Chimes’ Oscar Roundup

“La La Land” faces stiff competition in our Oscar predictions.

Kyle Kohner, Writer

A year after the #OscarsSoWhite debacle, the 89th annual Academy Awards features seven nominated actors and actresses of color. Compared to last year, this could signify a monumental change within the voters’ mindsets. Unfortunately, potential of not a single one of them winning lingers. However, the storyline clouding over this year’s Oscars focuses around the meteoric directing talent of Damien Chazelle and his his ode to Hollywood. “La La Land” and its record-breaking 14 award nominations prevails as Hollywood’s biggest allure as Oscar night draws near.

Best Picture: The Academy loves films glorifying Hollywood, evidenced through Best Picture winners “Birdman” in 2015 and 2012’s “The Artist.” “La La Land” appears poised to further that trend. Although “Moonlight” recently captured the Golden Globe for Best Picture, “La La Land” has gained steam and increased favorability amongst critics. In addition, La La Land’s December release date increases its likelihood. Unfortunately for “Moonlight,” the mid-October release date coaxed it into the backseat.

Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight” still has a fighting chance. With an ornate score, lush color palettes and hypnotic cinematography, the film’s technical aspects seemed to persist as its own living, breathing entity. In addition, Jenkins casts masterful talents, resulting in exemplary performances across the board, especially from Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris.

If the Academy does not want to jeopardize their relevancy any further and desires a chance at redeeming themselves from their previous 88 years of systematic racism prevalent in Hollywood, they will pick “Moonlight” as the first all-African American Best Picture winner, over the decidedly overrated La La land.

WANT TO WIN: “Moonlight”


Best Director: This category hinges upon who takes home best picture. Within the past four years, only once did a film win for Best Picture and Best Director, “Birdman” and Alejandro Inarritu in 2014. This time around, Chazelle and Jenkins represent the top two contenders for the Best Director category and both are equally deserving. Chazelle’s worthiness stems from his meticulous command over a grandiose set and innumerable cast, proving his 2014 “Whiplash” was no fluke. However, the magnitude of sheer, raw emotion brimming out of “Moonlight” gives Jenkins a slight edge for the award.

WANT TO WIN: Damien Chazelle

THINK WILL WIN: Barry Jenkins

Best Actor:  If it amounted to performance, the home run pick for Best Actor should go to Casey Affleck for his visually tormented performance as a depressed uncle escaping from inner demons. Unfortunately, Affleck himself has demons to deal with. His recent sexual assault allegations blur his chances of winning. There is also Andrew Garfield, who remains in the conversation with his recent conversion to Christianity translating saliently in his portrayal of the courageous Lt. Desmond Doss, but his connection to the Mel Gibson name dampens his chances. Therefore, Denzel Washington should and will get the Oscar for best actor in his arresting performance in “Fences.” Washington also won the Golden Globe in the same category as soon as the Affleck controversy surfaced.

WANT TO WIN: Denzel Washington

THINK WILL WIN: Denzel Washington

Best Actress: The most lackluster category out of the six discussed is absent of Rebecca Hall and her gripping performance in “Christine,” the best by an actress in a lead role this past year. Despite Hall’s snub, Natalie Portman dazzled with her depiction of first lady Jackie Kennedy, which carried the film’s hype. Without Portman as the lead, “Jackie” would never have generated this much Oscar buzz. Yet, I will go out on a limb and predict that Isabelle

Hubbert, in her engrossing performance in “Elle,” will win the Oscar for Best Actress.

WANT TO WIN: Natalie Portman

THINK WILL WIN: Isabelle Hubbert

Best Supporting Actor: Based on screen time alone, Dev Patel should have received consideration for best actor. Even odder is the absence of Aaron Taylor-Johnson for his sadistic and perverse role in “Nocturnal Animals,” which Johnson won the Golden Globe for in for the same category. The real story inhabiting this stacked category is “Moonlight’s” Mahershala Ali. As soon as I saw Ali on screen back in October for the “Moonlight” premiere, I knew that his talents would not go unnoticed. A failure for the Academy to give him this award will remain a huge disappointment in awards season history.

WANT TO WIN: Mahershala Ali

THINK WILL WIN: Mahershala Ali

Best Supporting Actress: I am torn between Michelle Williams and Harris in this category. Williams embodied brokenness — one scene in particular really pierced me emotionally and if you have seen “Manchester by the Sea,” you will know what scene I am speaking of. But Viola Davis empowered viewers like none other with her role in “Fences,” in which she won the Golden Globe for the same category. Williams ultimately wins me over with her admirable moments of heartache, but Davis will deservingly win the top honor.

WANT TO WIN: Michelle Williams


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