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Concrete Playground's Helpful Guide to the 2017 Oscar Race

Who will win, who should win, and who got snubbed at the 89th Academy Awards.

Hollywood's glitziest and most self-congratulatory night is just a few short sleeps away. While the rest of us are at work on Monday, the who's who of moviemaking will take their seats at the Dolby Theatre for the 89th Academy Awards. Leading the pack this year with a record-equaling 14 nominations is Damien Chazelle's musical throwback La La Land, which is either the greatest film ever made or completely overrated, depending on which person on the internet you ask.

Still, despite the hype, the backlash and the backlash to the backlash, La La is no lock to take home the gold. Barry Jenkins' poignant Moonlight is hot on its heels, while the patriot in us can't help but root for the homegrown Lion. Speaking of which, it's nice to see some people of colour on the roster this year! Let's be honest, three straight years of #OscarsSoWhite would have been downright embarrassing.

Below, you'll find our tips in the eight major categories, plus our personal faves and a few nods to the unlucky ones who missed out. Accept it: Zoolander 2 was robbed.cp-line

BEST PICTURE

THE NOMINEES

Arrival, Fences, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures, La La Land, Lion, Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight.

WHAT WILL WIN

Look, we said La La Land wasn't a lock, and we stand by that. Still, there's no denying the LA-set musical is the favourite — movie people love movies about movies, and good grief Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are attractive. The fact that it went seven for seven, including Best Musical or Comedy, at last month's Golden Globe, doesn't exactly bode well for the competition.

WHAT SHOULD WIN

If you're after a good time at the movies then La La Land delivers. Still, for its raw emotional power and timely social message Moonlight seems like an even worthier winner. This devastating tale about a young gay black man coming to terms with who he is stands out as one of the best motion pictures of the past several years, and win or lose you should do everything you can to see it.

THE SNUBS

Nocturnal Animals divided critics, but the star power attached suggested it was in with a shot. Ditto Pablo Larrain's handsome biopic Jackie. Historical drama Birth of a Nation garnered plenty of buzz early in the year, but the controversy surrounding director Nate Parker has seen it all but disappear from the conversation. And hey, what about a nod for Rogue One, or maybe even Captain America: Civil War?

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BEST DIRECTOR

THE NOMINEES

Damien Chazelle (La La Land), Mel Gibson (Hacksaw Ridge), Barry Jenkins (Moonlight), Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea), Denis Villeneuve (Arrival).

WHO WILL WIN

In much the same way that La La Land leads the race for Best Picture, Damien Chazelle should be considered a favourite in this category for his flair behind the camera. And again, it'd be hard to call him undeserving should the chips fall that way on the night. Fun fact: if he does take home the gold, Chazelle will be the youngest Best Director winner in Oscar history.

WHO SHOULD WIN

Chazelle would be a worthy winner, but we've got to go with Moonlight's Barry Jenkins. Seriously, do yourself a favour and read our interview with him then go see the film.

THE SNUBS

Garth Davis for Lion (who we also interviewed here), David Mackenzie (Hell or High Water), Theodore Melfi (Hidden Figures) and Denzel Washington (Fences) could all be forgiven for feeling a little peeved about missing out given their films were nominated for Best Picture. Still, in our minds, the biggest omission is Martin Scorsese. Sure, Silence is a punishing watch, but seeing Mel Gibson nominated ahead of Marty just feels wrong. Also, would if kill them to nominate a woman?

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BEST ACTRESS

THE NOMINEES

Isabelle Huppert (Elle), Ruth Negga (Loving), Natalie Portman (Jackie), Emma Stone (La La Land), Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins).

WHO WILL WIN

While Natalie Portman led the pack early for her remarkable turn as former First Lady Jackie Kennedy, the conventional wisdom at this point is that this is Emma Stone's trophy to lose. Either woman would be a worthy winner, although neither is our number one choice.

WHO SHOULD WIN

A violent psychosexual thriller, Paul Verhoeven's French-language Elle isn't the easiest film to watch. But thanks to the fiery work of Isabelle Huppert, it's also impossible to look away. Given the content of the film, the fact that she's even nominated is fairly surprising. A win would be astounding, in the best possible way.

THE SNUBS

Amy Adams gave two of the year's best performances, in Arrival and Nocturnal Animals. It's possible she was punished by voters splitting their ballot, but whatever the reason it's safe to say she's unlucky to have missed out.

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BEST ACTOR

THE NOMINEES

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 is going to be close. Casey Affleck was the favourite for much of the race, but then Denzel went and snared himself a win at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. It's possible that the controversy around the younger Affleck is finally catching up with him. Our pick? Denzel by a nose...although maybe that's just wishful thinking.

WHO SHOULD WIN

Not Casey Affleck. It's a great performance, but that's just not the point.

THE SNUBS

Neither Sully nor The Founder left much of an impression, but Tom Hanks and Michael Keaton could easily have scored noms for their work as the real world figures at the centre of their respective films. And on a personal level, we'd have loved a nomination for Josh Brolin, for his delightfully deadpan work in the very underrated Hail, Caesar! cp-line

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

THE NOMINEES

Viola Davis (Fences), Naomie Harris (Moonlight), Nicole Kidman (Lion), Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures), Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea).

WHO WIN WILL

If there's a lock this year, it's Viola Davis, who appears to have this one in the bag.

WHO SHOULD WIN

Hey, sometimes they get it right. Davis' turn in Fences as a dutiful wife and mother is the best performance in a film packed to the brim with great performances. You'll be able to knock us over with a feather if she goes home empty handed.

THE SNUBS

Bit of a long shot, but Rachel Weisz absolutely crushed it in The Lobster, as did unknown actress Lily Gladstone in Kelly Reichardt's Certain Women. Make sure to check out both if and when you can.

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BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

THE NOMINEES

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

Dev Patel might make a late push following his win at the BAFTAs, but right now the smart money is on Mahershala Ali.

WHO SHOULD WIN

Ali deserves to win on the strength of his performance alone, but we'd be lying if we said we weren't rooting for him at least in part because we're hoping he gives another speech similar to the one he gave at the SAG Awards. Good luck trying not to cry.

THE SNUBS

It's a bit of a surprise not to see Aaron Taylor-Johnson on this list, given that his dark and disturbing work in Nocturnal Animals won him a Golden Globe. We're also disappointed not to see Patrick Stewart get a nod; Green Room was presumably a bit too violent for Oscar voters, but Stewart's turn as a ruthless white supremacist was absolutely chilling.cp-line

 

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

THE NOMINEES

Hell or High Water, La La Land, The Lobster, Manchester by the Sea, 20th Century Women.

WHAT WILL WIN

If La La Land wins this one early, you can just about guarantee the film is in for a clean sweep. That said, the Vegas odds are on Kenneth's Lonergan's masterful screenplay for Manchester by the Sea.

WHAT SHOULD WIN

There's no chance in hell that it wins, but The Lobster had one of the darkest, funniest, most original and esoteric screenplays in a long, long time. This is one of those "it's an honour just to be nominated" situations.

THE SNUBS

Hail, Caesar! was largely ignored by both the Academy and general audiences, but, in our opinion, it's one of the cleverest films in the entire Coen Brothers' canon. German comedy Toni Erdmann also deserved a nod, as did Jim Jarmusch's gentle Paterson.

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BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

THE NOMINEES

Arrival, Fences, Hidden Figures, Lion, Moonlight.

WHAT WILL WIN

While it's possible that the Academy will show a little love to either Lion or Arrival, it's hard to imagine that this one doesn't end up going to Moonlight.

WHAT SHOULD WIN

Moonlight, although we'd be stoked if they gave it to Lion. 'Straya!

THE SNUBS

Maybe the biggest snub of the entire ceremony: where in the sweet hell is Deadpool? It was popular with critics and made a bucket-load of cash, but we guess Academy voters don't like naughty words. Way to remind everyone how out of touch you are, guys. Great job.

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The winners of the 89th Academy Awards will be revealed on February 27.

Tom Clift is one of Concrete Playground's senior film writers. You can read his reviews here, here and here

Published on February 24, 2017 by

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