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Far from being #sowhite as it was in 2016, the 2017 Oscars will feature a wider variety of films, but some things about the elitist event remain the same: the Academy will honor good films, snub some of the best ones of the year, and honor others solely for the sake of diversity and political cor­rectness.

It’s never obvious which film will win Best Picture, but this year experts and film critics across the board answer in unison: it’s going to be “La La Land.” While “Arrival” is arguably a better con­tender for the nom­i­nation, and “Moon­light” or “Man­chester by the Sea” might cause an upset, “La La Land” is still more flashy, more whim­sical, and more charming: the film, its director, and its leads are the newest dar­lings of Hol­lywood, and it’s unlikely the Academy will cause public outrage by choosing a sci-fi film or the story of a reli­gious pacifist (“Hacksaw Ridge”) for Best Picture. (Plus, Mel Gibson directed “Hacksaw Ridge,” so the film is unlikely to get an Oscar based on that fact alone.) Among the nom­inees this year — actively fighting the #oscarssowhite hashtag — are a few films about racial tension and identity: “Fences,” “Hidden Figures,” and “Moon­light,” which is based on a play about a poor black gay man strug­gling to find his place in the world.

While “Moon­light” may not get the award for Best Picture, it will get Best Adapted Screenplay.

Best Actor is going to either Casey Affleck from “Man­chester by the Sea” or Denzel Wash­ington from “Fences.” Ryan Gosling of “La La Land” was a hot con­tender for a while, and his per­for­mance was very good, but he’s played similar roles too many times.

Emma Stone of “La La Land” is the favorite for Best Actress, but the Academy rebuffed Amy Adams for that nom­i­nation: Adams is an excep­tional actress who has played a variety of roles (“Enchanted,” “American Hustle,” “Leap Year,” “Superman”), and her latest per­for­mance is by far her most impressive and deserving of the award. Of course, Meryl Streep was nom­i­nated because her name is Meryl Streep — if she wins, which is thank­fully unlikely, we’ll be priv­i­leged with another polit­i­cally charged accep­tance speech chal­lenging us all to be more enlightened about our political choices, just like her.

Critics are pretty unan­imous in pre­dicting that Best Director will go to Damien Chazelle for “La La Land.” There’s an enter­taining internet debate, however, over which song from “La La Land” will win Best Original Song: “City of Stars” or “Audition (The Fools Who Dream).” While “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” is a more moving com­po­sition that serves as the backdrop for one of Stone’s most pow­erful scenes in the film, “City of Stars” is hum­mable and more iconic in its rep­re­sen­tation of the film as a whole. The award will undoubtedly go to “La La Land,” probably for “City of Stars.”

But it is a travesty that none of the gems of “Sing Street” were nom­i­nated for Best Original Song. The film, a heart­breaking coming-of-age story loosely dis­guised as an ode to 1980s rock ‘n’ roll, fea­tures original songs based on the main char­acters’ influ­ences including Duran Duran, The Cure, The Jam, A-ha, and others. Original song “The Riddle of the Model” sounds like a Duran Duran song, but it’s catchy and charming, and absolutely deserving of Best Original Song. But “The Riddle of the Model” isn’t the only work of art that emerged from the film: “Up” and “Drive It Like You Stole It” are also fan­tastic con­tenders for the award, and it’s sur­prising not one was nom­i­nated. Perhaps more out­ra­geous is that “Sing Street” wasn’t nom­i­nated for a single Oscar, despite its uni­versal critical acclaim.

It’s a fact of life that the Academy insults amazing films every year, and “Sing Street” is just one of many — “Finding Dory,” “Sully,” and “Deadpool,” for example, weren’t nom­i­nated for a single award, regardless of their box office success and critical praise.

But perhaps it’s just as well. As “Sing Street” char­acter Brendan (Jack Reynor) insists pas­sion­ately in the film, “Rock and roll is a risk. You risk being ridiculed.” Every actor, director, and pro­ducer risks ridicule by broad­casting their films to the world — and it’s an elite group of critics that chooses who they think is the best.

Some­times it’s more than enough to make it in the box office and receive mostly pos­itive reviews — that means the majority of the public loves the film, even if the Academy turns up its nose. And if a film garners a cult fol­lowing, well, that lasts longer than one night of Academy fame, and it means more than a shiny trophy for your desk.

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Kate Patrick
Since she sold her soul to journalism, history major and Associate Editor Kate Patrick has covered business, the tech industry, city council, and city news in Washington, D.C.; Dayton, Ohio; Rockford, Illinois; and Hillsdale, Michigan. She creates extensive rock playlists and investigates abandoned buildings in her spare time. email: kpatrick@hillsdale.edu | twitter: @katepatrick_