We are a little under two weeks out from the 89th Academy Award ceremony and with most other award ceremonies parting way with their gold, and voting official open to submit ballots, now seems as good a time as any to finally make those Oscar predictions. A collection of my personal opinions, voting patterns both this year alone (across the major circuits) and throughout the Academy's history (gauging an idea of which way they lean) and general buzz around a film or performance will help me form these predictions, so it's time to set my final bets in stone/on my blog.
Check out below a selection of categories in which I predict 'what will win', 'what should win/where my vote would go', 'possible upsets' and 'who was snubbed' and with a few thoughts on each. Be sure to send me your own predictions too - it all adds to the fun of Oscar season!
Without further ado...
WHAT WILL WIN: La La Land
WHAT SHOULD WIN: La La Land (but no tears for Arrival)
POSSIBLE UPSET: Moonlight, Hidden Figures
SNUBBED: Nocturnal Animals, A Monster Calls, Jackie.
Best Picture is La La Land's to lose. I recently read a comment suggesting that with the Academy adjusting their voting procedures (it is now, essentially, a weighted ranking), the front-runner will never translate into the actual winner on the night, which makes sense (people may not afford it love, assuming it is so far ahead and feel the need to champion something else/the underdog), so this is where the film could come undone. Moonlight, Manchester By The Sea and once dark-horse and my 'possible upset' Hidden Figures are waiting eagerly in the wings to snatch victory - but La La Land seems to have too much goodwill to let this one slip away. I'm backing it all the way but you'll get no tears from me if Arrival (unlikely) wins it on the day.
UPDATE: So, whether it's just the nerves getting to me (as much as I adore Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, Manchester By The Sea and Moonlight, I'll be devastated if La La Land loses because it is an event film, exactly the type of film the category was designed for) but I'm tipping the win ever-so-slightly in Moonlight's favour now. As in 51-49 to Moonlight over La La Land. It would be heartbreaking for La La Land to make it all this way without winning the top-top prize but I can see Moonlight winning when it comes to the preferential vote.
WHAT WILL WIN: Damien Chazelle, La La Land
WHAT SHOULD WIN: Damien Chazelle, La La Land
POSSIBLE UPSET: Denis Villeneuve, Arrival
SNUBBED: Martin Scorsese, Silence
Damien Chazelle has walked away with both the BAFTA and Golden Globe and it's widely expected he will nab the Oscar trophy too. The remaining four, with the possible exception of Mel Gibson - unless its the surprise of the night - seem equally poised to pose a threat but I doubt it will carry through. Martin Scorsese should be here but I genuinely don't think any of them should be subbed out - it's just one of those things unfortunately.
UPDATE: Yeah, Chazelle still has this one.
WHAT WILL WIN: Casey Affleck, Manchester By The Sea
WHAT SHOULD WIN: Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
(VERY) POSSIBLE UPSET: Denzel Washington, Fences
SNUBBED: Jake Gyllenhaal, Nocturnal Animals
Casey Affleck has emerged the very slight front-runner over Denzel Washington after the BAFTAs failed to commemorate the latter with so much as a nomination for his work in Fences, awarding the former with the trophy on Sunday. It's a tough one and will go right up to the wire but Andrew Garfield would be getting my vote anyway; he was terrific in both Hacksaw Ridge, for which he is nominated, and Silence. That said, Ryan Gosling, Affleck and Washington are worthy of their nominations too.
UPDATE: Again, I'm flipping my decision and thinking Washington will take this over Affleck. Although I strongly believe Affleck gave the better, more restrained, convincing performance, it's more alluring for the Academy to have Washington, a charming, likeable figure collecting the award, rather than Affleck, who has mumbled through speeches and clouded with accusations and offences. I'm still backing Garfield, but Affleck or Gosling taking it wouldn't upset me in the slightest.
WHAT WILL WIN: Emma Stone, La La Land.
WHAT SHOULD WIN: Emma Stone, La La Land
POSSIBLE UPSET: Natalie Portman, Jackie
SNUBBED: Amy Adams (Arrival OR Nocturnal Animals)
Best Actress, quite honestly, is a two-horse race and could probably still go to either Stone or Portman. Portman's performance is arguably more difficult and she absolutely nails it, but Stone is the heart and joy of La La Land (in a film that has heart and joy by the bucketload) so she just about edges it for me. Again, no tears if Portman wins as her performance as Ms. Kennedy is exquisite. Amy Adams would probably have gotten my vote for this in all honesty though for her work in either Arrival or Nocturnal Animals. I would have liked Emily Blunt's name to be floating around but alas.
UPDATE: A lot of people are now backing Isabelle Huppert and she has probably overtaken Natalie Portman for the 'runner-up/possible upset' position. I still think Emma Stone's got this but I will not be shocked if (one of) the surprise of the evening means the gold ends up in Huppert's hands.
WHAT WILL WIN: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
WHAT SHOULD WIN: Lucas Hedges, Manchester By The Sea
POSSIBLE UPSET: Dev Patel, Lion
SNUBBED: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Nocturnal Animals
Moonlight's Mahershala Ali appeared to be a front-runner all season long; Dev Patel's Lion BAFTA win certainly makes it a little more interesting but Ali's win is still expected. Lucas Hedges would get my vote of those nominated, although I'd tip my hat in favour of Aaron Taylor-Johnson had he have nabbed the Nocturnal Animals nomination over Michael Shannon.
UPDATE: Ali's still got this one.
WHAT WILL WIN: Viola Davis, Fences
WHAT SHOULD WIN: Viola Davis, Fences
POSSIBLE UPSET: Michelle Williams, Manchester By The Sea
SNUBBED: Felicity Jones, A Monster Calls
UPDATE: No one is stopping Viola Davis here. No one.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
WHAT WILL WIN: Manchester By The Sea
WHAT SHOULD WIN: Manchester By The Sea
POSSIBLE UPSET: La La Land
With Manchester By The Sea winning the BAFTA and La La Land snatching the Golden Globe, these two are neck-and-neck and no one else really gets a look in. In all honesty, it would be a coin toss regarding how I would vote but at this very moment in time, I lean towards Manchester; it expertly handles its themes of grief and torment in such an enlightening, powerful and realistic way. Its screenplay feels more crucial to the film's success than La La Land's does. The Lobster was terrific but it doesn't have a chance.
UPDATE: Manchester will probably gets its glory here. It would be unfair to allow it to go home empty-handed.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
WHAT WILL WIN: Moonlight
WHAT SHOULD WIN: Arrival
POSSIBLE UPSET: Lion
SNUBBED: Nocturnal Animals & Hacksaw Ridge
This is no clear-cut run and anyone - yes, anyone - could pull through on the night. We really cannot rule anyone out but as of right now, I'd put Moonlight as the slight favourite (it's the only possible winner that made the Golden Globe overarching 'Best Screenplay' category), with Lion's BAFTA win cementing its place in the run. Maybe the Academy will give August Wilson a posthumous win, Hidden Figures the gold to celebrate the inspiration story or Arrival the commemoration of being one of the season's biggest nominees. In short, the field is open wide but Arrival would get my vote.
UPDATE: Moonlight will probably still take this, but Arrival still presents a challenge. Lion too. Heck, even Fences and Hidden Figures - this is probably the most difficult category to call.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
WHAT WILL WIN: Zootopia
WHAT SHOULD WIN: Zootopia
POSSIBLE UPSET: Kubo & The Two Strings
SNUBBED: Finding Dory
Zootopia was widely considered the front-runner for the Best Animated Feature category until the BAFTAs through a curveball and handed the win to Kubo & The Two String: they each represent totally different sides to their craft and it will all depend on whether the Academy elect to favour technique or convention. I'll lean towards Zootopia on this one, regarding both who I am expecting to win and who I am backing. Moana isn't totally out of the picture but it's unlikely.
UPDATE: Kubo's support has heightened over the week, with the BAFTA win giving it more steam than expected. However, Zootopia still feels primed to scoop it up. I'll not be surprised either way.
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
WHAT WILL WIN: The Jungle Book
WHAT SHOULD WIN: The Jungle Book
POSSIBLE UPSET: Kubo & The Two Strings
SNUBBED: The BFG
Along with Supporting Actress this seems to be the most secure win, with The Jungle Book pretty certain to scoop up the award for the incredible Indian jungle they create almost entirely through the art of special effects. The Academy may decide to hand Zootopia the Animated win and honour Kubo's artistry here - but it would have to conjure up a lot of support to dethrone The Jungle Book as Best Visual Effects' number one.
UPDATE: The Jungle Book. Consider this award category as your toilet-break.
WHAT WILL WIN: La La Land
WHAT SHOULD WIN: La La Land
POSSIBLE UPSET: Moonlight
SNUBBED: Jackie & Nocturnal Animals
Another solid category, La La Land seems the favourite, if only for its stunning epilogue sequence or opening number, but it isn't secure just yet; Moonlight could come through and nab the win, as could Arrival for its beautiful landscapes and spaceships. I'd be surprised if Silence made it, as this is the film's lone nomination which doesn't usually hold much worth, and Lion (in my opinion) is far from spectacular. I just want to know why Nocturnal Animals received so little love.
UPDATE: La La Land could get it, Moonlight might get it, arrival has a slim chance of getting it. Lion is unlikely and Silence not so much, but La La Land gets the edge.
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
WHAT WILL WIN: La La Land
WHAT SHOULD WIN: Arrival
POSSIBLE UPSET: Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them
Strong work all-round here and I wouldn't be too upset with any of them taking the prize; Hail, Caesar's production literally saves the film, the spaceship in Passengers is incredibly well-conceptualised and Fantastic Beasts has some terrific set pieces, but my top two (and seemingly for voters too) is between La La Land and Arrival. I'll lean towards Arrival because I haven't paid it enough love as I should but you'll get no sadness from me if La La Land takes it.
UPDATE: Rule out Passengers and Hail, Caesar. It's a battle between the other three, although Fantastic Beasts is probably in the weakest position out of those who remain.
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
WHAT WILL WIN: La La Land, Justin Hurwitz
WHAT SHOULD WIN: Jackie, Mica Levi
POSSIBLE UPSET: Jackie, Mica Levi
SNUBBED: Nocturnal Animals, Abel Korzeniowski
La La Land or Jackie for me; I'll be very happy with either, but I'll hand La La Land the Original Song (up next!) if I can give Best Original Score to Jackie - the entire thing is absolutely hypnotising and so unique, excellently and cohesively pulling together the fragmented narrative structure. I'm yet to hear Moonlight's Original Score in use (soon!), Lion's was pretty forgettable and Passengers' score was very effective too (plus Thomas Newman is waaaaaay overdue an Oscar), but I'll put La La Land and Jackie above it in this instance.
UPDATE: La La Land will get it. Jackie and Moonlight are both outsiders but not out of the frame just yet.
BEST ORIGINAL SONG
WHAT SHOULD WIN: Audition (The Fools Who Dream), La La Land
POSSIBLE UPSET: City of Stars, La La Land
SNUBBED: Another Day of Sun, La La Land
This will be the 'surprise' of the evening, I'm almost certain of it. With two La La Land songs in contention, the votes may be split across the two and therefore cancel each other out (although, with enough support, City of Stars will be the most likely to challenge the Trolls smash-hit), The Empty Chair is probably too obscure to convert into a win. How Far I'll Go from Moana may do it as Lin-Manuel Miranda is a little bit of a nation treasure but I expect Justin Timberlake's infectious pop track to do it.
UPDATE: It will all come down to whether vote splitting will prevent a La La Land win, and I really wouldn't like to call it. If any, City of Stars will get it but having two nominated songs in one category does more harm than good.
And, just in case the Academy come looking, here is how I'd fill out my ballot for every category. I've tried to spread it out a little but if La La Land happens to win every category its nominated for, I'll be happy - I just. hope we have at least something left for Jackie, Hacksaw Ridge, Manchester By The Sea and especially Arrival
BEST PICTURE - La La Land
BEST DIRECTOR - Damien Chazelle (La La Land)
BEST ACTOR - Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge)
BEST ACTRESS - Emma Stone (La La Land)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR - Lucas Hedges (Manchester By The Sea)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS - Viola Davis (Fences)
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY - Manchester By The Sea
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY - Arrival
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE - Zootopia
BEST FOREIGN FILM - X
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE - X
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT - X
BEST LIVE ACTION - X
BEST ANIMATED SHORT - Piper
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE - Jackie
BEST ORIGINAL SONG - Audition (The Fools Who Dream), La La Land
BEST SOUND EDITING - Arrival
BEST SOUND MIXING - Hacksaw Ridge
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN - Arrival
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY - La La Land
BEST MAKE-UP & HAIRSTYLING - Star Trek Beyond
BEST COSTUME DESIGN - La La Land
BEST FILM EDITING - Arrival
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS - The Jungle Book
Films with an 'X may be updated at a later date and the entire list is subject to change...
RELATED: See my shortlist predictions. My Best Picture ranking will follow shortly...