Who will win at the Oscars?
Although it seems like this year is going to be a one-sided competition at the Oscars, especially when compared to last year's contenders, having more than 10 nominations mean little if you don't actually win anything. Even with the odds much in favour to "La La Land", it is also the perfect setup for surprises and upsets since we will never know what direction the Academy is voting in.
So while there may be a few categories that look like dull competitions, we are hoping that the results would be more exciting and surprising than we expect.
For now, here are our predictions of the winners for the 2017 Oscars.
Best Visual Effects
The Winner: "The Jungle Book"
In a year with some of the best settings for showcasing the cutting edge of visual effects in Hollywood today, this is a competition between blockbuster tentpoles with one odd but welcomed entry. While it is highly commendable that Laika's innovative blend of stop-motion animation and digital effects is only the second time that an animated feature is being added to the competition, we think it is unlikely that it could beat the touted innovations brought about by the Moving Picture Company, Weta Digital and Jim Henson's Creature Shop for motion capture and key framing in "The Jungle Book" that has booked its win from the Visual Effects Society award.
"The Jungle Book"
"Kubo and the Two Strings"
"Rogue One: A Star Wars Story"
The Winner: "Lion"
One of the first major technical categories to indicate for the Best Picture, "La La Land"'s Linus Sandgren is not expecting to get an easy win despite the momentum that the title has behind it. The nominees in this year's competition for this category has produced some of the most breathtaking visuals the year has seen (including the only nomination for Martin Scorsese's "Silence"), but the cinematographer's branch may have already spoken after giving the American Society of Cinematographers award to Greig Fraser's majestic work for "Lion".
"La La Land"
The Winner: "Arrival"
Another major technical category that helps the odds for getting the Best Picture, this category will be seeing both the frontrunners from the American Cinema Editors Eddie awards competing for one single golden statuette. While a win here for "La La Land" will land a vital supporting win on its road to Best Picture, but we think the circular cutting of Joe Walker between past, present and future for Denis Villeneuve's "Arrival" would be more favoured by the editors' branch.
"Hell or High Water"
"La La Land"
The Winner: "OJ: Made in America"
Despite the coloured nominations that have dominated the category this year, only one out of the 3 black subject documentaries has consistently come up on top from other award circuits. Already awarded as the best documentary from the Producers Guild of America, the Directors Guild of America and the American Cinema Editors, "OJ: Made in America's" win on Oscar night is almost too certain.
"Fire at Sea"
"I Am Not Your Negro"
"O.J.: Made in America"
Best Animated Feature
The Winner: "Zootopia"
In a year when an entry from a powerhouse like Pixar has been locked out from the competition, you can tell that this is probably one of the fiercest competitions the category has had since it became its own category in 2001. Although there's plenty of reason to root once again for the underdogs from Laika and the independent work of Michael Dudok de Wit's silent but humanising "The Red Turtle" (which carries the spirit of Studio Ghibli), we think that the chances for "Zootopia" to win is even stronger, not just because it won the Annie Awards, but also given its new relevance to the politics that is happening back at home.
"Kubo and the Two Strings"
"My Life as a Zucchini"
"The Red Turtle"
Best Foreign Film
The Winner: "Toni Erdmann"
Although there have been many potential candidates that were expected to be on this nominations list, we did not think the turnout to be like this. Barring the curious exclusion of Paul Verhoeven's "Elle" which put Isabelle Huppert in the (much deserved) race for Best Actress, all except for Australia's first nominated foreign entry, has had equal levels of praise and acclaim to back their wins. A win for Asghar Farhadi's "The Salesman" would set the perfect platform for Asghar's voice against Trump's immigration policies, but it could also go to the European Film Awards winner "Toni Erdmann" to dodge that political bullet.
"Land of Mine"
"A Man Called Ove"
Best Supporting Actress
The Winner: Viola Davis
With barely enough names to make this category, this is an exact repeat of the race at the Screen Actors Guild awards for the same category. We don't see any reason why the members of the Academy would change their minds on creating the same outcome from that race or to deny Viola Davis her first Oscar.
Viola Davis, "Fences"
Naomie Harris, "Moonlight"
Nicole Kidman, "Lion"
Octavia Spencer, "Hidden Figures"
Michelle Williams, "Manchester by the Sea"
The Winner: Emma Stone
With none of the other SAG contenders here able to stop Emma Stone from her victory at that award, the only possible exception is for Isabelle Huppert to take that Oscar from right under her. A loss here would mean a major blow for "La La Land", but we think that the city of stars will be built for Emma on Oscar night.
Isabelle Huppert, "Elle"
Ruth Negga, "Loving"
Natalie Portman, "Jackie"
Emma Stone, "La La Land"
Meryl Streep, "Florence Foster Jenkins"
Best Supporting Actor
The Winner: Mahershala Ali
While 2016 had a number of strong male leading roles, it was a little lacking in the supporting department. With a surprising change of Michael Shannon being in the Oscars instead of Hugh Grant at the SAG awards, we don't think that Shannon's performance would be able to put a dent on Mahershala Ali's chances of repeating his win at the Oscars.
Mahershala Ali, "Moonlight"
Jeff Bridges, "Hell or High Water"
Lucas Hedges, "Manchester by the Sea"
Dev Patel, "Lion"
Michael Shannon, "Nocturnal Animals"
The Winner: Denzel Washington
One of the most unpredictable and crucial competition on Oscar night being a major category that could indicate Best Picture, when early momentum seemed to be going for Casey Affleck and Ryan Gosling, the SAG tossed the race to the wind by awarding their accolade to Denzel Washington. While we are putting our faith that the SAG and the Academy branch have more in common, but we will not discount that the regained momentum for Affleck gained from BAFTA could change things.
Casey Affleck, "Manchester by the Sea"
Andrew Garfield, "Hacksaw Ridge"
Ryan Gosling, "La La Land"
Viggo Mortensen, "Captain Fantastic"
Denzel Washington, "Fences"
The Winner: Damien Chazelle, "La La Land"
It was probably the ambitious vision of Damien Chazelle of trying to recreate the classical musical that gave him his first win from the Directors Guild of America on his first nomination. Although Mel Gibson's nomination is the only exception from that list in the DGA, we see it as more of a recognition over his past sins at best, and not meant to stumble Damien's walk up to the podium.
Denis Villeneuve, "Arrival"
Mel Gibson, "Hacksaw Ridge"
Damien Chazelle, "La La Land"
Kenneth Lonergan, "Manchester by the Sea"
Barry Jenkins, "Moonlight"
The Winner: "La La Land"
Having 14 nominations is not an enviable position for "La La Land" since there have been movies that went in with almost as many nominations but came up empty by the end of the evening. Although that's not the fate we see for "La La Land", but its grip on the major categories that would support its win for the Best Picture is not secured. Still, "La La Land" is also in a unique position that it could scrape with just barely enough supporting wins to get the Best Picture, and there have definitely been previous winners that had done so with less. For now, the odds are strongly for "La La Land", but it could just as easily lose the most coveted prize of them all to either "Moonlight" or "Manchester by the Sea" (and any other winner would be a tremendous upset), if not enough Academy voters put "La La Land" as their second favourite on the ballot.
"Hell or High Water"
"La La Land"
"Manchester by the Sea"
The 89th Academy Awards will be held in Los Angeles on 27 February 2017.
Cinema Online, 18 February 2017