Though I was originally planning to publish this article yesterday, it’s fair to say that I’ve been consumed by my current filming commitments. I can’t say what I’m doing at the moment, but I promise you that I will be back on national tv by the end of the year (November actually).
As I write this in July, I am more than aware that the Oscar predictions I am about to speculate on will almost certainly be wrong. Last year I managed to pinpoint Leonardo DiCaprio’s Oscar for ‘The Revenant’, along with his director’s win. Then again, the previous year I was certain that Christian Bale would win Best Actor for the strongly disliked ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’. As usual, I’m going to attempt to guess the potential nominees and winners for several of the most prominent categories. In some cases I will try to explain myself, so here we go…
- Billy Lynn’s Halftime Walk
- The Birth of a Nation – WINNER?
- La La Land
- A United Kingdom
As has been the case recently, I am opting for a third consecutive year of eight films nominated for the top prize. Though only a couple of these movies have actually premiered, there is a lot of anticipation for more interesting pictures such as Passengers and Silence. My predicted winner, The Birth of a Nation, might be key in proving an antidote in regards to how POC have been represented in Oscar-nominated films over the past couple of years. Nate Parker’s drama about slavery, ironically named after the pro-KKK 1916 silent epic, was acclaimed at Sundance, and I think it may well grab the prize ahead of Martin Scorsese’s Silence.
- Clint Eastwood (Sully)
- Ang Lee (Billy Lynn’s Halftime Walk)
- Nate Parker (The Birth of a Nation) – WINNER?
- Martin Scorsese (Silence)
- Morten Tyldum (Passengers)
The Best Director race could well be about youth versus experience. Out of these potential nominees, I think Nate Parker could follow the lead of Kevin Costner, Mel Gibson and others in winning the Directing award for a film in which they also starred. Apart from him, the only other likely winner at the moment would probably be Martin Scorsese, who could pick up only his 2nd win from 9 nominations. Other potential nominees could include Amma Asante for A United Kingdom or Whiplash’s Damien Chazelle for La La Land.
- Viola Davis (Fences) – WINNER?
- Rebecca Hall (Christine)
- Jennifer Lawrence (Passengers)
- Ruth Negga (Loving)
- Alicia Vikander (The Light Between Oceans)
Though Academy darlings Jennifer Lawrence and Alicia Vikander could well be up for the Best Actress again, I reckon the main fight for awards will be between Viola Davis, reprising her Tony-winning performance for cinema, and the newcomer Ruth Negga, whose performance in the interracial romantic drama Loving has been critically acclaimed.
- Joel Edgerton (Loving)
- Michael Keaton (The Founder) – WINNER?
- David Oyelowo (A United Kingdom)
- Nate Parker (The Birth of a Nation)
- Denzel Washington (Fences)
As Viola Davis missed out on an Oscar statuette for The Help, I reckon Michael Keaton will win his first Best Actor award following a similar snub for Birdman. I’m really looking forward to his performance as Ray Kroc, the ‘founder’ of McDonalds, its comparison to There Will Be Blood has got my lips wetting in anticipation. To be honest, I think it’s fair to say that the potential competition doesn’t seem as interesting as last year, which may well be the strongest I’ve ever known (The Revenant, Room, The Big Short, Carol, Spotlight, Macbeth, Steve Jobs etc) all blew me away since last Autumn. It may well be the case that the story changes as the year goes on.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
- Rebecca Ferguson (The Girl on the Train)
- Aja Naomi King (The Birth of a Nation)
- Keira Knightley (Collateral Beauty)
- Kristen Stewart (Billy Lynn’s Halftime Walk)
- Michelle Williams (Manchester-by-the-Sea) – WINNER?
Out of all the categories, this is the one where I have to hold up my hands and admit that I have not got a clue who will win. I wouldn’t be surprised if another contender emerges by next February, but on paper I’d expect strong performances from Kristen Stewart and Rebecca Ferguson as well as what could be an interesting romantic-drama in Collateral Beauty, also starring Kate Winslet, Will Smith and Naomie Harris.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)
- Warren Beatty (Rules Don’t Apply)
- Adam Driver (Silence)
- Ralph Fiennes (A Bigger Splash)
- Liam Neeson (Silence) – WINNER?
Perhaps the only category where I feel almost certain of a result. Liam Neeson, having most famously been nominated for his leading role in Schindler’s List, could well be the favourite (in my weird mind) for an Oscar for his mentor role in Martin Scorsese’s new film. Scorsese has always had great success with getting actors nominated, and so I would be very surprised if none of Neeson, Driver or Andrew Garfield were up for an award. Elsewhere, Warren Beatty’s return to cinema could also be in the discussion.
Overall, it is apparent from my predictions that we could feasibly see a very different awards night next year. After so much (deserved) criticism was leveled at the Academy’s snubbing of POC actors in 2015 and 2016, I think the number of films this year that feature POC in prominent roles and tackle the issues of race reflects how the industry is reacting to the lack of diversity. If my predictions were, somehow, right, then 7 actors out of a possible 20 would be non white caucasian. That’s still below the ideal 50% mark, but a noticeable increase on the 0 from the last 40 nominations. What’s for sure is that it will be very interesting to see what happens to these award ceremonies over the next year, and whether the attempts to diversify the academy, as well as the success of genre films like Mad Max, could make the phrase Oscar-bait less gratingly annoying. I now feel obliged, having objected you to my opinion, to ask for your own. What films have you seen this year do you think could be in the awards conversation – and who do you think could end up with a statuette to adorn their mantelpiece?