Sometimes predicting the Oscars is an easy task that leads to nights like last year where every frontrunner won in the leading and supporting acting categories and Best Picture only involved a slight tussle between two films—even if “Spotlight” was the underdog of the two compared to “The Revenant.”
Other times, you get the much maligned “Crash” and other films that top critics’ surprise wins.
For this coming Sunday, it looks like we may have a repeat of last year’s expected winners. With the main race basically boiled down to “La La Land” and “Moonlight,” with the former raking in considerably more awards since the nominations were announced, look for a rather predictable night with prepared speeches and likely plenty of political potshots.
Here are my predictions for this year’s Oscar race in the major categories:
Nominees: “Arrival,” “Fences,” “Hacksaw Ridge,” “Hell or High Water,” “Hidden Figures,” “La La Land,” “Lion,” “Manchester by the Sea” and “Moonlight”
Prediction: It’s unlikely that anything will stop “La La Land” from winning the main award of the night, despite the recent backlash covering a variety of issues from race to gender disparity to jazz politics, in addition to some critics considering it a good but not great film with rather lackluster singing and dancing—neither of which you will see on the Oscar stage since John Legend will perform the nominated songs that had featured stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. “Moonlight” has won some major awards, including the most recent top award at the Writers Guild Awards, but the academy loves its Hollywood nostalgia too much to let this win past.
Actor in a Leading Role
Nominees: Casey Affleck from “Manchester by the Sea,” Andrew Garfield from “Hacksaw Ridge,” Ryan Gosling from “La La Land,” Viggo Mortensen from “Captain Fantastic” and Denzel Washington from “Fences”
Prediction: I’m going with Denzel Washington for his performance in “Fences,” though Casey Affleck is the frontrunner in the category. The award will definitely go to either one, but Washington has been steadily getting awards over the months that put Affleck’s chances in question. With a type of performance that usually draws academy members, I think Washington could very well get the award.
Actress in a Leading Role
Nominees: Isabelle Huppert from “Elle,” Ruth Negga from “Loving,” Natalie Portman from “Jackie,” Emma Stone from “La La Land” and Meryl Streep from “Florence Foster Jenkins”
Prediction: Emma Stone is the frontrunner, and not enough of an awards stir from the other contenders makes it likely anyone else but her will take home the statue. Whether or not she deserves it may be another question, especially with critics swooning over Portman’s performance, despite the lack of wins and apparent interest from the academy. “La La Land” is also the only movie in this category to receive another major nomination from the academy, save for original score for “Jackie.”
Actor in a Supporting Role
Nominees: Mahershala Ali from “Moonlight,” Jeff Bridges from “Hell or High Water,” Lucas Hedges from “Manchester by the Sea,” Dev Patel from “Lion” and Michael Shannon from “Nocturnal Animals”
Prediction: Despite not winning the Golden Globe (which went to Aaron Taylor Johnson for “Nocturnal Animals” and who wasn’t nominated for an Oscar), Mahershala Ali has missed out on very few other awards for his work in “Moonlight.” It’s doubtful that the Oscars will be another exception.
Actress in a Supporting Role
Nominees: Viola Davis from “Fences,” Naomie Harris from “Moonlight,” Nicole Kidman from “Lion,” Octavia Spencer from “Hidden Figures” and Michelle Williams from “Manchester by the Sea”
Prediction: Viola Davis has won most of the awards this season for her work in “Fences,” including the Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild Award and BAFTA Award. Her biggest competitor is Naomie Harris who has won a few awards for “Moonlight,” but Davis will likely take the Oscar after two past nominations but no win.
Nominees: Denis Villeneuve for “Arrival,” Mel Gibson for “Hacksaw Ridge,” Damien Chazelle for “La La Land,” Kenneth Lonergan for “Manchester by the Sea” and Barry Jenkins for “Moonlight”
Prediction: Like the top award, this is a battle between “La La Land” and “Moonlight” and I’m inclined to again think that “La La Land” will come out on top. Barry Jenkins’ strongest chance is in this category, but I think the academy will still opt to award Damien Chazelle.
The Academy Awards will air this Sunday on ABC with a start time of 7 p.m. (which includes the too-long Red Carpet). Jimmy Kimmel will host the night’s awards show.