Thursday, February 23, 2017

A Reel Opinion: Oscar Picks - Part 2

In this second and final part of Oscar Picks, Reel Speak picks the winners in the elemental categories leading to Best Picture.

Besides great acting, there are a handful of categories which are essential for any Best Picture contender to have a presence in. These are the categories which showcase the craftsmanship of film; from the writing stage, to the on-set direction, to the final cut. Here are this Blogger’s picks in this year’s categories.

Best Film Editing

This is one of the most overlooked and yet vital category. In the 89-year history of the Academy, two-thirds of the Best Picture winners have won for editing, and that includes a streak of 33 consecutive years (1981-2013). This year the field is very competitive, with all five nominees having a legit shot. The frontrunners are LA LA LAND and ARRIVAL, which were the winners in American Cinema Editor Awards last month (LA LA LAND for comedy/musical, ARRIVAL for drama). LA LA LAND will likely win this, as it has an incredible sense of energy and forward motion even during its slower scenes…and the musical numbers are cut beautifully…but it’s fair to mention that in the last three years, the Best Editing and Best Picture awards have been split. If it’s a close vote, ARRIVAL or HACKSAW RIDGE could steal it.

Winner: LA LA LAND

Best Adapted Screenplay

No film has won Best Picture without at least a nomination for its screenplay since TITANIC in 1997, so it’s fair to say the Academy rightfully values good writing. This year’s Adapted Screenplay category is a tricky one; MOONLIGHT won the category of Original Screenplay at the Writers Guild Awards, but the Academy considers MOONLIGHT to be an adapted work, so here it’s competing against ARRIVAL, which won the category of Adapted Screenplay at those same Guild Awards. The other factor is that the Academy has a tendency to favor dialogue-driven films, which gives FENCES an outside shot. But FENCES was basically a carbon copy of the stage production, which means a lot less work had to be done. And speaking of work, ARRIVAL has to work as an emotional character piece and a puzzle-box mystery…which leads up to one of the most startling twists in recent cinema. MOONLIGHT is the favorite, but this category has upset written all over it.  


Best Original Screenplay

As stated, films that are dialogue-driven tend to be favored by the Academy, and that puts MANCHESTER BY THE SEA in the lead. It had excellent character development, well-timed flashbacks, well-timed humor, and overall has a finely constructed narrative that moves and engages. Writer Kenneth Lonergan has been twice nominated here before (GANGS OF NEW YORK and YOU CAN COUNT ON ME), and the Academy loves repeat nominees.


Best Director

A lot of us would love to see Mel Gibson finish his path of redemption with a win for his powerful war film HACKSAW RIDGE, but the favorites seem to be Damien Chazelle for LA LA LAND and Barry Jenkins for MOONLIGHT. This can be a tricky selection, as three of the last five Best Director winners did not win Best Picture. Chazelle took home the Directors Guild Award this year, along with the BAFTA and the Golden Globe…and his film certainly seems to the most original out of all of the nominees and has the most imagination and grander vision. No split this year.

Winner: Damien Chazelle for LA LA LAND

Best Picture

Similar to the Best Director race, this comes down to LA LA LAND and MOONLIGHT. This Blogger found MOONLIGHT to be a film without much of a plot, and it seems to be getting more attention for its important subject matter than its actual execution…and that is not what a Best Picture should be. LA LA LAND has wins at the BAFTA, SAG, DGA, and PGA (Producers Guild), and also took home a record seven Golden Globes. And speaking of records, its 14 Oscar nominations ties it with the most all-time; it has a presence in every major category, and that large number points towards a more-rounded and complete film.

Winner: LA LA LAND


Read Reel Speak’s picks in the acting categories HERE

The Oscars will be awarded this Sunday, February 26th.

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