Sunday, February 26, 2017

MY OSCARS WISH LIST

I have entered countless Oscars contests over the years to predict who will take home the prize. My success rate has been pretty low to say the least. With this year's Oscars a matter of hours away,  I've put my predictions in for a round of contests but I'm not feeling overly optimistic that my outcome will be any different.

Since I'm not a member of anything and I have no connections to anyone in the industry, I've decided that instead of trying to figure out the eventual winners, I will offer my wish list of who I think should take home Oscar. Here are my choices in a few select categories:

BEST ACTRESS:

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

My Pick:  Isabelle Huppert, "Elle"


This is probably the toughest category out of them all to make a selection since all five nominees gave truly outstanding performances and I would be happy to see any of them take the Oscar. But it is Ms Huppert who would be my personal choice. I have been a fan of this French actress for quite some time, being mesmerized by her powerful and brave work in such films as "Story of Women" and "The Piano Teacher". And with "Elle",  Huppert manages to use her gifts to great effect, displaying a dazzling array of complex emotions that is an absolute marvel to behold.


BEST COSTUME DESIGN:

Joanna Johnston, "Allied"
Colleen Atwood, "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them"
Consolata Boyle, "Florence Foster Jenkins"
Madeline Fontaine, "Jackie"
Mary Zophres, "La La Land"

My Pick:  Joanna Johnston, "Allied"


This may be only her second Oscar nomination (her previous was for "Lincoln" in 2012) but Johnston has had a long career creating memorable work for such filmmakers as Robert Zemeckis ("Contact", "Death Becomes Her"), M. Night Shyamalan ("The Sixth Sense", "Unbreakable") and Steven Spielberg ("The Color Purple", "War Horse"). The reception to Mr. Zemeckis' WW II set romantic drama may have been indifference but everyone seems to be in agreement over Ms Johnston's dazzling costumes which managed to perfectly evoke the period while impressively feeling contemporary at the same time.

BEST DIRECTOR:

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

My Pick: Barry Jenkins, "Moonlight"


BEST ORIGINAL SCORE:

Mica Levi, "Jackie"
Justin Hurwitz, "La La Land"
Dustin O'Halloran and Hauschka, "Lion"
Nicholas Britell, "Moonlight"
Thomas Newman, "Passengers"

My Pick: Mica Levi, "Jackie"


I was disappointed that the English musician, Mica Levi failed to get a nomination for her perfectly eerie score for the 2014 horror film, "Under The Skin". But I am thrilled she has received a well deserved first nod for only her second film score with "Jackie". As a classically trained pop musician, Levi knows the rules in order to break them, bringing unexpected moods and textures to the unconventional bio-pic with her use of experimental sounds. Levi, only the third female nominated in this category, should win for her compelling, original vision.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:

Mahershala Ali, "Moonlight"
Jeff Bridges, "Hell or High Water"
Lucas Hedges, "Manchester By The Sea"
Dev Patel, "Lion"
Michael Shannon, "Nocturnal Animals"

My Pick: Lucas Hedges, "Manchester By The Sea"


This is another strong category filled with rich performances but it is the work of this relatively unknown twenty year old actor that had stayed with me the most.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM:

"Kubo and the Two Strings"
"Moana"
"My Life as a Zucchini"
"The Red Turtle"
"Zootopia"

My Pick: "Zootopia"


BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:

Damien Chazelle, "La La Land"
Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthimis Filippou, "The Lobster"
Kenneth Lonergan, "Manchester by the Sea"
Mike Mills, "20th Century Women"
Taylor Sheridan, "Hell or High Water"

My Pick: Kenneth Lonergan, "Manchester By The Sea"



BEST PICTURE:

"Arrival"
"Fences"
"Hacksaw Ridge"
"Hell or High Water"
"Hidden Figures"
"La La Land"
"Lion"
"Manchester By The Sea"
"Moonlight"

My Pick: "Moonlight"


To me, a "Best Picture" should represent an exceptional work of cinema with a universal story that will inspire and entertain audiences for generations to come. Out of the nine nominees, I'm still trying to figure out how "Hacksaw Ridge" ended up as one of the selections this year as it is by far the most conventional film on the list. The others are all strong contenders but I will have to go with "Moonlight". This moving drama gracefully handles the difficult and challenging story of a African-American young man at different points in his life. While it may appear to have a narrow appeal, "Moonlight" brilliantly deals with the struggles of identity and a desire to belong that many of us can identify with.