89th Academy Awards Predictions
Updated Sunday, February 26th
The time has come. Oscar Sunday is upon us. It’s the night of the year where we listen to a slightly-out-of-place comedian tell lukewarm jokes to a room full of millionaires who’ll all hand golden statues to one another by the end of the night. It’s a night that has the potential to make us all feel empowered, motivated, and even appalled or slightly confused. It’s the Academy Awards.
In the first two rounds of this article, we took a look at a projected nominees list. Now that the nominees have been released, it’s time to make our final predictions as to who’s going to take home the gold on Sunday.
- Arrival (Paramount)
- Fences (Paramount)
- Hacksaw Ridge (Lionsgate)
- Hell or High Water (CBS Films)
- Hidden Figures (Universal)
- La La Land (Lionsgate)
- Lion (Weinstein Co.)
- Manchester by the Sea (Amazon Studios)
- Moonlight (A24)
Another solid year in film. We’ve got a mix of just about everything in this category, with every film on this list having every right to win Best Picture as any other. I didn’t particularly dislike any of these films, and I’d be happy if any of them won the top prize on Sunday night.
La La Land continues to be the favorite to win the category. The indie darling Moonlight has been projected as a close second.
A thought on these two films, if I may:
There’s been some recent backlash toward La La Land as of late.
Either film could win Best Picture. Both films are well directed, well written, well-acted, and well presented. Both films are relevant (yes, La La Land is relevant to 2017); they’re both different versions of what the country needs right now. The fact that we have a new president is a factor to consider at this year’s Oscars. Moonlight is a story about gay black masculinity in the Miami ghetto. An unorthodox plot not too long ago, the themes in the film have become relatable and mainstream. In the face of racial bias projected by those at the top of the mountain in Washington, and especially due to the “#OscarsSoWhite controversy last year (and many more before that), Moonlight is a proud and defiant statement that films with racially diverse casts and creative teams can put forth stories and characters with subtle, humane, and complex intersectional three-dimensionality that many films starring white actors have. In this current political climate, Moonlight is a step in the right direction for the film industry in regards to ending xenophobic misconceptions in not just Hollywood, but around the world.
Then, there’s the other side of the argument. Of course, it’s tradition for the frontrunner to be fought back against. The King’s Speech was great. Then, everyone starting hating on it for beating The Social Network. The Artist was a blast- until it suddenly wasn’t deep enough. The same is true for La La Land. Drawing back to the political climate once again, all some people want to do is escape. We go to the movies to escape our own lives for a few hours. There’s nothing wrong with that. Perhaps what some people need more than anything is a break from the never-ending politics and fighting, and maybe they just want to watch two people sing and dance. Now, I understand the escapism factor does not a Best Picture Winner make. But La La Land is much more than an escape from reality. It’s a history lesson in art, in music, and, most importantly, in film. As a vivacious tour through movie musicals past, director Damien Chazelle does a masterful job of nodding to other beloved musical films in his direction, cinematography, editing, and choreography. Read up a little bit on it- you’ll find that it was never intended to be this monster of a film, but was instead rejected by numerous studios before being picked up by Lionsgate. My argument here is that joy is a real emotion people experience. Joy matters. Sometimes people might want it more in their lives. Considering the trainwreck that was 2016, perhaps people might need a move like La La Land more than ever.
There’s other criticism that exists for La La Land, but I could go on for a while doing a point-counterpoint for it but we’d be here for hours. That’s another story for another day.
(Gets off soapbox)
Moonlight can beat La La Land. Don’t for a second think that it can’t. It all depends on what the Oscar voters decide. We’ve had a ton of well-deserved African-American actors and crew nominated this year, and perhaps that will be a suggestion that the vote may swing in Moonlight’s favor. But the Oscar voters love escapism and films about Hollywood. So, who knows what will happen. It’s all up to the voters. Just know that I’m not them, and neither are you.
Will win: La La Land.
Could win: Moonlight.
In Andrew’s Perfect World: Arrival shocks the world and picks up the victory.
- Denis Villeneuve, Arrival
- Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge
- Damien Chazelle, La La Land
- Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
- Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
The director ties the film together. It’s the director’s vision that we see as the final product. Once again, it’s La La Land vs. Moonlight. Again, all five of these people (although I was initially skeptical of Mel Gibson’s inclusion) deserve to be nominated for their work. Denis Villeneuve might not have the snuff this year, but his work on Arrival shows that he’s poised for a breakthrough film any year now. Kenneth Lonergan gets some fantastically nuanced performances out of his actors as well. But it’s Damien Chazelle and Barry Jenkins, both of whom have equally compelling films to show.
Will win: Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Should win: Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Could win: Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
In Andrew’s Perfect World: Denis Villeneuve, Arrival
- Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
- Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
- Ryan Gosling, La La Land
- Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic
- Denzel Washington, Fences
This race has been over for a while. Casey Affleck’s haunting character study of one of the most morbidly depressed New Englanders I’ve ever seen deserves all the praise that it’s been given. The other actors in the category are all fine performers as well. Garfield’s turn as the devout soldier who saves his fellow infantrymen is stirring and empowering. Denzel Washington brings to life one of August Wilson’s most famous characters. Ryan Gosling is good, but not stellar. Mortensen, while he was nominated for all those other awards, including SAG, BAFTA, and the Golden Globes, is an actor’s actor, not so much an Oscar voter’s actor. All this being said, Affleck is on another level compared to the other four.
Will win: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea.
Could win: Denzel Washington, Fences.
In Andrew’s Perfect World: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea.
- Isabelle Huppert, Elle
- Ruth Negga, Loving
- Natalie Portman, Jackie
- Emma Stone, La La Land
- Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins
This one is a toughie. Although, let me say that this was a GREAT year for women in film. So great, in fact, there are at least three more women who could be added to this category.
I’ve been playing with the idea of three possible winners. Initially, I was all about Natalie Portman’s performance in Jackie. But Isabelle Huppert’s surprise win at the Golden Globes, and Emma Stone’s win at the BAFTA and SAG awards make me think that her window of opportunity to take home her second Oscar has closed. I keep pondering the idea of Leonardo DiCaprio presenting Isabelle Huppert for a second time, but Emma Stone’s momentum this awards season makes me question my judgment. Peep to Meryl Streep for being overrated (according to our president) and still locking up her 20th nomination.
Will win: Emma Stone, La La Land
Could win: Isabelle Huppert, Elle
In Andrew’s Perfect World: *Furiously nominates Amy Adams*
Best Supporting Actor
-Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
- Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
- Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea
- Dev Patel, Lion
- Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals
Hooray for variety! A wide variety of age and style populate this category. It is yet another category in which any of the five could conceivably win and I’d be happy with it. Jeff Bridges’ West Texas cop Marcus Hamilton is a fantastic character that fits in so well with the veteran actor’s existing repertoire of rough n’ tough rolls. Dev Patel and Michael Shannon are both really solid in their respective movies. Lucas Hedges is really great. I just want to say that he’s really, really great in Manchester by the Sea. He wasn’t nominated at the Golden Globes and I’m really happy he is now. Then we get to Mahershala Ali. Before I saw Moonlight, I didn’t realize he was only in the film for the first 25 minutes or so. But his impact on the main character’s life is so palpable; I was shocked to find out his fate after the fact. And because Aaron Taylor-Johnson isn’t here to mess this category up, Ali should take home the Oscar on Sunday.
Will and should win: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Could win: Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
In Andrew’s Perfect World: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Best Supporting Actress
- Viola Davis, Fences
- Naomie Harris, Moonlight
- Nicole Kidman, Lion
- Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures
- Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea
Did I mention how solid a film season this was for women? The supporting actress category is loaded with fine talent, with many multi-time nominees. The only newcomer to the Oscar picture is Naomie Harris, whose performance as the unstable, troubled mother Paula in Moonlight is something of a tour-de-force. Joining her is Viola Davis, who is the favorite in this category, and Octavia Spencer, who won in 2011 in the same category for her performance in The Help.
Will win: Viola Davis, Fences
Could win: Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Potential Upset: Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures
Best Original Screenplay
- Hell or High Water- Taylor Sheridan
- La La Land- Damien Chazelle
- The Lobster- Yorgos Lanthimos & Efthimis Filippou
- Manchester by the Sea- Kenneth Lonergan
- 20th Century Women- Mike Mills
Wow, I love all of these. Did everyone see The Lobster? No? Well, go watch it. The writing is so quirky and weird and dry and wonderful that I need to go take a nap. I see La La Land continuing its dominance at the Oscars, and this category is no exception.
Will win: La La Land- Damien Chazelle
Should win: The Lobster- Yorgos Lanthimos & Efthimis Filippou
In Andrew’s Perfect World: The Lobster. Also, Zootopia receives a nomination.
Best Adapted Screenplay
- Arrival- Eric Heisserer, based on the short story “Story of Your Life,” by Ted Chiang
- Fences- August Wilson, based on his play of the same name
- Hidden Figures- Allison Schroeder & Theodore Melfi, based on the book of the same name by Margot Lee Shutterly
- Lion- Luke Davies, based on the book A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley and Larry Buttrose
- Moonlight- Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney, based on the play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue by McCraney
Again, another fantastic slew of nominees. I’m so happy that the script for Fences was kept so close to the original work, and that August Wilson is receiving a posthumous nomination for it. Arrival’s script and premise is absurd but in the best way possible. I had no idea that Hidden Figures was a true story until I saw the film. Saroo Brierley’s story is played out to brilliant affect in Lion. However, the frontrunner here has to be Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney’s Moonlight, based on McCraney’s play.
Should and will win: Moonlight- Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney
Could win: Arrival- Eric Heisserer
In Andrew’s Perfect World: Deadpool receives a nomination.
Best Animated Feature Film
- Kubo and the Two Strings (Focus Features)
- Moana (Disney)
- My Life as a Zucchini (GKids)
- The Red Turtle (Studio Ghibli)
- Zootopia (Disney)
There is a frontrunner here and it’s clear as the water that The Red Turtle is swimming in. Zootopia has been, by and large, the favorite to win the category since its release in March. A profound commentary on prejudice and xenophobia, Disney masterfully blends its kid-friendly mood with real-world themes and messages, making it a joy for children and a thought-provoking time at the theatre for adults.
Should and will win: Zootopia.
Potential Spoiler: Kubo and the Two Strings.
Best Original Score
- Jackie- Mica Levi
- La La Land- Justin Hurwitz
- Lion- Dustin O’Halloran & Hauschka
- Moonlight- Nicholas Britell
- Passengers- Thomas Newman
There were more than enough great scores this year in film. The Academy does have a history of being stupid and not considering great scores for the category, with this year’s miss being Johann Johannson for Arrival. What really throws this category through a loop is Justin Hurwitz’s score for La La Land, as his score includes not only beautiful music, but songs and words as well. While the scores for the other nominees- particularly Nicholas Britell for Moonlight- are well-deserving, the Best Score Oscar should go to the composer who is truly moving the plot of his film along.
Should and will win: La La Land- Justin Hurwitz
Could win: Moonlight- Nicholas Britell
In Andrew’s Perfect World: Arrival receives a nomination.
Best Original Song
- “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” from La La Land- Music by Justin Hurwitz, Lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
- “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” from Trolls- Music and Lyrics by Justin Timberlake, Max Martin, and Shellback
- “City of Stars” from La La Land- Music by Justin Hurwitz, Lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
- “The Empty Chair” from Jim: The James Foley Story- Music and Lyrics by J. Ralph and Sting
- “How Far I’ll Go,” from Moana- Music and Lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda
La La Land has this category locked up… or does it? With the inclusion of “Audition” along with the previously-lauded “City of Stars,” there is a chance that it may split the vote, which could open the door for Justin Timberlake or Lin-Manuel Miranda, who could join the EGOT club with a win in this category.
Will win: “City of Stars.”
Should win: “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)”
Potential Spoiler: “How Far I’ll Go”
In Andrew’s Perfect World: It is revealed that Lin-Manuel had a hand in writing lyrics for “Audition,” which wins Best Original Song. Lin becomes EGOT, the best song in the category wins the award. Everybody happy!
Best Foreign Language Film
- Land of Mine (Denmark)
- A Man Called Ove (Sweden)
- The Salesman (Iran)
- Tanna (Australia)
- Toni Erdmann (Germany)
There’s no way The Salesman doesn’t win this category. Asghar Farhadi follows up his winning film A Seperation with another gripping drama. There are other, more political reasons why The Salesman may win, which may have to do with the fact that Farhadi is boycotting the Oscars due to the president’s immigration ban. If there’s another film to be in the picture, I think it could be Toni Erdmann from Germany.
Will win: The Salesman (Iran).
Should win: The Salesman (Iran)
Could win: Toni Erdmann (Germany)
Best Documentary Feature
- Fire at Sea (Gianfranco Rosi)
- I am Not Your Negro (Raoul Peck)
- Life, Animated (Roger Ross Williams)
- O.J.: Made in America (Ezra Edelman)
- 13th (Ava DuVernay)
This category is awesome. There’s some really great subject matter and some really great filmmakers behind it. ESPN’s five-part documentary O.J.: Made in America is the frontrunner, but Selma director Ava DuVernay’s 13th could surprise us all, especially since they snubbed her two years ago for the former.
Will win: O.J.: Made in America.
Could win: 13th
In Andrew’s Perfect World: O.J.: Made in America. Go ESPN!
Best Documentary Short
- 4.1 Miles
- Joe’s Violin
- Watani: My Homeland
- The White Helmets
Predicted winner: The White Helmets.
Best Live Action Short Film
- Ennemis Intérieurs
- La Femme et le TGV
- Silent Nights
Predicted winner: Ennemis Intérieurs.
Best Animated Short Film
- Blind Vanya
- Borrowed Time
- Pear Cider and Cigarettes
Predicted winner: Piper.
Best Visual Effects
- Deepwater Horizon
- Doctor Strange
- The Jungle Book
- Kubo and the Two Strings
- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Will win: The Jungle Book
Should win: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
- Arrival, Bradford Young
- La La Land, Linus Sandgren
- Lion, Greig Fraser
- Moonlight, James Laxton
- Silence, Rodrigo Prieto
Will win: Moonlight, James Laxton
Could win: Literally any of the other nominees.
Best Makeup and Hairstyling
- A Man Called Ove
- Star Trek Beyond
- Suicide Squad
Will win: Star Trek Beyond. But really, Deadpool isn’t nominated, so who cares?
Could win: Hopefully not Suicide Squad.
Best Production Design
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
- Hail, Caesar!
- La La Land
Will win: La La Land
Could win: Arrival or Hail, Caesar!
Best Costume Design
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
- Florence Foster Jenkins
- La La Land
Will win: Probably La La Land.
Should win: Jackie.
Could win: Allied.
Best Film Editing
- Hacksaw Ridge
- Hell or High Water
- La La Land
Will win: La La Land or Moonlight
Should win: Arrival
Best Sound Editing
- Deepwater Horizon
- Hacksaw Ridge
- La La Land
Should and will win: La La Land.
Could win: Arrival or Hacksaw Ridge
Best Sound Mixing
- Hacksaw Ridge
- La La Land
- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
- 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi
Should and will win: La La Land
Could win: Anything else except for 13 Hours.
- La La Land is nominated for a record-tying 14 Academy Awards. I predict it will win 10, one short of tying the record for most Oscar wins.
- I really, really liked Arrival.
Who do you think will take home Academy Awards tonight? Leave a comment down below.
The 89th Academy Awards air on ABC Sunday, February 26th, starting at 8:30pm.