This year’s Academy Awards is just around the corner. It is going to be filled with lots of surprises and controversies. The roster of nominees this year though was positively received, with minimal snubs and questionable entries. In fact, it was dubbed as one of the best sets of nominees in recent history. Although there are expected winners in certain categories, almost all of those who were nominated are giving a great fight. Until the winners are called during the awards night, all of us will be in the dark on who will take home the coveted awards.
Given how the tension is already building up right now, let us raise it even more by checking out the 5 things to look forward to in the upcoming awards night. As always, we can expect it to be a dramatic evening that will fill the headlines for days or even weeks to come.
6. The fate of La La Land
Damien Chazelle’s La La Land is already expected to be the big winner of the Academy Awards. After all, it has been raking competitions left and right since the awards season has started. It has grabbed almost all the major awards at the Golden Globes. It has also won several major prizes at the SAG, BAFTA and many others. It would be a complete surprise if this film won’t take the Best Picture award, considering the build-up prior to the ceremony.
When the nominees were announced, La La Land has already made history after grabbing 14 nominations in total, including 2 songs under the Best Theme Song category. This record was previously held only by two films – All About Eve and Titanic. Although La La Land is already expected to be the runaway winner of the night, anything can happen. Last year’s Spotlight for instance was not the heavy favorite to win the Best Picture award, but the Academy has voted for it to take the top prize anyway. Moonlight or Arrival are the other films that could pull a major upset considering that these films have also done well in other awards-giving bodies.
5. Will Mahershala Ali Win Best Supporting Actor Award?
Of all the acting categories, the Supporting Actor category is perhaps the tightest. Moonlight’s Mahershala Ali is heavily favored to win the top prize. His impeccable performance as a Cuban-born drug-dealer nurturing a young boy was really tear-jerking. Ali is also a breakout star who has never been noticed for his acting prowess in the past. So far, he has already won the New York and LA Film Critics’ Awards, Critics Choice and SAG awards.
It was not a complete sweep for him though. Aaron Taylor-Johnson took the title away from him at the Golden Globes, although it is his fellow star, Michael Shannon who got the Academy’s nod while snubbing Taylor-Johnson. Dev Patel for Lion also won’t give up without a fight. This former Slumdog Millionaire star came back with a bang for his stunning performance in this movie. He has also surprisingly won the title at the BAFTA, one of the award-giving bodies that can predict Oscar’s winner. Jeff Bridges of Hell or High Water is Ali’s biggest competitor though. He could easily be the dark horse in this competition. If Ali ends up winning, it will still be monumental considering that he is an African-American actor who also happens to be a Muslim.
4. #OscarsSoWhite is no longer a thing
After the nominees for last year’s Academy Awards were released, the Academy was thrown with tons of negative reviews. It was due to the lack of black actors on the list. There were even several calls to boycott the show. The backlash was so strong that it prompted the organization to make the necessary changes to diversity the body. This year’s set of nominees has properly reflected the changes. Films about people of color did really well. Moonlight, Fences and Hidden Figures are among the films with several nominations, including the acting categories.
Although La La Land is still expected to be the top winner of the night, Barry Jenkin’s Moonlight is not going down without a fight. It is a story of a young gay man’s coming of age in Miami. This movie that also earned positive reviews could pull an upset. We can also take comfort in the fact that Viola Davis is almost certain of winning the Best Supporting Actress for Fences. She has so far swept the title in all other awards-giving bodies. Even if she doesn’t win, her closest competitor is Octavia Spencer for Hidden Figures, who also happens to be African-American.
Mahershala Ali could also be the Best Supporting Actor winner, and if he does, 50% of the major acting category winners will go to people of color. The Best Actress award though is most likely going to Emma Stone for La La Land, with Natalie Portman for Jackie as her closest rival. Ruth Negga surprisingly made the list of nominees for her performance in Loving, although winning the title could be a very long shot. Casey Affleck is almost certain to take home the Best Actor Award for Manchester by the Sea. Ryan Gosling is his closest competitor for La La Land. Denzel Washington is a long shot for Fences, but he could still pull an upset. If Davis and Ali will win along with Negga and Washington, it would be a major celebration for the African-American community.
3. Jimmy Kimmel is hosting this year’s awards night
Late night show hosts have been tapped to host awards nights this year and so far, they have done a great job. Jimmy Fallon’s quirky style of hosting was a huge hit during the Golden Globes. James Corden also raved positive reviews at the Grammys. Kimmel was given tons of praises during the Emmy Awards. In fact, it is one of the reasons why people are excited to see him back on stage for the Oscars. Kimmel has not shied away from controversial jokes, even political ones. In his late night show, he has run as a faux vice president and has ripped President Trump several times. His staged beef with Matt Damon will most probably be seen during the awards night again, and it will be funny as always. Kimmel has a lot to live up to though. Even great hosts like Ellen Degeneres and Neil Patrick Harris received quite a lot of negative reviews for their performances.
2. There could be a Bonnie and Clyde reunion happening
Perhaps, this is the biggest stunner of the night. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the classic film, the stars of Bonnie and Clyde have reportedly agreed to be the presenters of the Best Picture award during the telecast. Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway said yes to the offer according to The Hollywood Reporter. However, The Academy has declined to comment about this revelation. It was also said that Michael De Luca and Jennifer Todd, Oscar’s telecast producers, have personally reached out to the duo to agree in giving out the award. Both stars are in their late 70’s now. Plans might still change as nothing has been confirmed until now. If it happens though, it would be a huge TV moment.
1. The political speeches
Given how recent award ceremonies have turned into political events, the Oscars could be no different. Hollywood stars have made use of their platform to speak out against President Trump and his policies. Meryl Streep started the trend when she had a biting speech against Trump in acceptance of her Lifetime Achievement Award at the Golden Globes. It was followed by many other memorable speeches criticizing Trump’s immigration ban, his plans to damage the environment and fights towards equality and decency.
The recently concluded Grammy Awards was perhaps one of the strongest stings against Trump as there were several performers who have spoken against the president, even integrating it on their performances. Should Viola Davis win, she will most probably speak out fighting for women of color. Mahershala Ali could also be a monumental winner speaking for the African-American community and his fellow Muslims. Even the presenters could throw some shade against Trump as well.
We are just a week away from the Academy Awards. We can only hope for the best results. Whatever the outcome is, we can be optimistic with the fact that the movie industry is alive and well this year. At least 3 movies have reached the $1 billion mark in the box office. Several independent films have also done well. Even low budget films have been getting recognition plus a strong showing at the box office. Hollywood stars have also become empowered more than ever, speaking out for their beliefs and using their fame to send a positive message.