The films we are tipping for glory at the 2017 Academy Awards
Time Out Bahrain Staff
La La Land
Why is it a contender? This musical sees Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone sing and dance their way through an up-and-down romance. It’s gone down a storm with audiences at the big late-summer film festivals. What could it win? Don’t rule it out for Best Picture. It’s romantic, it’s popular, it’s a love letter to Hollywood musicals and it’s set in Los Angeles. What else do Oscar voters need?
Why is it a contender? This leftfield portrait of Jackie Kennedy at the time of the assassination of her husband, JFK, has been winning rave reviews at the autumn festivals. Written and directed by the noted Chilean arthouse filmmaker Pablo Larraín (The Club), it’s not in the style of a usual Hollywood biopic. But Natalie Portman’s performance in the lead role has been universally praised. What could it win? Portman has to be in with a strong chance of a nomination in the Best Actress category. She won in 2011 for Black Swan.
Manchester by the Sea Why is it a contender? This tragic drama about a man (Casey Affleck) whose life is coming apart at the seams is from celebrated playwright and filmmaker Kenneth Lonergan (You Can Count on Me, Margaret) and was a huge hit at the Sundance Film Festival back in January. What could it win? All the talk has been about Casey “Ben’s younger brother” Affleck’s performance, so expect him to figure in the acting categories prominently. But we also think this will be strongly considered in the Best Picture category, as well as directing and writing. This is certainly one to watch.
13TH Why is it a contender? This “secret” documentary was shot under the radar by Selma director Ava DuVernay and examines racial inequality past and present in the US. It’s angry, powerful and timely, and Oscar voters will surely want to help spread its message far and wide by honouring it. What could it win? It’s an obvious contender for Best Documentary.
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
Why is it a contender? Ang Lee has won the Best Director Oscar twice, first for Brokeback Mountain in 2006 and then for Life of Pi in 2013. His latest is based on a Ben Fountain novel and contrasts a young soldier’s victory tour with flashbacks that show what really happened to him in Iraq. The subject sounds like it could be right up the Academy’s street, and Lee can be relied on for an inventive, unusual treatment. Warning: no one has seen the film yet. What could it win? Considering Lee’s pedigree, he has to be in with a shot at Best Director again, although keep an eye on this one in the screenplay and Best Picture categories.
Fences Why is it a contender? This is another film that’s yet to be seen, but the formula sounds like a winner. Denzel Washington directs August Wilson’s screenplay of his own 1950s-set play about an African-American man, Troy Maxson (Washington), struggling to make ends meet. Viola Davis plays Troy’s wife. Both Washington and Davis starred in a 2010 Broadway production of the play. What could it win? We’ll have to wait and see. Keep an eye on the screenplay category: Wilson died in 2005, but he’ll be the only credited screenwriter, even though fellow playwright Tony Kushner has since worked on the screen adaptation. Washington himself is a favourite with the Academy and the role sounds weighty.
The Birth of a Nation
Why is it a contender? Anyone following the story of this real-life nineteenth-century slave drama will know it’s had a rocky journey. It premiered to a rapturous reception at Sundance in January, but since this summer all mentions of it have been dominated by stories of writer-director-star Nate Parker’s involvement in a rape case while a student in the late 1990s. He was acquitted of raping a fellow student who later committed suicide. What could it win? See above for the huge unknown element when it comes to this film’s Oscar chances. But if Oscar voters do decide to honour the film and not the man, it could end up with a Best Picture nomination.
Why is it a contender? This Disney animation about a city where animals have assumed all the human roles was both a critical hit and a monster success at the box office. Surely it has to be the favourite to win in the animated feature category at the Oscars? What could it win? It has an outside chance of a Best Picture nomination, but really we expect this to shine only in the animation section.