Nick’s Oscar Picks

I can’t believe I’ve been publishing these predictions for 15 years! Thanks for joining me once again on this annual roller coaster breaking down and elevating up the year’s finest films. During my tenure, no previous Oscar race has been this wide open. Without a universally beloved or truly great film—last year had both La La Land and Moonlight dominating award shows and bathing in accolades—there are a handful of movies that could capture the top prize.

After The Dark Knight failed to garner a best picture nod, the Academy expanded the number of eligible films from five to anywhere between five and 10. Since 2009, it’s selected 10, 10, 9, 9, 9, 8, 8 and 9 films as best picture nominees. But given the topsy-turvy nature of the award season and so many disparate films, I think they name 10 for the first time in seven years.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Lady Bird lead the proverbial pack but don’t sleep on two horror films, The Shape of Water and Get Out, to put a fright into the frontrunners. I also can’t see Call Me By Your Name or Dunkirk failing to top many Academy members’ ballots. That leaves four spots for a pair of tragicomedies—The Big Sick and I, Tonya—snagging spots and the definition of a prestige picture, The Post, rightfully being honored.

Which leads us to that final nomination. The Netflix-distributed Mudbound deserves it but many older voters frown upon up ending the staid (if glorious) see-a-movie-in-the-theater-paradigm. That’s why the last slot will go to The Florida Project, the second entry spotlighting class disparity in America.

Sadly this leaves one of my favorite films, Molly’s Game, out of the running. Ditto for the undervalued Darkest Hour, the terrific Wind River and both Wonder Woman and The Last Jedi.

Please check back later this week for Oscar snubs and surprises and as the red carpet begins to be unfurled in anticipation of the 90th Academy Awards, I’ll recap the year in film via my tweets—last year’s reviews: ‘The First Sixteen’, ‘The Second Quarter’, ‘Penultimate Pictures’, ‘The Final Films’—leading up to my favorite annual post.

The Year in Movies allows me to opine on such grandiloquent life-changing matters as the oft-confusing ‘Best Movie That Made the Most Amount of Money’ and ‘Worst Movie That Made the Least Amount of Money’ and my sagacious naming of the next ‘it’ actress, actor, and director. I also award the ‘Movie Quote of the Year’ and reveal the five worst and 11 best films of 2017. A can’t miss!

But enough talk. Below—made by myself alone, sans the assistance of any web trolling or cheat sheets—please find my uncannily accurate 15th annual Academy Award predictions.

An apéritif:

Animated: Coco
Cinematography: Blade Runner 2049
Documentary: Jane
Foreign: A Fantastic Woman
Original Score: The Shape of Water
Original Song: ‘Remember Me’, Coco
Screenplay (original): Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Screenplay (adapted): Call Me By Your Name

And now, without further ado, the nominees are . . . :

Supporting Actress:

Allison Janney, I, Tonya
Holly Hunter, The Big Sick
Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
Mary J. Blige, Mudbound
Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water

Sleeper: Hong Chau, Downsizing
Dark Horse: Leslie Manville, The Phantom Thread

Supporting Actor:

Armie Hammer, Call Me By Your Name
Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World
Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water
Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project

Sleeper: Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Dark Horse: Michael Stuhlbarg, Call Me By Your Name

Lead Actress:

Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Margot Robbie, I, Tonya
Meryl Street, The Post
Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
Saorise Ronan, Lady Bird

Sleeper: Jessica Chastain, Molly’s Game
Dark Horse: Annette Benning, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool

Lead Actor:

Daniel Day-Lewis, The Phantom Thread
Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out
Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
James Franco, The Disaster Artist
Timothée Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name

Sleeper: Tom Hanks, The Post
Dark Horse: Jake Gyllenhaal, Stronger

Best Director:

Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water
Jordan Peele, Get Out
Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Sleeper: Steven Spielberg, The Post
Dark Horse: Luca Guadagnino, Call Me By Your Name

Best Picture:

The Big Sick
Call Me By Your Name
The Florida Project
Get Out
I, Tonya
Lady Bird
The Post
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

And the Oscar goes to . . .

Supporting Actress: Allison Janney
Supporting Actor: Sam Rockwell
Lead Actress: Frances McDormand
Lead Actor: Gary Oldman
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Picture: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

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Are You Ready for Some . . . Brett Favre?!

With all the talk about who will replace Jon Gruden in the Monday Night Football booth, one name is glaringly absent: Brett Favre. He should be ESPN’s top target. He’s a bigger name than Gruden—enjoying 100 percent name recognition by even the most casual sports fans—and would be a welcome tonic to Gruden’s oft off-putting lovefest with any potential employer or charge.

And it would be very appealing to the Hall of Famer and former Green Bay Packers quarterback as well, putting him back in the limelight that I’m sure he has sorely missed. Ever the showman and strategist, the ole gunslinger likely could see such a move as a step toward his goal of one day becoming a head coach or, more likely, a general manager. Plus it would come with quite the financial windfall. And how great will it be to hear #4 call #12’s games at Lambeau Field? Now that is must-see TV!

One Foot Equals . . .

Very pleased with the new college football playoff format. Although I’m usually the guy who only watches Wisconsin football, this new system—aided immensely by the fair and practical-minded approach from the playoff committee, which nicely mirrors their basketball counterparts—has produced three straight excellent national championship tilts.

One rule that needs to change immediately—and one I’ve been baffled by my entire life—is a player being ruled down if he touches the turf, even if there is no one remotely close to him. What’s the rationale behind it? Just one foot in for a catch makes perfect sense as most of those who play on Saturday don’t have the skill set that Sunday’s talented athletes do.

But why are you penalized for making a diving catch? Or falling on your own when you could easily get up and score a touchdown? It has nothing to do with talent. And I certainly don’t see any way it makes the game safer. Can someone please explain this arcane and asinine rule?

The Calm Before the Storm

Zooming through my Entertainment Weekly subscription—I finally finished the massive Fall TV Preview and The Walking Dead issue—it is fascinating to read references to and articles about Kevin Spacey and Louis C.K. knowing now what we didn’t (or, more likely, couldn’t be safely reported) then. The Harvey Weinstein tsunami is about to destroy many careers, so much so reading about pop culture now—about back then—seems like it all takes place in a much simpler and friendlier time.

Which, of course, it doesn’t.

For those of you scoring at home, I’m currently more than halfway through the Stranger Things edition (October 6, 2018, issue #1148).

When My Daughter Waved to Steven Spielberg

When you are a parent you are always excited when your little boy or girl does something new. This latest incarnation—it happened on Sunday at the Golden Globes—was quite unexpected:

At The Movies

Last Three Seen: I, Tonya, All the Money in the World, Molly’s Game

Next to Watch: The Shape of Water, Lady Bird, Hostiles

Pop Culture Update

PTI: Four episodes back. Looking forward to see how brutally Michael Wilbon buries the Kansas City Chiefs after their epic collapse at home against the Tennessee Titans.

The Americans: Methodically working our way through a fantastic season five. Last watched: Episode 4, ‘What’s the Matter with Kansas’. Nine more to enjoy before the last season premieres on March 28.

Detroit Red Wings: Just finished the resounding bounce-back 5-1 win over hockey’s best team, the Winnipeg Jets. Great recovery from two shellackings by Les Habitants. With a few days off until their next tilt against the St. Louis Blues on December 9, I’m a mere 13 games behind as I try to get caught up before the Olympics start and certainly before Detroit comes here to Washington on Sunday, February 11.


If you are enjoying my meandering and ramblings, please follow me on Twitter for the latest movie reviews and hilarious things my wonderful wife says!

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The Year in Fantasy Football

And so ends one of the greatest fantasy football seasons I’ve ever enjoyed. Four titles, one oh-so-close second place finish (damn you Todd Gurley!) and two third place booty earned. I finished in the money in seven of my 11 leagues, making the playoffs in eight. Of the three I missed, two were helmed by Aaron Rodgers and the other I had the fourth most points but seemingly no luck. Plus in two I was the defending champ, which always soothes any lingering pain from a season gone awry.

Even better: My regular season record—85-76, a .528 winning percentage—paled compared to my scintillating 15-4 (.789) postseason mark.

Below the many highlights from the year gone by and bright future in keeper leagues ahead.

Team of the Year

It’s a treat to choose from so many squads for this prestigious award. And while all four of my championship squads deserve proper dap, I have to single out two: Brc that hadn’t won Title Town since 2004 and TR’s Peepers who triumphed for the first time in its fifth year in Friends of Jason Biggs.

Joining a new fantasy league nearly always comes with a steep learning curve, especially when it is populated by other owners who have been in the league from the beginning. Add to the fact that it was my first foray into an auction format and it’s also a dynasty league and I definitely had my work cut out for me. In my first four years I made the playoffs (top six of 12) in three, but never won any money until last season when I won the third place tilt. So securing a first-round bye and taking home the title was very rewarding!

Brc’s ascent to greatness followed a diametrically opposite path. I’ve been running Title Town since 2004 and this is the first championship I’ve won since that inaugural season. It is always my last draft each year and I was very keen to finally have David Johnson on a team. Lo and behold I got the number one pick and I eagerly scooped him up. He ended up not even playing an entire game for me yet by the time the postseason rolled around my running backs were perfect for this PPR league: Christian McCaffrey, Dion Lewis, Duke Johnson and Alvin Kamara.

In the playoffs, Duke Johnson ended up on the bench but picking him off waivers before Week 4 changed this squad’s entire trajectory. In the first three games, all losses, I averaged 111.33 points. After adding Johnson, that point-per-game total shot up to 141.93 and I went 12-2 in the last 14 contests, including the playoffs. In that trio of postseason tilts Brc posted 153, 155 and 157 points in Weeks 15-17.

Game of the Year

A consummate team effort overcomes the ridiculousness of Todd Gurley to win the crown (and a hefty pot)!

The last few moments of the Week 16 Raiders-Eagles Monday Night Football contest were the most exciting minutes of the entire fantasy campaign. With one title already secured, I was gunning for two more. And Zach Ertz was key. Thanks to the vulturing of a sure Le’Veon Bell one yard touchdown by a Pittsburgh Steelers fullback who need not be named, I needed Ertz to score Curly’s Cadre 11 points but not too many that TR’s Peepers fell to Leroy Brown in my other league.

In a perfect world, he would have gotten 23 more yards receiving (finishing with 104) that would have allowed me to prevail 101.13-101.12 in the St Kilda Fantasy Football league and also eke out a 115.76-113.60 victory in Friends of Jason Biggs. That said, if I had to win only one it definitely was the one I did—at today’s current AUD to USD exchange rate it was a $305 difference in prize money. Not insubstantial.

(Non-Playoff) Game of the Year

Thanks to a rule change allowing players now to be picked up before their individual games—no longer is everyone put on waivers at 1 p.m. Eastern on Sundays—I added Kansas City Chiefs placekicker Harrison Butker literally seconds . . .

. . . before Sunday Night Football kicked off. (Thinking I previously had no chance to win the matchup, I wanted to preserve a coveted roster spot.) All Butker did was put up a ridiculous 21 points to pull out a very unlikely victory:

Best Draft

Have to go with my most important league, Lambeau Field. Hours before the draft began I got back into the first round (after trading my top selection for Rob Gronkowski the previous season) by trading picks two, three and six for first, 15th and 16th round selections. There I very happily selected Cincinnati Bengals rookie running back Joe Mixon. While not great or all that consistent this season, I have high hopes for him going forward. I got another top target, newcomer wideout Corey Davis, in the tenth round and then snagged all-everything New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara in the 15th and Philadelphia Eagles signal caller Carson Wentz with my final selection with the next pick. But it may have been my choice in the 12th round that played the biggest part in vaulting me to my sixth championship in the league’s vaunted 15-year history.

That selection? Tight end Zach Ertz. Not only did it give me great insurance behind Gronk, but he was the key piece (along with the Rams pass-catcher Sammy Watkins) in a deadline-beating trade that acquired Patriots scatback Rex Burkhead (previously taken by me in round 13) and, most importantly for this year and many more, Saints wideout Michael Thomas. Though Burkhead got hurt before the fantasy playoffs began in Week 15, he slotted perfectly as my RB2 in this PPR league. Thomas, meanwhile, allowed me to start four wideouts again (Amari Cooper was unplayable at this point) and guaranteed me—with Kamara—a huge portion of all New Orleans productivity. Also snagged Chris Hogan—love those QB-WR combos, especially in PPR leagues!—in the ninth round.

Of note: The first four rounds are devoted to keepers. My acquisition of Mixon (and the two late round picks below) came from this transaction:

Here is the draft in all its glory:













Worst Draft

One thousand words:













No way I was going to repeat after Rodgers went down. Wait ‘til next season!

Best Selection

Too easy: Alvin Kamara. In both leagues I drafted him I won the title. That’s a good percentage!

Worst Selection

Tie: Amari Cooper and Andrew Luck. The former just never lived up to expectations, not doing nearly enough to justify his second (PPR) and third round (standard) price. The latter of course never played, putting me behind the proverbial eight ball, especially in my nascent two QB league.

Best Acquisition

Harrison Butker (yes: a kicker!) Having only drafted the Patriots Stephen Gostkowski in one league ($2 by TR’s Peepers in the dynasty auction league) and Mason Crosby rendered irrelevant after A-Rodg’s injury, I had Butker on nearly all of my teams, until after the Baltimore Ravens bye week where I added Justin Tucker in a couple leagues. He was awesome from the moment he took over for the injured Cairo Santos in Week 4. Butker finished with 156 fantasy points, fifth best despite missing the first three games of the season.

Honorable mentions: Kamara—him again!—by Unironic Witty Name in my two QB league, Lambeau Leap, where I spent $22 of my $100 free agent acquisition budget on him after Week 1. Also a huge shout out to Josh Gordon, who I had on 10 of my 11 squads, including three that won titles and, nearly as important, all three keeper leagues.

Worst Acquisition

Martellus Bennett. More in real life than fantasy, as I only drafted him in one league.

Best Trade

Loved it for this year and possibly the next decade!

Worst Trade

Remarkably I only made four all year (including the pre-draft blockbuster in Lambeau Field). No issues with swapping Jay Ajayi for Drew Brees after Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone in Aaron Rodgers’ Avenue so that leaves this one made out of abject desperation—and a plethora of wide receivers:

Despite finishing fourth in points, needless to say I didn’t make the playoffs, failing to defend my title. Rough year for The Drop Bears!

Biggest Regret

This likely would have been dropping Dion Lewis had I not won the title in Lambeau Field:

That heartache assuaged I’d have to go with not bidding one more dollar to acquire rookie phenom quarterback DeShaun Watson in Friends of Jason Biggs. Me and a competitor both bet $11 but since he had a lower waiver priority he got Watson—potentially for three more seasons at a very affordable price (salary cap is $200). Fortuitously, I also won that league too!

Most Valuable Player

Kamara. In the three leagues (two PPR and one 1.5 PPR) I owned him he averaged 14.59, 18.94 and 21.23 points respectively in his 17 games (one of which he only played just one series).

Least Valuable Player

Love him so but . . . Danny Woodhead. Paid a high price for him in many PPR leagues and though he started so promising—three catches on the opening drive of the season—his subsequent hamstring injury allowed Alex Collins and Javorius Allen to soak up most all of his touches. Potentially a good buy-low acquisition next season.

Two More Titles

Fifteenth year of Lambeau Field, sixth title (2003, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2013, 2017) for the Green Bay Gamblers:

Eleventh year of AFP All-Stars, fifth title (2007, 2008, 2009, 2015, 2017) for the Green Bay Gamblers:

Second time (2008) that the namesakes have taken the title in the same season.

Looking Ahead

Three of my 11 leagues are of the keeper variety. Here’s a peek into what 2018 may hold:

Pangaea (four keepers, 2 PPR, second overall selection):

Likely Keepers: Green Bay Packers Team Quarterback, Keenan Allen, Brandin Cooks, Christian McCaffrey

In the Mix: Jordy Nelson, Josh Gordon

TR’s Peepers (three keepers, $200 salary cap minus keeper costs):

Likely Keepers: Le’Veon Bell, Kareem Hunt, Odell Beckham, Jr.

In the Mix: Tom Brady, Derrick Henry, Josh Gordon, Jay Ajayi, Amari Cooper

Green Bay Gamblers (four keepers, PPR, last pick in snake draft):

Likely Keepers: Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas, Rob Gronkowski, Joe Mixon

In the Mix: Tom Brady, Josh Gordon, Demaryius Thomas, Jamaal Williams, Amari Cooper, Matt Brieda, Andrew Luck

The future is bright! And only 79 sleeps until Opening Day!

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The Smoking Gun

Every day brings a different excuse but since the onset of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, Republicans have claimed that a dossier compiled by Fusion GPS started it all. No longer: Instead it was the coffee boy himself, George Papadopolous, who lit the fire—over drinks in London with Australian diplomats no less!—that continues to consume the Trump presidency.

I’m anxious to see what the next GOP talking point will be. Perhaps the latest bombshell will finally get some Republicans to break with Trump over Russia and choose country over party in what has become the biggest threat to our democratic ideals since Watergate.

Another must read:; the most salient (of many important) points:

“Yes, we hired Mr. Steele, a highly respected Russia expert. But we did so without informing him whom we were working for and gave him no specific marching orders beyond this basic question: Why did Mr. Trump repeatedly seek to do deals in a notoriously corrupt police state that most serious investors shun?

What came back shocked us. Mr. Steele’s sources in Russia (who were not paid) reported on an extensive — and now confirmed — effort by the Kremlin to help elect Mr. Trump president. Mr. Steele saw this as a crime in progress and decided he needed to report it to the F.B.I.”

Ever since candidate Donald Trump began effusively praising Vladimir Putin at the beginning of his campaign, I always thought the Russians were blackmailing him. Nothing he has done since has disabused me of that notion. The smoking gun likely lies in his tax returns, which are now probably in the possession of Mueller.

Now on to lighter fare . . . as my loyal—and oh so patient!—readers will undoubtedly agree, my web log has become far too sporadic, only popping up around the beginning of professional sport seasons and appearing consistently only as movie awards season heats up. My goal now is to post at least a few times a week, preferably daily during the week while my little girl naps. This is the first (baby) step towards that teleological goal.

With fantasy football now finished—more on those triumphs tomorrow!—I have more time to put proverbial pen to paper about other important things. Up first: my dogged pursuit of getting caught up on popular culture—and my beloved Detroit Red Wings.

As for the latter, I’ve made it up to faceoff of the November 28 game against the Los Angeles Kings. Showing equal flashes of maddening inconsistency and bold brilliance, I’m very much enjoying the much faster, more skilled Wings. And the new barn, Little Caesars Arena, looks phenomenal! All other sports I’m completely caught up on (have to always be up-to-date with baseball and football for monetary reasons), save the World Juniors where I’m currently watching the U.S.A.-Russia tilt.

I’m also zooming through my favorite magazine, Entertainment Weekly, and am now up to the Fall TV issue (September 22) and am only four episodes behind on PTI. This is Us? Yes! And my wife and I watched the fall finale of Blacklist last night, not knowing the unbelievable carnage we would witness. A Big Little Lies marathon was a fantastic way to spend a Friday night; we are also caught up on SVU but are six episodes behind on Modern Family.

My favorite show, The Americans, is now a nightly event as we venture through the fifth season. The latest seasons of Elementary and Homeland are next to be tackled, with the once-beloved House of Cards shelved indefinitely.

What will tomorrow bring?

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Clear Skies in Cleveland

If not for that ill-fated rain delay, the Cleveland Indians are likely the World Series champs. Alas the showers did come that chilly night in October, washing away the momentum that nearly led to the greatest comeback in Fall Classic history.

No natural disaster will stop the Tribe this year as they will best the Washington Nationals in seven scintillating games to capture their first championship since 1948.

Wunderkind shortstop Francisco Lindor collects 11 hits in the series to claim the MVP.

Want to know how your favorite squad will fare? Check out my team-by-team predictions and get the first glimpse of an exhilarating 2017 postseason, including a Game 163 between the Cardinals and Dodgers and five of the seven series going the distance.

As for my Bold Prediction of the Year: The Milwaukee Brewers will exceed all expectations, expediting their rebuilding process, finishing with an 81-81 record, earning their skipper, Craig Counsell, manager of the year honors.

And the award(s) goes to . . . 

NL MVP: Bryce Harper, RF, Washington Nationals
AL MVP: Mike Trout, CF, California Angels

NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
AL Cy Young: Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox 

NL Rookie of the Year: Dansby Swanson, SS, Atlanta Braves
AL Rookie of the Year: Andrew Benintendi, LF, Boston Red Sox 

NL Comeback Player of the Year: Matt Harvey, SP, New York Mets
AL Comeback Player of the Year: Michael Brantley, LF, Cleveland Indians 

NL Manager of the Year: Craig Counsell, Milwaukee Brewers
AL Manager of the Year: Buck Showalter, Baltimore Orioles

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Oscar Scorecard

Wow. Did not see that coming. In fact, thanks to my DVR running out of space two minutes into La La Land’s acceptance speech for their well-deserved best picture win, I had eight glorious hours thinking my favorite movie in a long time was rightly declared the premier film of the year.

The next morning, wanting to soak in the entirety of the ebullient victory, my baby daughter on my lap, I looked on first with utter confusion, then shock and then, well, EARMUFFS! at the spectacle playing out before both of our unbelieving eyes. Look: I loved Moonlight. It was a beautiful, spare, important film. But La La Land was, well, perfect. And transcendent. I very much doubt there will ever be a movie quite like it again.

But kudos to the grace of everyone on stage—especially the La La Land producers—to make a horrible situation somewhat tenable.

All of that unfortunately overshadowed what was an unpredictable and very rewarding evening. Clearly the long overdue diversification of Academy voters is already paying immediate dividends.

Before we delve any further into the night that was, here is a breakdown of my selections and the evening’s winners in alphabetical order:

Category Predicted Winner Actual Winner
Adapted Screenplay Moonlight Moonlight
Animated Feature Film Zootopia Zootopia
Animated Short Film Piper Piper
Best Picture La La Land Moonlight
Cinematography La La Land La La Land
Costume Design La La Land Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Directing Damian Chazelle, La La  Land Damian Chazelle, La La  Land
Documentary Feature O.J.: Made in America O.J.: Made in America
Documentary Short Subject The White Helmets The White Helmets
Film Editing La La Land Hacksaw Ridge
Foreign Language Film The Salesman (Iran) The Salesman (Iran)
Lead Actor Denzel Washington, Fences Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Lead Actress Emma Stone, La La Land Emma Stone, La La Land
Live-Action Short Film Ennemis Intérieurs Sing
Makeup and Hairstyling Star Trek: Beyond Suicide Squad
Original Score La La Land La La Land
Original Screenplay Manchester by the Sea Manchester by the Sea
Original Song ‘City of Stars’, La La Land ‘City of Stars’, La La Land
Production Design La La Land La La Land
Sound Editing Hacksaw Ridge Arrival
Sound Mixing La La Land Hacksaw Ridge
Supporting Actor Mahershala Ali, Moonlight Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Supporting Actress Viola Davis, Fences Viola Davis, Fences
Visual Effects The Jungle Book The Jungle Book

As you can see above up until both best picture announcements, I was most upset about Casey Affleck winning lead actor for Manchester by the Sea over the incredible Denzel Washington in Fences. Affleck was very good with his grieving minimalism. Washington, however, made August Wilson’s words sing. He was masterful.

I also missed on a surprising six other relatively minor awards: editing, live-action short film, makeup, the always confusing sound mixing and editing, not to mention my constant bugaboo: the dreaded costume design!

For comparison purposes to this year’s 16 of 24 correct picks, I only got 15 right two years ago, before rebounding for 18 of 24 last Oscars. Of course my finest moment came in 2014 when I accurately predicted a ridiculous 23 of 24 Academy Award winners, missing only . . . costume design.

More high—and low—lights from an Oscars that will never be forgotten:

Best Speech: Viola Davis. Is there anything she can’t do?

Worst Speech: Casey Affleck. Mumble, mumble, mumble. Really?! But good on you Brie Larson!

Best (electric) Moment: Could it be anything else? The so-called #EnvelopeGate will never be forgotten in the Academy annals.

Best (awkward) Moment: Ibid.

Biggest Upset: Hmm let me think . . . um . . . oh, yeah . . . err . . . um . . . right . . . best picture!

Biggest Disappointment: Two words: Denzel Washington!

Worst Dressed: Dakota Johnson

Best Dressed (tie): 


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The Year in Movies

Good on the academy. The first time I did this exercise I disagreed with seven of their nominations. Last year only three. And this year it’s just two, one more of a trifle (Hugh Grant over the always excellent Michael Shannon) and the other a complete and utter catastrophe. As I wrote in my Snubs and Surprises piece, how Amy Adams is not nominated for her daring, subtle, incandescent work in Arrival is simply beyond my human intellect to grasp. She is the heart and soul of one of the best movies of the year. I get it Academy: Meryl Streep is amazing!! But she should not be nominated for roles like she has the last couple years—Into the Woods and now Florence Foster Jenkins. I’m sure she’s even embarrassed about her inclusion this year.

Other than that, though, I have but little to trifle. Here is a category-by-category breakdown of this year’s nominees:

Oscar Nominees: Supporting Actress

Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea
Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Nicole Kidman, Lion
Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures
Viola Davis, Fences

Nick Wood’s Top Five

1. Viola Davis, Fences
2. Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea
3. Nicole Kidman, Lion
4. Naomie Harris, Moonlight
5. Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures

Oscar Nominees: Supporting Actor

Dev Patel, Lion
Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea
Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals

Nick Wood’s Top Five

1. Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
2. Dev Patel, Lion
3. Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
4. Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea
5. Hugh Grant, Florence Foster Jenkins

Oscar Nominees: Lead Actress

Emma Stone, La La Land
Isabelle Huppert, Elle
Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins
Natalie Portman, Jackie
Ruth Negga, Loving

Nick Wood’s Top Five

1. Emma Stone, La La Land
2. Natalie Portman, Jackie
3. Amy Adams, Arrival
4. Isabelle Huppert, Elle
5. Ruth Negga, Loving

Oscar Nominees: Lead Actor

Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Denzel Washington, Fences
Ryan Gosling, La La Land
Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic

Nick Wood’s Top Five

1. Denzel Washington, Fences
2. Ryan Gosling, La La Land
3. Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
4. Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic
5. Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge

Oscar Nominees: Best Director

Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Damian Chazelle, La La Land
Denis Villeneuve, Arrival
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge

Nick Wood’s Top Five

1. Damian Chazelle, La La Land
2. Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
3. Denis Villeneuve, Arrival
4. Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
5. Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge

Oscar Nominees: Best Picture

Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
Hidden Figures
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea

Nick Wood’s Top Five Nine

1. La La Land
2. Arrival
3. Lion
4. Moonlight
5. Hidden Figures
6. Fences
7. Hell or High Water
8. Manchester by the Sea
9. Hacksaw Ridge

And now for the moment you all have been waiting 364 days for . . .

The Worst Movies of the Year

1. Allegiant
2. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2
3. The Huntsman: Winter’s War
4. Ghostbusters
5. Café Society

The Best Movies of the Year

11. The Shallows
10. Our Kind of Traitor
9. Hidden Figures
8. Eye in the Sky
7. Moonlight
6. Deadpool
5. Captain America: Civil War
4. Lion
3. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
2. Arrival
1. La La Land


Breaking it down even further:

Best Movie That Made the Most Amount of Money: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story ($529,462,544 in domestic earnings since its release)
Best Movie That Made the Least Amount of Money: Our Kind of Traitor ($3,153,157)

Worst Movie That Made the Most Amount of Money: Allegiant ($66,184,051)
Worst Movie That Made the Least Amount of Money: Café Society ($11,103,205)

Editor’s note: Dollar figures courtesy of BoxOfficeMojo and current as of 26 February 2016.

Best Movie I Haven’t Seen (Yet): 13th
Worst Movie(s) I Will Never See: Tie: The Angry Birds Movie and Independence Day: Resurgence

Movie Quote of the Year: “I been standing with you! I been right here with you, Troy. I got a life too. I gave eighteen years of my life to stand in the same spot with you. Don’t you think I ever wanted other things? Don’t you think I had dreams and hopes? What about my life? What about me?” (Rose portrayed by Viola Davis in Fences)

Four categories back by popular demand:

Very Good Movie(s) That I Thought Would Have Been Worse: The Shallows
Movie That Should Have Been Much Better: Ghostbusters

Most Overrated Movie of the Year: For the second year in a row, none, thankfully.
Most Underappreciated Movie of the Year: The Shallows

And now some more fun categories:

Best Book Adaptation: The Girl on the Train
Best Musical: Florence Foster Jenkins (just kidding!) La La Land, of course!

Most Romantic: La La Land
Least Romantic: Tie: The Shallows and Nocturnal Animals

Most Exciting Movie: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Least Exciting Movie: Allegiant

Best Year—Female: Janelle Monáe (Prime roles in two best picture nominees, Hidden Figures and Moonlight)
Best Year—Male: Mahershala Ali (Ibid, plus he’s a shoe-in to win an Oscar for Moonlight.)

Crystal Ball

Every year I peer into the future to ascertain this year’s crop of future Hollywood stars. Here are examples of previous predictions:

Actress: Alicia Vikander, Felicity Jones, Shailene Woodley, Imogen Poots, Samantha Barks
Actor: Emory Cohen, Jack O’Connell, Joel Edgerton, Dane DeHaan, Theo James
Director: Tom McCarthy, Ava DuVernay, Marc Webb, Rian Johnson, Ryan Coogler

Definite Moonlight theme developing here . . .

Next ‘It’ Actress: Janelle Monáe
Next ‘It’ Actor: Mahershala Ali
Next ‘It’ Director: Barry Jenkins

Secret Weapon

Need last minute help with your Oscar pool? Below is how things will go this evening on the 89th Academy Awards. I’ve amended some of my predicted winners (*) which I previously made before the actual nominations came out:

Animated Short: Piper
Animated Feature: Zootopia
Cinematography: La La Land
Documentary Short: The White Helmets
Documentary Feature: O.J.: Made in America
Live Action Short: Ennemis Intérieurs
Costume Design: La La Land
Film Editing: La La Land
*Foreign: The Salesman
Makeup and Hairstyling: Star Trek: Beyond
Production Design: La La Land
*Screenplay (adapted): Moonlight
*Screenplay (original): Manchester by the Sea
Score: La La Land
Song: ‘City of Stars’, La La Land
Sound Editing: Hacksaw Ridge
Sound Mixing: La La Land
Visual Effects: The Jungle Book

But those are just fillers. Now for what you really care about—the awards that will make-or-break your chances of going home with some booty tonight:

Supporting Actress: Viola Davis, Fences
Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
*Lead Actress: Emma Stone, La La Land
Lead Actor: Denzel Washington, Fences
Director: Damian Chazelle, La La Land
Picture: La La Land

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