Film Review: Fahrenheit 451 (dir by Ramin Bahrani)


(Before reading this review, make sure that you’ve read my review of Ray Bradbury’s novel!)

(And then make you sure that you’ve read my review of the 1966 Truffaut film!)

The latest HBO original film, Fahrenheit 451, is bad.

For all the talent involved, for all the hype, and for all the hope that many of us had for it, it is extremely bad.  It sets up its targets and then fires at them with all the aim and success of a myopic archer.  By almost any standard, it’s a misfire of almost Vinyl proportions.

The film, of course, is based on Ray Bradbury’s novel about a future dystopia where the population is kept in line through pharmaceuticals and mind-numbing television and where firemen burn books.  Michael B. Jordan plays Montag, the fireman who develops doubts.  Michael Shannon plays Beatty, Montag’s boss. Sofia Boutella is Clarisse, who inspires Montag to question why.  And no one plays Montag’s wife because that character was apparently cut from the film.

From the minute this version starts, it’s obvious that this film was inspired less by Bradbury and more by Black Mirror, Blade Runner, and the Purge franchise.  The entire world is defined by neon and dark shadows.  Gone is Bradbury’s suggestion that a world without books would be a bland one.  Instead, a world without books is now one that looks like every single recent sci-fi film.  People may have stopped reading but apparently, they’re still watching old Ridley Scott movies.

Gone too is the idea of Montag as a middle-aged man struggling with an existential crisis.  Now, he’s Michael B. Jordan, who comes across as if he’s never had a moment of doubt in his entire life.  He’s less Montag and more Creed in an authoritarian future.  Also gone is the weary relationship with Captain Beatty.  Now, Beatty is almost a father figure to Montag.  Of course, Montag’s real father died mysteriously years ago.  Nothing indicates a lazy screenwriter quicker than a character with daddy issues.

As I mentioned earlier, in this version, Montag is not married.  Instead, he lives a bachelor lifestyle in a glitzy apartment and he spends most of his time asking questions to the future’s version of Alexa, Yuxie.  (“Yuxie, was Benjamin Franklin the first fireman?”)  Of course, in the novel, Montag’s wife stood in for every citizen who never questioned why books were being burned.  It was Montag’s dissatisfaction with his bland home life that led to him getting to know Clarisse and eventually questioning his job as a fireman.  Now, Montag starts to doubt after a random rebel says that Benjamin Franklin didn’t support burning books.  But why, if Montag has spent a lifetime refusing to question anything, would some rando rebel suddenly make him reconsider?

The Book People are still around but now they’re kind of a pain.  I love books but I wouldn’t want to hang out with any of them.  They’re a humorless group of people who live in a farm and apparently being a book person means you can’t wash your hair or something because seriously, everyone looked a bit grimy.  I mean, it’s important to rebel again authoritarianism but that doesn’t meant you can’t look good while doing it.  Each Book Person has memorized a book and you have to wonder how they decide who gets to memorize which book.  We’re told that one Book Person has memorized Chairman Mao but if you’re battling censorship, would you really want to hang out with a person who has devoted her life to the guy behind the Cultural Revolution?  Another Book Person claims to have memorized all of Proust but I think he’s a damn liar.  I mean, how is anyone going to check that?  I’m guessing he probably only memorized the first 20 pages or so of Swann’s Way.  What I want to know is who got to memorize the Twilight books?

This version of Fahrenheit 451 is a bit of a mess.  I’m not one to demand that literary adaptations stick exactly to their source material.  (For instance, the film version of The Godfather was greatly improved by ignoring 60% of what happened in Mario Puzo’s novel.  For that matter, we can all be thankful that It didn’t end with the Losers Club solidifying their bond by having group sex with Beverly.)  But, in this case, the changes don’t improve on the original.  Instead, they just turn Fahrenheit 451 into yet another shadowy dystopian film.

When it comes to Fahrenheit 451, my advice is just to read the book.

Here’s The Latest Trailer For HBO’s Fahrenheit 451!


Earlier this year, I read Ray Bradbury’s original novel so I hope the upcoming HBO film version of Fahrenheit 451 will do justice to the book’s themes.  The trailer below feels a bit more like Blade Runner than Bradbury but Michael B. Jordan and Michael Shannon both seem to be ideally cast.

So, we’ll see!

New Orleans Film Review: Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call New Orleans (dir by Werner Herzog)


“Do you think fish dream?”

— Terrence McDonagh (Nicolas Cage) in Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (2009)

Happy Mardi Gras!

Since today is not only Fat Tuesday but also rapidly coming to a close, I think it’s time for me to share one final New Orleans film review.  Admittedly, though this film takes place and was filmed in New Orleans, it doesn’t feature any Mardi Gras scenes.  However, it does feature a lead performance that is perhaps as bizarre as anything that you’re likely to see in the French Quarter tonight.  Of course, I’m talking about Werner Herzog’s 2009 film, Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call New Orleans.

Whenever I mention this movie to anyone, it only takes a few minutes before they get around to saying, “What was the deal with the iguanas?”  Everyone remembers the two iguanas who would randomly show up throughout the movie.  At one point, they were sitting in a coffee table while Lt. Terrence McDonagh (Nicholas Cage) and Sgt. Stevie Pruit (Val Kilmer) were watching a house across the street.  When McDonagh demanded to know why the iguanas were on his coffee table, Pruit replied, “There ain’t no iguanas.”  McDonagh looked down at them and grinned.  This was followed by several hand-held close-ups of the iguanas, looking around inquisitively while McDonagh kept giving them the side eye.

The iguanas show up a second time, after McDonagh has tricked one gangster into killing another gangster.  “Shoot him again,” McDonagh demands, “his soul’s still dancing!”  Herzog pans over to show us that, indeed, the man’s soul is still dancing next to his corpse.  After the soul gets shot down, an iguana wanders across the floor.

What do the iguanas represent?  Some people think that they actually are meant to be hallucinations.  As the result of a back injury that he received saving a prisoner during Hurricane Katrina, McDonagh has permanent back problems and this has led to him getting hooked on drugs.  The perpetually high McDonagh sees and does a lot of bizarre things over the course of this movie.  Perhaps the iguanas are just a part of his addiction.

Myself, I think the iguanas represent the fact that, no matter what McDonagh and anyone else in New Orleans does over the course of the film, the randomness of nature is going win out in the end.  After all, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans opens with Katrina, which is perhaps the ultimate example of how helpless modern society is in the face of nature’s whims.  The film takes places in neighborhoods that have yet to recover from the flooding.  Every corner of the film is full of physical, emotional, and mental debris.  McDonagh pops pills and snorts cocaine in an attempt to maintain some semblance of control but ultimately, the iguanas are going to show up regardless of how much control he thinks he has.  Just as how Klaus Kinski, at the end of Aguirre, The Wrath Of God, couldn’t keep the monkeys off of his raft, Terrence McDonagh can’t keep the iguanas off of his coffee table.

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans apparently started life as a reboot of Abel Ferrara’s 1992 film, Bad Lieutenant.  The script (which was credited to William M. Finkelstein) is full of moments that mirror scenes from Ferrara’s film.  Once again, the protagonist is a corrupt police lieutenant who spends almost the entire film fucked up on drugs and whose only friend is a prostitute.  Again, there’s a disturbing scene in which the lieutenant harasses a young woman in a parking lot.  Again, the lieutenant has gambling debts and again, the lieutenant has to solve a horrifying crime.

While promoting his film, Herzog always said that 1) he had never seen Bad Lieutenant and 2) he didn’t even know who Abel Ferrara was.  Judging from the way Herzog directs the film, which is the complete opposite of the approach that Ferrara took to similar material, I’m inclined to believe Herzog.  Whereas Ferrara’s film was a grim and humorless plunge into the depths of Hell, Herzog takes an almost satirical approach to the story.  The running joke throughout Herzog’s film is that the bad lieutenant gets results precisely because he is so thoroughly messed up and incompetent.  The final part of Herzog’s film features so many sudden twists and turns that it’s hard not to conclude that Herzog is poking fun at how American crime films always have to wrap everything up within the final fifteen minutes, regardless of how messy or convoluted their plots may be.  Whereas Ferrara’s film featured Harvey Keitel naked and bellowing in soul-searing pain, Herzog gives us Nicolas Cage grinning, laughing, and apparently having a ball.

This has got to be one of Nicolas Cage’s wildest performances.  He yells.  He bulges his eyes.  He grins maniacally at the strangest moments.  He interrogates a suspect while taking hits off a joint.  Because his character has a bad back, Cage moves stiffly, carrying himself almost as if he were a living Golem.  McDonagh may have his demons but, at the same time, he also seems to be having a blast every time we see him.  Wisely, Herzog also allows the character some quieter moments.  When the lieutenant talks about how he used to imagine there was pirate treasure buried in his back yard or when he and an ex-con sit in front of a gigantic fish tank, Cage gets a chance to show that there actually is something going on underneath all of McDonagh’s bluster.  This not only one of Cage’s most over the top performances but also one of his best.

Herzog not only gets the best out of Cage but also the best out of New Orleans.  He may not make New Orleans look beautiful but he still captures the atmosphere that has made New Orleans one of the most legendary cities in the world.  Cage, Herzog, and New Orleans make for a great combination.

Film Review: 12 Strong (dir by Nicolai Fuglsig)


12 Strong begins with a montage of terror.

The World Trade Center is bombed in 1993.  Planes are bombed.  Ships are attacked.  Bill Clinton gives a speech in which he impotently condemns Al-Qaeda.  Finally, we reach September 11th, 2001.  Captain Mitch Nelson (Chris Hemsworth) is playing with his daughter when she suddenly looks up at the TV behind him.  “Look, Daddy,” she says.  Nelson turns around and sees The World Trade Center on fire.

Even though he’s recently announced his intention to retire, Nelson reports for duty.  Despite the skepticism of his commanding officer (Rob Riggle), Nelson and 11 others are sent into Afghanistan.  Their mission is to meet up with a warlord named Abdul Rashid Dostum (Navid Negahban) and to capture territory from the Taliban.  Nelson is initially given 6 weeks to complete this task.  Nelson replies that he’ll get it done in three, before the harsh Afghan winter makes it impossible to move through the mountains.

Among the actors who make up Nelson’s team: Michael Shannon, Trevante Rhodes, Austin Stowell, and Geoff Stults.  Fortunately, the cast is made up of familiar faces.  Even though you might not learn everyone’s name, you still feel as if you know them because you’ve seen all of them playing similar roles in other movies.  (After his performance in Moonlight, it’s a bit disappointing to see Trevante Rhodes playing such a minor supporting role in his follow-up but still, he’s a charismatic actor and he has enough screen presence that he definitely makes an impression.)  Somewhat inevitably, Michael Pena plays the funny member of the team.  It’s not a 21st century action film without Michael Pena providing comedic relief.

(That’s actually a little unfair to Michael Pena, who is a good actor and who gives a pretty good performance in 12 Strong.  It’s just that he’s played this role so many times that it’s almost become a cliché that every action movie will feature Micheal Pena making jokes.)

When the team first meets up with Dostum, there’s immediate tension between the supposed allies.  As Dostum puts it, the United States only cares about getting rid of the Taliban but they don’t care about what will happen afterward.  When Dostum looks at Nelson, he immediately announces that Nelson does not have killer eyes.  Everyone else on the team has killer eyes but not Nelson.  Dostum and his men are even less impressed when they see the Americans struggling to ride the horses that are required to get through the mountains.  Will Nelson win Dostum’s respect?  Will he develop the eyes of a killer?

You probably already know the answer to that.  There’s really not a single moment in 12 Strong that you won’t see coming.  As soon as Dostum says that Nelson needs to prove himself in battle, you know that he’ll get a chance to do just that.  As soon as another soldier talks about home, you know that he’s going to be seriously wounded.  When you first spot the child soldiers among Dostum’s forces and you see one of them give Nelson a nervous smile, you know that child’s probably going to be one of the first casualties of the attack.

12 Strong is a predictable movie but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a bad one.  It’s a well-made film, with the cast all giving strong performances and director Nicolai Fuglsig doing a good job with the battle scenes.  My heart was racing during the film’s final battle.  New Mexico doubled for Afghanistan and the film features some truly stunning shots of the mountainous landscape.  The film even makes a point about why, after 17 years, there still doesn’t appear to be any end in sight to the War in Afghanistan.

Clocking in at 2 hours and 9 minutes, 12 Strong is probably about thirty minutes too long.  It’s a predictable movie but it’s well-made and the fact that it’s based on a true story does make it a bit more poignant than it would be otherwise.  It’s not a bad war film, particularly for January.

And, finally, here are the nominations of the St. Louis Film Critics Association!


As soon as I post this, I will be caught up on sharing all of the precursor awards here on the Shattered Lens (or, at the very least, all of the precursor awards that have been announced so far.  There’s several more to come).  It’s not a minute to soon either!  Tomorrow, the SAG Nominations will be announced.  That’s one of the biggest of the precursors.

Anyway, the St. Louis Film Critics Association announce their nominations yesterday.  The winners will be announced on December 17th.

Here are the nominees!

BEST PICTURE

  • “Get Out”
  • “Lady Bird”
  • “The Shape of Water”
  • “The Post”
  • “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri”

BEST DIRECTOR

  • Greta Gerwig, “Lady Bird”
  • Jordan Peele, “Get Out”
  • Denis Villeneuve, “Blade Runner 2049”
  • Guillermo del Toro, “The Shape of Water”
  • Steven Spielberg, “The Post”

BEST ACTRESS

  • Kristen Stewart, “Personal Shopper”
  • Saoirse Ronan, “Lady Bird”
  • Sally Hawkins, “The Shape of Water”
  • Meryl Streep, “The Post”
  • Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri”

BEST ACTOR

  • Daniel Day-Lewis, “Phantom Thread”
  • Daniel Kaluuya, “Get Out”
  • James Franco, “The Disaster Artist”
  • Tom Hanks,”The Post”
  • Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

  • Kristin Scott Thomas, “Darkest Hour”
  • Holly Hunter, “The Big Sick”
  • Laurie Metcalf, “Lady Bird”
  • Hong Chau, “Downsizing”
  • Octavia Spencer, “The Shape of Water”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

  • Michael Shannon, “The Shape of Water”
  • Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri”
  • Richard Jenkins, “The Shape of Water”
  • William Dafoe, “The Florida Project”
  • Woody Harrelson, “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri”

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

  • “The Big Sick”
  • “Lady Bird”
  • “Get Out”
  • “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri”
  • “The Shape of Water”

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

BEST SOUNDTRACK

BEST EDITING

  • “Darkest Hour”
  • “The Post”
  • “Baby Driver”
  • “The Shape of Water”
  • “Dunkirk”

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

BEST SCORE

BEST DOCUMENTARY

  • “Jane”
  • “Last Man in Aleppo”
  • “Never Say Goodbye: The Kshe Documentary”
  • “Whose Streets?”
  • “City of Ghosts”

BEST ANIMATED MOVIE

  • “Despicable Me 3”
  • “Loving Vincent”
  • The LEGO Batman Movie”
  • “Coco”
  • “Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie”

BEST FOREIGN FILM

  • “Frantz”
  • “The Square”
  • “Graduation”
  • “Land of Mine”
  • “First They Killed My Father”

BEST SCENE

  • Harlem Shuffle Opening, “Baby Driver”
  • Elio’s Dad’s Monologue, “Call Me By Your Name”
  • Stairway Fight, “Atomic Blonde”
  • Coach Directing The Tempest, “Lady Bird”
  • ‘Oh, hi, Mark,’ “The Disaster Artist

WORST FILM

Here Are The Seattle Film Critics Nominations!


Earlier today, the Seattle Film Critics Society announced their nominations for the best of 2017!  The winners will be announced on December 18th.

The most interesting thing about Seattle’s nominations?  The amount of love that they showed to Blade Runner 2049, an acclaimed film that, with the exception of Roger Deakins’s cinematography, was running the risk of being forgotten during the precursor season.  They also showed some love to Logan and The Disaster Artist, which made me happy.

With a tip of the hat to AwardsWatch, here are their nominations:

BEST PICTURE OF THE YEAR:

Blade Runner 2049 (Warner Bros.)

The Disaster Artist (A24)

Dunkirk (Warner Bros.)

The Florida Project (A24)

Get Out (Universal)

Lady Bird (A24)

Logan (20th Century Fox)

Phantom Thread (Focus Features)

The Post (20th Century Fox)

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Fox Searchlight)

 

BEST DIRECTOR:

Sean Baker – The Florida Project

Greta Gerwig – Lady Bird

Christopher Nolan – Dunkirk

Jordan Peele – Get Out

Denis Villeneuve – Blade Runner 2049

 

BEST ACTOR in a LEADING ROLE:

Daniel Day-Lewis – Phantom Thread

James Franco – The Disaster Artist

Daniel Kaluuya – Get Out

Gary Oldman – Darkest Hour

Robert Pattinson – Good Time

 

BEST ACTRESS in a LEADING ROLE:

Sally Hawkins – The Shape of Water

Frances McDormand – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Margot Robbie – I, Tonya

Saoirse Ronan – Lady Bird

Meryl Streep – The Post

 

BEST ACTOR in a SUPPORTING ROLE:

Willem Dafoe – The Florida Project

Barry Keoghan – The Killing of a Sacred Deer

Sam Rockwell – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Michael Shannon – The Shape of Water

Patrick Stewart – Logan

 

BEST ACTRESS in a SUPPORTING ROLE:

Tiffany Haddish – Girls Trip

Holly Hunter – The Big Sick

Allison Janney – I, Tonya

Lesley Manville – Phantom Thread

Laurie Metcalf – Lady Bird

 

BEST ENSEMBLE CAST:

Call Me by Your Name

Get Out

Lady Bird

The Post

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

 

BEST SCREENPLAY:

The Big Sick – Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani

The Disaster Artist – Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber

Get Out – Jordan Peele

Lady Bird – Greta Gerwig

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – Martin McDonagh

 

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE:

The Breadwinner – Nora Twomey, director

Coco – Adrian Molina, Lee Unkrich, directors

The LEGO Batman Movie – Chris McKay, director

Loving Vincent – Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman, directors

Your Name. – Makoto Shinkai, director

 

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM:

Blade of the Immortal – Takashi Miike, director
BPM (Beats Per Minute) – Robin Campillo, director

Frantz – François Ozon, director

Raw – Julia Ducournau, director

Thelma – Joachim Trier, director

 

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE:

City of Ghosts – Matthew Heineman, director

Ex Libris: The New York Public Library – Frederick Wiseman, director

Faces Places – JR, Agnès Varda, co-directors

LA 92 – Daniel Lindsay, T.J. Martin, directors

Step – Amanda Lipitz, director

 

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY:

Blade Runner 2049 – Roger A. Deakins

Columbus – Elisha Christian

Dunkirk – Hoyte von Hoytema

The Florida Project – Alexis Zabé

The Shape of Water – Dan Laustsen

 

BEST COSTUME DESIGN:

Beauty and the Beast – Jacqueline Durran

Blade Runner 2049 – Rénee April

Darkest Hour – Jacqueline Durran

Phantom Thread – Mark Bridges

The Shape of Water – Luis Sequeira

 

BEST FILM EDITING:

Baby Driver – Paul Machliss, Jonathan Amos

Blade Runner 2049 – Joe Walker

Dunkirk – Lee Smith

Get Out – Gregory Plotkin

Lady Bird – Nick Houy

 

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE:

Blade Runner 2049 – Benjamin Wallfisch, Hans Zimmer

Dunkirk – Hans Zimmer

Phantom Thread – Jonny Greenwood

War for the Planet of the Apes – Michael Giacchino

Wonderstruck – Carter Burwell

 

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN:

Blade Runner 2049 – Dennis Gassner (Production Designer); Alessandra Querzola (Set Decorator)

Dunkirk – Nathan Crowley (Production Designer); Gary Fettis (Supervising Set Decorator)

Murder on the Orient Express – Jim Clay (Production Designer); Rebecca Alleway (Set Decorator)

Phantom Thread – Mark Tildesley (Production Designer); Véronique Melery (Set Decorator)

The Shape of Water – Paul Denham Austerberry (Production Designer); Shane Vieau, Jeff Melvin (Set Decorators)

 

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS:

Blade Runner 2049 – John Nelson, Paul Lambert, Richard R. Hoover, Gerd Nefzer
Dunkirk – Andrew Jackson, Andrew Lockley, Scott Fisher, Paul Corbould

The Shape of Water – Dennis Berardi, Luke Groves, Trey Harrell, Kevin Scott

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets – Scott Stokdyk, Jérome Lionard

War for the Planet of the Apes – Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett, Joel Whist

 

BEST YOUTH PERFORMANCE (18 years of age or younger upon start of filming):

Dafne Keen – Logan
Sophia Lillis It

Brooklynn Prince – The Florida Project

Millicent Simmonds – Wonderstruck

Jacob Tremblay – Wonder

 

VILLAIN OF THE YEAR:

Dennis and various multiple personalities – Split – portrayed by James McAvoy

Martin – The Killing of a Sacred Deer – portrayed by Barry Keoghan

Pennywise – It – portrayed by Bill Skarsgård

Philip Krauss – Detroit – portrayed by Will Poulter

Richard Strickland – The Shape of Water – portrayed by Michael Shannon

Lisa Marie’s Thoughts On The Oscar Nominations


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Okay, I’ve had plenty of time to think about today’s Oscar nominations and now I’m ready to share my thoughts.  Obviously, my picks were a lot different from what the Academy selected.  That’s okay.  That’s the way it goes every year.  I don’t mind being a contrarian.

So, let’s take a look at what was nominated, category-by-category.

(If you need a refresher as to what was nominated, here’s a complete list of nominees!)

Best Live Action Short, Best Animated Short, Best Documentary Short: I’m sure that these three categories are full of wonderful nominees that were created by wonderful people but I don’t believe that I’ve seen a single one of them.  So, with that in mind, I can only imagine that the Academy did a perfect job selecting all 15 of these nominees!  Good work, Academy!

Best Foreign Language Film: Again, I have seen none of the nominees so I really can’t comment one way or another.  Normally, this would make me feel like a failure but I imagine that 90% of the people reading this post are in the same boat.  I imagine Toni Erdmann will win, just because of all the good things I’ve read about it.  But, since I haven’t actually seen any of the nominees, I will refrain from making any sort of prediction.

Best Documentary Feature: I’m disappointed that my favorite documentary, The Witness, was not nominated.  And, quite frankly, I’m shocked that Weiner was not nominated.  That said, I can’t complain about any of the documentaries that actually were nominated.  It was a good year for documentaries.  In fact, it could be argued that it was a better year for documentaries than for features.

Should Win: O.J.: Made in America

Will Win: 13th

Best Original Song: Not a single song from Sing Street was nominated and that is amazingly disappointing.  Original song can be surprising.  Remember last year when that terrible song from SPECTRE somehow won?  That said, I’m expecting that this year will see a huge sweep by La La Land and one of its nominated songs will probably win.

Should Win: Audition (The Fools Who Can Dream) from La La Land

Will Win: City of Stars from La La Land

Best Original Score: The Neon Demon deserved a nomination but I’m not surprised it was snubbed.  There’s no way the Academy was going to honor Nicholas Winding Refn’s subversive masterpiece.  La La Land is going to win this one easily.

Should Win: La La Land

Will Win: La La Land

Best Visual Effects: I was glad to see that Kubo and the Two Strings was nominated and I wish that Arrival had been nominated as well.  I’m going to go ahead and predict that Doctor Strange will be the first MCU film to win an Oscar.

Should Win: Doctor Strange

Will Win: Doctor Strange

Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing: Let’s be honest.  I couldn’t explain the difference between sound editing and sound mixing and, unless you specifically work in the sound department, neither could you.  As a result, these categories are always difficult to predict.  But Hacksaw Ridge has to get some love somewhere and I bet it would happen here if not for La La Land.

Should Win (Both): Hacksaw Ridge

Will Win (Both): La La Land

Best Makeup and Hairstyling: As soon as I saw that Deadpool wasn’t nominated here, I knew it wouldn’t be nominated anywhere.  Can you believe that fucking Suicide Squad is now an Oscar nominee?  I haven’t seen A Man Called Ove but I’m going to predict its victory because I just can’t imagine the Academy honoring either Star Trek Beyond or Suicide Squad.

Should Win: Star Trek Beyond (that had good makeup in it, right?)

Will Win: A Man Called Ove

Best Film Editing: I can’t complain about any of the films nominated here.  La La Land is pretty much a guaranteed winner here.

Should Win: La La Land

Will Win: La La Land

Best Costume Design: I was shocked that Love & Friendship was not nominated.  If La La Land sweeps, it’ll win here.  When I made out my list of my personal picks for the Oscars, I gave the costuming Oscar to La La Land but now that I’m looking at the actual nominees, I’m remembering just how good everyone looked in Allied.

Should Win: Allied

Will Win: La La Land

Best Cinematography: My personal pick for this award was The Neon Demon but it wasn’t nominated.  Out of the nominated films, I would go with Moonlight but I think La La Land is going to sweep.

Should Win: Moonlight

Will Win: La La Land

Best Production Design: Well, it won’t be Passengers!  How the Hell did that get nominated for anything?  I think, of the nominees, Arrival deserves the award for making science fiction feel and look like science fact.  But, again, I think La La Land is going to win here.  (Are you sensing a theme in my predictions?)

Should Win: Arrival

Will Win: La La Land

Best Animated Feature: I was happy that Kubo and the Two Strings, Zootopia, and Moana were all nominated.  I haven’t seen The Red Turtle or My Life as a Zucchini but, on the whole, the Academy has a record of nominating the right films for this award.  I loved Kubo and I think it might win, just because it picked up that Visual Effects nomination as well.  Zootopia, however, would allow the Academy to make a political point and Moana has Lin-Manuel Miranda.  I’m going to go out on a limb and predict a Kubo victory but I wouldn’t be surprised if any of these five nominees won.

Should Win: Kubo and the Two Strings

Will Win: Zootopia Kubo and the Two Strings Moana Zootopia Kubo and the Two Strings

Best Adapted Screenplay: With La La Land likely to sweep the technical awards and Manchester By The Sea and Moonlight set to pick up some acting awards, this category will give the Academy a chance to acknowledge Arrival.

Should Win: Arrival

Will Win: Arrival

Best Original Screenplay: I think this is one of the few awards that La La Land will not win.  This category gives the Academy a chance to honor Hell or High Water.

Should Win: Hell or High Water

Will Win: Hell or High Water

Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis is a guaranteed winner, even though her performance was a lead role.

Should Win: Naomie Harris, Moonlight

Will Win: Viola Davis, Fences

Best Supporting Actor: I was really happy to see that Michael Shannon got a nomination because Shannon is a great actor who always seems to be taken for granted.  That said, Mahershala Ali is almost as much of a lock as Viola Davis.

Should Win: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Will Win: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Best Actress: Let’s just get this out of the way.  Amy Adams not only deserved a nomination, she also deserved the Oscar.  Arrival works because of a twist that occurs halfway through the film.  The twist works because of Amy Adams’s performance.  If not for Amy Adams, Arrival would never have been nominated for best picture.  The fact that she was not nominated will be remembered as one of the biggest mistakes in Academy history.

This morning, I was happy to see that a lot of people on twitter agreed with me about the Amy Adams snub.  What took me by surprise was how many people also agreed with me that Meryl Streep essentially took a spot that should have been given to Amy Adams.  This morning, among other things, I discovered that there’s actually a growing backlash against the annual tradition of automatically nominating Meryl Streep, regardless of whether the film was any good or not.

Could Meryl win yet again?  It depends on whether or not the Academy wants to hear another Meryl Streep speech.  Given the political climate, I wouldn’t discount that as a possibility.  Since I’m on the subject and it’s possible that everyone stopped reading a few categories ago, I’m going to go ahead and admit my unpopular opinion.  While I’m definitely not a fan of the new President, Meryl’s Golden Globe speech felt like almost a parody of upper class white liberalism.  Listening to her, it was easy to imagine Meryl at a cocktail party, bragging about how she’s on a first name basis with her maid.

But, I’m in the minority as far as that opinion is concerned.  The Industry loved Meryl’s speech and, after Donald Trump’s overreaction to it, giving an Oscar to Meryl and giving her a chance to repeat the speech on a much bigger stage would be the perfect way to give the finger to the current administration.

That said, I think Emma Stone will be carried along in the La La Land sweep.  Whether justified or not, many members of the Academy will look at her character and see themselves.

Should Win: Amy Adams in Arrival (Yes, she wasn’t nominated but she should still win, goddammit.)

Will Win: Emma Stone in La La Land

Best Actor: Could anyone other than Casey Affleck win this one?  Denzel Washington is popular and giving him an Oscar for Fences would be a nice to way to reward all of the effort that he put into bringing this acclaimed play to the screen.  Affleck was sued for sexual harassment by a producer and a cinematogrpaher and ended up settling with both of them.  However, I doubt if it will stop him from winning the Oscar.  If the allegations were going to hurt Affleck’s chances, it would have happened long before now.

As for the nominees — well, I have no complaints.  While I wasn’t as impressed with Affleck’s performance as some, I think he did well enough. I would have liked to have seen either Sully‘s Tom Hanks or Hell or High Water‘s Chris Pine nominated.  I’m glad that Andrew Garfield picked up his first nomination.

Should Win: Denzel Washington, Fences

Will Win: Casey Affleck, Manchester By The Sea

Best Director: I’m going to go out on a limb and predict a minor upset.  I think La La Land is going to win in a lot of categories but I think that Moonlight‘s Barry Jenkins will win this Oscar.  Best Picture and Director have been split fairly regularly over the past few years and, after both the #OscarsSoWhite controversy and the 2016 presidential election, it may be felt that it’s time for a black director to finally win the Oscar.  Based on the skill shown in Whiplash and La La Land, Damien Chazelle will have other opportunities.

Should Win: Denis Villeneuve, Arrival

Will Win: Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

Best Picture: Though I don’t necessarily think it was one of the best films of the year, I would have loved it if Deadpool had actually scored a nomination.  It would have been an unexpected surprise and it would have shaken up a race that’s gotten rather predictable.

But no.  Deadpool received no nominations and the expected films were nominated.  Perhaps the only thing that could be considered surprising (though not that surprising)  was that Martin Scorsese’s passion project, Silence, was not only snubbed for best picture but also only picked up one nomination. Passengers picked up more nominations that Martin Scorsese’s latest film.  When it comes to total number of nominations, Silence is tired with Suicide Squad.

La La Land is going to win.  It’s probably going to win nearly all 14 of the Oscars it has been nominated for.  My pick for the best film of 2016 was American Honey.  Of the nominees, I think Arrival is the one that deserves to win.  But La La Land is an exuberant valentine to both the Academy and the industry.

La La Lands going to win.

Should Win: Arrival

Will Win: La La Land

2013 oscars