Last year I thought I had set the seer bar too high when I correctly prognosticated 29 of the 33 Oscar nominees in all the acting categories as well as director and best picture.
I stand corrected.
Perfection reigned in four of the categories—best supporting actress, lead actor, director and best picture—and in sum I correctly predicted an astounding 31 of the 34 nominees for a robust 91 percent success rate. And if you take into account my ‘sleeper’ and ‘dark horse’ selections in the lead actress category I missed just one of the 34 nominees.
Since best picture is Oscar’s crown jewel, I of course also consider it the most important. After the Academy changed its voting procedures a few years ago, an additional challenge is to not only name the premier films but also the exact number that made the cut.
I did both.
But I’m most pleased about foreseeing the five auteurs so honored. Among such luminaries in the mix were Clint Eastwood and Martin Scorsese as well as the helmers of fellow best picture nominees Fences (Denzel Washington), Hidden Figures (Theodore Melfi), Hell or High Water (David Mackenzie) and Lion (Garth Davis). Yet I chose to name the talented and controversial Mel Gibson for Hacksaw Ridge over the beloved Washington and Scorsese.
The two categories where I failed to run the table were best supporting actor and lead actress. In my penultimate draft, I had my sleeper selection as Michael Shannon and my dark horse as his Nocturnal Animals castmate Aaron Taylor-Johnson. Considering it a coin flip between the two fantastic performances I reluctantly decided to hedge my proverbial bet by upgrading Taylor-Johnson to my sleeper and inserting Hell or High Water’s Ben Foster as my dark horse. Shannon was a worthy addition to the nominees but I maintain Hugh Grant was the heart of Florence Foster Jenkins and much more deserving than a certain someone.
Speaking of whom . . . Meryl Streep’s inclusion among the lead actress nominees is a travesty. Amy Adams in Arrival was a revelation. She is the biggest snub in an acting category since David Oyelowo was robbed two years ago for his spot-on portrayal of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma.
Coincidentally that year also saw Streep take a worthy supporting actress nod away from either Rene Russo (Nightcrawler), Jessica Chastain (A Most Violent Year), Tilda Swinton (Snowpiercer), Imelda Staunton (Pride) or Emily Blunt (far better in the same musical, Into the Woods).
As for the other actress nominated, Loving’s Ruth Negga, I haven’t an unkind word to say. I only thought the Academy would recognize four-time nominee Annette Bening—best supporting actress nod for The Grifters in 1991 and best actress nominee for American Beauty (2000), Being Julia (2005) and The Kids Are All Right (2011)—for her remarkable turn in 20th Century Women.
In more good news my eight other predicted winners in categories ranging from best animated feature to best cinematography (and including documentary feature, foreign film, original score and song, and screenplays, original and adapted), all were nominated.
Combined with my favorite movie of the year, La La Land, receiving a record-tying 14 nominations (All About Eve, Titanic) I couldn’t be more pleased with how the 89th Academy Awards are shaping up!