Opinion: 2017 Academy Awards – Who Will Win? Who Should Win?

Victoria Stuewe ’20 / Emertainment Monthly Assistant Movies Editor
Today is the 89th celebration of the Academy Awards, honoring the best in movies in 2016. This year is packed with so many worthy nominees that it may seem incredibly hard to choose just one winner. Because of that, there are also many questions about who’s going to win. Will La La Land do a full 14-win sweep? Will Moonlight manage to beat La La Land’s nomination reign? Will Casey Affleck or Denzel Washington win Best Actor? Will Viola Davis (finally) get her Oscar? These questions will all be answered tonight, but, until then, here is a breakdown on who will win and who should win each Academy Award tonight.
Best Picture
Will Win: La La Land
Should Win: Moonlight
The Best Picture nominees could not be more different this year. Each has its own worthy reason as to why they are here, so it comes down to what works the best. It’s obvious to see why La La Land has been so loved: it’s easy to watch, it’s an ode to old Hollywood, and it’s a beautiful film. But that does not mean it’s the best film of the year. It just doesn’t hold up to some of the others in the category. It may have been nice to look at, but there did not seem to be anything extra special about it. Fences seemed to be merely a play filmed on screen. Yes, it did have remarkable performances, but it didn’t do anything to push it further than what it would look like on stage. Hidden Figures had a memorable story, but the directing was not always the best. Though Hacksaw Ridge had intense and brutal war scenes that made it notable, the beginning felt like a different movie altogether. Lion was good, but it felt like two different movies in one. Arrival was okay, and it’s nice to see a sci-fi film nominated, it’s not Best Picture material.
If there could be a three-way tie, it should go to Hell or High Water, Manchester by the Sea, and Moonlight, simply because it is so hard to choose. Out of the three, Hell or High Water is the easiest one to watch and is a fun film to sit through. It’s fast paced unlike the others and there’s not a moment that goes by without some sort of intense action. Manchester by the Sea is an utterly heartbreaking film with wonderful dialogue and performances that make the film hard to forget. And then there’s Moonlight, another film that is hard to forget, but for different reasons. Not only does it have tough subject matter like Manchester, but it has a unique style to it that sets it apart from the rest. Moonlight just has that extra effort put into it to make not only the story itself compelling but also the visuals that really complete the film. Though it is a hard choice, Moonlight will probably stand the test of time more than the other two, and it really makes a person think differently about the world and how realism should play on the big screen in today’s current status.
Best Director
Will Win: Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Should Win: Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Damien Chazelle has potential because he did achieve something good even when at times it may have seemed impossible. However, Barry Jenkins had the difficult job creating a coming of age film that didn’t seem too preachy while also having to deal with the fact that there would be three different actors at three different ages playing the same person. His direction can be seen throughout the film and it really shows how well he can create a story that still seems cohesive despite being split up into three acts.

Casey Affleck in Manchester by the Sea. Photo Credit: Roadside Attractions.
Casey Affleck in Manchester by the Sea. Photo Credit: Roadside Attractions.
Best Actor
Will Win: Denzel Washington, Fences
Should Win: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
This is a tough category. Though Affleck’s performance was gratifying and devastating, recent controversies about him have lowered his chances of winning the award, which can be seen through the Screen Actors Guild Awards where he lost to Washington. Affleck’s incredibly realistic performance was remarkable, but his misdoings most likely spoiled his award.
Best Actress
Will Win: Emma Stone, La La Land
Should Win: Isabelle Huppert, Elle
Should Be Nominated in this Category: Viola Davis, Fences
Okay, so it may seem strange to put Viola Davis here; however, it is believed by many that she should have been placed in this category. The rest of the nominees are, of course, completely worthy of being nominated, but Davis’s role was definitely for a Lead Actress. Despite this, Emma Stone’s “Audition” song really shows her strengths of being a “Best Actress” and, since Stone has been winning many, many awards during this awards season, she is almost a lock-in; however, don’t be surprised if Isabelle Huppert of Elle steals the award.
Alex R. Hibbert and Mahershala Ali in Moonlight. Photo Credit: A24.
Alex R. Hibbert and Mahershala Ali in Moonlight. Photo Credit: A24.
Best Supporting Actor
Will Win: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Should Win: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Mahershala Ali’s performance was just incredible. It impacted the entire film and his last shot of the film makes the tension rise and he shows his full emotion. It was entirely upsetting when he did not appear on screen again. He was the cornerstone of Moonlight and Ali definitely deserves to be awarded for that.
Best Supporting Actress
Will Win: Viola Davis, Fences
Should Win: Viola Davis, Fences
If Davis Was Lead Actress: Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Viola Davis completely stole the film the moment she appeared. Her presence was powerful and her acting was impeccable and believable throughout as the audience can see her struggle with her marriage. Though she should be nominated for Leading Actress, as stated before, this should finally be the year she wins the gold. It should be noted that if Davis had been nominated for Leading, Naomie Harris also had a really strong performance as she completely transformed herself into the damaged mother she played on screen.
Viola Davis in Fences. Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.
Viola Davis in Fences. Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.
Best Original Screenplay
Will Win: Manchester by the Sea
Should Win: Manchester by the Sea
Though, one should note that Hell or High Water for it being just utterly fun with great dialogue, Kenneth Lonergan‘s Manchester by the Sea handled tough subjects well while also being able to provide relief in the form of dark humor. Its way of portraying characters through actions and dialogue was notable and, while there was some Oscar buzz in the beginning, its chances have died down since the rise of La La Land. Hopefully, they will win at least this one, which it definitely deserves to receive.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Will Win: Moonlight
Should Win: Moonlight
Jenkins did a great job at adapting the play, as it translated really well into a cohesive film instead of staying a play, which Fences seemed to do. Moonlight’s ability to create an increasingly entrancing story really elevates its screenplay from the rest, especially because it is able to make a single character present throughout the film despite the different chunks of time.
Best Film Editing
Will Win: La La Land
Should Win: Hell or High Water
If Hell or High Water should get just one award, it should get this one. Somehow, the films’ editors were able to weave two completely different storylines perfectly and converge them seamlessly by the end, all without losing one bit of action or tension throughout. In fact, as the film went on, tension grew and grew, and that’s mainly because of the wait until the end to see the two criminals go up against the two state police.
Ben Foster and Chris Pine in Hell or High Water. Photo Credit: CBS Films.
Ben Foster and Chris Pine in Hell or High Water. Photo Credit: CBS Films.
Best Animated Feature Film
Will Win: Zootopia
Should Win: Zootopia
Zootopia exceeded expectations by far. There’s something to be said about the fact that an animated movie can bring in so many laughs while also having serious undertones to it. While it seemed like just another generic animal animated movie at first, it created a new world that’s entertaining to both children and adults while also sending a strong message about equality to the audience. Disney outdid itself last year in this unexpectedly fantastic film, and it deserves to get rewarded for that.
Best Documentary
Will Win: O.J.: Made in America
Should Win: 13th
O.J.: Made in America is a documentary epic full of insightful detail that has been sweeping the awards circuit. Though it is definitely a great documentary, 13th should still be recognized for the important issues it discusses and the relevancy of the topic today.
Best Foreign Language Film
Will Win: The Salesman
Should Win: The Salesman
The Salesman has gotten a lot of buzz due to the director’s decision to refuse to go to the Oscars due to the recent travel ban. Due to this, it shouldn’t be too surprising if it wins, as it would make a statement to the recent political climate.
Naomie Harris in Moonlight. Photo Credit: A24.
Naomie Harris in Moonlight. Photo Credit: A24.
Best Cinematography
Will Win: La La Land
Should Win: Moonlight
Moonlight is mostly getting the “Should Win” because of its smart use of lighting, which the cinematographer seemed to take notice of. It was really beautiful and some shots were really powerful due to the cinematography. La La Land did a good job at utilizing single and larger than life shots, so it has an advantage with that.
Best Original Score
Will Win: La La Land
Should Win: Lion
La La Land is most likely to win because of Justin Hurwitz’s whimsical tunes that can get stuck in your head immediately. But Lion’s beautiful score should be recognized because it truly blends with the atmosphere of the film and adds to the tone tremendously.
Best Original Song
Will Win: “City of Stars,” La La Land
Should Win: “City of Stars,” La La Land
Though it would be nice to see Lin-Manuel Miranda complete his EGOT, Moana‘s “How Far I’ll Go” is just another “Let it Go.” It would have been nice to rather see “You’re Welcome” on the nomination list; however since it’s not, this should go to La La Land’s “City of Stars” mainly because of its profound statement and its relation to the film itself. It’s also one to easily get stuck in your head, so that’s a plus too.
Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in La La Land. Photo Credit: Lionsgate.
Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in La La Land. Photo Credit: Lionsgate.
Best Production Design
Will Win: La La Land
Should Win: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
La La Land is going to win because of its beautiful set pieces throughout, which is one of its strengths of the film in its entirety. However, though a disappointing film as a whole, Fantastic Beasts kept the magic throughout the film and looked incredible as a whole as it transformed New York into a place with true magic.
Best Costume Design
Will Win: La La Land
Should Win: Jackie
La La Land had pretty and simple clothes that when with the film’s old film aesthetic, but Jackie really captured the time where it takes place and Natalie Portman as Jackie looks great in it.
Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Will Win: Star Trek Beyond
Should Win: Star Trek Beyond
Star Trek Beyond created new aliens yet again and it was even better with the new main character of who looked beautiful, yet still had the same oddities as an alien from afar.
Andrew Garfield in Hacksaw Ridge. Photo Credit: Summit Entertainment.
Andrew Garfield in Hacksaw Ridge. Photo Credit: Summit Entertainment.
Best Sound Editing
Will Win: Hacksaw Ridge
Should Win: Hacksaw Ridge
The sound in Hacksaw Ridge was brutal and so accurate that the war seemed almost real. Due to this, and because it is a war film, it should have an edge even against La La Land.
Best Sound Mixing
Will Win: La La Land
Should Win: Hacksaw Ridge
Really the same thing as above with the Sound Editing category. Hacksaw Ridge had incredible sound effects during each war scene, but musicals have a big reputation of taking the win, so it can go either way.
Best Visual Effects
Will Win: The Jungle Book
Should Win: The Jungle Book
The Jungle Book looked incredibly realistic and really beautiful. There was obviously a lot of work put into the film’s CGI and it definitely paid off.
"Piper." Photo Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.
“Piper.” Photo Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.
Best Short Documentary
Will Win: “The White Helmets”
Should Win: “The White Helmets”
“The White Helmets” is intensely real from the start. Depicting a group of rescuers in Syria, it also has politics on its side as it shows the world the people who save the lives of people who need to be saved most.
Best Short Film (Animated)
Will Win: “Piper”
Should Win: “Piper”
Not only was “Piper” a perfectly Pixar story, but it’s also impeccably animated. This should finally be another worthy win for Pixar.
Best Short Film (Live Action)
Will Win: “Ennemis intérieurs”
Should Win: “Ennemis intérieurs”
“Ennemis intérieurs” also has politics as a reason why is could take home the gold. It has a simple design of two men facing each other, which is also greatly intense and intimate.
Watch the 89th Academy Awards on ABC tonight, February 26th, at 8:30 p.m.

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