New year, new Oscars. That’s how the saying goes, right? Anyways, it’s my favorite time of the year, once again. Legitimately, I’ve been on edge all week waiting for Sunday. Yes, I understand it is just another awards ceremony, but we can dive into my bad habits another time. Truthfully, this has been an outstanding year in film and I’m very excited to see what the Oscars brings to the table.
Best Supporting Actor
If I had to pick one performance that truly outshone the rest this year, it would be Mahershala Ali’s turn as a lovable drug dealer in Moonlight. What’s even more remarkable is the imprint he leaves, despite only starring in the film for maybe 20 minutes. How was his performance so effective? Every little detail. The way he carries himself, the inner turmoil you see on his face when dealing with the main character, his heart and, honestly, the list could go on and on. One thing I constantly highlight is how his presence is still felt after he is gone. He played such a significant role in the main character’s life, and this type of feeling is unmatched by any of the other supporting actors.
Best Supporting Actress
On any given Sunday, you would hear me singing all of the praises for Viola Davis and that isn’t going to change today. Viola Davis is a master class actress who is in a league of the best and brightest, but the problem here in the category she is in. Davis rightfully deserves to be the in the Best Actress race. Unfortunately, the supporting actress category was viewed as less crowded and a guaranteed shoo-in for a win. This leaves true supporting roles, such as Naomie Harris and Michelle Williams, out in the cold. Don’t get me wrong, Viola deserves this award. I just wish she would have chosen to run in her true category.
Back to Harris, who was a marvel in Moonlight. She dominated what a supporting role is supposed to be. Although she was a hard character to support, you wanted her to be the type of parental figure needed. You witness her cruelty driven by an addiction and the heartbreak she experiences a little too late due to the deteriorated relationship with her son. It’s a role worth examining and praising, and Harris pulled it off in three days. Just remember that years down the road.
No, your eyes do not deceive you, I did say Silence. And no, I do not mean Hacksaw Ridge. I know what movie Andrew Garfield is nominated for, but we all know what role was Oscar worthy. I think very, very highly of Garfield and his acting abilities, and I think they are something that gets overshadowed because he played Spider-man. Side note, I will happily argue with you as to why he is the best Spider-man to date. Back to the main point, Silence was a hard film that was very much carried on Garfield’s back. I do not think it would have had the same soul without his presence, and I don’t think Scorsese’s passion project would have its heart without him. I would continue to layer on the compliments, but we need to get back to the actor’s race at hands.
With those nominated, Denzel Washington brings another award winning performance in Fences, even if it isn’t his best to date. It still feels raw and vulnerable, which is one of the reasons people love watching Denzel onscreen. Similar to Harris, this isn’t a character you root for, but it is a role that feels real and worthy of telling. While there is a lot of stylistic choices that I would change to Fences, Denzel and Viola’s chemistry and, at times, volatile relationship is one that I wouldn’t. It sticks out like a sore thumb and keeps you watching as you journey through this life with them.
Genuine, heartbreaking and loving. These are the three words I would use to describe Emma Stone’s performance in La La Land. Want another one? Effortless. While this is a musical, this film isn’t built upon her singing or dancing abilities. No, that’s just part of the charm. La La Land is based on ordinary people who dream of tackling something greater in life. If you don’t understand Stone’s talent, watch her face throughout the movie. She carries all of her best dialogue through her posture, her eyes and the subtle way she moves her mouth. She conveys emotions with ease but holds firmly in a role surrounded in reality. Fall and onwards is carried on her shoulders. Through her audition to the tear duct inducing ending, Emma Stone is the one who whisks you away and makes you feel the heartache and memories of love.
Whiplash was not a one-hit wonder, and we should all be wondering what else Damien Chazelle has up his sleeve. While there is a lot of deservingly wonderful directors here, Chazelle created something that couldn’t be done: a modern day, original musical. The weight of those words might feel light, but we haven’t seen a musical with this much heart and soul for ages. The film serves not only as a love letter to LA but to those who try to embark on their dreams each day. Between the technicolored wonderland and intimate relationship built between Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, Chazelle never misses a beat. He has created something that will last for ages to come.
My Pick: La La Land
Who Will Win: La La Land
You’ve made it to the big prize, and if you read my other picks then this one comes as no surprise. La La Land stole my heart, and I partly think it is because it is the first film that has shocked me and affected me in such a long time. As I’ve mentioned before, I was lucky enough to see this at the opening of the Denver Film Festival. My god, I was blown away. Every movie should be seen in an opera-worthy auditorium. Here’s the thing, with each repeat viewing I’ve fallen more in love. In its flaws, I see a story that has been waiting to be told. At its best, it is a feeling that I want to be wrapped in forever. I don’t think I’ll ever be over the ending, and I don’t want to be. Ultimately, La La Land is something that will haunt me and move me, and I can’t wait to experience it again.