Who will (Probably) win the Academy Awards

Disclaimer: I wrote this before the ceremony. I thought the awards ceremony was on at a later time. This is just to give you context on what I have written. Sorry you cannot bet anymore as they are probably void by multiple betting angencies. 

Written by Nelson Cumming

After nearly months of campaigning to the voters and the many awards ceremonies, we finally come the most viewed awards show of the year: The 89th Academy Award Ceremony.

If you have an office pool in the workplace and want bragging rights (and some easy cash) then I am here to help guide you in the right direction by separating the nominees and the winners of the golden statue.

I will be highlighting the odds for each contender and also my view on who I think SHOULD win (This does not mean I think they WILL win) With that sorted, let’s get into big five awards that are given out.

Best Picture: La La Land $1.17

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The Lead Up: La La Land has a commanding lead for Best Picture. In the run-up, La La Land has also won Best Picture at the Goldern Globes, The AACTAS, and the Critics Choice Awards.

According to Sportsbet, this movie is pretty likely to win considering that you would only make an extra 17 cents per dollar you bet. You would have to put in 6 dollars to win an extra dollar.

The Other Runners: Second place is Moonlight with 1/5 odds (only 20% chance to win) followed by Manchester by the Sea and Hidden Figures at 1/26 chance of winning. I would not bother with Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge or Hell of High Water as they are 1/101. Maybe put a buck on each of them for a chance to win 101 dollars

Who I want to win: I also want La La Land to win Best Picture. That movie was magic to me and was my favorite out of all the films that were nominated. Hacksaw Ridge is a close second to me followed by Moonlight which was my third favorite.

Best Actor: Casey Affleck for Manchester by the Sea $1.67

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The Lead Up: Casey Affleck has just pipped ahead of the other actors but it is not a sealed deal. Denzel Washington is going at $2.10 for Best Actor, so it will be a race for the finish line. Affleck has won the hearts of various critics with his performance in Manchester by The Sea winning multiple critic circle awards across America. But Affleck needs to win the hearts of his fellow peers in the film industry to win the Academy Award.

The Other Runners: Gosling for La La Land is at $12.00 and Viggo Mortensen for Captain Fantastic is the long shot at $81.00

Who I want to win: I sort-of wanted the award to go to Andrew Garfield in Hacksaw Ridge, but my gut tells me he has got a breakthrough performance in himself and Hacksaw Ridge was not it. I felt like something was missing in his performance and I cannot put my finger on it. I have not seen Fences and so I would have to give the award to Affleck for Manchester by the Sea.

Best Actress: Emma Stone for La La Land $1.17

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The Lead Up: Emma Stone is the outright favorite for this Best Actress category. Even though she was only nominated for best actress at nearly all the critic circle awards, she has won the BAFTA and the Goldern Globes for her performance which is more in line with Academy Awards selectors. The actress that has been winning the various critic awards is Natalie Portman for Jackie. She is the second most-likely winner at $6.00.

The Other Runners: Isabelle Huppert for Elle stands at $9.00, Ruth Negga for Loving is at $34.00 and Meryl Streep for Florance Foster Jenkins is at $101.00

Who I want to win: I don’t know. I have only seen Emma Stone’s performance, so I cannot judge this category.

Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali for Moonlight $1.12

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The Lead Up: Mahershala Ali is actually a supporting actor for Hidden Figures as well, but I agree that Moonlight is his best performance of the two. Just watching him in the trailer is heartwarming let alone the watching him in the movie.

The Other Runners: Dev Patel in Lion is second at $6.00 (even though I think he was the leading actor) and Jeff Bridges and Michael Shannon are at $13.00 (Even though I believe Bridges is a lead actor too)

Who I Want to Win: I have to give it to Michael Shannon for Nocturnal Animals. I was just mesmerized by his performance and thought he was the best in the sea of great actors in Nocturnal Animals. Ali comes a close second.

Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis $1.02

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The Lead Up: To make one dollar on this girl, I have to bet 50 bucks. That is how certain the bookies are of Viola Davis winning. I have not seen Fences but I watched the trailer and understood why she was nominated. Davis has won more than 30 major awards for her role in Fences.

The other Runners: Michelle Williams for Manchester by the Sea is in at $17.00. Naomi Harris for Moonlight is at $26.00. Nicole Kidman for Lion is at $34.00 and Octavia Spencer for Hidden Figures is at $51.00.

Who I want to win: I would prefer Harris’ performance as a drug-addled mother in Moonlight. Her performance is the only one I have seen from the nominees that add to the performance throughout. Her performance helps dictate the emotional impact that the lead actors play throughout Moonlight. Granted, I have not seen Viola Davis’ performance but I have seen all the other nominees performances.

I hope this was more insightful not only to get rich off betting, but also more detailed in some of my opinions of these acclaimed movies. Armed with this information, you should win from your office pool ūüôā

A Movie Hidden in the Figures

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Oh what a lovely film! Hidden Figures was a familiar story that still left me grinning like an idiot. This movie is a simplistic yet effective because of good writing and excellent acting. If you have the script and the talent, you can do just about anything as far as I’m concerned. Who would have thought that!

Hidden Figures is based on a true story and is one of those 60’s period pieces that blends two familiar stories into one. The first one is the black people who are fighting repression and the second is a story about the development of space exploration.

To be more specific Katharine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson) is female, African American, mathematician are appointed by NASA out of sheer necessity. There are still such things as coloured toilets, kettles, and people. The movie is called Hidden Figures because Johnson and NASA have to find the mathematical formulas that will make sure America can successfully put an astronaut into space, orbit the earth, and re-enter the atmosphere without fail.

Hidden Figures and it’s stellar cast

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These guys are awesome. So is Kevin Costner even though he is not pictured. 

Hidden Figures has one of the best ensembles because the movie oozes chemistry. I don’t believe there is one person good enough to win an Oscar on their performance alone. But all of them together made something truly great here. They played to each other’s strengths and no one wanted to overact the other. Aside from Nocturnal Animals and Hacksaw Ridge, Hidden Figures has the best ensemble I have seen in the past year.

Aside from the main actors (Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Mon√°e) who were all really good, the guy that surprised me the most was Kevin Costner. I am a sucker for good surprises and his performance added so much to Hidden Figures that it wasn’t funny. He made a great decision in keeping his character subdued and not overdramatic. Even the dramatic scene he does have that involves a hammer, he downplays it. He was such a great straight man that not many people would recognize

The great words in the numbers

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I am not sure that quote was from Hichcock but I like the sentiment

Those little scripts are the ones that I enjoy. The best parts of the script were the subtle racism. They made it the elephant in the room. A ginormous elephant at that. Hidden Figures uses familiar but effective tools to achieve that. Every time (Jim Parsons) stares at her and the huge thump from a mountain of paperwork that Johnson has to work through.

One of the great moments of this subtlety occurs when Katherine (Henson) first enters the Space Task Group. The Secerety, when asked by the head of the group if she can do geometry, replies “Yes she can, and she speaks” The level of passive aggression is palpable and toe curling, which was the goal early on in Hidden Figures. I
also funny, which is rare for a lot of alleged comedies out there.

Hidden Figures is one of those rare films where it would be hard to find someone to hate it. It’s got a familiar story told simply with great acting and good writing and is rooted with people who act like human beings. This is rare considering most of the simpler stories are told in the realm of animation or super heroes and the great human stories can be complex. ****

Fifty Shades Darker: I Prefer it Lighter

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Written (unfortunatly) by Nelson Cumming

I avoided the Fifty Shades series because people have said the books were a joke and the movie was a joke. The only reason I have started now is because I write regularly as a hobby. This is a movie I regret seeing and I urge people to avoid it.

Fifty Shades Darker is not bad, it’s evil.

What makes a Good Movie from a Bad Movie

Before you call me a man who cannot take romantic movies I think you need to see my reviews of The Lobster, Moonlight and La La Land. I would also recommend seeing Southside With You even though I didn’t write a review on it. These movies have three dimensional characters and took risks in their work. I left those movies in awe on how much a I cared for the people and how those movies were pushing the art of cinema to a different level.

Some of the worst movies ever made pile on a movement that exploits the worst of humanity. Dirty Grandpa was overly hedonistic, London Has Fallen is exploited dumb, senseless revenge and Mothers Day was sugery vanity in disguise of meaningful family moments.

Fifty Shades Darker is a movie which aims to manipulate the audience into believing emotionally abusive relationships and love are the same thing. That is a conept that I don’t want to see exacerbated¬†into the world we live in.

The sadism (or stupidity) of Fifty Shades

Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) is psychotic and there is no way you can argue that. Early on, When Grey approaches Anastasia’s boss and introduces himself as “THE boyfriend” I knew he had an inferiority complex. What surprised me was how much that manifested into a deeply disturbing level.

No, there is no rape nor domestic violence but Fifty Shades Darker was not far off. There was so much verbal and emotional manipulation from Christian Grey to Anastasia (Dakota Johnson) and he is so controlling, possessive, demeaning and insulting that it was disturbing when Anastasia opens her arms (and legs) to him. I think the movie was called Fifty Shades Darker because it brought gender equality back fifty years.

There is no proper setup to even give a reason why any scene have any sense. Nor did the movie explore why Anasthetia would take a man like Christan Grey back. Therefore a lot of these scenes feel like they were done for no reason which makes Dakota Johnson’s character look like an easy manipulative target. She felt like a deer in the headlights that didn’t even know it. Near the end, the explaniation as to why Grey is such a dick (and a 2-inch one at that) is so terrible that I hated the movie even¬†more.

The Worst Four Scenes in Fifty Shades Darker

I am going to spoil the movie here because this movie is so terrible that I recommend you don’t see it.

Number 4: The Repression Revealed

I know there will be women who will defend the Christian Grey character is emotionally complex. The height of his complexity is that he is compelled to do high levels of domination because his mother died from a drug overdose when he was a kid and had the sexual desire of dominating women that look like his mother for all his life as a form of vengeance. Anastasia love him even more now for being so open and honest!

Number 3: The Damaged Dominatrix

There is also a subplot where a girl called Lelia (One of Christian Grey’s former submissives) is obsessed with Grey despite the fact Grey helped make her an emotional wreck. She carries and gun and points it to Anastasia and all Grey does is say “Lelia!” and points at her. Seeminglingly, in a trance, Lelia points the gun to Christian, hand the gun to him and kneels in front of his feet in complete submission to this Almighty Christian Grey. I smacked my palm upon my hand very loudly. The person next to me looked at me as if I was weird.

Number 2: The Sadistic Sociopath

Lelia was unstable but Grey clearly exacerbated the problem, broke her mentally and dumped her (After the gun scene he said he “put her to a psyche ward where she belongs” the most ironic line ever) He is so sadistic that he admits he is a sadist and says he will stop being an asshole but the movie shows no change in him. He starts and finishes as a one-dimensional asshole.

Number 1: The Petrifying Proposal

Christian proposes to Anasthesia saying “I want to be with you every day, every minute and every second of my life…” I blurted out “Literally” and a couple of people laughed. I just couldn’t help myself at that point. She says yes to the proposal and everyone is happy. End of movie.

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

I felt so unclean watching this. If you want to look at the movie as laughably bad, it was. But it was so morally repugnant that I never enjoyed it as an artistically inept film that I thought it was going to be. This movie reminded me of the domestic violence between Rihanna and Chris Brown. That is a bad sign.

This is the first time in a long time where I felt completely screwed over. At the end, I saw this girl who looked like the dumbest bogan ever and she applauded like a walrus and looked at the people behind her. They did not respond. At that point, I learned more than ever that there are fucked up people in this world and I am glad I am not one of them -**

Moonlight and the Art of Silence

Written by Nelson Cumming

Barry Jenkin’s Moonlight is a fantastic movie to say the least. The themes ring loud and true even when dialogue is sparse. Moonlight ultimately explores repression and the yearning for a relief from that repression.

Repression is the umbrella for the themes such as homosexuality, masculinity, and yearning for acceptance in an unjust world. Moonlight tells the story of a boy called Chiron in three stages. First as a boy (i.Little), then as a teenager (ii Chiron) and finally as a man (iii. Black). Chiron is black, gay and poor. He has no father and his mother is a drug addict. His father figure (Played by Mahershala Ali who just nails it) is a drug dealer who supplies his mother with drugs.

Even though Moonlight explores the struggles of a person expressing homosexuality, I see a broader message of the struggle of sacrificing a bit of yourself to blend into society. That is because any child who suffers because of that would act in exactly the same way as Moonlight shows in Chiron.

Acting in the Art of Silence

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You need to see these three actors. They make you feel how they feel and say very little. From left to right: Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes

As you may be thinking, Moonlight is explict in terms how showing the toxic environment of Chiron’s life, but the most important parts are when they are at their most subtle.¬†The best moments were the three scenes that concluded Chiron’s life segments. They each added a significant layer to the character. The final scene flawed me. It sneaks up on you and gets you when you least expect it. The reason for that is what I call the art of silence.

The art of silence for acting is conveying a lot of information by saying and doing so little. It is so difficult to do yet all three actors who play Chiron play it brilliantly. All three act like damaged people who are internalizing themselves because the society they live in shuns who they are.

This is what makes Moonlight unique from a lot of movies about homosexuality. I cannot think of a movie that explores how the suppression and condemnation of homosexuality impacted a person throughout their entire life in the way Moonlight portrayed it. The end result is something quite powerful, extraordinary and unexpected. It didn’t hit me until the very end ****3/4

Endnote

I am slow man. I didn’t realise that A24 Pictures was a production company. I do now. After looking at their filming catelogue I have come to the conclusion that they are the best movie studio currently in existence. To prove it to you, including Moonlight, I have review four movies from them and here were the star ratings I gave them.

Green Room:****1/2

Moonlight and The Lobster: ****3/4

Room:*****

The Lobster and Room both made my top ten list of 2016 (Number 5 and 2 respectively) and Moonlight also would have had I saw it last year.

Manchester by the Sea: A Little Underwhelming

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Manchester by the Sea was a film that was surprisingly underwhelming for me. Not bad, but not Oscar nominated levels of good. I dislike hype for movies in general. With the exception of La La Land and Moonlight the movies that have hype rarely reach the high bar that the hype sets. It leaves me underwhelmed at best and thoroughly disappointed at worst.

Nevertheless, Manchester by the Sea is a good movie. The movie title is the setting and Casey Affleck is a young man on the brink of self-destruction (he loves to start punch-ups at bars and works as a janitor in Boston). After his brother’s heart attack, he has to take care of his nephew in Manchester as that was in his brother’s will.

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To anyone wanting to see the movie, this is the scene that finally gives the film momentum.

The Bad Pacing

There is a reason that Affleck hates going back to Manchester. Unfortunately, the reason why is a big fat spoiler. Becuase the endpoint of the movie is whether or not Affleck’s character adheres to his brother’s will. It is not a twist, but it takes about 50 minutes to get to the reason. This is where we get to why I am not a huge fan of Manchester by the Sea.

The pacing is simply too slow. Manchester by the Sea is nearly 140 minutes long. In my opinion, it didn’t need to be. I heard from my favorite living film reviewer Mark Kermode that it needed to be 30 minutes longer due to the lack of the relationship between Affleck and the Michelle William’s character (his ex-wife). I vehemently disagreed.

The High Positives

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Affleck and Hedges have great chemistry. Their chemistry keeps the movie alive.

Despite the slow pacing, Manchester by the Sea does achieve it sets out to do. That is, to tell a story about a damaged man while not being overly morose. This is done with Affleck’s nephew (played by Lucas Hedges) serving as great comic relief while being a relatable teenager. Aside from Casey Affleck, Lucas Hedges¬†was the best thing in the movie.

Great Scriptwriting

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The script was also well-written. That is hard to come by in movies because well-written dialogue has to simultaneously poetic and natural. It’s a well-hidden art that you don’t immediately observe because the art is to make dialogue sound like normal people talking.

In terms of dialogue, most movies either have the rhythm or the music but never both. Those are what most 2-3 star movies have in common. Manchester by the Sea is an exception. I still believe that Hacksaw Ridge has the best use of dialogue out of all the movies I have reviewed, but Manchester by the Sea would be in the top ten for scriptwriting.

I saw a good film in Manchester by The Sea, but with the slow pacing and the long-running time, I couldn’t get myself into it. It was the kind of film that I was wishing I could immerse myself into because it had the right elements, but I never could. That is why I was underwhelmed by the whole movie ***1/4