MoviefiedNYC’s Oscar Predictions: Who will Win and SHOULD win!

oscar-17This weekend the 89th Academy Awards will be held where Hollywood will bestow its highest honor to a deserving few. If you are going to an Oscar party and haven’t had time to see all of the nominated films, fear not, the MoviefiedNYC team has done all of the leg work for you. Managing Editors John David West and Myrna Duarte share their predictions along with Award Season Guru Ariadne Ansbro. Below are our picks for who will win and which of the nominees should win.

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


  • Ari – Who will WinLa La Land will take home the gold.  This film swept the Golden Globes and won a record setting 7 awards, not to mention it has picked up a record-tying 14 Oscar nominations, and it won the Producers Guild Award.  See a pattern? Who Should Win: La La Land.  It has been a difficult year, and this film lifted its audience into the clouds.
  • John David – Who will Win: La La Land is clearly set to win, it has 14 nominations, it won the Golden Globe, and it’s a happy movie in depressing year. Oh, and it’s about LA and the movie business, that guarantees a win.  Who Should Win: I’m kind of split between Manchester by the Sea and Moonlight. A Moonlight upset would be sweet, but Manchester is my best movie of 2016. 
  • Myrna – Who will Win:  Ugh .., La La Land, though I do do think Hidden Figures might be giving it a little competition.   Who Should Win: Moonlight a deeply affecting, beautifully-made film, indie favorite, a surprise hit with a passionate fan base.
Best Director: Denis Villeneuve, Arrival, Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge, Damien Chazelle, La La Land, Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea, Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
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Damien Chazelle, La La Land
  • AriWho will Win: Damien Chazelle will pick up his first Oscar for directing La La Land.  This film was a labor of love that took him years to have made.  It’s time for that hard work to pay off.  Who Should Win: I loved what Chazelle did was Land, so to have him win will not be a disappointment.  However, Barry Jenkins beautifully crafted Moonlight with limited resources and turned it into one of the best films of the year.
  • John David – Who will Win: Damien ChazelleLa La Land, he managed to make an original musical in a time when movie musicals are essentially dead.   Who Should Win: Barry Jenkins for Moonlight, a beautifully realized work of art.
  • Myrna – Who will Win: Barry Jenkins for a personal and intimate work, and done on a shoestring budget. I believe the academy will get this right.  Who Should Win: Barry Jenkins for Moonlight, but secretly, I am rooting for Denis Villeneuve, Arrival.
Best Actor: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea, Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge, Ryan Gosling, La La Land, Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic, Denzel Washington, Fences 

Denzel Washington, Fences
Denzel Washington, Fences

  • Ari – Who will Win: While Casey Affleck delivered a riveting performance and was considered the front-runner going into Awards Season, he has taken a serious blow due sexual harassment allegations.  Please note: While Oscar normally does not give a hoot about this kind of thing years later (see Roman Polanski, Mel Gibson, etc.) this is a bit fresh.  Therefore I am going to say that Denzel Washington is going to take home the gold, especially since he won the SAG.  Who Should Win: Both Washington and Affleck were fantastic in their films.  Washington, playing an outwardly combative man who feels that everything happens to him, not because of him, and Affleck, playing a man with the weight of the world and his conscience on his shoulders, both gave breathtaking performances this year.  Honestly, I would not be disappointed if there was a tie.
  • John David – Who will Win: I’m going to take a very minor risk and say, Denzel Washington, Fences will win his third Oscar. Affleck seems to be loosing ground due to his the bad press. Who Should Win: Casey Affleck for his brilliantly restrained performance Manchester. However, Denzel Washington was equally brilliant. For me, it’s really a toss up.
  • Myrna – Who will Win:  Denzel Washington in  Fences, but this will be a nail-biter down to to the last second. Casey Affleck has been the frontrunner but is losing steam.   Who Should Win: This is tough, both Affleck and Washington deliver tremendous performances,  but I think I have to go with Denzel Washington in  Fences.
Best Actress: Isabelle Huppert, Elle, Ruth Negga, Loving, Natalie Portman, Jackie, Emma Stone, La La Land, Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

Emma Stone, La La Land
Emma Stone, La La Land

  • Ari – Who will Win: Emma Stone for La La Land.  She has the momentum of a hugely successful film and she has won all of the pre-Oscar awards.  This is a lock.  Who Should Win: I really enjoyed Ruth Negga in Loving.  Negga said more with her eyes and body language than she did with her mouth, and gave a worthy performance playing an amazing woman.
  • John David – Who will Win: The Best Actress winner should be called the Most Fuckable Hollywood White Girl Award and this year it goes to Emma Stone. She was good but no Huppert in Elle, or Streep in Florence Foster Jenkins, or Ruth Negga…or Amy Adams.  Who Should Win: Isabelle Huppert for her complex and brave performance, the most interesting and solid performance of the group. Amy Adams who was not nominated should have been a front runner for Arrival.
  • Myrna – Who will Win: This is  locked up for Emma Stone in La La Land. If there is an upset, it will be Isabelle Huppert, Elle. Who Should Win: Amy Adams for Arrival, she was ROBBED.
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.
Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
  • Ari –Who will Win: Mahershala Ali is poised to take home the gold.  He was in about 15 minutes of the entire film, but his presence is felt throughout the entire film.  Who Should Win: Dev Patel was incredible in Lion.  His portrayal of a young man driven to find his family with few clues was heart-wrenching and heart-warming all at the same time.
  • John David – Who will Win: If Mahershala Ali doesn’t win for Moonlight, it’s “Fake News.”  Who Should Win: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight – just stop and give it to him!
  • Myrna – Who will Win:  Mahershala Ali, Moonlight but a Dev Patel upset could be possible. Who Should Win:  Mahershala Ali in Moonlight is EVERYTHING. 
Best Supporting ActressViola Davis, Fences, Naomie Harris, Moonlight, Nicole Kidman, Lion, Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures, Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea.
Viola Davis, Fences
Viola Davis, Fences
  • Ari – Who will Win: Viola Davis should have had her Oscar speech written months ago. The third nomination will definitely be the charm for her.  Who Should WinViola Davis blew me away.  I recently read an article where she stated that even though the won a Tony for this role on Broadway, she finally felt that she understood the character when she made the film.  It is incredible.
  • John David – Who will Win: Viola Davis, Fences   Who Should Win: Viola Davis, Fences, followed very closely by Michelle Williams.
  • Myrna – Who will Win:Viola Davis, Fences  Who Should Win: Viola Davis, Fences full stop.
Best Adapted Screenplay: Arrival, Eric Heisserer, Fences, August Wilson, Hidden Figures, Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi, Lion, Luke Davis, Moonlight, Barry Jenkins with story by Tarell Alvin McCranley


  • Ari – Who will Win: Since Moonlight’s Barry Jenkins will not be taking home an Oscar for Best Director, he will win in this category.  Who Should Win: For me it’s a toss-up between Moonlight and Fences.  August Wilson was a masterful playwright, and, since he is deceased, this is his only chance to win an Oscar.  However, does this mean that William Shakespeare can be nominated too?
  • John David – Who will Win:Barry Jenkins for Moonlight and for not winning Best Director. Who Should Win: August Wilson, what language!
  • Myrna – Who will Win: August Wilson, Fences  Who Should Win: August Wilson, Fences the words are musical. 
Best Original Screenplay: Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan, La La Land, Damien Chazelle, The Lobster, Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthimis Filippou, Manchester by the Sea, Kenneth Lonergan, 20th Century Women, Mike Mills
Manchester by the Sea
Manchester by the Sea – Kenneth Lonergan
  • Ari – Who will WinThis is actually a tough category.  The Screen Writers Guild awarded Moonlight the Original Screenplay award, while the Academy deemed it only eligible as an Adapted Screenplay.  This means that La La Land and Manchester by the Sea will duke it out for the final prize.  I am going to say that the Academy will give it to Manchester.  Kenneth Lonergan worked on this script for several years and it was even included on Hollywood’s Blacklist of best unproduced screenplays at one point. Who Should Win: Manchester by the Sea 
  • John David – Who will Win: It would be quite sad to see La La Land win, it’s the most “unoriginal” screenplay of the group. I mean, it’s full of clichés that we’ve seen in countless other films—oh my coffee get spilled on her white shirt. Kenneth Lonergan for Manchester by the Sea. He’s not going to win director or best picture and this is a category where they can spread some love. Who Should Win: Lonergan for Manchester by the Sea, but I would love my personal favorite Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthimis Filippou to win for the darkly funny Lobster. By the way, where is Maren Ade for Toni Erdmann on this list?
  • Myrna – Who will Win: Manchester by the Sea, Kenneth Lonergan  Who Should Win:The Lobster, Yorgos Lanthimos’s dystopian tour de force.   
Best Animated Feature: Kubo and the Two Strings, Moana, My Life as a Zucchini, The Red Turtle, Zootopia.
  • Ari – Who will WinZootopia appealed to children and adults, which is key in this category.  Honestly, I loved the idea of a sloth working at the DMV.   Who Should Win: Zootopia was very innovative and entertaining, but I did enjoy the beautiful story behind Moana.
  • John David – Who will Win: Zootopia   Who Should Win: Zootopia. Yes, it’s all about the Sloth. 
  • Myrna – Who will Win: Zootopia   Who Should Win: Zootopia, so much wit.   The film is filled with lessons about tolerance, diversity and racial profiling delivered with conviction,  it is  almost a little  subversive. 
Best Animated Short: Blind Vaysha, Borrowed Time, Pear Cider and Cigarettes, Pearl, Piper


  • Ari – Who will WinPiper because Pixar short films are AWESOME!!!  Who Should Win: Piper because Pixar short films are AWESOME!!!
  • John David – Who will WinPiper   Who Should Win: One of the better movies of the year was Piper.
  • Myrna – Who will Win:  Didn’t see them, boo. Who Should Win:
 Best Cinematography: Arrival, La La Land, Lion, Moonlight, Silence 
  • Ari – Who will WinLa La Land turned a concrete city that I really have no love for (ahem, Los Angeles) into a beautiful world where love is just around the next corner.   Who Should Win: Lion’s sweeping views of Mumbai and Tasmania were a travel junkie’s eye-candy.  Yes, I am that junkie.
  • John David – Who will WinLa La Land, it had pretty lighting.  Who Should Win: missing from the nominees is Cafe Society (Vittorio Storaro), but Arrival is my pick.
  • Myrna – Who will Win: The safest bet, La La Land, Linus Sandgren will win.  Who Should Win: Bradford Young for Arrival. He is the first African-American cinematographer ever nominated for the award. He also shot two amazing films of 2014, Selma and A Most Violent Year.  
Best Costume Design: Allied, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Florence Foster, Jenkins, Jackie, La La Land 


  • Ari – Who will Win: Mary Zophres costumes in La La Land were both timeless and evocative of Old Hollywood.  Who Should Win: I have issues with films that are based on famous people, as there is a mountain of photographic evidence to base portrayals and styling on.  However, Madeline Fontaine’s costumes in Jackie were meticulously done.  She took one of the most photographed dresses of the 20th century and brought it back to life.  It makes other attempts pale in comparison.
  • John David – Who will WinLa La Land for its TJ Max knock offs!  Who Should Win: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
  • Myrna – Who will Win: La La Land, the primary color palette was easy on the eye but no real thrill. Who Should Win: Jackie
Best Documentary Feature: Fire at Sea, I Am Not Your Negro, Life Animate, , O.J.: Made in America, 13th.
  • Ari – Who will Win: I have the feeling that 13th is going to be the winner in this category. This is mostly because 1.) The Academy will try to make it up to Ava DuVernay for not being nominated for directing Selma several years ago, and 2.) O.J.: Made in America was five hours long.  I don’t know if the Academy voters had the stamina to sit through the whole thing.  Who Should Win: I watched O.J. over the course of one weekend and I am considering doing it again.
  • John David – Who will Win: I have an odd feeling that 13th will win over O.J. both are fantastic documentaries but I think that 13th has this one.   Who Should Win: O.J. was riveting and extremely well done, but it’s really a TV doc. My vote goes to 13th the most important documentary of the year.
  • Myrna –  Who will Win: What an AMAZING year for documentaries. O.J.: Made in America, is a statement about celebrity and race relations in America, as it also was about a high profile murder case. Incredibly compelling. Who Should Win: 13th a game changer of a film. 
Best Film Editing: Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, La La Land, Moonlight.
Hacksaw Ridge
  • Ari – Who will Win: La La Land, but I could see Moonlight pulling an upset.  Who Should Win: La La Land
  • John David – Who will Win: La La Land   Who Should Win: La La Land
  • Myrna – Who will Win:  La La Land, Tom Cross  Who Should Win: Arrival, Joe Walker a sci-fi parable about time, memory, and unity.
Best Foreign Language Film: Land of Mine, A Man Called Ove, The Salesman, Tanna, Toni Erdmann.
The Salesman, Shahab Hosseini, Asghar Farhadi
  • Ari – Who will WinI honestly think that Iran is going to win its second Academy Award for The Salesman.   Who Should Win: Toni Erdmann was hilarious.  I wish comedies won more awards.
  • John David – Who will Win: This is a tough one to call but I think it’s going to be Asghar Farhadi’s The Salesman edging out the rest, not only because it’s a great film but it may get some help from Farhadi’s boycott of the Oscars over Trump’s Muslim Ban.  Who Should Win: Toni Erdmann and The Salesman are both in my top 10 movies of 2016 with The Salesman having an edge.
  • Myrna – Who will Win: The Salesman, Asghar Farhadi Who Should Win: The Salesman, Asghar Farhadi, though I was secretly charmed by A Man Called Ove.
Best Documentary Short: Extremis, 4.1 Miles, Joe’s Violin, Watani: My Homeland, The White Helmets
  • Ari – Who will Win: Three of the documentaries have to do with war in Syria, so I think that they may split the vote.  What do Academy voters love to award outside of a timely issue?  That’s right, the Holocaust!  Joe’s Violin is about a Holocaust survivor who donates his violin to a little girl in the Bronx.   Who Should Win: I thought that White Helmets truly captured the feeling of civilians in war, and the need to help your fellow man.
  • David – Who will Win: The White Helmets   Who Should Win: The White Helmets
  • Myrna – Who will Win:  The White Helmets, Grain Media and Violet Films inspired by a Quranic verse that says “to save a life is to save all of humanity,” the group has rescued more than 60,000 people Who Should Win: The White Helmets, Grain Media and Violet Films

Best Live Action Short: Ennemis Intérieurs, La Femme et le TGV, Silent Nights, Sing, Timecode


  • Ari – Who will WinEnnemis Intérieurs, is a very timely film as it deals with a French-Algerian man accused of hiding the identities of possible terrorists.  Who Should Win: Ennemis Intérieurs
  • David – Who will WinSilent Nights  Who Should Win: There were some really good choices in this category, including Timecode and Ennemis Intérieurs, but La Femme et le TGV was a beautiful shot movie with an engaging story– it’s a complete little film that should take home the Oscar.
  • Myrna – Who will Win: Did not see them.  
Best Makeup and Hairstyling: A Man Called Ove, Star Trek Beyond, Suicide Squad
Star Trek Beyond
  • Ari – Who will WinStar Trek Beyond  Who Should Win: Star Trek Beyond!
  • David – Who will WinStar Trek Beyond.   Who Should WinStar Trek Beyond – I guess we are in agreement on this one! 
  • Myrna – Who will Win: Star Trek Beyond  Who Should Win: Star Trek Beyond
Best Original Score: Jackie, La La Land, Lion, Moonlight, Passengers.
La La Land
  • Ari – Who will WinLa La Land’s score was upbeat, romantic, haunting, and wistful. Not to mention I can’t stop listening to the soundtrack. Congrats Justin Hurwitz on your first Oscar.   Who Should Win: See above.
  • John David – Who will WinLa La Land, after all it’s a musical—with 14 nominations! Who Should Win: La La Land, would like to see Moonlight’s moving soundtrack score upset.
  • Myrna – Who will Win:  The musical,  La La Land. Who Should Win: Moonlight so moving.
Best Original Song: “Audition (The Fools Who Dream),” La La Land, “Can’t Stop the Feeling,” Trolls, “City of Stars,” La La Land, “The Empty Chair,” Jim: The James Foley Story, “How Far I’ll Go,” Moana
“How Far I’ll Go,” Moana
  • Ari – Who will Win: “City of Stars” was the perfect song to encapsulate the love of Mia and Sebastian.  Expect it to win.  Who Should Win: While I loved “City of Stars”, I might have to go with “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” as it was Emma Stone’s best moment in the film.
  • John David – Who will Win: Of course “City of Stars,” it’s an adorable, simple little tune about Los Angles. Who Should Win: “How Far I’ll Go,” Moana. The song actually moves the story along and gives insight into the character’s struggle. Oh, and it’s a song by Lin Manuel Miranda–it’s his year! …or are we bored with him yet?  I second Mryna’s Sing Street comment below! 
  • Myrna – Who will Win:City of Stars,” La La Land but Trolls might just pull an upset Who Should Win: “How Far I’ll Go,” Moana or anything from Sing Street.
Best Production Design: Arrival, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Hail, Caesar!, La La Land, Passengers 
Hail, Caesar!
  • Ari – Who will WinLa La Land, yay Hollywood! Who Should Win: Fantastic Beasts made a fantastic world come to life.  (See what I did there?)
  • John David – Who will Win: La La Land  Who Should Win: Hail, Caesar!
  • Myrna – Who will Win:  La La Land, it’s pretty.  Who Should Win: Arrival, stylish, with a look that will inspire so many sci-fi films to come.
Best Sound Editing: Arrival, Deepwater Horizon, Hacksaw Ridge, La La Land, Sully


  • Ari – Who will Win: I know nothing about Sound Editing or Sound Mixing.  However, a war film normally wins in this category when it is nominated, so welcome to your only win Hacksaw Ridge.  Who Should Win: Probably Hacksaw simply for bringing war to life.
  • John David – Who will WinHacksaw Ridge  Who Should Win: Hacksaw Ridge
  • Myrna – Who will Win:Hacksaw Ridge Who Should Win: Arrival
Best Sound Mixing: Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, La La Land, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi
La La Land
La La Land
  • Ari – Who will Win: La La Land because it is a musical!    Who Should Win: La La Land.  Let’s just say that it seems easier to mix live action with live action than making a seamless sound transition in pre-recorded music from a studio.
  • John David – Who will Win: La La Land   Who Should Win: La La Land
  • Myrna – Who will Win: Hacksaw Ridge  Who Should Win:Rogue One: A Star Wars Story:
Best Visual Effects: Deepwater Horizon, Doctor Strange, The Jungle Book, Kubo and the Two Strings, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
The Jungle Book
  • Ari – Who will WinThe Jungle Book cause I want to play with Baloo. Who Should Win: All kidding aside, The Jungle Book’s visual effects were pretty incredible.
  • John David – Who will Win: The Jungle Book  Who Should Win: The Jungle Book
  • Myrna – Who will Win: The Jungle Book, too bad the couldn’t animate the kid. Who Should Win: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

The 89th Academy Awards will be announced on Sunday, February 26 on ABC. Join MoviefiedNYC for live streaming at @MoviefiedNYC


Are you kidding?!?: The Worst Oscar Snubs of All Time

The Academy Awards winners are soon to be announced and the controversy continues over this year’s various snubs, omissions and general shortsightedness over what constitutes a truly great film, great direction, or great performance. When you look back at various lists of Greatest Films in cinema history, it’s shocking to discover that some of cinema’s greats, not only didn’t win an Oscar, but were not even nominated, Vertigo, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Singin’ in the Rain, considered by some to be some of the best in their respective genres didn’t make the list of nominees. It makes you wonder which of today’s non-nominated movies with be tomorrow’s great films.

So without further ado, here are John David and Ari’s top ten most shocking Oscar omissions over the past 88 years.

John David West’s List

1. Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

SinginInTheRain3Considered by many as the greatest movie musical that cinema has produced and, after recently watching this 1952 classic in the theater, it’s no surprise that AFI ranks it as the #5 Greatest American Film in their 2007 list. It holds up beautifully today. Singin’ ranks as the pinnacle of the MGM musicals with all elements in perfect balance including: direction, cinematography, dancing, and acting, and design; its still laugh-out-loud hilarious among today’s cynical audiences. In a year that gave the Oscar to The Greatest Show on Earth and nomination to Ivanhoe, Moulin Rouge, The Quiet Man, and High Noon, the latter a deserving nominee, Singin’ in the Rain received only one nomination, a supporting actress for Jean Hagen. Rather, it should have been a clean sweep with nominations for Director (Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen), Cinematography, Editing, Art Direction, Costume Design, Best Picture, Screenplay, and Best Picture.

2. Psycho (1960)

psycho 1Not only a horror, thriller classic, it’s an excellent ground breaking film, one of Hitchcock’s best. Psycho entered the zeitgeist of American culture and change how we view taking a shower. One doesn’t have to see Psycho to be familiar with the infamous shower scene or Bernard Herrmann’s shrieking violins. I may be cheating by slipping in another one, but Anthony Perkins’ performance as the serial killer, with mommy issues, Norman Bates is another notable omission for Best Actor nominee list.

3. Do the Right Thing (1989)

Do the thing 5Still one of the biggest controversial omissions in recent Oscar history and Spike Lee’s career best movie was snubbed in favor of the safer, family friendly Driving Miss Daisy, which won the Best Picture Oscar. Watch Do the Right Thing today, and it’s clear how wrong the Academy was in 1989. Lee, who also failed to receive a Best Director nomination, created a superb film with rhythmic dialogue, sharp wit, cinematography that makes you sweat, and in-your-face score. He captures the racial tensions of 1989 America that are, sadly, relevant today.

4. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

2001 Space OdysseyIt’s shocking to know that as one of the greatest directors in the history of cinema, Stanley Kubrick never won an Academy Award. While he was nominated for directing 2001: A Space Odyssey, the sci-fi masterpiece was not nominated for Best Picture. The Academy chose the traditional route, as they so often do, and went with the more accessible Oliver!, Funny Girl, The Lion in Winter, Rachel, Rachel, and Romeo and Juliet.

5. The Third Man (1949)

the-third-man 1The Third Man stands today as one of cinema’s most glorious black and white movies, and Robert Krasker was awarded an Oscar for Best Cinematography. Despite a nomination for director Carol Reed, the film failed to receive a Best Picture nomination. The post World War II thriller was left off the list for Best Picture in favor of Born Yesterday, Father of the Bride, and King Solomon’s Mines. Nominated for 14 Oscars, All About Eve won Best Picture that year.

6. Vertigo (1958)

Vertigo 1Ranked in 2012 as the greatest film ever made, Vertigo knocked Citizen Kane off of the top spot by “Sight & Sound Top 50 Greatest Films of All Time.” Vertigo failed to receive a Best Picture nomination or a Best Director nomination for Alfred Hitchcock. With its emotionally complex themes, dreamy tone, the mystifying Vertigo has proven with time to age well and grow in appreciation among film lovers. With such consistent height praise it’s hard to believe that it was left off of 1958’s Oscar ballot.

7. City of God (2004)

City of God 4City of God wasn’t completely forgotten in 2004, as the Brazilian masterpiece garnered four Oscar nominations including Best Director (Fernando Meirelles), Best Adapted Screenplay, Film Editing, and Cinematography, but it was oddly left off of the short list for Best Foreign Language film. Beyond that City of God should have been listed among the five nominees for Best Picture. That year nominees included a couple forgettable movies including Mystic River and Seabiscuit (!) 2004 was a big year for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King with 11 Oscars.

8. Steven Spielberg for directing Jaws (1975)

Jaws 3It’s true, Spielberg was snubbed for the movie that entered the zeitgeist of America and changed how we experience swimming on the beach. But, let me be clear, he shouldn’t have been nominated for making an unforgettable film, or for making the movie that ushered in the Blockbuster, but rather for making a well-crafted film. It’s well acted with strong performances from Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfus, and Robert Shaw (who should have been nominated as well), additionally, movies would not be the same today without one of cinemas most recognizable film scores. John Williams took home his second of five Oscars for Jaws.

9. City Lights (1931)

city-lights 1Charles Chaplin may have been considered behind the times when he released his masterpiece City Lights in 1931, after all the “talkies” were the rage and his silent movie was from a fading time. Cimarron won the Best Picture that year, but City Lights remains a timeless classic.

10. Bette Davis, Of Human Bondage (1934)

Bette Davis 1It’s her performance as the cruel waitress in Of Human Bondage that remains as one of Miss Davis’ most unforgettable and deserving Oscar nominations—and the first of many memorable Davis’ lines, “wipe my mouth.” Academy voters somehow didn’t see fit to honor her with the year’s Best Actress Oscar or a nomination, so many outraged members wrote in her name instead of voting among the nominees. That year Claudette Colbert won (along with Best Actor costar Clark Gable) for It Happened One Night. Next year Davis won (a consolation Oscar?) for her work in Dangerous.

11. Humphrey Bogart, The Treasure of the Sierre Madre (1948)

Bogart 4It’s hard to believe that one of cinema’s most beloved actors wasn’t nominated for some of his most iconic performances including The Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep, but it’s his performance as the down and out American in Mexico who, upon finding gold with his partners, become increasingly paranoid and mistrustful. The Treasure of the Sierre Madre remains one of his best performances. While the film won Oscars for both John Huston as Director and his father Walter Huston for Best Supporting Actor, Bogart was left off the nomination list. Lawrence Olivier took home the trophy that year for work in that year’s Best Picture winner Hamlet. As a consolation prize for his work three years earlier Bogart would later win a Best Actor award for The African Queen in 1951. That year the Oscar should have gone to Marl0n Brando for A Streetcar Named Desire.

Ari Ansbro’s List

1. Best Actor: Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips (2013)

Tom Hanks - Captain Phillips

Most of the entries on this list are for films that were made long before I was born.  Perhaps that is why this one stings so much.  Two years ago, Tom Hanks was primed to get his sixth Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of Captain Richard Phillips, the real-life captain whose cargo ship was taken over by Somali pirates.  Throughout the entire film, Hanks shows both a strength and vulnerability that this man exhibited through the five most frightening days of his life.  This is clearly shown during the final scene of the film in which a wordless Phillips is examined by a Navy doctor.  For this scene alone, Hanks deserved a nomination. Watch it here.  Seriously. I personally feel that the reason for the lack of love for Hanks boiled down to two things: 1.) the feeling that he can play a heroic everyman like a pro, so why give him more accolades for that, and 2.) the Academy was in the process of showing David O. Russell how much they love him by nominating the four main actors in American Hustle for Oscars.  This included Christian Bale, who was not as deserving as Hanks. 

2. Best Actor: Anthony Perkins, Psycho (1960)

Anthony Perkins - PsychoSPOILER ALERT: If you have not seen Psycho do not read skip on to the next entry.  I realize this is a 55 year old movie, but it still has one of the most amazing endings of all time and I would never want to spoil that for anyone.
Anthony Perkins was nominated for one Academy Award in his entire career.  That was for playing the son in a Quaker family who still feels that he must fight in the American Civil War in The Friendly Persuasion.  However, most of you reading that last sentence are amazed that his nomination was for a mostly forgotten movie, and not for his career-defining role as Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.  Perkins enters the film as a sweet and vulnerable doormat, eager to help the stranded Marion Crane (Janet Leigh, who did receive an Oscar nomination for her role).  He then morphs into an emotionally stunted “Mama’s boy” who needs saving from his wicked mother.   Next he is the accomplice to his mother’s horrific crime.  The audience finds themselves worried for Norman as he sinks Marion’s car (with her body in the trunk) into a swamp behind his house.  When it is finally revealed that Norman’s fractured psyche had been disassociating and becoming “Mother”, the audience is shocked.  We then feel a bit complicit, since we had such sympathy for this young man, caught under his mother’s thumb.  How was this complex interpretation not nominated for an Oscar?  Click here to see what should have been his Oscar clip.

3. Best Actress: Audrey Hepburn, My Fair Lady (1964)

Warner Brothers bought the rights to the hugely popular stage musical My Fair Lady, they signed Rex Harrison to reprise his role as Professor Henry Higgins. Producer Jack Warner was not keen to also cast then unknown Julie Andrews to reprise her role as Eliza Doolittle. Instead, Warner cast Audrey Hepburn. For a woman who made a career of playing well-groomed, alluring characters, this was a departure for Hepburn. Determined to do justice to the part, Hepburn worked tirelessly to learn the songs and sing as best she could. Unfortunately, the studio was unimpressed and had her singing voiced dubbed with that of Marni Nixon. This information was leaked to the press and the movie was slammed for not having cast Andrews, a singer, and instead casting an established star. What is very much forgotten is that Hepburn is excellent in this role. Her transformation from Cockney flower girl to a well-spoken lady is truly spectacular. However, the Academy, in its infinite wisdom, punished Hepburn by not nominating her for this role. To add insult to injury, Julie Andrews was nominated and won the Best Actress Oscar for her role in Mary Poppins. See the a clip of the film here.

4. Best Actress: Bette Davis, Of Human Bondage (1934)

Bette Davis - Of HumanBy 1934 Bette Davis had been in dozens of films, but Of Human Bondage is the first one where she commanded the screen.  Playing the truly horrid waitress Mildred Rogers, she is disdainful of a young medical student with a club foot who has fallen in love with her (Leslie Howard).  Davis is truly vile in this role, but her performance also has an undercurrent of vulnerability.  When the Academy Award nominations were announced for 1934, surprisingly, Davis was not listed among the honorees. Voters were so incensed that they wrote her name on the ballot in protest.  Even without being officially nominated, Davis came in third, after Claudette Colbert for It Happened One Night and Norma Shearer for The Barretts of Wimpole Street.  This “scandal” led to the tradition of having the votes secretly counted by PriceWaterhouse Cooper.  The following year, Davis was given a consolation Oscar for her role in Dangerous.  Watch Bette Davis deliver the film’s most memorable line.

5. Best Actor: Cary Grant, His Girl Friday (1940)

Cary Grant - His Girl FridayIt has been said that it is much harder for an actor to play a comedic role than a dramatic one.  Regardless, the Academy consistently overlooks comedic performances when nominating actors and films each year.  A great example of this ridiculous habit is the lack of Oscar love for Cary Grant.  Grant received only two Academy Award nominations in his 30+ year career, which is outrageous.  Grant was a fantastic actor who made it look easy.  Because it looked easy, the Academy assumed it must have been.  One of Grant’s most pitch-perfect performances is as the newspaper editor Walter Burns in Howard Hawkes’ His Girl Friday.  Perfectly teamed with Rosalind Russell, Grant expertly fires off quips and charms his ex-wife (Russell) while trying to save an innocent man from being executed.  Knowing how good both Grant and Russell were at improvisation, Hawks purposely kept their rehearsals to a minimum to encourage improvisation.  It pays off.  Grant is at his best in a role like this.  Too bad the Academy didn’t notice. Click here to see Grant spar with Russell.

6. Best Actor: Ryan Gosling, Blue Valentine (2010)

Ryan Gosling - ValentineRyan Gosling and Michelle Williams stared in this depressing story of a married couple whose marriage is falling apart.  The present day portion of the story takes place during one evening, where Williams and Gosling decide if their marriage is worth saving.  This is interspersed with flashbacks to the beginning of the relationship, showing how far they have come and how different they are.  Williams, deservedly, was nominated for her role in this film.  For some reason that I may never understand, Gosling was not.  Gosling perfectly embodies the suave young guy who wants to impress a girl, as well as the aging worn out father trying to save his marriage.  Gosling was passed over in favor of Colin Firth (The King’s Speech), Javier Bardem (Biutiful), Jeff Bridges (True Grit), Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network), and James Franco (127 Hours).  To me, the weak link in this category was James Franco. Ryan Gosling was much better and more deserving.  Yup, I said it. You can watch the sweetest scene from this movie here.

7. Best Supporting Actor: Robert Walker, Strangers on a Train (1951)

Robert Walker - StrangersStrangers on a Train is the classic story of two men, Bruno Antony (Robert Walker) and Guy Haines (Farley Granger), meeting by chance, and during their initial conversation Bruno suggests that they swap murders.  Bruno will kill Guy’s estranged wife who is refusing to divorce him, and Guy will kill Bruno’s overbearing father so Bruno can inherit his fortune. Even though Guy does not actually agree to anything, Bruno takes it upon himself to murder Guy’s wife.  Robert Walker is so good at playing the sociopath in this film, that it is hard to realize that he ever played a sweet, romantic lead (see The Clock and Since You Went Away).  The sing-song voice that he uses as he taunts Guy with veiled threats, the fact that every calculated move he makes is traps the other characters so completely make for one of the best villains in the annals of film.  How was this man not nominated for this role?  As you can see by now, Alfred Hitchcock’s films were ignored in a huge way by the Academy.  This was partially because he saw the genius of television and started his own show.  The film industry felt, at the time, that television was a lesser medium, and that anyone who worked on TV was obviously not worthy of notice.  Sadly, for Walker, this was his last chance to be nominated for an Academy Award.  He died eight months after the release of the film due to an allergic reaction to medication.   Click here to see Walker lay out his murderous plan.

8. Best Actress: Carole Lombard, To Be or Not to Be (1942)

Carole Lombard - To beCarole Lombard did not start out in Hollywood as a comedienne.  As a matter of fact, she was in Hollywood a full ten years before she was given a comedic role.  Once she had it, she and everyone else knew it was what she was meant to be.  At 33, with her career in need of a jump start, Lombard starred in the very edgy (for the time) Ernst Lubitch film, To Be or Not to Be, costarring Jack Benny.  Lombard plays a stage actress in Warsaw, Poland in early 1938.  She and her husband, Jack Benny, are staring in a play that is satirizing the Nazi regime.  Even though this film was a show piece for Benny, Lombard skillfully brings her earnest comedic skill to the roll of the “straight man”.  Sadly, that year Lombard was not honored with a nomination, as there were other “important” war films to be honored, such as Mrs. Miniver.  She would never have another opportunity to earn a nomination, as she was killed returning home from a war bond promotional tour in a plane crash prior to the film’s release.   Watch Lombard go toe-to-toe with Benny in this scene.  Lombard enters at 3:48.

9. Best Director: Rob Reiner, When Harry Met Sally… (1989)

Reiner - When Harry Met SallyA satisfying romantic comedy can be an elusive thing.  There are many romantic comedies that try too hard and fall too deep into clichés to be satisfying.  When that rare romcom comes along that works on every level, it should be treasured.  When Harry Met Sally… came along in 1989, it immediately became a hit for all of the reasons I mentioned above.  Rob Reiner directed the story of a man and woman who become friends before falling in love.  Even though the film stars Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan, the third star is the city of New York.  Every exterior scene is shot in such a way that it makes New York look like the perfect city to fall in love.  This is an extreme feat considering it was filmed during a time when the city was extremely crime ridden with over 1,000 murders that year.  For all of this, Rob Reiner should have received some recognition by the Academy for directing this world and these people who were so relatable, regardless of their neuroses. Unfortunately, the only nomination the film received was for Nora Ephron’s hilarious script.    Watch the most famous scene from the movie, which was filmed in Katz’s Deli here.

10. Best Picture: Rear Window (1954)

Rear WindowFor most fans of Alfred Hitchcock, the omission of Vertigo by the Academy is blasphemy. I am not one of those fans. For some reason Vertigo rubs me the wrong way. Don’t get me wrong, I have watched it numerous times and even paid to see it at BAM a few years ago, but I fear that the love for it is overhyped. For me, Hitchcock’s Rear Window is the real masterpiece. Filmed on one set, the audience becomes an accomplice of Jimmy Stewart’s wheelchair bound voyeristic protagonist. Whenever we see what is going on outside of the window, it is done specifically from Stewart’s point of view. Did the salesman murder his wife in the middle of the night? We know only as much as Stewart. This is the genius of this film. Hitchcock was, deservedly, nominated for Best Director for his work on this film, (don’t get me started on the fact that he lost, even if it was to Elia Kazan for On the Waterfront) but the film itself was should have been nominated for Best Picture. Period. End of story. See a scene from the film by clicking here.

11. Best Picture: Notorious (1946)

NotoriousAlfred Hitchcock was a true master, not just the master of suspense.  Now, I do realize that on my list alone, there are four entries about how some aspect of an Alfred Hitchcock film was snubbed by the Academy.  However, many of his films from 1938 to 1963 are today considered classics that were not given their due.  Therefore, I close my list with one of the sexiest thrillers to be made during the Hayes Code era, Notorious.  This is the story of the daughter of a Nazi spy who is recruited by, what would eventually become the CIA, to infiltrate a fascist spy ring in South America.  Ingrid Bergman smolders as Alicia, the newly recruited spy.  Her handler is played by an equally tempting Cary Grant.  As you probably guessed, they fall in love, but when Bergman is encouraged to marry their target, played by Claude Raines, their affair comes to an end.  Grant and Bergman continue to work together, creating a suspicious and dangerous Raines.  Everything about this film is spectacular, from the technical to the artistic.  Isn’t that what is supposed to define a Best Picture (and Best Director) nominee?  Hitchcock did his best to get around the Hayes code’s strict edict that no on screen kiss could last longer than two seconds.  Want to see how Hitchcock made a 2:40 second kiss?  Click here.

March 2013 in Film

Opening in March

March 1

21 (Scott Moore and Jon Lucas) – A college drinking and wild antics film. The Hangover meets Animal 
House, though probably not as good as either.

Jack the Giant Slayer (Bryan Singer) – 3D Remake (reimagining?  You be the judge.) of the classic tale of Jack and the Beanstalk.

Stoker (Park Chan-wook)

Phantom (Todd Robinson) – David Duchovny’s big comeback?  Probably not.

The Last Exorcism Part II (Ed Glass-Donnelly) – Adding a ‘Part II’ instead of a ‘2’ doesn’t make a film better.

Oz the Great and Powerful

March 8

Dead Man Down (Niels Arden Oplev) – Marketed as “From the director of the ‘original’ Girl With the 

Dragon Tattoo.– Not sure what they’re implying about the American Version.

Oz the Great and Powerful (Sam Raimi) – Inspired by L. Frank Baum’s original novel, this film is a loose prequel to the original The Wizard of Oz.  Much as the first film introduced color to an entire generation, Oz will attempt to bring 3D, Imax, 11.1 surround sound, CGI and other modern film techniques to the forefront. Actors preformed on combination green screen and practical sets to create a fictional world that has just as much life as the real one.

March 15

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

The Call (Brad Anderson) – What is with Halle Berry’s hair in this movie?

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone(Don Scardino) – This flew under the radar for a while, which doesn’t give me a positive image of it.

March 22

Admission (Paul Weitz)

Olympus Has Fallen 

Olympus Has Fallen (Antoine Fuqua) – Of the two, White-House-gets-taken-over-by-terrorists films coming out this year, I like this one better because it has Morgan Freeman in it, although White House Down has Jaime Foxx as president.  It’ll be a debate.

Spring Breakers (Harmony Korine) – I wonderf if it will be anything like Kids?
The Croods
(Chris Sanders and Kirk DeMicco) – See last month’s article on the Berlin Film Festival for my prerelease thoughts on this one.

March 27

Trance (Danny Boyle) – It’s Danny Boyle doing a crime movie.  So of course it has hypnotists and James McAvoy and reality blurring and a pretty cool poster. [To be released 5 April 2013 here stateside]

March 29

G.I. Joe: Retaliation (Jon Chu) – I can’t tell you how excited I am for this ridiculous action movie that will have a thin, terrible plot, lots of explosions and the Rock just being badass.

Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor (Tyler Perry) – People keep going to these, I guess.

The Host (Andrew Niccol) – I seriously can’t believe that Niccol is making this.  I just can’t believe it.

The Place Beyond the Pines (Derek Cianfrance) – Gosling went from “that guy from The Notebook” to “Ryan #%$&ing Gosling” and Cooper got an Academy Award Nomination over the past year, let’s see what they can do together.

Don’t miss…

MARCH 7, 2013

 click here for tickets: Chelsea Clearview Cinemas

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