall in love with her (in a platonic way). Stone in La La Land in my estimation is what Al Pacino was in Scent of a Woman - she is simply perfect, she will win, she should win and she’s doing all the punching.

Who should win?

Emma Stone

emma-embed_022617062039.jpg Emma Stone will finally be rewarded. (Photo: Reuters)

Puncher’s chance

Emma Stone

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

Who will win?

This one’s hot! It's close and being debated fiercely - many believe Denzel Washington will win best actor which will be his second best actor win after Training Day (MY NIGGA!) and to all those who believe Washington deserves to win best actor, I say: NO WAY! Casey Affleck deserves to win, he became that ultra depressed, no life left in him, bitter character in Manchester by the Sea. He will win and he should win, but Washington has a puncher's chance and as we know, he is a heavyweight so he might just knock Affleck out.

Who should win?

Casey Affleck

Puncher’s chance

Denzel Washington

Also read: How choreographer Mandy Moore makes 'La La Land' more memorable 

Writer

Sushant Mehta Sushant Mehta @sushant_itoday

Deputy Editor, India Today TV.

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