By: Emily Miller
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! It’s the Oscars. This year is shaping up to be an interesting year. Some unexpected categories have suddenly turned into races, while others expected to be real nail biters have cooled off. This year will also be the most diverse and political ceremony in recent years, thanks in part to the awareness brought about by the #OscarsSoWhite and our current President.
For newcomers, my goal in life is to accurately predict every category at the Oscars. My closest year was 2009 when I got every single category except Best Sound Mixing. (Seriously, I’m still bitter that The Dark Knight lost to Slumdog Millionaire.) Otherwise I usually only get 2-3 wrong each year. If you stick with me, together we can win your Oscar pool. Also, as per tradition, my friend Nick Nappo offers his opinions as well. Because it’s fun to be nerdy together.
Will Win: La La Land
Could Win: Moonlight
Though many films have attempted to overthrow the front runner this season, they have all failed. First it was Manchester By the Sea, then Moonlight, followed swiftly by Hidden Figures. While Moonlight seems to have gained some ground back, ultimately none of these films were good enough to beat the gigantic incredible La La Land. Hailed by movie critic Scott Mantz as this generation’s Titanic, this film has been destined for Oscar when it premiered in August and Tom Hanks declared that it was ‘brand new’ and ‘something you can’t imagine.’ Essentially it’s a love letter to Hollywood, musicals and a time gone by, and besides historical dramas, there’s nothing the Academy loves rewarding more than a movie about
themselves Hollywood. Winning the Golden Globes and Directors and Producers Guild awards for the top spot, this film seems destined for the top prize. However if voters want something a bit more diverse and meaningful, look to the powerful Moonlight. – E.M.
Will Win La La Land
Could Win Moonlight
Rationale It’s no secret that La La Land is the frontrunner to win Best Picture, but there are those that still believe Moonlight has a shot as the dark horse. Still, when the pundits think it, usually it’s so. -N.N.
Will Win: Emma Stone, La La Land
Could Win: Isabelle Huppert, Elle
Dark Horse: Natalie Portman, Jackie
This is one of the categories that is still up for grabs. While the front runner is Emma Stone for singing and dancing her heart out in the likely Best Picture winner, she by no means has this category locked down. She won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Comedy/Musical and the SAG and BAFTA Award for Best Actress. (SAG is especially important because the largest voting group within the Academy is actors.) Waiting in the wings though is veteran French actress Isabelle Huppert for her stunning portrayal of a rape victim set on getting justice. She won the Golden Globe for Drama and has refused to leave the conversation. The other dark horse in all this is Natalie Portman, Best Actress winner in 2011. She won the Critic’s Choice Award for her portrayal of American icon, Jackie Kennedy. If voters are looking for something a bit more dramatic than Stone’s musical performance, look to Portman. If the international voters in the Academy unite, look to Huppert.-E.M.
Will Win Stone
Could Win Portman
Although Natalie Portman gave an amazing performance as Jackie Kennedy, I think Emma Stone is more in Hollywood’s favor. She can act, sing, and dance, much like the old Hollywood-style stars so heavily referenced in La La Land. But Natalie is the dark horse. “Here’s to the fools who dream…” -N.N.
Will Win: Denzel Washington, Fences
Could Win: Casey Affleck, Manchester By the Sea
Dark Horse: Viggo Mortenson, Captain Fantastic
This is probably the closest to call of all the major categories. When the season began, Affleck was the clear front runner. He won the Critic’s Choice and the Golden Globe awards, and it seemed like he would sail through to Oscar. However small things started to add up against him. He gave a very quiet understated performance, and Oscar tends to reward loud and showy performances. He gave very uneven acceptance speeches. Reports of his troubled past with women (two sexual assault allegations that were settled outside of court and a recent separation from his wife) also came glaringly back into the spotlight. Affleck also has the extreme disluck of being nominated against one of America’s greatest and most beloved actors of all time, Denzel Washington. While Affleck still has a shot, he has a lot now to overcome after Washington won the SAG Award for Best Actor. The largest voting body within the Academy are actors, and they have correctly picked the eventual winner at the Oscars for the last 13 years in a row. Down but not out is also Viggo Mortenson. He has received a ridiculous amount of votes by voters who have released their ballots under anonymity. It’s a looooooong shot, but if voters are divided between the two front runners, look to Mortenson for the major upset. -E.M.
Will Win Denzel
Could Win Casey Affleck
I’m really torn with this one – these two are neck and neck. But Denzel has won it before, and the guru panel at Movie City News has him taking it with a slight lead, so I’ll go with that. -N.N.
Best Supporting Actress:
Will Win: Viola Davis, Fences
Could Win: Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea
Queen Viola has this locked. She won the Tony on Broadway for this role, and now she’s coming for Oscar. She will be the first person since Joel Grey (Cabaret) to do this. She has swept every major awards show this season, and simply put she’s a force of nature. Could win is Michelle Williams, because her performance was stunning and some have argued that she gave the best supporting performance, while Davis really should have been in the lead actress category. -E.M.
Will Win Viola Davis.
Could Win No one.
Let’s be real. Give her the Oscar already, before she fades into Leo territory.-N.N.
Best Supporting Actor:
Will Win: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Could Win: Dev Patel, Lion
Ali has won the Gotham, New York and Los Angeles film Critics, Critics Choice, and SAG awards, where he gave a moving speech identifying as a Muslim. He’s the critical and now audience favorite. However if there is an upset, look to Dev Patel who recently had a late surge winning the BAFTA in this category. -E.M.
Will Win Ali.
Could Win Patel.
Rationale Dev Patel gave the best performance of his I’ve seen in Lion. Still, I loved Mahershala Ali in Moonlight. Such a great performance as the boy’s father figure, and surprisingly layered. -N.N
Will Win: Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Could Win: Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Damien Chazelle recreated the modern musical genre and earned 14 Oscar nominations for his film along the way. He’s won the Critics Choice, Golden Globe, DGA and BAFTA awards for Best Director and he will continue this streak onto Oscar. If anyone is looking for something a bit more serious than the movie musical, look to Barry Jenkins for his beautifully restrained Moonlight. –E.M.
Will Win Chazelle
Could Win Jenkins
It’s no secret that La La Land is the frontrunner to win Best Picture and Best Director usually go hand in hand. But Moonlight still has a shot at Best Picture, so does Jenkins.
Best Animated Feature:
Will Win: Zootopia
Could Win: Kubo and the Two Strings
Looking for a fun, anti-racist blockbuster that slyly pokes fun at DMV employees by having them played by sloths? So is the Academy. This film is easily the front runner, with rave reviews among audiences and critics alike. Still, if the Academy is looking for something a little more serious, check out Kubo and the Two Strings, which is also nominated for Best Visual Effects. -E.M.
Will Win Zootopia
Could Win Kubo & the Two Strings
I think Disney holds the upper hand here. -N.N.
Will Win: Linus Sandgren, La La Land
Could Win: Bradford Young, Arrival
La La Land will likely make a sweep of most of the technical categories. Sandgren should win with the lucky combination of being a first time nominee and for filming La La Land on real actual film. If there is an upset look to Bradford Young for Arrival. He’s the first African American to be nominated in this category. Also, if anyone wants to show Arrival some love, this is the only category to do so. -E.M.
Will Win La La Land. YES. Every shot in this film was almost like a painting.
Could Win Lion-N.N.
Best Costume Design:
Will Win: Madeline Fontaine, Jackie
Could Win: Mary Zophres, La La Land
The costume designers usually tend to go their own way, unlike any other category here. They don’t reward Best Picture nominees in their category simply because they are likely to win. Only four Best Picture winners won here in the last 17 years. Costume designers usually reward the film that simply had the best costumes, usually recognizing period films with showy outfits. That’s why I’m picking Jackie. It had the difficult task of creating period pieces from recent memory, without downright replicating the clothing. And while musicals typically do well in this category, ultimately they rarely reward contemporary costume designs because it’s seen as a little easier. -E.M.
Will Win La La Land
Could Win Jackie. Era-set films offer great opportunities for costume designers to show their stuff. -N.N.
Best Documentary Feature:
Will Win: OJ: Made in America
Could Win: 13th
There are a few things that the Academy looks for in nominations, and OJ: Made in America is like a perfect checklist of those things. First off, it’s about OJ Simpson, someone that is so innately entwined with American history and pop culture, that almost 30 years later we still continue to obsess and devour any new materials on him. The film is also extremely relevant focusing on race relations and LA celebrity culture. And besides the historical drama, the Academy loves nothing more than to honor a film that celebrates themselves. Coming in at 7.5 hours long, this documentary is a beast and will not be ignored. If their is an upset however, look to the 13th. It was available on Netflix making it the most accessible, and the film has arguably the biggest name in this category, director Ava DuVernay. -E.M.
Will Win O.J.: Made in America
Could Win 13th.
Still, I’m looking forward to seeing both of these films. -N.N.
Best Documentary Short:
Will Win: The White Helmets
Could Win: Joe’s Violin
The Short categories are the absolute worst to pick. Anyone can vote in this category, and most voters don’t know what they should be rewarding. The two films most likely to win are the two that are easiest to vote for. The White Helmets takes on the Syrian refugee crisis and will be turned into a feature length by Producer George Clooney. One of the men nominated for his efforts on the film was also banned from entering our country due to the orange cheeto currently running our country. The other film Joe’s Violin is about the Holocaust. While I’m the first person to say, never bet against a film about the Holocaust, in this case I do feel The White Helmets is a little more relevant. But that’s a risky statement to make. -E.M.
Will WIn The White Helmets. The Gurus o’ Gold rank it as highest, followed by…
Could Win Joe’s Violin -N.N.
Will Win: Tom Cross, La La Land
Could Win: John Gilbert, Hacksaw Ridge
Tom Cross has already won this category for Whiplash, a film directed by Damien Chazelle. Now two years later, the Academy will want to reward him once again for editing another Chazelle film. Don’t count out John Gilbert for Hacksaw Ridge. War films are a forever favorite in this category, and Gilbert has already been nominated in this category for his work on The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. –E.M.
Will Win La La Land
Could WIn Hacksaw Ridge. Again, war movie. -N.N.
Best Foreign Film:
Will Win: The Salesman
Could Win: Toni Erdmann
There aren’t too many names American voters can recognize in the Foreign Film Category. Asghar Farhadi is one of those names. He won four years ago for his prolific film, A Separation. While The Salesman hasn’t earned the universal acclaim his last film did, expect his name and the body of his work to propel him to win. It also doesn’t hurt that Farhadi told the press that he wouldn’t attend the Oscars after Trump’s Muslim Ban. If voters don’t want to make a political statement, look to Toni Erdmann a German comedy that is set to be remade in English, starring Jack Nicholson. -E.M.
Will Win The Salesman
Could Win Toni Erdmann
Asghar Farhadi won this category in 2012, and I’ve heard nothing but good things about this film. It’s a dramatic film, which I believe outdoes Toni Erdmann because I can’t remember the last time a comedic film won this prize. Looking forward to seeing both of them, anyway. -N.N.
Best Makeup & Hair-Styling:
Will Win: Star Trek Beyond
Could Win: Suicide Squad
This is always a hard category to predict because there are only three nominees and voting tends to split. This year is especially hard because there are no Best Picture nominees in this category. Usually voters tend to vote for the most serious of the contenders, so going off that trajectory, it looks like that is Star Trek Beyond. Suicide Squad had violence, sex and cursing, turning it off to a lot of traditionalist voters. The other film in the category, A Man Called Ove could have a real shot at winning, if it was only seen by more voters. It’s a foreign Swedish film, and I can’t imagine voters going out of their way to see it. -E.M.
Will Win Star Trek: Beyond
Could Win Suicide Squad. It’s really neck-and-neck between these two. -N.N.
Best Original Score:
Will Win: Justin Hurwitz, La La Land
Could Win: Nicholas Britell, Moonlight
Original scores are typically hard for musicals to win. Voters feel it’s the songs that count in musicals and scores generally go unnoticed. This is not the case for La La Land. I think I left the theatre humming the original score more than any of the songs. It’s a beautiful score by itself, and being in the Best Picture winner, makes it a lock. But if you have a second, check out the score from Moonlight. It’s pretty incredible as well. Also, if you have another moment, check out the score to Lion. Trust me it’s a must. -E.M.
Will Win La La Land. Oh, what a gorgeous flowing score with beautiful songs. No contest here. -N.N.
Best Original Song:
Will Win: “City of Stars” (Ryan Gosling: written by Justin Hurwitz, Pasek and Paul, “La La Land”)
Could Win: “How Far I’ll Go” (Auli’i Cravalho: written by Opetaia Foa’i, Mark Mancina, Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Moana”)
With the likely Best Picture winner being a musical, it makes sense that the Academy would want to reward one of its songs. “City of Stars” has easily become the film’s go to song. Any time it’s won an award this season the song has played. However, there is one more La La Land song nominated in this category, which may cause voting splits. It’s unlikely, but if fans divide their love for the the film between the two songs instead of uniting with one, look to Hamilton creator Lin Manuel Miranda’s song to rise to the top. -E.M.
Will Win “City of Stars”
Could Win “How Far I’ll Go”
Sorry, Lin, I think Pasek & Paul are taking this. But yay Broadway! -N.N.
Best Production Design:
Will Win: David Wasco, Sandy Reynolds-Wasco, La La Land
Could Win: Patrice Vermette, Paul Hotte, Arrival
Dark Horse: Jess Gonchor, Nancy Haigh, Hail, Caesar!
This category loves to reward the big lavish epic production. This year, it’s La La Land. Not only is it big, but it’s beautiful. Also it’s a husband and wife duo that’s nominated together. That adds cuteness points. However, this is one of the easier categories to slide on if voters are suffering from La La Land fatigue. If this happens check out Arrival or Hail, Caesar! for the upset. -E.M.
Will Win La La Land. Beautiful representations of a neo-classic Hollywood fantasyland.
Could Win Fantastic Beasts. That was a visually stunning film, offering rich designs of 1920’s New York. -N.N.
Best Animated Short:
Will Win: Piper
Could Win: Pear Cider and Cigarettes
The short categories are notoriously hard to pick from. A lot of voters don’t know what they should be rewarding, and if they don’t have a lot of time, tend to skip watching these films. That’s why Piper has the edge. It’s from Pixar studios and it’s about a bird leaving it’s nest. It’s light, easy, adorable, and by a studio voters know and love and can vote for without having seen it, based solely on the name and concept. Still, if voters take the time to watch these films, look to the adult friendly noir Pear Cider and Cigarettes to steal the fun away from Pixar. -E.M.
Will Win Piper
Could Win Pearl –N.N.
Best Live Action Short:
Will Win: Ennemis Intérieurs
Could Win: Sing
Ennemis Intérieurs has two things going for it, it’s relevancy and it’s director. The film is about an Algerian man seeking French citizenship. It’s director is Selim Azzazi, a famous beloved French sound editor making his directing debut. If voters are looking for something lighter though, check out sing, a sweet film about kids literally and figuratively finding their voice. -E.M.
Will Win Ennemis Interieurs
Could Win La Femme et le TGV -N.N.
Best Sound Editing:
Will Win: Hacksaw Ridge
Could Win: La La Land
Usually Sound Editing and Mixing go to the same film. But this year, there are such varied nominees that it looks like it will be a split. Sound editing usually goes to a war film or the next closest thing. A Best Pictures nominee that’s a war film is a safe bet. However if La La Land love is too great look for some spillage into categories it wasn’t expected to win. -E.M.
Will Win Hacksaw Ridge. War movies = sound editing gold.
Could Win Arrival. But that was technically sound, as well. -N.N.
Best Sound Mixing:
Will Win: La La Land
Could Win: Hacksaw Ridge
The same can be said about this category except in reverse. La La Land really does deserve the win in this category. But if there is La La Land exhaustion, this is an easy category to reward another film like Hacksaw Ridge. -E.M.
Will Win La La Land. Musicals = sound mixing gold.-N.N.
Best Visual Effects:
Will Win: The Jungle Book
Could Win: Rogue One: Star Wars
This is the category that the Oscars like to reward the big blockbuster film that just didn’t have enough power to get in the actual Best Picture race. This year’s pick is The Jungle Book. Grossing almost $1 billion worldwide, the film earned rave reviews for the advancements it showed in technical achievements. Some have likened the film’s achievements to that of Avatar. If something is able to dethrone the front runner, then look to Rogue One. It also made a hefty billion dollars in sales, and it’s Star Wars. Who doesn’t like Star Wars? -E.M.
Will Win The Jungle Book. Didn’t actually see it, but the pundits put it unanimously at number one. -N.N.
Best Adapted Screenplay:
Will Win: Barry Jenkins, Tarell Alvin McCraney, Moonlight
Could Win: Eric Heisserer, Arrival
For a while, this seemed like it was Arrival‘s to lose. It took a brainy sci fi novel, and turned it into an accessible suspenseful drama, while still paying tribute to the source material. But something happened on nomination day. Moonlight, which had been previously nominated at other awards shows as an Original Screenplay. (The film had been based off of a play, but the play was never actually produced, which leads to this gray area.) Because of the love of this film and the shift in categories, Moonlight is now the front runner. Arrival still has a chance if anyone is upset at the Oscars for moving it around. -E.M.
Will Win Moonlight
Could Win Lion
Rationale Moonlight was like modern art in motion, and I feel much of what comprised that tableau was the writing. It was profound in its silence and pauses, which were made so by the relevance of its dialogue. -N.N.
Best Original Screenplay:
Will Win: Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Could Win: Damien Chazelle, La La Land
This is definitely one of the closer races this year. The category became wide open when Moonlight shifted categories, leaving Manchester by the Sea and La La Land to duke it out. While either film can win this category, the slight edges goes to Manchester by the Sea. It’s been 61 years since a musical (Interrupted Melody) won this category. Writers tend to owe the success of musicals to the music, and not necessarily the words. Therefore look to the beautifully crafted family drama with a solid fan base in the Academy. With the shift from Casey Affleck to Denzel Washington for Best Actor, this might be the only award the film can win. Still, no win is safe in a category nominated against the Best Picture Winner. Some voters might just vote La La Land in every category it’s nominated in. -E.M.
Will Win Manchester by the Sea
Could Win La La Land
Manchester is by Kenneth Lonergan, who I know is a terrific playwright, and that script is not only chock full of funny, poignant lines, but there’s a lot of poetry in it, as well. Very rich, meaningful writing, unlike anything else I had seen this year. Unless, of course, you count The Lobster. But that’s in a class all its own. -N.N.