Not actually a review
Timely Oscar predictions
Put your proverbial blindfolds on for a minute and ponder the contrast of two movies. Movie A impressed critics enough to earn a cumulative score of 83 on Metacritic and scored two Golden Globe nominations. By contrast, Movie B annoyed critics, earning a paltry score of 40 on Metacritic and earning two nominations for the Razzies, which serve as the anti-Oscars and dole out awards for the worst movies and performances of the year.
There always seems to be a movie that racks up nominations but goes home empty-handed.
Okay, blindfolds off. Movie A? 20th Century Women. Movie B? Suicide Squad. What do these two movies have in common? They’re both nominated for a solitary Academy Award and will try to win their respective categories at Sunday’s award ceremony. The moral of the story with the Oscars is that a movie doesn’t have to be excellent to achieve excellence. It doesn’t even have to be good. Heck, it doesn’t even have to be mediocre. It can be downright awful overall. It just has to be good at something, and apparently Suicide Squad earned enough respect to nab a nomination for makeup and hairstyling.
I have so far watched 28 movies that were released in 2016, and I would put Suicide Squad at number 39. That’s not a typo. I’m sure I saw 11 different deodorant commercials that were better. Still, I predict Suicide Squad will win, and 20th Century Women, nominated for original screenplay, will not.
Here are more misguided predictions for this year’s Academy Awards:
The Academy will go gaga for La La: I’m not really going out on a limb here. After all, La La Land tied Titanic and All About Eve for the all-time nomination record with 14. The star-crossed musical will nab best director, best song, best actress, cinematography, and a slew of lesser categories. Will it win best picture? More on that later. In case you are curious, Titanic won 11 awards, and All About Eve took home six.
Arrival will not show up: There always seems to be a movie that racks up nominations but goes home empty-handed. Last year, The Martian found itself with seven nominations but didn’t win any. This year, Arrival enters the weekend with an impressive eight nominations. The movie is really good at a lot of things, but isn’t great at any. Prediction? Eight will become zero. That reminds me of a joke: What did the 0 say to the 8? “Nice belt.”
The ceremony will resemble the Democratic National Convention more than an awards show: Hollywood has never shied away from politics, and President Trump has made his disdain for left-leaning Tinsel Town quite clear. He doesn’t like Alec Baldwin playing him on Saturday Night Live, and he called 20-time Oscar nominee Meryl Streep overrated after she singled him out in a speech at the Golden Globes. Prediction? The number of references to Trump and his policies will reach double digits. White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Trump doesn’t plan on watching the awards. That may be true, but . . .
Chances that President Trump tweets something derogatory about the awards: 100 percent.
August will reign in February: Hollywood may be lukewarm on Trump and his proposed border wall (among other things), but they’re high on Fences, the August Wilson play that became a film and nabbed four nominations, including best picture. While it won’t win the top prize, expect Denzel Washington to win best actor and Viola Davis to triumph in the best supporting actress category.
#OscarsNotAsWhite: The Academy created controversy and elicited angry responses last year when it shut out people of color in all acting categories. This year, there are seven nominees of color, and three will win: the aforementioned Washington and Davis as well as Moonlight’s Mahershala Ali.
La La Land will not win best picture: Hollywood obviously loves this film, and judging by the $135 million-plus in gross earnings so far, so do viewers. Maybe it’s the political climate, maybe it’s voters wanting something heftier than a romantic musical, or maybe it’s just something I ate, but I have a gut feeling that Moonlight will shock viewers and win best picture. Keep in mind that when I was in grade school, I had a strong hunch that Walter Mondale would beat Ronald Reagan in the U.S. presidential election. Mondale lost badly, ending up with 13 out of 538 electoral votes. I just realized, however, that you can’t spell future Monday morning headline “Moonlight Wins Academy” without the letters in “Mondale.” So there’s the story. And I’m sticking to it.