2017 Oscars, Who Will Win and Who Should


Five of the nine Best Picture nominees courtesy of awardswatch.com

Rachel Vigil, Editor-in-Chief

By Rachel Vigil

Oscar season is upon us again, and though exorbitantly celebrating celebrities seems a bit odd in our current time of political turmoil, we might as well discuss what will win and should win.

After all, is there anything that unites the American people like entertainment does?

The Best Picture category has nine nominations this year: La La Land, Moonlight, Lion, Hell or High Water, Hacksaw Ridge, Arrival, Hidden Figures, Fences, and Manchester by the Sea. The nominee favored to win is La La Land, as they’ve already won the Producers Guild and Directors Guild awards which can usually be fairly accurate predictors of who will take the category. This is especially true because the Academy (the group who picks these awards) shares many of its members with both of these guilds.

Hollywood also seems to favor films about themselves in this category (such as The Artist) which is another point in their favor.

While I did love La La Land, I don’t know that it’s necessarily the best film in this category. Moonlight was not only a fresh approach to filmmaking and storytelling but it also had a phenomenal cast and visuals. Arrival’s story was creative and also had strong performances, especially from Amy Adams. Fences was good, but as with many adaptations of plays, its performances rather than directing and visuals were what made it compelling (I also found myself wishing for an intermission about halfway through).

The problem with picking favorites is that all nominees are usually great films, but all very different. La La Land was perfect for a musical romance, Moonlight was an effective look at the life and evolution of one character, and Arrival was Sci-fi that made you think about both new concepts and re-evaluate your own worldview. So it’s difficult to put them against each other.

That being said, I personally feel that Moonlight deserves the award the most out of the nine nominees, overall it was a stronger film than the others. Story, lighting, cinematography, and acting were all there in what amounted to a better overall movie.

For the Best Actress award, which I have admittedly not seen all the films whose leads are nominated for, Emma Stone’s La La Land performance was good enough to merit her a win. In the Best Actor, it seems to be a tight race between Casey Affleck and Denzel Washington. Washington’s portrayal of a Pittsburg garbage man and horrible father was particularly powerful though, so I feel that he deserves to take home the trophy.

After this, the biggest awards left are those for Best Director and Best Screenplay. Damien Chazelle, director of La La Land, seems poised to win this award, which is fair considering how complicated it must be to direct complicated song and dance numbers. Moonlight’s direction (by Barry Jenkins) was also excellent, but I feel that this is Chazelle’s award to win.

I ran into a problem when considering which movie should take home best screenplay, because I had only seen one of the nominees, so let’s skip that one.

That, however, reminds me of my larger problem with the Oscars. Especially the best picture nominations. There are too many of them. I understand that a high volume of movies comes out every year. Nevertheless, when it seems that everyone knows who is going to win, some of these films seem unnecessary.

Hidden Figures, for example, was a good movie. The story it told was an interesting, important and often overlooked part of American history. But this film was nothing special. It didn’t make you think. It didn’t have any beautiful camera work or design. It just happened. After I left the theater, I can’t say my thoughts returned to it or its themes or ideas very much. So why was it nominated with some obviously better films.

Seeing this many films in a short time frame for the average American is nearly impossible without putting other things on the back burner. I did not get to see all of the best picture films by the time this had to be written because I have school, and clubs, and a lack of funding. Part of me feels as if they nominate this many films in order to get more people to the movies and paying to see these movies. So on Oscar night, you’ve either crammed all of the films in the last few weeks and are a bit sick of movies or are stuck rooting for only one movie because that’s all you’ve seen.