Could A Star is Born Win Picture, Actress, and Actor at the Oscars?

After the strong critical reception and the foreseeable box-office prominence, A Star is Born is poised to be a formidable contender in Best Picture, Actress, and Actor.

Bradley Cooper gets career-best reviews while Lady Gaga has the (no pun intended) ‘a star is born’ narrative that does well especially in Best Actress. The film itself, also produced, has been positively received since it premiered in Venice. This is probably even going to be the frontrunner in the Golden Globes where musicals have a separate category.

In fact, some pundits are even predicting that the film will win all three awards at the Academy Awards. But historically speaking, could the film pull off this feat? After some tinkering with the Academy Awards’ history, here are the stats that might go for or against the chances of A Star is Born winning these awards.

Here are the stats, and this is gonna be long. Only for Oscar nerds and the curious. Winners are in bold.

There are 80 Best Actress/Actor nominees coming from the same film.

From this, 62 are from Best Picture nominees.

Out of the 62, only three won Best Picture, Actress, and Actor. They are:

  • It Happened One Night (1934) – Claudette ColbertClark Gable
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) – Louise Fletcher / Jack Nicholson
  • The Silence of the Lambs (1991) – Jodie Foster / Anthony Hopkins

Take note: all of these films were the also the only Big Five winners (Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, and Screenplay).

Four films won Best Actress and Actor but not Best Picture. They are:

  • Network (1976) – Faye Dunaway / Peter Finch + William Holden
  • Coming Home (1978) – Jane Fonda / Jon Voight
  • On Golden Pond (1981) – Katharine Hepburn / Henry Fonda
  • As Good as It Gets (1997) – Helen Hunt / Jack Nicholson

Five films won Best Picture and Actress but not Best Actor. They are:

  • Gone with the Wind (1939) – Vivian Leigh / Clark Gable
  • Mrs. Miniver (1942) – Greer Garson / Walter Pidgeon
  • Annie Hall (1977) – Diane Keaton / Woody Allen
  • Driving Miss Daisy (1989) – Jessica Tandy / Morgan Freeman
  • Million Dollar Baby (2004) – Hilary Swank / Clint Eastwood

Only one film won Best Picture and Actor but not Best Actress. It is:

  • American Beauty (1999) – Annette Bening / Kevin Spacey

Eleven (11) films won Best Actress but not Best Picture and Actor. They are:

  • Gaslight (1944) – Ingrid Bergman / Charles Boyer
  • Johnny Belinda (1948) – Jane Wyman / Lew Ayres
  • A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) – Vivian Leigh / Marlon Brando
  • The Country Girl (1954) – Grace Kelly / Bing Crosby
  • Room at the Top (1959) – Simone Signoret / Laurence Harvey
  • Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) – Elizabeth Taylor / Richard Burton
  • Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967) – Katharine Hepburn / Spencer Tracy
  • The Lion in Winter (1968) – Katharine Hepburn / Peter O’ Toole
  • Children of a Lesser God (1986) – Marlee Matlin / William Hurt
  • Silver Linings Playbook (2012) – Jennifer Lawrence / Bradley Cooper
  • La La Land (2016) – Emma Stone / Ryan Gosling

Six films won Best Actor but not Best Picture and Actress. They are:

  • Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939) – Greer Garson / Robert Donat
  • The Philadelphia Story (1940) – Katharine Hepburn / James Stewart
  • The King and I (1956) – Deborah Kerr / Yul Brynner
  • Separate Table (1958) – Deborah Kerr / David Niven
  • The Goodbye Girl (1977) – Marsha Mason / Richard Dreyfuss
  • The Theory of Everything (2014) – Felicity Jones / Eddie Redmayne

Seven films won Best Picture but not Best Actress and Actor. They are:

  • Cimarron (1930-31) – Irene Dunne / Richard Dix
  • Rebecca (1940) – Joan Fontaine / Laurence Olivier
  • Gentleman’s Agreement (1947) – Dorothy McGuire / Gregory Peck
  • From Here to Eternity (1953) – Deborah Kerr / Montgomery Clift + Burt Lancaster
  • The Apartment (1960) – Shirley Maclaine / Jack Lemmon
  • Rocky (1976) – Talia Shire / Sylvester Stallone
  • The English Patient (1996) – Kristin Scott Thomas / Ralph Fiennes

Twenty-five (25) films did not win Best Picture, Actress, and Actor. They are:

  • A Star is Born (1937) – Janet Gaynor / Fredric March
  • Pygmalion (1938) – Wendy Hiller / Leslie Howard
  • The Pride of the Yankees (1942) – Teresa Wright / Gary Cooper
  • Madame Curie (1943) – Greer Garson / Walter Pidgeon
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943) – Ingrid Bergman / Gary Cooper
  • The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945) – Ingrid Bergman / Bing Crosby
  • The Yearling (1946) – Jane Wyman / Gregory Peck
  • Sunset Boulevard (1950) – Gloria Swanson / William Holden
  • A Place in the Sun (1951) – Shelley Winters / Montgomery Clift
  • Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) – Elizabeth Taylor / Paul Newman
  • The Hustler (1961) – Piper Laurie / Paul Newman
  • Ship of Fools (1965) – Simone Signoret / Oskar Werner
  • Bonnie and Clyde (1967) – Faye Dunaway / Warren Beatty
  • The Graduate (1967) – Anne Bancroft / Dustin Hoffman
  • Anne of the Thousand Days (1969) – Genevieve Bujold / Richard Burton
  • Love Story (1970) – Ali McGraw / Ryan O’ Neal
  • Lenny (1974) – Valerie Perrine / Dustin Hoffman
  • Chinatown (1974) – Faye Dunaway / Jack Nicholson
  • Atlantic City (1981) – Susan Sarandon / Burt Lancaster
  • Reds (1981) – Diane Keaton / Warren Beatty
  • Missing (1982) – Sissy Spacek / Jack Lemmon
  • Broadcast News (1987) – Holly Hunter / William Hurt
  • The Remains of the Day (1993) – Emma Thompson / Anthony Hopkins
  • In the Bedroom (2001) – Sissy Spacek / Tom Wilkinson
  • American Hustle (2013) – Amy Adams / Christian Bale

Eighteen (18) films have Best Actress and Actor nominations but not Best Picture.

None of the 18 have won both Best Actress and Best Actor.

Out of the 18, three films won Best Actress but not Best Actor. They are:

  • Hud (1963) – Patricia Neal / Paul Newman
  • Dead Man Walking (1995) – Susan Sarandon / Sean Penn
  • Walk the Line (2005) – Reese Witherspoon / Joaquin Phoenix

Three films won Best Actor but not Best Actress. They are:

  • A Free Soul (1930-31) – Norma Shearer / Lionel Barrymore
  • The African Queen (1951) – Katharine Hepburn / Humphrey Bogart
  • Leaving Las Vegas (1995) – Elisabeth Shue / Nicholas Cage

Thirteen (13) films did not win both Best Actress and Best Actor. They are:

  • The Guardsman (1931-32) – Lynn Fontanne / Alfred Lunt
  • My Man Godfrey (1936) – Carole Lombard / William Powell
  • Mourning Becomes Electra (1947) – Rosalind Russell / Michael Redgrave
  • A Star is Born (1954) – Judy Garland / James Mason
  • Wild is the Wind (1957) – Anna Magnani / Anthony Quinn
  • Days of Wine and Roses (1962) – Lee Remick / Jack Lemmon
  • This Sporting Life (1963) – Rachel Roberts / Richard Harris
  • The Great White Hope (1970) – Jane Alexander / James Earl Jones
  • The China Syndrome (1979) – Jane Fonda / Jack Lemmon
  • Educating Rita (1983) – Julie Walters / Michael Caine
  • Ironweed (1987) – Meryl Streep / Jack Nicholson
  • What’s Love Got to Do With It (1993) – Angela Bassett / Laurence Fishburne

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Fun Fact: The other two versions of A Star is Born (1937 and 1954) have also been nominated for Best Actress and Actor.

Do you think this year’s version will win Best Actor? Or Best Actress? Or Best Picture? Or all those three?

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90th Academy Awards – FINAL PREDICTIONS

Let’s get crazy with these predictions.

Best Picture

Since its implementation in 2009 (year in film), the impact of the preferential ballot has never been so crucial. This is the year where reliable stats (precursor awards) are tested and most likely going to be broken.

I’m gonna do the predictions in a different way. I’m gonna try to predict like how the preferential ballot works. This year, the members’ ranking of the nominees in the ballots would be so important to decide which film will win. I’m not expecting any of the nominees to immediately reach 50% + 1, the key to the win. This is where the rankings will go into play.

This method is so not fail-safe. As I “redistribute”, it’s all gonna be educated guesses. This is where I expect my predictions to fail, and I couldn’t care less.

This has been the most exciting year at the Oscars history since I started watching it (yes, it started in 2009).

Let’s do round 1.

  1. Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
  2. The Shape of Water
  3. Get Out
  4. Lady Bird
  5. Dunkirk
  6. Phantom Thread
  7. Call Me by Your Name
  8. Darkest Hour
  9. The Post

Take out The Post. Which film/s will benefit from it the most? Probably The Shape of Water, Darkest Hour, and Dunkirk.

Let’s do round 2.

  1. Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
  2. The Shape of Water
  3. Get Out
  4. Lady Bird
  5. Dunkirk
  6. Phantom Thread
  7. Call Me by Your Name
  8. Darkest Hour

Take out Darkest Hour. Which film/s will benefit from it? Probably The Shape of Water and Dunkirk.

Let’s do round 3.

  1. The Shape of Water
  2. Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
  3. Get Out
  4. Dunkirk
  5. Lady Bird
  6. Phantom Thread
  7. Call Me by Your Name
  8. Take out Call Me by Your Name (ouch). Which will benefit from it? Probably Get Out and Lady Bird.

Let’s do round 4.

  1. The Shape of Water
  2. Get Out
  3. Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
  4. Lady Bird
  5. Dunkirk
  6. Phantom Thread

Take out Phantom Thread. Which film will benefit? Probably The Shape of Water, Get Out, and Dunkirk.

Let’s do round 5.

  1. Get Out
  2. The Shape of Water
  3. Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
  4. Dunkirk
  5. Lady Bird

Take out Lady Bird. Get Out and The Shape of Water would most likely benefit.

Let’s do round 6.

  1. Get Out
  2. The Shape of Water
  3. Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
  4. Dunkirk

Take out Dunkirk. Get Out and The Shape of Water would most likely benefit.

Let’s do round 7.

  1. The Shape of Water
  2. Get Out
  3. Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

This looks stupid right now. However, this is where the rankings are so important. Three Billboards is divisive. The Shape of Water and Get Out are hard to hate but also have their dissenters.

Again, the number of votes and the ranking in the individual ballots matter so much.

So…

I’m gonna go out on a limb and predict… Get Out?

So, if I’m gonna do a ranking of the nominees in terms of chances of winning, it’s gonna be.

  1. Get Out
  2. The Shape of Water
  3. Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
  4. Dunkirk
  5. Lady Bird
  6. Phantom Thread
  7. Call Me by Your Name
  8. Darkest Hour
  9. The Post

However, make no mistake: the top 5 are solid contenders, and I’m not going to count any of those out yet. Just look at those five for the winner. Now, the ranking of the voters supporting the bottom 4 is going to be the deciding factor to which of the top 5 will win.

I am so ready to be wrong about this.

Best Director

  1. Guillermo del Toro – The Shape of Water
  2. Jordan Peele – Get Out
  3. Greta Gerwig – Lady Bird
  4. Christopher Nolan – Dunkirk
  5. Paul Thomas Anderson – Phantom Thread

Unless Peele, Gerwig, or even Nolan, gets in here, del Toro is a sure thing here, even if The Shape of Water doesn’t win Best Picture.

Best Actress

  1. Frances McDormand – Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
  2. Saoirse Ronan – Lady Bird
  3. Sally Hawkins – The Shape of Water
  4. Margot Robbie – I, Tonya
  5. Meryl Streep – The Post

A Saoirse Ronan upset is still in play, but McDormand looks solid here.

Best Actor

  1. Gary Oldman – Darkest Hour
  2. Timothée Chalamet – Call Me by Your Name
  3. Daniel Day-Lewis – Phantom Thread
  4. Daniel Kaluuya – Get Out
  5. Denzel Washington – Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Inasmuch as I’d want Chalamet to win an upset, Oldman looks unshakable here.

Best Supporting Actress

  1. Laurie Metcalf – Lady Bird
  2. Allison Janney – I, Tonya
  3. Lesley Manville – Phantom Thread
  4. Mary J. Blige – Mudbound
  5. Octavia Spencer – The Shape of Water

Here’s where I’d gamble and predict a surprise win. Janney is the logical prediction (precursors, industry love, etc.). Maybe it’s the fact that they’d give Lady Bird something and would pick this one.

Best Supporting Actor

  1. Sam Rockwell – Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
  2. Willem Dafoe – The Florida Project
  3. Christopher Plummer – All the Money in the World
  4. Richard Jenkins – The Shape of Water
  5. Woody Harrelson – Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

Here’s what confounds me: his character has gotten a lot of backlash recently, but there’s no alternate to win. Not even Dafoe with his veteran narrative, not even Plummer with his last-minute replacement. An industry favorite, Rockwell looks locked here.

Best Original Screenplay

  1. Get Out
  2. Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
  3. Lady Bird
  4. The Shape of Water
  5. The Big Sick

If Three Billboards wins Best Picture, logic dictates the same here. If they want Gerwig to win something, they can do it here. If The Shape of Water sweeps, consider this as well. However, it would look really bad to let Get Out go home empty-handed, and Jordan Peele could secure his win here.

Best Adapted Screenplay

  1. Call Me by Your Name
  2. Mudbound
  3. Molly’s Game
  4. Logan
  5. The Disaster Artist

The only sure thing to reward Call Me by Your Name, being the only Best Picture nominee here. Watch out for Mudbound, though.

Best Animated Feature

  1. Coco
  2. The Breadwinner
  3. Loving Vincent
  4. Ferdinand
  5. The Boss Baby

Best Documentary Feature

  1. Last Men in Aleppo
  2. Icarus
  3. Faces Places
  4. Strong Island
  5. Abacus: Small Enough to Jail

Best Foreign Language Film

  1. Chile – A Fantastic Woman
  2. Hungary – On Body and Soul
  3. Lebanon – The Insult
  4. Sweden – The Square
  5. Russia – Loveless

Best Cinematography

  1. Blade Runner 2049
  2. The Shape of Water
  3. Dunkirk
  4. Mudbound
  5. Darkest Hour

Best Film Editing

  1. Dunkirk
  2. Baby Driver
  3. The Shape of Water
  4. I, Tonya
  5. Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Original Score

  1. The Shape of Water
  2. Phantom Thread
  3. Dunkirk
  4. Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
  5. Star Wars: The Last Jedi

# 1 to # 3 could definitely happen.

Best Original Song

  1. “This is Me” – The Greatest Showman
  2. “Mystery of Love” – Call Me by Your Name
  3. “Mighty River” – Mudbound
  4. “Remember Me” – Coco
  5. “Stand Up for Something” – Marshall

All of these contenders have solid narratives to win. I’m just picking “This is Me” because of the song’s ubiquity. I’m pulling for a “Mystery of Love” upset.

Best Sound Mixing

  1. Dunkirk
  2. The Shape of Water
  3. Baby Driver
  4. Blade Runner 2049
  5. Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Best Sound Editing

  1. Dunkirk
  2. The Shape of Water
  3. Blade Runner 2049
  4. Baby Driver
  5. Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Best Production Design

  1. The Shape of Water
  2. Blade Runner 2049
  3. Dunkirk
  4. Darkest Hour
  5. Beauty and the Beast

Best Costume Design

  1. Phantom Thread
  2. The Shape of Water
  3. Beauty and the Beast
  4. Victoria & Abdul
  5. Darkest Hour

I’m reminded that Fantastic Beasts won over more formidable contenders last year. With that, I’m not counting Beauty and the Beast out despite this category’s heavyweights.

Best Visual Effects

  1. Blade Runner 2049
  2. War for the Planet of the Apes
  3. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  4. Kong: Skull Island
  5. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

With no Best Picture contenders here, this could be Apes’ win. However, I’m Sticking with Blade Runner.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

  1. Darkest Hour
  2. Wonder
  3. Victoria & Abdul

The other winner of Gary Oldman’s Best Actor award.

Best Animated Short

  1. Negative Space
  2. Revolting Rhymes
  3. Lou
  4. Dear Basketball
  5. Garden Party

Best Documentary Short Subject

  1. Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405
  2. Traffic Stop
  3. Edith+Eddie
  4. Heroin(e)
  5. Knife Skills

Best Live Action Short

  1. DeKalb Elementary
  2. My Nephew Emmett
  3. The Silent Child
  4. Watu Wote/All of Us
  5. The Eleven O’ Clock

Best Picture Nominees (2009-2016), RANKED

Since the Academy Awards reinstated the expanded Best Picture field in the 82nd Academy Awards (2009 in film), a system implemented during from 1930s to mid-1940s, the Academy has nominated 72 films for the awards’ highest honor.

Now in its eighth year, this new system has produced some of the most out-there choices, films that would not have gone anywhere near the Best Picture race had it stayed the traditional five nominees, as well as some stinkers that benefitted from the increased number of slots in the category.

Here is my ranking of the 72 Best Picture nominees from 2009 to 2016:

Gravity (2013) and Spotlight (2015) – the best nominee and the best winner of this category since the expanded category began in 2009.

BEST OF THE BEST
1. Gravity (2013)
2. Spotlight (2015) – WINNER
3. La La Land (2016)
4. Arrival (2016)
5. Birdman Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014) – WINNER
6. Inglourious Basterds (2009)
7. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2011)
8. Amour (2012)
9. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
10. The Tree of Life (2011)
11. Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)
12. Zero Dark Thirty (2012)
13. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
14. Inception (2010)
15. Black Swan (2010)
16. Whiplash (2014)
17. The Artist (2011) – WINNER
18. The Hurt Locker (2009) – WINNER
19. Up (2009)
20. Hell or High Water (2016)
21. 12 Years a Slave (2013) – WINNER
22. Les Miserables (2012)
23. Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
24. The Revenant (2015)
25. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
26. Selma (2014)
27. Up in the Air (2009)

Relatively young production/distribution company A24 scored back-to-back nominations with Room (2015) and Moonlight (2016), with the latter becoming a landmark Best Picture winner.

GREAT CHOICES
28. The King’s Speech (2010) – WINNER
29. Room (2015)
30. Moonlight (2016) – WINNER
31. The Martian (2015)
32. The Fighter (2010)
33. Her (2013)
34. The Social Network (2010)
35. Toy Story 3 (2010)
36. Brooklyn (2015)
37. Hugo (2011)
38. Midnight in Paris (2011)
39. Nebraska (2013)
40. District 9 (2009)
41. Captain Phillips (2013)
42. Lincoln (2012)
43. Lion (2015)
44. An Education (2009)
45. True Grit (2010)

EARNED THOSE BEST PICTURE NOMINATIONS
46. Life of Pi (2012)
47. Boyhood (2014)
48. Hidden Figures (2016)
49. Manchester by the Sea (2016)
50. A Serious Man (2009)
51. Winter’s Bone (2010)
52. Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (2009)
53. Fences (2016)
54. Dallas Buyers Club (2013)
55. Philomena (2013)
56. The Imitation Game (2014)
57. Moneyball (2011)
58. The Kids are All Right (2010)
59. The Help (2011)
60. 127 Hours (2010)
61. Hacksaw Ridge (2016)
62. American Hustle (2013)

STRIKING MERITS DESPITE MY INDIFFERENCE (ON VARYING LEVELS)
63. Argo (2012) – WINNER
64. The Big Short (2015)
65. American Sniper (2014)
66. Django Unchained (2012)
67. Avatar (2009)
68. War Horse (2011)

I WON’T CHOOSE THEM, BUT I UNDERSTAND THE MENTION
69. The Theory of Everything (2014)
70. The Descendants (2011)

THOSE BAD APPLES FROM THE BUNCH – WHY?
71. Bridge of Spies (2015)
72. The Blind Side (2009)

89th Academy Awards: The Aftermath

Photo courtesy of Variety.

Photo courtesy of Variety.

This day has been quite an emotional roller-coaster for me (I downloaded the awards show last night as I isolated myself from all news and social media).

After missing a lot of categories in the first half, I was convinced that La La Land was probably not winning Best Picture… until it started winning big time, getting six wins including major awards for Best Director (Damien Chazelle) and Best Actress (Emma Stone). I know there was the big possibility of a Moonlight win, but then La La Land was announced so I was extremely happy…

Not for long. Moonlight was the actual winner for Best Picture after an unfortunate backstage blunder. La La Land is my favorite to win, but that doesn’t diminish Moonlight’s over-all accomplishment; it’s unlike any other winner, thematically, artistically, emotionally. It’s an important film that doesn’t just serve a social importance. It is a cinematic milestone.

With that mishap, I will treasure both films as 2016’s masterpieces of cinema, alongside others like Arrival and Hell or High Water, among others.

In this year when so many people have declared the death of cinema, I seriously doubt that. The nominees this year have given an encompassing set of human experiences that are the main reason why film is so important.

I actually was kinda happy that Moonlight won since it will save La La Land the reputation of the one that beat the socially significant Moonlight, thus earning it more backlash.

I’d like both films to stand alongside one another as the proof of 2016’s cinematic zenith, together with the several films, nominated or otherwise.

I still have a lot to watch from this year (as I am so near the end of my quest for 2014, mind you), but this slate of Oscar nominees has made me proud to be someone who wants to make films.

And both films make want to make a film soon. We’ll see.

89th Academy Awards – FINAL PREDICTIONS

academy-award-nominations-2017-e1485683991629

This time of the year has come. In this post, rather than just doing a will win/could win (as every nominee has a chance to win, at least theoretically), I’d rank the nominees per category according to the probability of winning. So here it goes.

Nominee in bold is the predicted winner.

NOTE: No personal preference here would not come into play here.

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oscars2017-bestpicture-rearrange
Best Picture

1. La La Land
2. Moonlight (if it resonates more; who hates it?)
3. Hidden Figures (if the late love is real)
4. Manchester by the Sea
5. Arrival
6. Hacksaw Ridge
7. Lion
8. Hell or High Water
9. Fences

Best Director
1. Damien Chazelle – La La Land
2. Barry Jenkins – Moonlight
3. Denis Villeneuve – Arrival
4. Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester by the Sea
5. Mel Gibson – Hacksaw Ridge

Best Actor (tight race!)
1. Denzel Washington – Fences (if SAG stat holds up)
2. Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea (equal chances with # 1)
3. Ryan Gosling – La La Land (shocker, in a sweep)
4. Andrew Garfield – Hacksaw Ridge
5. Viggo Mortensen – Captain Fantastic

Best Actress
1. Emma Stone – La La Land (SAG winner, in Best Picture frontrunner)
2. Isabelle Huppert – Elle (because she campaigned hard + veteran status)
3. Natalie Portman – Jackie (if the performance sticks even if Jackie didn’t)
4. Meryl Streep – Florence Foster Jenkins
5. Ruth Negga – Loving

Best Supporting Actor
1. Mahershala Ali – Moonlight
2. Dev Patel – Lion (close second; lead advantage)
3. Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water
4. Michael Shannon – Nocturnal Animals
5. Lucas Hedges – Manchester by the Sea

Best Supporting Actress
1. Viola Davis – Fences (close to a lock)
2. Naomie Harris – Moonlight (if anyone will shock, it’s her)
3. Michelle Williams – Manchester by the Sea
4. Nicole Kidman – Lion
5. Octavia Spencer – Hidden Figures

Best Original Screenplay
1. La La Land (in a sweep)
2. Manchester by the Sea (if they want to reward MBTS)
3. Hell or High Water (if they really loved it)
4. The Lobster (because why not)
5. 20th Century Women

Best Adapted Screenplay (toss up)
1. Moonlight (if they want to reward Moonlight)
2. Arrival (don’t underestimate this)
3. Hidden Figures (if the late love is real)
4. Lion (if they loved it)
5. Fences (because it’s August Wilson)

Best Animated Feature
1. Zootopia
2. Kubo and the Two Strings
3. Moana
4. My Life as a Zucchini
5. The Red Turtle

Best Documentary Feature
1. 13th (I’m calling this one)
2. O.J.: Made in America (will its length be a factor to win/lose?)
3. Fire at Sea
4. I Am Not Your Negro
5. Life, Animated

Best Foreign Language Film
1. Iran – The Salesman (because the timing is right)
2. Germany – Toni Erdmann (critics’ favorite)
3. Sweden – A Man Called Ove
4. Denmark – Land of Mine
5. Australia – Tanna

Best Cinematography
1. La La Land (because wow, those long takes! colors!)
2. Lion
3. Arrival
4. Moonlight
5. Silence

Best Film Editing
1. La La Land
2. Arrival
3. Hacksaw Ridge
4. Moonlight
5. Hell or High Water

Best Sound Mixing
1. La La Land
2. Arrival
3. Hacksaw Ridge
4. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
5. 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

Best Sound Editing
1. Hacksaw Ridge
2. La La Land (in a sweep)
3. Arrival
4. Deepwater Horizon
5. Sully

Best Original Score
1. La La Land (what else? clear favorite)
2. Lion (or maybe this one? emotional)
3. Moonlight (if the film is that strong on the voters)
4. Passengers
5. Jackie

Best Visual Effects
1. The Jungle Book
2. Kubo and the Two Strings (it has come THIS far)
3. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
4. Doctor Strange
5. Deepwater Horizon

Best Makeup and Hairstyling (toss-up)
1. Star Trek Beyond
2. A Man Called Ove
3. Suicide Squad (because why not)

Best Production Design
1. La La Land (in a sweep)
2. Arrival
3. Hail, Caesar!
4. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
5. Passengers

Best Costume Design
1. La La Land (in a sweep; fearless forecast)
2. Jackie (logical choice, but where’s the love for Jackie?)
3. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
4. Florence Foster Jenkins
5. Allied

Best Original Song
1. “City of Stars” – La La Land
2. “How Far I’ll Go” – Moana (it’s Lin Manuel-Miranda)
3. “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” – La La Land
4. “Can’t Stop the Feeling” – Trolls
5. “The Empty Chair” – Jim: The James Foley Story

Best Live-Action Short Film
1. Ennemis Intérieurs
2. Silent Nights
3. Sing
4. La Femme et le TGV
5. Timecode

Best Animated Short Film
1. Piper
2. Pearl
3. Blind Vaysha
4. Borrowed Time
5. Pear Cider and Cigarettes

Best Documentary Short Subject
1. The White Helmets
2. Joe’s Violin
3. Extremis
4. Watani: My Homeland
5. 4.1 Miles

On This Year’s Best Picture Nominees (and why they all connected with me on a personal level)

bestpicnominees

This post is not to talk about which is the best of this year’s Best Picture nominees; rather, this is to personally appreciate how these films has touched me on a personal level.

This is one of the gifts of the expanded Best Picture field. I really prefer the sealed ten nominees, but I’d take this ongoing system rather than go back to the five nominees slate. Come on, there’s got to be at least ten deserving films per year.

Aside from non-deservers like The Blind Side, The Descendants, and Bridge of Spies, this expanded field has led to some very interesting choices. If not for this expansion, I doubt films like Up, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Amour, and Selma would have made the five-nominee field. And I love all of these films. Point being, this new system is a gift, at least for me and I also hope to others.

However, no other year has given me a slate of nominees that have really had a very personal effect on me than this year. This is not to talk about the quality of the over-all roster; for that, I’d say 2010 and 2013 were the most consistently excellent fields while 2012 gave five films that I consider to be classic.

This is to state how all films have affected me on a personal level at this point in my life, and I can say no other group of nominees had all of the films in it move me than this year.

Troy Maxson is far from likable; he commits mistakes, does not accept anything going against him, and he wears it all in his sleeve. Despite this, he works hard so much just to provide to his family. His wife Rose, on the other hand, struggles to keep their family together while remaining in silence and submission, just so that she could be a good wife to Troy and a homemaker to her whole family. Her compassion to everyone around her is unwavering even if she mostly gets unnoticed and taken for granted. Fences gives an insight on how we extend our love to the people around us despite our inherent imperfections and differences with one another.

The main characters of Hell or High Water demonstrate different forms of love that is far from verbal. Maybe because of the socially-instilled machismo where saying one’s feelings is often read as a sign of weakness, these men express love in ways that fit their society. Toby Howard goes into a series of bank robberies in the hopes of securing a better future for his children. All along, his ex-con brother Tanner helps him execute Toby’s desire of helping the children. On the other side, Texas Ranger Marcus Hamilton casually throws racial insults to his longtime partner and friend Alberto Parker, a man of Indian-Mexican descents. In that insult-as-term-of-endearment relationship dynamics between these two, it just feels all too familiar and authentic.

Lee Chandler, the emotionally wrecked center of Manchester by the Sea, is entrusted to take custody of his nephew after his brother’s death. Regarded with some infamy due to a previous tragedy in the same town of his brother, Lee struggles to connect with his now-grown up nephew and his ex-wife from a marriage that ended on some really bad terms. In flashbacks, we witness the stark contrast between his past and his painful present. This film makes us see Lee beyond what we see of him now. He is a man created by a series of highs and lows in life and most people fail to see that. They just see Lee as the drab janitor or even “the Lee Chandler”. This film makes us realize the power of empathy to one another and how it could help us build connections with one another.

Helping one another is also at the core of Hidden Figures. In an effort to send the first American into space, the team at NASA are forced to work together and set aside the culturally-imposed racial segregation and discrimination. The film makes us see how we can achieve so much by setting aside our differences and focusing on working with one another towards a common goal. In a time when we have so much divisiveness, this film show us the power of change that we can make through unity. The film also demonstrates how the protagonists still did their best to serve that very common goal despite oppressive and unfavorable circumstances.

In possibly one of the most daring films of recent memory, Moonlight shines light on how one man grows up and finds himself in the context of a society that is not so accepting of a man like him. As I recall what a character from the important documentary Paris is Burning once said, life is so much harder for an African-American homosexual living in poverty. I am guilty of self-doubt and occasional self-loathing in many forms. In our dispensation when we are so concerned in looking at each other’s faults, with the “me generation” that has been promulgated by different social media platforms and technology, when validation is equated to a Facebook like, this film shows us how we learn the value of acceptance, whether be it ourselves or someone close to us.

Acceptance is also a strong theme in the heartbreaking Lion. Saroo has lived a life of tragedy, and he has done his best, as well as his adoptive parents, to shelter him from the tragedies of the past. However, his initial hesitance to acknowledge his past only brought him sorrow. It also brought him even closer to what he has been constantly avoiding. Despite the looming hopelessness in undertaking the colossal task of tracing his hometown, his persistence in holding on to the hope of finding his family and going back to where he really came. Looking back is bittersweet, but mostly painful. Not really because of the bad memories, but just like Saroo, it is the thought of never being able to bring back the small joys of the past that brings him pain. This film provides great catharsis in the thought that tragedies like Saroo’s separation from his family resulted him to experience unconditional love from both his families.

Perhaps eliciting the most surprising response from me, Hacksaw Ridge goes into the struggles of a believer. Bullied by his comrades in the army because of his refusal to take arms because of religious belief, Desmond Doss sets out to serve his country even without taking a rifle. Even up to the battlefields where violence is the reigning virtue, Doss refuses. It is his steadfast adherence to his faith that really moved me. Coming from a family that does not believe in Roman Catholicism, the major religion in the Philippines, casual bullying and insults because of my different religious belief were common ever since I was a child. I was lucky enough that no one had physically hurt me yet because of my beliefs, but I know people of the same belief that have been hurt. Being discriminated because of my religious belief, I know that too well. And just like Desmond’s experience in Okinawa, there are moments in life where it is much more convenient to just abandon your faith in the moment. This film proves the power of one’s steadfast adherence to his faith and how it can impact the people around him even if he is being ridiculed or reviled.

At this point in out history, we have never seen dominance of divisive world leaders. May be it the feared domination of Russia’s Putin or the disgusting racism and sexism of America’s Trump or even the inconsistencies in the political stances of Philippines’ Duterte, not to mention is ever-criticized war on drugs that has produced both irrational supporters and harsh critics, the world is nowhere near united. As with the case of the Philippines, well, both Duterte critics and supporters have been strongly divided. Social media have become a venue for rabid attacks from both sides no one is going to back down. In a time when divisiveness is unstoppable, the glorious science fiction Arrival reminds us of the power of communication and of helping each other out. Just like Hidden Figures, it is about setting aside our differences and coming together to achieve what we really need. And in this film, it can all start from a mother whose love for her daughter transcends the limitations of time and space.

And on a very personal note, after graduating from film school, I started questioning my desire to work in film. I do want to be a filmmaker, but I have got to start from scratch. It is not an easy career. As evidenced by many young filmmakers, passion is what drives someone to go into filmmaking, not practicality. And I am at this point in my life where the aspirations of sparking change into society by making films are slowly falling apart. My priority is now practicality: waking up, doing household chores, finding a stable job, watching a film or two, going to sleep, and then repeat. At this point in my life, I am still asking myself, is my dreams in filmmaking worth pursuing? What would it cost? Is it worth the agony, the sleeplessness, the exhaustion? Is it worth being separated from your loved ones? Those are the very same questions that La La Land raises. Truth be told, this is a film that I needed to see at his point in my life, just like how last year’s Spotlight was the one essential film for me at that point.

These films just resonate even more because of what is happening in the world and what is currently happening in my life. These films needed to be made and released in 2016.

Never have I experienced such self-assessment and meditation while watching a batch of Best Picture nominees.I can find a bit of myself in all of the nominees. This was a great batch.

And to a lesser important note, here is my initial ranking of the nominees:

1.& 2. Arrival and La La Land (let me decide in the future)
3. Hell or High Water
4. Moonlight
5. Lion
6. Hidden Figures
7. Manchester by the Sea
8. Hacksaw Ridge
9. Fences