Marie Asner’s Academy Award Picks for 2016 Films---The Oscars 

2016 began in a mediocre way and stayed that way until May when the super summer films began and then we had a memorable movie come along every few weeks.  This is unheard of and the holiday season had movie-goers deciding to spend their money on movie tickets or presents---or both. As for the 2015 controversy over the amount of African-American  performers/films available for nominations, don't worry.  This has been a bountiful year and the Academy Awards presentations will be Sunday, February 26, 2017. 

A question can be posed here: what to do with younger actors who give tremendous performances but are seemingly out ranked because of age.  I refer to Sunny Pawar for “Lion”  and Lewis MacDougall for “A Monster Calls.“ In years to come, consider a special Oscar for youth? 

Don't forget, when the Oscar nominations are out, movies that are playing will stay and movies that have gone will come back for a short time. Before starting your income tax, you can lose yourself in a good movie or two or three. Below are the nominations for the 13 major categories and my comments about who was missed. What do you think? Your choices?


ARRIVAL---Earth is invaded with a heart.
FENCES---Broadway stage and now the screen, no fencing on this script.
HACKSAW RIDGE---Another viewpoint on how to find a way to fight a war.
HELL OR HIGH WATER---The Old West still lives in some parts of the country
HIDDEN FIGURES---Math takes on new meaning in the space age
LA LA LAND---Back to Old Hollywood in a musical way
MANCHESTER BY THE SEA---Grief comes in many forms
MOONLIGHT---Growing up at a cost 
LION---A view of adoption, growing up in another culture and finding your birth mother

My Choice: Tough call, I favor "Manchester By The Sea" but I think "La La Land" will win 

What Happened To?  “A Monster Calls” which is yet another way of handling grief. “Sully” and a viewpoint of heroism.  “Jackie” and the question is “Where were you that day?” 


DENIS VILLENEUVE for”Arrival” and showing that many special effects are not needed in telling a meaningful story
MEL GIBSON for “Hacksaw Ridge” and war is hell
DAMIEN  CHAZELLE and “La La Land” and music at your fingertips and toes
KENNETH LONERGSAN and “Manchester By The Sea” and a subtle and slower way of grieving
BARRY JENKINS for “Moonlight” and a solemn way of showing how painful growing up can be 

My Choice: Damien Chazelle for "La La Land" 

 What Happened To:
Garth Davis for “Lion” and the poverty of one country compared to the quietness of another. Pablo Larrain for “Jackie” and the remembrances of that time in American history. Clint Eastwood for “Sully” and heroism on the water, plus “David Mackenzie for “Hell and High Water” and the Old; West in modern times. Denzel Washington for “Fences.” 

Best Actor 

CASEY AFFLECK for “Manchester by the Sea” and dealing with deep, deep grief
ANDREW GARFIELD for “Hacksaw Ridge” and the former “Spider-Man” goes to war with a new purpose
RYAN GOSLING for “LA La Land” and playing those keys with dreams on the ivory
VIGGIO MORTENSEN for “Captain Fantastic” and living in the wilderness is not always healthy
DENZEL WASHINGTON for “Fences” and both acting and directing was double duty 

My Choice: Denzel Washington for "Fences" 

What Happened To:
Chris Pine for “Hell and High Water” being far away from Captain Kirk. This  poses a question? Also, the youthful Sunny Pawar for the first half of “Lion” and Lewis MacDougall for “A Monster Calls” and dealing with grief which is a main theme in many of this year’s films. 

Best  Supporting Actor 

MAHERSHALA ALI for “Moonlight” and trying to emotionally help someone in need
JEFF BRIDGES for “Hell or High Water” with being in law enforcement and a bit of humor.
LUCAS HEDGES for “Manchester By The Sea” showing that a teen must grow up fast.
DEV PATEL for “Lion” has dealing with different cultures and family members a maze to uncover.
MICHAEL SHANNON in “Nocturnal Animals” deals with personalities that clash. 

My Choice: Dev Patel for "Lion" 

What Happened To:
Hugh Grant as the second banana in “Florence Foster Jenkins” or Tom Bennett for a study in mannerisms in “Love & Friendship” or Tom Wilkinson for the inquisitive man in “Denial.” Stephen McKinley Henderson for “Fences.” 

Best  Actress 

ISABELLE HUPPERT for “Elle”---Surviving rape and revenge is ahead
RUTH NEGGA for “Loving”---The question of bi-racial marriage in the Old South
NATALIE PORTMAN for “Jackie”---Dealing with grief and planning that special funeral
EMMA STONE for “La LA Land”---Dancing in your dreams
MERYL STREEP for “Florence Foster Jenkins”---Trying how to show your true talent and practicing the wrong note 

My Choice: Natalie Portman for "Jackie" 

What Happened To: 
Amy Adams for “Arrival” and trying to read the mind of an alien or Emily Blunt” for “The Girl On A Train” and the mysteries of the mind. Kate Beckinsale for “Love & Friendship.” 

Best Supporting Actress 

VIOLA DAVIS for “Fences” and being a housewife with an ill-tempered husband
NAOMIE HARRIS for “Moonlight” and trying to bet the consequences
NICOLE KIDMAN for “Lion” and raising two sons from different cultures
OCTAVIA SPENCER for “Hidden Figures” and trying to work in a man’s world without pity
MICHELLE WILLIAMS for “Manchester By The Sea” and not a long performance, but it has its point. 

My Choice: Viola Davis for "Fences" 

What Happened To:
Sigourney Weaver for “A Monster Calls” and being a grandmother without emotion or Lily Gladstone for “Certain Women” and life in Montana. Plus, Haley Bennett and “Girl On A Train” and finding the truth. 

Best Animated Feature Film

KUBO AND THD TWO STRINGS and the beauty of the exotic East
MOANA and life in the South Pacific years ago and traveling for a cause
MY LIFE AS A ZUCCHINI and vegetables can be fun
THE RED TURTLE done without a word and beautiful everywhere
ZOOTOPIA and how to govern even though you are a rabbit 

My Choice:  "Zootopia" 

What Happened To:
“Finding Dory” and the love of family, but box office doesn't always count.
“”Trolls” that turned out be a charmer. 

Best Documentary Feature 

FIRE AT SEA is really refugees at sea
I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO about the James Baldwin unfinished novel
LIFE ANIMATED about how Disney films helps a boy with autism 
O.J.: MADE IN AMERICA about the trial of decades
13TH and a study of the U.S. prison system 

My Choice:  "O.J.: Made In America 

What Happened To?
“The Eagle Huntress” and catching and training an eagle from great heights or “Dark Horse” and finding the horse you thought was average is a champion.

Best Foreign Language Film 

LAND OF MINE (Denmark) and patriotism
A MAN CALLED OVE (Sweden) or how to become nicer than expected
THE SALESMAN (Iran) and living while being aware
TANNA (Australia) and marrying out of your culture
TONI ERDMANN (Germany) and going in disguise to check up on your relatives. 

My Choice: "Toni Erdmann" 

What Happened To?
“The Red Turtle,“ a Japanese anime film, but without dialogue, so which category?  It ended up in animation. 

Best Original Screenplay

HELL OR HIGH WATER by Taylor Sheridan for crime in the West
LA LA Land by Damien Chezelle for making audiences musically aware
THE LOBSTER by Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthimis Filippou for originality in animals
MANCHESTER BY THE SEA by Kenneth Lonergan and lifelong grief
20th CENTURY WOMEN by Mike Mills and how to raise a child 

My Choice:  "La La Land" 

What Happened To?
Guy Hibbert for the tense “Eye In The Sky”  

Best Adapted Screenplay

ARRIVAL by Eric Heisserer for sudden appearance of aliens
FENCES by August Wilson from his play which will go on and on
HIDDEN FIGURES by Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi about the intricacies of math
LION by Luke Davies and life in two cultures in today’s age
MOONLIGHT by  Barry Jenkins and growing up emotionally 

My Choice: "Fences"  

What Happened To?
Patrick Ness for “A Monster Calls” and the childhood emptiness of grief.
Marc Haines and Chris Butler for the beauty of “Kubo and the Two Strings.”
Todd Komarnicki for “Sully.”
Noah Opperheim for “Jackie.”
Luke Davies for “Lion”
Kelly Reichardt for "Certain Women"

Best Original Score

JACKIE by Mica Levi and the mood of the times
LA LA Land by Justin Hurwitz has feet tapping
LION by Dustin O’Hallaron and Hauschka with the richness of the Far East
MOONLIGHT by Nicholas Britell with a sadness of its own and a beat
PASSENGERS by  Thomas Newman for space and time 

My Choice: "Lion" by Halloran and Haushka, but "La La Land" will probably win here 

What Happened To?
“Fences” by Marcelo Zavros
“Hacksaw Ridge” by Rupert Gregson-Williams
“20th Century Women” by Roger Neill
“Certain Women” by Jeff Grace
“A Monster Calls” by Fernando Velazquez 

Best Original Song 

AUDITION from “La La Land” (the difficulty of trying your hardest)
CAN’T STOP THE FEELING from “Trolls” (yes, they can sing)
CITY OF STARS from “LA La Land” and it tells it all
THE EMPTY CHAIR from “Jim: The James Foley Story” shows poignancy
HOW FAR I’LL GO from “Moana” and the meaning of extended family 

My Choice: "City of Stars" 

What Happened To?
“Never Give Up” by Sia Furler and Greg Kurstin (“Lion”)
“Tear Up This Town” by Tim Rice-Oxley (“A Monster Calls”)
“Runnin'” by Pharrell Williams (“Hidden Figures”)
“Flying Home” by Clint Eastwood and Tierney Sutton (“Sully”) 


Movies are great entertainment. Enjoy this year of film.


Copyright 2017 Marie Asner