Best Foreign Film
5. Tanna (Australia)
4. Land of Mine (Denmark)
3. A Man Called Ove (Sweden)
2. Toni Erdmann (Germany)
1. The Salesman (Iran)
Analysis: Toni Erdmann has been the frontrunner since Cannes in May – and yet, I’ve never been fully sold on that, as the film strikes me as the critical favorite that the Academy overlooks for something a little more conventional (something confirmed when I finally saw the film). Couple that with the wave of support for Ashgar Farhadi following Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban – as he was banned – and I think Farhadi could easily win his second. Also, don’t sleep on A Man Called Ove – the most popular film with audiences among the nominees.
Who Will Win: The Salesman. This is always a tough one to predict, but I’ll go with The Salesman.
Who Should Win: Toni Erdmann. This was my #3 film of the year – in any language.
Least of the Nominees: The only other nominee I’ve seen – The Salesman – would be a worthy winner, even if it’s merely very good, compared to Erdmann’s masterpiece. The other three have yet to open in Canada – yes, even Ove, which was a big hit in America (by foreign film standardards)
Best Documentary Feature
5. Fire at Sea
4. Life, Animated
3. I Am Not Your Negro
2. OJ: Made in America
1. The 13th
Analysis: Like foreign, I do think it can be difficult to pick how the Academy is going to go in any given year in this category. OJ is the most talked about doc of the year – but will everyone watch all 8 hours of it – and will some think its TV and not vote for it? Life, Animated is the most inspirational of the bunch – and that sometimes help. Fire at Sea is about migrants and refugees – and could be timely. I Am Not Your Negro has broken in fairly late, and become a favorite. Seriously you could make a case for any of them – but I cannot help but think the combination of Ava DuVernary, the ease at which everyone can see 13th, the timely subject matter, and the brilliance of it, gives it the edge.
Who Will Win: The 13th . Seriously, only Fire at Sea would really shock me – but I think the thought of giving DuVernay an Oscar – a makeup for Selma – will tilt it to 13th.
Who Should Win: OJ: Made in America. I love 13th – and I hope to love I Am Not Your Negro when it opens – but OJ: Made in America is a top 10 (probably top 5) ALL TIME doc for me, so that easily gets my vote.
Least of the Nominees: Life, Animated. I do like Life, Animated – but given the strength of the nominees, it is clearly the weak link.
Best Animated Feature
5. My Life as a Zucchini
4. The Red Turtle
3. Kubo and the Two Strings
Analysis: Kind of an exciting race to be honest – Zootopia is probably the popular choice, and I suspect it has the edge – although Moana broke in late, and is a more traditional pick – and Kubo and the Two Strings is well loved, and perhaps Laika has a growing number of fans that could push it above the two Disney choices. The two foreign films are longshots – but you can never be sure.
Who Will Win: Zootopia. Here, its never a bad bet to pick the highest grossing film of the bunch – and its also rather timely as well.
Who Should Win: Moana. Perhaps it the influence of two girls under 5 in my house – but Moana is my favorite, although I’d be fine with Zootopia or Kubo as well.
Least of the Nominees: The Red Turtle. I did like this (and haven’t seen Zucchini yet) – but oddly, I liked the traditional kids films this year, rather than the foreign film.
5. Hell or High Water
3. Hacksaw Ridge
1. La La Land
Analysis: Like many, I think La La Land is probably going to sweep through most of the “below the line awards” – and certainly editing – which often matches with Best Picture is probably one of the safest bets in the bunch. Sure, Moonlight or Arrival or Hacksaw Ridge could challenge – but I really don’t see that happening.
Who Will Win: La La Land. There are some below the line ones where La La Land faces real challegnes – this isn’t one of them.
Who Should Win: Moonlight. Moonlight’s editing is absolutely brilliant – just perhaps not as flashy as La La Land, so that’s why it will lose, but also why its great.
Least of the Nominees: Hacksaw Ridge. A strong lineup, otherwise, and I know why they went with Hacksaw here – but there was amazing work done this year – and Hacksaw Ridge wasn’t one of them.
5. Jim: The James Foley Story - The Empty Chair
4. Trolls - Can’t Stop the Feeling!
3. La La Land - Audition (The Fools Who Dream)
2. La La Land - City of Stars
1. Moana – How Far I’ll Go
Analysis: I really don’t see the songs from Jim or Trolls being much of a factor here. Normally, you would think the song from the musical about to win Best Picture would win – but which one? City of Stars is the signature song, but I cannot be the only one who thinks Audition is (much) better. My guess is they split enough – and combined with Lin Manuel Miranda love – you know he’ll give a GREAT speech – gets Moana the award.
Who Will Win: Moana – How Far I’ll Go. It will be tight, and I’m not sure the Moana music is as loved everywhere else as it is in my house (because of my daughters) – but I’d bet on Lin Manuel Miranda completing his EGOT.
Who Should Win: Moana – How Far I’ll Go. I really liked La La Land – but for most part, I found the music forgettable – yes, they nominated the two best ones, but I’ll still take the Disney anthem, thank you.
Least of the Nominees: Jim: The James Foley Story – The Empty Chair. I haven’t seen the film – so perhaps it’s unfair to judge – but listening to the song on its own, and I thought it was rather dull, rather than the somber respect it was going for.
Best Original Score
5. Passengers - Thomas Newman
4. Lion - Dustin O’Halloran and Hauschka
3. Jackie - Mica Levi
2. Moonlight - Nicholas Britell
1. La La Land - Justin Hurwitz
Analysis: Poor Thomas Newman, keeps getting nominated, but not winning – and that won’t change this year. I also don’t see Lion’s score winning, and unfortunately Mica Levi’s brilliance with will too divisive. No, this comes down to Moonlight vs. La La Land – and although the choice between the score of these two is obvious to me – I think it will obvious, but opposite, to the Academy.
Who Will Win: La La Land. They really do love the music in this film – and especially since I don’t think it will win Song, they’ll give it the Score award to make up for it – even if it wins Song, I still thinks it takes it.
Who Should Win: Jackie. Do not get me wrong, the Moonlight score is great – and I’d love it to win – but Mica Levi’s score for Jackie is next level brilliant.
Least of the Nominees: Passengers. Poor Thomas Newman – but like the film itself, the score is forgettable.
Best Visual Effects
5. Kubo and the Two Strings
4. Deepwater Horion
3. Doctor Strange
2. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
1. The Jungle Book
Analysis: This is a strong lineup to be sure – but I think the best ever work on bringing realistic animals to life in The Jungle Book dwarves everything else – even Star Wars, and Marvel’s best Visual Effects to date.
Who Will Win: The Jungle Book. I really don’t think its close – unless they have short memories.
Who Should Win: The Jungle Book It’s the best work, easily – and I think all five are great work.
Least of the Nominees: Deepwater Horizon. Its strong work – but the other four are stronger.
5. Silence – Rodrigo Prieto
4. Lion – Greig Fraser
3. Arrival – Bradford Young
2. Moonlight – James Laxton
1. La La Land – Linus Sandgren
Analysis: Really, until Lion won the ASC award – I didn’t think it had any shot at all, and I still have trouble seeing it win here – although it’s got a better shot than Silence, which I doubt many watched. Arrival is great – they’ve shown a willingness to go genre recently, but I’m not sure it will work. Moonlight is truly great – but La La Land is also good, and has the momentum.
Who Will Win: La La Land. It really could go to anyone BUT Silence, but La La Land seems like the safest bet.
Who Should Win: Silence – of course I like the one that has no shot, but that movie is absolutely stunning.
Least of the Nominees: Lion – Grieg Fraser is a rising DP, who has done a lot of great work in recent years – (Rogue One, Foxcatcher, Zero Dark Thirty, Killing Them Softly, Let Me In – etc.) – but this is still my least favorite of the nominees.
Best Costume Design
4. Florence Foster Jenkins
3. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
2. La La Land
Analysis: It really does seem silly to bet against La La Land here – especially since this is one of the few categories where it isn’t against a fellow BP nominee – but still, I think its vulnerable here. The costume design for La La Land is perfect for the film – but not exactly groundbreaking, original or really all that attention catching. I don’t think Allied, Florence Foster Jenkins or Fantastic Beasts can beat it – but I do think that Jackie’s recreation of iconic clothes, and a glamourous era, just might.
Who Will Win: Jackie. Perhaps it’s just because I’m convinced La La Land will not quite sweep – but I think Jackie takes it here.
Who Should Win: Jackie. I really do wish they would be a little more original in their thinking here (The Handmaiden or Kubo and the Two Strings would be great nominees) – but Jackie truly is great work, and it would be my choice out of these nominees.
Least of the Nominees: Florence Foster Jenkins. I admit my dislike of the movie may have clouded my judgement here – but while the work is fine, I don’t think it’s great – is it?
Best Makeup and Hairstyling
3. Suicide Squad
2. A Man Called Ove
1. Star Trek Beyond
Analysis: This category feels like an afterthought this year doesn’t it – one hugely disappointing blockbuster, one fine but forgettable blockbuster, and a foreign film. Seriously, this could go any which way – I’ll bet on Star Trek – but don’t be shocked if A Man Called Ove wins.
Who Will Win: Star Trek: Beyond. Shrugs – seems like the best bet of the bunch.
Who Should Win: Star Trek: Beyond. Most will have seen it, and not hated it, like they did with Suicide Squad.
Least of the Nominees: Suicide Squad – no the makeup work isn’t bad, but the movie is, and I really don’t want to have to say Oscar winning Suicide Squad.
Best Production Design
4. Hail, Caesar!
3. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
1. La La Land
Analysis: La La Land is likely to sweep through the tech categories, and the work here is quite good. Still, it’s hard for me not to notice that the work on Arrival, Fantastic Beasts and Hail, Caesar is probably even more noticeable – and sometimes, what wins here is most production design, not necessarily best.
Who Will Win: La La Land. It wouldn’t shock me to see something else win – but I do think La La Land is the favorite, easily.
Who Should Win: Hail, Caesar!. I think the Coen Brothers films was underrated when it debuted early in 2016 – the production design is a large part of it, brilliantly recreating studio era Hollywood in all its glory. Brilliant work, as always, from the Cones.
Least of the Nominees: Passengers. I didn’t like the movie, but I have to admit the production design is pretty damn good – but the rest of the nominees are better.
Best Sound Editing
5. Deepwater Horizon
3. La La Land
2. Hacksaw Ridge
Analysis: One of the few tech categories I don’t think La La Land has sewn up – I’m actually surprised it got nominated, as musicals usually do well in Sound Mixing, not so much in Sound Editing – where they usually go for louder, action films. This is probably the best chance to award either Arrival or Hacksaw Ridge – and since I think they like the former more, it has the edge.
Who Will Win: Arrival. The sound work on Arrival is impressive – and they love it, so I’ll bet it wins this one – but really, it could go somewhere else.
Who Should Win: Arrival. The work on Arrival helps to build the whole world of the movie, and it is impressive beyond the rest of the strong field.
Least of the Nominees: La La Land. I don’t have a problem with the work on La La Land, but when you listen to the sound work on the rest of them – in terms of Sound Editing, it is a little lacking.
Best Sound Mixing
5. Thirteen Hours
4. Hacksaw Ridge
3. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
1. La La Land
Analysis: Musicals often win the Sound Mixing Award, and given how much they love La La Land, I don’t see a reason why that won’t happen again.
Who Will Win: La La Land. You could make a case for an upset, but I don’t really see a reason why you want to – La La Land should win easily.
Who Should Win: Arrival Like with Sound Editing, I think the Sound Mixing on Arrival helps to make the whole movie – and should be the winner.
Least of the Nominees: I missed 13 Hours - the rest of the nomines are quite good - but I'll say Hacksaw Ridge.