The Only Oscar Coverage You Need 2017 (Final Nomination Predictions)

Well it’s that time of year again. At 5:18am PST on Tuesday January 24th, Brie Larson, Ken Watanabe, Jason Reitman and Jennifer Hudson will present this years crop of Oscar nominations. It’s been a pretty exciting year gearing up for Oscars. While most of 2016 went by without offering great (or even good) films, it made up for it at the end with a slew of absolutely brilliant films in a number of genres. Most years, there’s at least one or two films in the high echelon of nominees that I feel doesn’t deserve its place there. This year, however, the five or six most lauded and likely-nominated films are also the absolute five or six best films of the year, meaning even if an unexpected movie wins, it’s still likely quite deserving.

As I did last year, I want to break down the major precursor awards of the year. Understanding these and their relation to the eventual Oscar nominees can help predict what will end up with that coveted nomination. Some guilds are quite reliable indicators of what will eventually be nominated and win the Oscar. Without further ado here they are:

  • Golden Globes (GG): Possibly the most well known precursor to the Oscars. This can be misleading, because The Hollywood Foreign Press who nominate for the Golden Globes have no voter overlap with the Academy. Similarity inevitably crops up every year, however.
  • British Academy of Film and Television (BAFTA): The BAFTAs are the British equivalent to the Oscars. They have many of the same categories and often share many of the same nominees. There is also a roughly 500 person voter overlap, so they can be a good indicator of support in the industry.
  • Producer’s Guild of America (PGA): The producers vote overlaps with the best picture category at the Oscars. Their ten nominees often mirror very closely with eventual Oscar nominees for best picture.
  • Director’s Guild of America (DGA): The directors nominate five of their own each year. Of these five, at least four are usually nominated in the corresponding Oscar category.
  • Screen Actor’s Guild (SAG): The actors are the biggest group in the academy. Their best ensemble previews respect for the film overall. Their acting nominees usually line up very closely as well.
  • Writer’s Guild of America (WGA): The writer’s guild disqualifies many scripts every year so their nominees and winners often look different from Oscars’, but it is still a good tell of the amount of support a film has within the industry.
  • American Film Institute (AFI): One of the only major precursors whose nominees are chosen by critics. They release a top ten every year that is one of the first indications of what could be on the best picture shortlist.
  • America Cinema Editors (ACE): The highest recognition for editors and the best precursor for the best editing Oscar.
  • Cinema Audio Society (CAS): Awards recognizing the best in cinematic sound. Best sound mixing and best sound editing are the Oscar equivalent categories.
  • The American Society of Cinematographers (ASC): Recognizing the best of the year in cinematography. The best cinematography Oscar is the equivalent.
  • Costume Designers Guild (CDGA): This guild recognition correlates directly with the best costume Oscar.
  • Art Director Guild (ADG): This guild’s Oscar equivalent is the best production design category.

With all that out of the way, lets dive in to the predicted nominees.

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Best Picture

1. La La Land

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Nominations from: GG*, BAFTA, AFI, PGA, DGA, WGA, ACE, CAS, ASC, CDGA,  ADG

La La Land has been the frontrunner since it debuted. Many films which peak that early lose their buzz and fall from the top, but if anything, La La Land has only gained steam. It’s been winning as many or more critics awards than Moonlight and at the Golden Globes, it waltzed away with a record-breaking seven wins, confirming what many are already saying: It’s our winner. And deservedly so. It’s an incredible, unique, beautifully executed film which deserves all the praise that’s getting heaped on it. We may have a real sweep on our hands. La La Land may not have the legs to tie Titanic, Ben Her, and Lord of the Rings: Return of the King‘s eleven wins, but it could very conceivably tie Titanic and All About Eve‘s fourteen nominations or come very close. La La Land is proving to be a juggernaut and it will be exciting to see just how high it can soar. 

2. Moonlight

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Nominations from: GG*, BAFTA, AFI, PGA, DGA, SAG, WGA, ACE, ASC

That being said, it’s not over until it’s over. If the Academy wanted to prove they’re moving toward diversity, they could hardly find a better film to give their favor than this beautiful story about a young gay black man and his coming of age in Miami. Moonlight has fought alongside La La Land in all the precursors thus far and held its own. As my personal pick for best film of last year, I would love Academy recognition of that calibre. I believe it could be a very vital message to send to minority filmmakers in the current political landscape that, despite color or orientation, great art is celebrated. Unless some radical shift happens in the next month, I don’t expect it to topple La La Land in this category. But it very well could give it a run for its money.

3. Manchester by the Sea

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Nominations from: GG, BAFTA, AFI, PGA, DGA, SAG, WGA, ACE, ADG

Here’s another case of some of the absolute finest work of the year being recognized. Though it was picked up by Amazon Studios, which some thought could be its awards death knell, the quality of Manchester by the Sea has proven that distributer doesn’t matter. The question about streaming services sites like Amazon and Netflix landing major Oscar nominations was never so much ‘if’ as ‘when’. This year, Amazon breaks that ceiling as I expect Manchester to receive several nominations, including here. 

4. Arrival

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Nominations from: BAFTA, AFI, PGA, DGA, WGA, ACE, ASC, ADG

I couldn’t be more pleased to see Arrival show up as it has in the critics awards and precursors. It was a beautiful film from a truly talented filmmaker, who’s quite deserving of this recognition. This film, very much like Mad Max: Fury Road last year, transcended its genre with its absolute quality. Expect it to show up in several categories. Double digit nominations is even a possibility. It would not be a mistake.

5. Lion

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Nominations from: GG, PGA, DGA, ASC, CDGA, ADG

Here is another very powerful film from first-time feature director, Garth Davis. It’s a true story about adoption, home, family and Google earth. It’s very moving. The most moving thing about it (in the sense of this Oscar race, of course) is executive producer Harvey Weinstein. He is known as the man who pioneered the modern Oscar campaign when he lead Shakespeare In Love to a best picture victory over Saving Private Ryan. Never bet against Harvey. It also doesn’t hurt that the film is pretty fantastic. 

6. Hell or High Water

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Nominations from: GG, AFI, PGA, WGA, ACE, ADG

There is possibly no film this year that I am happier to get to put this high on the list. When I saw Hell or High Water in August, I was blown away. It was the first great live-action film of 2016 for me. But due to its release date, budget and studio, I didn’t think it had a shot to place here. Thankfully, very much like Mad Max: Fury Road last year, Hell or High Water started being cited on critics lists, and nominated for critics awards– dozens of them. Apparently the adoration I felt for this film wasn’t an isolated incident. The critics award nominations and wins gave it enough buzz to be picked up by several of the precursors and guilds. Now an Oscar nomination is looking guaranteed. I couldn’t be more pleased. 

7. Hacksaw Ridge

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Nominations from: GG, AFI, PGA, ACE, CAS, ADG

This is another film the critics awards and guilds really resuscitated with their mentions. While it got solid viewership and critical review when it was released, no one was quite sure how far Hacksaw Ridge would get with the Academy. Namely due to its director Mel Gibson’s past offenses. It seems that the Academy may finally be ready to reaccept him if the guild mentions are any indication. As a whole, the Academy has never been one to hold much of a grudge. They gave Roman Polanski a best director Oscar for The Pianist. Is Hacksaw Ridge Mel Gibson’s pianist? I suppose we shall have to see how it fares nomination morning.

8. Hidden Figures

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Nominations from: PGA, SAG, WGA, CDGA, ADG

This is where the nomination’s get tricky. For the 2009 ceremony, Oscar shifted from five to ten best picture nominees in an effort to include more types of film. (There was quite the outcry when The Dark Knight wasn’t nominated for best picture the year before and many believe that to be the cause.) After two years of that, they shifted again to a sliding scale where anywhere from five to ten films could be nominated, depending on how many votes each received. Since that shift, three years had nine nominees and two years had eight. If there are eight nominees like there have been the last two years, Hidden Figures has a great shot of filling the last slot. It came out late but has made up a lot of time nabbing a PGA, WGA and SAG Ensemble nominations. The question is – will there even be eight nominees or could be we be looking at our first year since the shift with seven best picture nominees or fewer?

9. Silence

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Nominations from: AFI, ASC

Here is another film that came to the race late, but unlike Hidden FiguresSilence is not faring as well, at least with the precursors. Granted, this has happened before with Scorsese where he has come late to the game and left with several nominations anyway. Silence could be the same way. It could simply be that the screeners didn’t go out, so many people nominating for the precursors didn’t see it in time – meaning Silence is still a contender to be reckoned with. Or maybe it just isn’t inspiring much passion and will be passed over altogether. We’ll see.

10. Fences

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Nominations from: AFI, SAG, WGA, ADG

Fences hasn’t found much recognition outside of its acting and screenplay, but that doesn’t mean it can’t surprise with a best picture nomination on Tuesday morning. It’s a powerful, moving story rooted by quite simply the two best performances of the year. These are two actors at the height of their talent giving it their all. Also, we shouldn’t underestimate the toll #oscarssowhite may have had. Now that there are several very deserving films with minority leads, there could be a flood of deserved support.

11. Nocturnal Animals

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Nominations from: WGA, CDGA, ADG

This film is one that surprised me when the GG and BAFTA nominations came out. Granted, it didn’t get cited for picture by either, but both cited its screenplay, the supporting turn by Aaron Taylor-Johnson (who won the Globe), and the BAFTAS gave Jake Gyllenhaal a best actor nomination. There may be a flurry of support for this film and if one is going to surprise with several nominations, based on the precursors we’ve seen, Nocturnal Animals could be it.

12. Loving

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Nomination from: WGA

Unlike many of the films above it, which have only risen in the recent months, Loving sadly has only fallen. What was once considered a possibility in several categories including picture, director, screenplay, actor and actress, it’s now seeming as if Loving will wake up Tuesday morning to a huge goose egg. It’s a shame, but I can’t say I’m particularly surprised. There’s alway some lovely quiet film that gets overlooked for its flashier counterparts. Last year it was Carol. Sadly, this year, it looks to be Loving.

13. Jackie

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Nominations from: CDGA, ADG

There was quite a heat surrounding Jackie out of the festivals. Besides Natalie, however (who is still a frontrunner in best actress), the film itself has fizzled. This is possibly due to its non-traditional execution, which I believe was a strength but could be off-putting for people looking for a standard biopic. Despite Jackie not taking off in major categories, it’s still likely to be recognized in several below the bar categories, such as costumes, production design, and hopefully cinematography. 

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Best Director

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1. Damien Chazelle – La La Land

Nominations from: GG*, BAFTA, DGA

Directing the absolute darling of the year usually assures you at least a best director nomination, if not a win – and that’s even if the direction itself isn’t particularly striking (see The King’s Speech). However, when the direction is as creative, impressive and stimulating as the film it supports, you’re almost guaranteed the prize. Enjoy it Damien, you deserve it. You brilliant son of a bitch.

2. Barry Jenkins – Moonlight

Nominations from: GG, DGA

Not that I’m not as impressed with Damien Chazelle’s directing as I appear above, but if there was one category to forgo rewarding La La Land in favor for Moonlight, it’s this one. Chazelle’s technically impressive long shots are a wonder to behold to be sure, but what Barry Jenkins does with this story is a wonder, as well. It’s smaller and more intimate a film, but that doesn’t shackle Jenkins’ creativity for a moment. (The fact that it would make him the first black person ever to win a best director Oscar and only the fourth nominated is important to point out).

3. Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester by the Sea

Nominations from: GG, BAFTA, DGA

I’ll admit, early in the season I wasn’t sure, between this and Loving, which small, quiet character film would wind up left in the cold nomination morning. Based on the precursors, it seems I needn’t fear for Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester by the Sea, which has emerged as a frontrunner in many categories, including this one. Lonergan has made two previous films and both are avidly respected. Now, he finally gets recognition. That being said, if there’s one category where I could see Manchester come up short, it’s this one. The directing branch tends to favor films where the direction looks like it was harder to pull off. Just look at the winner of the last two years, Alejandro G. Iñúaritu, and the feats of directing in Birdman and The Revenant. Lonergan could perhaps fall prey to one of the more exciting directors below.

4. Denis Villanueve – Arrival

Nominations from: GG, BAFTA, DGA

Having been a Villanueve fan since before he started making American films, I could not be more pleased to put him on this list. He has all the precursors, he directed a fantastic movie and before long, he will be Academy Award nominee Denis Villanueve. I can hardly think of a director more deserving.

5. Mel Gibson – Hacksaw Ridge

Nomination from: GG

I’ll admit, of almost all the predictions on this list, this is one of the ones I feel least confident about. That’s because none of the precursors can agree on a fifth nominee. Mel here got the Golden Globe, Garth Davis got the DGA, and Ken Loach (I, Daniel Blake) got the BAFTA. This leaves us guessing who will fill Oscar’s final slot. My best guess is still on Gibson just because Hacksaw Ridge has been getting so many notices everywhere but either of the following gentlemen could show up in his stead.

6. Garth Davis – Lion

Nomination from: DGA

Before the DGA nominations recently, I would have counted Garth Davis out of the race. Not because I didn’t enjoy Lion or admire his direction, but because his name literally didn’t pop up anywhere until the DGA. Could this be telling of the Academy’s choice? Is Harvey Weinstein back up to his old tricks? Or will an entirely different director be in the running?

7. Martin Scorsese – Silence

No Major Nominations

Granted he nor his film has received much support thus far, I would never count out Scorsese. He’s one of the best living directors and Silence is his magnum opus. Even if the film fails to get a best picture nomination, Marty could still end up with a best director nom.

8. David Mackenzie – Hell or High Water

No Major Nominations

Granted, having David Mackenzie here is more wishful thinking than real possibility, I was incredibly impressed with his prowess and I know I’m not alone. If the Academy fully embraces Hell or High Water, this isn’t far outside the realm of possibility.

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Best Actor

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1. Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea

Nominations from: GG*, BAFTA, SAG

Casey Affleck has long been the best actor frontrunner for his fantastic work in Manchester by the Sea. I’ll admit, I expected Denzel’s more explosive performance to nose past Casey’s understated work by now, but Casey won the Golden Globe. If he takes the SAG next Sunday, the race is over. I’m honestly not sure who’s performance I prefer between the two of them, which means I’d be pretty fine with either winning. 

2. Denzel Washington – Fences

Nominations from: GG, SAG

Denzel is Denzel and he gives possibly his best performance in Fences. Add in the fact that he’s also directing (ding!) from a screenplay by respected (and deceased[ding!]) playwright, August Wilson (ding!) and we may have a winner. That would mean Denzel joins the ranks of the three-Oscar-winners, a small club including Jack Nicholson, Meryl Streep, and Daniel Day-Lewis that many believe he should belong to. The power of all that may still topple Casey in the end. But first, lets see what SAG has to say.

3. Ryan Gosling – La La Land

Nominations from: GG*, BAFTA, SAG

Gosling may not be the best thing in La La Land but he’s also not really supposed to be, because despite being a lead character, he’s not our protagonist. That’s Emma Stone’s Mia. Gosling’s character Seb’s had just as complete an arc as hers, but his does not occur at the climax of the film. Therefore, his job to an extent is to support her and he does that magnificently. As a dancer, singer and especially pianist, he is the music she dances to. And Gosling pulls that off effortlessly. And I know that we don’t give acting awards for learning jazz-style piano, but it’s still damn impressive and deserves to be noted. 

4. Andrew Garfield – Hacksaw Ridge

Nominations from: GG, BAFTA, SAG

Garfield had the fortune of being in two of the biggest awards hopefuls of the year with Hacksaw Ridge and Silence. He gives fantastic and devastating performances in both of them,  playing a man of faith tested by violence and Japanese dudes. I initially expected him to get cited for Silence but he’s popped up in every precursor for Hacksaw. It doesn’t make a difference, really. He deserves it either way.

5. Viggo Mortensen – Captain Fantastic

Nominations from: GG, BAFTA, SAG

Initially, I don’t think anyone expected Viggo’s performance to pop up. He was in a smaller independent picture that made a little splash earlier in the year. As deserving as they often times are, those are not the performances that are routinely Oscar nominated. But the strength of Viggo’s performance has lasted the year and it looks like he’s on his way to nomination number two.

6. Joel Egerton – Loving

Nomination from: GG

What once seemed like a certainty is now only an outside chance. Joel Egerton gave a fantastic, quiet performance in Loving and unfortunately that type can sometimes go unrewarded. He’s a fantastic actor, though, and if he doesn’t sneak in this year, it’s only a matter of time before he’s cited for something else.

7. Jake Gyllenhaal – Nocturnal Animals

Nomination from: BAFTA

This was another one that I didn’t expect to pop up, but BAFTA nominated him among a Nocturnal Animals slew. Is that an odd event, or hints of a surprise? We shall see on nomination morning. Right now, I’m not expecting it. As great as Jake is, if he didn’t get in for Nightcrawler, he’s not getting in for this.

8. Tom Hanks – Sully

No Major Nominations

Many thought Hank’s Oscar dry spell had come to an end this year, but it appears as if those hopes were premature. Hanks is still one of the best working actors out there. He deserved two nominations in 2013 for Saving Mr. Banks  and Captain Phillips. In fact, I think the reason he didn’t get either was that he was so good in both and the votes canceled each other out. His work in Sully doesn’t match that and yet it’s only a matter of time before he will find a vehicle that will get him there. He, like Denzel, is hovering around that three-timers-club. 

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Best Actress

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1. Emma Stone – La La Land

Nominations from: GG*, BAFTA, SAG

Truly, we won’t know who the real front runner is until SAG and BAFTA weigh in, as Ms. Stone has yet to compete in category against most of the following, but starring in the film likely winning best picture is a good sign. Plus, as discussed before, she is the protagonist of the film, AND she absolutely nails it. Pair that with the fact that Oscar has had a trend recently of crowning promising young ingénues– Brie Larson (2016), Jennifer Lawrence (2013), Natalie Portman (2011)– and I think Stone’s our girl. Some may argue other performances were more technically impressive, and while I agree, I believe Stone lights up her film from beginning to end. We have to believe in Mia for the film to work and if it’s winning best picture in a sweep, then clearly the film works. That may not be the same skill as impersonating a voice or doing an accent, but it’s skillful nonetheless. Add in the dancing numbers during one takes and live singing, and she’s pretty hard to deny. 

2. Natalie Portman – Jackie

Nominations from: GG, BAFTA, SAG

Portman won this category only six years ago. Yet she has possibly exceeded that lauded performance here with her impeccable impersonation of Jackie Kennedy. She has won the majority of critics awards and is truly incredible in the film. But is six years too recent a win? It wasn’t for Hillary Swank (5 years) or Jodie Foster (3 years). Could Natalie join their ranks next month? It’s certainly a possibility. Though, losing the Globe could possibly be a sign of weakness.

3. Amy Adams – Arrival

Nominations from: GG, BAFTA, SAG

Good old Amy Adams. Is there anyone more consistent in consistently great projects than Amy Adams? Anyone who has used her success to choose better projects (BvsS notwithstanding)? Over the last eleven years, Amy Adams has been nominated five times. And that’s not including if she gets nominated here. That’s at least a nomination every two years. And in addition to her layered performance in this, she also did stellar work in Nocturnal Animals,  as well. And still no win. Kate Winslet won on her sixth nomination. Leo on his fifth. Are we really going to make Amy wait until her seventh?! Or could her work here not only transcend genre, but also transcend competition and come out with the gold? You’d hear no complaints from me. 

4. Meryl Streep – Forence Foster Jenkins

Nominations from: GG, BAFTA SAG

I somewhat resisted putting Meryl on my top five. She gives a performance every damn year that’s great, but within the pantheon of those great performances, I expected Florence Foster Jenkins to fall closer to Hope Springs than Doubt. Though she also got in for August: Osage County, so maybe this isn’t too surprising. I’m also flying blind here, because I haven’t seen it. Perhaps she’s spectacular. She usually is, even if she’s just reacting to something someone else is saying at an awards show. Even then, her performance is solid. So I guess I’m not so surprised since all they want is to make sure she’s at least in the crowd. Always in the crowd. 

5. Emily Blunt – The Girl on the Train

Nominations from: BAFTA, SAG

Due to the disappointing reception to the film The Girl on the Train as a whole, many (myself included) had thought once again Emily Blunt would come up short. But then she was cited by both BAFTA and SAG. There’s a very good chance she befalls the same fate as Jennifer Aniston from Cake and comes up short nomination morning, even after receiving promising precursors. But maybe she’ll just be so good for so long that they won’t care what they finally recognize her for. Academy Award Nominee Emily Blunt has been a long time coming.

6. Annette Benning – 20th Century Women

Nomination from: GG

If there’s anyone in this category more overdue than Amy Adams, it’s this magical lady right here. Thrice she’s been courted by Oscar. He nearly gave her his rose the first two times before Hilary Swank came in at the last minute and stole it (both times!). Her work in 20th Century Women has been lauded as some of her best and some of the best of the year. Were she to get nominated, she could very possibly win based on overdue status alone. But she has to get in first.

7. Isabelle Huppert – Elle

Nomination from: GG*

The Meryl Streep of France, as she’s been called, pulled off a surprise victory at the Golden Globes over Natalie Portman, Amy Adams, and Ruth Negga. Could she bypass a couple of them for Oscar recognition? Her work in Paul Verhooven’s Elle is some of her best in a long and very successful career. 

8. Ruth Negga – Loving

Nomination from: GG

Like her counterpart, Joel Egerton, Ruth Negga falls prey to Loving‘s faltering buzz. She also has to contend with possibly the strongest category out of all the actors. Any of the women above her could conceivably win (besides Emily and Meryl), which sadly leaves Negga too low on the totem pole.

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Best Supporting Actor

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1. Mahershala Ali – Moonlight

Nominations from: GG, BAFTA, SAG

The universal victor among critics awards and perceived frontrunner, Mahershala Ali, will likely be at least one of the Oscars Moonlight wins. He was passed over at the Globes which was surprising but not half as surprising as by whom. Once SAG and BAFTA have their say, we’ll have a much better idea, but until then, he’s the one to beat.

2. Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water

Nominations from: GG, BAFTA SAG

You give Jeff Bridges a script as good as Hell or High Water and a character as three dimensional as Marus Hamilton, and you’re basically handing him an Oscar nomination. The fact that he turned it into one of the best performances of the year is not surprising at all. The only question is, can he take home the gold again? We’ll know more after the precursors, but very likely if it’s not Ali, it’s him.

3. Hugh Grant – Florence Foster Jenkins

Nominations from: BAFTA, SAG

Is it too soon to say that Hugh Grant is Colin Firth-ing himself? Academy Award nominee Hugh Grant is a start. But is this the role that can make him a winner or is his King’s Speech yet to come? 

4. Dev Patel – Lion

Nominations from: GG, BAFTA, SAG

Dev Patel likely just missed out on a nomination when he played the grown version of an impoverished Indian boy searching for his girlfriend. Now it looks like he’ll finally secure one playing the grown version of an impoverished Indian boy searching for his mother. It’s trivial to compare them, that being basically their only similarity. And Patel’s work in the film is solid. 

5. Aaron Taylor-Johnson – Nocturnal Animals

Nominations from: GG*, BAFTA

Here was another huge surprise, even after seeing Nocturnal Animals. Nothing against Taylor-Johnson’s work which was quite good, but the supporting performance that stood out to me in that movie was Michael Shannon. Still, Taylor-Johnson pulled off a surprise win at the Globes (how?!idontknow!!) and later secured a BAFTA nom. Granted, he’s British and they like you for that over there. Still, he’s the most logical choice for now.

6. Lucas Hedges – Manchester by the Sea

Nomination from: SAG

Lucas Hedges does some truly fantastic work in Manchester by the Sea and if that movie hits hard he could easily find himself among the nominees. SAG recognized his work, but SAG recognizes younger actors the Academy passes over often– Jacob Tremblay (2016), Dev Patel (2009), Freddie Highmore (2005), Hayden Christiansen (2001), Jaime Bell (2001). Can he buck the trend?

7. Michael Shannon – Nocturnal Animals

No Major Nominations

Honestly I’m not sure how this performance hasn’t gotten more traction. This dude can act. I wouldn’t be shocked at all to hear his name called Tuesday morning. Apparently, however, Taylor-Johnson will carry the torch for Nocturnal Animals.

8. Ben Foster – Hell or High Water

No Major Nominations

There is not a single supporting performance this year I had been more passionate about than Ben Foster in Hell or High Water. This guy is a chameleon and I think he’s only a couple roles away from an Oscar of his own. Jeff Bridges took most of the mentions for Hell or High Water but in many critics nominations, both he and Foster popped up. It would be ideal if Oscar followed suit, but I’m not sure he or the film have the buzz to pull that off. 

9. Hugo Weaving – Hacksaw Ridge

No Major Nominations

Okay. So he hasn’t shown up in a single precursor award critical or guild thus far, but Hugo Weaving is a respected actor and he does solid work in this film. If the Academy were to go ham for Hacksaw Ridge (which I think is a real possibility, considering how many nominations American Sniper got out of the blue two years ago) I wouldn’t be surprised to see Weaving sneak in. It’s just the type of performance Oscar loves. Call me crazy. Maybe I am. But it could happen.

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Best Supporting Actress

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1. Viola Davis – Fences

Nominations from: GG*, BAFTA, SAG

Is there a more certain category in this race? I don’t think so. Truthfully, Viola was probably going to win even if they campaigned her for best actress where she won the Tony for this performance in 2010. Not only is she that good but she’s also that respected and overdue. When they decided to campaign her here, every other supporting actress resigned to their fate as a runner up. Viola is gold and in just over a month she will be crowned.

2. Michelle Williams – Manchester by the Sea

Nominations from: GG, BAFTA, SAG

Which is almost a shame because as much as I love Viola and want her to win, if she had went lead, she still probably would have won, but Michelle Williams here would have also won in this category. Michelle Williams is another wonderful actress who is very overdue for recognition. She would have won this in a walk if Viola had stayed lead, but nomination number four is still impressive.

3. Naomi Harris – Moonlight

Nominations from: GG, BAFTA, SAG

Naomi Harris pulls off something really incredible in Moonlight. She is the only actor in all three chapters which makes her the glue that holds the whole story together. On top of that, she shot all her scenes from three different time periods in three days. It’s an incredible achievement and very deserving of this honor.

4. Nicole Kidman – Lion

Nominations from: GG, BAFTA, SAG

Kidman gives another powerful, maternal performance in Lion. She is in a lot of ways the heart of the movie and has one of the most powerful speeches. She’s a former Oscar favorite still doing solid work. Expect that all to translate to nomination number four.

5. Octavia Spencer – Hidden Figures

Nominations from: GG, SAG

A winner for The Help a couple years ago, Octavia Spencer has continued to make exciting career choices very nearly securing a second nomination in years since. This role finally seems the one to get her over the top. Supporting actress this year (most years) is one of the more predictable categories. If there’s one I’m expecting to go five-for-five, it’s this one. But Oscar could always throw us a curve.

6. Greta Gerwig – 20th Century Women

No  Major Nominations

Lauded for her role in this and Jackie this year, Greta Gerwig has been a respected up and coming actor for a few years now. If 20th Century Women and Annette Benning had been more of a force this year, Gerwig would have had more of a shot getting pulled in. As it stands now, maybe next year.

7. Janelle Monae – Hidden Figures

No Major Nominations

A relative newcomer to acting who gave two great performances in two films this year. If Hidden Figures hits really big, she could definitely get pulled in with the current. As it stands, Octavia seems to be getting the majority of the references here. 

8. Molly Shannon – Other People

No Major Nominations

Keeping the wonderful Molly Shannon on the list is more wishful thinking than actual hope of a nomination. Which is a shame, because she totally deserves it, giving a devastating performance in Other People. Sadly, the film was just too small to gain the traction it needed. 

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Best Adapted Screenplay

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1. Barry Jenkins – Moonlight

Nominations from: GG, BAFTA, WGA

This is the one award that I believe is guaranteed to Moonlight. It’s based on an unproduced play, In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, which is why it’s popping up in Original Screenplay most places. Adapted means adapted from previously published works. Nonetheless, the Academy ruled it as Adapted, which is actually great. It takes it out of the sights of La La Land  and Manchester by the Sea, where it has a real chance of winning.

2. Eric Heisserer – Arrival

Nominations from: BAFTA, WGA

One of the most impressive aspects about a very impressive film is Eric Heisserer’s incredible screenplay. It’s subtle, interesting and evocative. It shows us all the pieces of the puzzle early before showing us how to put them together. It’s quite astounding work. 

3. August Wilson – Fences

Nominations from: WGA

August Wilson died several years ago, but he adapted the screenplay to his stage play, Fences before he went. Being considered one of the great playwrights, a nomination here is not only expected, but deserved. 

4. Luke Davies – Lion

Nominations from: BAFTA

Lion is likely to get northwards of five nominations and one of its most certain is here. Davies script is powerful and moving, and makes you really feel for Saroo. Its explanation for the title at the end is the cherry on top of a great script.

5. Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi – Hidden Figures

Nominations from: BAFTA, WGA

Despite coming late to the race, Hidden Figures is looking to hit hard with best picture and supporting actress nominations. Expect it to pop up here unless something else sneaks in past it. 

6. Tom Ford – Nocturnal Animals

Nominations from: GG, BAFTA, WGA

This is one of the very few scripts nominated by all precursors. Am I foolish for leaving it off? Perhaps. As I said before, Nocturnal Animals hitting harder than predicted would not be that surprising or that undeserving. Let’s see if Oscars liked it as much as BAFTA did.

7. Andrew Knight and Robert Schenkkan – Hacksaw Ridge

Nominations from: BAFTA

Another inspiring true story brought to life with a really powerful screenplay. If Hacksaw hits hard, this nomination is not too far out of its grasp.

8. Jeff Nichols – Loving

Nominations from: WGA 

This one is also wholly dependent on how much the Academy liked the movie. If it gets in for Picture, a screenplay nom should follow. But if it falls short like it’s looking, it probably won’t be happening.

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Best Original Screenplay

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1. Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester by the Sea

Nominations from: GG, BAFTA, WGA

Here is the best shot for Manchester by the Sea to take home an award. The screenplay has been lauded since its debut. The only thing possibly in its way is La La Land.

2. Damien Chazelle – La La Land

Nominations from: GG*, BAFTA, WGA

La La Land looks like it’s heading toward a real sweep. Because of that, screenplay could easily be pulled in. It won the Globe. Will Oscar follow? Or will they prefer Lonergan’s quiet screenplay about grief. It’s worth mentioning no musical has won a best screenplay award in decades.

3. Taylor Sheridan – Hell or High Water

Nominations from: GG, BAFTA, WGA

Having written this and last year’s Sicario, Taylor Sheridan is clearly a talent to watch. He missed out on a nomination last year, but this year he looks to get his deserved reward.

4. Efthimis Fillippou & Yorgos Lathimos – The Lobster

No Major Nominations

So I’m kinda going out on a limb here. While The Lobster was fantastic with a great screenplay, it also played very early in the year and was quite weird. Still, it’s just the kind of screenplay the Academy would recognize. It’s smart, funny and cleverly creates an entire world. 

5. Matt Ross – Captain Fantastic

No Major Nominations

This is another one that’s a bit of a long shot, but if Viggo gets in and the film is as strong as the SAG ensemble mention suggests, it’s a real possibility. 

6. Jared Bush & Phil Johnston – Zootopia

No Major Nominations

Zootopia would be a very deserving inclusion here. It has one of the better, more nuanced screenplays of the year, despite being animated. Shrek is the last (and only) non-Pixar animated film to receive a best screenplay nomination, so this would be a great pick.

7. Mike Mills – 20th Century Women

No Major Nominations

Even though his actor won the Oscar, Mike Mills’ last film Beginners didn’t register on the Academy’s radar otherwise. Could 20th Century Women suffer the same fate? Or will it get completely shut out?

8. Nicholas Martin – Florence Foster Jenkins

No Major Nominations

This is mostly because I’m out of suggestions and Philomena got a surprise nomination a couple years ago. Maybe Frears followup will follow suit?

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 Best Animated Film

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1. Zootopia

Nominations from: GG*, BAFTA

While I was worried Moana would come in at the last minute and steal all the thunder, it looks as if now, almost a year after it was released, Zootopia is still the frontrunner. It’s an incredible film that’s wholly deserving. But is it as deserving as…

2. Kubo and the Two Strings

Nominations from: GG, BAFTA

I have rarely seen a more beautiful and epic animated film than Kubo and the Two Strings. Made with stop motion, this story about a boy trying to find his family is easily Laika’s strongest work yet in an already impressive oeuvre. Laika has yet to win the Oscar and I can’t think of a better film to finally give it to them. However, it doesn’t have quite the popularity or money behind it as the Disney machine, so it’ll probably be overlooked.

3. Moana

Nominations from: GG, BAFTA

The Frozen of this year, albeit a lesser version. I thought it would come in with its strong female protagonist and Lin Manuel Miranda-produced songs and dance away with everyones heart. Luckily that was not the case. We’re not at the point where we’re giving Oscars to movies with Dwayne the Rock Johnson in them yet, right? Okay, good.

4. The Red Turtle

No Major Nominations

Another highly lauded film from Studio Ghibli. I honesty don’t know much more about it besides that and likely a red turtle pops up somewhere.

5. Finding Dory

Nomination from: BAFTA

The biggest movie of last year. The return of one of our favorite characters of all time in the lead role! Finding Dory had a lot going for it. It’s a good film, but solidly middle-range Pixar. Still think it has enough legs to get a mention here.

6. Miss Hokusai

No Major Nominations

I don’t even know what this is. I just know it’s by GKIDS and they somehow wind up with at least one nomination every year, so I’m putting this here to pretend like I’m calling a surprise.

7. The Little Prince

No Major Nominations

Netflix solo entry into the race. I haven’t seen it but I read the book as a kid. Does name recognition have what it takes to get it mentioned?

8. Sausage Party

No Major Nominations

Alright, I’m just filling slots here. This probably isn’t happening… as cool as it would be.

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——————–

Well, there we go. I hope this was as informative as it was enjoyable for you! Oscar nominations will be out Tuesday morning and we will see how close I was.

Thoughts? Questions? Critiques? Leave a comment or contact me on Twitter!

Author: Radcliff Weir, @radcliffweir

Follow us on Twitter @AllDayEveryWeek

*-denotes winner

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