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Sunday, March 4, 2018


With the addition of a younger and more diverse set of voters in the Academy, and with the various social movements happening right now, this may be a very unpredictable year. The Oscars are much more inclusive and much less determined by a set of older white men, so some might argue that anything is possible tonight. My predictions, however, are based on what I'd consider more of the "old formula," which means that I've predicted that the winners will be those begging for trophies and by historical standards would normally win. After this year though, I may have to recalibrate. Let the fun begin!


  • Call Me by Your Name
  • Darkest Hour
  • Dunkirk
  • Get Out
  • Lady Bird
  • Phantom Thread
  • The Post
  • The Shape of Water
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

WILL WIN: The Shape of Water

COULD WIN: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri


SHOULD WIN: Call Me by Your Name (my personal favorite)

NOTE: This is the most unsure I’ve been about Best Picture. I’ve listed the two movies that have the best chance of winning ("will win" and "could win"), but I don’t think that either of them should win. Get Outmight have a chance, and will likely be the most memorable movie this year, but my favorite was Call Me by Your Name.

  • Daniel Day-Lewis - Phantom Thread
  • Timothee Chalamet - Call Me by Your Name
  • Daniel Kaluuya - Get Out
  • Denzel Washington - Roman J. Israel, Esq.
  • Gary Oldman - Darkest Hour

WILL WIN: Gary Oldman - Darkest Hour

COULD WIN: Timothee Chalamet - Call Me by Your Name

SHOULD WIN: Timothee Chalamet - Call Me by Your Name 

  • Sally Hawkins - The Shape of Water
  • Meryl Streep - The Post
  • Frances McDormand - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • Margot Robbie - I, Tonya
  • Saoirse Ronan - Lady Bird 

WILL WIN: Frances McDormand - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

COULD WIN: Saoirse Ronan - Lady Bird

SHOULD WIN: Saoirse Ronan - Lady Bird

  • Sam Rockwell - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • Woody Harrelson - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • Christopher Plummer - All the Money in the World
  • Willem Dafoe - The Florida Project
  • Richard Jenkins - The Shape of Water

WILL WIN: Sam Rockwell - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

COULD WIN: Willem Dafoe - The Florida Project

SHOULD WIN: Sam Rockwell - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

  • Lesley Manville - Phantom Thread
  • Allison Janney - I, Tonya
  • Laurie Metcalf - Lady Bird
  • Mary J. Blige - Mudbound
  • Octavia Spencer - The Shape of Water

WILL WIN: Allison Janney - I, Tonya

COULD WIN: Laurie Metcalf - Lady Bird

SHOULD WIN: Allison Janney - I, Tonya

  • Guillermo del Toro - The Shape of Water
  • Jordan Peele - Get Out
  • Greta Gerwig - Lady Bird
  • Christopher Nolan - Dunkirk
  • Paul Thomas Anderson - Phantom Thread

WILL WIN: Guillermo del Toro - The Shape of Water

COULD WIN: Jordan Peele - Get Out

SHOULD WIN: Guillermo del Toro - The Shape of Water

  • Guillermo del Toro & Vanessa Taylor - The Shape of Water
  • Jordan Peele - Get Out
  • Greta Gerwig - Lady Bird
  • Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani - The Big Sick
  • Martin McDonagh - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

WILL WIN: Jordan Peele - Get Out

COULD WIN: Martin McDonagh - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

DARK HORSE: Greta Gerwig - Lady Bird 

SHOULD WIN: Jordan Peele - Get Out / Greta Gerwig - Lady Bird 

NOTE: This is another very difficult category, as it is possible for any of these three to win. Hell, even The Shape of Water could win here and it wouldn't be totally insane. This is usually my favorite category, as the winner is usually one of my top favorites of the year. By that standard, I choose Lady Bird or Get Out.

  • Aaron Sorkin - Molly's Game
  • James Ivory - Call Me by Your Name
  • Scott Frank, James Mangold & Michael Green - Logan
  • Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber - The Disaster Artist
  • Dee Rees & Virgil Williams - Mudbound

WILL WIN: James Ivory - Call Me by Your Name

COULD WIN: Dee Rees & Virgil Williams - Mudbound

SHOULD WIN: James Ivory - Call Me by Your Name

Sunday, February 26, 2017


Most people I've talked to expect this year's Academy Awards to be pretty predictable. La La Land, with 14 nominations, is tied for the most nods in Oscar history. It would need 11 wins to tie with Titanic, Ben-Hur and Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King for the most trophies ever. Though this may be a tall order, many believe that La La Land is the favorite in many of the major categories, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Music (Score and Song), Best Cinematography, Best Editing and for other technical awards. But all I have to say is this: remember Boyhood. Though Boyhood didn't have quite the tally of nominations that La La Land has, it was the favorite of just about everyone to win the major awards in 2015. But Birdman took home the Oscar for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay (though Michael Keaton lost for Best Actor, which was also a bit of an upset after the award went to Eddie Redmayne for The Theory of Everything). My point? Upsets happen. And in a year with so many great talents, as well as strong powers at play in the political/personal arena, I'd suggest three words of caution: expect the unexpected.

Though La La Land is undoubtedly the favorite this year, 2016 also was possibly the strongest year ever for diversity in film. And, according to many, 2016 was the year of Moonlight. According to Metacritic, Moonlight was the best-reviewed movie of last year. But that's not all. After two consecutive years of #OscarsSoWhite, there were more than 20 nominations in various categories for films with non-white main characters including Moonlight, which were Fences, Hidden Figures, Loving, and Lion. Also, 2016 did not exist in a vacuum. Outside of the immense talent from diverse filmmakers on screen, 2016 was a year fraught with violence against minorities from police and white supremacists and the advent of the Trump presidency. One of the reasons the Oscars are so significant is that winners are also considered based on the zeitgeist at the time (for example, Sean Penn won Best Actor for Milk in 2009 after California voted in Prop 8, which some considered an upset for Mickey Rourke for The Wrestler). My conclusion is that it would be entirely appropriate for a coming-of-age film about a poor, black and gay kid in Miami based in part on the biography of its extremely talented writer-director Barry Jenkins to take home some of the top awards as well. 

The Oscars is often unpredictable and is also very important in the national psyche. Though a recent poll showed that two-thirds of Americans couldn't name a single Best Picture nominee, 7-in-10 admitted that they will tune in for the awards. Therefore, who wins is very important. To pure film junkies, it's important that a new generation of young and talented filmmakers could have their lives changed tonight. For others, tonight is a chance for their struggles to be recognized by the Academy and therefore the country. Either way, in a year with so much originality and so many Millennials poised to take home the top awards, tonight has the potential to be life-changing for many. For these reasons, the night of Academy Awards is my favorite TV night of the year. So, let the Oscars begin!


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

WILL WIN: La La Land

COULD WIN: Moonlight

SHOULD WIN: Manchester by the Sea (my personal favorite)


  • Casey Affleck - Manchester by the Sea
  • Andrew Garfield - Hacksaw Ridge 
  • Ryan Gosling - La La Land
  • Viggo Mortensen - Captain Fantastic
  • Denzel Washington - Fences

WILL WIN: Casey Affleck - Manchester by the Sea

COULD WIN: Denzel Washington - Fences

SHOULD WIN: Casey Affleck (This category could go either way – Affleck gave a surprisingly powerful performance, but Denzel is Denzel, though he also already has two Oscars) 


  • Emma Stone - La La Land
  • Natalie Portman - Jackie 
  • Ruth Negga - Loving
  • Meryl Streep - Florence Foster Jenkins
  • Isabelle Huppert - Elle

WILL WIN: Isabelle Huppert - Elle

COULD WIN: Emma Stone - La La Land

DARK HORSE: Natalie Portman - Jackie

SHOULD WIN: Isabelle Huppert (I don't think it'll be Emma Stone, though just about everyone else thinks it will be. I think Isabelle Huppert gave the most riveting performance by far)


  • Mahershala Ali - Moonlight
  • Jeff Bridges - Hell or High Water
  • Lucas Hedges - Manchester by the Sea 
  • Dev Patel - Lion
  • Michael Shannon - Nocturnal Animals

WILL WIN: Dev Patel - Lion

COULD WIN: Mahershala Ali - Moonlight

SHOULD WIN: Dev Patel (I'm bucking the expert opinions on this category and going with Patel, who was a far more integral in making Lion what is was than Mahershala Ali was in Moonlight, since the latter only appeared in the film for like 15 minutes)


  • Viola Davis - Fences
  • Naomie Harris - Moonlight
  • Nicole Kidman - Lion
  • Octavia Spencer - Hidden Figures
  • Michelle Williams - Manchester by the Sea

WILL WIN: Viola Davis - Fences

COULD WIN: Michelle Williams - Manchester by the Sea

SHOULD WIN: Viola Davis (this is the only category I'm 99% sure about)


  • Denis Villeneuve - Arrival
  • Mel Gibson - Hacksaw Ridge
  • Damien Chazelle - La La Land
  • Barry Jenkins - Moonlight
  • Kenneth Lonergan - Manchester by the Sea

WILL WIN: Damien Chazelle - La La Land

COULD WIN: Barry Jenkins - Moonlight

SHOULD WIN: Damien Chazelle 


  • Kenneth Lonergan - Manchester by the Sea
  • Taylor Sheridan - Hell or High Water
  • Damien Chazelle - La La Land
  • Mike Mills - 20th Century Women
  • Efthymis Filippou & Yorgos Lanthimos - The Lobster

WILL WIN: Kenneth Lonergan - Manchester by the Sea

COULD WIN: Damien Chazelle - La La Land

SHOULD WIN: Kenneth Lonergan

  • Luke Davies - Lion
  • Eric Heisserer - Arrival
  • Barry Jenkins - Moonlight
  • Theodore Melfi & Allison Schroeder - Hidden Figures
  • Fences - August Wilson
WILL WIN: Barry Jenkins - Moonlight

COULD WIN: August Williams - Fences

SHOULD WIN: Barry Jenkins - Moonlight

Saturday, December 31, 2016

La La Land

LA LA LAND (2016)

written & directed by Damien Chazelle (Whiplash)

starring Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling

ENJOYMENT: **** (out of 4)

Musicals are cheesy. They're for adults. Adults are boring. Therefore, musicals are boring. If you're anything like me, this may have been the view you held as a child about a film where the cast gets out of their cars to sing and dance on a busy Hollywood freeway in the middle of rush hour. But now as an adult, I must say that I like this movie a hell of a lot. And I'm not the only one. In fact, La La Land is the best reviewed major-release movie so far this year as determined by all audience members on IMDB and has a 9.0/10 average among >10,000 reviewers under 29 years old. This may be because La La Land is the first original musical of the 21st century and was made by a member of our generation (31 year-old writer-director Damien Chazelle, creator of Whiplash). In this world, a woman's dreams are just as important as a man's, and both partners support each other's aspirations as much as their own – for better or worse. 

La La Land is about a young aspiring actress, Mia (Emma Stone), who works as a barista in a movie studio cafe and auditions for many roles, but is stuck. After a disappointing night out, Mia stumbles into a dingy Hollywood restaurant where she hears the heartfelt jazz pianist, Sebastian (Ryan Gosling). This starts a love story that depicts the life of many aspiring artists in Hollywood – a life of auditions, rejections, unfulfilling jobs, old movie theaters, Griffith Park, traffic and grungy restaurants. Both Mia and Sebastian want success in their own careers and support the hell out of each other, but their individual paths may end up at odds with each other's. What unfolds is one of the most engulfing films of the year, full of amazing music (jazz!), colors and beautiful faces. In the end, La La Land is the first movie I've seen in 2016 that I'm excited to see for a second (and third) time. 

Oscar predictions
  • Nominations: Best Picture, Best Actress (Emma Stone), Best Actor (Ryan Gosling), Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Editing, Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, Best Song ("City of Stars")
  • Wins: Best Picture (similar chances as Manchester by the Sea or Moonlight), Best Director (maybe), Best Original Score, Best Song