The Orion’s Oscars Predictions


Host Jimmy Kimmel doing promotional ad for the Academy Awards. Screenshot from The Oscars’ youtube page.

George Johnston

The Oscars are Hollywood’s biggest night. The loneliest grip can rub shoulders with Jennifer Lawrence and celebrate the year’s achievements in film. Nobody really cares about that though, everyone wants to know who will take home an Oscar.

The Orion has taken this question very seriously and with meticulous effort has broken down the nominees into two categories: who will win and who should.

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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From La La Land Website

Will and Should: “La La Land”

There have been a few musicals here and there through the years, but the genre has essentially been dead since the ’60s. La La Land brings musicals back with a story about two young lovers trying to follow their dreams in Hollywood and discovering what those dreams comes a cost.

Hollywood loves stories about Hollywood, look back at past winners like “The Artist” and “Argo.” They won for that reason. La La Land, while being a fantastic film will win mostly because of that and who they had acting and directing.

Best Director

· Denis VilleneuveArrival

· Mel GibsonHacksaw Ridge

· Damien ChazelleLa La Land

· Kenneth LonerganManchester by the Sea

· Barry JenkinsMoonlight

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From La La Land Website

Should and Will: Damien Chazelle

Who would have thought the guy behind “Whiplash,” would make such a sweet romantic musical showcasing the best of Los Angles.

Damien Chazelle deserves this award for making sure all the moving parts of a musical on this scale worked while giving equal attention to the smaller moments in “La La Land.”

Best Actor

· Casey AffleckManchester by the Sea

· Andrew GarfieldHacksaw Ridge

· Ryan GoslingLa La Land

· Viggo MortensenCaptain Fantastic

· Denzel WashingtonFences

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From La La Land Website

Should: Ryan Gosling

Besides learning the dance cinematography for “La La Land,” Ryan Gosling spent hours learning how to play the piano so he could actually do it in the film. It’s that focus Gosling put into “La La Land” that allows his character of the jazz-loving Seb to be so captivating. Gosling lets the audience see Seb’s passions for opening a Jazz club and how his own ambition sabotages himself.

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From Manchester by the Sea website

Will: Casey Affleck

After passing on the film due to scheduling conflicts, Matt Damon gave the script of “Manchester by the Sea” to Casey Affleck. Affleck returns this favor by giving a once in a life time performance as a man who can’t beat grief and guilt. Sometimes so heavy to bear, Affleck manages to carry all the weight his character feels.

Casey Affleck has always been known as Ben Affleck’s little brother, but with “Manchester by the Sea”, he will step out of the shadows of his older brother with an Oscar win.

Best Actress

· Isabelle HuppertElle

· Ruth NeggaLoving

· Natalie PortmanJackie

· Emma StoneLa La Land

· Meryl StreepFlorence Foster Jenkins

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From Jackie website

Should: Natalie Portman

Some call it just an impression, but Natalie Portman becomes Jackie Kennedy. She takes viewers through Kennedy’s grief and the political maneuvering the first lady had to do so her husband would never be forgotten. “Jackie” was a great journey exploring the mythologizing of a man and era with Natalie Portman as an absorbing guide.

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From La La Land website

Will: Emma Stone

Emma Stone leaves it all on the table when she sings “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” in “La La Land.” She shows the cost of following dreams in Hollywood and how it wears people down. It’s an unbelievable performance Stone putts on. Maybe that’s why she has been awarded the Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guide and BFTA for Best Actress. And because history has shown actresses who have won those awards will probably take the Oscar, Stone most likely will do the same.

Best Supporting Actor

· Mahershala AliMoonlight

· Jeff BridgesHell or High Water

· Lucas HedgesManchester by the Sea

· Dev PatelLion

· Michael ShannonNocturnal Animals

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From Moonlight website

Should and Will: Mahershala Ali

Marsershala Ali was in “Moonlight” for a short time, but sometimes an actor only needs less than 30 minutes to become indispensable to a film.

Ali plays a drug dealer in Miami who stumbles upon Lil’, a bullied kid hiding out in an abandon apartment complex. With the little time, Ali has in “Moonlight”, he exudes the complex nature of being a father figure and his struggles to shield Lil’ from the harsh world they live in.

Best Supporting Actress

· Viola DavisFences

· Naomie HarrisMoonlight

· Nicole KidmanLion

· Octavia SpencerHidden Figures

· Michelle WilliamsManchester by the Sea

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From Fences website

Should and Will: Viola Davis

Viola Davis steals the show in “Fences.” As the wife of a man whose distant stubbornness creates fences between them, Davis must convey the turmoil her character goes through. It’s a thunderous performance and will nab Davis her first Oscar.

Best Animated Feature

· Kubo and the Two Strings

· Moana

· My Life as a Zucchini

· The Red Turtle

· Zootopia

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Screenshot from Kubo and The Two Strings trailer

Should: “Kubo and the Two Strings”

Knowing how technically challenging stop motion animation can be, “Kubo” should get this award on that alone. Adding to that was the fact “Kubo” had an authentically fun story about a young boy challenging his deity grandfather for existence. “Kubo and the Two Strings” was one of the best films in 2016 and a contender for one of the best animated films of this decade.

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From Zootopia Facebook page

Will: “Zootopia”

Zootopia’s themes of racism, police corruption and following through with dreams, makes it a perfect film for 2016. With its tale of a young police officer rabbit teaming up with a grifter fox to stop wild animals loose in the city, “Zootopia” looks like it will hop into the winner’s circle.

Best Song:

· “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” from La La Land

· “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” from Trolls

· “City of Stars” from La La Land

· “The Empty Chair” from Jim: The James Foley Story

· “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana

Should: “How Far I’ll go”

Composed by Lin Manuel Maranda, the genius behind “Hamilton“, “How Far I’ll go” has the best qualities of Dinsey songs, its fun, catchy and full of heart. Sung by Auli’i Cravalho for her character Moana, “How Far I’ll go” lets the audience see the hopes her character has as she tries to save her home. It’s a perfect song for those explores out there.

Will: Either “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” or “City of Stars”

This Oscars will be full of wins for “La La Land” and it’s really just a toss up between the two songs. Just expect the musical take home more Oscar gold. It’s kind of boring, so go check out the other Best Song nominees

Best Oringal Screen play

· Hell or High WaterTaylor Sheridan

· La La LandDamien Chazelle

· The LobsterYorgos Lanthimos and Efthimis Filippou

· Manchester by the SeaKenneth Lonergan

· 20th Century WomenMike Mills

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screen shot from Hell or Highwater trailer

Should: “Hell or Highway”

Set in the forgotten parts of America’s Midwest, ‘High or Highwater” creates a modern bank theist western that tapped into anger many middle-class Americans felt after the 2008 housing collapse. It’s one great thrill ride with deep character motivations and should get some recognition from the academy.

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Screenshot from La La Land trailer

Will: “La La Land”

Even though the world of “La La Land” has a whimsical quality to it, everything in the film felt real. “La La Land” will continue its streak and take this category.

Best Adapted Screenplay

· Arrival – Eric Heisserer from “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang

· Fences – August Wilson from “Fences” by August Wilson (posthumous nomination)

· Hidden Figures – Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi from “Hidden Figures” by Margot Lee Shetterly

· Lion – Luke Davies from “A Long Way Home” by Saroo Brierley and Larry Buttrose

· Moonlight – Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney from “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue” by Tarell Alvin McCraney

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Screenshot from Moonlight trailer

Should: “Moonlight”

“Moonlight” shaped into this year’s most intimate film about a young man struggling with his sexuality in the ghettos of Miami. It’s a beautiful story full of emotionally charged discovery moments. Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney did a service to Moonlight’s source material with their script.

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Screenshot from Arrival trailer

Will: “Arrival”

Packed with hope and optimism, Arrival’s writers delivered an ingenious Sci-Fi film. When aliens arrive on earth, the need for communication must be found as nations prepare for war with these unknown forces. The movie highlights the power of language and has received a lot of buzz for picking up Best Adapted Screenplay. Baring a major upset from either “Moonlight” or “Fences,” “Arrival” will win an Oscar.

“The 89th Academy Awards,” hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, airs Sunday on ABC.

George Johnston can be reached at [email protected] or @gjohnston786 on Twitter.