Our Oscars Picks

While we’ve been chugging away at saving the world, our Olympic-sized fervor for the Oscars remains. For some Scholars, this is bigger than the Super Bowl. And since the Academy forgot to send us our ballots, we decided to share our picks with you.

Best Picture
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
Hidden Figures
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea 

Jason’s Pick Moonlight

Navani’s Pick Boy this was rough. I mean Moonlight was amazing in its story telling and giving voice to a story never really told, whereas Hidden Figures taught me a piece of unknown herstory! So many great contenders, but Lion, ooof, Lion was the movie that made me, and the entire theater, ugly cry. It just gets you deep in your feels about what family and home mean to you, how do you define them both? Nature vs. nurture? You will question everything you thought you knew about those relationships. And then you will question if the movie was made up because it is just too much, but alas it’s based on a true story! Dev Patel was amazing but my heart was stolen by newcomer Sunny Pawar. Well done, young lad!

Katherine’s Pick Yes, I would love for a “woman’s film” to win. But Hidden Figures is soft, makes up a white hero, and feels ham-fisted. Arrival is fine, but it’s about being a mother. And Moonlight was last year’s Best Picture. So help me god, when the Academy picks Manchester By the Sea, I’m going to lose it.

Best Director
Damien Chazelle, La La Land 
Barry Jenkins, Moonlight 
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea 
Denis Villeneuve, Arrival
Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge

Jason’s Pick Barry Jenkins, Moonlight 

Navani’s Pick Jenkins moved this coming of age story about a gay man growing up in the projects from the stage to the big screen in such a cinematically beautiful but also deeply personal way – a way only he could. That  authenticity is what spoke to me. As he states in Indiewire:  “I’m a guy from the projects who got together with a playwright from the projects to make a movie about a gay black kid from the projects,”… “The whole point of making it was for people who might’ve grown up under similar circumstances.”

Katherine’s Pick Don’t fucking play me, Academy. Barry Jenkins and Damien Chazelle are the only contenders here, and Jenkins is the clear winner. (Will Gibson, whose career should be over, win? Maybe! Probably!)

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

Jason’s Pick Casey Affleck, (ugh, I feel dirty)

Navani’s Pick Another strong adaptation from the theater, Denzel gives us all the feels as a husband and father struggling with coming to terms with his own defeated dreams. While I am a sucker for Ryan in any romantic setting, there was something so gripping and raw about Denzel’s performance here.

Katherine’s Pick I want so much more from Fences; I was disappointed. Ryan Gosling was great in La La Land but was by no means Oscar-worthy. Casey Affleck gave the performance of his career but has no business being nominated, not in 2017: so I pick no one.

Best Actress
Emma Stone, La La Land
Natalie Portman, Jackie 
Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins
Isabelle Huppert, Elle
Ruth Negga, Loving

Jason’s Pick Ruth Negga

Navani’s Pick  Natalie Portman carried the entire movie Jackie on her back, her shoulders, everywhere. She was its saving grace. While the movie itself left much to be desired it was her uncanny performance that kept me engaged in the film, her looks, her mannerisms, her subtle strength gave me a deep peek into who Jackie Kennedy really was for the first time.

Katherine’s Pick Loving is a quiet movie; it hasn’t received much notice or many accolades, because it is perhaps too subtle. Negga’s performance is in direct contrast to her work as Tulip on Preacher. Mildred Loving was a real person, a wife and a mother who found herself the subject of a Supreme Court case because she was a Black woman married to a White man. Negga’s performance is outstanding, and it would be a shame if her work were overlooked, again.


Best Supporting Actor
Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
Dev Patel, Lion
Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea
Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals

Jason’s Pick Mahershala Ali

Navani’s Pick I love characters that remind us of the duality of life and Juan was a prime example. Mahershala Ali breathed life into him in a way that forced us to see him as more than just a drug dealer, but as a good man. You can have character flaws but still be inherently good and likable. Making the audience grapple with that is not easy feat and he did it effortlessly.

Katherine’s Pick Ali has been collecting awards during the season, and for good reason: he’s the best. I’d love to see Michael Shannon, my favorite actor, but I wish he was nominated for, well, literally anything else. Shannon is an Oscar-worthy actor in every role (even the dramatic reading of a mean email) and it’s about damn time he was nominated, but unfortunately this must be Ali’s win.

Best Supporting Actress
Viola Davis, Fences 
Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea 
Naomie Harris, Moonlight 
Nicole Kidman, Lion 
Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures

Jason’s Pick Viola Davis

Navani’s Pick  I’m just here for this movie and the women it’s about. Octavia Spencer did a phenomenal job in bringing the integrity and determination of Dorothy Vaughan, the human computer, to the big screen. Her most wonderful strength was in being a girl’s girl, always looking out for her team and of course, creating opportunities for them and herself—which is what she did when she saw the transition to the computer. She had the foresight to know these machines would take their jobs so she became a women that could run them. Genius.

Katherine’s Pick Michelle Williams, like Michael Shannon, is great in everything she’s cast in, as is Viola Davis. But neither really stood out in their adequate movies. Naomie Harris transcends the competition in Moonlight, where she is unrecognizable and also unrecognized.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Hidden Figures

Jason’s Pick Moonlight

Navani’s Pick Lion

Katherine’s Pick Moonlight; I’d do anything to get my hands on In the Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue by Tarell Alvin McCraney.

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

Jason’s Pick The Lobster

Navani’s Pick La La Land

Katherine’s Pick I liked Hell or High Water while I watched it, but the more time passed between the viewing and present day, the less great it seems. (It will surely sweep.) Meanwhile, I was prepared to loathe La La Land and was swept away.


Best Foreign Language Film
Toni Erdmann
The Salesman
Land of Mine
A Man Called Ove

Katherine’s Pick: The award clearly belongs to director Asghar Farhadi (The Salesman), who won for A Separation in 2012. Should Farhadi win, he won’t be able to accept the award, due to the President’s Travel Ban.


Best Documentary Feature
O.J.: Made in America
Fire at Sea
I Am Not Your Negro
Life Animated

Jason’s Pick I Am Not Your Negro

Navani’s Pick OMG tie please! I love both of these docs dearly, both were well done and informative and so necessary considering the racial landscape we still live in here in America. On one hand you get first-hand accounts of the civil rights movement via James Baldwin, and to hear his poetic description of the relationships he had with Malcolm X, Medgar Evers, and Martin Luther King, Jr. are priceless. Any fan of his writing would appreciate it coming to life on the big screen. But then Ava DuVernay gives her own history lesson in the form of breaking down our own constitution and ties in undeniable evidence as to how the prison industrial complex reared it’s ugly head in this country and continues to have a strong hold. I would be happy if either of these two contenders won.

Katherine’s Pick To pit I Am Not Your Nego (now playing) against 13th (available on Netflix and directed by Ava DuVernay) and O.J.: Made In America (available on Hulu, having aired on ESPN and played in theaters) is an impossible choice. I think I Am Not Your Negro may come out as a stronger film, but I can’t fight against any of the three. Will the notoriously White Academy pick the White film about a privileged, autistic boy who communicates through Disney films? Probably.

Best Animated Feature
Kubo and the Two Strings
The Red Turtle
My Life As a Zucchini

Jason’s Pick Zootopia

Katherine’s Pick Moana was a beautiful film. It warmed my bones on a chilly day and it featured “not a princess” on a quest to save her people. It’s the first Disney film I could enjoy without quibbles since Brave (which would have been better if they’d let the director realize her vision…)

Best Film Editing
La La Land
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water

Jason’s Pick Moonlight

Katherine’s Pick Moonlight

Best Original Song
“City of Stars,” La La Land 
“Audition (The Fools Who Dream),” La La Land
“How Far I’ll Go,” Moana
“Can’t Stop the Feeling,” Trolls
“The Empty Chair,” Jim:The James Foley Story

Jason’s Pick “How Far I’ll Go”

Katherine’s Pick Do I want Lin-Manuel Miranda to secure an EGOT? Of course I do. But “Audition” breaks my heart every time. It’s also better than “City of Stars.”

Best Original Score
La La Land

Katherine’s Pick Moonlight‘s score is by Nicholas Britell, who also composed the score for 12 Years A Slave. It is tense, dense, and complex. It makes me want to visit Miami; it brings Moonlight and its protagonist to life. It can not beat La La Land, but it should.

Best Cinematography
La La Land

Jason’s Pick Lion

Katherine’s Pick Moonlight mimicked three different types of film stock for its three chapters. Each chapter was lush, brilliant, and alive. For a film about growing up in a “bad neighborhood” in Miami it sold me on the beauty of Florida. I am an artist who champions real film stock, and the result of the film’s efforts to emulate the real thing are worth celebrating.

Best Costume Design
Florence Foster Jenkins
La La Land
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Jason’s Pick Florence Foster Jenkins

Katherine’s Pick I desperately want Emma Stone’s wardrobe in La La Land, especially That Yellow Dress. My sister said nicely, “The outfits are made for dancing, you know,” but when I think about That Yellow Dress I see myself more beautiful, more graceful, prettier, and more charming. If that’s not worthy of an Oscar, what is?


Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Star Trek Beyond
A Man Called Ove
Suicide Squad

Jason’s Pick Suicide Squad

Best Production Design
La La Land
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Hail, Caesar!

Jason’s Pick Arrival

Katherine’s Pick Hail, Caesar! transported me to Hollywood during the Cold War. The 1950s must have been a stifling time to be alive, especially in California, and yet the clubs, the modern houses, and the foliage on the lot (really) seemed desperately alluring. (I’m also bitter that this hilarious, on-point film is underappreciated.)

Best Sound Editing
Hacksaw Ridge
Deepwater Horizon
La La Land

Jason’s Pick La La Land

Katherine’s Pick La La Land

Best Sound Mixing
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

Jason’s Pick La La Land

Katherine’s Pick La La Land


Best Visual Effects
The Jungle Book
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Kubo and the Two Strings
Doctor Strange
Deepwater Horizon

Jason’s Pick Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Navani’s Pick Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Best Short Film, Live Action
Silent Nights
La Femme et le TGV
Ennemis Interieurs

(Turns out none of us have seen the nominated short films!)

Best Short Film, Animated
Borrowed Time
Blind Vaysha
Pear Cider and Cigarettes

Katherine’s Pick I’ve actually seen Borrowed TimeI was moved beyond measure, a rare feat for me with a Pixar project.

Best Documentary, Short Subject
Joe’s Violin
The White Helmets
Watani: My Homeland
4.1 Miles

(Turns out we haven’t seen any of these, either!)


The Oscars air Sunday on ABC at 8:30 p.m.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s