Magazine article Variety

Oscars Round the Home Stretch

Magazine article Variety

Oscars Round the Home Stretch

Article excerpt

Ballots were due Feb. 21, and the Academy is rounding the final corner en route to the 89th Oscars. What can we expect to happen?

Barring anything wildly unforeseen, "La La Land" should stay on track to win best picture, as well as director and actress honors following the same wins from the major guilds and the British Academy. One of the other safest bets might be for Viola Davis as supporting actress for "Fences" after she swept through the precursor circuit.

The other two acting races are tighter. Lead actor, in particular, feels very much up in the air. But I'll lean toward SAG winners Denzel Washington ("Fences") and Mahershala Ali ("Moonlight") topping BAFTA winners Casey Affleck ("Manchester by the Sea") and Dev Patel ("Lion").

In the screenplay categories, the shift of "Moonlight" from original to adapted keeps things interesting. I think it was a fortuitous move; Barry Jenkins' script has an easier path to victory in the adapted category, with BAFTA winner "Lion" the toughest competition. That leaves original screenplay a two-horse race between "Manchester by the Sea" and "La La Land." Flip a coin - I'll go with Damien Chazelle as part of a dominant showing for the musical.

In the crafts categories, the easiest pick is "The Jungle Book" for visual effects; any other winner would be a shock. "La La Land" can probably count on original score and original song ("City of Stars"), plus the cinematography prize. The American Society of Cinematographers may have picked "Lion," but the BAFTA Awards suggested that the "La La Land" aesthetic stands out to a broader group of voters.

After that, there are a lot of question marks. "Arrival,''"Hacksaw Ridge," and "La La Land" have won editing prizes from the British Academy and the American Cinema Editors organization. My instinct for the Oscar is to go with "La La Land," despite the fact that the best picture winner hasn't taken this prize since "Argo. …

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