As we get ready for a night of Hollywood’s best and brightest shouting down a microphone, let’s take one last stab at getting the most irritatingly entertaining awards show right. It’s time for my final 2017 Oscar predictions. (UPDATE – I got 12/20, another drop from last year and Best Picture wrong for the third year in a row! (but I’m still very bitter about La La Land losing…) I’ll see you in 2018 for some hopefully more competent predictions!)
Prediction: La La Land
Could spoil the party: Moonlight, Manchester By The Sea
You’d think that La La Land‘s joint-record breaking 14 nominations, along with its almost universal critical acclaim, would put it miles ahead in the race for Best Picture this year, but it’s not as simple as that.
While I still think the Academy’s love for the movies will give it the top prize in the end (and also because I’m rooting for it so much), Damien Chazelle’s musical will face heavy competition from Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight and Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester By The Sea.
Moonlight’s unbelievably high acclaim, as well as the Academy’s continued desire to shake off criticisms of anti-black bias, gives it a huge chance of taking the most celebrated award of the night. Much like Spotlight‘s surprise win over The Revenant last year, the Academy may reward the smaller, less technical film with the main prize.
And then there’s the real dark horse: Manchester By The Sea. A powerfully depressing but beautifully directed, written and acted film, it stands a genuine chance of sneaking up and winning Best Picture in the end. An even smaller and more intimate film than Moonlight, this might just be the unexpected choice of all those voters wishing to go against the tide of La La Land.
Prediction: Damien Chazelle – La La Land
Could spoil the party: Barry Jenkins – Moonlight
Whilst the Best Picture race looks like a tight battle right to the end, Best Director has been pretty much sewn up for a long time.
It looks like a simple win for Damien Chazelle for La La Land, on the virtue of his bringing back a beloved classic genre to Hollywood in spectacular fashion, as well as the acclaim he received for Whiplash in 2014.
That said, Barry Jenkins could cause an upset here. Moonlight is an undoubtedly beautifully directed film, with some powerfully haunting images that stick in the mind weeks after, and there’s always the possibility that, if La La Land wins Best Picture, the Academy could want to split the winnings between these two frontrunners.
Prediction: Casey Affleck – Manchester By The Sea
Could spoil the party: Denzel Washington – Fences
Whilst he’s definitely been the frontrunner in the Best Actor race right from the start, Casey Affleck’s journey to the biggest prize of all has taken a bit of a hit over the last month.
Affleck has still been picking up awards left, right and centre, and still remains my personal top pick for Best Actor, but in comparison to the Golden Globes over a month ago, he faces incredibly strong competition from Denzel Washington for his performance in the drama Fences.
Whilst the film doesn’t hold a candle to Manchester By The Sea, Washington has been gaining more and more momentum over the past few weeks to take the ultimate award, and the third Oscar of his career. It’ll be very close, and impossible to tell until the announcement on Sunday, but I think Affleck will just edge Washington out in the end.
Prediction: Isabelle Huppert – Elle
Could spoil the party: Natalie Portman – Jackie, Emma Stone – La La Land
My oh my. A category that looked entirely sewn up two months ago has turned into one of the most unpredictable, closest and craziest races for Best Actress we’ve ever seen. Somehow, absolutely anything can happen.
Sparked by Isabelle Huppert’s shock victory at the Golden Globes, Natalie Portman was knocked off her seemingly unassailable perch, whilst La La Land’s endless acclaim has brought Emma Stone into the picture as well.
All three performances are stunning in my opinion, but when it comes to the eventual award, I’m predicting a major upset. Isabelle Huppert is an actress with a legendary stature, and has never been so close to such an internationally-recognised award. Her performance in Elle is arguably her best, and undoubtedly deserves all the plaudits it has received, which is why I think she’ll just take the victory here.
But it’s just as likely that Natalie Portman will win for her incredible role in Jackie. Portman is a favourite of critics and fans across the world, and this is easily one of her greatest performances, putting her in prime position to win the prize. Historical figures are always a great way to get to the Academy’s hearts, and when it’s someone as beloved as Jackie Kennedy, then there’s a huge chance that she’ll be winning Best Actress on Sunday night.
And then there’s Emma Stone. Seemingly out of nowhere, Stone has been tipped as the favourite for this award, after taking the Globe for Comedy, BAFTA, and a whole host of other awards. I think the Academy are ready to give La La Land enough awards this weekend that they’ll just pass over Emma Stone, but her performance is so good, and one of the biggest parts of the best film of the year, that it’s entirely possible that she could win too.
In short, I have no idea what’s going to happen in this category, so watch this space for a thrilling conclusion.
Best Supporting Actor
Prediction: Mahershala Ali – Moonlight
Could spoil the party: Dev Patel – Lion
After Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s shock snub as a part of the Oscars’ almost universal omission of Nocturnal Animals, Supporting Actor looks like an open goal for Moonlight’s Mahershala Ali, and rightly so.
While there are some more strong performances throughout this category, none really stands up to Ali’s fleeting appearance in Moonlight as Chiron’s mentor at a young age. It’s the very definition of a supporting performance, one that’s not on screen for all that long, but plays a huge part in the overall story, and Ali pulls it off exceptionally well.
However, there are rumblings that he doesn’t have this category entirely done and dusted. Dev Patel’s performance in Lion has picked up a few supporting awards, including at the BAFTAs and AACTAs in Australia. Some debate the ‘supporting’ nature of his performance, but he’s in the category now, and that’s what matters, but it would still be a real shock for Mahershala Ali to lose out on the award come Sunday night.
Best Supporting Actress
Prediction: Viola Davis – Fences
Could spoil the party: Naomie Harris – Moonlight
Of all the major categories this year, Supporting Actress looks like the most of a foregone conclusion. Although Viola Davis’ position as a ‘supporting’ actress in Fences is up for debate, her performance is undoubtedly great, best remembered for an intensely emotional outburst shown in the picture above.
Davis has picked up almost all of the awards throughout the season, and it’d be an immense shock to see anyone else taking a first well-deserved Oscar off of her.
If there is to be an upset in this category, however, it’s most likely to come from Naomie Harris for her performance in Moonlight. A slightly quieter performance that’s also remembered for the image of a terrifying tirade right to camera, Harris was the favourite for this category a couple of months ago, and whilst it’s incredibly unlikely to see her win, Moonlight’s far higher acclaim over Fences keeps her just in the picture.
Best Original Screenplay
Prediction: Manchester By The Sea
Could spoil the party: La La Land
This should be a pretty simple win for Manchester By The Sea. Although there are some very strong original screenplays in the category, Kenneth Lonergan’s drama is an absolute rarity in modern Hollywood.
You may say that family dramas are commonplace, and that is indeed true, but how long has it been since we last saw a truly riveting, emotionally devastating and still beautifully understated family drama? The screenplay for Manchester By The Sea makes a 137 minute-long series of conversations and arguments beyond enthralling to watch, something that undoubtedly deserves all the plaudits it’s receiving.
If you want to look elsewhere for an Original Screenplay winner, then La La Land would be your best bet. Musicals aren’t normally the sort of film that will yield screenplay nods, but such is the love for this film that it could always romp to victory in an unlikely category. It’s a very strong screenplay, especially as far as musicals go, but when it comes to the night, I can’t see it topping Manchester By The Sea.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Could spoil the party: Hidden Figures, Lion, Arrival
Unfortunately, the screenplay categories this year don’t look all that unpredictable. Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight looks set to take a simple win in the Adapted category, and for pretty good reason.
Moonlight has won huge acclaim from across the critical board, but with the likelihood of La La Land taking the big categories of Director and Picture, the Academy will definitely be looking for a way to award Moonlight as a whole, and a sure-fire Adapted Screenplay win is just the way to do that.
Of course, if Moonlight somehow didn’t win in the end, then its closest competitors would all be champing at the bit to take the crown. Whilst Arrival would probably be a fan favourite, betting markets put Hidden Figures in a strong second place, with Lion also in the picture for a shock win. In reality, however, this category looks all sewn up with a win for Moonlight.
Best Animated Feature
Could spoil the party: Kubo And The Two Strings, Moana
It’s all change in the Animated category this year. Pixar and Ghibli are nowhere to be seen (The Red Turtle doesn’t really count), whilst Disney has two films in the running alongside a return to form for Laika.
Of Disney’s two runners and riders, Zootopia looks set to take the win in the end, thanks to its politically and socially conscious story that impressed audiences across the globe, making it one of Disney’s biggest hits in its record-breaking year at the box office.
If Zootopia is to be toppled, then we look again to Disney with Moana, another film in the vein of classic princess stories with a modern twist. As far as animation goes, Moana is arguably the best of the category, although that will spark some debate from fans of Laika’s beautiful Kubo And The Two Strings, which is even up for Best Visual Effects.
However, those two movies don’t quite have the same depth as Zootopia, and that’s what the Academy looks more for in a film than quality of animation, which is why it’s pretty certain that it’ll take the win in the end.
Best Foreign Language Film
Prediction: Toni Erdmann
Could spoil the party: The Salesman
A surprisingly close race here for Best Foreign Language Film, something we haven’t seen in quite a few years. Germany’s Toni Erdmann looks like it’s still the favourite following wins left, right and centre, and probably a safe bet for the time being.
However, Iran’s The Salesman has gained high praise from those who have seen it, and there’s always the chance that the Academy will want to make a bit of a political statement following the director’s boycotting of the Oscars after President Trump’s controversial travel ban. It’s the sort of thing that would grab headlines, and could feasibly come off.
My personal choice for the prize would still be Sweden’s A Man Called Ove, which is also nominated for Best Makeup & Hairstyling. Given the lack of interest in that category, it could win there to make up for losing here, but for me, this is the one that should be beating Toni Ermann in the end, although it’s very unlikely to happen.
The Rest Of The Feature Film Awards
Best Cinematography: La La Land
Best Original Score: La La Land
Best Original Song: City Of Stars – La La Land
Best Production Design: La La Land
Best Costume Design: La La Land
Best Makeup & Hairstyling: Star Trek Beyond
Best Sound Mixing: La La Land
Best Sound Editing: Hacksaw Ridge
Best Editing: La La Land
Best Visual Effects: The Jungle Book
PREDICTED FINAL AWARDS TALLY
- La La Land – 9 awards
- Manchester By The Sea – 2 awards
- Moonlight – 2 awards
- Fences – 1 award
- Elle – 1 award
- Zootopia – 1 award
- Toni Erdmann – 1 award
- Star Trek Beyond – 1 award
- Hacksaw Ridge – 1 award
- The Jungle Book – 1 award
Thanks for reading my 2017 Oscar predictions, make sure you tune into the 89th Academy Awards on 26th February from 5:30pm PST. (You can watch the ceremony in the UK from 1:30am GMT on Sky Movies Oscars).