The 89th Academy Awards are upon us. Next Sunday, Jimmy Kimmel hosts the annual celebration of film. Every year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences choose the “cream of the crop” to go home with the coveted golden statues.
Critics have their opinions on who should win, so does every audience member who views any of the nominated films. I would like to give you my own personal insight into who should be going home with some of the night’s top prizes.
I will cover my opinions on all of the acting categories, as well as directing and best picture.
Being a directing student and an overall lover of film, this is one of my favorite categories to discuss.
In my opinion, there is one director who blew the other contenders out of the water this year: Damien Chazelle (director of “La La Land”). This man is the youngest to be nominated for a directing Oscar at the age of 32. On top of that feat, he conceived and wrote the film as well.
This movie is the child of his brain, and tackling an original musical on film isn’t a feat for even the most acclaimed directors. If Chazelle does not take home this award, I will be shocked beyond belief.
“La La Land” is also a top contender for Best Picture, having won the Golden Globe for Best Musical/Comedy.
Actress in a Supporting Role
Viola Davis is quickly becoming known as the Meryl Streep of her generation (Streep is the most decorated actress in history), and as would follow, her performance this year in “Fences” was one for the ages.
I thoroughly believe she should have been nominated for (and should win) Best Leading Actress. Alas, the Academy does not agree with me, therefore she is put into the supporting category.
Either way, this woman has the ability to make you feel whatever her characters are feeling even through the lens of a camera. That is something to be coveted, and Viola Davis deserves all of the recognition the world has to offer for her talents.
Actor in a Supporting Role
I can’t speak too terribly well to this category, as I have not been able to see all of the performances nominated, but I would like to highlight Lucas Hedges’ brilliant performance as a teenage son grieving the loss of his father in “Manchester by the Sea.” This 20-year-old actor stunned us all in his first big feature film role. He entranced me each time he entered the frame.
That said, I still believe that the Oscar will go to Mahershala Ali for “Moonlight.” This actor plays the pivotal role of the father figure in this three-part epic about a gay African-American boy who does not have a dad.
This picture is also a top contender for best picture, having won the Golden Globe for Best Drama.
Best Actress in a Leading Role
I know quite a few readers will highly disagree with my opinion in this category, but since Viola Davis was only nominated for Supporting Actress, I have to have another opinion here.
Emma Stone snatched the Golden Globe in the same category for playing Mia in “La La Land.” I thoroughly believe she earned it and also earned the Oscar with her performance.
The biggest critique I hear from people who did not like her performance was she was not strong enough of a singer for the role. I wholeheartedly disagree. This role is supposed to feel like a woman who may not be the greatest signer or actress striving to reach her dreams and hold on to love. Emma Stone should be this year’s Best Leading Actress.
Best Actor in a Leading Role
As a male actor, this category easily ranks as the hardest for me to make a decision on. I almost always deeply identify with each character in the category, and in turn, love each of the actors behind the characters.
Ryan Gosling and Casey Affleck both nabbed Golden Globes for Leading Actor, the former in Musical/Comedy for “La La Land” and the latter in Drama for “Manchester by the Sea.” I thoroughly enjoyed these two performances, but I believe this year’s Oscar winner is neither of December’s winners.
Denzel Washington brought August Wilson’s treasured family drama “Fences” from stage to screen this year with Viola Davis as his wife in both productions and himself at the director’s chair in both productions as well.
This man lived and breathed the world of “Fences” and Troy Maxson for 13 weeks on stage and now, nearly 10 years later, he created a film-footprint of the performance on screen. It was without at doubt, the greatest leading actor performance in the last five years.
I have spoken about a few of the Best Picture nominees, but seeing as this is known as the biggest category to most viewers, here is the list of Best Picture nominations: “Arrival,” “Fences,” “Hacksaw Ridge,” “Hell or High Water,” “Hidden Figures,” “La La Land,” “Lion,” “Manchester by the Sea” and “Moonlight.”
All of these films deserve their nominations, and realistically, there are two or three options that could win in opposition to my pick and I understand why completely.
That said, I wholeheartedly wish to see “Moonlight” take the cake this year. This film truthfully tackles the traumatic life of a boy that is a walking bundle of minority. Every single white-privileged American should see this film and take the insight that it gives into our everyday lives and strive to make a difference.
If the Academy wants to prove it’s not just a group of old white men clapping for each other about the good old days, “Moonlight” taking home Best Picture next Sunday is the way to do it.
If you plan to tune in next week, the Oscars ceremony begins on Sunday at 6:00 p.m. You can also find a full list of nominees and predictions at oscar.go.com.