The Academy Awards: No, no to ‘La La Land’

By Bob Bloom

I love musicals. Even as a kid growing up in New York, I secretly watched “Million Dollar Movie” when it aired the Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers musicals.

Of course, back then, I kept my appreciation of musicals to myself. It was a different time in the late 1950s and early ‘60s, and if you did not want to be teased or have your masculinity questioned, you kept your love of the genre to yourself.

But as I matured and got more and more into movies, I realized the beauty and technique that made musicals so special.

It was my first screening of “Singin’ in the Rain” that finally made me understand that masculinity and a love of the genre were not separate. Thank you, Gene Kelly!

All this is to explain why, even though I enthusiastically enjoyed “La La Land,” I hope it does not win the Academy Award for best picture, despite being the odds-on favorite.

Why, you ask? Because it is the safe choice. “La La Land” is a non-threatening, bubbly confection that is a bit edgy. Even though it ends on a wistful note, it is a comfortable choice, almost a throwback to the musicals of the 1940s’ and ‘50s.

I would prefer to see a movie with a more social and cultural significance take home the best picture Oscar; a movie that shows Academy members are looking forward, not in the rear-view mirror.

My choice would be “Moonlight.

The film intimately shares a young black man’s journey of self-discovery from childhood to adulthood as he tries to understand his place in the world and his sexuality.

“Moonlight” is a tender picture, a soft and understanding portrait of isolation, of living in the shadows by denying one’s true self. The movie showcases a complexity about human nature and sexuality that is refreshing to watch.

More than 10 years ago, the Academy displayed its timidity by refusing to award the Oscar to the gay-themed “Brokeback Mountain,” instead giving it to the liberal-leaning and safe “Crash.”

It’s time for the Academy to rectify that mistake by honoring “Moonlight.”

And in today’s political climate, I believe “Moonlight” has an outside chance of overtaking “La La Land.”

The question is, whether — in the past decade — Academy members have discovered their backbone.

Enough of my soapbox. Here are my choices for the Academy Awards. I will offer whom I believe will win, offsetting it with whom I expect will win.

Best picture: Will win: “La La Land”
Should win: “Moonlight”

Best actor: Will win: Denzel Washington (“Fences”)
Should win: Casey Affleck (“Manchester by the Sea”

Best actress: Will win: Isabelle Huppert (“Elle”)
Should win: Ruth Negga (“Loving”)

Supporting actor: Will win & should win: Mahershala Ali (“Moonlight”

Supporting actress: Will win & should win: Viola Davis (“Fences”)

Director: Will win: Damien Chazelle (“La La Land”)
Should win: Barry Jenkins (“Moonlight”)

Foreign language film: Will win & should win: “Toni Erdmann”

Original screenplay: Will win: “La La Land”
Should win: “The Lobster”

Adapted screenplay: Will win & should win: “Moonlight”

Animated feature: Will win & should win: “Zootopia”

Documentary feature: Will win & should win: “O.J.: Made in America”

Documentary short subject: Will win & should win: “4.1 Miles”

Original score: Will win & should win: “La La Land”

Original song: Will win & should win: “City of Stars” (“La La Land”)

Film editing: Will win: “La La Land”
Should win: “Arrival”

Production design: Will win & should win: “La La Land”

Cinematography: Will win: “La La Land”
Should win: “Silence”

Visual effects: Will win & should win: “Doctor Strange”

Sound editing: Will win: “La La Land”
Should win: “Hacksaw Ridge”

Sound mixing: Will win: “La La Land”
Should win: “Hacksaw Ridge”

Costume design: Will win” “La La Land”
Should win: “Jackie”

Makeup: Will win & should win: “Star Trek Beyond”
Short film, animated: Will win: “Borrowed Time”

Should win: “Blind Vaysha”

Short film, live action: Will win & should win: “Silent Nights”

Bob Bloom is a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. His reviews appear at ReelBob (reelbob.com) and Rottentomatoes (www.rottentomatoes.com). He also reviews Blu-rays and DVDs. He can be reached by email at bobbloomjc@gmail.com or on Twitter @ReelBobBloom.

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