A Night Before the Oscars…


2017 Oscars Award
Every January, the entertainment community and film fans around the world turn their attention to the Academy Awards. Interest and anticipation builds to a feverish pitch, leading up to the Oscar telecast in February, when hundreds of millions of movie lovers tune in to watch the glamorous ceremony and learn who will receive the highest honours in filmmaking. The 89th Academy Awards ceremony will tomorrow honour the best films of 2016 and will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California. The Oscars are always an exciting night, with some nominees dancing in the clouds. Adedayo Adejobi reviews the films, nomination list, analyses the pros and cons of those who might win. Here are our highlights and predictions

AWESOME Adele sealed a sensational night at the Grammys, by letting slip she is married.
The Brit singer, 28, is thought to have secretly got hitched to her partner Simon Konecki, 42, over the Christmas period.
She referred to the charity boss — father of their four-year-old son Angelo — as her husband for the first time as she won all five gongs she was nominated for in Los Angeles on Sunday night.

And the Nominees are…

Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
Ryan Gosling, La La Land
Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic
Denzel Washington, Fences

Will win/should win: Washington
Affleck was the early favourite for his portrayal of a tragic handyman, but Washington has steadily gained momentum, enough to overtake him. Washington’s role is one of the most iconic in a legendary career, the study of a 1950s garbage man whose boisterous and self-centered personality upends the relationship with his family.

Isabelle Huppert, Elle
Ruth Negga, Loving
Natalie Portman, Jackie
Emma Stone, La La Land
Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

Will win/should win: Stone
Had Portman not won her Oscar six years ago for Black Swan, there might be a better argument for her knockout performance as grieving first lady Jackie Kennedy. More deserving of adulation this time is Stone, who similarly fuels La La Land’s narrative as its struggling thespian and is the primary reason the musical is such a joy to watch. Her character’s Audition (The Fools Who Dream) song — an ode to the dreamer in us all — might as well have been a call to the Oscar engraver to start practicing her name.

Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea
Dev Patel, Lion
Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals
Will win: Ali
Should win: Hedges
This is the awards season where everybody figured out how talented Ali is, and he’s certainly worthy of his front-runner status as a drug dealer with a big heart. That said, it’s hard to overlook the contribution of Hedges: He plays a consistently strong role throughout his movie — whereas Ali and Patel only factor into a fraction of theirs — and his complicated teenager balances out Manchester’s relentless grief with needed humour and youthful energy.

Viola Davis, Fences
Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Nicole Kidman, Lion
Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures
Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea

Will win/should win: Davis
The Oscar gods bestowed Leonardo DiCaprio with his first Oscar last year, and that time is now for Davis as Fences’ put- upon housewife who’s had it with playing second fiddle to her husband. She could have won for Doubt, she should have won for The Help, but — barring the biggest upset in years — she’ll win for Fences.

Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge
Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Denis Villeneuve, Arrival

Will win: Chazelle
Should win: Jenkins
Chazelle deserves much of the credit for why La La Land has become the cat’s meow with its relatable love story and showstopping numbers. Yet Jenkins pulls off an even greater feat by creating a timely, unconventional and extraordinary character piece that follows an African-American man from bullied kid to distressed teen to tough drug dealer.

Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
Hidden Figures
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea

Will win: La La Land
Should win: Hidden Figures
With 14 nominations, La La Land looks to have a record-setting night and has been the front-runner since festival season. La La’s effervescent story and love letter to old-school Hollywood will appeal to Oscar voters, but Hidden Figures has more going for it: It’s about unsung heroines in a period drama, it’s just as crowd-pleasing as its song-and-dance foe, and the history lesson feels more relevant in a divided political climate than a breezy musical. And who knows if we’ll ever get another movie about math that’s this entertaining?

Oscars 2017: 3 trivia about each of the 9 best picture nominees
If the 2017 Golden Globes Award ceremony was any indication, the 89th Academy Awards tomorrow is going to have its fair share of impassioned speeches, misspoken names, and an extensively long In Memoriam video.
In recent years, the Oscars have become highly politicized. In 2016, for the second year in a row, only white actors and actresses were nominated in the top four categories, resulting in the trending hashtag #OscarsSoWhite. From Barack Obama to Steven Spielberg, many people weighed in and protested.
Fast forward a year later and the top four categories now have a total of seven non-white nominations. Of the nine best picture nominations, three — Fences, Hidden Figures, and Moonlight — focus on race relations and the struggles of being black in America.
The remaining best picture nominations have storylines that range from a linguistics expert deciphering an alien language, to a toe-tapping musical, to a young man on a quest to find his lost family — to name a few.
While going through the nominations, we came across some interesting trivia about each of the nine best picture nominations. Here are three highlights from each movie.

Montreal artist Martine Bertrand created the inky circular alien language.
To ensure all terminology, graphics and depictions were accurate, scientist and tech innovator Stephen Wolfram and his son Christopher Wolfram were consulted.
When designing the aliens, sources of inspiration included: octopuses, whales, elephants, and spiders.

August Wilson, who wrote the play that the film is based on, insisted that a film adaptation be directed by an African-American.
In 2010, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis performed the play on Broadway 114 times.
This is not the first time Denzel Washington has directed Viola Davis. In 2002 he directed her in Antwone Fisher.

Hacksaw Ridge
Desmond T. Doss, the U.S. Army corporal the film is based on, received his Medal of Honour from then U.S. president Harry S. Truman in 1945.
This is the first movie Mel Gibson has directed in 10 years, since the 2006 release of Apocalypto.
Mel Gibson’s son Milo has his film debut in this movie.

Hell or High Water
Chris Pine and Ben Foster were cast in another 2016 movie — The Finest Hours.
Even though the story is set in Texas, much of it was filmed in New Mexico to take advantage of tax incentives.
Taylor Sheridan, who wrote the movie, is an actor-turned-screenwriter. He has a cameo in the movie as a cowboy driving cattle away from a fire.

Hidden Figures
Many of the cast members have worked together in other movies. Taraji P. Henson and Mahershala Ali played love interests in 2008 in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Octavia Spencer and Jim Parsons were in an episode of The Big Bang Theory — The Euclid Alternative — where Spencer played a clerk at the DMV. In 2014, Spencer and Kevin Costner, appeared together in Black or White. Janelle Monáe and Mahershala Ali also acted in another movie nominated for best picture, Moonlight.
One of the scenes in the movie, where Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe are seen playing cards and dancing, is a historic house in Atlanta where civil rights legends Ralph Abernathy and Martin Luther King Jr. met.
Besides producing the movie, Pharell Williams also oversaw the music and soundtrack.

La La Land
In all the scenes Ryan Gosling is shown playing the piano — that’s really him playing. He took piano lessons just for the role.
For his role, singer and pianist John Legend had to learn how to play the guitar.
From West Side Story to Wall-E, choreographer Mandy Moore drew inspiration from five different movies when crafting the dance numbers Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling would perform.

The movie is based on a true story of a young man using Google Earth to find his lost family. Google partnered with the filmmakers to make the satellite imagery as accurate as possible.
The last scene of the movie was the first scene Dev Patel filmed.
In an interview, line producer Pravesh Sahni said they auditioned 4,000 boys for the role of the young Saroo Brierly.

Manchester by the Sea
In 2014, the screenplay for this movie was featured in the 2014 Black List. This is an annual survey of the most liked motion picture screenplays that have not yet been produced.
The actor who plays the funeral director, Kevin Grondin, is also one in real life.
There really is a town in Massachusetts called Manchester-by-the-Sea. Until 1989, it was called Manchester.

The movie is based on an unproduced play by MacArthur Fellow Tarell Alvin McCraney, called In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue.
Naomie Harris’s scenes spanned 15 years in the character’s life. They were filmed out of sequence in three days.
There’s a scene where Mahershala Ali’s character Juan is teaching Alex R. Hibbert’s character Little to swim. It wasn’t an act. Hibbert did not know how to swim when production started.

11 More stars set to present at 89th Oscars Los Angeles- David Oyelowo, Amy Adams, Riz Ahmed, Javier Bardem, John Cho, Dwayne Johnson, Charlize Theron, and others
The presenters, including past Oscar winners and nominees, are Nigeria’s David Oyelowo, Amy Adams, Riz Ahmed, Javier Bardem, John Cho, Dwayne Johnson, Felicity Jones, Leslie Mann, Janelle Monáe, Emma Stone and Charlize Theron.“No matter who you are or where you live, movies bring us together,” said De Luca and Todd.
Pix: Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in ‘La La Land.jpg, Alex Hibbert and Mahershala Ali in ‘Moonlight.jpg and ‘Fences’ star Viola Davis (right, with Denzel Washington) looks primed for her first Oscar.jpg

Nollywood’s ‘Historic’ Academy Awards Win – A Valid Dream
Biola Alabi

It didn’t shock me last year when the Academy Awards became the target of a boycott based on critics’ perception that its all-white nominee list – for the second straight year – reflected its bias.
With notable changes in the nominee list this year, the 89th annual Academy Awards will hold this Sunday at the Dolby Theatre at the Hollywood and Highland Centre in Los Angeles. Easily one of the most coveted movie awards, and glamourous events in Hollywood and the global entertainment calendar, the Academy Awards a.k.a the Oscars, has remained ostensibly out of the grasp of Nollywood, Africa’s biggest film industry.
Nollywood and the Foreign Language Film Award
The Algerian movie Z was the first African film to win an Academy Award, it won the Best Foreign Language Film Award in 1969. It wasn’t until 1959, 30 years after the first Academy Awards was held in 1929, that a separate category for non-English-language films was created. This Award is given to a feature-length motion picture outside the United States of America with a predominantly non-English dialogue track. As of 2016, 90 films have been submitted from across Africa, eight out of that number went on to be nominated, and only three of these films have won the Best Foreign Language Film Award. Interestingly, Nollywood has had no submissions to the Oscars so far.
We could easily attribute this to the fact that the Nigerian Oscars Selection Committee (NOSC) was only recently approved. The NOSC is a 12-member committee of Nollywood stakeholders charged with the responsibility of vetting and selecting one film for consideration for the Best Foreign Language Film Award. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) approved the committee in 2014 ahead of the 2015 Academy Awards. Another important point to note is that majority of Nollywood’s, arguably, best productions are English-language films, and as such immediately do not qualify to be considered in the Best Foreign Language Film Award category at all.
Can Nollywood win the Oscars?
It is very important that we understand that the Academy Awards is actually an American awards event to recognise excellence in cinematic achievements in the United States film industry. Hence, a boycott and criticism of the awards by Hollywood actors and filmmakers does little or nothing for Nollywood’s dream of winning the Oscars.
Is it then possible for Nollywood to win the Oscars?
Although not simply, but the answer is YES!
Nollywood must not get stuck in the dream of just competing for the Best Foreign Language Film category. The industry needs to begin to look beyond this award and aim much higher. Lupita Nyong’o proved this to us when in 2013, fresh out of graduate school, she had her first feature film role in Steve McQueen’s historical drama 12 Years a Slave, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress and became the first Kenyan to win an Academy Award.
Nollywood is as much African as Lupita is, and she proved to the rest of Africa, and the whole world that it is possible. Nollywood actors/actresses and filmmakers can indeed excel in Hollywood, gain global recognition and win international awards.

Bridging the Gap
One of the major rules for qualifying for an Academy Award other than the Best Foreign Language Film Award, is that a film must open in the previous calendar year in Los Angeles County, California and play for seven consecutive days.
So far, only one Nollywood movie has premiered in Los Angeles. Flower Girl, a romantic comedy film set and shot in Lagos, was screened at the Hollywood Black Film Festival in 2013, and also had its US premiere at the festival screening in Los Angeles in 2013.
Global distribution and marketing for Nollywood films is key if it is to break new ground at the Oscars. Premised on its popularity across Africa and the diaspora, global reach for Nollywood films has already taken off since the movie adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s book Half of a Yellow Sun. The movie starred Academy Award winner, Chiwetel Ejiofor and showed at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2013. Last year, eight Nigerian films screened at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), including Izu Ojukwu’s 76 and Kemi Adetiba’s The Wedding Party.
Video on Demand (VOD) platforms like iRoko TV, Dobox, DSTV ShowMax, Wabona, and Netflix, are further propelling the global consumption of Nollywood movies. Already, there’re a number of Nollywood titles available on Netflix: Kunle Afolayan’s October 1, Andrew Dosunmu’s Mother of George, and Biyi Bandele’s Half of a Yellow Sun, to name a few.
Young filmmakers are also exploring the boundless opportunities that the Internet provides to reach a wider audience. Online TV Channels are popular on YouTube now as well as other digital content start-ups leveraging Nigerian content to a global audience.

There is much promise
Nigeria already has some footprints in the Academy Awards. Chiwetel Ejiofor and Sophie Okonedo, are both Academy Award winners and of Nigerian origin. Nonso Anozie, Caroline Chikezie, Gbenga Akinnagbe, David Oyelowo and more, are all Nigerian exports to Hollywood who in recent times have expressed enthusiasm and interest in Nigeria’s film industry to herald the next phase of Nollywood’s growth.
A few of Nollywood’s superstars have also broken into the Hollywood space, a move that is very necessary if Nollywood truly intends to bridge this gap.

In June 2013, Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde made her US TV debut when she starred in the VH1 American drama television series Hit the Floor. She made a brief guest appearance in the 5th episode where she acted alongside popular musician Akon. A year after that, Stephanie Linus Okereke featured in a Hollywood movie called Boonville Redemption, where she played the role of a slave girl named Doris.
The Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA), the Africa Magic Viewer’s Choice Awards (AMVCA), and other local awards already do a great job of recognising and awarding remarkable Nollywood productions, but there is much promise and capacity for more. What emphasises this promise of a global award for Nollywood soon is evident in our unique stories and our ability to interpret them well. We should focus on stories that belie our unique realities as Nigerians. Stronger stories, better interpretation of these stories and excellent direction means better acting and production, which will inadvertently lead to appreciation that in turn means recognition and awards. And as we keep getting better at interpreting these stories that define us as Nigerians and as Africans, the day draws nearer when a Nigerian film will win Best Picture at the Academy Awards.
Biola Alabi is the CEO of Biola Alabi Media a Lagos-based strategic media consulting Company and a content creator. The creators of “Bukas and Joints”.
PIX: Biola Alabi.jpg