Oscar History

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Final Oscar Predictions ! 

With the Oscars nearly upon us, it's time for final predictions. I've written up a lengthy piece for Towleroad which I hope you'll read and you can also compare my predictions to the other Gurus of Gold at Movie City News. I shan't reprint the whole thing here since we have all those charts you can peruse and months of articles on these very races. 

While nearly everyone expects La La Land to be the major champion of the night, I don't think it will be record breaking. Damien Chazelle’s popular musical would need 12 Oscars to beat the record of 11 which was set by Ben-Hur back in 1959 and then tied by both Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003) and Titanic (1997). West Side Story (1961), yours truly's all time favorite movie, is the runner up to "most wins" with 10. La La Land might tie West Side Story but I'm predicting 9 wins. That's still a lot mind you but it's not quite record breaking. The number of wins for a Best Picture seems to be trending downward in the modern era. The only really truly big hauls in the past twenty years have been for The English Patient (9 wins for 1996), Titanic (11 wins in 1997), Shakespeare in Love (7 wins for 1999), Return of the King which was a special case as they were obviously rewarding the whole trilogy (11 wins for 2003), and Slumdog Millionaire (8 wins for 2008). I can't see La La Land winning less than 8.

But let's divvy up the categories into sure things, probably sure things, and very unsure things...



Picture La La Land
Director Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Supporting Actress Viola Davis, Fences
Editing La La Land
Original Score La La Land
Sound Mixing La La Land (it might seem competitive but musicals win here)
Original Song "City of Stars," La La Land 


Actress Emma Stone, La La Land (potential spoiler: Huppert, Elle)
Cinematography La La Land (potential spoiler: Lion)
Production Design La La Land (potential spoiler: Fantastic Beasts)
Animated Feature Zootopia  (potential spoiler: Kubo )
Documentary OJ Made in America  (potential spoiler: I Am Not Your Negro )
Adapted Screenplay Moonlight  (potential spoiler: Arrival )
Original Screenplay Manchester by the Sea (potential spoiler: La La Land)
Visual Effects The Jungle Book (potential spoiler: Kubo)


Best Actor While an upset by Viggo Mortensen or Ryan Gosling would be great fun (and both of those careers are worthy of an Oscar win), this will be a photo finish between Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea) and Denzel Washington (Fences). I'm guessing that Casey has had a long enough headstart that Denzel's last minute surge won't quite do it. But it's so close perhaps it'll be a tie? Wouldn't that be something.

Best Supporting Actor Moonlight's Mahershala Ali lost at the Globes and at BAFTA which could mean he's been a soft frontrunner all along. On the other hand he's had a great campaign, a great year, a great SAG speech, and he was still fighting for it during the voting week. But because I force myself to make one semi-daring predictions a year (at least) I've decided to predict that Lion's Dev Patel really does prove to be a spoiler here. He's well liked, and the film is loved with by AMPAS members with little chance for it to win elsewhere.

Sound Editing Call me crazy but I really don't think La La Land is going to take both sound categories. I think voters will be checking it off in so many places that they go "hmmm" when they get to this category that usually goes for something more genre or action related. I suspect the race is between Hacksaw Ridge (my prediction) and Arrival (my preference though it seems likely to emerge from Hollywood's big night as the biggest loser with 0 wins from 8 nominations)

Foreign Film Toni Erdmann had the early lead, then The Salesman rose, and now fans of both A Man Called Ove and Land of Mine seem to be coming out of the woodwork. Tanna is just happy to be nominated but this one will go down to the wire. Nervous Prediction: The Salesman

Makeup and Hair I've heard reasoning behind wins for all three competitors Suicide Squad, A Man Called Ove, and Star Trek Beyond. But Oscar's most regularly baffling category remains baffling. Same as it ever was. Nervous Prediction: Star Trek Beyond

Costume Design While I personally think the costumes in La La Land deserve the win, my guess is many voters who love it will be wary of handing the win to a contemporary picture (they're so very focused on Most Costuming at the Oscars), so this could go any which way. It could actually be a five way race. Nervous Prediction: Jackie because Jackie Kennedy screams fashion in the public consciousness and that could be the tipping point factor. 

Shorts Categories Glenn wrote about the docs and Eric wrote about the animated shorts and the live action shorts. I'm still scrambling to finish watching them all (almost done with 2 of the 3 categories). Super nervous predictions which might all fail: White Helmets, Pearl, and Time Code. It's always hard to know what voters are thinking in the low profile categories. 



Overall Prediction: La La Land wins 9 and one other title (my guess is Manchester but it could be Moonlight or Fences instead) wins 2 Oscars. Every other film has to make due with 1 trophy or none. Happy Oscar watching!!!

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Reader Comments (29)

Well, technically La La Land can win the 14 nominations, in case of City of Stars and Audition TIE!

I am team La La Land and I want it to sweep big time.

February 25, 2017 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

I would love a Huppert/Gosling win. It's 8/1 and 11/1 respectively, and I'm so tempted to make an actual bet on them!! :D
Seriously though, I really think Huppert has this, and I know it's mostly wishful thinking, but Rampling and Riva didn't have the quite the sort of legendary status that Huppert has and voting against her would be embarrassing. I also think Gosling has it for reasons Nick stated on your podcast. It makes bizarre sense.

February 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAmandaBuffamonteezi

Ok, I want a sweep, but I want Portman to win best actress? I love La La Land but the leads are not the reason why I love it?

February 25, 2017 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

An Isabelle Huppert upset would immediately become my all-time favorite Oscar win! I first became a fan when you highlighted her work in THE PIANO TEACHER and mentioned her in the 2002 conversation, Nathaniel. Thank you for another great year of compulsively readable film and awards coverage!

February 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRyan Crowe

When one movie sweeps that means extra boredom so I really hope they don't overdo it on La La Land. (Plus I've only ever felt it's at best a solid B to B+ at best so there's that). Please don't let Moonlight go home empty-handed, fingers crossed to get the gold for Mahershala & Best Screenplay!

February 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRob

What about Original Screenplay?

February 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPaul

No original screenplay prediction?

February 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBecausewhynot

My money is on Ali, but wouldn't it be amusing to watch Michael Shannon gayharden himself to the podium? Having said that, I still can't understand how Jeff Bridges hasn't been considered a stronger contender this season. I think he's great in the movie.

Casey vs. Denzel -- I've been asking for such a close race for years, but this one turned ugly as most discussions do lately. If it only were acting methods what we were discussing!

February 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

We've not had a Marcia Gay Harden in the acting races for a while now.

February 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMARKGORDONUK

"Manchester by the Sea, which people perceive as a writer’s movie, is the safest bet."

You don't?(!)

February 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

I think timecode will win as well. Hoping for the biggest upset in Oscar history and moonlight wins three oscars - adapted screenplay supporting actor and best picture while la la land wins 8 or 9 still.

February 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph

I ❤️ that "gayharden" is a verb. The noun (namesake) must be so proud!

February 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMareko

Every time I talk to people about the Foreign Film race, I can't help thinking that Land of Mine is the traditional sure bet.

February 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

@Joseph -

i don't see it happening, but i would *love* it if moonlight won BP with only AS and BSA, with la la land taking home a bunch as well.

would also love to see huppert surprise. it would come close to making up for carol's best picture snub... a wound that will, of course, never fully heal.

February 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCharles O

GOSLING! That would be insanely awesome.

February 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBrad

Greg P. Russell has been booted out!

February 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterEz

I'm rooting for "La La Land" a magical movie that some people just don't get and the equally amazing "Kubo"

February 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

Totally unrealistic `Spread the Love' Oscar Wishes:

Pic: Moonlight
Director: Jenkins
Actor: Viggo
Actress: Ruth
Supp Actress: Viola
Supp Actor: Mahershala
Original Script: Manchester
Adapted: Arrival
Cinematography: Moonlight
Score: La La
Production design: La La
Song: La La
Editing: Arrival
Costume: Jackie
Sound Mix: Arrival
Sound Editing: Arrival
Makeup: I cant even with this category
Animated: Kubo
Foreign: Toni Erdmann

February 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel Hardy

* I understand that under the new preferential voting system a tie is actually impossible.
* I think Jeff Bridges was mediocre in Hell or High Water. His latest performances have all been a carbon copy of the previous one... gruffy, talking like he's John Wayne. If there was a deserving nominee in that movie it was Ben Foster!
* I say Washington, Stone, Davis and Ali... which would mean 3 black performers!
* I am going to be quite pissed off if Hacksaw Ridge does not get at least one of the Sound Oscars.
* I would love to see La La Land get only 6 awards. I chose the number randomly, just to reflect how much I feel the movie was overrated by Oscar. Mind you, I liked the movie, but 14 nominations? Come on... thank god it has no nomination-worthy supporting players, because then it would have become the film with the most Oscar nominations in history!

February 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMarcos

I still stand: Viola Davis is very limited as what she can do as an actress + it's a lead a LEAD performance...

February 25, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterstjeans

Lead Actor is toughest to predict. I'm going with my original prediction, Casey Affleck. But I would not be at all surprised to see Denzel win. I think his biggest hurdle is it would be his 3rd win, which would make him elite for acting. Coin toss.

February 25, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterbrandz

I tie isn't possible for Picture but possible for other categories.. I think there was a sound editing tie a few years ago

February 26, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterParanoid Android

Why 'editing' is 'locked up'? "LLL" lost BAFTA to "Hacksaw Ridge" and it might repeat at the Oscars.

February 26, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSomeone

I'm preparing for the impending heartbreak that will inevitably come when Isabelle Huppert loses the Oscar. That performance will be remembered and studied by acting students in 20 years.

I really, really, really like Emma Stone's work in La La Land and I don't think she'll be a bad winner at all, but Huppert is miles ahead of (frankly) all of the other women this year.

February 26, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAaron

Viola Davis is very limited as what she can do as an actress

Her options and those of other nonwhite actresses for film material aren't comparable. Meryl Streep can look like a genius because the opportunity and material for a white person has no ceiling. I don't believe you're the same person, but someone here who dislikes Davis wants to see Octavia Spencer supersede her. Which is an impossibility since Spencer's range is more limited than Davis' from a technical standpoint and even in the depth department. Viola Davis will be the second nonwhite person after Rita Moreno to triple crown. If Spencer could mange Broadway then I'd feel a bit concern about how these two legacies compare.

February 26, 2017 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

Paranoid Android: You are absolutely right! I stand corrected. I read an article in the Hollywood Reporter with the ballot cast by an anonymous voter and I realized that it's only in the Best Picture category that they have to vote for 5 films, in order of preference.

So there could indeed be a tie in any other category! That is kind of exciting.

Back in 1968 Katharine Hepburn and Barbra Streisand were tied for Best Actress, The Funny thing is that at the request of William Wyler (I believe it was him or else some other big shot) Barba Streisand was invited to be a voting member of the Academy immedidately, even before the voting period began. The problem is that Oscar nominees are invited to join AFTER they are nominated! So, guessing that she voted for herself, she actually voted herself to an Oscar!

February 26, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMarcos

Great pics Nate, and I'm actually super nervous about some of these categories too! Lot's of toss ups. As always, great commentary. Your Dev Patel prediction has me thinking.


BEST DIRECTOR: Damien Chazelle, La La Land
BEST ACTOR: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
BEST ACTRESS: Emma Stone, La La Land
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Moonlight, Barry Jenkins
BEST MAKEUP: Star Trek Beyond
BEST SONG: "City of Stars", La La Land
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE: Kubo and the Two Strings

Few Points

* Has any Globe winner for Screenplay that WON the Best Picture Oscar also LOST the Screenplay Oscar? I'm not sure. Maybe English Patient 20 years ago, but everyone loved Billy Bob. I think that's why La La Land wins over Manchester.

* Casey Affleck still has EVERY other major award. Washington just won SAG. Has any actor JUST won SAG and then the Oscar? I think a lot of people put too much emphasis on the SAG award and yes it's weighted heavy but a BAFTA/Drama Globe combo is also collateral. I think Affleck's behavior is causing people to miss the point: voters don't really care about this. Polanski, Woody Allen are examples. So is MoNique when it came to "personality" and campaigns. They vote for the work here as much as (yes) sometimes political influence. But Washington had been absence leading up to SAG. Those that say "Well Eddie Redmayne vs Michael Keaton" forget that Eddie DID win the Globe too. Then SAG. It's a close call, and either win would be fine for me but I think Casey has it.

* Extremis deals with death and dying, and remember when Helium won? Voters like to pick things they can relate to, often emotionally. It's hard to decide with the Shorts, but this is how I got Stutterer right last year. Same with Piper. Yes there's the Pixar curse, but animals rule here. Think Bear Story.

* I keep thinking Lion will win something, but can't figure out what. Patel? Could be, but its difficult for younger men to win in this category. Ali has the theater background that I think also helped Rylance last year. Lion could win Cinematography though, and even Adapted Screenplay (since Hidden Figures might take votes away from Moonlight).

* Sound and Sound Editing go in pairs if the movie is nodded in both spots. Therefore I don't see splits happening with Hacksaw Ridge/La La Land. It's all or nothing. Since La La Land most likely wins Sound Mixing, I think voters will check it off for Sound Editing. Many voters can't tell the difference. Or La La Land loses both - most likely then to Arrival.

February 26, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJason Travis

City of Stars seems like a likely winner, but it could lose if enough voters go for Audition (Fools Who Dream) instead, opening the door for How Far I'll Go. Plus, Lin-Manuel Miranda is charming af and has been everywhere recently.

I can't see Kubo spoiling in Animated Film, but I could see it getting a win in Visual Effects. What they accomplished on a technical level is impressive even if you don't understand everything they did.

I'm pretty convinced Denzel is winning for Actor, partly because of release timing. Manchester by the Sea isn't as shiny and new as Fences or even La La Land and that's going to pull some votes away.

February 26, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRobert G

WTF just happened at the Oscars? Super glad for Moonlight, but that finish was crazy.

February 27, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAbzee

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