Before I dive into detailed dis­cus­sions of each cat­egory and film, let’s start with this: the 2017 Academy Awards will be a sweep for “La La Land.” By taking six Golden Globe awards out of seven nom­i­na­tions in early January, it broke the record for most awarded to a movie. It won seven Critic’s Choice awards out of its 10 nom­i­na­tions, and the list goes on. It goes without saying “La La Land” is this season’s award show favorite, and I do not antic­ipate that changing on Sunday.

But I do not think it is the best picture of those nom­i­nated for Oscars. Lately, the academy has  loved films that feature the movie-making process or cel­e­brate the theatre — look at “Argo,” 2012’s best picture and “Birdman or (The Unex­pected Virtue of Igno­rance),” which won in 2014. Cer­tainly this is not true in every case, but when a movie that has excellent pro­duction quality, a nice story, and fea­tures the magic of film, it stands to reason “La La Land” will be the next Best Picture.

I believe “Man­chester by the Sea” deserves the award, and I believe it would win if “La La Land” does not. For those who have not seen it, the movie is an explo­ration of grief and the toll it takes on humanity. Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams deliver amazing per­for­mances more on them later. The writing is won­derful, and the cin­e­matog­raphy is gripping. The film has the capacity to cause the audience to feel some­thing deep and yet familiar, and I believe all these things justify “Man­chester” for Best Picture.


Another film that will not perform well despite deserving awards is “Hacksaw Ridge.” The academy still dis­likes Mel Gibson, and probably have not seen past his outer flaws and into the depth of his movie. It tells the story of Desmond Doss, the first con­sci­en­tious objector to earn the Medal of Honor. Though violent, which is typical of Gibson’s work, it is pow­erful, and makes the audience wish they had the courage of America’s sol­diers. Andrew Garfield, nom­i­nated for Best Actor for his per­for­mance, will take the cat­egory in the unlikely event that the academy has for­given Gibson.

In the Best Actor and Best Actress cat­e­gories, my selec­tions are Affleck and Emma Stone, respec­tively. Besides Garfield, Affleck’s greatest threats are Ryan Gosling and Denzel Wash­ington. Gosling’s “La La Land” is a movie that sets its actors up for an award, and Washington’s acting was won­derful. Of what I have seen of “Fences,” I saw in Wash­ington a great chance to topple Affleck or Garfield, but I still believe Affleck deserves the award. Stone will win because she per­formed better than the others, and because “La La Land” has a greater hold on the voters. Though I did not see “Elle,” I did read up on it and watch trailers and clips, and I think Isabelle Huppert played too edgy of a char­acter to perform well.

For the Sup­porting Actor and Actress cat­e­gories, I pick Jeff Bridges and Octavia Spencer, respec­tively. “Hell or High Water” itself was not the strongest Best Picture film, but Jeff Bridges — and Chris Pine, who was not nom­i­nated for Best Actor — made it worthy of the nom­i­nation. Bridges delivered a believable amount of emotion through a tough, Texan law enforcement officer exterior and helped bridge the gap between the film’s comment on big banks and attempt to show how crime impacts us. Octavia Spencer did a won­derful job in “Hidden Figures,” but she is also the best in the cat­egory. I believe Michelle Williams, of “Man­chester,” did not act well, and have read or heard that the others were not out­standing. If she has com­pe­tition, it will be against Viola Davis of “Fences.”

I would not ordi­narily mention Best Ani­mated Feature Film, except to say Zootopia should not win. It is a hor­rendous film designed to indoc­trinate children into a liberal agenda. That is all.

Best Directing will probably go to Damien Chazelle for “La La Land,” but it should go to Gibson for “Hacksaw Ridge.” With the film, he made a pow­erful comment on war and the respon­si­bility Amer­icans owe to help fight her battles. His por­trayal of a char­acter, who many would think unpa­triotic for refusing to fight, as a coura­geous soldier demon­strates the uni­ver­sality his mes­sages have.

Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay) will most likely be “Hidden Figures” or “Fences,” and Best Writing (Original Screenplay) will be “Man­chester” or “Hell or High Water,” though I am leaning toward “Hell or High Water.” Taylor Sheridan’s writing pro­vokes most of the thought in “Hell or High Water,” while “Manchester’s” seemed to emerge more from the acting.

The tech­nical awards will most likely be divided among “La La Land” and “Arrival” in the cat­e­gories where they are nom­i­nated.

One pre­diction I will guar­antee, however, is that Sunday’s cer­emony will be a victory for lib­erals every­where.