Hell or High Water
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea
La La Land is the clear front runner, lots of strong precursor traction, large nomination total, big box office, should walk away with this easy.
I will say that there is enough divisiveness that if Moonlight won, I would not be surprised, but I am not sure there is the same level of divisiveness that prevented The Revenant from winning, but again I am tempted to go out on a limb here but I will stay safe this year>
Will Win: La La Land
Personal Pick: Moonlight
Damien Chazelle-La La Land
Mel Gibson-Hacksaw Ridge
Kenneth Lonergan-Manchester by the Sea
Chazelle has this in the bag; he is well liked and respected. I am a bit surprised Barry Jenkins did not win at least one major prize, but with a BAFTA snub Moonlight never had a chance to claim a director prize. I think Chazelle has grown as a director, although I hated Whiplash, but he is talented.
Will Win: Damien Chazelle-La La Land
Personal Pick: Barry Jenkins-Moonlight
Emma Stone-La La Land
Meryl Streep-Florence Foster Jenkins
Based on the typical Best Actress aesthetic, Stone has this in the bag, she would be also be the first Lead Actress winner from a traditional movie musical since Liza Minnelli in Cabaret (I do not count Coal Miner's Daughter or Walk the Line as traditional movie musicals).
Stone is lovely in La La, and a talented actress. Many are championing Portman as the threat, but I do not see it, I think Huppert or even Ruth Negga are the only challengers. I am picking these two because they are lone nominations for their films, and people truly respect both performances. I do not think either stands a chance, but they are the challengers.
Will Win: Emma Stone-La La Land
Personal Pick: Isabelle Huppert-Elle
Casey Affleck-Manchester by the Sea
Andrew Garfield-Hacksaw Ridge
Ryan Gosling-La La Land
Viggo Mortensen-Captain Fantastic
One of the toughest races to predict, which appears to be between Washington and Affleck, although never under estimate that strong support for both of these men could lead to surprise.
Washington has SAG on his side, they have picked the last 12 winners in this category. His campaign in Oscar phase two was strong, he directed the film, and gave a tour de force performance. Washington's snub at BAFTA is glaring, especially since BAFTA nominated Viola Davis and picked her to win, this is my big hesitation with his win.
Affleck won the Globe, BAFTA, and almost every critics award.
Based on the tone of the times and the baggage of Affleck's personal stuff I am leaning to Washington, it would be a crowning achievement for him, and it's his best performance I have ever seen him do.
Watch out for Gosling in a sweep, but I think (hope) the Academy will be more discerning.
Will Win: Denzel Washington-Fences
Personal Pick: Casey Affleck-Manchester (but either of the two deserve it)
Best Supporting Actress
Octavia Spencer-Hidden Figures
Michelle Williams-Manchester by the Sea
Will Win: Viola Davis-Fences (should be in lead besting Stone, because she would have)
Personal Pick: Michelle Williams-Manchester by the Sea
Best Supporting Actor
Jeff Bridges-Hell or High Water
Lucas Hedges-Manchester by the Sea
Michael Shannon-Nocturnal Animals
Ali v. Patel, and while many pundits are right, Patel has a shot since he won BAFTA, I think there is one glaring difference. Lion was clearly much more of a BAFTA film, it was nominated for more awards than Moonlight (without Best Film) and won two prizes that night, including Adapted Screenplay.
I do have more confidence than most that this prize will go to Ali, i would not be surprised if Patel won, based on the size of his role.
Will Win/Personal Pick: Mahershala Ali-Moonlight
Best Adapted Screenplay
Moonlight won Original Screenplay at WGA, that shows the strength it needed to help make this prediction a little easier. I could see Arrival or Lion sneaking in here too.
Will Win: Moonlight
Personal Pick: Arrival
Best Original Screenplay
20th Century Women
Hell or High Water
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea
It would be a travesty if La La Land won this in a sweep, the script is the weakest part of this well directed, visually lovely movie. I could see it winning, but Oscar voters tend to go a little high brow, or artsy in Screenplay, this is where Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind won.
With that said, and people will laugh or disagree I think Original Screenplay is between Hell or High Water and Manchester by the Sea. High Water is a film the Academy really seems to like, and this is one of the few places they could reward this film. I think it's strong.
Manchester won BAFTA, which shows some cross over support, but it's loss to Moonlight at WGA shows vulnerability. I am sticking with what makes the most sense, and going with Manchester by the Sea.
Will Win/Personal Pick: Manchester by the Sea
Best Documentary Feature: OJ: Made in America
Best Animated Feature: Zootopia
Best Foreign Language Feature: The Salesman
Best Cinematography: La La Land
Best Costume Design: Jackie
Best Film Editing: La La Land
Best Make-Up/Hair Styling: Star Trek Beyond
Best Production Design: Arrival
Best Original Score: La La Land
Best Original Song: Moana-How Far I'll Go
Best Sound Mixing: La La Land
Best Sound Editing: Hacksaw Ridge
Best Visual Effects: The Jungle Book
Best Animated Short: Piper
Best Documentary Short: The White Helmets
Best Live Action Short: Sing
I am going out on a ledge in a few of the technical categories, and had La La Land winning 7, which is makes sense to me, and is a fine total. I think the most it will win is 9.
My true "no guts no glory" down deep predictions are Hell or High Water in Original Screenplay, and Moonlight in Best Picture.