Predictions For Sunday's Academy Awards

By: James Cole

Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in “La La Land.”

The Chatham Orpheum Theater will be presenting the 89th annual Academy Awards on the big screen Sunday, Feb. 26 from 7 to 11 p.m. Tickets are free but limited. In advance of the event here are my thoughts on this year’s nominees.

Best Supporting Actor. The nominees are Jeff Bridges (“Hell or High Water”), Lucas Hedges (“Manchester by the Sea”), Michael Shannon (“Nocturnal Animals”), Mahershala Ali (“Moonlight”), and Dev Patel (“Lion”). I have not yet seen “Nocturnal Animals” or “Moonlight” but of the remaining performances, Patel’s work as a man searching for his lost family moved me the most. Yet consensus is that Ali will win.

Best Supporting Actress. Among Michelle Williams (“Manchester”), Naomie Harris (“Moonlight”), Octavia Spencer (“Hidden Figures”), Nicole Kidman (“Lion”), and Viola Davis (“Fences”). I believe Davis will take home the Oscar.

Best Actor. In a race between Andrew Garfield (“Hacksaw Ridge”), Viggo Mortensen (“Captain Fantastic”), Ryan Gosling (“La La Land”), Casey Affleck (“Manchester”), and Denzel Washington (“Fences”), the early predictions were for Affleck. Yet support has been building for Washington, who both starred in and directed August Wilson’s adaptation of his award-winning play. It’s a tough call but I believe Denzel will receive another statue to join his previous award as Supporting Actor for “Glory” in 1989.

Best Actress. The varied performances by Ruth Negga (“Loving”), Meryl Streep (“Florence Foster Jenkins”), Isabelle Huppert (“Elle”), Emma Stone (“La La Land”), and Natalie Portman (“Jackie”) make this a tough choice. With the exception of Streep, whose performance as Florence Foster Jenkins was moving but didn’t deserve a nomination, it’s a contest between Stone and Portman. Any other year Portman would have won for her interpretation of Jackie Kennedy but Hollywood is having a love affair with “La La Land” (as evidenced by its astonishing 14 nominations) and Stone is radiant as a struggling actress who dreams big. She’ll win.

Best Original Screenplay. Kenneth Lonergan for “Manchester by the Sea.”

Best Adapted Screenplay. “Moonlight” by Barry Jenkins (though my vote would be “Arrival” by Eric Heisserer, a beautiful adaptation of the story “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang).

Best Director. Among directors Kenneth Lonergan (“Manchester by the Sea”), Mel Gibson (“Hacksaw Ridge”), Dennis Villeneuve (“Arrival”), Barry Jenkins (“Moonlight”), and Damien Chazelle (“La La Land”), it’s a tight race between Chazelle and Jenkins. Though “Manchester” had the early buzz, Chazelle will take home the gold guy.

Best Picture. Nine films are nominated this year (among a possible ten): “Fences,” “Lion,” “Hidden Figures,” “Hell or High Water,” “Hacksaw Ridge,” “Arrival,” “Manchester by the Sea,” “Moonlight,” and “La La Land.” Of the nominated films “Arrival” is my favorite but it’s a three-way race between “Manchester,” “Moonlight,” and “La La Land.” “Manchester” had initial acclaim but lost momentum. “La La Land” has become the giant rolling boulder that chased Indiana Jones: it will roll over all the other films and emerge the winner.

Hope to see you at The Orpheum Sunday night!