by Park Mohler
Actor in a Supporting Role
- • Mahershala Ali, Moonlight (FiftyTwo45’s Pick & Prediction) *** WINNER ***
- • Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
- • Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea
- • Dev Patel, Lion
- • Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals
Over anything else, there’s one performance that strikes us with raw, personable and powerful emotion, coming in the form of Moonlight‘s Mahershala Ali, who plays a drug dealer & father figure who wants so badly to care for the film’s main character, yet has just enough self-conflict to hold him back. It’s a tough character to pull off, but Ali’s beautiful and humble performance deserves nothing less than the Academy’s recognition.
Actress in a Supporting Role
- • Viola Davis, Fences (FiftyTwo45’s Prediction) *** WINNER ***
- • Naomie Harris, Moonlight
- • Nicole Kidman, Lion
- • Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures
- • Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea (FiftyTwo45’s Pick)
Viola Davis is and has always been outstanding. My respect for her is glowing, yet there’s something that should be stopping her this year: Michelle Williams. I have never seen a turn from an actress like I’ve witnessed in Williams’ performance in Manchester By The Sea. Williams typically does dramatic roles (see Take This Waltz, Blue Valentine, Wendy and Lucy) and she’s typically wonderful, but she is on another level in Manchester. Though she doesn’t make many appearances over the course of the film, when she does make them she stands out. Her performance is the definition of raw, holding absolutely nothing back, especially in her climactic scene towards the end. It’s enough to make you tremble with sadness and relate to her overwhelming guilt. For these reasons, the Oscar should go to Williams.
Actor in a Leading Role
- • Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea (FiftyTwo45’s Pick & Prediction) *** WINNER ***
- • Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
- • Ryan Gosling, La La Land
- • Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic
- • Denzel Washington, Fences
In a huge surprise in the awards season, Denzel Washington snagged the Screen Actor’s Guild award for Best Actor in January. Washington’s performance was outstanding, but Casey Affleck’s efforts deserve the Oscar recognition. Have you ever witnessed an actor not acting, but just being? The kind of performance Affleck delivers in Manchester by the Sea is rare in the industry these days. A depressed, guilty and regretful uncle who is forced custody of his nephew after his brother’s death, Affleck is so realistic and powerful that simply no other role this season compares. His harsh and astoundingly genuine performance is effortless to the point that you forget he’s acting at all. Having already won over 22 awards for his performance, there’s no reason why the Academy should ignore Affleck.
Actress in a Leading Role
- • Isabelle Huppert, Elle
- • Ruth Negga, Loving
- • Natalie Portman, Jackie
- • Emma Stone, La La Land (FiftyTwo45’s Prediction) *** WINNER ***
- • Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins
FiftyTwo45’s Pick: Amy Adams, Arrival
La La Land was a magical film — a lighthearted musical with a somewhat heavy ending. Emma Stone nailed it. A terrific singer and truly a talented performance artist, Stone was a wonderful part of the film that made it work so well, but there has always been something about Amy Adams that makes her worthy of Academy recognition time after time. Despite being snubbed by the Academy this year, it’s her time. If you haven’t seen Arrival, you need to immediately. Adams is an actress that makes every role look so easy, carrying every film she’s casted in. Given the lack of many supporting roles in the film, Arrival‘s overall spectacle solely depends on her and she delivers. She’s intelligent, whip-smart, spot-on dramatic and always looks the part. Adams should get it this year, but considering Stone’s constant recognition all season, we believe that she will end up getting that statue.
- • La La Land – Linus Sandgren (FiftyTwo45’s Pick & Prediction) *** WINNER ***
- • Lion – Greig Fraser
- • Arrival – Bradford Young
- • Silence – Rodrigo Prieto
- • Moonlight – James Laxton
Though not a major award, cinematography can make or break a film at any given moment. Often overlooked, cinematography is vital to any film’s ideas, structure and storytelling — stories can be told strictly through the directors of photography’s use of lighting and color. La La Land‘s staggering one-take musical numbers create a fluidity that makes the film all the more exciting. With its especially lovely vintage lighting effects, we get that warm and fuzzy feeling we’ve come to expect from the romantic musical. La La Land soars because of it’s vivid yellows, reds and blues that pop off the screen as Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling serenade the audience.
- • Fences
- • Hacksaw Ridge
- • Hell or High Water
- • Hidden Figures
- • La La Land (FiftyTwo45’s Prediction — tie)
- • Lion
- • Manchester by the Sea (FiftyTwo45’s Pick)
- • Moonlight (FiftyTwo45’s Prediction — tie) *** WINNER ***
When it comes to the Best Picture nominees, we see a tie. At pre-Oscars awards ceremonies, La La Land has received more recognition — the more important ceremonies seem to give La La Land all the big awards, up until Best Picture, which Moonlight seems to snag out of the blue. It’s a tough call, but either La La Land or Moonlight will take the Best Picture. Still, I undoubtedly believe that Manchester should win. A theme that’s undeniably relatable for many, guilt and escapism are things that all of us have felt this past year and no film has portrayed it as realistically and personably than Manchester By The Sea. Not only are Affleck, Williams and Hedges’ performances utterly phenomenal, but the original script is something like I’ve never seen adapted to the screen. The cinematography’s washed out blue tones carry the film’s mood. Manchester is surely a depressing film, but it’s vital to our time and holds no emotion back. Its realism is gratifying and something everyone needs to witness. It won’t win, but it should.