Academy Awards predictions suggest competitive, diverse categories

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With the Academy Awards nominations announcement coming out Tuesday, Jan. 24, the entertainment community is gearing up with their final Oscar predictions. In honor of the Super Bowl of film culture, I compiled a list of my own predictions for these prestigious awards. While I confess that I have not seen every film and performance on this list, I have looked over numerous other prediction lists, award ceremony nominations, thespians involved and the each film’s subject matter to nail down what I believe to be the most likely nominations in the Oscars’ six major categories: Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress.

Best Picture

  1. “La La Land” 

  2. “Moonlight”

  3. “Manchester by the Sea”

  4. “Arrival”

  5. “Hacksaw Ridge”

If there are 10 nominations:

  1. “Fences”

  2. “Hell or High Water”

  3. “Hidden Figures”

  4. “Silence”

  5. “Lion”

Dark Horse:  

  1. “Deadpool”

“La La Land,” “Moonlight” and “Manchester by the Sea” are a lock to get a nod at the very least—and one of them will more than likely win. While other prediction lists may not have “Hacksaw Ridge” in the top five contenders, its WWII subject matter is consistent with trends that the Academy tends to favor in nominations. As for our dark horse, “Deadpool,” the Producers Guild of America nominated the film, which could be an indication for an Oscar nod as well.

Best Director

  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”)

Dark Horses:

  1. Garth Davis (“Lion”)

  2. Mel Gibson (“Hacksaw Ridge”)

  3. Denzel Washington (“Fences”)

Much like the Best Picture category, Best Director appears to be a three-man race between Chazelle, Jenkins and Lonergan. While some believe that Martin Scorsese’s “Silence” came out too late in the season to be a serious contender, I maintain that Scorsese will earn a nod because of his history at the Academy Awards and the film’s critical reception. However, Davis, Gibson and Washington have good chances of cracking the top five, particularly Davis; much like the rest of the top four, he earned a Directors Guild of America nomination, which could transfer over to an Oscar nomination.

Best Actor

  1. Casey Affleck (“Manchester by the Sea”)

  2. Denzel Washington (“Fences”)

  3. Andrew Garfield (“Hacksaw Ridge”)

  4. Ryan Gosling (“La La Land”)

  5. Viggo Mortensen (“Captain Fantastic”)

Before most prediction lists were being evaluated seriously, Casey Affleck’s name had always been in the conversation for Best Actor, and he has proven to be the obvious front-runner. This is further solidified by Affleck’s Golden Globe win. The other candidates in this category have also been nominated for both a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Award, which bodes well for their Oscar chances.

Best Actress

  1. Emma Stone (“La La Land”)

  2. Natalie Portman (“Jackie”)

  3. Isabelle Huppert (“Elle”)

  4. Amy Adams (“Arrival”)

  5. Meryl Streep (“Florence Foster Jenkins”)

Dark Horses:

  1. Ruth Negga (“Loving”)

  2. Annette Bening (“20th Century Women”)

The buzz has been strong surrounding both Emma Stone’s and Natalie Portman’s performances, and they are both likely to earn nods. Of course, no nomination list would be complete without Meryl Streep; the actress has been nominated for an Oscar 19 times, so it seems inevitable that she will be nominated again for “Florence Foster Jenkins.” However, Ruth Negga and Annette Bening threaten to crack the top five with their performances in “Loving” and “20th Century Women,” respectively.

Best Supporting Actor

  1. Mahershala Ali (“Moonlight”)

  2. Lucas Hedges (“Manchester by the Sea”)

  3. Dev Patel (“Lion”)

  4. Jeff Bridges (“Hell or High Water”)

  5. Hugh Grant (“Florence Foster Jenkins”)

Dark Horses:

  1. Michael Shannon (“Nocturnal Animals”)

  2. Aaron Taylor-Johnson (“Nocturnal Animals”)

Nearly every list has Mahershala Ali as the favorite in this category. After him, Lucas Hedges may receive a nod for “Manchester” because he is a relatively new face in the industry, which the Academy tends to honor, especially if the film has good buzz. I also think Hugh Grant will round out the top five because he is a prominent face in the Hollywood industry on top the strong buzz for his performance in “Florence Foster Jenkins.” However, Michael Shannon or Aaron Taylor-Johnson could bump Grant off the list; movie news outlets like Collider Video speak highly of the former, and the latter’s Golden Globe win could carry over to an Oscar nod.

Best Supporting actress

  1. Viola Davis (“Fences”)

  2. Michelle Williams (“Manchester by the Sea”)

  3. Octavia Spencer (“Hidden Figures”)

  4. Naomie Harris (“Moonlight”)

  5. Nicole Kidman (“Lion”)

Viola Davis is the favorite to win in this category, having already won a Golden Globe. With the positive buzz surrounding the recently released film “Hidden Figures,” Octavia Spencer may be challenging Davis, her former “The Help” co-star. Michelle Williams also looks like a safe bet, garnering critical acclaim for her performance in “Manchester by the Sea.” 

The 2017 Oscar race is proving to be a competitive one in nearly every category, comprised of both diverse performers and subject matter. No matter who garners a nomination, this year’s ceremony is bound to be a good one.

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