The Oscars draw increasingly near, and with them brings a question we must grapple with now more than ever: "City of Stars" or "Audition (The Fools Who Dream)" for best original song?
Certainly, there are three other nominees, and in some other universe, they could have the chance to win. Think about it: Somewhere out there is a timeline where Hillary Clinton is president and Lin-Manuel Miranda is about to win the last piece of his EGOT for Moana's "How Far I'll Go."
Sadly, for both Miranda and the United States, we live in this timeline, and La La Land is expected to dominate on Oscar night. That means one of its two songs, written by Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, will take home the prize. But which will it be?
If we were talking about what should win, the clear answer would be "Audition (The Fools Who Dream)." It's the clear bright spot of La La Land, as appealing to skeptics as it is to fans of the film. It's the one song that gives Emma Stone a chance to sing full-out as opposed to just a lilting whisper, and its opening line — "My aunt used to live in Paris" — has proven meme-worthy.
"Audition" getting nominated at the Critics' Choice Awards gave some hope that it might wind up topping "City of Stars," which is La La Land's whisper-singing problem incarnate combined with mild, unspecific lyrics. Sadly, "City of Stars" ultimately won that award, plus the Golden Globe, giving it a huge visibility boost. It's the almost certain winner.
While we're talking about sounds, here are our predictions in the aural technical categories, to match our visual category guesses. Spoiler: Expect a lot of La La Land.
Best original score
An original musical is not going to sweep the Oscars without a prize for its music. Hurwitz's second award of the night is assured.
Should win: Moonlight
Will win: La La Land
Best sound mixing
Here's the thing: La La Land's sound mixing is terrible. It ruins the opening number, "Another Day of Sun," by making the singers' voices sound faint and prerecorded in the midst of a giant highway dance. Mixing problems plague other numbers, too, only fixed in "Audition (The Fools Who Dream)."
Should win: Arrival (or anything but La La Land, really)
Will win: La La Land
Best sound editing
As a refresher, remember that sound editing is about the creation of the sounds in film, while mixing is how they come together. This distinction is important for a movie musical, which will win its kudos for sound creation in best original score. Here, expect either Arrival or Hacksaw Ridge to pick up its sole prize of the night.
Should win: Arrival
Will win: Hacksaw Ridge