By Mathew Silver
CALGARY — It’s that time of year, folks. The 89th Academy Awards are upon us, and you’re likely scrambling for some trustworthy information so that come February 26th you can impress your cohorts with movie knowledge without actually having watched the movies. Fear not, we’ve got your back.
The Oscars are a special time; a time to reflect on some of the most ground-breaking, interesting, and well-crafted films of the year. Yet, one can’t argue that there is a degree of self-congratulatory back-patting, as we further indulge the Hollywood elite with two things they certainly don’t need: awards and more screen time. But hey, some of them righteously earn that back pat. Some of the films released last year, and the talent involved in creating them, were able to impact our lives and inspire our minds. Here are our predictions for the ones we actually think deserve the Oscars, as well as some tongue-in-cheek selections for good measure. We just call it how we see it, folks.
Side note: If you want to make a lot of money betting on the awards, make these selections.
La La Land
To start on a serious note, La La Land stands out as a welcome trip down nostalgia lane with two Hollywood home-run hitters in their prime, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. The bubble gum surrealism and the meet-cute relationship bedrock make it a bubbling and bright anecdote to an industry shrouded by cynicism and formulaic reboots. Its success at the Golden Globes hints toward a similar fate at the Oscars.
Denzel Washington, Fences
Denzel Washington plays a former professional baseball player turned sanitation worker named Troy Mason. Which is to suggest that Washington plays to his strengths throughout, a spoken-word dynamo in a Pittsburgh neighbourhood where tough conditions breed even tougher talkers; a milieu where Washington always seems to thrive. His speech is so pointed and robust that simple speculation becomes hardened truth – the type of gravitas that makes him a compelling and unflappable leading man. Vote Denzel 2020.
Ruth Negga, Loving
Ruth Negga’s performance takes place completely under the surface. Her quiet struggle as Mildred Loving boils and eventually bubbles, never evaporating in the mid-century American battle against segregation. As the film itself struggled to overcome lazy casting in other roles, her resiliency is particularly poignant considering the current political climate, and should stand as an example of determined grace amidst emotional chaos.
Okay, moving on to not-so-serious…
Oscar Dark Horse Picks
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Central Intelligence (Best Actor)
Dwayne didn’t even get nominated for this award, but I would never rule “The Rock” out. Nobody – and I mean nobody – thought he was going to defeat Stone Cold Steve Austin at Wrestlemania XIX with three Rock Bottoms. But guess what? He did.
Furthermore, Dwayne is the biggest and most prolific movie star on Earth right now, which is remarkable for several reasons. Dwayne used to be a professional wrestler, not to be confused with real acting or a real sport. To transition so seamlessly to being a Hollywood celeb is an achievement in itself. Here are some other reasons: the latest instalment of Baywatch, his contributions to the Fast and Furious franchise, and teaching my grandma the People’s Elbow at an IHOP once (R.I.P Gam Gam).
Dark Horse (Best Picture)
There actually was a movie named Dark Horse this year, so it would be ironic (or coincidence?) if it won this award. I didn’t even bother to see the movie, but this is how Rotten Tomatoes describes it: “Dark Horse offers a thoroughly crowd-pleasing look at an incredible – and inspirational – real-life story that will thrill equine enthusiasts and novices alike.” In my opinion, “equine enthusiasts” are often overlooked as a movie-going demographic, which makes it all the more likely that the Academy will recognize the originality of this film.
Mr. Fuzzypants, Nine Lives (Best Supporting Animal)
It takes nothing short of transcendent acting to play the role of Kevin Spacey trapped inside a cat’s body. But that’s exactly what Mr. Fuzzypants did in Nine Lives, my favourite movie of 2016. Not only did he teach us a valuable lesson about the correlation between capitalism and family neglect, his cat-like apathy throughout the film was undoubtedly a metaphor for Spacey’s decision to star in this film, despite being a legitimate actor. Awe-inspiring.
Actor and Actress Most Likely To Dedicate His/Her Acceptance Speech to a Political Cause
Denzel Washington – Fences
Denzel Washington will almost certainly announce his intention of running for President of the United States in 2020. Since the line between politics and entertainment has been inexorably blurred, the search for the next actor/actress-turned-politico is in full swing. Denzel would be a great candidate because: a) he already has a presidential-sounding last name b) he has an uncanny ability to deliver a monologue, and that’s about 80 per cent of the job, and c) everybody loves Denzel Washington.
Emma Stone – La La Land
Emma Stone will use her platform to promote her latest philanthropic effort. It’s a non-profit called Actors Not Using Speeches for Politics or Otherwise (otherwise known as ANUS POO). Along with Mark Wahlberg, she founded the organization to stop actors from using acceptance speeches to parade their moral superiority on topics that the general public will almost certainly sympathize with.
Actor Most Likely To Use His Acceptance Speech to Finally Get Little Brother’s Last Laugh
Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea
Chances are pretty good that Casey Affleck will dedicate his time on stage to chastise his parents for favouring older brother Ben his entire life. He’ll talk about overcoming the adversity of being the forgotten child, and mention how he convinced his brother to take the role of Batman, knowing full well that nobody could match the performance of Christian Bale. Look who’s laughing now, big bro!
Watch the ceremonial back-patting Feb. 26. You can also make a (for real!) fun date night of it during CIFF’s viewing party at the Palace Theatre, which will include live entertainment, prizes, refreshments and a silent auction.2017 Academy Awards, AB, Academy Awards, Alberta, ANUS POO, CIFF, Denzel 2020, Oscars, Oscars predictions, Palace Theatre