Lots of people are worried about every movie – new “such and such should win” pieces are popping up everywhere. Hollywood Reporter just did a “will win/should win” a week before predictions are locked in. But for many – like Variety’s Kris Tapley and Movie City News’ David Poland, Awards Circuit’s Mark Johnson, Hollywood-Elsewhere’s Jeff Wells – this race was over in September. Sure, there is the chance for an upset because there always with a preferential ballot but don’t forget everyone thought the same thing about Birdman and Boyhood heading into that Oscar race and Birdman easily took it home. The thing is, the consensus is too big to turn around. Think about it like the Titanic heading towards the iceberg. The ship is too big to turn around at the last minute. When thousands upon thousands of people are voting that is a big consensus to turn around.
So expect La La Land, at the very least, to win as much as a film can under the current system of expanded nominees. The most any film has won in recent years that was also a Best Picture winner was The Hurt Locker with 6. Since then, the Best Picture winner has won just a handful – even as few as two Oscars. If this year were to split between, say, Moonlight and La La Land you might see director going to Chazelle (he’s locked) and picture going to Moonlight but there has been no indication, other than the lack of SAG ensemble nomination for La La Land, that would give us a hint it was going in that direction. The combination of PGA/DGA and BAFTA is a strong one. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a film win all of those and then not win Best Picture. Brokeback Mountain is the only recent one, which was beaten by Crash but that took place in the years before the preferential ballot. Since then, it’s an unbreakable combo.
Is there a last minute push for Moonlight? Yes. Are there going to be swaths of Oscar voters who don’t even watch it let alone vote for it? Yes. Can it win Best Picture? It would be one of the strangest things to ever happen in the Oscar race most of us know. There is a last minute push for Hidden Figures because people are starting to realize what is about to happen in terms of what happened last year, what the narrative is this year and how it’s all going to play out. Can it win? Sure but it would be, again, the strangest thing to ever happen in all of the years I’ve been covering the Oscars.
No, this is La La Land’s to lose and any narrative it produces also wins: musicals are back? Sure. Hollywood is committed to making artful films? Why not. A film with a woman nominee or winner for Best Actress has finally won after 12 years without winning? Absolutely. So don’t be gloomy. Celebrate. And remember, being an Oscar winner, as we know going way way back to Citizen Kane, is always a double edged sword. You take the crookeds with the straights. You get to win but you have to be the winner. I didn’t invent that. It is simply human nature and has always been thus. And probably always will be. It’s hard to be the frontrunner and even harder to be the winner.
Whatever angst people have to work out that’s really our own business. We don’t define Hollywood. We don’t make Hollywood films. We do nothing except observe from the sidelines and make comments. That’s pretty low stakes at the end of the day. This is a night when Hollywood decides, and the Academy decides, how best to represent itself. This is who THEY are, not who we are.
Are there races that might produce some upset? I personally think we’re going to see a lot of surprises but I can’t predict what they will be. But here are a few possibilities:
Isabelle Huppert beats Emma Stone.
Arrival takes home a few more than predicted, maybe sound editing, maybe production design, maybe cinematography, maybe editing.
Hacksaw Ridge might win both sound categories
Lin Manuel-Miranda might upset in Best Song and become an EGOT winner.
The foreign language race is up in the air – many people think it is probably The Salesman but it could be any of the five.
The shorts are wildly unpredictable, despite how many pundits think they’re locked in.
Basically the Oscar race is either totally busted wide open and radically different from how it’s ever been, OR it goes exactly as planned, a near sweep for La La Land.
What would be your one wish if you could make your dreams come true?