The Bock’s Office: Oscar fever |

The Bock’s Office: Oscar fever

Andy Bockelman

The 89th annual Academy Awards takes place Sunday night. Among the honored films is "La La Land," pictured, with 14 total nominations, a favorite to win in many categories, including Best Picture and Best Director.

Hollywood's biggest night is nearly upon us, with the stage set for the 89th annual Academy Awards Sunday. With trophy magnets and small successes alike on the ballot this year, anything can happen as we await the announcement of which movies of the past year will take home the gold.

My predictions for how the night will go can be found below.

Best Sound Mixing — "Arrival"

Best Sound Editing — "La La Land"

A science fiction feature is usually a sure bet for at least one behind-the-scenes honor, so it seems right that mixing should go to "Arrival," and the importance of audio in "La La Land" all but gives the editing honor to the darling of 2016. The only real question is whether or not "La La Land" will take both.

Best Original Song — "City of Stars" from "La La Land"

Best Original Score — "La La Land"

Again, here's a no-brainer. If there's a pair of awards "La La Land" not only already has guaranteed but has also truly earned, it's for the unforgettable musical elements it has provided. Justin Hurwitz's score stands out among many noteworthy nominees, and the tune "City of Stars" — which Hurwitz shares with lyricists Benj Pasek and Justin Paul — provides strong competition for selections by Sting, Justin Timberlake and Lin-Manuel Miranda

Fun fact: Miranda would fill out his EGOT Bingo card with a win for "How Far I'll Go" from "Moana," one of an elite few to win an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and a Tony. Even more elite is the PEGOT, which includes a Pulitzer Prize, and should he win Sunday, he'll be one of only three people ever to get that accolade.

Best Animated Short Film — "Piper"

Best Live Action Short Film — "Sing"

For once, I was actually able to view all the short feature films nominated this year and was glad to have the experience. That being said, I have a hard time imagining the short I had already seen won't win. Pixar's "Piper," about a determined baby sea bird, looks to be a lock, especially since it's the studio's only honoree this year.

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However, the haunting Western "Borrowed Time" has a chance and also has a similar look as an independent work made by Pixar animators.

Live-action isn't so easy to pick among five worthy international contenders, but the acclaim received by Hungarian entry "Sing" — "Mindenki" in the native tongue — gives it a leg up as the tale of schoolchildren who learn their highly touted choir isn't all they expected.

Best Documentary, Short Subject — "Watani: My Homeland"

Best Documentary, Feature — "O.J.: Made in America"

Topicality is always a boost in the documentary category, and as the tale of a Syrian family escaping the nation's civil war, "Watani" has a good chance to win, though stories about medical care, immigration and an elderly musician and Holocaust survivor have just as much going for them.

"The White Helmets" also touches on the subject of strife in Syria from the perspective of rescue workers.

In the full-length category, the ESPN-produced look at the life and times of O.J. Simpson has great buzz but is one of multiple pictures examining race, including "13th" and "I Am Not Your Negro." "Fire at Sea" also touches on the matter of immigration, while "Life, Animated" looks at an autistic boy and the impact of cartoons on his development.

Best Visual Effects — "The Jungle Book"

Best Film Editing — "La La Land"

In a competition between the real-life action of "Deepwater Horizon" and the immersive foliage and animals of "The Jungle Book," it seems likely that the team who gave us Baloo will walk away with the win in visual effects.

As for editing, any of the five up for it would be worthy, but Tom Cross's work on "La La Land" has the edge thanks to a nod from American Cinema Editors.

And what else would you call those awards? The Eddies.

Best Costume Design — "La La Land"

Best Makeup and Hairstyling — "Star Trek Beyond"

The simple but beautiful wardrobe put together by Mary Zophres for characters in "La La Land" helped her win an honor from Costume Designers Guild, giving her momentum headed into the big time.

Industry recognition has gone to the extensive makeup in both the futuristic "Star Trek Beyond" and the comic book bad guy bonanza "Suicide Squad," and either team could take the statuette. That's assuming the third entry "A Man Called Ove" doesn't either split the vote or snatch the award away from the more outlandish features.

Best Foreign Language Film — "A Man Called Ove"

Best Animated Feature Film — "Zootopia"

A Swedish film about a cantankerous old man, "Ove" has picked up honors at multiple film festivals, but the same can be said of nearly every title in this category, which includes features submitted by Denmark, Iran, Australia and Germany.

As far as cartoons go, "Zootopia" has done what Disney movies do by picking up all-around praise, winning the top prize at the Annies as an indicator of its chances to do the same with the Academy.

Still, don't count out "Moana" or "Kubo and the Two Strings" or the lesser-seen "My Life as a Zucchini" and "The Red Turtle."

Best Cinematography — "Lion"

Best Production Design — "La La Land"

Greig Fraser's gorgeous camerawork enhances the story of rediscovering roots in "Lion," and the award he's received from his peers with American Society of Cinematographers gives him the advantage here though hardly the guarantee.

If we're talking about past recognition, the lead in production design goes to "La La Land," though the sheer variety of competition should give voters pause, as "Arrival," "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" "Hail Caesar!" and "Passengers" have just as much to offer, if not more, than a story set in modern Los Angeles.

Best Adapted Screenplay — "Moonlight"

Best Original Screenplay — "Manchester by the Sea"

Writers Guild of America recognized "Moonlight" as an original work, but the Academy considered it an adapted piece. That could mean bad news for "Arrival" and Eric Heisserer as Barry Jenkins could be primed to win for "Moonlight."

It's neck and neck between writer-directors in the original script category, so much so that Damien Chazelle and Kenneth Lonergan tied at the Critics Choice Awards for "La La Land" and "Manchester by the Sea," respectively.

My vote: the latter.

Best Supporting Actress — Viola Davis, "Fences"

Best Supporting Actor — Mahershala Ali, "Moonlight"

Davis's third Oscar nomination is for what may be her best performance to date in the family drama "Fences," and picking up plenty of other awards along the way only shows she should be getting her due soon. Ali is also the favorite as the well-intentioned drug dealer of "Moonlight," both thespians receiving praise from Screen Actors Guild for their roles.

Best Actress — Emma Stone, "La La Land"

Best Actor — Denzel Washington, "Fences"

SAG is a good although not definite indicator of who will win in acting, and that coupled with a Golden Globe spells success for Stone as a lovestruck, aspiring actress in "La La Land." Still, let's not count out Isabelle Hupert as a rape victim in "Elle" or Natalie Portman as a grieving first lady in "Jackie" or Ruth Negga as the woman behind a crucial Supreme Court case in "Loving."

And, though it seems unlikely she'll win, let's remember Meryl Streep has her 20th nomination this year as she continues to break her own record.

Best Actor is trickier. The bad buzz surrounding Casey Affleck's off-screen antics offsets his performance as a disaffected man in "Manchester by the Sea," which could affect the tally. Ryan Gosling in "La La Land" certainly has a chance, but it's Washington's SAG seal of approval that could win him his third Oscar.

Of course, Andrew Garfield in "Hacksaw Ridge" is no slouch as a World War II hero, nor is dark horse Viggo Mortensen as an offbeat, off-the-grid dad in "Captain Fantastic."

Best Director — Damien Chazelle, "La La Land"

Best Picture — "La La Land"

With all the awards he's gotten to this point, Chazelle should be picking his spot on the mantle for the Best Director trophy, and this year it seems particularly unlikely that voting on director and picture will go separate ways. While neither would be my choice — my selection for both would be "Moonlight" — the Academy can certainly do worse than an admittedly irresistible film that made the world fall in love with Hollywood all over again.

See you on the red carpet.

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or or follow him on Twitter @TheBocksOffice.

The Bock’s Office 2017 Oscar Picks

Best Sound Mixing — “Arrival”

Best Sound Editing — “La La Land”

Best Original Song — “City of Stars” from “La La Land”

Best Original Score — “La La Land”

Best Animated Short Film — “Piper”

Best Live Action Short Film — “Sing”

Best Documentary, Short Subject — “Watani: My Homeland”

Best Documentary, Feature — “O.J.: Made in America”

Best Visual Effects — “The Jungle Book”

Best Film Editing — “La La Land”

Best Costume Design — “La La Land”

Best Makeup and Hairstyling — “Star Trek Beyond”

Best Foreign Language Film — “A Man Called Ove”

Best Animated Feature Film — “Zootopia”

Best Cinematography — “Lion”

Best Production Design — “La La Land”

Best Adapted Screenplay — “Moonlight”

Best Original Screenplay — “Manchester by the Sea”

Best Supporting Actress — Viola Davis, “Fences”

Best Supporting Actor — Mahershala Ali, “Moonlight”

Best Actress — Emma Stone, “La La Land”

Best Actor — Denzel Washington, “Fences”

Best Director — Damien Chazelle, “La La Land”

Best Picture — “La La Land”