At this point in the "Oscar season" I have seen one film that could be a contender for award show consideration in the main categories, and at this moment I would consider it a huge long shot. Hell or High Water is a fantastic film about the evolution those fighting to make ends meet, fighting to do right, while being saddled with the simple burdens of everyday life in America. Sounds like a contender. Hell still has a fighting chance, it will depend on the campaign. At the moment the strongest chances are in Supporting Actor for Jeff Bridges and Original Screenplay, but the latter is a very competitive category.
There are a couple big things hanging out there for Oscar predictions at the moment:
Will #OscarsSoWhite not be a thing this year?
There are four films yet to be released this year about the black/African American experience, Moonlight, Fences, Hidden Figures and Loving. Moonlight and Fences are both majority black cast and directed. Loving is about over turning the law preventing interracial marriage. Hidden Figures is about three black women and their impact on NASA.
Moonlight will be released in a limited capacity this month, and appears to be one of the best reviewed films of the year. Loving has also scored positive reviews, and lots of praise. While Fences and Hidden Figures has yet to be seen. There are two other films which have been officially released this year which also could be considered in some races and thy are Queen of Katwe, and Birth of a Nation. Katwe has solid reviews, and the heart, but the furthest I could see it going is maybe a Supporting Actress nomination for Lupita Nyong'o. Birth of a Nation was a predicted front runner back in February and March, but then it was released that star/director Nate Parker was involved in a sexual assault case in college, which has impacted the film's perception. Parker was actually found not guilty, but his words and other actions surrounding this case have not gone unnoticed. To get varying perspectives on this please listen Sasha Stone's podcast on awardsdaily.com and NPR's Code Switch podcast specifically about this issue.
There is obviously a lot of pressure on the Academy considering their increased measurement and they have to be waiting with bated breath. Honoring any combination of these films (more than one in Best Picture) would be a win. I think the next problem is that Hollywood does not make enough films the Latino/Hispanic experience, the Asian experience, the LGBT experience, hell there are rarely Best Picture nominees with a lead white women. 2015 had two, Room and Brooklyn, that's rare. Highlighting diversity and inclusion is always important, because representation matters. I hope Hollywood and the Academy (and prestige studios) start to push more realistic, well made stories about different people's lived experiences.
We still have not seen or head anything about you!
Yes Twitter, I heard that Scorsese is still in the editing room with Silence, and that it's his "masterpiece." The truth is that no one has seen the film yet.
Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk was recently seen by many critics/bloggers, and while last week many were predicting as a spoiler to La La Land (the presumptive front runner) the negative buzz cause it to tumble a lot! I am one person who has removed it from my predictions, but I could have been a bit knee jerk, you never know, after all Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close was a Best Picture nominee.
The other films which have not been seen yet, which may be huge contenders are Fences (mentioned above), Live by Night, and Hidden Figures. There is of course a danger in predicting the unknown, look at Unbroken, many were predicting up to 10 nominations, and the film floundered big time.
I like to play the hunch game, which films/performances do Oscar voters typically go for and will reviews matter, because they sometimes do not, again this time I will pick on The Blind Side.
I have laid out my predictions for the major categories (outside of screenplay). Films/performances that have been seen are ranked above any film or performance that has not been seen.
1-La La Land
2-Manchester by the Sea
20th Century Women
Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
Birth of a Nation
Hell or High Water
Live by Night
1-Damien Chazelle-La La Land
2-Kenneth Lonnergan-Manchester by the Sea
Ang Lee-Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
1-Casey Affleck-Manchester by the Sea
2-Ryan Gosling-La La Land
Robert DeNiro-The Comedian
Jake Gyllenhaal-Nocturnal Animals
Michael Keaton-The Founder
1-Emma Stone-La La Land
3-Annette Benning-20th Century Women
Amy Adams in Arrival and Nocturnal Animals
Jessica Chastain-Miss Sloane
Taraji P. Henson-Hidden Figures
Meryl Streep-Florence Foster Jenkins
1-Lucas Hedges-Manchester by the Sea
Jeff Bridges-Hell or High Water
Kyle Chandler-Manchester by the Sea
Aaron Eckheart-Bleed for This
Michael Shannon-Nocturnal Animals
Best Supporting Actress
2-Michelle Williams-Manchester by the Sea
3-Greta Gerwig-20th Century Women
5-Octavia Spencer-Hidden Figures
Viola Davis-Fences (category placement not determined)
Laura Dern-The Founder/Certain Women
Felicity Jones-A Monster Calls
Molly Shannon-Other People