I had fun with this last year, so let's try it again. Oscar nominations are coming soon and it will be really hard for them to leave black people out this year, but you never know! Before the traditional grumbles begin, I've stacked the categories with my own wishlist while keeping in step with the Academy's rules. Let's start at the top.
Kubo and the Two Strings
Hell or High Water
Plausibility: If you read my Top 10, you know I'm on Team Moonlight. Thankfully, it has a good shot at a nomination. So does Arrival. Hell or High Water may get in there too. The rest...unlikely. Animated films have to make a huge impact to land in this category - not even Inside Out could manage it last year. Sing Street wouldn't be seen as having enough gravitas. The Invitation can be a tough watch and alienates many viewers. And of course The Monster is a horror film and doesn't have a shot in hell, although Sean Spicer may argue otherwise.
Jaume Collet-Serra for The Shallows
Barry Jenkins for Moonlight
Karyn Kusama for The Invitation
David Mackenzie for Hell or High Water
Denis Villeneuve for Arrival
Plausibility: Pretty decent! Barry Jenkins and Denis Villeneuve have very good chances. David Mackenzie is a long shot but not impossible. Unfortunately for Kusama, it's hard for a woman to get in this category unless your name is Kathryn Bigelow and you make big manly war films. Nobody would consider a silly B-movie like The Shallows for awards, but Collet-Serra's underwater photography and use of scenery were really beautiful, to the point where it was a minor letdown when the killer shark actually showed up. Still, the mood and imagery of Moonlight still haunt me a few months after seeing it so it'd be great to see Jenkins get an Oscar.
Casey Affleck in Manchester By the Sea
Brian Cox in The Autopsy of Jane Doe
Ryan Gosling in The Nice Guys
Do-Wan Kwak in The Wailing
Max Records in I Am Not A Serial Killer
Plausibility: Barely. Casey Affleck is highly favored for a nomination and possibly the win. The rest...not so much. Ryan Gosling will probably get in for La La Land, but I would prefer to recognize the hilarious comic performance he gave in The Nice Guys. Cox is an underrated actor who elevated what otherwise would have been a stock role. Do-Wan Kwak is going way out on a limb, since the Academy doesn't even seem to be aware that Asians sometimes appear in Hollywood movies, let alone movies that come from Asia. And once again, Max Records is in a horror film so no dice. It's a shame because his performance as a young man fighting against his recently diagnosed sociopath tendencies was the most complex, interesting take on this condition I've ever seen in a movie.
Amy Adams in Arrival
Ella Ballentine in The Monster
Rebecca Hall in Christine
Taraji P. Henson in Hidden Figures
Anya Taylor-Joy in The Witch
Plausibility: Low. Amy Adams is the only one with a good shot. Henson might make it if Hidden Figures does really well. Ballentine and Taylor-Joy were great in horror films, so we know how that goes. Annoying, isn't it? You would think Rebecca Hall had a better chance given that Christine checks most of the Oscar boxes - real-life story set in the past, lead character has an illness, media sensationalism is a highly relevant topic now,etc - but I guess the release was just too small.
Mahershala Ali in Moonlight
Michael Fassbender in X-Men: Apocalypse
Jack Reynor in Sing Street
Trevante Rhodes in Moonlight
Patrick Stewart in Green Room
Plausibility: Mahershala Ali is a good bet, but why stop there? Moonlight had a ton of good acting in it and the contribution of Trevante Rhodes as the older Chiron really brought things in for a solid landing. I would have thought Patrick Stewart had a better shot because it's so against type but I can understand Academy members not really wanting to think about Nazis at this particular moment in time. The last X-Men movie was one superhero film in a sea of them but Fassbender gave it 110 percent. My pick would be Jack Reynor, who really got to me as the frustrated noble older brother in Sing Street.
Tammy Blanchard in The Invitation
Naomie Harris in Moonlight
Allison Janney in Tallulah
Soo-an Kim in Train to Busan
Kate McKinnon in Ghostbusters
Plausibility: Almost a complete wipeout if not for Naomie Harris, who has a good chance. Blanchard and Janney both gave very emotional performances in films that have been absent from this awards season. Even though the Ghostbusters remake was (pathetically) the most controversial movie of the year, Kate McKinnon's scene-stealing greatness seems to be generally agreed upon. My favorite was little Soo-an Kim, who showed off a huge range. However, the movie is Korean and is about a train full of zombies, so we're way outside the realm of Oscar awareness here. It's a shame, because you'd think they really were meant to represent an entire year's worth of film, not just all the middlebrow dramas released right before New Year's Day.
That's all for now! I'll be back to predict the results of the actual nominations soon enough.