Every year, usually early February, in anticipation of the actual show, I attempt to forecast the Academy Awards’ winners for each category in what has become a fairly competitive contest amongst my family; competitive in that every one really wants to win, not in terms of results as my brother has won 7 out of the 10 times we’ve done this, including 3 straight. I, though the self-proclaimed movie king, have only managed one victory (2012, I was somehow nearly perfect that year), so you’d be right to be skeptical about my choices. That being said, I feel confident this year. I’m ready to turn the tide. To be clear, these are not my personal preferences, but merely what I am betting on winning.
Moonlight -8 Oscar Nominations-98% on Rotten Tomatoes
Here’s where I will probably win or lose this year’s competition. Most people-including mon frère- will tell you La La Land will win. With 14 nominations, it’s hard to argue, but I have to play my hunches, and my gut tells me #Oscar Makeup Year (after last year’s #Oscars So White).
Damien Chazelle-La La Land
This 32 year old is the overwhelming favorite to take home Oscar gold for his ambitious modern musical, La La Land. This film should win many Oscars, and since he steered the ship, a win for him would be much deserved. He’s already won the Director’s Guild Award for Best Director, and, in the last 15 years, there have only been two people who have won that award and not followed that with an Oscar. Seems like a sure thing (kind of makes me nervous).
Ryan Gosling-La La Land
Right now, as I type this, I’m beginning to doubt myself, and regret everything. How many times can you expect to ride the dark horse to victory without it collapsing? Too late to go back now. I choose the man who starred in the season’s most loved film. I’m aware that Casey Affleck has cleaned up in the awards leading up to this, but I think his past sexual harassment issues will weigh on voters minds. I hope it doesn’t, but I have a feeling it might. Then there is Denzel. He could very well win, but there does seem to be a sense of “oh, he’s had his turn” and actually, Denzel’s had his turn twice already in his stellar career.
Emma Stone-La La Land
No need to overthink this. It’s Emma Stone’s to have stolen. For her performance as another one of those struggling aspiring actresses in L.A, she has swept every major award thus far. Unless she comes out as a Republican or something in the next couple of weeks, she can likely begin making a place on her mantelpiece right now.
Best Supporting Actor
It’s been a good year for him between his critically lauded performance in Moonlight, the late season hit Hidden Figures, and a supporting role in the show Luke Cage. I think it will culminate in a win here. He was the favorite going in to the Golden Globes, but Aaron Taylor Johnson won. Johnson isn’t even nominated for an Oscar, so I lean on some of the other telling awards. Critic’s choice and SAG both went to Ali, but if there ever are any surprises at the Oscars it usually comes in these supporting categories.
Best Supporting Actress
It’s a done deal.
Best Animated Feature
2016 was a fantastic year for animated features. I think Pixar not being nominated for the year’s most lucrative film and a critical success, Finding Dory, reflects that. Zootopia was head and shoulders above the field in my opinion. I don’t see it losing.
Best Foreign Language Film
Toni Erdmann-93% on Rotten Tomatoes
A nearly 3 hour long German comedy is apparently the odds-on favorite to win Best Foreign Language film. I cannot imagine, from glimpsing the charm free, ultra-dry trailer, or reading the generic plot summary, why this is. I’m sure to watch this film down the line, and I enjoy surprises, but more likely, the Academy and I are destined to never agree on the year’s best foreign film. Take a list of the best foreign films of all time and see how many of them have won. It’s the one area of the Oscars that I, beyond mere disagreement, think is a joke. It’s always western European films that win.
Best Documentary Feature
O.J: Made in America-100% on Rotten Tomatoes
People were fascinated with O.J last year. There are 5 worthy candidates for this year’s award in Best Documentary, but I’m betting on the one people have actually seen.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney-Moonlight
I think Moonlight is a film the Academy loves and wants to reward, but will have a hard time finding the right categories in which to do this. Best Adapted Screenplay is the easiest place.
Best Original Screenplay-Best Film Editing-Cinematography-Art Design-Sound Editing
La La Land
With a record 14 nominations, La La Land has a chance to break Titanic’s record in Oscar wins. I don’t quite have it making it that far, but I do see it winning big come February 26th. These 5 boring categories should add to its tally.
Best Original Score
This Natalie Portman led biopic left me using words that I’ve never used before, like “exquisite.” Mica Levi’s sweeping, eerie, beautiful score is a big reason why. I think she should win, and I suspect she might.
Best Original Song
La La Land-“Audition (The Fools Who Dream)”-Justin Hurwitz
If the Academy loves La La Land as much as they seem to, that has to start with the music right? There are two songs nominated from the movie, and City of Stars is a solid choice, but I’m guessing the film’s climax number will win. It would also be fun if Lin-Manuel Miranda won for his work on Moana. He’s had a tremendous run.
Boring categories: I’m just guessing blindly on these.
Best Documentary Short-Watani: My Homeland
Best Visual Effects-The Jungle Book
Best Makeup-A Man Called Ove
Best Sound Mixing-Hacksaw Ridge
Best Animated Short-Blind Vaysha
Best Live Action Short-Sing
*The 89th Academy Awards will be hosted by Jimmy Kimmel on Sunday, February 26th.