The Oscar odds are prohibitive on La La Land director Damien Chazelle but is there any other choice in this five-man field to take home the hardware?
Damien Chazelle, “La La Land” -1750
Barry Jenkins, “Moonlight” +1400
Kenneth Lonergan, “Manchester by the Sea” +1800
Mel Gibson, “Hacksaw Ridge” +5000
Denis Villeneuve, “Arrival” +8000
Every year it seems there is a can’t-miss, critically acclaimed cinematic gem and this season La La Land is America’s theatrical darling. It has been nominated for 14 Academy Awards which ties the record set by Titanic (1997) and All About Eve (1950). If the Academy decides to go all-in then La La Land could even surpass Titanic, Ben-Hur (1959), and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) which are all tied with a record 11 Oscars won by a single film.
So, there’s that. However, if you want to take a chance on including this category as one of your Oscar picks, I would suggest you steer clear of betting the rent as a way to pay for lunch. You can toss Denis Villeneuve right out the window for his directorial prowess in “Arrival”. It’s too sci-fi without the requisite blockbuster digital effects, despite a solid performance by Amy Adams. Mel Gibson is out too as the stigma he carries from some ill-advised drunken rants several years ago still cling to him like a bad odor. The Academy is comprised of voters with long memories and a penchant for politics - don’t kid yourself.
And then there were two. Although Kenneth Lonergan gets kudos for “Manchester by the Sea”, we are going to go with the only other pony in this race that could provide the Oscar upset. Yes, Barry Jenkins is that pony and if you have seen Moonlight or read the reviews you know that this Golden Globes winner for Best Motion Picture in a Drama is a definite player in all eight Academy Awards’ categories for which it was nominated. And though Jenkins was bested in the Best Director category at the Goldies by La La’s Chazelle, there is very real value here at Oscar odds of +1400.
Swinger's Academy Award Pick: Barry Jenkins +1400Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes