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89th Academy Awards Winner Predictions   Leave a comment

It’s that time of the year! The biggest and most prestigious night in Hollywood is coming this weekend. It’s time to hand out Oscars to the most popular and best campaigned films and performances of the previous year. The biggest story this year is all about La La Land and how this musical romance story nabbed 14 nominations tying with Titanic and All About Eve as the most nominated in Academy history. Now, while it stands a really great chance of nabbing that Best Picture win, the real question begs: how many Oscars will it take along with it? Here are my final predictions in all 21 categories.

adapted-screenplay

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:

Just a few months ago, the Academy deemed both Moonlight and Loving as adapted screenplays as compared to their initially campaigned original ones. This becomes some sort of the de facto award for Moonlight to win after being the runner-up all season. It even solidified its status as a strong frontrunner here after winning the Best Original Screenplay recognition from the Writers’ Guild Awards, beating stronger frontrunners La La Land and Manchester by the Sea in the process. The only possible spoiler here is BAFTA winning screenplay of Lion. But at this stage, we might even consider it as a distant second to Moonlight.

PREDICTION: Moonlight (Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney)
ALTERNATE: Lion (Luke Davies)

orig-screenplay

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:

One of the few remaining up in the air categories is the Original Screenplay category. So far, the rundown is that the Globes went for La La Land while BAFTAs went with Manchester by the Sea. The BFCA didn’t help as it gave a tie to the two aforementioned films. While the WGAs went with Moonlight. What works for Manchester is that it’s a writer’s type of movie — it’s a focused character study and can also serve as a way to reward Manchester by the Sea (more on this later). However, we don’t know what the extent does the Academy adore La La Land because this can simply be a part of the sweep. One can’t also consider the spread the wealth considering Birdman won this one two years ago at the extent of rewarding both Boyhood and The Grand Budapest Hotel. As much as it’s a nailbiter, I guess I’ll have to go with…

PREDICTION: Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan)
ALTERNATE: La La Land (Damien Chazelle)

supp-actress

SUPPORTING ACTRESS:

Before I go to predicting this rather easy category, let’s acknowledge the two achievements this year’s nominees had. First up, it’s the first year ever where an acting category had three black actresses to be nominated (Viola Davis, Naomie Harris, and Octavia Spencer). Speaking of Octavia Spencer, she became the first female black acting Oscar winner to receive a follow up nomination after winning five years ago for The Help.  Anyway, probably the only acting category that we can sign, seal, and deliver, this one is Viola Davis’ to lose! After two turns at being the runner-up finisher (losing to Penelope Cruz in 2008 and to Meryl Streep in 2011), Viola is the latest addition to the winner of the Triple Acting Club with this impending Oscar win as the wife in Fences. Don’t be surprised if she siphons at least 95% of the total votes here, leaving the rest of the nominees with 5% to share apiece. For runner-up, I’d say Michelle Williams (now going 4-0) is the next in line for a win.

PREDICTION: Viola Davis, Fences
ALTERNATE: Nicole Kidman, Lion

supp-actor

SUPPORTING ACTOR:

Given how easy Supporting Actress to predict is, the same can’t be said about its male counterpart. Supporting Actor is a tad of clusterfuck actually. Let’s begin with the Globes where non-nominated Aaron Taylor-Johnson pulled off the upset. Sadly for him, despite BAFTA nomination in his name, it was his co-star Michael Shannon who nabbed the Oscar nod for the film. SAG went by going with Mahershala Ali of Moonlight, which was an easy get for him. Come BAFTA, they went their own way and rewarded British Dev Patel for his turn in the Harvey Weinstein-backed Lion, possibly throwing another curve to Ali’s frontrunner status. Three things: it has to be emphasized that Oscar voting this season started the day after Patel won the BAFTA so that could help things. Second, Dev is also the closest possible contender to continue the trend of ‘winning for a real life person‘ narrative which has continues since 1998. Third, it’s the second consecutive year where Globes (Sylvester Stallone), SAG (Idris Elba), and BAFTA (Mark Rylance) all went different routes and last year, BAFTA prevailed. That said, I think Mahershala Ali is still the frontrunner (albeit a really not strong one), and that he can still pull off the win even by a hair for his turn in Moonlight. Always watch out for Dev Patel until Alicia Vikander opens that envelope.

PREDICTION: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
ALTERNATE: Dev Patel, Lion

lead-actress

LEAD ACTRESS:

It’s probably one of the strongest years for Lead Actress contenders that there isn’t enough room for the likes of Amy Adams in Arrival, or Annette Bening in 20th Century Women, both of whom would be really competitive in any other year that’s not 2016. After her BFCA win, it seems like Natalie Portman went on a different trajectory for Jackie losing further momentum. It also didn’t help that the movie didn’t latch on well enough in terms of picking up above the line nominations. Who replaced her as the alternate? Golden Globe winner Isabelle Huppert for Elle. SPC has really managed to turn an impressive campaign thus far for this French legend, and while others are toying with the idea of a possible upset on Oscar night, she’ll be a strong runner-up. It didn’t help that the British studio didn’t do any efforts to submit Elle in time to be eligible for the BAFTA, and that she was SAG snubbed despite being eligible. This one is Emma Stone’s to lose, as she ticks many of the boxes that fit the winning criteria — young actress, previous nominee, at the peak of her career, very charming and has campaigned well in the Best Picture frontrunner. As much as we want Oscar winner Isabelle Huppert to happen, it’s Emma Stone’s name written in that envelope.

PREDICTION: Emma Stone, La La Land
ALTERNATE: Isabelle Huppert, Elle

lead-actor

LEAD ACTOR:

Up until two weeks ago, it’s all but Casey Affleck’s to lose. He won two of the critics trifecta (and was a runner-up at LAFCA), won over 40 recognition for his performance in Manchester by the Sea including the Gotham, the BFCA. and the Golden Globe (much to the stress of Brie Larson). Then Denzel Washington won the SAG and there’s no turning back. He just stole all the momentum moving forward, and now it’s a nailbiter come Oscar evening. Affleck won the BAFTA afterwards, but it’s a Dezel-less field, and the latter’s snub probably helped him siphon more votes in the end. Affleck’s chances aren’t also helped by the idea that his sexual assault story is popping up during the last stage of the campaign period. You know what this race seems like? The Best Actor 2001 race. Actor A has received all accolades and precursor sweep then, until personal issues against him were brought up. Oscar winning actor B was seen as the alternate, and when the envelope was opened, it was his name written there. Actor A is Russell Crowe and Actor B, as you guessed it, is Denzel Washington. This reeks too much of a coincidence that between the industry love for him, the #OscarsSoWhite, and his legacy, we’ll see a 2001 redux and Denzel goes on to win his third Oscar.

PREDICTION: Denzel Washington, Fences
ALTERNATE: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

directing

DIRECTOR:

I don’t think there’s any room for upset in this category already, as he literally swept all precursors leading to the Oscars. After all, the movie he’s directed is seen as a directorial achievement above anything else. And his two closest competition will likely be rewarded in the Screenplay category. So I say it’s an easy win for La La Land‘s Damien Chazelle.

PREDICTION: Damien Chazelle, La La Land
ALTERNATE: Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

animated-feature

ANIMATED FEATURE:

This year doesn’t really have that strong of a lock contender as compared to let’s say Toy Story 3 in 2010, Finding Nemo in 2003, or Inside Out last year, but Zootopia is a strong frontrunner to say the least. It has the box office performance, the critical backup, as well as the precursor win to go land an Oscar. Its only possible hurdle, albeit a small one, is Kubo and the Two Strings who performed and picked up steam in the latter part of the season. That said, this is still Zootopia‘s to lose.

PREDICTION: Zootopia
ALTERNATE: Kubo and the Two Strings

foreign-language-film

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM:

It’s really a strange category if there’s one. The consensus seem to go to Germany’s Toni Erdmann with its critical performance. It might not have won the Globe but it lost to snubee Elle. It did not win BAFTA as well, but it lost to last year’s Oscar winner Son of Saul so it does not count too. However, this category, since its change of winner process determination, has been kinder to crowdpleasers which Toni Erdmann is not. That certainly helps Sweden’s A Man Called Ove to the equation. After all, it also received another nomination for Best Make Up & Hairstyling. Then comes Asghar Farhadi’s ban issue which coincidentally happened during the voting process. Voting for Farhadi’s nominated film The Salesman can be seen as a vote of statement against Trump, and if there’s one thing that Hollywood loves he most, it’s making a statement. I don’t know if that’ll be enough, but it can be a memorable moment in the show.

PREDICTION: The Salesman (Iran)
ALTERNATE: A Man Called Ove (Sweden)

documentary

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE:
Here’s another category where I’ll see the voters rallying around and make a statement, so it probably means it will go to either 13th, an exploration of race and justice system in America, or I Am Not Your Negro tackling the history of racism in United States. That said, between the renewed interest with the OJ Simpson case (all thanks to the Emmy winning series “People v. OJ Simpson“), I think the eight-hour documentary event OJ: Made in America will pick up the win in the end.

PREDICTION: OJ: Made in America
ALTERNATE: 13th

Here are the rest of the categories:

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE:
Consider this as an easy sweep for the that small unknown musical called La La Land
PREDICTION: La La Land
ALTERNATE: Lion

BEST ORIGINAL SONG:
There couldn’t have been a more perfect and ideal moment for Hollywood to honor it-man Lin-Manuel Miranda than this year especially after the juggernaut that is called Hamilton. Guess what’s an equally juggernaut piece there is? It’s that small unknown musical called La La Land.
PREDICTION: “City of Stars“, La La Land
ALTERNATE:How Far I’ll Go“, Moana

BEST FILM EDITING:
The flashy war scenes in Hacksaw Ridge can be tempting as hell, but I don’t think there’s stopping La La Land to get that closest precursor tech category to nab with its Best Picture win.
PREDICTION: La La Land
ALTERNATE: Hacksaw Ridge

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY:
Sure, the ASC went with the more natural and outdoor type of cinematography that Lion did, but when it comes to the overall voting body of AMPAS, they might not resist the charm of good old’ Hollywood and include this in the sweep.
PREDICTION: La La Land
ALTERNATE: Lion

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN:
PREDICTION: La La Land
ALTERNATE: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

BEST COSTUME DESIGN:
Probably the trickiest to predict, it would have been an easy win for La La Land had it not been a modern-set traditional musical in the likes of those huge Broadway sets. it won the Costume Guild, and it’s the only winner that’s a nominee this year. That said, the BAFTAs went for the more traditional ones, with Jackie, a recreation of the iconic fashion that the late Jackie Kennedy left us. BAFTA has a strong correlation in this category correctly predicting the winners since 2007. I’ll probably stick with that stat. But then, you know La La Land is just lurking around the corner.
PREDICTION: Jackie
ALTERNATE: La La Land

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING:
I still can’t believe that the make-up branch who have embraced trash time and again resisted to go for baity Deadpool in here. That said, expect the more obvious and flashy make-up and hairstyling of Star Trek: Beyond to dominate here, after winning for the first movie back in 2009.
PREDICTION: Star Trek Beyond
ALTERNATE: Suicide Squad

BEST SOUND MIXING:
Chicago, Ray, Dreamgirls, and Les Miserables are four of the winners in this category’s history. See a pattern there? Add this up to the La La Land train then!
PREDICTION: La La Land
ALTERNATE: Hacksaw Ridge

BEST SOUND EDITING:
If Film Editing can’t do it for Hacksaw Ridge, then maybe Sound Editing can. After all, this is one aspect of La La Land that has really received lots of negative criticisms. That said, you’ll never know with the Academy. How many of the whole body can even distinguish Sound Editing from Sound Mixing? How many will just namec heck the most popular film in the bunch? if it managed to get that nomination (which it surisingly did), then why not make it all the way to a win too?
PREDICTION: Hacksaw Ridge
ALTERNATE: La La Land

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS:
Remember how this category usually is connected to the Best Picture frontrunner? Much to the surprise of a lot of people, Arrival missed an easy get here. While the flashiest here is Doctor Strange, I think the whole narrative of The Jungle Book being both a commercial and critical success will help it gets its Oscar win in this category.
PREDICTION: The Jungle Book
ALTERNATE: Doctor Strange

And lastly, the big one of the night:

picture

BEST PICTURE:

Unlike the complexity of the past year where it was basically a three-way race between Spotlight, The Big Short, and The Revenant, this one is pretty easy. La La Land is poised to sweep the biggest trophy of the night alongside eight other Oscars. It has basically achieved record after record, winning the most Golden Globes ever, being the first Best Picture winner to miss the SAG ensemble lineup, and joining Titanic and All About Eve as the most nominated films in academy history. As much as people are sick and over it, the movie still written on the envelope will be La La Land.

PREDICTION: La La Land
ALTERNATE: Moonlight

There you have it! The 89th Academy Awards will be on Sunday (Monday morning here in Manila) to be shown on HBO.

89th Academy Awards Nominations Predictions   Leave a comment

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With months and months of speculations, all predictions will finally be decided upon as the Academy unveils its 89th Academy Awards nominations tomorrow night, Manila time. This season, just like the previous one, brought in lots of crazy moments as we progress the past few months. Frontrunners like Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, and Nate Parker’s Birth of a Nation both sizzled mid-way. Viola Davis competed in Supporting after talks of being in Lead a year before, and who knew that Mel Gibson can still do a Hollywood comeback after all these years? Anyway, here we go, I’ll share my predictions in all 24 Oscar categories.

BEST PICTURE

As you may know, Best Picture is a fluid category which can have as many as ten and as low as five nominees. We have a really strong triumvirate heading to Oscar season with Damien Chazelle’s LA-set musical La La Land, Kenneth Lonergan’s small drama Manchester by the Sea, and critically acclaimed Moonlight from Barry Jenkins. All three led the season in terms of critical acclaim and precursor performance. Consider three all set and locked in.

Next up, two films which really overperformed all season, overcoming doubts and possible barriers throughout their campaigns. The Amy Adams-starrer Arrival has managed to sweep both critics, audience, and guilds off its feet, beating possible “genre bias” against it. And despite all the behind the scene shenanigans over The Weinstein Company, Harvey Weinstein proves he still has it in him pushing Lion to a distant but comfortable fifth place spot.

And then it gets tricky. I’d say that Hell or High Water is sixth, with its whirlwind of a performance, getting remembered when it was very low-key, and getting snubbed for guilds when it started to pick up some steam. That said, I think it’s one of the few films that target the dude-bros/majority of the AMPAS membership so I think it’s safely in. next up are two POC led films whose sequel Hidden Fences has been repeated a lot this season (sadly, not in jest). Fences, directed and starred by Denzel Washington is a film adaptation of a Broadway winning play, while Hidden Figures, who defies box office expectation each week peaks at the right time during voting. While I won’t be surprised if one of these two gets snubbed (because these + Moonlight and Lion will mean half of the eight nominees are about POC and as much as Hollywood claims they are embracing, the past two years proved otherwise), I’m still sticking them both in and close my predictions at eight.

In the event that these surpass the eight, I think Mel Gibson’s sorta Hollywood comeback Hacksaw Ridge which surprisingly did well the last few weeks, can fill in the AMPAS membership quota targeted at old, white grandpas. After Clint Eastwood’s Sully sizzled, this can be their feel good movie of the year. Then there’s also Martin Scorsese’s opus Silence which was a victim of Paramount handling three strong films this season; thus coming really late to the party.

Predictions:
• Arrival
• Fences
• Hell or High Water
• Hidden Figures
• La La Land
• Lion
• Manchester by the Sea
• Moonlight

9th (but not predicted): Hacksaw Ridge
10th (but not predicted): Silence

BEST DIRECTOR

It’s really not safe to stick with the DGA five considering that the only time that happened was back in 2000. That said, the last time it also happened was a group of all first-time nominees, which also reflects this year’s batch. Well, it only becomes a problem when you consider that the biggest spoiler to this group is welp… another first timer. I think Damien Chazelle, Kenneth Lonergan, and Barry Jenkins are all safe here, while Denis Villeneuve strikes me as one who’ll finally get his welcome to the club mention. After all, his previous films have been slowly getting Oscar nominations, so it’s just a matter of time to finally get one for him. Last spot I see is between Garth Davis who pulled off that surprise DGA nod (over favorites such as Martin Scorsese, Clint Eastwood, and Mel Gibson) or David Mackenzie (whose film did not submit for the DGAs.) Toss a coin to get your answer and mine right now says Garth Davis.

Predictions:

• Denis Villeneuve, Arrival
• Damien Chazelle, La La Land
• Garth Davis, Lion
• Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
• Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

SPOILER: David Mackenzie, Hell or High Water

BEST ACTOR

Casey Affleck is back nine years after receiving his first nod for The Assassination of Jesse James, but not only is he back as a nominee, moreso a frontrunner to win the Oscar this year for Manchester by the Sea. Two of his closest contenders include Denzel Washington, on his way to pick up his seventh career nod for his role in Fences and Golden Globe winner Ryan Gosling, the effortlessly charming pianist in La La Land, whose only Oscar nod was exactly a decade ago for Half Nelson. With two major films this year, more exposure can only help Andrew Garfield to finally include “Oscar nominee” before his name, but with Silence coming in too late in the game, all his previous mentions were for his role as the lead soldier in Hacksaw Ridge. The last spot can go to Joel Edgerton in Loving, or maybe a late gamechanger Jake Gyllenhaal for Nocturnal Animals, but I’d play safe and predict Viggo Mortensen for Captain Fantastic, as he has earned Globe, SAG, and BAFTA nods for this already.

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

SPOILER: Joel Edgerton, Loving

BEST ACTRESS

If we’re being diplomatic about it, it’s a “good” problem to not figure out the Best Actress lineup this year when it was the easiest to do so the last few years. That means great roles for women in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s have all been receiving great ink for their memorable performances. But for prediction’s sake, it’s still difficult to pin down how this category will be like. I guess we better start with Emma Stone then, as she’s probably the safest here and the likely recipient of this award come Oscar night. As much as we salivate over the possibility of a Portman snub (after those really career-best notices), it’s not gonna happen. Pencil Natalie’s turn as Jackie Kennedy another sure contender here. After that, I’m tempted to say Meryl Streep is third. This role, in another “transformative” performance is something the members of the Academy will eat up. Add the fact that her iconic Golden Globe speech came right during voting period just surely helps her more. Now this is where it gets tricky. I’d put Isabelle Huppert for Elle in fourth, and while I think it’s the pessimist in me talking, I’m still open to the idea of a possible snub. After all, it’s a movie that’s not a priority watch with an actress in her 60s carrying the film in one of the strongest years of this category. I really should comfort myself with the fact that she earned the critics trifecta, the Drama Globe upset, and SPC’s priority but I;m just preparing myself for the worst here. Then there’s Amy Adams, who’s some sort of a name-check but not in a Meryl or C/Kate level yet. This will be her sixth nod in 12 years and that ratio is good to predict her. That said, we had an extra week of voting which could help Annette Bening in the little and underseen 20th Century Women or Taraji p. Henson as the face of Hidden Figures to spoil the party, and in the event that happens, I’d say Adams is the first one good to go.

PREDICTIONS:
• Amy Adams, Arrival
• Isabelle Huppert, Elle
• Natalie Portman, Jackie
• Emma Stone, La La Land
• Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

SPOILER: Annette Bening, 20th Century Women

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Proving to be the category that provides the clusterfuck, Supporting Actor can either be as easy as 1-2-3 or as confusing as that Math lady meme we’ve all used by now. I feel like Moonlight‘s Mahershala Ali, Hell or High Water‘s Jeff Bridges, and Lion‘s Dev Patel are already sure locks here. Hugh Grant feels like it can go eitherway. He fits the bill of someone nabbing precursor nods only to come short in the end, but then he also fits the bill of a filler, carried over nod. But when the one who drags your nod is none other than Meryl Streep, then I guess he’s in too. Now that last spot is indeed very tricky. The obvious option is Golden Globe winner Aaron Taylor-Johnson who also picked up a BAFTA nod for his turn in Nocturnal Animals. If not him, then maybe Lucas Hedges of Manchester by the Sea. But then this is the category that has provided us Jonah Hill in Wolf of Wall Street and Tom Hardy for The Revenant, so a coattail is very much in talks here. Possible performances that fit the bill are Michael Shannon for Nocturnal Animals, Issei Ogata for Silence, and Ben Foster for Hell or High Water.

Predictions:
• Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
• Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
• Hugh Grant, Florence Foster Jenkins
• Dev Patel, Lion
• Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Nocturnal Animals

SPOILER: Ben Foster, Hell or High Water

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Probably the most “boring” of the four acting categories, this one seems like it’s set in stone. Davis, Harris, Kidman, and Williams have appeared in all precursors by far. Critics went for Lily Gladstone whose film isn’t even being campaigned. The BAFTAs went with Haley Squire of I, Daniel Blake which is the BAFTA-est pick they can go to at BAFTAs. Thus, it benefits Oscar winner Octavia Spencer who picked up GG and SAG nods for Hidden Figures. I don’t see a scenario of Greta Gerwig spoiling the race especially considering that her possible coattail Annette Bening is struggling to get hers too. Maybe Spencer’s co-star Janelle Monae is the only alternate here, as she’s helped by starring in both Hidden Figures and Moonlight. That said, Octavia is the more established name here, and a good narrative to boot as the first black actress to receive a nomination after her win.

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

SPOILER: Janelle Monae, Hidden Figures

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Count on the Writer’s branch to revive the lesser buzzed films in contention this year, and I think The Lobster has that slot all filled up. Thus, as much as I, Daniel Blake makes sense as an Oscar morning surprise, I’ll stick with the consensus of La La Land, Manchester by the Sea, Hell or High Water, and Captain Fantastic in here.

Predictions:
• Captain Fantastic
• Hell or High Water
• La La Land
• The Lobster
• Manchester by the Sea

SPOILER: I, Daniel Blake

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Yes I’m predicting a Fences snub here which makes sense and doesn’t make sense simultaneously. First up, I think Moonlight, Lion, and Arrival are semi-locks here already. While Hidden Figures surprisingly got in a nice haul of Adapted Screenplay mentions from the BAFTAs to the WGA up to the USC Scripter and BFCAs. The last spot can easily go to Fences (which is the safe choice to be frank about it), or to Silence (which was once perceived as the frontrunner here). I went with Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals here instead because the baity adaptation can probably overcome the writers’ judgment of Ford being a writer.

Predictions:
• Arrival
• Hidden Figures
• Lion
• Moonlight
• Nocturnal Animals

SPOILER: Fences

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

I think at this stage it’s already hard to deny that Toni Erdmann is probably winning this one, so a nod is already assured for this FLF frontrunner. Denmark has a successful streak in this category this decade as well, and Land of Mine appeals to such an AMPAS demographic I think it’s getting in. Sweden’s A Man Called Ove strikes the perfect balance between comedy and drama, and is reminiscent of the other nominees in this category the past few years. Paradise is a bit of an  out of the box pick, but I guess they can’t resist another World War II film in contention from the Venice Best Director of last year. And the only reason I had The Salesman in here is because of Asghar Farhadi’s 2011 victory in this category that we’ve had some sort of reception already to his works. That said, don’t be surprise to see Xavier Dolan joining the race as this type of family melodrama and him working with a lot of Hollywood actors can certainly push him to a nom.

Predictions:
• Land of Mine (Denmark)
• A Man Called Ove (Sweden)
• Paradise (Russia)
• The Salesman (Iran)
• Toni Erdmann (Germany)

SPOILER: It’s Only the End of the World (Canada)

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

Still ahead of this race is Zootopia which had both the critical and audience backing to be one to beat in this race. Hot on its heels though is Kubo and the Two Strings which has overperformed a tad during this previous guilds run. I actually can see a scenario of them pitting it as the non-Zootopia vote. With it hitting both the Foreign Language Film and Best Animated Film shortlist, I expect My Life as a Zucchini to at least nab one, and since I’m not predicting it in FLF, I’ll go ahead and insert it here. Moana, which was supposed to be a last minute challenger to Zootopia just fell short in the end and while its decent box office performance and pop culture impact push me to predict it, I won’t be surprised to see it get snubbed on Oscar morning.Lastly, The Red Turtle seems more of a personal preference than a prediction here, but we’ll be needing the traditional animated representative in this category and I’m leaning to it by a hair over the hit animated film Your Name.

Predictions:
• Kubo and the Two Strings
• Moana
• My Life as a Zucchini
• The Red Turtle
• Zootopia

SPOILER: Sing

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

At the start of the season, O.J.Made in America can suffer a bit of a backlash since its a seven hour documentary feature that originated from TV. But it seems like it has the support now to not only get nominated, but even go all the way to a win. Joining it willbe the foreign documentary Fire At Sea, two films that will probably speak close to the voters due to their “cinematic” themes: Cameraperson and Life, Animated. And in the race (no pun intended) for that last spot are two documentaries that tackle about race — Raoul Peck’s I Am Not Your Negro and Ava Duvernay’s 13th. The latter seems like one who’s bound for a snub so I’m going with the former.

Predictions:
• Cameraperson
• Fire At Sea
• I Am Not Your Negro
• Life, Animated
• O.J.: Made in America

SPOILER: 13th

Now as for the rest of the technical categories…

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
• Arrival
• La La Land
• Lion
• Moonlight
• Silence

SPOILER: Nocturnal Animals

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
• Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
• Florence Foster Jenkins
• Hail, Caesar!
• Jackie
• La La Land

SPOILER: The Dressmaker

BEST EDITING
• Arrival
• Hell or High Water
• La La Land
• Manchester by the Sea
• Moonlight

SPOILER: Lion

BEST HAIRSTYLING & MAKE UP
• Deadpool
• A Man Called Ove
• Star Trek Beyond

SPOILER: Florence Foster Jenkins

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
• The BFG
• Kubo and the Two Strings
• La La Land
• Lion
• Moonlight

SPOILER: Jackie

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
• “Audition” (La La Land)
• “Angel by the Wings” (The Eagle Huntress)
• “City of Stars” (La La Land)
• “How Far I’ll Go” (Moana)
• “A Minute to Breathe” (Before the Flood)

SPOILER:  “Drive It Like You Stole It” (Sing Street)

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
• Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
• Hail, Caesar!
• Jackie
• La La Land
• Silence

SPOILER: The Handmaiden

BEST SOUND EDITING
• Arrival
• Deepwater Horizon
• Hacksaw Ridge
• Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
• Sully

SPOILER: Hell or High Water

BEST SOUND MIXING
• Arrival
• Hacksaw Ridge
• La La Land
• Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
• Sully

SPOILER: Silence

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
• Arrival
• Doctor Strange
• Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
• The Jungle Book
• Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

SPOILER: Passengers

MULTIPLE NOMINATIONS:
13: La La Land
9: Arrival
8: Moonlight
7: Lion
6: Manchester by the Sea
4: Hell or High Water
3: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Fences, Florence Foster Jenkins, Hacksaw Ridge, Hidden Figures, Jackie, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
2: Captain Fantastic, Hail Caesar!, Kubo and the Two Strings, A Man Called Ove, Moana, Nocturnal Animals, Silence, Sully

Philippines’ 89th Oscar Submission: Ma’Rosa   Leave a comment

ma-rosa-posterYesterday, the Film Academy of the Philippines announced Brillante Mendoza’s Ma’Rosa as the country’s submission in the Best Foreign Language Film category at the 89th Academy Awards that will happen on February 2017. The film bested nine other entries which includes Berlin winner Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis, Cinemalaya Best Picture Pamilya Ordinaryo, and the last minute addition Ang Babaeng Humayo by Lav Diaz.

This is the first time for director Brillante Mendoza who has been shortlisted thrice before (2009 for Kinatay, 2013 for Thy Womb, and 2015 for Taklub). Mendoza has also won Best Director at Cannes Film Festival back in 2009, also for Kinatay. In a way, he’s – for lack of a better term – overdue for an Oscar submission. Why he hasn’t represented us thus far is really surprising.

Ma’Rosa, tells a day in the life of a poor family, headed by their matriarch Rosa (played by Jaclyn Jose), as they scramble to find the money to pay off the corrupt policemen that have arrested them or dealing drugs. Back in May, it competed at the Cannes Film Festival Main Competition section where it pulled off the historic Best Actress win for Jose, being the first Filipina and Southeast Asian actress to do so. Certainly, it has the clout and the festival exposure.

Now let’s dissect its chances. Can Ma’Rosa pull off that elusive first nomination for the Philippines? For those counting, we’ve submitted 27 times in the past — back from our very first in 1953 for Manuel Conde’s Genghis Khan up to last year’s Heneral Luna from Jerrold Tarog) to no avail. No nomination and no shortlist mention.

As mentioned above, one of the things going for Ma’Rosa is its festival exposure. Not only did it take a home a prize at Cannes, it also played at the Toronto Film Festival. It has partnered with sales agency company Films Distribution which also distributed current Best Foreign Language Film winner Son of Saul. Impressive, right? Well not in the sense you’re thinking of. It has to be clarified though. Films Distribution is not an Oscar-campaigner studio per se. It’s not the same as Focus Features or Fox Searchlight or even The Weinstein Company. Son of Saul‘s win last year was due to being campaigned by Focus Features which handled its whole awards run campaign. Ma’Rosa doesn’t have that.. yet. In reality, the most Films Distribution can do is to help the movie gain more festival exposure. Going by a quick search shows that after Toronto, it’s also heading to BFI London, which is good. More festival exposure is always better.

Reviews by foreign critics is always a factor too. It has to be mentioned first that Mendoza is really as divisive when it comes to foreign critics. Remember when the late Roger Ebert mentioned that Kinatay surpassed Vincet Gallo’s The Brown Bunny as “the worst film in Canes history?” So it’s a  bit of delight that Ma’Rosa is probably one of the better-reviewed films in his filmography. While critics still had reservations, they were more welcoming than the usual. THR mentioned “Thankfully, and as in his other features, Mendoza again manages to turn his locations into a character in its own right. ” Variety’s Maggie Lee summed it best when she said “Boasting a simple, coherent plot shot with real-time, handheld verismo, it’s a work of understated confidence that will not disappoint his festival acolytes, but probably won’t win many new converts.

A lot has been mentioned about how we, at a certain extent, can be helped by our own country’s narrative right now. As the world probably knows already, we’re very vocal in our battle with the issue of drugs. And many feel that the movie is timely and that can help buzz. Historically, not really. This category really doesn’t care about that, to be frank. A year after Brokeback Mountain lost Best Picture, a significant amount of queer films were submitted for Best Foreign language Film including our own Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros. The total number of gay films nominated that year? Zero. In 2010, an election year in many countries, a lot of them rode that narrative, again including us when we submitted Dondon Santos’ Noy and Brazil went with Lula. Number of election themed nominated movies that year? Zero. This whole controversy reminded me just three years ago when we went with Transit as our submission (make no mistake, still a great film, just not a great Oscar entry) over the snubbed On the Job and the FAP’s reasoning was that they don’t want to submit a film that showed the negative side of the country. Submitting Ma’Rosa I guess is a huge leap to the other direction, if that means something.

The biggest factor that can probably help Ma’Rosa is its Cannes win. Sure its only Best Actress (and by only I mean that in the hierarchy of Cannes wins, its in the lower tier alongside Best Actor and Best Screenplay. This sentence, by no means, does not intend to take anything away from the marvelous Jaclyn Jose), but a win is still a win. And that it’s still buzz. For a movie that was perceived as a non-event of some sort at Cannes (it was one of the least buzzed films of the competition, but then it’s pretty understandable since he’s competing with the likes of veterans and/or those with Hollywood cast), how it ended up going home with a win is a win itself already.

Now let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Three days ago, it was announced that Lav Diaz’ Ang Babaeng Humayo will go for a September 23 release, which would make it eligible for this year since it’ll be meeting the necessary requirements to contend. The huge amount of buzz over its historic Golden Lion win (the highest honor ever received by a Filipino movie in history) is too much to ignore. Sure, it’s a Lav Diaz film which means it runs for more than three hours, and that didn’t help Norte two years ago. That said, foreign critics being unanimously positive about it, plus the film being called as his most accessible (especially since Diaz is another name that’s divisive to foreign critics), with a sure huge company to back its campaign (Charo Santos was the president of the biggest TV network in the country), it’s basically a decision too obvious to make by that time. That’s why it’s a tad surprising that the announcement happened yesterday. This prompted Humayo to move back to a September 28 screening, which will make it ineligible for next year’s submission too. That, and the buzz over Golden Lion and the Toronto inclusion will be old news by then. Let it be clear though that none of this should be pointed against Ma’Rosa, Mendoza, or any of his team, since decision wasn’t really theirs.

A few weeks ago pre-Venice Film Fest, I wrote about the possible submissions and strongly felt that none of the films would do the trick. In that case, why not throw a bone to Mendoza’s Ma’Rosa. But the whole Golden Lion win affected everything. My final verdict says that nope we ain’t getting that nomination nor that Top 9 mention.  If anything, my takeaway with this year is that we’ve finally acknowledged and submitted Mendoza’s work (which was already beyond deserving back in 2009 when we had that tragic Ded na si Lolo submission), but at the expense of a stronger contender. I’d love to be wrong though.

Off to next year.

89th Oscar Foreign Language Film: What Should the Philippines Submit?   6 comments

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It’s the time of the year! By September, the Film Academy of the Philippines will submit one movie to the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts, and Sciences (AMPAS) that will be our bid to the Best Foreign Language Film category at the 89th Academy Awards. This will be our 28th participating year and we are yet to receive a nomination.

To qualify as an eligible submission, the Academy’s rule states that “The motion picture must be first released in the country submitting it no earlier than October 1, 2015, and no later than September 30, 2016, and be first publicly exhibited for at least seven consecutive days in a commercial motion picture theater for the profit of the producer and exhibitor.

Currently nine countries have already announced their submissions with our likely winner, Germany’s Toni Erdmann, in the longlist already. So which film will be our best bet to advance forward? I’ve divided them in three different categories.

DISCLAIMER: It has to be cleared that this ISN’T the final shortlist from the Film Academy of the Philippines yet, and are just mere speculations and recommendations.

FRONTRUNNERS:

anino sa likod ng kahapon

ANINO SA LIKOD NG BUWAN
Director: Jun Lana
Screenplay: Jun Lana
Cast: LJ Reyes, Luis Alandy, Anthony Falcon
Philippine Release Date: July 20, 2016

Amidst conflict between the military and communists, three people are confronted with a difficult dilemma.

Jun Lana, no stranger from Oscar representative (he directed our 2012 submission Bwakaw), is in contention yet again for his latest effort which is a one-long two-hour take staged just like a play with only three characters interacting all throughout the movie. The film also has participated alongside many different international festivals both in Asia and Europe (though none in the Big 4 major film festivals). That said, the film is unanimously considered as one of the best from 2015 among local critics.

felix manalo

FELIX MANALO
Director: Joel Lamangan
Screenplay: Bienvenido Santiago
Cast: Dennis Trillo, Bela Padilla, Gabby Concepcion
Philippine Release Date: October 7, 2015

Felix Ysagun Manalo is a sprawling historical epic that traces the origin of Iglesia Ni Cristo (The Church of Christ) which is established in the Philippines from its humble beginnings in 1914 through the present day.

Definitely one of the most divisive films of last year, Felix Manalo is epic in its landscape detailing one of the most important personalities among Iglesia ni Cristo’s history. This almost three-hour movie boasts so much of its lavish production design and staging, that it would tick all boxes in an “baity Oscar film” checklist. But beyond the grandeur is a straightforward storytelling, and one that was considered as “weak” and “safe” by most critics. That said, never underestimate the taste of the FAP to include this in the shortlist, as they’re one easily swayed by buzz regardless if those were organic or fabricated.

hele sa hiwagang hapis

HELE SA HIWAGANG HAPIS
Director: Lav Diaz
Screenplay: Lav Diaz
Cast: John Lloyd Cruz, Piolo Pascual, Susan Africa
Philippine Release Date: March 26, 2016

In the midst of revolution, a young poet and the man that ruined his life travel through the jungle in search of safety. At the same time, a grieving widow encounters mystical beings on a mountain while searching for the body of her beloved revolutionary.

Winner of the Alfred Bauer Prize at the Berlin Film Festival earlier this year (with jury president Meryl Streep awarding them), there’s no doubt that this is one of the two most-buzzed films we have in world cinema for this year. Imagine if we submitted this and have Oscar winner Meryl Streep and Oscar nominee Clive Owen campaign this right? But let’s not get ahead of ourselves as that’s a bit of a reaching. The thing with Hele is that we have already attempted to submit a Diaz film back in 2014 via Norte which is half the running time of this one and arguably his most universal effort thus far, and yet the Academy didn’t give in to it.

honor thy father

HONOR THY FATHER
Director: Erik Matti
Screenplay: Erik Matti, Michiko Yamamoto
Cast: John Lloyd Cruz, Meryll Soriano, Tirso Cruz III
Philippine Release Date: December 25, 2015

A family is caught in a financial ruin after being involved in a ponzi scheme.

With an Erik Matti film in contention yet again, it reminds me of probably the biggest miss we had not submitting On the Job back in 2013. What made that more infuriating was the committee’s response that they don’t want to submit a film that shows a negative image of the Philippines. Yeah, right. Anyway, Matti is back again this time with the MMFF entry Honor Thy Father which made its premiere a year ago at the Toronto International Film Festival. Honor‘s best shot is that I can see the film appealing to the Western crowd with its theme and execution. That said, the film feels bit of an after thought by now, but with every controversy that the film has encountered, it just ended up soaring higher. Maybe, FAP atones to Erik Matti this time around?

ignacio de loyola

IGNACIO DE LOYOLA
Director: Paolo Dy, Cathy Azanza
Screenplay: Paolo Dy
Cast: Andreas Munoz, Javier Godino, Julio Perillan
Philippine Release Date: July 27, 2016

In 16th Century Spain, a soldier born of nobility gives his life of luxury to become a pilgrim devoted to God and his people.

Watch out Felix Manalo, there’s another religious biography in contention. Kidding aside, I can already imagine the FAP members creaming themselves over this one. For one, the casting of a foreign star in lead role will make them think it can add extra buzz to our own entry (this isn’t an Oscar rule after all. Lots of foreign actors starred in films from other countries which ended up as submissions. Case in point: French star Emmanuelle Riva in Austria’s Amour, Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal in Chilean film No, and even our own Angeli Bayani in Sinagpore’s Ilo-ilo). Plus, the religious theme somehow gives it more importance and a “good image” per se in representing the country (which apparently is an unwritten rule; see: On the Job again in 2013).

ma'rosa

MA’ROSA
Director: Brillante Mendoza
Screenplay: Troy Espiritu
Cast: Jaclyn Jose, Andi Eigenmann, Julio Diaz, Felix Roco, Jomari Angeles
Philippine Release Date: July 6, 2016

A poor family scrambles to find the money to pay off the corrupt policemen that have arrested the parents for dealing drugs.

Sure it was one of the least buzzed entries at Cannes main competition this year, until the great Jaclyn Jose earned the coveted Best Actress win and the rest, as they say, is history. Ma’Rosa is currently participating now at Toronto International Film Festival and I think it has the most buzz for any Filipino film competing for this year when it comes to foreign exposure. And at this stage, after all his trips to Cannes and Berlin and Venice and TIFF, isn’t Brillante Mendoza overdue for a Filipino Oscar submission? I lobbied that Taklub was our best shot last year, but they can make up for it with Ma’Rosa this year.

pamilya ordinario

PAMILYA ORDINARYO
Director: Eduardo Roy Jr.
Screenplay: Eduardo Roy Jr.
Cast: Ronwaldo Martin, Hasmine Killip, Sue Prado, Moira Lang
Philippine Release Date: August 31, 2016

Jane and Aries are teenage parents. They make a living out of stealing on the streets… until fate hits back at them.

After sweeping major awards at the recently concluded Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival including wins for Best Picture, Best Director for Eduardo Roy Jr., and Best Actress for newcomer Hasmine Killip, this runaway favorite is getting an instant cinema release in time for the Oscar cutoff. Add the fact that it’s also heading to Venice under the “Venice Days” sidebar (think of it as their answer to Cannes’ Directors Fortnight section), and it’s on the right track. This also has the makings to appeal to an international audience,

POTENTIAL SHORTLIST MENTIONS:

tier 2

Don’t be surprised to see any of these films in this group make it in the final shortlist.

DUKOT
Director: Paul Soriano
Screenplay: Froilan Medina
Cast: Enrique Gil, Ricky Davao, Christopher de Leon, Shaina Magdayao
Philippine Release Date: July 13, 2016

With Paul Soriano helming it (one of the producers of our 2013 Oscar submission “Transit“), this suspense drama about an abducted son also brags of an ensemble composed of some of the biggest names in the country both newbies and veterans.

ANG HAPIS AT HIMAGSIK NI HERMANO PULI
Director: Gil Portes
Screenplay: Enrique Ramos
Cast: Aljur Abrenica, Louise delos Reyes, Enzo Pineda, Menggie Cobarrubias
Philippine Release Date: September 21, 2016

In the tradition of our love for hero films — some of which are deserved (last year’s Heneral Luna), some of which are good (Supremo), and some which are just flat out terrible (El Presidente), let’s say hello to Hermano Puli.

MAGTANGGOL
Director: Sigfreid Barros-Sanchez
Screenplay: Henrie Enaje, Henry dela Cruz, Sigfreid Barros Sanchez
Cast: Dina Bonnevie, Ejay Falcon, Joonee Gamboa, Tom Rodriguez
Philippine Release Date: June 8, 2016

Only because of its serious topical theme (with them even doing special screening this National Heroes Day), I can see this political themed film making a (not so) surprise appearance in the shortlist. Think of how Kamkam by Joel Lamangan made it to the Top 4 in 2014.

A SECOND CHANCE
Director: Cathy Garcia-Molina
Screenplay: Henrie Enaje, Henry dela Cruz, Sigreid Barros Sanchez
Cast: Carmi Raymundo, Vanesssa Valdez, Cathy Garcia-Molina
Philippine Release Date: November 25, 2015

We have that one slot, almost always reserved to those box office hits that tackle more serious topics than the usual. Not to say that they aren’t deserving since most of them actually are, but they  happen to end up in the shortlist. Examples include 2008’s Caregiver, or 2010’s Sa’yo Lamang, maybe even last year’s That Thing Called Tadhana can somewhat be considered.

TANDEM
Director: King Palisoc
Screenplay: Zig Marasigan
Cast: JM de Guzman, Nico Antonio, Rochelle Pangilinan
Philippine Release Date: February 17, 2016

As for starters, the producers of this film were also the producers of our previous submission Heneral Luna, so if anything, they;d sure be willing to campaign. This film got good to great reviews with solid performances from the leads, but if you compare it to other entries, it’s a tad low-key (in terms of buzz and not of film quality). And if it’s already low-key here, can you imagine how it would fare to the foreign market?

WALANG FOREVER
Director: Dan Villegas
Screenplay: Paul Sta. Ana
Cast: Jennylyn Mercado, Jericho Rosales, Lorna Tolentino
Philippine Release Date: December 25, 2015

For an MMFF film, this one got solid reviews and even swept the Gabi ng Parangal of last year. This is also from the Dan Villegas and Jennylyn Mercado team-up, which reminds us that English Only Please, was part of the short-list that year.

ELIGIBILITY ISSUES:

tier 3

So these movies have appeared in different indie film festivals but haven’t fulfilled the seven-day commercial distribution yet. This does not mean that these movies are bad obviously they’re not because there have been buzz for some of them to be submitted. Well, they still have the whole month of September to book a screening if they plan to be considered eligible. Or they can wait for next year instead. For what it’s worth, some films who made it in the shortlist the previous years aren’t from the same year where they participated in festivals. As for examples, the 2008 Cinemalaya film Boses only got a commercial screening in 2012, and thus was included in the shortlist for the 2012 Oscars. Same goes for Ian Lorenos’ Alagwa which gave Jericho Rosales his Urian in 2012 but was in the 2014 shortlist.

FINAL VERDICT:

For this year, I think we can trim it down to three films which would all be decent submissions by any means. For starters, there’s the John Lloyd starrer Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis with its Berlin victory, but is simply hindered by the 8-hr running time. Not that Lav Diaz needs Oscars anyway to validate his impressive work; it’s just that sometimes the Academy just doesn’t fit into a certain director’s style. Then there’s the other John Lloyd starrer Honor Thy Father, which I can see a scenario with it connecting to a foreign audience, if they’re gonna push it hard and run aggressive with it. That’s a big if, by the way. In the end, maybe Jaclyn Jose’s Cannes win can also be Brillante Mendoza’s first RP submission to the Academy. It’s doing its assignment by participating in TIFF and its Cannes win, but us submitting a Mendoza film for once won’t do us any harm, regardless of the end result if it gets in or not.

Share your thoughts with me! You can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

39th Gawad Urian Winner Predictions   Leave a comment

The Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino (MPP) are bound to reward their picks among the best of 2015 local cinema with the 39th Gawad Urian Awards this Tuesday, June 21. But who are poised to take home those huge silver trophies? It’s a strange year in predicting, but here’s where I’ll bet my money on.

best picture

BEST PICTURE
“Anino sa Likod ng Buwan”
“ARI: My Life with a King”
“Bambanti”
“Da Dog Show”
“Heneral Luna”
“Honor Thy Father”
“Imbisibol”
“Taklub”

Unlike previous years when there’s one clear frontrunner to win the top award (2003’s Magnifico, 2005’s Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros, 2009’s Kinatay, and 2013’s Norte), this year, the race is a bit up in the air. As for starters, there’s the now iconic pop culture effect of Heneral Luna, which dominated critically and commercially. Then there’s also Taklub, which was Brillante Mendoza’s comeback to Cannes (albeit in the Un Certain Regard competition) since 2009. Anino sa Likod ng Buwan and Imbisibol both live up to the name of their previous stage adaptations. And Honor Thy Father got pretty much the same enthusiasm that Matti’s (also Best Picture nominated) On the Job received. The three other films nominated are much low-key in nature, but I can also foresee a case of the Manunuri going with the cultural importance of the arts in “Ari.” I guess I’ll go with Jun Lana’s “Anino sa Likod ng Buwan“, as I find its one shot narrative up right the Manunuri’s alley. Besides, Lana is someone I see who’s finally breaking through with the Urian considering they also went gaga with Barber’s Tales last year (despite ending with a 0-11 shutout).

PREDICTION: “Anino sa Likod ng Buwan
ALTERNATE: “Heneral Luna

best director

BEST DIRECTOR:
Carlo Enciso Catu, “ARI: My Life with a King”
Mario Cornejo, “Apocalypse Child”
Zig Madamba Dulay, “Bambanti”
Lawrence Fajardo, “Imbisibol”
Ralston Jover, “Da Dog Show”
Jun Lana, “Anino sa Likod ng Buwan”
Erik Matti, “Honor Thy Father”
Brilliante Mendoza, “Taklub”
Kidlat Tahimik, “Balikbayan #1: Memories of Overdevelopment”
Jerrold Tarog, “Heneral Luna”

I have this previous theory (which I shared last year) that when someone is up for the Best Director award yet the film isn’t nominated for Best Picture, that totally eliminates the director’s chances to win at all. After all, no director has won in this category without the corresponding film being nominated for the top award too. That said, if there’s one filmmaker who can defy that statistic, it’s Kidlat Tahimik. After all, the narrative is there already. I’m sure the Urian won’t shy rewarding him especially now that the opportunity is there. Then again, I noted two years ago that in a field of 12 Best Director nominees, the only ones with no Urian are Erik Matti and Hannah Espia and while I predicted the former, it’s the latter who won. Thus, I’ll reserve my alternate this time for Matti to nab his first Urian here.

PREDICTION: Kidlat Tahimik, “Balikbayan #1: Memories of Overdevelopment”
ALTERNATE:
Erik Matti, “Honor Thy Father”

best actor

BEST ACTOR
Luis Alandy, “Anino sa Likod ng Buwan”
John Arcilla, “Heneral Luna”
John Lloyd Cruz, “Honor Thy Father”
John Lloyd Cruz, “A Second Chance”
Ricky Davao, “Dayang Asu”
Anthony Falcon, “Anino sa Likod ng Buwan”
Francisco Guinto, “ARI: My Life with a King”
Sid Lucero, “Apocalypse Child”
Junjun Quintana, “Water Lemon”
Jericho Rosales, “Walang Forever”
Dennis Trillo, “Felix Manalo”
Lou Veloso, “Da Dog Show”

While it’s a strong year for lead actors with everyone getting in meaty roles here and there, this is one category where the Manunuri channels their inner Oprah and hands out nominations like Santa Claus. From this bunch, chances are we won’t see a repeat winner so that leaves out Ricky Davao, Sid Lucero, Junjun Quintana, Jericho Rosales, and Lou Veloso already. In the event that it will be though, bank on John Arcilla’s prominent pornstache to win this. That said, the double nominations signify strong support for our perennial frontrunner John Lloyd Cruz to finally receive his first Urian. Only once in the history of Urian did an actor compete against herself that lost (FYI it’s Nora Aunor x2 (both ‘Merika and Bilangin ang Bituin sa Langit) losing to Vilma Santos in Sister Stella L.). So unless Manunuri trolls out in the end, it’s John Lloyd’s to lose.

PREDICTION: John Lloyd Cruz, “Honor Thy Father”
ALTERNATE:
John Arcilla, “Heneral Luna”

best actress

BEST ACTRESS:
Nora Aunor, “Taklub”
Angeli Bayani, “Iisa”
Mercedes Cabral, “Da Dog Show”
Alessandra de Rossi, “Bambanti”
Anicka Dolonius, “Apocalypse Child”
Jennylyn Mercado, “Walang Forever”
Ces Quesada, “Imbisibol”
LJ Reyes, “Anino sa Likod ng Buwan”

Last year, it was easy to dismiss Nora Aunor’s chances simply because she’s already winning the Natatanging Gawad Urian and if there’s one thing that Urian loves, it’s to spread the wealth. This year however is a more difficult one to predict. That said, Taklub is minor Aunor, and I don’t think this is the performance that will tie her with rival Vilma Santos for the 8th Best Actress win. Both Angeli Bayani and Alessandra de Rossi won Urian the past few years, so I don’t see the Manunuri rushing to give them second wins (they have no problem giving out nominations but a win is a different talk). Quesada, Dolonius and Cabral are all borderline supporting characters in terms of screentime or story, though Ces Quesada, a veteran with no Urian win yet can easily overcome this narrative as compared to the two others. Jennylyn Mercado, a previous Urian nominee for Blue Moon back in 2005, is nominated for #WalangForever, seems more of a statement on the Manunuri’s part that they also acknowledge romance/commercial format stories. I mean if Angelica Panganiban couldn’t win with Tadhana last year, I doubt they’re touching this. That leaves me with LJ Reyes, and while in any other year, I wouldn’t have made this prediction, maybe the “boldness” of the role would be enough for her to take home the trophy.

PREDICTION: LJ Reyes, “Anino sa Likod ng Buwan”
ALTERNATE:
Ces Quesada, “Imbisibol”

best supp actor

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:
RK Bagatsing, “Apocalypse Child”
Bernardo Bernardo, “Imbisibol”
Tirso Cruz III, “Honor Thy Father”
JM De Guzman, “Imbisibol”
Julio Diaz, “Taklub”
Alion Ibanez, “Da Dog Show”
Micko Laurente, “Bambanti”
Lou Veloso, “Taklub”

Opposite of the Oscars where they reward the older vets in Supporting, the Urian likes them young and fresh with up and coming actors winning here going as far as 1986 champ Aga Muhlach up to last year’s Martin del Rosario. The only one who fits the bill is 4x nominee JM de Guzman for Imbisibol. But then, I think this is one year where they can skip that as I think it’s a battle of the three vets: 1980 Best Actor Bernardo Bernardo, 1992 Best Supporting Actor Tirso Cruz III, and still Urian-less Julio Diaz. I have a hunch they’re going with Tirso’s over the top religious zealot in here to give him his overdue second career Urian.

PREDICTION: Tirso Cruz III, “Honor Thy Father”
ALTERNATE:
Julio Diaz, “Taklub”

best supp actress

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
Liza Dino, “Toto”
Mylene Dizon, “Heneral Luna”
Rio Locsin, “Iisa”
Anna Abad Santos, “Apocalypse Child”
Tessie Tomas, “Water Lemon”
Cecil Yumol, “ARI: My Life with a King”
Gwen Zamora “Apocalypse Child”

I can’t remember the last time they rewarded a supporting performance from a full comedy movie, so I feel that Liza Dino’s nominations is the reward itself already. Same goes for Urian winner Mylene Dizon. I personally prefer Ana Abad Santos over Gwen Zamora in Apocalypse Child, but a part of me thinks that it’s a film they showered with acting nominations but will give no wins (which in Urian history isn’t always a bad thing. There’s a long list of films that reap 4-5 acting nominations that will lose all of its acting bids. Case in point, last year’s Best Picture Mula sa Kung Ano Ang Noon, or Barber’s Tales.). I’ll call this a race between two underrated veterans: Rio Locsin vs. Tessie Tomas, and I’ll give the edge to the latter just because she have more Urian losses, so maybe the Manunuri might make up for it.

PREDICTION: Tessie Tomas, “Water Lemon”
ALTERNATE:
Rio Locsin, “Iisa”

Now as for the rest of the nominations:

SCREENPLAY:
Prediction:
Herlyn Gail Alegre  and John Paul Bedia, “Imbisibol
Alternate:
Michicko Yamamoto, Honor Thy Father

PRODUCTION DESIGN:
Prediction: Harley Alcasid, “Bukod Kang Pinagpala
Alternate: Ben Payumo, “Water Lemon

CINEMATOGRAPHY:
Prediction: Ber Cruz, “Honor Thy Father
Alternate: Pong Ignacio, “Heneral Luna

MUSIC:
Prediction: Jerrold Tarog, “Heneral Luna
Alternate: Diwa de Leon, “Taklub

EDITING:
Prediction: Lawrence Ang, “Anino sa Likod ng Buwan
Alternate: Kats Serraon, “Da Dog Show

SOUND:
Prediction: Mikko Quizon, “Heneral Luna
Alternate: Mikko Quizon, “Honor Thy Father

The 39th Gawad Urian Awards will be shown live on Cinema One this June 21 at 8PM.

69th Cannes Film Festival Winner Predictions   Leave a comment

2016 Jury

Another year has gone by, as the world’s most prestigious festival comes to a close. The 69th Cannes Film Festival has been a whirlwind of some sort. This year featured a bad Woody Allen joke during the opening ceremony, a barefoot Julia Roberts in the red carpet, and probably the most low-key Un Certain Regard competition in a long time.

As for the Main Competition, the consensus is that it’s a bit frontloaded with the latter half of the festival ranging from underwhelming (Dardennes), to bad (Dolan), to really bad (Penn), and sadly, to the no1curr (Mendoza). That said, this is one of the hardest to predict since there isn’t any specific basis as to what the jury will go for (and the jury changes every year!), but here’s a stab at possible winner predictions.

Screenplay

PRIX DU SCÉNARIO

PREDICTION: Cristian Mungiu, “Bacalaureat (Graduation)
Mungiu has already won this award four years ago with Beyond the Hills, but I can see him being the first person to win this twice. A previous Palme d’Or winner for 4 Months, 3  Weeks, 2 Days, this slow burner story about a father and his daughter is the type of thought provoking film that usually wins this category. He can find himself against the other Romanian, Cristi Piui, for equally talky film Sieranevada

ALTERNATE: Asghar Farhadi, “Forushande (The Salesman)”
Prior to the beginning of the festival, this one is touted as one of the major frontrunners especially since it was a late minute addition. While it can still happen in this jury, the relatively silent reactions around it makes me think that it can settle for a Screenplay award instead.

Actor

PRIX D’INTERPRÉTATION MASCULINE

PREDICTION: Dave Johns, “I, Daniel Blake
Mostly known as an English stand up comic, “I Daniel Blake” is Dave Johns’ first foray into movie acting. And if it’s any indication, he should be doing more of it. His commanding turn as the title role in Ken Loach’ entry this year reportedly broke a lot of hearts and had everyone praising him. Seems fitting in this category.

ALTERNATE: Adam Driver, “Paterson
The Jim Jarmusch film in competition this year is said to be in his upper tier of works, and if the Jury loves it so much, an award to its lead actor can be one way of rewarding it. In the event it happens, it’s quite delicious since Driver has just won the Volpi Cup two years ago for Hungry Hearts, and for him to have 2/3 of the major trifecta for a relatively short career yet is astounding, to say the least.

Actress

PRIX D’INTERPRÉTATION FÉMININE

PREDICTION: Sonia Braga, “Aquarius
Locks rarely do happen at Cannes of all people (heck even unanimously raved Blue is the Warmest Color in 2013 wasn’t a sure thing as we entered the awarding ceremony), but if there’s one performance that was continuously raved from its premiere up to now was that of Sonia Braga’s in Aquarius. It also helps that the film has received great word too, so it can be hitting two birds with one stone in this one.

ALTERNATE: Kristen Stewart, “Personal Shopper
To be frank, this is probably the most competitive lead actress year in Cannes for quite some time. There’s Isabelle Huppert gunning a third win for “Elle” and Sandra Huller for “Toni Erdmann” but I think both are also gunning for higher prizes. There’s also Ruth Negga who was consistently praised for “Loving“, the two women who played the title roles of”Julieta” — Emma Suarez and Adriana Ugarte, Adèle Haenel of “The Unknown Girl“, Sasha Lane of “American Honey“, Juliette Binoche of “Ma Loute“, Jaclyn Jose of “Ma’Rosa“, Elle Fanning of “The Neon Demon“, but maybe Kristen Stewart’s lead role in Oliver Assayas’ “Personal Shopper” is one that can appeal to this particular jury.

Directing

PRIX DE LA MISE EN SCÉNE

PREDICTION: Andrea Arnold, “American Honey
I’m sure politics isn’t the be all-end all of everything, but in the history of Cannes, only one woman has won the Best Director trophy (that would be Soviet director Yuliya Solntseva 55 years ago way back in 1961). The buzz for American Honey has managed to stay throughout the rest of the competition, and while I don’t think it was unanimously raved, this type of divisive response is perfect for a Best Director trophy.

ALTERNATE: Paul Verhoeven, “Elle
Sure he is no highly heralded auteur, but Paul Verhoeven’s comeback is enough narrative for him to win this. This is the man who gave us Starship Troopers and Basic Instinct, so winning a Cannes Best Director for his first film in ten years is something I can see the jury acknowledging.

Jury Prize

PRIX DU JURY

PREDICTION: Park Chan-Wook, “Agassi (The Handmaiden)”
Winner of the same award back in 2009 for “Thirst“, Park Chan-Wook’s comeback film in competition can also be his third-award winning one following 2004 Grand Prix winner “Oldboy” and the aforementioned Thirst.Agassi” surely isn’t the unanimous raved entry for this year, but between its feminist tones and deliciously looking visuals, this can be enough of a formula to win a Jury Prize.

ALTERNATE: Bruno Dumont “Ma Loute (Slack Bay)”
It’s a bit weird to see no French entry be rewarded with a win especially since this is the Cannes after all, but if there’s one, this Bruno Dumont comedy is my best guess to have a chance.

Grand Prix

GRAND PRIX

PREDICTION: Paul Verhoeven, “Elle
Saving the latter half of the competition, Verhoeven’s comeback vehicle “Elle” was met with raves from critics and was considered as the perfect closer to the festival. Its humorous and atypical take on a serious subject matter, as well as the combination of star power and potential wide appeal is definitely right up Miller’s alley. One reason why I’m not predicting it  for the Palme d’Or though is that I think it’s a tad controversial and boundary pushing for the top prize.

ALTERNATE: Andrea Arnold, “American Honey
American press kept on harping that this is the next Palme d’Or, but I have my reservations with that. I think it’s too divisive and not even the type of divisive that will have enough champions in the group. It’s more fitting for a Jury Prize or a Directorial one for Andrea Arnold. But who knows? Maybe they know something I don’t.

Palme d'Or

PALME D’OR

PREDICTION: Maren Ade, “Toni Erdmann
It’s really the breakout of this festival. This strange comedy from female filmmaker Maren Ade really had all the critics raving about it. As for starters, it’s one of the consistent performer across all different critics poll series. Then, George Miller hinted about wanting to reward/prefer a comedy. Add the narrative of only one female director winning the Palme d’Or (that would be Jane Campion’s “The Piano” back in 1993 but it won in a tie). Unless the jury really wants to go on a different direction, I think we’re looking at our Palme winner already.

ALTERNATE: Ken Loach, “I, Daniel Blake
Well this is the other direction I’m referring to. If they’re not in the mood for some comedy, then this heartwarming drama which was reported as having the jury really ecstatic about it can be our Palme winner. Ken Loach won this exactly a decade ago unanimously with “The Wind That Shakes the Barley” (in a competition that included Bruno Dumont, Nicole Garcia, Andrea Arnold, and Pedro Almodovar too) so maybe history’s for rewriting this one.

As for that highly regarded film that ended up with no win, I’m leaning towards Jim Jarmusch’s “Paterson” and Cristi Piui’s “Sieranevada” as the likely victims for this year. I’m excited to see the Maren Ade, the Jim Jarmusch, the Paul Verhoeven, Asghar Farhadi, and I guess the Brillante Mendoza among the competition, but titles in other sidebars such as Pablo Larrain’s “Neruda” and “The Red Turtle.” Oh and for the sheer lulz of it, I hope we get to see Sean Penn’s “The Last Face” too!

Talk to me about it on Twitter: @nikowl

89th Oscars Predictions: May Edition   2 comments

It’s that time of the year! As Cannes is currently going, here’s my first stab at predictions for the 89th Academy Awards. Ten years ago, The Departed won in the tightest Best Picture race (prior to the one early this year), Forest Whitaker and Helen Mirren steamrolled through critics and televised awards, an Idol reject named Jennifer Hudson took Oscar glory, and an overdue Martin Scorsese finally can call himself an Oscar winner.

This year, we might have Marty coming back again, the birth of a nation, Ang Lee at another shot to a Best Picture win, as well as Meryl Streep getting nod #20, and Oscar nominee Isabelle Huppert? Here’s my take on the top six races.

Picture

Directing

Actor

Actress

Supporting Actor

Supporting Actress

Talk to me about it on Twitter: @nikowl