This image released by A24 Films shows Alex Hibbert in a scene from the film, “Moonlight.” Nominees for the 89th Academy Awards will be announced on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017. (David Bornfriend/A24 via AP)

Reeling it in: Handicapping the Oscars

Typically being too sick to go to the movies in late January wouldn’t be a huge loss. The month is full of throw-away dreck like “Underworld” and silly blockbusters like “XXX.”

Unfortunately, here on the peninsula, January and February are also when the big Oscar contenders start trickling onto our screens. This week we finally got “La La Land,” a movie I’m dying to see. And so, even though I’ve extolled my readers to get out and see these smaller, artsier films in the theaters, strep throat completely waylaid my plans to watch the film that was recently awarded with fourteen Oscar nominations — that’s tied for the most nominations of all time.

So I can’t tell you how the movie is. I hear it’s really good — a rather musically inclined friend of mine has seen it twice and offered to go a third time with me if I could get my sick butt off the couch. Oh well, maybe it’ll stick around for a few weeks.

Instead, I’d like to look at the major Oscar nominations and talk about which movies are likely to do well on February 26. Let’s start with Best Picture.

Most categories for the Oscars have between three and five nominations, but some crazy math instituted in the last few years allows for Best Picture to have up to ten — presumably to allow for some movies that people have actually seen to be nominated.

This year the list includes “La La Land,” “Fences,” “Moonlight,” “Hacksaw Ridge,” “Manchester by the Sea,” “Hidden Figures,” “Hell or High Water,” “Lion” and my favorite, “Arrival.” Of course, I’ve only seen “Arrival” and “Hell or High Water,” but Amy Adams’ sci-fi drama was so good, it’d take a lot to beat it for me. “La La Land” is on track to win this, with the coming of age drama “Moonlight” in a strong second place. If those two split the vote, “Arrival,” which received eight nominations on it’s own, could get some love, though the NASA tale, “Hidden Figures” which received stellar reviews and several nominations as well, has been getting a lot of buzz. If I had to bet however, I’d guess “La La Land” will take it home, though.

Best Actor this year will probably go to Casey Affleck for “Manchester by the Sea.” Affleck is a remarkable actor who turns in these great, lived-in performances that kind of take you by surprise. I loved him in “Gone Baby Gone,” and “The Assassination of Jesse James,” and I think he’s earned it. If not Affleck, it will probably go to Ryan Gosling who will be carried on the sheer weight of love for “La La Land.” Other nominees include Viggo Mortensen for the little seen “Captain Fantastic,” Andrew Garfield for “Hacksaw Ridge” and Denzel Washington for his adaptation of the play “Fences.”

Best Actress is always kind of a strange duck. Often this will be the only nomination for the films in this category. I don’t know if it’s because Hollywood has difficulty coming up with good, mainstream projects for women, or if these movies are just more difficult to find.

This year, the actress with the most buzz is Ruth Negga, for Jeff Nichol’s true-life drama “Loving,” about the mixed race couple whose marriage claim went all the way to Supreme Court. This would be a huge career boost for Negga, whose biggest credit before this was as a villain on TV’s “Agents of Shield.” Other nominees include Isabelle Hupert in the French film “Elle,” Emma Stone for “La La Land,” Natalie Portman for “Jackie” and Meryl Streep for “Florence Foster Jenkins.”

Honestly, this category is pretty wide open as everyone except for Streep has been spoken of as a strong contender. I think people are betting on a “La La Land” sweep and that Stone will get this, but my money is on Negga. Interestingly, everyone said Amy Adams was shoo-in for a nomination in this category, but somehow she didn’t make the final cut.

I’m going to skip the supporting actor categories — both of them are likely to go to “Moonlight,” but these are wild card awards, so who knows. Instead, I want to talk about the writing categories. The Adapted Screenplay nominees are “Arrival,” “Fences,” “Hidden Figures,” “Moonlight” and “Lion.” Looking at this strategically, I’d say that “La La Land” will pick up most of its nominations, leaving this one of the big ones that “Moonlight” will grab. “Moonlight” has great critical acclaim, but its subject matter makes it less accessible than “La La Land.” I would love to see “Arrival” win this, but I’m afraid that film may have to be satisfied with the nominations.

Oddly, the biggest hurdle to “Moonlight” winning this award is that “adapted screenplay” is a bit of a stretch in that the play that “Moonlight” is based on, “In Moonlight, Black Boys Look Blue,” is unpublished.

For Original Screenplay, I think the award will go hands down to “La La Land.” Damien Chazelle burst on to the scene with last year’s “Whiplash” and is a strong contender for writing and directing this year’s feel-good musical darling. If, for some reason things turn “Moonlight’s” way, and Barry Jenkins wins for Best Director, then this screenplay award would definitely be a consolation prize. Other nominations include “Hell or High Water,” “Manchester by the Sea,” “20th Century Women” and “The Lobster.”

Unfortunately, I can’t say I’ve actually seen many of these films, just read a lot about them. We got “La La Land” in the theater, and that’s great — here’s hoping we’ll see even more of these available in the future. We just have to be healthy enough to go out and watch them.

Chris Jenness is an art teacher, freelance graphic designer, artist and movie buff who lives in Nikiski.

This image released by Twentieth Century Fox shows Taraji P. Henson as Katherine Johnson, center, in a scene from “Hidden Figures.” Henson failed to receive an Oscar nomination, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017, for her role in the film. (Hopper Stone/Twentieth Century Fox via AP)

This image released by Lionsgate shows Ryan Gosling, right, and Emma Stone in a scene from, “La La Land.” Nominees for the 89th Academy Awards will be announced on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017. (Dale Robinette/Lionsgate via AP)

More in Life

File
Minister’s Message: Are we seeing flowers or weeds?

In diffiult times, we need to watch what we watch

A plate of fried fish is photographed in this undated photo. Frying up cod or halibut in a beer batter is a delicious way to enjoy Alaska’s catch. (Courtesy Victoria Petersen)
Kalifornsky Kitchen: A secret ingredient for fried fish

Victoria Petersen serves up beer-battered halibut with a not-so-secret ingredient.

Photo from the Anchorage Museum of History and Art 
                                Dr. David Hassan Sleem stands on the front porch of his large Seward home in 1906.
The multitalented D.H. Sleem, Part two

Syrian-born David Hassan Sleem settled in Seward in 1903.

Nick Varney
Unhinged Alaska: So sayeth the almanac 2020

Once again, the summer has rocketed by and we find ourselves on the precipice of the autumn equinox.

File
Minister’s Message: Being trustworthy in troubled times

Many people have forgotten that the source of our American values and virtues is the Bible.

The cast and crew of “Knife Skills” poses for a photo at Pier One Theatre during a recording session in August in Homer, Alaska. From left to right are Peter Sheppard, Theodore Castellani, Chloë Pleznac, Joshua Krohn (sitting, at sound board), Darrel Oliver, Helen-Thea Marcus and Ingrid Harrald. (Photo courtesy of Lindsey Schneider)
KBBI broadcasts new radio play on Friday

‘Knife Skills’ was written and directed by Homer playwright Lindsey Schneider

Squash from my neighborhood farmers market will be roasted into a sheet pan dinner, on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020 in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Kalifornsky Kitchen: Lazy fall days

Farmers markets keep your hard-earned dollars within your community.

Anchorage Museum of History and Art
                                Dr. David Hassan Sleem stands on the front porch of his large Seward home in 1906.
The multitalented D.H. Sleem, Part one

Most people, if they have heard of D.H. Sleem at all, know the name because of his Alaska maps.

The Bayside Buskers perform from noon-1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, at Land’s End Resort in Homer, Alaska, as part of the Alaska World Arts Festival. (Photo by Aaron Christ)
Alaska World Arts Festival returns

For 2020, most of the festival will be virtual — and sometimes live

Low-bush cranberries are gathered in Anchorage, Alaska, on Monday, Sept. 7, 2020. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
                                Low-bush cranberries are gathered in Anchorage, Alaska, on Monday, Sept. 7, 2020. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Kalifornsky Kitchen: Cranberry conundrum

I have enough cranberries to try multiple recipes. So I will.

Virginia Walters (Courtesy photo)
Life in the Pedestrian Lane: Our daily bread

Lately it has been baking bread.