My Oscar predictions…and wishes (with, of course, issues of race)

Back in October, I predicted that Loving would win the Best Picture Oscar. At that time, I had not yet seen the movie, and quality didn’t even come into my equation.

Loving didn’t come into the Academy’s equation, either. It can’t win Best Picture because it wasn’t nominated. (For the record, I liked Loving very much, but I wouldn’t call it an exceptional film. I give it a B+.)

If I were a betting man, I’d put my money on La La Land, but I wouldn’t do it happily. I loved the movie…until it forgot it was a musical. The second half of the film failed on the promise of the wonderful first act.

So why do I think La La Land will win…aside from the fact that everyone else thinks so, too?

First, there’s the issue of white people. La La Land has a lot of them.

Not that I have anything against white people. I’m one, myself. But I’m aware of how us melanin-deficient folk distort our culture. Last year, for instance, all eight Best Picture nominees had white protagonists, and that was not a unique situation. What was unique was the #oscarsowhite Twitter protest, which made the problem visible.

For whatever reasons, things have improved this year. Three of the nine nominees have African-American protagonists. Another has a South Asian lead. Of course, these black and brown protagonists were in stories where the protagonist couldn’t possibly be white; Hollywood almost never casts an actor of color in a leading role unless the role demands it.

I’m guessing that a lot of Academy members, feeling guilty about last year’s whitewash, will choose to vote for a film about African Americans. But with three such films on the list, the votes will be split up, and La La Land will get the big statue.

The second issue is Hollywood, itself. Academy members all work, or have worked, in the film industry. Naturally, they like movies about movies – and that preference has been visible recently. Two of the last five Best Picture winners, Argo and The Artist, were about Hollywood moviemaking. So is La La Land.

That’s my prediction, but not my choice. I still want Moonlight to win. It really is the best new film I saw in 2016.

My second favorite film of the year was The Salesman, which I’m hoping will win Best Foreign Language Film. Perhaps it will win, not on its very high merits, but on a sympathy vote. When Trump banned people from Iran and six other nations from coming into the country, he banned Salesman writer/director Asghar Farhadi. Fortunately, the courts have said otherwise, and Farhadi can attend the ceremony. (Far more important, of course, is that thousands of refugees can come to a relatively safe haven.)

If The Salesman gets the award it deserves, our idiot-in-chief just may tweet something about those awful Hollywood types giving an award to a terrorist.

I have other plans Sunday night, which is too bad. This looks like it will be an interesting Oscar show.

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