The morning after the 89th Academy Awards, I awoke with little knowledge of the night’s proceedings. I hadn’t been watching (the result of not owning a TV), and I went to sleep well before the evening was over. I checked my phone to find out the winners, and the Oscars’ website listed all of the winners from the previous night. This was my only connection to the night’s events, and I didn’t find out about the Best Picture snafu until my lunch hour.
First, briefly, in response to that snafu, I can’t imagine the feeling of winning, but then not actually winning, and having to give the trophies back (for those who don’t know – spoiler alert – La La Land was initially given the award, but Moonlight had actually won). It’s hard to imagine that something as big as that could be screwed up, especially after hearing the stat cited that the Oscars ceremony is the second most watched program in the U.S. behind the Super Bowl. The exchange of awards was handled gracefully by the La La Land cast and crew, but it’s unfortunate that it happened at all. Personally, I would have picked La La Land over Moonlight, but looking at my picks, a lot of things I would have picked didn’t go very far.
As for how my picks stacked up to the actual winners, they didn’t do very well. I only chose two of the winners from the seven categories I focused on. Here were my picks, the actual winners, and my thoughts (again, with a SPOILER ALERT warning):
My Pick: Lion
I expected that Lion wouldn’t win Best Picture, but of the nine nominees, Lion was my favorite. Moonlight was not close to the top of my list (as previously mentioned, I would have picked La La Land over Moonlight). Looking back after a longer period of time, I still feel like Moonlight was fairly disjointed, and for me the main character’s change seemed very sudden.
My Pick: Andrew Garfield
Winner: Casey Affleck
I also knew (and even wrote in my pre-Oscars post) that Andrew Garfield likely wouldn’t win. Even when making the pick, I wasn’t sure about picking him as my favorite. Casey Affleck was not my runner-up choice for this category. As mentioned in a previous post, even though I would have reacted very similarly to Affleck’s character, I didn’t buy his performance or the movie.
My Pick: Emma Stone
Winner: Emma Stone
My correct pick here benefitted from the fact that Emma Stone’s role was the only one I’ve seen. I did enjoy her performance in La La Land, but I don’t know if my pick would have been different after seeing the other movies.
My Pick: Dev Patel
Winner: Mahershala Ali
I will say here that I did like Mahershala Ali in Moonlight; he was probably my favorite part of that movie. My difficulty was that he was in less than half of the movie. Dev Patel was also in roughly half of Lion, but it seemed that the difference was that he was playing the main character (also, in case you couldn’t tell, I really liked Lion). Ali probably would have been my second choice here.
My Pick: Octavia Spencer
Winner: Viola Davis
Viola Davis was my second pick in this category. She had a very strong scene near the end of Fences, but I felt that Octavia Spencer’s role conveyed more about the time period of the movie, her drive, and connected more to the current time period.
My Pick: Lion
Winner: La La Land
Had I been placing money on this bet, I would have gone with La La Land. It was my second choice in this category. The reason I didn’t pick it outright was because there were a number of shots where it felt like the camera unintentionally couldn’t stay focused when panning. If not for those moments, I would have gone with it over Lion. La La Land had an incredible amount of great shots of Los Angeles, as well as of the more dreamland-type scenes, that very nearly propelled it to my choice.
My Pick: La La Land
Winner: La La Land
Even if Lion had been nominated in this category, I still would have chosen La La Land. La La Land was beautifully directed, moving in and out of the songs and the reality/dreamland sequences smoothly, telling the story wonderfully, and digging deeper as the movie went on. I liked the movie more as it got closer to the end, and the final sequence was beautiful, emotional, and heartbreaking. As I write this, my wish that it had won Best Picture gets stronger.
Those are my thoughts from the categories I’d been focused on. As for other thoughts:
-It’s hard to think of Suicide Squad as an Oscar winner in any category. It did win in a category with only three nominees, but of anything it could have won for, make-up makes the most sense.
-I only saw two of the animated features, which is why I didn’t add it to the above categories. With that said, I liked Moana over Zootopia. While it may be difficult to imagine me saying that it was too straightforward when I picked Lion as Best Picture, I felt there could have been much more nuance in the message. The music in Moana was also fantastic.
-Speaking of music, City of Stars shouldn’t have won for song. It wasn’t even the best song in that movie, including the other La La Land song that was nominated. I probably would have chosen How Far I’ll Go from Moana.
-I wish I would have seen more of the documentaries from either category (Feature and Short Subject). I only saw one of the ten spanning both categories (13th). Also, I realize that the OJ Simpson documentary was released in theaters, but something 8 hours long seems like more of a mini-series than a feature film.
-Is anyone surprised that the musical won original score?
-Piper, winner of the Short Film, Animated, would have been my pick. I don’t even remember if I’ve seen any of the other ones, but Piper stuck in my mind.
-I wish I’d already seen Jungle Book – it’s in my Netflix queue.
Those are my thoughts. Not much was surprising from the buzz I’d been seeing around the expected winners, though I do wish some of my picks had fared better. I look forward to seeing what next year’s ceremony has to bring.