Given the Oscars’ propensity for delivering shocks, you’d have to be Cassandra to predict the winners in every category this year—and no one believed the Trojan prophetess anyway.
That said, five of the nominees couldn’t possibly have a stronger lock on their categories. La La Land has been the favorite to win Best Picture since it opened on December 9, and its director Damien Chazelle is expected to take the Best Director prize. Manchester by the Sea‘s Casey Affleck has always led the Best Actor race.
Fences‘ Viola Davis and Moonlight‘s Mahershala Ali are shoo-ins to win in the best supporting categories. Deserved wins for them would restore belief that the Academy voters, who didn’t nominate a single non-white actor in 2015 and 2016, aren’t color blind.
Hollywood would further consecrate 2016’s resurgence in African-American films should it give the Writing (adapted screenplay) Oscar to Moonlight‘s creator Barry Jenkins, or to the late August Wilson (Fences).
Whereas the Best Actor selection is dour this year, the Best Actress nominees are a spectacular bunch—they have to be to have forced Annette Bening (20th Century Women), Amy Adams (Arrival), and Kate Beckinsale (Love & Friendship) out of contention.
While Emma Stone (La La Land) would be an immensely popular Oscar winner, support for Isabelle Huppert has been growing. Meryl Streep’s inclusion as the aria-mangling title character of Florence Foster Jenkins wasn’t quite warranted, but the thought of her firing another verbal fusillade at Donald Trump will add thousands to the broadcast’s viewing figures.
It ain’t over till the fat lady sings? Maybe that sums up the Oscar race, but some may feel the event itself won’t be over until the star who played a lady who couldn’t sing has given voice to the nation’s mounting anger.
My predictions in 12 key Oscar categories are as follows:
Best Picture: La La Land
Actress in a leading role: Isabelle Huppert, Elle
Actor in a leading role: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Actress in a supporting role: Viola Davis, Fences
Actor in a supporting role: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Animated feature: Zootopia
Cinematography: La La Land
Directing: Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Documentary (feature): O.J.: Made in America
Foreign language film: Toni Erdmann
Writing (adapted screenplay): Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Writing (original screenplay): Kenneth Lonerghan, Manchester by the Sea
The 89th Academy Awards, Sunday, February 26. Red carpet coverage starts at 7 p.m. (EST) and the award show begins at 8.30 p.m. [EST] on ABC. The show will be broadcast from the ABC Dolby Theater in the Hollywood and Highland Center, Hollywood, California.
Print out the official Oscars ballot here.