SCO experts weigh in on La La Land or Moonlight and lots else
This year's Oscars features a number of powerful films, and it's hard to know exactly who is going to snatch up that award. It looks likes La La Land is on the edge of another sweep, just like at the Golden Globes. But Moonlight's intense plot and amazing actors might just pull ahead and take the gold. It's a close race and it's hard to tell what bets to make with your friends, but don't worry, SCO experts Maniza Habib, Nate Bodner, Ellie Williams and Pedraam Faridjoo are here to help you out. With our guidance, you're sure to take home the most money tonight. We may not be film experts, but we sure do watch a lot of movies!
Maniza: La La Land
Ellie: La La Land
Maniza says: Don't be surprised when you see La La Land on here almost every single time for me. It's not me, it's Hollywood. Hollywood just has this weird obsession with this movie. It swept up all the awards at the Golden Globes and the Critics Choice Awards, and it's coming to the show with 14 different Oscar nominations. I hope I'm wrong and Moonlight takes the edge over La La Land, but there's a certain white aspect Moonlight lacks that seems like it might snatch the award away from them. La La Land almost has it in the bag.
Nate says: Moonlight is the highest rated film of the year and it truly is a masterpiece. Detailing three important moments in a young black man's life in Miami, this film sports an incredible cast and incredible directing from Best Director nominee Barry Jenkins. Moonlight truly deserves this.
Ellie says: La La Land was one of the highest scoring films released in 2016, and received glowing reviews from The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Rolling Stone. With a stellar soundtrack and amazing performances by Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, La La Land is sure to win best picture.
Pedraam says: Although it seems like La La Land may have an edge over Moonlight for Best Picture, I'm going to remain optimistic. This powerful movie tackles the ever-relevant issues of sexuality, masculinity and living as an outsider. With exquisite acting (especially from Mahershala Ali) and sheer valiance in its efforts, Moonlight deserves this win the most.
Actor In a Leading Role
Maniza: Denzel Washington, Fences
Nate: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Ellie: Denzel Washington, Fences
Pedraam: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Maniza says: Who doesn't love the beautiful Denzel Washington? Producer, director, and star Denzel Washington's performance in Fences was absolutely breath-taking and captivating. Washington plays a middle-aged man named Troy Maxson in 1950s Pittsburgh, who works as a garbage collector with an impossible dream of being a major league baseball player. Washington conveys Troy with bitter emotions and a hardened personality that tells his story perfectly.
Nate says: Casey Affleck delivered one of the most emotional and complex performances of the year as a man trying to overcome his tragic mistake. In his first best actor nomination, Affleck deserves to come out on top.
Ellie says: Denzel Washington gave an unforgettable powerful performance as Troy Maxson in the film Fences which deals with race in mid-century Pittsburgh.
Pedraam says: To call Casey Affleck's performance in Manchester by the Sea powerful is an understatement. Although often reserved, the layers of Affleck's character are presented masterfully, with a genuinity that makes him the obvious choice for best actor.
Actor In a Supporting Role
Maniza: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Nate: Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
Ellie: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Pedraam: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Maniza says: Mahershala Ali has won almost every critic award, plus the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) award, for his performance in Moonlight in this category. Ali plays a drug-dealer that captures the audience's hearts as he grows attached to Little, a poor boy from the neighborhood. However, the (absolutely gorgeous) Dev Patel might just surprise everyone and claim this Oscar for his performance in Lion, like at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) awards.
Nate says: Jeff Bridges played an old detective who went out with his partner on one last job before his retirement. One of the less talked about nominees for this award, don't be surprised if Bridges stellar performance earns him this one.
Ellie says: Mahershala Ali played Juan, a crack dealer who guided main character Chiron in his youth, in the film Moonlight. This was the most socially aware film of 2016 and told the story of a gay black child growing up in Miami.
Pedraam says: As much as I'd like to give this one to Jeff Bridges for his performance in Hell or High Water, it's difficult to compete with the momentum that is Mahershala Ali. Not only was Ali excellent in Moonlight, but with so many awards already under his belt I don't see the Academy being an outlier.
Actress In a Leading Role
Maniza: Emma Stone, La La Land
Nate: Emma Stone, La La Land
Ellie: Natalie Portman, Jackie
Pedraam: Natalie Portman, Jackie
Maniza says: Ruth Negga, who played Mildred Loving in Loving, deserves this award. However, Emma Stone will win it. She's already won both the Golden Globe and SAG award for this category. Stone's portrayal of Mia, a musician and aspiring actress who falls in love, is delightful. She rocks all her dance numbers. (And we can't forget about Hollywood's obsession with this movie, either!)
Nate says: Emma Stone gave a powerful performance in La La Land as a young actress who's trying to make it in Hollywood. She sings, dances, and gave the best performance in this star studded film.
Ellie says: Natalie Portman gave a momentous performance as Jackie Kennedy in this film about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, which is from Jackie's point of view and captures events from the days after the assassination.
Pedraam says: Natalie Portman's performance as Jackie Kennedy may not be as talked about as Emma Stone's in La La Land, but is just as if not more deserving of an award. Portman carries the entire film, and not only mimics the former First Lady with ease but is able to excellently portray the wide range of emotions she felt after John F. Kennedy's assassination.
Actress In a Supporting Role
Maniza: Viola Davis, Fences
Nate: Viola Davis, Fences
Ellie: Viola Davis, Fences
Pedraam: Viola Davis, Fences
Maniza says: I will be so shocked if Viola Davis does not win this award. She's become the first black woman to receive three Academy Award nominations. Her performances are always powerful, and her portrayal of Rose Maxson in Fences is no different. Can't wait to hear her speech!
Nate says: In my opinion, Viola Davis is the undisputed best actress in this category by far this year. She was breathtaking in Fences, as a middle aged mom trying to keep a dysfunctional family together in 1950's Pittsburgh.
Ellie says: Viola Davis is up for the triple crown with this nomination, and could become one of only 22 actors who have won Tonys, Oscars, and Emmys. Her memorable performance as Rose Maxson in Fences should win best supporting actress.
Pedraam says: None of the other nominees came close to Viola Davis' exquisite performance in Fences. This should be an easy win for her.
Animated Feature Film
Ellie: Kubo and the Two Strings
Pedraam: Kubo and the Two Strings
Maniza says: I've already seen Zootopia three times. The message the movie transmits against fear and prejudice is more relevant to us than ever. Leaving behind a trail of awards, Zootopia is sure to scoop up this one as well.
Nate says: The real life lessons that we learn in Zootopia are incredibly applicable to today's world, which is part of the reason this film deserves to win. It is funny, witty, creative, and very relevant.
Ellie says: Kubo and the Two Strings is a story about a one-eyed boy who tells stories using paper, and embarks on a journey to save his family and escape from an evil spirit. This 3D stop-motion animation movie is also the second animated movie to be nominated for best visual effects.
Pedraam says: As much as I enjoyed Zootopia, I have a feeling the Academy will choose its more artistic competitor. As a stop motion enthusiast I may be biased, but Kubo and the Two Strings is far more visually appealing, which gives it a unique advantage, which is also paired with a compelling and creative story.
Maniza: La La Land
Maniza says: Arrival might sneak this award, but it looks like La La Land is sneaking up all the awards this year. The retro scenes and beautiful, bold colors stand out on the big screen, especially against the dark blue sky. Emma Stone's red hair and lips are brighter and more beautiful than ever.
Nate says: Arrival was a beautifully shot and directed film, and even as an underdog has a good shot at an award.
Ellie says: Lion's cinematography was unparallelled, and beautifully captured the story of a man retracing his steps to find his family.
Pedraam says: Perhaps it's the optimist in me, but I think Arrival will end up snagging this award. Both the fascinating roles of light and color, as well as the bold use of fog throughout the movie really made it stand out.
Maniza: La La Land
Ellie: La La Land
Pedraam: La La Land
Maniza says: Surprise, surprise! Damien Chazelle, director of La La Land, is a pretty safe bet for this award. If it were up to me, I'd vote Jenkins for Moonlight. But, La La Land's fun musical numbers and exciting story lines have won the Academy's hearts.
Nate says: Yes, Damien Chazelle has a great shot, but nobody deserves to win more than Moonlight director Barry Jenkins. His film was original, unique, and incredibly powerful. Jenkins has the potential to become the first black director to ever win best picture and he deserves this one too.
Ellie says: Damien Chazelle wrote and directed La La Land, and won a Golden Globe for Best Director and Best Screenplay.
Pedraam says: I spent a while deciding between Damien Chazelle and Barry Jenkins for best director, and it was not an easy decision to make. Ultimately, I feel that Chazelle edges Jenkins out over his ability to direct both a great movie and a great musical, which is no easy task.
Music (Original Score)
Maniza: La La Land
Nate: La La Land
Ellie: La La Land
Pedraam: La La Land
Maniza says: As a musical, it's kind of hard for La La Land not to win this award. The songs in this movie are catchy and touching. Can't help but feel a little emotional whenever I hear a song from this movie. Not going to lie, I've been playing songs from La La Land while writing this.
Nate says: It seems impossible that the only musical up for this award wouldn't win best score. Also not one, but two songs from this movie are up for best song.
Ellie says: There's no question La La Land will win best music with songs like "Another Day of Sun” and "The Fools who Dream.”
Pedraam says: La La Land is the only musical nominated, and an incredibly successful one at that. Will it win best original score? Duh.
Music (Original Song)
Maniza: "City Of Stars,” La La Land
Nate: "City Of Stars,” La La Land
Ellie: "City Of Stars,” La La Land
Pedraam: "City of Stars," La La Land
Maniza says: I've been ragging on La La Land this whole time, but I have got to say, this duet between Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling is adorable. There isn't a whole lot of beats or instruments, but the piano riff is playful and soothing.
Nate says: Yeah, La La Land is pretty much a shoo-in for this award, but watch out for "How Far I'll Go” from Moana.
Ellie says: The best song in the movie with the best music has to win best original song, right?
Pedraam says: This should be an easy win for La La Land, but also a well-deserved one.
Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
Maniza says: Adaptations are difficult, but Moonlight got it right. This powerful story deals with difficult topics such as poverty, drugs, race, and sexuality. The writing manages to convey the same story as the original play by Tarell Alvin McCraney. The dialogue and stage directions allows the audience to become attached to the characters, as well as the story.
Nate says: Moonlight could win the big three: Picture, Directing, and Writing. Wouldn't that be amazing? We can only hope but, to be honest, I only really expect them to snag one or two of these.
Ellie says: Moonlight was based on the play, In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, by Tarell Alvin McCraney. The screenplay was adapted by Barry Jenkins and deserves an oscar for best writing because of the serious subjects it brings to light.
Pedraam says: Moonlight not only effectively adapts the play it was based on, but uses various advantages the medium of film provides to tell the fantastic story.
Writing (Original Screenplay)
Maniza: Manchester by the Sea
Nate: Hell or High Water
Ellie: Manchester by the Sea
Pedraam: Manchester by the Sea
Maniza says: Manchester by the Sea holds a slim lead in this category against La La Land, but I'm taking my chances. This story is heart wrenching and presents powerful topics. The story line is driven by the emotional dialogue and plot.
Nate says: Hell or High Water may be the most undervalued film of the year. It was incredible, witty, original and absolutely deserves recognition. That being said, Manchester by the Sea and The Lobster both have great shots to win as well.
Ellie says: This emotional movie about a man who becomes the guardian of his nephew has incredible writing.
Pedraam says: Manchester by the Sea is simple, effective, and still surprising at times. It manages to successfully tell a deeply emotional story grounded in reality while avoiding the always treacherous Hollywood cliches.
Nate Bodner. I write, I play soccer and I build things for stage crew. Game of Thrones books>T.V show More »
Ellie Williams. More »
Pedraam Faridjoo. I'm just a dude who likes spending time with his dog. More »
Maniza Habib. Hi! My name is Maniza and I'm the 2016-17 managing and news editor! My favorite color is black because it looks good on everyone and I love to dance because anybody can! Also, babies are my favorite kind of people and I love watching The … More »