Predicting the Oscars is an art. You can’t look at the nominees and pick personal favorites. You can’t side with the movies that you think deserve to win. You have to look over those 27 categories and put yourself in the shoes of 6,000 voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science and think “What are they going to vote for?”
Those who really want to master an Oscar-pool ballot are advised to study earlier award shows, especially the guild honors handed out by actors, directors, writers and producers. Even then, there are categories like short films that often amount to pool tiebreakers, where the winner probably has just as good a chance by throwing darts as educated guessing.
I did all of the above, monitored the speculations and facts and followed every award show this award season to the T, with the biggest of the Awards show airing tomorrow, Sunday night I’ve been able to draw conclusions to my predictions that might do justice.
Damien Chazelle’s La La Land led with 14 nominations, Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight with Eight, Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival with Eight nominations as well, both getting nominated for Best Picture. Manchester by the Sea, Hacksaw Ridge and Lion all got Six nominations each.
Here is a rundown of the list of nominations and my predictions:
*Hell or High Water
*La La Land- Winner
*Manchester by the Sea
*Moonlight – Could win
In this race, it’s all about La La Land and Moonlight in these final hours. If it was back in the nomination phase I could have thrown Manchester by the Sea into the mix because of how well it’s done in this award season but it’s narrowed down to just two film La La Land and Moonlight. Although Moonlight has received a great deal of love, I find it hard to imagine anything stopping La La Land from taking this especially with its huge success this Awards season and bagging 14 nominations for Oscars. Another point to consider is that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Picture might as well mean most popular and with its success through out this award season, it’s just got to be La La Land.
Best Actress in a leading role
*Isabelle Huppert (Elle) – Could / Should win
*Ruth Negga (Loving)
*Natalie Portman (Jackie)
*Emma Stone (La La Land) – Will win
*Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins)
If any of La La Land’s two leads is going home with a trophy on Sunday, it’s going to be Emma Stone. Emma Stone took home the Golden globe, Bafta and SAG Awards for this category, what’s to stop her from doing it again at the Oscars. She is currently Hollywood’s sweetheart, and both she and the La La Land movie are well loved by the Academy and she has been nominated for an Oscar before. Although, Isabelle Huppert proves a stiff competition, this award undoubtedly looks to go to Emma. It’s possible to imagine an Isabelle Huppert upset, but come on.
Best Actor in a leading role
*Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea)
*Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge)
*Ryan Gosling (La La Land) – Could win
*Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic)
*Denzel Washington (Fences) – Will win
Casey Affleck has dominated the awards season so far, Ryan Gosling may get caught up in the La La Land train and Oscar voters sure love Denzel Washington, but this is Affleck’s to lose. Earlier on, Affleck seemed like a sure thing but controversy surrounding past sexual-harassment allegations from 10 years ago has dimmed his star for this and Washington’s one in ages performance in”Fences”- which he also directed – have pushed him up into serious contention with Affleck and Gosling. Denzel took home the SAG Award for this same category last month which is a good predictor for an Oscar.
Best Supporting Actress
*Viola Davis (Fences) – Will win / Should Win
*Naomie Harris (Moonlight)
*Nicole Kidman (Lion)
*Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures)
*Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea)
This category had been locked from the start. It’s undeniably and undoubtedly going to Viola Davis, she has been nominated for Oscars twice and never won but like her male counterpart Denzel Washington, she won a Tony for the same role on Broadway. Her performance is breathtaking. She also won the SAG Award in this category over this slate of nominees and that’s just a good a predictor for winning this category.
Best Supporting Actor
*Mahershala Ali (Moonlight) – Will Win
*Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water)
*Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea)
*Dev Patel (Lion)- Could win
*Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals)
At the Golden globes, Mahershala Ali was unexpectedly edged out by Nocturnal Animals’Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Dev Patel winning at BAFTA. Asides from that Ali has swept this category over the past months. With his performance in Moonlight as Juan, a drug dealer and father figure to the main character which was termed a memorable performance and his fine turn in the audience favorite-Hidden Figures, a loss will be a huge upset. That said, Dev Patel was remarkable in Lion, a film the Academy seems to love more than most critics expected as it got nominated for six Oscars, including Best Picture. And his character also has an emotional arc that sticks with you after the film is over. It’s quite unlikely for Patel to beat Ali, but the odds are also in his favour.
*Denis Villeneuve (Arrival)
*Mel Gibson (Hacksaw Ridge)
*Damien Chazelle (La La Land)- Will win
*Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea)
*Barry Jenkins (Moonlight)- Could win
Arrival has been an underrated movie being nominated for awards this season but not bagging any. It could possibly still be underrated at the Oscars. I think the best explanation for this is that the film ultimately found itself betwixt and between: too big to be the kind of arty film that critic champion or too small not making enough at the box office.
In recent years, the Academy has proved more amenable to a split where one film wins Best Picture and another wins Best Director, so conceivably, Barry Jenkins (Moonlight) has a shot to prevail here even if La La Land is a lock for Best Picture. Still, two things work against Jenkins. That split tends to favor directors who’ve made the most technically demanding film, and voters will deem that to be La La Land, which made a strong showing in the tech categories. Also, the fact that Jenkins is the heavy favorite to win the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar clears the decks here for voters to reward Damien Chazelle who in the past months has won the Golden Globes, BAFTA and Directors Guild Awards (DGA) for this category- another good predictor for the Oscars.
Best Adapted Screenplay
*Eric Heisserer (Arrival)- Could win
*August Wilson (Fences)
*Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi (Hidden Figures)
*Luke Davies (Lion)
*Barry Jenkins and Alvin McCraney (Moonlight) – Will win
Moonlight might as well win this since this is the rare category where it’s not going head-to-head with La La Land, this could be another moment for it to shine and it won for a similar category at the Writers Guild Awards alongside Arrival. This is just as easy a win for Moonlight and a consolation prize for Barry Jenkins for not winning Best Picture.
Best Original Screenplay
*Taylor Sheridan (Hell or High Water)
*Damien Chazelle (La La Land) – Will win
*Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthimis Filippou (The Lobster)
*Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea)- Could win
*Mike Mills (20th Century Women)
This could easily swing either ways, either the La La Land train is completely unstoppable tomorrow night and it takes this one as well or it breaks down in a few categories likely this one as well, then we can expect this one to go to Manchester by the Sea.
Best Animated Feature
*Kubo and the Two Strings
*My Life as a Zucchini
*The Red Turtle
*Zootopia- Will win / Should win
Don’t ask me too many questions. Zootopia will definitely come up top. Barring a borderline-shocking upset by Kubo and the Two strings, the Oscar will be going to Zootopia. Which is exactly as it should be.
Best Foreign Language Film
*A Man Called Ove (Sweden)
*Land of Mine (Denmark)
*The Salesman (Iran)- Will win
*Toni Erdmann (Germany)- Could win
Based on critical praise, Germany’s Toni Erdmann would have been the likely winner but Oscar voters won’t want to miss the chance to send a message to President Trump by voting for Iran’s The Salesman, since director Asghar Farhadi opted out of attending the Oscars due to Trump’s travel ban.
Best Documentary Feature
*Fire At Sea
*I Am Not Your Negro- Could win
*OJ: Made in America – Will win
Previously my bet was on I am Not Your Negro but after doing some homework I discovered the seven-hour epic O.J.: Made in America which I’ve followed up on, gaining some awards over the past months and the argument of whether it was a film or a TV show. It has managed to be as much a statement about celebrity and race relations in the United States as it was about a high profile murder case. Its storytelling was incredibly compelling.
Best Original Song
*La La Land – Audition by Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
*La La Land – City of Stars by Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul – Will win
*Moana – How Far I’ll Go by Lin-Manuel Miranda
*Trolls – Can’t Stop the Feeling by Justin Timberlake, Max Martin and Karl Johan Schuster
*Jim: The James Foley Story – The Empty Chair by J.Ralph and Sting
My money is on La La Land’s City of Stars, Although La La Land is nominated a whooping 14 times, it can only bag 13 of those awards because in this category La La Land competes against itself for Best Original Song. I would also go for Trolls’ Can’t stop the feeling but this is an easy category for La La Land to win and I go with “City of Stars”
Best Original Score
*Jackie by Mica Levi
*La La Land by Justin Hurwitz- Will win
*Lion by Dustin O’Halloran and Hauschka
*Moonlight by Nicholas Britell
*Passengers by Thomas Newton
This is just another easy win for La La Land, I mean Best Picture + Best Song = Best Score and who else better than Justin Hurwitz’s La La Land score.
*La La Land- Will win
*Lion- Could win
Every movie in this category deserves this award. Although “Lion” took home the Cinematographers Guild Awards for this. It’s just as easy a win for La La Land again. “La La Land” should take this for the opening scene alone.
Best Costume Design
*Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
*Florence Foster Jenkins- Could win
*Jackie- Will win
*La La Land
If there’s one thing that sticks in this category, I believe it’s the obvious fact that La La Land might not be winning this category. I mean reflect through all the costumes in each movie and tell me what you think. In this category, Oscar voters tend to favour historical and not modern-day type films and the stylish, period-appropriate clothing in Jackie really is a wonder to behold along side Florence Foster Jenkins.
Best Make-up and Hairstyling
*A Man Called Ove – Could win
*Star Trek Beyond- Will win
Okay.. I get why Suicide Squad would be in this category but then again I don’t. ANYTHING BUT SUICIDE SQUAD, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. Star Trek Beyond is the most deserving, but A Man Called Ove could surprise, since it’s also nominated for Best Foreign Language Film.
Best Live Action Short
*La Femme et le TGV
*Sing- Will win
I honestly do not know but I’ll probably go with crowd-pleaser: Sing
Best Sound Editing
*Hacksaw Ridge- Will win
*La La Land- Could win
This is a tricky category in the sense that if La La Land sweeps the night by winning in almost all their nominated categories, this category is just as easy for it to sweep as well but then again, war movies have a strong track record in this category and we happen to have Hacksaw Ridge in it.. Fingers crossed- Hacksaw Ridge might bag this.
Best Sound Mixing
*Hacksaw Ridge- Could win
*La La Land- Will win
*Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
*13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi
Sound mixing which is obviously different from sound editing and even trickier to predict especially since it is meant to reward how those sounds are all assembled in concert with each other- essentially, how you weave together the dialogues, music, and sound effects. I guess it would only be foolish to bet against a musical. So La La Land?!
Best Documentary Short subject
*Joe’s Violin- Could win
*Watani: My Homeland
*The White Helmets – Will win
Once again, I honestly have no clue. Here’s the secret about predicting the short film categories at the Academy Awards: no one knows anything. There’s no hard favorite here but a thorough research online shows that any film or doc about devastating tragedies where heroes rise to the challenge always sticks and garners more attention than not – for this reason and from googling a lot about the docs in this category I’ll go with The White Helmets- The short doc about the Syrian Civil Defense, otherwise known as the White Helmets, has been touted as a frontrunner since almost the beginning. There couldn’t be more drama than a story about a group of people who rush in after bombing to try and rescue survivors.
Best Production Design
*Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
*La La Land- Will win/ Should win
La La Land! need I say more?!
Best Visual Effects
*The Jungle Book- Will win/ Should win
*Kubo and the Two Strings
*Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
I don’t see this swinging any other way. “The Jungle Book” has more than enough of the necessities to win in a category that includes two other Disney blockbusters with its impressive and conjuring photo-realistic animals and environments.
Best Animated Short
*Pear Cider and Cigarettes
*Piper- Will win
Pixar may have been snubbed in the Best Animated Feature category, but their adorable Piper is the obvious frontrunner here.
Best Film Editing
*Arrival- Could win
*Hacksaw Ridge- Might win
*Hell or High Water
*La La Land – Will win
From observation, Film Editing is a category that often ends up going to Best Picture winners by default. For that reason, this one will probably end up as yet another La La Land win but then again Action, suspense and war movies like Arrival and Hacksaw Ridge both of which I’m not sure will be able to swing the numbers going for La La Land their way.