This has probably been the most dramatic and political Oscars in history, which will forever be cemented in the minds of everyone for its notorious Best Picture mix-up: La La Land was mistakenly announced as the Best Picture winner. What the producers of La La Land went through after the mistaken announcement no one should ever have gone through. It was a plain disrespect shown to the La La Land and Moonlight production crews. And, if the mistake was spotted immediately, as the organisers claim, why three La La Land producers, one after another, had all the time in the world to give their three humble and moving acceptance speeches? By allowing such an mix-up, the Academy (that should bear its responsibility alongside PwC) really debased itself. Irrespective, this year, the competition for the coveted Academy Awards was very high. Only in the Best Picture category we have had nine amazing films and each of them could be described as inspiring, moving and thought-provoking. However, I still consider Scorsese’s epic Silence and Amy Adams’s performance in Arrival the biggest snubs at this year’s Oscars. Here, I will comment on the winners in the following categories: Best Picture; Best Actress; Best Actor; Best Supporting Actress; Best Supporting Actor; Best Director; Best Cinematography; Best Animation; Best Foreign Language Film; Best Original Song and Best Original Score.
- Best Picture – Winner: Moonlight (Final Answer!)
…and the winner is – La La Land, no – chaos, no – Moonlight, Moonlight – final answer. With La La Land gaining so much positive publicity prior to the Oscars, it was considered a front-runner. Then, because of the embarrassing envelope mix-up, La La Land tasted its Best Picture victory, if only for some time. A film which “almost” won the Best Picture. Irrespective of the Academy’s political motivations, Moonlight well deserves its win in the Best Picture category. Also, arguably, the film had the importance and depth which La La Land somewhat lacked.
- Best Actress – Winner: Emma Stone (La La Land)
Many people believe this was the Portman/Stone race, and I am genuinely glad for Stone. She did a great job in La La Land. However, my absolute favourite to win was Isabelle Huppert for her performance in Elle. Unlike Stone’s performance in La La Land, Huppert’s performance in Elle was more versatile, and her role of a rape victim was a very difficult one to pull off, given both the controversial context of the role and all the complex inner psychology of her character. Also, the fact that Amy Adams was not even among the nominees is just criminal. Full stop.
- Best Actor – Winner: Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea)
Other nominees: Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge), Denzel Washington (Fences), Ryan Gosling (La La Land) and Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic).
This year, the competition in this category was particularly fierce. It is very hard to choose and compare the different performances here. For me, though, it was more of Washington vs. Affleck here, although Garfield’s rendition of a quiet war hero who never fired a bullet was also exceptional and moving. Come to think of it, Garfield should have been blessed with a double nomination here – for Silence as well (La La Land songs had their double nomination in the original song category, so it must be considered fair). I am generally pleased that Affleck won, even though I feel sorry for Washington. His performance in Fences was exceptional.
- Best Supporting Actress – Winner: Viola Davis (Fences)
Other nominees: Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea), Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures), Naomie Harris (Moonlight) and Nicole Kidman (Lion).
Viola Davis was my favourite to win. Her performance in Fences was so mind-blowing that she wins hands down. Recently, she has also won a Best Supporting Actress Award for Fences at the BAFTAS (see my comments here).
- Best Supporting Actor – Winner: Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)
Other nominees: Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals), Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water), Dev Patel (Lion) and Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea).
Hearing of Mahershala Ali’s win, one cannot help but wonder whether this was really part of a response to the last year’s “Oscars-are-so-white” criticism. Still, Ali gave a worthy of an Oscar performance. This was his first Oscar nomination, and his first win. My favourite to win in this category was Michael Shannon for Nocturnal Animals. Even though it was right that Heath Ledger won his Oscar posthumously for the Dark Knight in 2009, Shannon’s performance in Revolutionary Road was nothing short of great too.
- Best Director – Winner: Damien Chazelle (La La Land)
Other nominees: Hacksaw Ridge (Mel Gibson), Denis Villeneuve (Arrival), Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea) and Barry Jenkins (Moonlight).
Damien Chazelle for La La Land is probably the one who deserved the Award the most here, and I am glad for his win. By winning his Oscar, Chazelle becomes the youngest director in the Oscar history to win the Award, all the more special for him. However, my favourite director to win was Mel Gibson for Hacksaw Ridge, because it appears that Gibson performed a near-miracle on that film: perfect directional choices are what partly made this film so good. I am impressed by the fact that the film watches so “fluently”. Also, the fact that Scorsese for Silence is not even found among the nominees is just plainly wrong.
- Best Cinematography – Winner: La La Land (Linus Sandgren)
Other nominees: Silence, Arrival, Moonlight and Lion.
I had two favourites here: La La Land and Silence. Silence’s cinematography was very impressive, and, given that it was unjustly ignored in all the other categories, I thought it would, at the very least, be recognised in this category. Still, La La Land is a very deserving winner. And, all things considered, given powers, I would personally had nominated and let The Handmaiden win right there. That film just had one of the most beautiful visuals of the year.
- Best Animation – Winner: Zootopia
Other nominees: The Red Turtle, Kubo and the Two Strings, My Life as a Zucchini and Moana.
What? Zootopia – the best animation of 2016? This cannot be right. Although I gave Zootopia the highest score in my review, all things considered, Kubo and the Two Strings was the strongest animation on the list. I cannot help but feel that political considerations played a role in choosing the winner here, because Zootopia is all about combating stereotypes and discrimination. For me, though, Shinkai’s Your Name will always remain the best animation of 2016.
- Best Foreign-Language Film – Winner: The Salesman (Iran)
Other nominees: Toni Erdmann (Germany), A Man Called Ove (Sweden), Tanna (Australia) and Land of Mine (Denmark).
In this category, I think there was only the real competition between Toni Erdmann and The Salesman. I am pleased that The Salesman won, even though the decision could have been – again – political. For me, though, The Handmaiden was the best foreign-language film of 2016.
- Best Original Song – Winner: La La Land (City of Stars)
Other nominees: La La Land (Audition), Trolls (Can’t Stop the Feeling), Jim: The James Foley Story (The Empty Chair) and Moana (How Far I’II Go).
This is a predictable win for La La Land. I thought it would be City of Stars, rather that Audition, largely because City of Stars is more in tune with the purpose of the film. Trolls’s song was also a worthy contender.
- Best Original Score – Winner: La La Land (Justin Hurwitz)
Other nominees: Jackie, Lion, Moonlight and Passengers.
Yes! Justin Hurwitz’s score in La La Land was one of the best things I have ever heard, and he is a just winner of his Oscar.
Regarding other wins, I am very pleased that Hacksaw Ridge at least got its Best Sound Mixing and Best Film Editing Awards, but I am also very disappointed that the documentary “13th” did not win the Best Documentary Award, because it was clearly the best documentary among the nominees. I am also a tad disappointed that The Lobster did not win an Award for the Best Original Screenplay.