It’s Oscars Sunday, and for the first time since the 2013 ceremony, I’ve seen the majority of the nominees for Best Picture and several other categories. Here are my rankings of all of the 2016 movies I saw, based on release date or Oscar eligibility. Any linked titles go to reviews. As I review a couple more of these this week, I’ll update this post to link to them.
1. La La Land
3. Manchester by the Sea
4. O.J.: Made in America
7. Everybody Wants Some!!
9. The Lobster
10. Sing Street
14. Hell or High Water
16. Hail Caesar
17. Fire At Sea
18. Love & Friendship
19. Kubo and the Two Strings
20. Author: The JT Leroy Story
21. Midnight Special
22. Louder than Bombs
23. Finding Dory
24. Life, Animated
25. I am Not Your Negro
26. A Man Called Ove
27. The Red Turtle
28. Hidden Figures
29. The 13th
30. Phantom Boy
I’ve still got a half-dozen or so 2016 movies I want to see, which I’ll mention as I go through the remainder of the post.
I don’t pretend to any insider knowledge of the Oscars, so any predictions here are just for fun, and I think I only managed to run the table of nominees in one category, so don’t take my opinions too seriously.
Who should win: I’ve got La La Land as the best movie of the year, although I think Moonlight is more than worthy too.
Who will win: The heavy betting has been on La La Land all year and I don’t pretend to know any better.
I haven’t seen: Lion, which I’ll see eventually, and Hacksaw Ridge, which I won’t see because the director is an anti-Semitic domestic abuser.
Who was snubbed: All the movies I have in my top ten that didn’t make the final nine nominees would have been extreme surprises if they’d earned nods. I think O.J.: Made in America was the best movie not nominated, but if we’re limiting to realistic candidates, then Loving would be my pick.
See above. I know sometimes these two categories are split, but I usually don’t understand it when it happens, and can’t imagine that happening this year.
Who should win: Casey Affleck gave one of the best performances I’ve seen in years in Manchester by the Sea. The only reason I could see for him to lose out to Denzel Washington would be Affleck’s off-screen issues – he has been accused by multiple women of sexual harassment.
Who will win: I’d give Affleck 55/45 odds over Denzel.
I haven’t seen: Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic) or Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge).
Who was snubbed: Colin Farrell was terrific in The Lobster. And A Man Called Ove fails utterly without Rolf Lassgård’s performance as the title character.
Who should win: I think Emma Stone for La La Land, but I’ve only seen two of the five nominated performances.
Who will win: Stone seems like a lock.
I haven’t seen: Isabelle Huppert (Elle), Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins), or Natalie Portman (Jackie). That last film just hit digital last week, so when it becomes a rental option I’ll see it. I won’t see Elle.
Who was snubbed: Amy Adams for Arrival.
Best Supporting Actor
Who should win: Mahershala Ali for Moonlight.
Who will win: Mahershala Ali for Moonlight.
I haven’t seen: Dev Patel (Lion) or Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals). I’ll get Lion soon.
Who was snubbed: I thought Kevin Costner was pretty great in Hidden Figures, one of the only characters with any complexity in that film. Shannon was excellent in Midnight Special, but he’s just kind of great in everything.
Best Supporting Actress
Who should win: Viola Davis for Fences, which was really more of a lead performance. She owns the second half of that film.
Who will win: Davis.
I haven’t seen: Nicole Kidman (Lion).
Who was snubbed: Octavia Spencer got a nomination here for Hidden Figures, so was Taraji Henson submitted in the lead category for the same film? If Henson was eligible for this category, she was better in a harder role than Michelle Williams’ brief appearances in Manchester by the Sea. I also thought Rachel Weisz (The Lobster) and Lucy Boynton (Sing Street) were worthy.
Who should win: Tough call for me, but of the four I’ve seen I’d give the nod to Zootopia for the best combination of animation quality, story, and voice acting.
Who will win: I think Zootopia wins this too.
I haven’t seen: My Life as a Zucchini opens in Philly this upcoming weekend and in Wilmington the following Friday. I’m dying to see it.
Who was snubbed: Finding Dory wasn’t a great film by Pixar standards but I think in many years it gets a nod, perhaps losing out because there were two other Disney films in the category.
Who should win: I think of the three nominees I’ve seen, I’d give the nod to Arrival.
Who will win: La La Land.
I haven’t seen: Lion or Silence. Adnan Virk loved Silence – I think he named it his top movie for 2016 – but I think I’ll pass given its length and my short attention span.
Who was snubbed: Hell or High Water was beautifully shot, with wide pans of the New Mexican landscapes.
Who should win: It’s almost unfair that the seven-hour O.J.: Made in America documentary (from ESPN) is eligible in this category, but it is, and it’s among the best documentaries I’ve ever seen regardless of length or format.
Who will win: O.J.: Made in America. If anything else wins, it’ll be a travesty.
I haven’t seen: None. I got all five here.
Who was snubbed: Tower was absolutely deserving of a spot over at least three of the other four nominees; I could see an argument Fire at Sea over Tower, even if I don’t agree with it.
Foreign Language Film
Who should win: I have only seen two of the five, and neither of the two that appear to be the critical favorites. Tanna would be more than worthy of the honor, but I can’t say if it’s better than the two leaders.
Who will win: It sounds like The Salesman is going to win, because it’s a great film and because of the Muslim ban’s effect on its director.
I haven’t seen: The Salesman, Toni Erdmann, or Land of Mine. I will probably have to wait for digital options for all three.
Who was snubbed: I haven’t seen any other foreign-language films from 2016, but am very interested in seeing two films on the shortlist, Neruda (from Chile), which I just missed the one weekend it was playing near me, and The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki (from Finland), which hasn’t been released anywhere here or online that I can see. That latter film has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes through 13 reviews.
Music (original song)
Who should win: Tough call for me, but I think La La Land‘s “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” hits the right combination of great song and essential to the film’s story, over Moana‘s “How Far I’ll Go,” which I’d say is the better song outside the context of the movies. That said, Lin-Manuel Miranda is a national treasure and I will never be upset to see him give an acceptance speech.
Who will win: I get the sense “City of Stars” is the favorite here.
I haven’t seen: I didn’t see Jim: The James Foley Story but I’ve heard the nominated song, “The Empty Chair.”
Who was snubbed: Sing Street‘s total absence here is a farce. “Drive It Like You Stole It” was my favorite from the film, but I could argue for a couple of others as well. Also, my favorite song from Moana was actually “We Know the Way.”
Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
Who should win: This is Moonlight‘s to lose.
Who will win: Moonlight.
I haven’t seen: Lion.
Who was snubbed: The screenplay for Loving was deemed to be “adapted” by the Academy, although the Writers’ Guild classified it as original.
Writing (Original Screenplay)
Who should win: The Lobster.
Who will win: La La Land.
I haven’t seen: 20th Century Women.
Who was snubbed: Tanna.