Monday, January 23, 2017

Final Predictions for the 2017 Oscar Nominations

The Golden Globes have ended, the Guilds have announced their nominees, and Oscar voting is over.

It's time for the Academy to reveal their picks for the best films of 2016.

Let's get down to business- here are my predictions for tomorrow's Oscar nominations.

BEST PICTURE


Image courtesy of Lionsgate

1. La La Land
2. Manchester by the Sea
3. Moonlight
4. Arrival
5. Hidden Figures
6. Lion
7. Hell or High Water

If there's 8

8. Fences

If there's 9 

9. Hacksaw Ridge

If there's 10 

10. Nocturnal Animals

After the clean sweep of the Golden Globes, it's abundantly clear that La La Land is this year's Best Picture favorite. It's a lock for a nomination and the odds-on pick to take home the gold in February. But after that, things get more fuzzy. Manchester by the Sea and Moonlight are also set for nominations, as they have had a spectacular run through the guilds and critic groups. Arrival is also in great shape at the moment, which is surprising considering its sci-fi roots. And finally, thanks to the stellar box office, Theo Melfi's Hidden Figures is looking more and more like a Best Picture lock as the days go on.

Beyond that, it's anybody's guess. Lion received a surprise nomination at last week's Directors Guild Awards, while Fences will certainly have quite a bit of support from the actors branch of the Academy. I'm feeling good about Hell or High Water's chances as well, especially with the buzz from many Academy insiders. Hacksaw Ridge wasn't the biggest hit when it premiered back at the Venice Film Festival, but it has its fans, and if there ends up being a total of 9 nominees, Gibson's film is my best bet. And finally, we can't ignore the adoration given to Nocturnal Animals from both the Hollywood Foreign Press and the BAFTAs. If any of that love sneaks into the Academy, Tom Ford's disturbing thriller could emerge as a surprise Best Picture nominee. And of course, there's the issue of Deadpool, Fox's comic book surprise that is taking the awards season by storm. If it happens, Hollywood just might explode. I doubt that it will actually end up working out, but it would undoubtedly be one of the biggest shocks in Oscar history.

BEST DIRECTOR


Image courtesy of Lionsgate

1. Damien Chazelle, La La Land
2. Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
3. Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
4. Denis Villeneuve, Arrival
5. Martin Scorsese, Silence

Like the Best Picture category, Damien Chazelle is the heavy favorite to win for his dizzying, wondrous work on La La Land, his musical passion project. The question remains- who will round out the competitive category? Barry Jenkins, Kenneth Lonergan, and Denis Villeneuve seem like sure things at the moment, but the biggest question is swirling around that fifth slot. Garth Davis was the winner at the DGA, but that's a more expansive group than the directors branch of the Academy. The common sentiment seems to be that Martin Scorsese will receive a nomination for Silence, the religious drama that hasn't gained much traction during the awards season. If there's any category for the Academy to recognize the tough, brutal film, Best Director is it. Davis and Hell or High Water's David Mackenzie are also in the mix, but I have my money on Scorsese.

BEST ACTOR


Image courtesy of Roadside Attractions

1. Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
2. Denzel Washington, Fences
3. Ryan Gosling, La La Land
4. Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
5. Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic

Affleck, Denzel, and Gosling are in for sure. Garfield seems like a near-lock as well. The only question left- who gets that final spot? Viggo Mortensen got the nod from the SAG, and he's currently the odds-on favorite at Gold Derby. Joel Edgerton seemed to drop along with Loving, and the same could be said for Tom Hanks and Michael Keaton with Sully and The Founder, respectively. Barring a shocking nod for Ryan Reynolds, I'm fully anticipating a Mortensen nomination.

BEST ACTRESS


Image courtesy of Lionsgate

1. Emma Stone, La La Land
2. Natalie Portman, Jackie
3. Amy Adams, Arrival
4. Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins
5. Isabelle Huppert, Elle

This category is so competitive, and the only locks at this point are Stone and Portman- everyone else is on the bubble. To put it simply, there are five actresses with a good chance of getting a nomination- Adams, Streep, Huppert, Annette Bening, and Ruth Negga. These performers are linked heavily to their films, and if a movie is surging or fading, that has an impact on their status in the race. That's why I'm currently feeling good about a nomination for Adams and expecting Negga to fall just short. Meanwhile, Streep has the momentum from the Globes speech, and Huppert has the momentum from the Globes win, putting them in prime shape over Annette Bening, who delivers a superb performance in 20th Century Women. In a less competitive year, she'd be in for sure.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR


Image courtesy of A24

1. Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
2. Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea
3. Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
4. Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Nocturnal Animals 
5. Dev Patel, Lion

This is another highly competitive category, with eight actors who stand a good chance of making the top five. Ali is really the only lock in my opinion, although Hedges and Bridges are in good shape as well. I have to imagine that Taylor-Johnson and Nocturnal Animals received a profile boost from his Golden Globes win, but there's an equally strong chance that voters who gave the film a shot were more impressed by Michael Shannon. Dev Patel has always seemed like a relatively sure thing for this category, but depending on the strength of the film, he could find himself losing out to Kevin Costner, who has all the momentum thanks to Hidden Figures. And of course, there's always the chance that Hugh Grant sneaks in for his role in Florence Foster Jenkins. I'm sticking with these five actors at the moment, but I'm not exactly confident in these picks.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS


Image Credit: 

1. Viola Davis, Fences
2. Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea
3. Naomie Harris, Moonlight
4. Nicole Kidman, Lion
5. Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures

This category is literally the opposite of the Supporting Actor race. As excited as I would be to see Greta Gerwig sneak in for her excellent performance in 20th Century Women, it's not gonna happen. Davis, Williams, Harris, Kidman, Spencer- these are your five Supporting Actress nominees. If anyone else sneaks in, I'll be shocked.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY


Image courtesy of Roadside Attractions

1. Manchester by the Sea
2. La La Land
3. Hell or High Water
4. 20th Century Women
5. The Lobster

The original screenplay race opened up a bit when Moonlight was labeled as an adapted script, which gives some breathing room for quirkier titles. Kenneth Lonergan, Damien Chazelle, and Taylor Sheridan are locks for their respective screenplays, but the fourth and fifth slots will be more compelling. The writers branch tends to embrace fare like The Lobster, so I have a feeling that it'll be nominated. And considering that 20th Century Women is a film that relies so heavily on rich, beautiful dialogue, I have to imagine that it gets in over films like Jackie and Captain Fantastic. Maybe the branch goes for a weird pick like Zootopia, but I'm putting my chips on Mike Mills' film in this category.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY


Image courtesy of A24

1. Moonlight
2. Arrival
3. Fences
4. Hidden Figures
5. Lion

When Moonlight moved to this category, everything changed. Barry Jenkins will most likely be walking home with a trophy come Oscar night, which is a shame for Arrival's Eric Heisserer. In addition to those two locks, Fences and Hidden Figures are both in fairly good shape for a nomination. I can see some frowning on the former thanks to its stage origins, but there's a level of reverence for the late August Wilson's work that I imagine it will make the cut. I'm more skeptical about Lion's chances, as it all really depends on how voters respond to the film. I'm not anticipating huge love for the Weinstein tear-jerker, but I also can't say that I'm expecting a big push for Nocturnal Animals from the Academy. I'll go with the safe bet, but don't be surprised to see Tom Ford sneak in there.

BEST ANIMATED FILM


1. Zootopia
2. Kubo and the Two Strings
3. Moana
4. My Life as a Zucchini
5. Finding Dory

Zootopia, Kubo, and Moana are all but set, and I think Pixar should be feeling pretty good about Finding Dory's chances at the moment. Meanwhile, the question remains- what will be their weird pick? The animators always go for something out there, something that doesn't touch the mainstream. Will it be The Red Turtle? Sausage Party? Or will it be My Life as a Zucchini, a film that I'm pretty sure nobody in the states has even seen? I'm betting on the latter, almost solely because I love the title.

BEST DOCUMENTARY FILM


Image Credit: IMDB

1. O.J.: Made in America
2. 13th
3. I Am Not Your Negro
4. Gleason
5. Cameraperson

It feels a little unfair to nominate a lengthy film that was primarily showcased on a popular television network, but I'll just have to accept that that's the way things are these days. O.J. is a lock for a nomination and a victory, and the odds are in the favor of docs like 13th and I Am Not Your Negro. Gleason looks like the feel-good alternative to all this heavy material (although I don't know if Gleason is necessarily much less depressing), and while I'm mostly unaware of the film's content, there has been a good deal of buzz around Cameraperson. Sure, maybe the doc branch goes for some political satire with Weiner, but I'm not counting on it at this point.

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM


1. Toni Erdmann
2. The Salesman
3. Land of Mine
4. A Man Called Ove
5. My Life as a Zucchini

The foreign language category is nothing short of bizarre, as big ticket films like Elle and The Handmaiden won't even be eligible to be nominated. That's a win for Toni Erdmann, but a major hit for Oscar prognosticators. Beyond the aforementioned German comedy and The Salesman, I don't know what to expect. A Man Called Ove seems like a well-liked film and Land of Mine is favored in the charts as well. And beyond all that, I guess I'm just gonna risk it all and pick My Life as a Zucchini, which officially has the coolest name of this year's Oscar race. I feel like I need to actually see this movie now.

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE


Image courtesy of Lionsgate

1. La La Land
2. Moonlight
3. Jackie
4. Lion
5. Nocturnal Animals

The top four in this category are all locks- Hurwitz, Britell, Levi, and O'Halloran and Hauschka will all be waking up to nominations tomorrow morning. Common knowledge says that the fifth slot goes to Michael Giacchino for Rogue One, but honestly, nothing about that score strikes me as memorable. So maybe I'm throwing some personal bias in there, but I'm guessing that the final slot will go to Nocturnal Animals. It's a haunting, thoroughly unnerving score, and I think voters will respond to it.

BEST ORIGINAL SONG


Image courtesy of Lionsgate

1. "City of Stars" from La La Land
2. "Audition" from La La Land
3. "Can't Stop the Feeling" from Trolls
4. "How Far I'll Go" from Moana
5. "Drive It Like You Stole It" from Sing Street

La La Land could probably have come up with enough songs to fill this entire category, but instead, they'll have to settle for just two- the catchy "City of Stars" and the heartbreaking "Audition." The pop hit "Can't Stop the Feeling" will likely also receive some love from the Academy, and the same goes for Lin Manuel-Miranda, the Hamilton star who wrote the music for Moana. And while logic says that Pharrell Williams will win the fight for the final spot for Hidden Figures, I can't bring myself to pick any song but "Drive It Like You Stole It." It's a catchy, perfect tune, and I want it to be nominated more than anything. Here's hoping that the Academy gets it right.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY


Image courtesy of Lionsgate

1. La La Land
2. Moonlight
3. Silence
4. Arrival
5. Jackie

This is simply one of the easiest categories to predict. Linus Sandgren, James Laxton, Rodrigo Prieto, Bradford Young, and Stephane Fontaine are all set to be nominated for their exemplary work. Nobody else even poses a threat, in my opinion.

BEST COSTUME DESIGN


Image courtesy of Fox Searchlight

1. Jackie
2. La La Land
3. Allied
4. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
5. Hidden Figures

This one is trickier to predict, as nobody can ever really be sure what the costume branch will do. Jackie and La La Land seem like sure things, and I can't imagine them passing up a chance to nominate the classical work seen in Allied. The momentum for Hidden Figures could also push it to the forefront of the race, allowing it to top films such as Silence and Florence Foster Jenkins. And of course, there's Fantastic Beasts, which would fill the blockbuster quota for the category. I'm honestly taking a shot in the dark here- any number of films could be announced for this bizarre category.

BEST FILM EDITING


Image courtesy of Lionsgate

1. La La Land
2. Moonlight
3. Arrival
4. Manchester by the Sea
5. Hacksaw Ridge

La La Land, Moonlight, and Arrival are in- but who else will make the final cut? The fading awards might of Manchester by the Sea  could put it in trouble, but I think the work done here is just too good to pass up. Hacksaw Ridge also has the benefit of some of the most dazzling battle scenes in recent memory, putting it in prime position for a nod. But is there a chance for something like Jackie or Silence to sneak in? Quite possibly, especially in the case of the former. But in the end, I'm betting on these five films.

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN


Image courtesy of Lionsgate

1. La La Land
2. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
3. Jackie
4. Silence
5. Arrival

The top five for Production Design have continually shifted on Gold Derby, but my main choices have remained fairly consistent. La La Land and Jackie are shoo-ins, and while Rogue One has fallen off the charts, I'm giving it the blockbuster edge over Fantastic Beasts. As for the final two slots, I can't see anyone but Silence and Arrival receiving nominations.

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING


Image courtesy of 20th Century Fox

1. Deadpool
2. Florence Foster Jenkins
3. Star Trek Beyond

If you had told me a year ago that we would be talking about Deadpool in the 2017 Oscar race, I would have called you crazy. And yet, here we are. It'll at least get a nomination in this category, and if the Academy really takes to it, the sky is the limit. Florence Foster Jenkins is also heavily favored here (for the hair, I guess?) and I can't imagine Star Trek Beyond missing the cut. Other potential nominees (this branch cuts down to several potential picks before final voting) feel like afterthoughts.

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS


1. The Jungle Book
2. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
3. Arrival
4. Doctor Strange
5. The BFG

The Jungle Book is the clear favorite here, and blockbusters like Rogue One and Doctor Strange will also make the final list. The visual effects branch seems to like low-key films such as Ex Machina, so you can bet that Arrival gets a nomination as well. And finally, despite its status as one of the more disappointing films of the year, The BFG has some of the best effects work in a long time. It deserves the recognition, and I think it'll get it from the Academy.

BEST SOUND EDITING


Image courtesy of Lionsgate

1. Hacksaw Ridge
2. La La Land
3. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
4. Silence
5. Arrival

Look, the running joke is that nobody knows what the difference between Sound Editing and Mixing is. That won't change now, and it probably won't change ever. I make these picks pretty much at random, using the Gold Derby charts and my own intuition as my guide. I could be completely off-base, or I could hit the mark. It's always a mixed bag.

BEST SOUND MIXING


Image courtesy of Lionsgate

1. La La Land
2. Hacksaw Ridge
3. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
4. Arrival
5. The Jungle Book

Same thing I said for Sound Editing.

I'm not even going to attempt to do any short film predictions, because I just know that I'll get them wrong. So with that in mind, here are my predicted final nomination tallies for this year's crop of films- and yes, I'm predicting that La La Land will tie the all-time nomination record.

-La La Land- 14
-Arrival- 10
-Moonlight- 8
-Manchester by the Sea- 7
-Jackie- 5
-Hacksaw Ridge- 5
-Lion- 5
-Hidden Figures- 4
-Fences- 4
-Silence- 4
-Rogue One: A Star Wars Story- 4
-Hell or High Water- 3
-The Jungle Book- 2
-Florence Foster Jenkins- 2
-Nocturnal Animals- 2

Anyways, those are my final picks for the 2017 Oscar nominations. Come back tomorrow to see what the Academy chose- I'll have them all right here on the site, as well as my reaction to any snubs and surprises.

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