The 89th Academy Awards are a little over four weeks away, and the nominees are now set for the golden statue award ceremony. After winning six Golden Globes, La La Land is the favorite to win Best Picture, with Moonlight and Manchester by the Sea not far behind. It wouldn’t be an award ceremony without our share of snubs and surprises, but we’ll save that debate for another time (hint: never). Since we’re officially licensed movie connoisseurs, we thought we’d skip that debate and instead give our iron clad predictions on the Best Picture race, as well as who we think will walk away winners in some of the other major categories. Will Hacksaw Ridge pull off the monumental upset and win Best Picture? Will Casey Affleck cruise through awards season with a Golden Globe and an Oscar for Best Actor? Let’s get to our predictions and find out! (And follow along at home with our 2017 Oscar Ballot!)
Synopsis: Linguistics professor Louise Banks (Amy Adams) leads an elite team of investigators when gigantic spaceships touch down in 12 locations around the world. As nations teeter on the verge of global war, Banks and her crew must race against time to find a way to communicate with the extraterrestrial visitors. Hoping to unravel the mystery, she takes a chance that could threaten her life and quite possibly all of mankind.
Arrival is the kind of movie where you leave the theater having seen a totally different movie than you expected. It’s so much more than a SciFi movie, and the message can still resonate even if you swap out the aliens. Also, it was delightful to see Jeremy Renner in something where he wasn’t toting a bow and arrow; he really shines in this flick, even though he wasn’t put up for consideration. I think Arrival not only walks away, handily, with the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar, but also has a real good shot at Film Editing and Production Design. This is a GORGEOUS film. -Matt
Synopsis: A working-class African-American father tries to raise his family in the 1950s, while coming to terms with the events of his life.
Viola Davis, all-around Hollywood superstar, and Rhode Island native, gets her third Oscar nomination (Most of any black woman in history) for her role in Fences. She plays opposite Denzel in a film that seems to hit deep at your inner-most emotions (The academy loves those types of movies this year apparently). If I know Denzel and Viola they are sure to put on a painfully honest performance that will stay with you beyond the theater. Along with Denzel and Viola both getting nods, Fences is also up for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay. While I can’t speak for the actors performances specifically, I could see a tight race with Arrival for adapted screenplay (since this is derived from a critically acclaimed play by August Wilson). -Matt
Synopsis: WWII American Army Medic Desmond T. Doss, who served during the Battle of Okinawa, refuses to kill people, and becomes the first man in American history to receive the Medal of Honor without firing a shot.
Hacksaw Ridge is the tale of two movies. The first half of the movie follows Desmond T. Doss from childhood up to his enrollment in the Army, and lays out why he was a pacifist and a conscientious objector to the war. There’s a specific moment in his childhood that not only turns him into a pacifist, but alters the direction of his life. The first hour or so moves along slowly, but as soon as Desmond and his unit are deployed to Hacksaw Ridge, all hell breaks loose. This is where Garfield and director Mel Gibson really shine, and anyone who’s seen Braveheart knows that Gibson is at his best when depicting the brutality of war. The fact that this is based on a true story (there’s a quick interview with the real Desmond after the movie that is incredibly moving) only enhances the emotion of this film. Hacksaw Ridge is also nominated for five other awards, including best actor, director, film editing, sound editing and sound mixing. It’s a long shot to win any of the three major awards, but regardless of whether it wins or loses, it’s a must see film. –Ryan