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...
ALL LOCKED UP AND THEY SWALLOWED THE KEY
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
LOCKED UP BUT PEOPLE ARE TRYING TO JIMMY THE LOCKS ANYWAY AND PERHAPS ONE OF THESE MIGHT NOT GO AS PRESUMED
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)
EITHER/OR - VOTE MARGINS WILL BE SLIM
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)
GOD, WHO KNOWS...
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.
TO WRAP UP
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!!!