And the Oscar goes to…. (My first Academy Awards picks column. Ever.)


For almost my entire life, I had no interest in movies. Whatsoever.

This, even though I lived a decade in Los Angeles, rubbed elbows with lots of people in “the industry,” and even met a few celebs along the way – at parties, on dance floors, even in the young adult support group at the Orange County Center for Gays and Lesbians.

I wrote a LinkedIn column a while back about my first (and best) roommate and friend in Los Angeles, Dale Mayeda. Dale, once a cog in the wheel at Enterprise Rent-A-Car, went on to win an Oscar for special effects in “Frozen.” As I said in that column, that is just how true the idea is that with hard work and determination comes fame in Los Angeles.

And maybe that is the reason so many people are predicting “La La Land” will be the big winner on Oscars night. It is that quintessential L.A. story, and it is portrayed by two quintessential L.A. beauties.

But hasn’t it been done? About a million times?

To be honest, I nearly walked out during the first 10 minutes. Singing during a traffic jam on the freeway? Could it get any more cliché? It’s sort of like the saying, “L.A. is a caricature of itself.” Which is true.

I’m glad I didn’t walk out, if for no other reason than to stare at Ryan Gosling (and Emma Stone, too) for a couple of hours and enjoy the incredible music and cinematography. And a cute story.

But ladies and gentlemen, if “Hidden Figures” does not come out the big winner of the night, the Hollywood libs should have their toaster ovens revoked! Not only were they criticized to kingdom come a while back for the annual milky whiteness of the Academy Awards, but they remedied it – and in no small fashion.

“Hidden Figures,” to me, not only is an incredible story, but it’s being told at a pivotal time in our nation’s history. Never has it been more important for us to remember the struggle that African Americans faced all those years ago. Never has it been more important a time in our nation’s history to remember that even rocket scientists faced that struggle.

Never has it been more important for us to remember that once we were a relatively cohesive nation of hope, of pride, and that the space program played a big part in that.

This is the right time for “Hidden Figures” on so many levels.

With that, here are my picks for the 2017 Oscars winners:

Best Picture: Hidden Figures. No further explanation needed.

Best Directing: Hidden Figures. It’s brilliant. You’ll want to leap out of your chair, burst into laughter, utter “hell, no” out loud, and cry. Many times.

Best Actress: Emma Stone, La La Land. She really is that cute girl who goes to L.A. to become a star, who sometimes you think is gonna make it, other times you think doesn’t have a prayer, and when she does make it, you say, “Of course she did.” And that really is how it works out there.

Best Actor: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea. Hands down. In the first five minutes, I said, “That guy has PTSD.” And his character in the movie obviously does, even though a diagnosis never is discussed. You find out why soon enough. And the story is so compelling, that even if the end isn’t the end you were hoping for, it is the end that makes sense, for everyone. Brilliant writing.

Best Original Screenplay: Manchester by the Sea, for all the above-mentioned reasons.

Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures. She’ll help you understand that the way African Americans were treated so many years ago, was so wrong. On so many levels. For those of us who did not live through that era, and grew up in the northern U.S., it’s difficult to comprehend. But you will, after seeing this movie.

Best Supporting Actor: Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea. He’s the popular kid in high school who is popular because he’s truly a great kid. We all knew that kid. At least one.

Best Adapted Screenplay: Hidden Figures.

Best Animated Feature: Moana. I must go with that because it’s the only one I actually saw on the list of “Best Animated Feature” nominees and because my above-mentioned friend, Dale Mayeda, has a prominent credit at the end for special effects.

Best Cinematography: La La Land.

Best Film Editing: La La Land.

Best Production Design: Arrival. I liked this movie a lot, but not necessarily because I found the story all that interesting (too complicated and far-fetched). I liked it because it had a unique wow factor on the big screen.

Best Costume Design: La La Land. They both were so darned cute.

Best Original Score: La La Land. That one should be a gimme.

Best Original Song: “City of Stars,” La La Land. Another gimme.

Best Sound Mixing: Arrival. Watch it. The sound is one of incredible things about the movie, in addition to the overall viewing experience. But the story? Again, not so much.

Best Sound Editing: Arrival.

Best Visual Effects: Deepwater Horizon. Not only did the leaking well look real, but it has happened, and in that regard, it’s a wakeup call. The movie did a public service. It’s also just incredibly cool to see what life living on an oil rig is like. Every ounce of it is believable, yet horrifying.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Star Trek Beyond. Lots of interesting peeps and things, for sure.

And I must stop there, because I don’t proclaim to know a darned thing about the other categories.

But I sure am proud of myself to have written my first ever “Oscar picks” column. Where did my ADD go? I don’t know, but going to the movies at least once a week is a part of my routine now, and probably is the most enjoyable couple hours of my life each week. I love it.

Hooray for Hollywood!

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