It is Sunday afternoon, 1 PM – and I have one last movie (Moonlight) to watch tonight to complete my prediction for all the major categories. At this point, my data points only allow me to dive into certain categories – one of them being Acting in a Leading Role. Quite frankly, I find it often very hard to slice off the acting as its own layer and forget about the rest of the movie i.e. if I didn’t like the movie itself too much, I do find it very hard to reward the actors with praise and vice versa. But well that is what I am (not) being paid for … so let’s dive into the category “Actor/Actress in a Leading Role”.

Who was nominated again as lead actor?

  1. Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea
  2. Andrew Garfield – Hacksaw Ridge
  3. Ryan Gosling – La La Land
  4. Viggo Mortensen – Captain Fantastic
  5. Denzel Washington – Fences

And the Oscar (will and should) go to: Casey Affleck

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Everyone is predicting a very tight race between veteran Oscar winner Denzel Washington (who would tie in with the record-winners Jack Nicholson, Daniel Day-Lewis and Walter Brennan) and Casey Affleck. After having watched Fences (review pending) just last night, I do have to admit that Denzel is acting the hell out of his character Troy Maxson. Given that the film is based on a play, the entire mission of the film and its characters is to act, act, act – and they do it pretty well. But here my issue with separating the film as a full entity and acting comes to play – I personally thought that Casey Affleck’s Lee Chandler was a much more interesting character and the story I was told by watching Casey Affleck trying and failing to come to terms with his life after the tragic events he had endured was a much more relatable story. And his straight-up sad performance depicting the dramatic events of Manchester by the Sea is a more deserved win than Denzel’s stage acting in Fences – which was a good movie but was just too much dialogue and too little of everything else that makes movies an actual experience. PS: I am deliberately not bringing in the controversy of the sexual harassment allegations put forward against Casey Affleck – as this would open another big can of worms about the rightfulness of who should and should not win an Oscar from a moral perspective, I find this to be a very hard to discussion to have and it would certainly be out of scope for this post.

What about the rest…

All the other performances in this year’s race are also very commendable – Andrew Garfield’s performance of Desmond Doss put a completely new light on war movies and the “grand and pure” motives a soldier can have while still fighting for his country. And Garfield managed to portray the character throughout the film as a person who would fight for what is right, not take no for an answer and be dedicated to any cause he puts his mind to. He made the character very credible and thus satisfying (not sure if that is the right wording for a gruesome and brutal war movie) to watch.

I am and have been a big fan of Ryan Gosling and he has the golden ticket in Hollywood right now – basically every film he is starring is poised to be a hit or maybe he just gets offered all the good scripts. Hopefully, he is able to ride this boat as long as possible – La La Land is just another example. It was a great film and Gosling provided a very solid acting job plus my hats off to all the singing and dancing – but was it really nuanced, versatile acting? I don’t think so – and quite frankly of all the nominations La La Land took home, best actor in a leading role was certainly one of the most undeserved ones.

Coming lastly to Viggo Mortensen’s Captain Fantastic (review pending) – a movie which went from completely full of itself and its message to being more grounded throughout and then almost full jumping the shark. Viggo Mortensen’s Ben is a fine acting job and the character development portrayed in the film from rigorous home parenting, living in the woods SPOILER ALERT to coming to terms with reality in the later parts of the film does redeem him. But in the end, the film was not particular great enough to play in the same league with heavy hitters like Manchester by the Sea or Fences for that matter. And thus, I believe that the nomination was not particularly deserved as well.

Now, let’s move on to the female category …

Who was nominated again ?

  1. Isabelle Huppert – Elle
  2. Ruth Negga – Loving
  3. Natalie Portman – Jackie
  4. Emma Stone – La La Land
  5. Meryl Streep – Florence Foster Jenkins

And the Oscar will go to: Emma Stone

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This is a really hard category for me to judge for two reasons; 1) I have only seen three of the five nominations (La La Land, Loving and Jackie) and 2) I find the true winner of this category – Amy Adams – was wrongfully snubbed and that is beyond my understanding because why the hell does Meryl Streep need a 20th nomination for a movie which literally nobody has seen and/or will be watching. So there was my quick little outrage. Of the given nominations, I find Emma Stone’s character to be the most convincing act – her journey through La La Land is probably more “interesting” than Ryan Gosling’s. Again, here my attraction to the film probably contributes to my judgement – I found the film in its entirety to be most complete and thus Emma Stone’s character and her development plus the acting did provide me with the best experience as the audience. In addition to that, she was robbed an Oscar for her amazing performance in Birdman and thus here is the deserved remedy.

What about the rest…

Tonight will certainly be a tight race between Natalie Portman and Emma Stone – with slight advantages for Emma Stone since she is part of the La La Land juggernaut. Having watched Jackie, I do think that Natalie Portman yet again proves what a great character actress she is and how well she can dive into her acting. She really lives and breathes her role in Jackie (as far as I can tell since I haven’t seen any real Jackie Kennedy footage) and I believe the film picked the most interesting episode of Jackie Kennedy’s life. Natalie Portman’s constant longing for her husband and deep sorrow paired with dedication to have him remembered as the great person he was, was certainly impressive. However, yet again I found the movie to be only good but not super great – it certainly will not stay in my immediate film memory for more than one week. Thus, I have a hard time to really recommend Natalie Portman to be the winner.

Coming to Ruth Negga’s performance in Loving – now this was a movie which was subtle, silent and yet very focused on its message. Ruth Negga’s Mildred Loving was a very enjoyable character in a sad but very important movie – she conveyed the message of wanting to make things better for the greater good and for the love to her husband really convincing but yet very subtle. Having said that, the movie and thus its characters was a litte too short on dialogue and insight into the characters’s inner thoughts to be convincing enough for me to be the big winner of tonight.

One Response

  1. whatdoiknow

    I’d suspect Denzel Washington to win, would be more pc, even more so than Affleck, while Ryan Gosling convincingly played a Jazz nerd, but not a person in love; but Emma Stone did, so she should win. Portman was also legitimately appraised.


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