SAG Awards predictions!

21st Annual SAG Awards - Nominations

The 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards will be airing live this evening, which means it’s time to publish my final predictions for tonight’s show!

BEST ENSEMBLE

This is tough. I’m ruling out Hidden Figures and Captain Fantastic, mostly because these two films received the least amount of nominations and weren’t distributed to SAG-AFTRA members via DVD. It’s down to Moonlight, Manchester by the Sea, and Fences. Gonna give the slight edge to Moonlight, considering it is the strongest Best Picture contender of the three.

BEST ACTOR

Another tough call. This is between Casey Affleck and Denzel Washington. Washington gives the showier performance based on a play, that may appeal to SAG members more than the subtle, understated performance of Affleck. However, Affleck has already won the Critics Choice and Golden Globe. Seems like SAG is just another win on his way to the Oscar, plus Manchester by the Sea has 4 SAG nominations tonight, Fences has 3. Going with Affleck.

BEST ACTRESS

A closer race at the Oscars than here at SAG. Emma Stone, who won the Golden Globe for Best Actress Comedy/Musical, is seen as the clear favorite here who plays a young women playing a struggling actress in Los Angeles, something that SAG-AFTRA members can easily relate to. Slight possibility for Portman, but she lost the Golden Globe to Isabelle Huppert, who isn’t even nominated at SAG. I predict Stone.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

A bit tricky. The Golden Globe winner isn’t even nominated at SAG. Mahershala Ali won Critics Choice and Moonlight received 3 nominations. If Moonlight wins ensemble, which I predict it will, Ali may just go along for the ride. Possibilities for Patel or Bridges to upset, but I’m going to play it safe with Ali.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Viola Davis. This is the one category that is a lock. Williams, Harris, Kidman, and Spencer are just happy to be there and be nominated.

FINAL Oscar nominations predictions

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We are hours away from the live announcement of the nominations for the 89th Academy Awards! Here are my predictions for the major categories.

BEST PICTURE

La La Land, Moonlight, Manchester by the Sea, Arrival, Lion, Hell or High Water, Hacksaw Ridge, Hidden Figures, Fences, Deadpool

Alternates: Silence, Nocturnal Animals

BEST DIRECTOR

Damien Chazelle “La La Land”, Kenneth Lonergan “Manchester by the Sea”, Barry Jenkins “Moonlight”, Denis Villeneuve “Arrival”, David Mackenzie “Hell or High Water

Alternates: Denzel Washington “Fences”, Garth Davis “Lion” , Martin Scorsese”Silence”, Mel Gibson “Hacksaw Ridge”

BEST ACTRESS

Emma Stone, Natalie Portman, Amy Adams, Meryl Streep, Isabelle Huppert

Alternates: Annette Bening, Ruth Negga, Emily Blunt

BEST ACTOR

Casey Affleck, Denzel Washington, Ryan Gosling, Andrew Garfield, Joel Edgerton

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Viola Davis, Naomie Harris, Nicole Kidman, Michelle Williams, Greta Gerwig

Alternates: Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae

Shoulda Been a Contender: Molly Shannon

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Mahershala Ali, Jeff Bridges, Hugh Grant, Dev Patel, Michael Shannon

ALTERNATES: Lucas Hedges, Aaron Taylor-Johnson

 

State of the Oscar race: post-PGA, DGA and BAFTA nominations

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With PGA, DGA, and BAFTA nominations all announced this past week, the Oscar race is heating up and we are beginning to see a foreshadowing of underdog contenders come into the fray.

Let’s start off with Best Picture. After the PGA, DGA, and BAFTA nominations were announced, the following nine films are looking like locks for an Best Picture nomination: La La Land, Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight, Arrival, Lion, Fences, Hell or High Water, Hacksaw Ridge and Hidden Figures. These films are ranked in order of my confidence for a nomination. Contenders, such as Jackie, Sully, Loving, Patriots Day, and Silence, are looking less likely to receive a Best Picture nomination after a shut-out at PGA, DGA, and BAFTA, along with a shut-out at the Golden Globes and SAG, for the top prize. Now that all the pre-cursor awards have their nominations announced, it looks like the field of nine is pretty much set, with maybe one or two at most dropping out.

Best Director is also looking pretty solid. Damien Chazelle for La La Land, Kenneth Lonergan for Manchester by the Sea, and Barry Jenkins for Moonlight all look safe. I’d give the fourth slot to Denis Villeneuve for Arrival. The last slot is a toss-up between several directors including Martin Scorsese for Silence, Denzel Washington for Fences, Mel Gibson for Hacksaw Ridge, and Garth Davis for Lion, who got in at DGA to the surprise of many. But I’d keep an eye out for David Mackenzie for Hell or High Water, who I think may have a shot at pulling a surprise upset nomination.

Post-BAFTA, Best Actor also looks fairly stable. Affleck, Washington, Gosling, Garfield, and Mortenson all look like the eventual Oscar nominees. Even though Jake Gyllenhaal surprisingly got in at BAFTA for Nocturnal Animals over Washington, I see that as just an outlier. Joel Edgerton, Tom Hanks, Gyllenhaal, and Michael Keaton all are facing uphill battles now to try to crack into that top 5.

As for Best Actress, BAFTA threw a bit of a wrench into the race. While the usual suspects of Emma Stone, Natalie Portman, Amy Adams, and Meryl Streep were nominated, Emily Blunt was also nominated for The Girl on the Train. With now a SAG and BAFTA nomination, Blunt’s Oscar campaign looks like it has more legs than once thought. It still looks like a bit of a longshot however, with Annete Bening, Ruth Negga, and Isabelle Huppert all still in the race along with Stone, Portman, Adams, and Streep. But the Academy has a history of nominating performances in lackluster-reviewed films (i.e. Penelope Cruz in Nine, Stanley Tucci in The Lovely Bones, Max von Sydow (and a Best Pic nom!) in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and even Meryl Streep won Best Actress in the mixed-reviewed The Iron Lady). Stone, Portman, and Adams look fairly solid to me. I see Negga’s light dimming, especially with SAG and BAFTA snubs. And so it looks like the last two slots are a battle between Huppert, Streep, Bening and Blunt. One of the most competitive Best Actress races in years!

Golden Globes Recap: What do they mean for the Oscars?

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Last night was the Golden Globe Awards and WOW! So many shockers, surprises and snubs. However, for the sake of this post, I’d like to highlight three key factors coming out of the Globes and what it could meaning moving forward in awards season and, ultimately, the Oscars.

The first shocker of the night would have to be the person who received the Best Supporting Actor award. Aaron Taylor-Johnson, from the neo-noir suspense thriller Nocturnal Animals, was seen as the least possible winner from the Supporting Actor category to win. It was a shocker alone the fact that he was even nominated. However, Taylor-Johnson managed to beat the heavy favorite Mahershala Ali as well as Jeff Bridges and Dev Patel and win the Golden Globe. It will now be hard to see Taylor-Johnson NOT being nominated for the Oscar after WINNING the Golden Globe. Plus, Oscar nomination voting is still underway so its not too late for Taylor-Johnson to receive some late-breaking momentum from the Academy with his win. His stock in a nomination is now rising, possibly at the expense of Hugh Grant or his Nocturnal Animals co-star Michael Shannon.

The second surprise of the night, which received audible gasps and wows from the audience after she was announced the winner, was Isabelle Huppert’s win for Best Actress in a Drama for the French film ELLE. Many, if not all, Oscar pundits and so-called “experts” expected Natalie Portman to easily win this award, especially since she did not have Emma Stone to compete against, since she was in the Musical/Comedy category. However, with Huppert’s surprising win, she is looking like a sure thing for an Oscar nomination, especially since the Oscars have a history at giving a nomination in the Best Actress category to an older, respected foreign actress long overdue for awards recognition such as Emmanelle Riva in Amour and Charlotte Rampling in 45 Years. Huppert getting it at the Oscars likely would come at the expense of Meryl Streep in Florence Foster Jenkins or Annette Bening in 20th Century Women, I say the latter being snubbed is more likely mostly because of the fact that Bening failed to get a SAG nomination. Also, this surprise win for Huppert at the Golden Globes could mean that it is now becoming a three-woman race for Best Actress with Stone, Portman and Huppert. Portman, long considered the frontrunner, is now looking weaker. After this Globes loss, it is also looking extremely possible she could lose to Emma Stone at SAG, a group of voters who relate to Stone’s performance more. Without a Globe and SAG win, she will be looking very weak heading into the Oscars. She would have to win BAFTA to keep momentum up.

Lastly, LA LA LAND’s sweep, including Best Picture Comedy/Musical, last night, winning all 7 of the awards they were nominated for was seen as a surprise. Most predicted that the film would end up getting maybe 4 or 5, but no more than that. However, it looks like the HFPA fell under the spell of the colorful and dreamy movie musical, even winning Best SCREENPLAY, a category that musicals never win in! This makes the film look like the heavy favorite now moving forward this awards season. And it now may look like Moonlight is the alternative to La La Land, winning Best Picture – Drama last night. Manchester by the Sea was seen as a possibility there but may now be losing its momentum to Moonlight. Both films have tried to seek to unify support behind them as an alternative to take down La La Land. With Moonlight’s Globe win, it is very possible it could win SAG Ensemble,a category that La La Land is not nominated in. With those two under its belt, it would most definitely be the chief rival to La La Land. If Manchester by the Sea were to win SAG Ensemble, momentum may shift in their direction however it may also splinter the support between those two films, giving La La Land the edge heading into the Oscars.

Bottom Line: With Globes behind us, SAG is up next and should give us major hints on what’s to come at Oscars.

 

Golden Globe Predictions!

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Best Motion Picture — Drama

  • Hell or High Water

  • Lion

  • Manchester by the Sea

  • Moonlight

This is probably one of the closest races to call for tonight’s show. Its a battle between Manchester by the Sea and Moonlight, but I’m gonna give the slight edge to Manchester since its the safer and more typical film that would win Best Picture.

Best Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy

  • 20th Century Women

  • Deadpool

  • Florence Foster Jenkins

  • La La Land

  • Sing Street

La La Land…duh.

Best Director — Motion Picture

  • Damien Chazelle, La La Land

  • Tom Ford, Nocturnal Animals

  • Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge

  • Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

  • Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea

I’m predicting Damien Chazelle but the Globes has always loved Mel Gibson and may want to surprisingly award him for his comeback in the critically acclaimed film Hacksaw Ridge, but I see that as an outside shot. Again, going with the safer pick.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture — Drama

  • Amy Adams, Arrival

  • Jessica Chastain, Miss Sloane

  • Isabelle Huppert, Elle

  • Ruth Negga, Loving

  • Natalie Portman, Jackie

Natalie Portman looks like she has this locked down. However, this is the Hollywood FOREIGN Press and Isabelle Huppert, who’s never won a Golden Globe, is nominated here. But I’m predicting Portman.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture — Drama

  • Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

  • Joel Edgerton, Loving

  • Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge

  • Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic

  • Denzel Washington, Fences

Very close race, between Denzel and Casey. I personally thought Denzel gave the superior performance. However, citing the fact he just won the Cecil B. DeMille Award last year, I think this’ll go Casey’s way.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture — Comedy or Musical

  • Colin Farrell, The Lobster

  • Ryan Gosling, La La Land

  • Hugh Grant, Florence Foster Jenkins

  • Jonah Hill, War Dogs

  • Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool

Gosling seems like the smart choice. He’s the only one here most likely for an Oscar nomination. He’s also in the strongest film of the five here. So I’m going with him. However, I think Grant and Reynolds have outside shots. The Globes love Hugh Grant and see this as a great comeback in his career. And its also been a great year for Reynolds with the surprising box office success of Deadpool and recently getting a star on the walk of fame. But, like before, keeping it safe with Gosling.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture — Comedy or Musical

  • Annette Bening, 20th Century Women

  • Lily Collins, Rules Don’t Apply

  • Hailee Steinfeld, The Edge of Seventeen

  • Emma Stone, La La Land

  • Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

This looks like Stone’s to lose. Meryl is getting the Cecil B. DeMille this year. Bening may have a chance at a surprise win but Emma Stone is just so much of a frontrunner that I can’t see her losing.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in Any Motion Picture

  • Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

  • Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water

  • Simon Helberg, Florence Foster Jenkins

  • Dev Patel, Lion

  • Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Nocturnal Animals

Tough category. Conventional wisdom says Mahershala Ali so I’m going with him. But Dev Patel’s nomination is The Weinstein Company’s best chance at nabbing a Globe and Harvey Weinstein’s campaigning during awards season is strong. Bridges is a personal favorite. But still going with Ali.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in Any Motion Picture

  • Viola Davis, Fences

  • Naomie Harris, Moonlight

  • Nicole Kidman, Lion

  • Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures

  • Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea

This is Viola Davis’s. Maybe Michelle Williams, but its gonna go to Davis.

Best Motion Picture — Animated

  • Kubo and the Two Strings

  • Moana

  • My Life as a Zucchini

  • Sing

  • Zootopia

I predict Zootopia. It’s the frontrunner. However, if the HFPA splits the votes between the two Disney flicks, maybe Kubo could prove victorious.

Best Screenplay — Motion Picture

  • Damien Chazelle, La La Land

  • Tom Ford, Nocturnal Animals

  • Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

  • Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester By the Sea

  • Taylor Sheridan, Hell or High Water

The HFPA likes to spread the wealth and this is the perfect category to do it. Don’t think it’ll be Chazelle, since he’ll likely get Director. And I don’t see HFPA going for the very Americana film that is Hell or High Water. Either Nocturnal Animals, Moonlight, or Manchester by the Sea. Giving the edge to Lonergan.

Best Original Score — Motion Picture

  • Nicholas Britell, Moonlight

  • Justin Hurwitz, La La Land

  • Jóhann Jóhannsson, Arrival

  • Volker Bertelmann and Dustin O’Halloran, Lion

  • Benjamin Wallfisch, Pharrell Williams, and Hans Zimmer, Hidden Figures

La La Land…of course.

Best Original Song – Motion Picture

  • “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” (Max Martin, Shellback & Justin Timberlake) – Trolls
  • “City of Stars” (Justin Hurwitz, Pasek & Paul) – La La Land
  • “Faith” (Ryan Tedder, Stevie Wonder & Francis Farewell Starlite) – Sing
  • “Gold” (Stephen Gaghan, Danger Mouse, Daniel Pemberton & Iggy Pop) – Gold
  • “How Far I’ll Go” (Lin-Manuel Miranda) – Moana

HFPA loves their stars. Conventional wisdom says the La La Land song but I’m going with How Far I’ll Go from Moana so Lin-Manuel Miranda gets on stage.

We’ll see if these predictions are right tonight!

 

 

Film Review: 20th Century Women

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I saw 20th Century Women over the holidays at The Landmark theater in west Los Angeles. 20th Century Women is directed by Mike Mills, who previously directed Beginners which earned Christopher Plummer an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. 20th Century Women features a terrific cast including Annette Bening, Greta Gerwig, Elle Fanning, Billy Crudup, and newcomer Lucas Jade Zumann as Bening’s son. This film really was a display in tremendous talent with each of these cast-members and how beautifully they work together as an ensemble.

In 1979 Santa Barbara, Calif., Dorothea Fields is a determined single mother in her mid-50s who is raising her adolescent son, Jamie, at a moment brimming with cultural change and rebellion. Dorothea enlists the help of two younger women — Abbie, a free-spirited punk artist living as a boarder in the Fields’ home and Julie, a savvy and provocative teenage neighbor — to help with Jamie’s upbringing.

Bening was fantastic in the film as a mother in her fifties having difficulty raising her 15 year old son as he enters manhood. Its a film that is particularly vulnerable since she is de-glamorized and showcases a wide ranges of emotions. She is worried, happy, loving, upset, angry, care-free. Bening is able to show all of this in her performance. She’s so long overdue for an Oscar. It would be so exciting and special to finally win one, especially for such a mesmerizing and emotional performance. However, it looks like it is currently an Emma Stone-Natalie Portman battle to win the prize.

Gerwig also delivers a very noteworthy performance as a free-spirited feminist artist renting a room in Bening’s apartment. Her care-free fun loving attitude is contagious. You grow attached to her character Abbie as the film progresses, especially when she reaches a moment in her life which causes pain and agony. Gerwig approaches the role with such fun and over-eagerness which progresses into sensibility and fragility as the film progresses. It would be so satisfying to see her get her first Oscar nomination for this performance, especially after several years of starring in independent films where I don’t believe she ever quite got her due, awards-wise.

The excellent talent of the cast truly owns this picture. Bening owns this film as the matriarch of the ensemble attempting to understand and nurture her son. Gerwig’s character is seen as so complex and enthusiastic with her artistic endeavors and interest in feminist thought, however as her character becomes simpler, we see a deeper, more serious attitude as sorrow and gloom enter her life. I definitely recommend this film and hope to see it nominated for Actress, Supporting Actress, and possibly Original Screenplay. A

Film Review: Manchester by the Sea

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Over the holidays, I views the Kenneth Lonergan-directed drama Manchester by the Sea starring Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, and Lucas Hedges. Touching, humorous, but also deep and depressing are words to describe the emotions you feel after experiencing the unfortunate life events of the film’s lead character.

Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) is a brooding, irritable loner who works as a handyman for a Boston apartment block. One damp winter day he gets a call summoning him to his hometown, north of the city. His brother’s heart has given out suddenly, and he’s been named guardian to his 16-year-old nephew. As if losing his only sibling and doubts about raising a teenager weren’t enough, his return to the past re-opens an unspeakable tragedy.

Affleck delivers a subdued and restrained performance as Lee. And although he does not showcase any particular emotional range in the film, his demeanor and performance is perfectly calibrated due to the misfortunes of his life. The film, I admit, starts off extremely slow as we see Lee go through his monotonous, day-to-day routine, as he is showing no passion or joy in what he is doing in his life. However, as the story unfolds, we discover the reasoning behind this timid and restrained personality and suddenly care for and are sympathetic toward Lee. This makes Casey Affleck’s performance make perfect sense. It was a truly beautiful depiction of a man who has experienced the ultimate pain in life.

Williams also delivers a stunning performance as Affleck’s ex-wife. Although she only has about 10 minutes of screen time in the film, the couple scenes she is in demonstrates her emotional range. One scene, in particular, toward the end makes you feel for the character so much it is hard not to get choked up as you are watching it. Her performance in this particular seen is so raw in emotion and pain as well as vulnerable.

Lastly, Hedges delivers a fine performance as Affleck’s nephew. While I don’t exactly understand the Best Supporting Actor accolades and Oscar buzz, he perfectly depicts the aftermath of a teenager going through pain in his life in the result of a loss. He is in much of the film, almost every scene Affleck is in, Hedges is in too. Hedges is able to demonstrate the character’s emotional breakdown as he experiences loss, as well as comfort and joy when around his friends and girlfriends, and eventually Lee as they spend time together.

Overall, Manchester by the Sea is a beautiful depiction of a man going through misfortunes in life and how he confronts a past tragedy in light of a new one. While the film can be slow and depressing, Affleck captivates the audience with his silence and suffering. The cast makes us deeply feel for them and is wonderfully acted. A shoe-in for Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actress, possibly Supporting Actor nominations at the Oscars, and maybe one or two other below-the-belt ones too. I’d also say that it will take Actor-Drama and Screenplay this Sunday at the Golden Globes, possible Picture-Drama as well. B