Academy Award predictions: And the Oscar goes to…


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The Oscars are coming up this Sunday. Check out this article to see which films one of our editors thinks will take home the gold.

Isabel Hughes, Story/Layout Editor

It seems to be just another regular year at the Oscars. Meryl Streep is up for yet another Academy Award and there appears to be one feature film which has a good chance to sweep at the awards.

This year, just like every other year, there were films which which made the viewer reflect upon their own life and there were films that evoked pure happiness in the viewer. The performances of the nominated actors and actresses brought tears seeping with anguish but also smiles stemming from the pure goodness of humanity.

But this year, the films felt as though they all revolved around a heavy subject which left not a dry eye in the theater. Has the world become so stricken with sadness and plagued with problems that movies with happy endings are, for the most part, not up for Academy Awards? Then again, this year was a year for avant garde works which inspired hope.

So, what is it going to be? Will “La La Land” win 12 Oscars, thus breaking the record which is currently held by Titanic and two other films? Or will the films based on true stories, like “Moonlight” and “Lion”, take some of those awards? As someone who sees movies in the theater once a week, I have seen almost all of these films, and have made my predictions of what awards will be given to whom at the Academy Awards.

Best Picture Award

The best picture award is probably the most vacuous award out there. Comparing these films to each other and having to pick a clear winner seems like Sophie’s choice. Although I believe that “Lion” should win the award, just as it should win best adapted screenplay, I think “La La Land”, which should win best original screenplay, probably will win best picture as well.

As someone who usually does not show too much emotion, “Lion” sure did show me that tear ducts work! Once the waterworks were turned on, which was toward the beginning of the film, they would not turn off! “Lion” made me put the story in the context of my own life. The movie made me take a moment to check myself and make sure that everyone who I love, knows it. As it is based on a true story, “Lion” made everything feel so real. When I put the story into context, I can not imagine what my life would be like if I never got to know my brother or mom. Wow — as I wrote that sentence, I started tearing up.

Despite the true beauty of “Lion”, “La La Land” will most likely take the award because it is was a risk which was well executed. Although the other films were executed very well, “La La Land” gets points for trying something out of the ordinary.

Best Actor & Best Actress

As for best actor and actress, I believe that “La La Land” will only take home the Oscar in one of these categories. I think that Emma Stone will win best actress because she danced, sang, and put on a beautiful performance.

Although Ryan Gosling also did this, Denzel Washington of “Fences” will take the award for best actor because he put everything into the film. He worked so hard to make the movie, written for live theater by August Wilson, originally written for live performance, come to life. There is also strong competition coming from Casey Affleck in Manchester by the Sea. Although Affleck is similar in real life to how he was in the movie (the way he speaks and acts,) the way that he made himself feel distant, but at the same time so very wrapped up in the lives of his family again, brought tears to my eyes.

Best Original Score

And the music this year was as brilliant as ever. Each piano solo in “Lion” brought the viewers closer to the characters, and each orchestral piece in “Moonlight” conveyed the heartache that every character experienced. But over all, “La La Land” had the best original score.

Again, one reason that “La La Land” has the best original score is because it is a musical written for the screen, so it had a lot of opportunity to blow away the audience with the strings, winds, and everything in between. Although most of the melodies for the separate pieces were simple — an undulating string of 10 or so notes — the lyrics, harmonies, and stylistic aspects of the songs were astounding. The meaning behind most of the “La La Land” songs were pretty literal because most of the time the characters were conveying their thoughts through song. However, the introductions to the pieces were that of classical preludes, which were simple in theory, but hard to play with the precise amount of emotion. Each smile placed on the viewer’s face and each tear drawn from the viewer’s eyes were because of the original score.

The reason that the score was so successful was because of the use of all the different musical periods which have come before our time. Horwitz, the composer, used jazz in every piece, which helped define the characters. He also used different stylistic and technical pieces in each work. Staccato notes, subito dynamics, and different tempos were used in each piece to set the mood.

Best Original Song

Despite my affinity for “La La Land”’s score, I do not think that one of the pieces from the score should win best original song. Although the songs were smart, they were not amazing. The lyrics and how the song fit into the overall plot may have been amazing, but no single song from that film was amazing on its own merits.

One song that was amazing, though, was “The Empty Chair” from “Jim: the James Foley Story”. This song by Sting and J. Ralph was pure genius. The introduction was an intricate piano opening which set the scene of a dreary mood. This song laid the groundwork for the movie, and enhanced the movie especially from a audible perspective. “The Empty Chair” made the viewer think subconsciously and feel emotionally without the viewer necessarily knowing it. While the songs in “La La Land” and Moana were very present and were obvious to the viewer, “The Empty Chair” was low key yet powerful. And when one analyzes the lyrics, insight is obtained about how the characters in the film feel, and how that feeling is projected onto the audience.

Best Supporting Actor & Best Supporting Actress

The best supporting actress and actor awards will go to Viola Davis, “Fences”, and Mahershala Ali, “Moonlight”. Both of these people brought relatable stories to life by adding so much emotion to their performances and being a part of a touchy topic.

Best Feature Animated Film

Moana will win for best animated feature film. It is a Disney film which teaches important lessons, has a strong music score, and amazing animation.

Best Cinematography

For cinematography, I am torn between Arrival and “La La Land”. Both of these films feature somewhat of a futuristic theme, meaning that they can be compared more equally. The lighting was solid in both films, however I felt that “La La Land” fell short in experimenting with different camera angles. For this reason, I think Arrival will take the award.

Technical Awards

“La La Land” will also take home the awards in the categories of directing, editing, sound editing, sound mixing, and production design. One of the main reasons that “La La Land” will take home awards in these categories is because it is such a different and experimental film that the way it was designed. The film’s editing blows all of the other pictures out of the water. People floated in that movie, sang and danced for half of it, and the movie was mostly dictated by music.

Any film inspired by the works of JK Rowling will have amazing costumes. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them had just that with detailed, colorful clothing from cloaks to dresses. Star Trek Beyond will take home the award in the category of hair and makeup due to the intricate details included in the hair and face makeup of the characters. The makeup was used to create work of Michelangelo.

The video effects award will go to Doctor Strange because although the images created in the Jungle Book were interesting, there were merely things that are not too far off the wall. The images created in Doctor Strange were warped reality, and something completely original. And as for the best documentary, OJ: Made in America will win. When Americans get to learn about a topic that is mysterious to them, they will love it. As for the Hollywood Foreign Press, they will too.

The 2017 Academy Awards will bring well deserved light to subjects and performers of all kinds. This ceremony is one that not only honors all of the cinema accomplishments of the past year, but one that also sets the bar for this year. This awards ceremony gives everyone the chance to stop and think. May America’s cinematic path be paved bright with all the progress accomplished in the past 89 years of Academy Awards. Let it never be reversed.