The Oscars is no stranger to controversy regarding diversity. From the 12th Academy awards, which took place in 1940 & enforced a strict no-blacks policy, the annual awards show has time and time again faced criticism for its representation or lack thereof when it comes to minorities. However, 2015 & 2016 was the straw that broke the camels back as no African-Americans were nominated for an award, a move that led to comedian and host Chris Rock starting last years proceedings by introducing everyone to the “White People’s Choice Awards”.
Flash forward to now & the Oscars finds itself doing what few ceremonies seem to do by actively taking the criticism onboard. The governing board, which previously consisted of a large number of white members, is now committed to doubling the number of women and diverse members by 2020. In addition to that, they have launched an “ambitious, global campaign to identify and recruit qualified new members who represent greater diversity”.
All eyes were on the committee as the nominees for the 89th Academy Awards were announced and those who furiously lead the #OscarsSoWhite brigade were not disappointed: Seven minority actors were recognised including a record-breaking 6 black actors. It’s no surprise to anyone that this will be the focus of this year’s ceremony so expect to see various speeches discussing this new inclusiveness as well as the ever controversial Trump having a few shots taken at him.
So what else can we expect from this year’s awards? Will La La Land strut away with all of its 14 nominations or will it fox trot home with its tail between its legs? Will all this diversity be pointless with there being no POC winners? Here’s a few things that you can expect to see occur this Sunday!
Manchester By The Sea Sweeps Up An Oscar
While it may not gets it grubby hands on the coveted Best Picture, Kenneth Lonergan’s emotive epic is sure not to go home empty-handed. Sure, it may be up for 6 nominations including Best Director but the real star of Manchester By The Sea isn’t how it looks but the performance by Casey Affleck.
Channeling all the different stages of grief into a character who simultaneously must deal with loss while a tragedy resurfaces, Affleck brings what could have been just a mere sombre performance to life, showcasing his capabilities that have had all those who have watched the film rushing for the tissues. He may be up against some solid competition but other than Denzel Washington’s remarkable Fences performance, Affleck is sure to take home his very first award.
Oscars History Will Be Made
The winner for Best Picture may be a separate enigma entirely, which we’ll touch upon soon, but one thing is for sure: Barry Jenkins wholeheartedly deserves to win this award and with the Oscars loving to cause a shock, we may be about to see our first black winner for Best Director. It’s crazy that it’s not happened sooner, many assume that it had with 12 Years A Slave though Steve McQueen only got a nod for his work, and Moonlight being a film centred around change and discovery seems to be the most apt choice.
With amazing visuals and evocative performances left, right and centre, Jenkins has made what very well could be his magnum opus and that alone should be reason enough to award him with a Directing Oscar.
La La Land Dances Off (But Not Flawlessly)
La La Land has been the talk of the town since it released last month and it’s no real surprise why. Starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, Damien Chazelle showed his music finesse once again with this musical tour de force, acting as one big love letter to the silver screen and Jazz. This will be sure to see La La Land take home awards for its music with two nominations in the best original song category. Ignore the Wall Street Journal though: despite how beautifully shot and foot taperingly catchy La La Land may be, it won’t be taking home Best Picture come Sunday night.
Using previous winners of different award shows isn’t much help when indicating who will win the ultimate prize, since 2000 50% of films that have won a Bafta for best Film have went onto win Best Picture, but what is comes in the form of a helpful little application called Google Trends. Successfully predicting last year’s winner Spotlight, interest during the week of the Oscar’s usually dictates who will win, expect to see either the Sci-fi epic Arrival or coming of age masterpiece Moonlight take home the gold.
Diversity Shakes Up With Some Unexpected Winners
You knew it was only a matter of time until we brought up the diversity chat again. While the best picture and actor winners will be white, no doubt enraging social media once again, expect to see a lot of unfamiliar faces make their way on stage.
Viola Davis is a sure-fire winner for her performance in Fences but if by some surprise that Davis is snubbed, you can be comforted knowing that the most likely winner of the category will be black as both Naomi Harris and Octavia Spencer are up for Best Supporting Actress. For the boys, Mahershala Ali is the best bet to run away with the Best Supporting Actor award for his performance in Moonlight. Having shown his worth in countless other films, Ali gave a career defining performance in Moonlight so it’ll be not only a shock but a shame if anyone other than him appears on stage to collect the accolade.
In addition, expect a best Adapted Screenplay win for Fences along with Ava DuVernay clinching an Academy Award with 13th for Best Documentary Feature.