Rex’s Final Oscar Predictions

Our resident expert Rex Okpodu has sifted through all the clues and come up with his annual Academy Award predictions. The closest major race is Best Actor: Rex picks Denzel and I pick Casey. Otherwise, I agree with his choices. The Oscars will be held this Sunday, with Jimmy Kimmel as the host.

Best Picture

La La Land
Manchester by the Sea
Hell or High Water
Hackshaw Ridge
Hidden Figures

Sweeping the Golden Globes with seven from seven nominations and fourteen Academy Award nominations equalling the records held by All About Eve(1951) and Titanic (1997), La La Land looks set to win the largest number of Oscars on the night. The slight problem might be the current backlash swirling around Hollywood that AMPAS might not want to give their highest honor to a lightweight film covering a a year fraught with more consequential happenings. Whether that narrative is strong enough to hold remains to be seen but we think La La Land is too far ahead to be derailed. In the worst case, La La Land will win the top prizes but not surpass or equal the winning records of eleven Oscars held by Ben Hur (1959), Titanic (1997), and Return of the King (2004).

Predicted Winner – La La Land
Alternate Winner – Moonlight
Long Shot – Manchester by the Sea

Best Director

Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge
Dennis Villeneuve, Arrival

La La Land’s Damian Chazelle won the Directors Guild of America in early February and is expected to do the same on Oscar night. His closest rival is Moonlight’s Barry Jenkins whose win will make him the first African-American winner in this category in the Academy’s 89-year history.

Predicted Winner – Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Alternate Winner – Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Long Shot – Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea

Best Actor

Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Denzel Washington, Fences
Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
Ryan Gosling, La La Land
Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic

The race for best actor looked like it had been sewn up by Manchester’s Casey Affleck, who won majority of the Critics Awards, the Golden Globe, and the BAFTA. However, Fence’s Denzel Washington, himself a two time Oscar winner for Supporting actor in Glory (1989) and Lead actor in Training Day (2001), won the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), which might indicate he could do the same at the Oscars. That said, Washington has two Oscars and had never won at SAG before so his victory there might just be them catching up. Either way, this race is expected to go down to the wire but since we have to pick one, we will go with the SAG winner, Denzel Washington. The year’s SAG winner has also won the Oscar for the past thirteen years in a row.

Predicted Winner – Denzel Washington, Fences
Alternate Winner – Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

Best Actress

Emma Stone, La La Land
Natalie Portman, Jackie
Ruth Negga, Loving
Isabelle Huppert, Elle
Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

La La Land’s Emma Stone is the solid frontrunner in this category but Elle’s Huppert is well respected in the industry and could pull off an upset. Playing the iconic role of Jackie earned Portman her second lead actress nominations in six years but Jackie as a film did not get much traction and Portman already won an Oscar for Black Swan in 2010.

Predicted Winner – Emma Stone, La La Land
Alternate Winner – Isabelle Huppert, Elle
Long Shot – Natalie Portman, Jackie

Supporting Actor

Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals
Dev Patel, Lion
Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea
Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water

Moonlight’s Ali lost out at the Globes but rebounded at SAG. He is the frontrunner to win the Oscar with Lion’s Dev Patel nipping at his heels. It will be a big upset if any of the other three pipped Ali or Patel to the post since a win by either of the frontrunners in this category will also be a win for a minority and, in a small way, address the #oscarsowhite campaign held over the past two years.

Predicted Winner – Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Alternate Winner – Dev Patel, Lion
Long Shot – Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water

Supporting Actress

Viola Davis, Fences
Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea
Nicole Kidman, Lion
Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures

Three-time Oscar nominee Viola Davis (Fences) has swept the awards circuit and looks certain to do the same on Oscar night. Like the supporting actor category, an upset by Moonlight’s Naomie Harris will still mean a win by another minority. Even Octavia Spencer (Hiddens Figures) will do the same for AMPAS’s reputation. That said, Spencer won the Oscar in this category four years ago and is unlikely to do so again on Oscar night.

Predicted Winner – Viola Davis, Fences
Alternate Winner – Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Long Shot – Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea

Original Screenplay

Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Mike Mills, 20th Century Women
Taylor Sheridan, Hell or High Water
Yargos Lanthimos and Efthimis Filippou, The Lobster

The race here is between Manchester by the Sea and La La Land. The question is whether original screenplay will be swept up by La La Land or will the respected auteur Lonergan win in this category since Manchester is unlikely to win the best picture prize? We are giving the edge to Manchester because musicals rarely win for their screenplays. The only two exceptions are Alan Jay Lerner’s for An American in Paris (1951) and Mel Brooks for The Producers (1968).

Predicted Winner – Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Alternate Winner – Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Long Shot – Taylor Sheridan, Hell or High Water

Adapted Screenplay

August Wilson, Fences
Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney, Moonlight
Luke Davis, Lion
Eric Heisserer, Arrival
Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi, Hidden Figures

The race for Adapted Screenplay is somewhat confusing as the principal precursor,The Writers Guild of America (WGA), put Moonlight in original (which it won), whereas the Academy has it in Adapted. The WGA awarded its prize to Eric Heisserer’s Arrival, but at the Oscars he will be competing against Jenkins for Moonlight. Both films are nominated for 8 Oscars, including Picture and Director. Moonlight won best adapted screenplay at the USC Scripter Awards and for the last six years that win has repeated at the Oscars. The other factors are Allison Schroeder’s box office crowd pleaser Hidden Figures and Luke Davis’ (BAFTA winner) Lion. Any of the two strong contenders could upset the top two contenders but our money is on Moonlight taking this category.

Predicted Winner – Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney, Moonlight
Alternate Winner – Eric Heisserer, Arrival
Joint Long shots – Allison Schroeder, Hidden Figures or Luke Davis, Lion

Foreign Film

Toni Erdmann (Germany)
The Salesman (Iran)
Tanna (Australia)
Land of Mine (Denmark)
A Man Called ove (Sweden)

Hollywood likes to make a point and it will be a symbolic moment for The Salesman (Iran) to win the Academy Award knowing that the film’s director and former Oscar winner for A Separation (2011), Asghar Farhadi, will not be on stage to collect his Oscar. This due to the ban on nationals from 7 muslim majority countries (including Iran) entering the United States by its 45th President.

Predicted Winner – The Salesman (Iran)
Alternate Winner – Toni Erdmann(Germany)
Long Shot – A Man Calle ove (Sweden)

Animated Feature

Kubo and the Two Strings
The Red Turtle
My Life as a Zuchini

Predicted Winner – Zootopia
Alternate Winner – Moana
Long Shot – The Red Turtle

And our predictions for the rest are….

Film Editing – La La Land

Cinematography – La La Land

Production Design – La La Land

Sound Mixing – La La Land

Sound Editing – Hacksaw Ridge

Costume Design – Jackie

Original Score – La La Land

Original Song – La La Land

Documentary Feature – OJ: Made in America

Visual Effects – Jungle Book

Makeup – Suicide Squad

Live Action Short – Ennemis Intérieurs

Animated Short – Piper

Documentary Short – Extremis

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