Races tight this time at the Oscars

The 89th annual Academy Awards take place Feb. 26 in Hollywood at the Dolby Theater. This is the first part of a three-part series covering the Oscars for 2016.

The Best Supporting Actress race is a tough one this go around.  The nominees are Nicole Kidman for the surrogate mother in “Lion,” Michelle Williams as the distraught mother in “Manchester By the Sea,” Naomie Harris as the drug-addicted mother in “Moonlight” and Octavia Spencer in the based-on-a-true-tale of women number crunchers in “Hidden Figures.” My pick for the winner is Viola Davis as the strong, independent woman in “Fences.”  

Another tight race is for Best Supporting Actor with a quintet of strong performances.  They include Jeff Bridges as Sheriff Marcus Hamilton in “Hell or High Water,” Dev Patel as the older boy lost on a train in “Lion,” Lucas Hedges for the tough watch of “Manchester by the Sea,” and Michael Shannon as tough terminal cop with justice on his mind in “Nocturnal Animals,” and my pick for the winner Mahershala Ali as Juan, a Cuban -
born patriarch in “Moonlight.”

The Best Original Screenplay will probably go to “La La Land,” because the Academy has to acknowledge its darling musical.  Expect Damien Chazelle to take home the trophy on this one.  A slight spoiler might go to Kenneth Lonergan for “Manchester By the Sea.”  Also nominated are Taylor Sheridan for the hybrid western drama “Hell or High Water,” Mike Mills for the family drama “20th Century Women,” and in the fifth position, the funky tale of “The Lobster” with writers Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthymis Filppou.

The Best Adapted Screenplay race is another constricted one as well.  Unique ideas are on display with “Arrival,” “Fences,” “Hidden Figures,” “Lion” and “Moonlight.”  As much as I like the other movies, I think Barry Jenkins and co-scribe Tarell Alvin McCraney will be hearing the words “and the Oscar goes to ‘Moonlight’.”

Best Animated movie will probably go to “Zootopia,” a tale of a mystery in the land with anthropomorphic animals where two odd species in a bunny and a fox work together to uncover a mystery.  

Also nominated are “The Red Turtle,” “Moana,” “My Life as a Zucchini” and “Kubo and the Two Strings.” My personal pick for the award would go to “Kubo,” but alas I am not a member of the Academy.