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Four Cents: Rob & Ricki and Oscar, Part Four: Our Oscar Picks, Top Eight Categories

Ricki: It's become a tradition at the Cacchione household the last few years for us to host an (incredibly small) Oscar party.  That "party" consists of my lovely wife Debbie preparing a meal that involves bacon in some creative way (which I can't eat, since I can't digest meat protein) and our main movie friend Kyle coming over to watch the bloated nightmare that is the Oscar Awards broadcast from what seems like five in the afternoon 'til sometime past three o'clock the next morning.

The three of us fill out the entire Oscar ballot and point values are assigned to the various categories: i.e. tech categories are one point apiece; documentaries & animated maybe three points; writing cats five points; on up to 10 points apiece for the acting and best director & best picture picks.

Generally, by the time they get around to announcing Best Supporting Actress around midnight and people with jobs on Monday are already sleeping, I'm behind by so wide a margin that I start making up rules: like from then on, all the remaining categories are worth 50 points apiece.  The winner gets a prize, but none of us can remember what any of the prizes have ever been, so they can't be that great. 

So Rob and I are dispensing with all the down-the-line categories and concentrating on what we are terming The Big Eight: writing, acting, best director & best picture. 

Rob: I don’t watch the Oscars. I don’t like bloated pageantry. I have no dog in the fight, so I’m not missing anything. That’s not to say I’m not interested. I’ll check the results in the morning.

I have never entered an Oscars pool or had to predict the winners. Until now. What would we do if blogs didn't need content?

BEST PICTURE

Arrival
Fences
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
Hidden Figures
La La Land
Lion
Manchester by the Sea
Moonlight

Rob: Gotta begrudgingly pick La La Land. Hollywood loves Hollywood.  I’d like to be surprised by something else winning, but I don’t think I will be.

Ricki: Most of my picks are gonna be divided into What Should Win and What Will Win: What Should Win, Manchester By The Sea, by far the best movie I saw all year;  What Will Win, La La Land.   

BEST DIRECTING

Damien Chazelle (La La Land)
Mel Gibson (Hacksaw Ridge)
Barry Jenkins (Moonlight)
Kenneth Lonergan (Mancheaster by the Sea)
Denis Villeneuve (Arrival)

Rob: Again, La La Land. It can’t win Best Picture and not win Best Directing. However, it is worthy of directing honors over best in show. My off-ballot hopes are with Moonlight.

Ricki: Rob's probably right about Best Picture/Best Director being intertwined, as they are most years.  Who Should Win, Kenneth Lonergan.  Who Will Win, Damien Chazelle. 

BEST LEADING ACTRESS

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

Rob: Can we please agree that Meryl Streep is an excellent actress and not nominate her for anything for a while? The same goes for Pixar movies. Anomalisa should have won last year over Inside Out. Anyway, Isabelle Huppert for the win.

Ricki: I'm going with Emma Stone here, partly because I thought she was the best thing ABOUT La La Land, and partly because I truthfully didn't see any of the other performances.

BEST LEADING ACTOR

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

Rob: Denzel Washington. duh. If by some freak occurrence Ryan Gosling wins, I’m going to pretend it’s for The Nice Guys.

Ricki: I say Casey Affleck is going to pull this out. 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

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

Rob: Viola Davis. duh. And yet it can not be understated how much Michelle Williams crushed that one scene in Manchester by the Sea. You never would have guessed she was hardly in the movie before it.

Ricki: I didn't see Fences, so I'm pulling for Naomie Harris in a truly fearsome, ferocious performance in Moonlight.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

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

Rob: Mahershala Ali. Largely no contest. When isn’t Michael Shannon great? Maybe when he’s slightly overshadowed by his co-supporting actor Aaron Taylor-Johnson. Sill, with a Taylor-Johnson nomination instead, Ali would have taken it.

Ricki: I concur, Mahershala Ali.  (Hopefully John Travolta will NOT be called upon to present this award.)

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Hell or High Water
La La Land
The Lobster
Manchester by the Sea
20th Century Women

Rob: It’s between 20th Century Women and The Lobster. I’m giving the edge to The Lobster. Its world-building should be rewarded.

Ricki: Manchester By The Sea.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Arrival
Fences
Hidden Figures
Lion
Moonlight

Rob: I’m assuming none of the voters compared the original text with the adaptation: I mean, that would be the best way, right? Sure, but I’m not going to do that either. I’d like to pick Fences. The content is great. I don’t feel like it was adapted for the screen. It still had the rhythm, feel, and - at times - the staging of a play. Is it better to change the content for the medium or to let it stand as it is? In this case, the latter was chosen. I’m picking Arrival.

…well, maybe not. Arrival’s strength might be in the editing. Hidden Figures, while an amazing story, is presented in a very ordinary way. I didn’t see Lion. So, Moonlight for the win.

Ricki: Yeah, this is tough, since I don't know what any of these screenplays were adapted FROM.  (But none of them were comic books, naturally.)  I'd like to pick Moonlight, but I'm going to go with Hidden Figures, just because I enjoyed it so much, which is exactly the kind of from-the-heart-makes-no-logical-sense-pick that loses me our Oscar Ballot Pize every year.

In closing I want to thank the Pencilstorm readers for hanging in with us through all these blogs and I especially want to thank Rob for watching 366 movies in 2016, an accomplishment that should be hailed.

My easiest Oscar Prediction of the Year?  Jimmy Kimmel is gonna suck as the host.