February 27, 2017


Following the incorrect announcement of the Oscar winner for best picture, accounting firm, PriceWaterhouseCoopers made this statement: 'We sincerely apologize to "Moonlight," "La La Land," Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, and Oscar viewers for the error that was made during the award announcement for Best Picture. The presenters had mistakenly been given the wrong category envelope and when discovered, was immediately corrected. We are currently investigating how this could have happened, and deeply regret that this occurred.
We appreciate the grace with which the nominees, the Academy, ABC, and Jimmy Kimmel handled the situation.'

All said and done, it was quite the embarrassment for PWC, producers of The Oscars, and the Academy, even though it became the raging topic of discussion all over social media. 

Having stolen the limelight from the entire show in general, the actual result has not really been focused on. With "Moonlight" winning, it's clear that the Academy has made a conscious choice to be more inclusive and diverse. Obviously this is true for including themes surrounding people of color, but it's also true for themes surrounding the LGBT community. Since 2006, the Academy has been criticized for going with "Crash" as 2005's best picture, while ignoring the more deserving "Brokeback Mountain". Since then, the Academy has found it important to recognize more socially relevant themes, including last year's "Spotlight", which was about the journalistic team that exposed the sexual abuse taking place in the Catholic Church, starting from Massachusetts. However, since 2005, there hasn't been a strong best picture contender that touched upon LGBT issues, until the moving and impressive "Moonlight".

Personally, I thought "La La Land" was more deserving, but I can see why "Moonlight" won. 

Moving on to other parts of this year's Oscars, which were overshadowed by the incorrect announcement, I thought it wasn't among the better shows in recent years. Having said that, Jimmy Kimmel was not the problem. He was actually quite good. I knew he wouldn't disappoint, especially after he did such a wonderful job at the Emmys last year. I thought his opening—after Justin Timberlake's energetic performance—was entertaining for sure, especially with the jokes about Amazon, and so on. His jokes about Meryl Streep and President Trump were also hilarious. But nothing could top the banter between him and Matt Damon. From playing Damon off the stage, to Damon tripping him, to the whole "We Bought A Zoo" bit, it was all perfect. I would go so far as to say that they'd even make a great hosting team. 

The new additions to this year's show that I enjoyed were the bits of presenters talking about their idols and then presenting with their idols. I think that's a good way to honor experienced performers, and should be a continuing feature at the Oscars. I even enjoyed the audio-visual presentations of past winning actors and actresses before announcing those categories. It's those moments that make the Oscars great, and it's good to remind everyone of all the overwhelming, honest and endearing reactions that past winners have had. 

One big disappointment was the presentations itself. The Oscars usually set themselves apart by dissecting categories, such as visual effects, production design, costume design, etc, by giving us a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the nominated work—through blueprints, sketches, and in various other ways. This year, the presentations of the categories made it look like any other awards show. And that took away from the experience in a big way. 

Of course, there were also things about Kimmel that didn't particularly fly—even the candy and donuts and cookies flying down to the audience. It felt like an attempt to recreate Ellen's pizza moment, and it didn't get there. I think they should really let that go and stop trying to create fun ways to feed the audience some snacks. Also completely unconvincing was the whole surprise to the Hollywood tour bus patrons. I mean, if someone's interested in seeing Hollywood, I'm sure they'd know when Hollywood's biggest night is unfolding. And even if they didn't, there must've been plenty of excitement and buzz in the area surrounding the Oscars, what with road closures and such. I don't know why anyone thought that doing all of that was a good idea. 

Among the acceptance speeches, I loved Viola Davis' speech the most, and I thought that the tail end of the best original song speech was very heartwarming. When Benj Pasek dedicated the award to all those boys who want to sing in the rain and to all the mothers who let them, it was simple and perfect. I was also impressed with the strong political statement about Trump's immigration policies made by Asghar Farhadi, who won for best foreign language film—"The Salesman".

So there were ups and downs with the show, but no one's going to remember The Oscars 2017 for anything other than the incorrect best picture announcement. And, a new generation will wonder who Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty are. 

February 25, 2017


Will La La Land make a clean sweep at the Oscars this Sunday? I think it’ll win 9. Here are my predictions for the 89th Oscars—who should win and who will win

Best Picture
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell Or High Water
Hidden Figures
La La Land
Manchester By The Sea

Should And Will Win: In an interesting race for best picture, it seems quite clear that this is going to be La La Land’s year. Some say that the overwhelming recognition that the contemporary original musical has been receiving at all the guild awards, the Golden Globes and the BAFTAs, will take away from its chances at the grand finale of this awards season. However, I think La La Land is far from the fatigue level that the above awards experts are suggesting.
If a film comes close, it’ll be Moonlight. I just hope that Manchester… doesn’t become the upset here. The film is good and incredibly moving, but I don’t think it’s best picture material at all. All things considered, La La Land is the standout this year, and I do believe that it will become the first out-and-out musical to win best picture since 2002’s Chicago.

Actor In A Leading Role
Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
Ryan Gosling, La La Land
Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic
Denzel Washington, Fences

Should And Will Win: Casey Affleck’s turn as a guilt-ridden man, who has little to live for and is presented with the challenge of being his nephew’s legal guardian after his brother dies, was silent, yet incredibly strong. It was a role that could have easily gone over-the-top, but with director Kenneth Lonergan’s fine guidance, Affleck managed to deliver a performance that reflected pain, heartbreak, defeat, with incredible restraint. The quiet persona he helped build is all that made the film what it was.
            The upset here could be Denzel Washington, who won the SAG Award. Considering that a lot of the SAG-AFTRA members are also Academy members, this is a possibility. If it does happen, Washington will join the likes of Daniel Day Lewis and Jack Nicholson, who have each won three Oscars for acting.  

Actress In A Leading Role
Isabelle Huppert, Elle
Ruth Negga, Loving
Natalie Portman, Jackie
Emma Stone, La La Land
Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

Should Win And Will Win: Emma Stone has been one to look out for, for years. And this year, with the vulnerability she brought to Mia in La La Land, it ought to be her. The struggle and self-doubt of a dreamer and girl in love was presented in a raw and beautiful way, with her delicate and refined delivery.
            Isabelle Hupert, who won the Globe for lead actress, drama, could be the upset here, making her the first performer to win an acting Oscar for a foreign language film, since Marion Cotillard won for La Vie En Rose (2007).

Actor In A Supporting Role
Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea
Dev Patel, Lion
Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals

Should Win: With Lion, Dev Patel has come of age. He took on a challenging role that has so much of him just being in his own head and unraveling, without much to say or a lot to do. He conveyed with conviction the frustration of not being able to find his original family, and the depth of what it meant to him to do so. I think if delivering a breakout splendid performance means anything, Patel should win this one.
Will Win: This one is Mahershala Ali’s to lose. He’s won all the big awards in this category, and giving it to him will be one way to recognize Moonlight, a brilliant movie, which won’t win too many Oscars on Sunday. The odds are in his favor even though his performance wasn’t exemplary. It was good and sufficient, but it was the bare minimum I would expect from a role like his.

Actress In A Supporting Role
Viola Davis, Fences
Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Nicole Kidman, Lion
Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures
Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea

Should And Will Win: This will probably be the first category that’ll be announced on Sunday, and Viola Davis could win this thing simply for her delivery in the clip that they’ll show when announcing the nominees. The clip will be the one where Rose is yelling at Troy, releasing years of frustration, after the heartbreak of finding out how simple it was for Troy to be unfaithful and even justify it to himself. This is Viola’s year, and when she does win, she’ll join the elite group of the ‘Triple Crown Of Acting’ (comprising performers who have won an Oscar, an Emmy as well as a Tony). It will also put her one step away from becoming an EGOT (Emmy-Grammy-Oscar-and-Tony winner).

Denis Villeneuve, Arrival
Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge
Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester By The Sea
Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

Should And Will Win: This is a strong group of contenders. And while Barry Jenkins’ breakthrough Moonlight could win, I strongly believe this year is Damien Chazelle’s. His perfection of conveying a simple theme beautifully and effectively, in Technicolor splendor, and successfully presenting a marvelous contemporary musical, is going to be rewarded. He will also become the youngest person ever to win an Oscar for directing.

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
Arrival, Screenplay by Eric Heisserer
Fences, Screenplay by August Wilson
Hidden Figures, Screenplay by Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi
Lion, Screenplay by Luke Davies
Moonlight, Screenplay by Barry Jenkins; Story by Tarell Alvin McCraney

Should Win And Will Win: Moonlight will make history by becoming the first ever film to win an adapted screenplay Oscar while having won for original screenplay at the WGA Awards. This is owing to the fact that the Academy deemed it to have been inspired by some source material, hence putting it in adapted screenplay. This will be upsetting for Arrival and Lion, both of which would be the next best contenders to win this. Moonlight is the second most likely film to win best picture, after La La Land, and this win will be as close as Moonlight will get.

Writing (Original Screenplay)
Hell Or High Water, Written by Taylor Sheridan
La La Land, Written by Damien Chazelle
The Lobster, Written by Yorgos Lanthimos, Efthimis Filippou
Manchester By The Sea, Written by Kenneth Lonergan
20th Century Women, Written by Mike Mills

Should Win: La La Land is a wonderful story, with nuanced and flawed characters, and doesn’t end in a predictable way. It speaks to people in a familiar way, and shows perspectives of relationships and destiny that are rarely seen. I think it’s a breakthrough in storytelling, in a lot of ways, which is why it should win. However, since it’s winning best picture, I think this will go to…
Will Win:Manchester By The Sea. It’s the closest contender after La La Land and Moonlight, so I think this win will be in lieu of a best picture Oscar.

Arrival, Bradford Young
La La Land, Linus Sandgren
Lion, Greig Fraser
Moonlight, James Laxton
Silence, Rodrigo Prieto

Should And Will Win: Capturing the colors of the California sky, framing the long and tight shots as appropriately as required for the narrative, the filmography of the musical numbers and the presentation of the ‘La La Land’ will win. Moonlight’s intrusive and disturbing camera work could win, and it even comes close to really deserving this. However, I think this category will be a part of La La Land’s sweep this Sunday.

Production Design
Arrival, Production Design: Patrice Vermette; Set Decoration: Paul Hotte
Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, Production Design: Stuart Craig; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
Hail, Caesar!, Production Design: Jess Gonchor; Set Decoration: Nancy Haigh
La La Land, Production Design: David Wasco; Set Decoration: Sandy Reynolds-Wasco
Passengers, Production Design: Guy Hendrix Dyas; Set Decoration: Gene Serdena

Should And Will Win: La La Land’s sweep will continue. Arrival could be the upset, but I doubt it.

Visual Effects
Deepwater Horizon, Craig Hammack, Jason Snell, Jason Billington and Burt Dalton
Doctor Strange, Stephane Ceretti, Richard Bluff, Vincent Cirelli and Paul Corbould
The Jungle Book, Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones and Dan Lemmon
Kubo And The Two Strings, Steve Emerson, Oliver Jones, Brian McLean and Brad Schiff
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, John Knoll, Mohen Leo, Hal Hickel and Neil Corbould

Should And Will Win: The Jungle Book did wonders. Its visual effects were practically the entire film. There couldn’t be any film more deserving.

Film Editing
Arrival, Joe Walker
Hacksaw Ridge, John Gilbert
Hell Or High Water, Jake Roberts
La La Land, Tom Cross
Moonlight, Nat Sanders and Joi McMillon

Should Win: If Hacksaw Ridge wins anything, it should win this one. The snappy editing through the battle sequences drove its edge-of-seat moments. The editing was totally in-sync with the direction, and editing became one of the most crucial parts of this movie.
Will Win: Perhaps for flawlessly stitching together the opening number like a one-shot performance, perhaps for matching the musical storytelling, and perhaps for handpicking the best-looking shots for each scene, La La Land will win. I hope Hacksaw upsets this.

Sound Editing
Arrival, Sylvain Bellemare
Deepwater Horizon, Wylie Stateman and Renée Tondelli
Hacksaw Ridge, Robert Mackenzie and Andy Wright
La La Land, Ai-Ling Lee and Mildred Iatrou Morgan
Sully, Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman

Should Win: Arrival, for creating original, yet strangely ‘realistic’ sounds of the alien life in the film
Will Win: Hacksaw Ridge, for the intense battleground sound effects

Sound Mixing
Arrival, Bernard Gariépy Strobl and Claude La Haye
Hacksaw Ridge, Kevin O’Connell, Andy Wright, Robert Mackenzie and Peter Grace
La La Land, Andy Nelson, Ai-Ling Lee and Steve A. Morrow
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, David Parker, Christopher Scarabosio and Stuart Wilson
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers Of Benghazi, Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush and Mac Ruth

Should Win: The result of Hacksaw Ridge’s sound mixing formed the gripping backdrop of the battle sequences, which are largely without dialogue. The sound editing was instrumental in putting those scenes together.
Will Win: La La Land, for the flawless coming together of music and effects

Music (Original Score)
Jackie, Mica Levi
La La Land, Justin Hurwitz
Lion, Dustin O'Halloran and Hauschka
Moonlight, Nicholas Britell
Passengers, Thomas Newman

Should And Will Win: Even if, by some slim chance, La La Land doesn’t win anything else, it will win definitely the Oscars for original score and song.

Music (Original Song)
‘Audition (The Fools Who Dream)’ from La La Land; Music by Justin Hurwitz; Lyric by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
‘Can't Stop The Feeling’ from Trolls; Music and Lyric by Justin Timberlake, Max Martin and Karl Johan Schuster
‘City Of Stars’ from La La Land; Music by Justin Hurwitz; Lyric by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
‘The Empty Chair’ from Jim: The James Foley Story; Music and Lyric by J. Ralph and Sting
‘How Far I'll Go’ from Moana; Music and Lyric by Lin-Manuel Miranda

Should And Will Win: Same as above! This one will go to ‘City Of Stars’. I don’t think anyone expects otherwise.

Costume Design
Allied, Joanna Johnston
Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, Colleen Atwood
Florence Foster Jenkins, Consolata Boyle
Jackie, Madeline Fontaine
La La Land, Mary Zophres

Should Win: This is a tricky category. The costumes in each of the above movies do their job. I would probably like to see this one going to Fantastic Beasts, for excellence in original design. Allied would be a close second for me.
Will Win: I think Jackie will take this one, for successfully replicating the style of one of America’s biggest fashion icons of all time. As with Florence Foster Jenkins, as well as Jackie, the factor or recreation or replication is what makes me think it shouldn’t be either. There is a chance that La La Land could take this one as well, for its simple, yet effective costumes. However, I think it’ll be Jackie, even if it’s just for recreating the former first lady’s pink skirt-suit.

Makeup And Hairstyling
A Man Called Ove, Eva von Bahr and Love Larson
Star Trek Beyond, Joel Harlow and Richard Alonzo
Suicide Squad, Alessandro Bertolazzi, Giorgio Gregorini and Christopher Nelson

Should And Will Win: Star Trek Beyond for its brilliant prosthetic and special effect make-up


Animated Feature Film
Kubo And The Two Strings
My Life As A Zucchini
The Red Turtle

Documentary (Feature)
Fire at sea
I Am Not Your Negro
Life, Animated
O.J.: Made In America

Documentary (Short Subject)
4.1 Miles
Joe's Violin
Watani: My Homeland
The White Helmets

Foreign Language Film
Land Of Mine (Denmark)
A Man Called Ove (Sweden)
The Salesman (Iran)
Tanna (Australia)
Toni Erdmann (Germany)

Short Film (Animated)
Blind Vaysha
Borrowed Time
Pear Cider And Cigarettes

Short Film (Live Action)
Ennemis Intérieurs
La Femme Et Le TGV
Silent Nights