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We started watching nominees very late this year and didn't see many of the nominated movies or performances. Thus, this post is something that will be updated later in the year as we watch more of these films.
In any case, based on my recent attempts to see at least some of the contenders, I'm going to rank-order the films and acting performances. Obviously, this is my completely subjective perspective -- and hardly an ideal way to think about art. Plus, I can only rank the small sample of performances I watched. That is a big limit since I failed to see 6 of the Oscar-nominated Best Picture nominees (including the favorite) and I've yet to see most of the acting performances.
Keep in mind that these are not my predictions about winners in each category. Go to the Hollywood Stock Exchange if you want predictions based upon betting markets. Spoiler Alert: La La Land is a big favorite for Best Picture and its female star (Emma Stone) seems to be one of the biggest favorites in a major acting category. The film's director Damien Chazelle is also expected to win an Oscar. In other categories, Fences co-stars Denzel Washington and Viola Davis are strongly favored to pick up hardware, as is Mahershala Ali of Moonlight (and Hidden Figures).
Note for future readers: Films and performances shaded in yellow below will indicate additions/edits after the Oscars are awarded (and the original blog posting).
Hell or High Water
Hidden Figures **
Manchester by The Sea
La La Land
Comment: I really liked Hell or High Water, but it is a crime noir film, one of my favorite genres. Hidden Figures was quite well done and I liked it too. Both films had some cliches of their respective genres. Moonlight is an excellent movie too.
Barry Jenkins – Moonlight
Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester by the Sea
Damien Chazelle – La La Land
Mel Gibson – Hacksaw Ridge
Denis Villeneuve – Arrival
Best actor in a Leading Role
Viggo Mortensen – Captain Fantastic
Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea
Ryan Gosling – La La Land
Andrew Garfield – Hacksaw Ridge
Denzel Washington – Fences
Comment: I really enjoyed Captain Fantastic. See it if you haven't had a chance.
Best actress in a Leading Role
I did not see any of these performances prior to the Oscars:
Emma Stone – La La Land
Natalie Portman – Jackie
Isabelle Huppert – Elle
Ruth Negga – Loving
Meryl Streep – Florence Foster Jenkins
Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Mahershala Ali – Moonlight
Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water
Michael Shannon – Nocturnal Animals
Lucas Hedges – Manchester by the Sea
Dev Patel – Lion
Either of those [top two] guys could win. They were both fantastic.
Shannon was also great -- how much weight did he lose to play that role? The film was disappointing, however.
Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Naomie Harris – Moonlight
Octavia Spencer – Hidden Figures **
Michelle Williams – Manchester by the Sea
Nicole Kidman – Lion
Viola Davis – Fences
Her character is a villain in the film, but Harris was great in her role.
Best Documentary Feature
I failed to see any of these before the Oscars:
I Am Not Your Negro
Fire at Sea
O.J.: Made in America
Comment: Netflix had 13th available to stream prior to the Oscars and the O.J. film is on demand on TV -- from ESPN, I think. A couple of others are on Prime. This is a category that I should have given more attention weeks ago.
Best Foreign Language Film
And I haven't seen these either:
Land of Mine (Denmark) in Danish
A Man Called Ove (Sweden) in Swedish
The Salesman (Iran) in Persian
Tanna (Australia) in Nauvhal
Toni Erdmann (Germany) in German
Toni Erdmann tops some lists as best picture of 2016. I'm eager to see it.
** I saw these films or performances in the theater.
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