Sunday, January 1, 2017

MY TOP 5 FAVORITE FILMS OF 2016!

It's been a hard year, y'know? Nothing made me happier than to ring in the new year last night with friends and family. I know what you may think: years are arbitrary markers of time, what difference does it make? Even if 2017 isn't an automatic clean slate for us all, it's what it represents, isn't it? And that's all the cinema is, life represented. This year offered a lot of hope...and superhero movies. In my personal selections of the five greatest films released this year (1/1/16-12/31/16), you'll see reoccurring themes of grief, family, hope, identity. It was a stellar year for the movies, and the fact that I had to leave gripping films like Love & Friendship, Nocturnal Animals, Hacksaw Ridge and Sausage Party (my ultimate guilty pleasure) off the final cut. And I still haven't movies I've been dying to see like Fences, The Lobster or Hell or High Water. Revel in the new year with me and enjoy my list!

5. SING STREET
I nodded knowingly when I saw that this Little Indie That Could was helmed by John Carney, whose previous effort Begin Again had the same folksy, looking-for-love bittersweet flavor Sing Street has. It even has original songs, another Carney staple, while not being full-musical like perhaps another film you'll catch on this list. Despite its predictability, you can have a blast with Conor, aka Cosmo, as he and his little band of Irish schoolboys serenade their way into your heart, and show you how wonderful it is to have youthful dreams that will never last forever.

4. CAPTAIN FANTASTIC
Viggo Mortensen has picked up a Golden Globe and a SAG nomination for his stirring performance in this film, another low-on-the-radar indie, and I'm hoping Uncle Oscar will invite him to the party come February. It was one of my biggest regrets of this blog this year; for whatever reason I was too lazy to review this quirky, inspiring film that, until the winter came around was my favorite film of the year. Ben Cash, a man who lives off the grid, takes his six hyper-intelligent children back into society to go to his wife's funeral. A simple premise that is at once a critique on modern society, an examination of nontraditional family and an ultimately heart-warming picture.

3. MOONLIGHT
I never understood it when critics called a movie "haunting"...until I saw Moonlight, and the glow of this movie bathed over me like only one other film did this year. Besides shining a spotlight on faces that don't usually get screen time, Barry Jenkins' haunting triumph about the life of young Chiron and the people he meets during his life in modern Miami, is just plain good cinema. Three chapters, all mostly of equal strength, reveal a complex young man who aches to be himself in a world where all the cards are stacked against him, who desperately wants to answer the question "Who is you, Chiron?". We needed Moonlight in this year of boiling racial violence, and the avalanche of awards it's been pulling in confirms my thoughts.

2. LA LA LAND
My review of this Technicolor dreamscape of romance and creativity will be out later this week, as I just caught it so I could see what all the fuss is about. Please, please believe the hype, and go support the enormously talented Damien Chazelle, who I would go so far as to say surpasses his 2014 effort Whiplash, and I don't say that lightly. Gosling is wonderful, but it's Emma Stone, who does much more than flaunt her doe eyes, that deserves all the attention for her role as Mia. They're both dreamers in Los Angeles, and as corny as that may sound on paper, its execution is perfect. The songs are infectious, the production is A+, and Chazelle doesn't litter his musical with a huge ensemble of characters, because we call came for the Gosling/Stone romance. And though it doesn't end like your grandfather's musical, I wouldn't want it to. This is a musical for my generation, an urge to never stop dreaming.

1. MANCHESTER BY THE SEA
I'm afraid this will be the only time Manchester by the Sea bests La La Land (the clear Best Picture frontrunner) but even if it's just in my books, that's okay. I don't know why I always choose movies that make me weep as my number one pick (see: Inside Out, Fruitvale Station). Perhaps because they represent how powerful the art of cinema can be, how these made-up characters played by overpaid famous people can still make you well up because you see yourself in them. Casey Affleck stars in the performance of the year as Lee Chandler, a shell of a man entrusted with the son of his dead brother. The script couldn't be tighter if it was vacuum-sealed, balancing devastating drama with gallows humor and revealing the whole story to us in just the right way. I'll probably watch La La Land ten more times before I die, but Kenneth Lonergan's Manchester by the Sea is the movie of a lifetime, and one you need only see once in yours.

Read on to see my picks that would be there if I saw enough movies to constitute a top ten, and my picks that left me wanting much, much more as I left the theaters!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

REVIEW: JACKIE

Say the words "First Lady" to anyone over about 30, and the next two words they associate with that will probably be "Jackie Kennedy," or if they really know their history, "Jackie Onasis." Anyone around my age will probably say Michelle Obama, and while I anticipate a movie made about her legacy in the decades to come, Jackie is surely the most iconic in modern history. The last memorable depiction of a First Lady was in Spielberg's Lincoln, where Sally Field played Mary Todd Lincoln as an unhinged, witty partner to her husband's more calm figure. Field lost the Oscar that year to Anne Hathaway crying, but Natalie Portman looks poised to win her second Best Actress Oscar as the widow who captured the hearts of a generation.

The film follows Lincoln's outline of effective biography: focus on one aspect of this person's enormous life and dissect it, find out the key players, and examine the conflict that made them who they are. In that film, it was Honest Abe's successful attempt to pass the 13th Amendment. Here, in somewhat smaller stakes, we get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of how Jackie handled herself following her husband's assassination, right until she walked with many others at his funeral procession. Perhaps a mini-series would be fit to try to encapsulate this extremely complicated woman's life, but just this one particular week works well under Pablo Larraín's direction.

Portman is heavy on the accent and heavy on the stress as Jackie Kennedy, conversing with Bobby Kennedy (Peter Sarsgaard) about their shared loss, delves into faith with a priest (William Hurt), all while being interviewed by a journalist (Billy Crudup, who delivers a strong performance despite his limited role/screen time). The journalist and priest are billed as just that, representations of combinations of figures in Jackie's life. I've heard complaints about Sarsgaard's performance, mostly due to his lack of looking/sounding like his real-life counterpart. I'm not knowledgable enough to be informed about that, so I thought he was serviceable in the role. While the accent gets a little grating, Portman gives a strong performance here, in a role that certainly does not make its titular character look good. Her Jackie is a strong, determined, poised woman who knows exactly how people see her and exactly how she wants to be seen. She shares a fictional First Lady's knack for controlling self-image; Claire Underwood in "House of Cards."

I'd be remiss not to mention the greatest supporting character in the ensemble: Stéphane Fontaine's camera. Fontaine shot one of my favorite films this year, Captain Fantastic, but his cinematography is exceptional in Jackie. The camera is always close-by: the film is in her perspective after all, and it's rare we get a shot without her point of view. Sebastián Sepúlvada's editing is also commendable. At first the jumpiness of the scenes were distracting, but then I realized this is a memory film. It all made sense. The costumes were gorgeous, the production design, primarily the 1963 White House was gorgeous. Technically speaking, Jackie fires on all cylinders. It's theme concerns legacy and posterity: how will JFK (portrayed but not shown for very long) be remembered, how will Jackie be remembered? Characters are very aware of the impact their decisions will have on American history, not just their own.

Story-wise, the film did lose me at times. I'd be lying if I said I didn't fight consciousness in the middle of it, which I also did in Arrival, but I don't think I 'fessed up to that one. In that film is what circumstantial, the theater was warm and I had on a comfy jacket, but Jackie just bored me in parts. While Noah Oppenheim's plot structure is unique, its dialogue can feel a bit dry. Ever since I heard someone make a comment on how Lenny Abrahamson's Room would be better as an HBO TV movie because it wasn't "cinematic enough," I've asked myself, "does this film deserve to be shown on the big screen?" Would it serve better as a play or a TV special? I wavered back and forth on this, which is a shame since Jackie is such a fascinating woman, and deserves a cinematic treatment as big as she was. But points to Larraín, his crew, and probably soon-to-be double Oscar-wining actress Natalie Portman for putting a spin on what is a usually predictable sub-genre of biopic. You're better off reading a book about the First Lady if you want facts, but Jackie is still fine entertainment.

Rating: 3/4 stars

Monday, December 26, 2016

REVIEW: NOCTURNAL ANIMALS

The importance of a film's opening scene can't be stressed enough. In my favorite film, which most people watch around this time in the holidays, It's a Wonderful Life, we see a slew of people in the wee town of Bedford Falls praying for the life of George Bailey. Immediately know something is wrong, that the film will tote a sentimental sentiment, and who is George and why does he need these prayers? A great opening scene should ask all of those questions...and in Nocturnal Animals you will have a lot of questions, and it's not indicative of the movie you are about to watch. Please don't Google it, and, review spoiler alert, I liked this movie a lot, so I encourage you to go see it. I want to say Ford wanted to be sensationalistic but it doesn't fit with the theme. It must be experienced, with a crowd as full as many people as you can, so you can all collectively stew in the awkwardness.

The movie actually revolves around Susan, played by Amy Adams, who receives a finished manuscript from her ex-husband Edward, called "Nocturnal Animals." All is far from well for Susan; her arm(-ie Hammer) candy husband is always busy, possibly adulterous, and as she reads the manuscript she gets more and more uneasy. It's about a man, Tony (Jake Gyllenhaal) who sets out on revenge after a trio of hicks does something horrible to his family. With the help of a chain-smoking Texas cop (Michael Shannon), he tries to obtain justice. Meanwhile, Susan has flashbacks to her short-lived marriage with Edward.

With three stories going on at once, I thought for a while that Nocturnal Animals might be getting too muddied for me. However, editor Joan Sobel deserves an Academy Award for being able to balance the story lines so well, I was never left confused. While Adams could be seen as the main character, most of the film is depicting the contents of Edward's novel. I'm glad Tom Ford, the writer and director of this film, felt more compelled than to just adapt that one story. The film feels literary in its approach, jumping between "fiction" and "non-fiction." Gyllenhaal pulls double duty as Edward the writer and Tony the character; a parallel that makes perfect sense when we find out that Edward laments "he can only write what he knows."
Expect to see Shannon get an Oscar nomination

Casting is crucial and clever here: who represents who in the book vs the real world; there is a very clever wink to who is cast as Tony's wife in "Nocturnal Animals." Adams doesn't get a ton to do here, especially considering her lead star power exhibit in the recent Arrival. Many a time we just see her reading/lounging in bed (which believe me, I'm not complaining about). Gyllenhaal gets more to sink his teeth into, in both roles playing mild men pushed to their limits; one emotionally and the other, in Tony's case, in every way possible. Aaron Taylor-Johnson plays the ringleader of the Texan redneck trio, and he pulled a surprise Golden Globe nomination for it earlier this month. It's deserved: he doesn't bring anything new to the psychopath trope, but he does it well. Shannon is rock solid as disgruntled, driven cop Lieutenant Andes; charismatic as all get out, you'd trust your case in his hands.  

A review on one of the posters saw described it as Hitchcockian. Perhaps the elements of unknown danger Susan faces when she sees the novel as some sort of threat towards her life since she left Edward nearly decades ago. There's that tension and uncertainty of the unknown present that fueled so much of Hitch's work. The suspense mostly comes from the "Nocturnal Animals" plot, and Tony's quest for revenge. Somehow a greater theme seems to be missing: why does all this matter, ultimately? It's a great thrill ride but as gorgeous as the film is it can feel a little empty. But the ending finishes strong, a bold choice, and will encourage many a dinner conversation. Not a bad bookend for a movie with the year's strangest opening.

Rating: 3/4 stars

Friday, December 23, 2016

REVIEW: MANCHESTER BY THE SEA

If I'm not in college, I'm home, and if I'm home, I try to at least watch a movie a day. I definitely have some OCD tendencies, and one of them is keeping track of how many movies I've seen in my life. Kenneth Lonergan's Manchester by the Sea was #1332. I'm giving you all these facts to point to the reality that I watch many a movie a year, and they don't always stick with me the next day. Not that I forget about them, but sometimes they're just okay, and then it's on to the next one. Last year, I had images of George Miller's Fury Road burnt into my brain, and this year, I'm very pleased to say two films have been playing in my mind's theater over and over; Barry Jenkins's Moonlight, and now, number thirteen-hundred thirty-two, what will be a tough competitor for my favorite film of 2016, Manchester by the Sea.

Casey Affleck stars, and I can't emphasize stars enough, as Massachusetts handyman Lee, going through the motions in the town of Quincy. He learns of the death of his brother, Joe (Kyle Chandler) and goes to inform his nephew, Patrick (Lucas Hedges) of his dad's tragedy. When Lee goes to look at Joe's will, he discovers his brother cited him as Patrick's guardian in the event of his death. With a burdensome past constantly pressuring the weight of his shoulders, the movie examines Lee's journey with Patrick, going back and forth of whether or not to be his guardian.

You probably think you know how this story goes. In Hollywood's hands, the brother would maybe die in a car accident, Lee would give Patrick some advice, they'd fuss, they'd fight, but Lee would agree to be his guardian in the end, and all would be wrapped in a Christmas. This movie is far from Hollywood. There is a bleakness that runs through Manchester by the Sea, which is not manufactured melancholy, but more an exposure of the mundane griefs real life punctures our days with. Instead of portraying a grief zombie, Affleck rather plays a shell of a man, someone going through the motions while occasionally you still see the little flicker in him fighting for hope. After seeing him lead Gone Baby Gone and nail supporting turns in Out of the Furnace and Tower Heist, it was a pleasure getting to watch Mr. Affleck carry this film, though his performance will leave a dent in your heart.

I suppose why this and Moonlight are comparable in how they've left an impression on me is how genuine they both feel. Characters interrupt each other, stutter, curse; there isn't an ounce of Tinsel Town glamour to be seen. And yet with these inclusions there is no fat to be trimmed; you get a true feel that Lonergan and editor Jennifer Lame structured the back and forth narrative exactly how this particular story should have unfolded. It makes the engagement of the viewer putting everything together so rewarding.

Michelle Williams plays Randi, Lee's ex-wife, and while she is heartfelt and heartbreaking in equal parts, she certainly doesn't have the co-lead status the posters imply. She's probably onscreen for 20 minutes. Hedges more properly earns that title. His Bostonian nature and onslaught of 16 year old hormones make Patrick a layered, relatable character, and he begs the question: how does one respond when their father dies in the middle of their formative years? Hedges is a true talent, but please sir, don't let the studios steal you for another Hunger Games ripoff franchise. Keep your nose to the indie grindstone.

Finally, Manchester by the Sea achieves the golden standard of what any great movie should feature: the treacherously difficult act of balancing heavy drama with really sharp moments of humor. You know that old movie review cliche of "You'll laugh, you'll cry!"? I actually did that in one scene where Lee attempts to comfort his nephew. Manchester is never ha-ha funny, but to combat sadness you have to laugh, and Lonergan wisely uses it so his audience doesn't need Prozac with their popcorn.

My only complaints are nitpicks; if you think Williams doesn't get enough screen time, wait 'til you see the cameo a certain celebrity receives late in the film. The script is air-tight, the performances generous in their humanity, the movie tearjerking in the most natural way. Because while the film takes you to the absolute brink of heartache, you still leave with a weathered grin on your face, that there is hope for broken men like Lee Chandler. Manchester by the Sea hit every qualifier I would want in a movie of the year, so don't be surprised nine days later if you come back to this blog and see just that.

Rating: 4/4 stars

Saturday, December 17, 2016

REVIEW: ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY

You would've thought I ran track in high school seeing how fast I jumped on the "Star Wars" bandwagon when I found out that The Force Awakens was coming out near Christmas of 2015. The prequels, especially Revenge of the Sith, were popular with my nerdy friends as I was growing up, but I truly didn't get the appeal until I started getting into the Academy Awards, and found something bizarre to me: A New Hope was nominated for Best Picture? I popped it in my tiny foot-wide VHS television when I was 14 and watched tiny Han and tiny Chewie on the Millennium Falcon on a snow day. I'll probably take lashings for that in the afterworld where movie critics go, but after re-watching the original trilogy and the prequels last year on much better means of visual projection. After my college exams I saw Episode VII last year on the official opening day, December 18. I repeated that with seeing the new stand-alone film, Rogue One, last night, with a year's worth a hype and two viewings of Force Awakens in my brain.

If you haven't seen the movie yet, please stop here. One of the greatest things about seeing The Force Awakens was going in blind and not hearing ANY reviews, no Rotten Tomatoes score. I promise I won't be offended if you click away; just bookmark this site (you should do it anyway) and click "read more" below whenever you've seen it! *ALSO SPOILERS AHEAD FOR FORCE AWAKENS*

Thursday, December 15, 2016

THE GOLDEN GLOBE NOMINEES 2016!

As predicted, there were some fresh, diverse faces present in the list! Let's take a look and see who's up! 

BEST COMEDY/MUSICAL: La La Land predictably picked up quite a few nominations, but of course the most stunning surprise here is the presence of the Merc with the Mouth! I almost pegged Reynolds for a Deadpool nomination, but I thought it was too far-fetched. The indie everyone's fallen in love with, Sing Street, was this year's little film that could that only garnered one nomination, but in a big category. 
  • La La Land
  • Florence Foster Jenkins
  • 20th Century Women
  • Deadpool
  • Sing Street
BEST DRAMA: David Mackenzie's neo-western has been targeted for Oscar love ever since its late August release, and with several nominations here it's apparent. The highly Oscar-bait looking Lion also did quite well in its categories, and hey, if it can net Dev Patel the Academy Award nod he was robbed of in Slumdog, let it happen!
  • Moonlight
  • Manchester by the Sea
  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • Lion
  • Hell or High Water
BEST ACTOR (COMEDY/MUSICAL): The surprises here were Reynolds, who I actually predict might win this just because his presence made this movie what it was, and Hill for a fairly forgotten crime comedy. The Rotten Tomatoes score of War Dogs does say his role is "compelling."
  • Ryan Gosling- La La Land
  • Hugh Grant- Florence Foster Jenkins
  • Colin Farrell- The Lobster
  • Ryan Reynolds- Deadpool
  • Jonah Hill- War Dogs
BEST ACTRESS (COMEDY/MUSICAL): Rules Don't Apply was another early film people thought would be an Oscar darling, but after middling reviews and low box-office returns it fizzled out. So at least his leading lady Collins was nominated, and it was great to see Miss Steinfeld on here for a role I've heard nothing but raves about.
  • Meryl Streep- Florence Foster Jenkins
  • Emma Stone- La La Land
  • Annette Bening- 20th Century Women
  • Lily Collins- Rules Don't Apply
  • Hailee Steinfeld- The Edge of Seventeen
BEST ACTOR (DRAMA): So I'm giving myself the point here because I did predict Mortensen would secure a nod for Captain Fantastic, but I just got the category wrong. Both apply to the film though, one of my favorites of the year, and I'm just glad to see him recognized. Hopefully on January 24th the Academy will too! 
  • Casey Affleck- Manchester by the Sea
  • Andrew Garfield- Hacksaw Ridge
  • Denzel Washington- Fences
  • Viggo Mortensen- Captain Fantastic*
  • Joel Edgerton- Loving

BEST ACTRESS (DRAMA): Not a particularly surprising bunch, Chastain is a Globe's favorite, justifiably winning for Zero Dark Thirty a few years back. This race seems to be between Portman and indie favorite Huppert for their turns as Jackie Kennedy and an assault survivor respectively. 
  • Natalie Portman- Jackie
  • Ruth Negga- Loving
  • Isabelle Hupert- Elle
  • Amy Adams- Arrival
  • Jessica Chastain- Miss Sloane
BEST ANIMATED FILM: I won't beat myself up for not correctly predicting that the French-Swiss stop-motion film My Life as a Zucchini. Usually it's the Academy that has these bizarre, foreign picks; now how are they going to one-up the Globes?! Sing has been getting solid reviews, honestly McConaughey as a koala bear already has me wanting to give them my $8.50. I predict in the long haul this'll belong to Zootopia, maybe my favorite animated movie of the year.  
  • Moana
  • Zootopia
  • Kubo and the Two Strings
  • Sing
  • My Life as a Zucchini 
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: No shock to see Ali and Bridges, but I did incorrectly pick Shannon as the supporting actor representing Tom Ford's Nocturnal Animals. Helberg is the real surprise here, but if anyone had to be nominated from that comedy, I'm glad it was him. It'll be hard for him to shake his nerdy "Big Bang Theory" persona for me at least, but as the timid, exasperated Cosmé McMoon, I'm glad he's getting his due. 
  • Mahershala Ali- Moonlight
  • Jeff Bridges- Hell or High Water
  • Aaron Taylor-Johnson- Nocturnal Animals
  • Dev Patel- Lion
  • Simon Helberg- Florence Foster Jenkins
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: The only category I got all of them right! These are the exact same ladies who are up for the SAGs too, so expect to see all five of them come Oscar night. 
  • Michelle Williams- Manchester by the Sea
  • Naomie Harris- Moonlight
  • Nicole Kidman- Lion
  • Viola Davis- Fences
  • Octavia Spencer- Hidden Figures 
BEST DIRECTOR: Only John Singelton, Lee Daniels and Steve McQueen have been the only African-Americans ever to be nominated for Best Director (because Selma just directed itself, right?). Jenkins is on his way to being the fourth, though I predict this category to surely go to Chazelle come Oscar night. 
  • Barry Jenkins- Moonlight
  • Kenneth Lonergan- Manchester by the Sea
  • Damien Chazelle- La La Land
  • Mel Gibson- Hacksaw Ridge
  • Tom Ford- Nocturnal Animals 
BEST SCREENPLAY: I was wrong about Arrival, which got shut out of most of the big categories. I think the Academy will correct that, while heaping on tons of technical noms to make up for this absence. 
  • Manchester by the Sea
  • Moonlight
  • La La Land
  • Hell or High Water
  • Nocturnal Animals 

PREDICTIONS CORRECT: 38/55

Saturday, December 10, 2016

GOLDEN GLOBE PREDICTIONS 2016!

Some things change in the Golden Globes, some will always remain the same. For instance, I expect to see some color in the Crayola Box of nominees this year, with strong contenders like Moonlight and Fences sure to go toe to toe in the dramatic categories. What's unsurprising: seeing Globes favorites Amy Adams and the unstoppable awards magnet Meryl Streep in their respective categories. Florence Foster Jenkins has weirdly been getting a lot of buzz, and I just don't get it...is it because Streep's in it? But I'm getting ahead of myself, the nominations don't come out 'til this Monday the 12th! Down below is some educated guesses, but mostly stabbing in the dark.

BEST COMEDY/MUSICAL: (The Globes are infatuated with the Coens, and their latest Hail, Caesar! will be the one movie that gets the best picture nod with nothing else. The rest are probably going to be a gaggle of indies, no offense Office Christmas Party, but I'll call right now that La La Land is taking home the gold, easy.)
  • Hail, Caesar! 
  • La La Land
  • Love and Friendship
  • Florence Foster Jenkins
  • Captain Fantastic
BEST DRAMA: (Moonlight seems like La La Land's biggest competition for the Academy's best film prize, because white guilt will kick into overdrive there. However, here I'm calling Manchester will not only be nominated but will win the whole thing. Expect forgiveness for Mel Gibson's anti-Semitic antics, because a good movie totally wipes the slate clean.)
  • Moonlight
  • Manchester by the Sea
  • Arrival
  • Fences
  • Hacksaw Ridge
BEST ACTOR (COMEDY/MUSICAL): (What will be the ultimate joy for me is if Ryan Reynolds, who was the main reason people drove in flocks to Deadpool is nominated here, but a comic book actor hasn't been nominated for any major award since Heath Ledger. I hope to see Crowe up here, for putting in great work as the deadpan heavy in Nice Guys. What will be interesting if his co-star Gosling gets two nods in this category for Nice Guys and La La Land. Not only has this happened before (to Johnny Depp in 2010) but Gosling was also nominated twice in two separate categories in one ceremony, 2011. If anyone can do it, it's him.)
  • Russell Crowe- The Nice Guys
  • Ryan Gosling- La La Land
  • Hugh Grant- Florence Foster Jenkins
  • Viggo Mortensen- Captain Fantastic
  • Colin Farrell- The Lobster
BEST ACTRESS (COMEDY/MUSICAL): (The only far fetch here is Zellweger, who has been nominated twice for her role as Jones, so why not make it a trifecta, Foreign Press?)
  • Kate Beckinsale- Love and Friendship
  • Meryl Streep- Florence Foster Jenkins
  • Emma Stone- La La Land
  • Renée Zellweger- Bridget Jones’s Baby
  • Annette Benning- 20th Century Women
BEST ACTOR (DRAMA): (This category will likely stay belonging to Affleck throughout the season. But Will Smith wants an Oscar so bad. SO BAD in all caps, bold, underlined and italicized. He and Jada threw a temper tantrum after he didn't get one for Concussion, but expect to see him here because the Press probably wants him to come. I mean, who wouldn't wanna dine with the Prince?)
  • Tom Hanks- Sully
  • Casey Affleck- Manchester by the Sea
  • Andrew Garfield- Hacksaw Ridge
  • Denzel Washington- Fences
  • Will Smith- Collateral Beauty
BEST ACTRESS (DRAMA): (Unsurprisingly I'm predicting a lot of women playing real women. Negga was quietly charming, but I think it's between Portman and Adams. Henson won for "Empire" last year, plan on seeing her in the film category.)
  • Natalie Portman- Jackie
  • Ruth Negga- Loving
  • Taraji P. Henson- Hidden Figures
  • Isabelle Hupert- Elle
  • Amy Adams- Arrival
BEST ANIMATED FILM: (Sausage Party was such a madcap blast that I forgot to review on this site, but I doubt it'll make the final cut anywhere. Expect to see all five of these kiddie films present.)
  • Moana
  • Zootopia
  • Kubo and the Two Strings
  • Finding Dory
  • Trolls
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: (I will unabashedly be rooting for Ali all season. The boys from Hell or High Water are a safe bet, like Christoph Waltz and Leo were here in 2012 for Django, with Waltz surprisingly edging him out. I've heard raves about Shannon's performance.)
  • Mahershala Ali- Moonlight
  • Lucas Hedges- Manchester by the Sea
  • Jeff Bridges- Hell or High Water
  • Michael Shannon- Nocturnal Animals
  • Ben Foster- Hell or High Water
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: (Kidman's already got 10 Globe nominations: what's another for a movie no one's really talking about gonna hurt? I'll be happy if Viola and Octavia have a little Help reunion, but my gut says that this is going to be Michelle's year.)
  • Michelle Williams- Manchester by the Sea
  • Naomie Harris- Moonlight
  • Nicole Kidman- Lion
  • Viola Davis- Fences
  • Octavia Spencer- Hidden Figures 
BEST DIRECTOR: (Expect Denzel to be double nominated here and in the Academy, and old Mel will be nominated for having to endure being roasted by Ricky Gervais.)
  • Denzel Washington- Fences
  • Barry Jenkins- Moonlight
  • Kenneth Lonergan- Manchester by the Sea
  • Damien Chazelle- La La Land
  • Mel Gibson- Hacksaw Ridge
BEST SCREENPLAY: (I'm going bold here: a western, a sci-fi and a musical all under one umbrella? This ain't your grandad's category.)
  • Manchester by the Sea
  • Moonlight
  • La La Land
  • Hell or High Water
  • Arrival