I've updated the Picture, Director, Screenplays, Actor and Supporting Actress charts with final predictions. Though many questions remain we must make the hard calls with nominations only a week away!
Best Picture & Best Director
The Best Picture race will literally never be "locked up" again so long as Oscar sticks with its "5 to 10" balloting math. That shifting number of Best Pictures means that you just never know. I want to say 8 again this year but what if its 5,6,7,9, or gulp 10. The big question mark, at least for this pundit, is Nocturnal Animals. Given that it's the movie that won't go away in precursor season with great showings at the Globes and BAFTA and significant buzz in Los Angeles despite its polarizing nature and its relatively low box office take (lower than ALL the other still buzzing pictures with the exception of Loving). The thing is you can't vote AGAINST something. You can only vote for it, so we're predicting Tom Ford in Best Director.
Arguable the most settled of the Oscar acting races with Casey Affleck, Denzel Washington, Andrew Garfield, Viggo Mortensen, and Ryan Gosling all steady players for months. At this point it would be a minor surprise to see one of the ousted. Support for their rivals seems to be far too diffuse.
The other "settled" acting race though you can definitely make arguments about one of two women spoiling the party: Greta Gerwig who is brilliant in 20th Century Women and who has definitely earned her place at Hollywood's most prestigious tables after years of fine work, or Janelle Monae, who proves herself a total natural in Hidden Figures with a bright film career ahead of her. Supporting Actress is a friendly category to double nominees which means if there's a major shake-up it could be both Octavia and Janelle in the mix.
Original Screenplay & Adapted Screenplay
The big question in Adapted might be whether Fences has enough goodwill to earn August Wilson a posthumous nomination, or if naysayers who believe its too "stagey" have made it a Viola & Denzel only party. My guess is that if Tom Ford doesn't show up in Director he shows up here instead and steals that slot away from the late theatrical giant.
In Original Screenplay with three films looking unstoppable for nominations (Manchester, Hell or, La La), one looking like a very typical "of course it nabbed #1 votes!" critical darling style nominee (The Lobster), there's presumably only one spot left and SO many strong screenplays fighting for it: Captain Fantastic, 20th Century Women, Zootopia, Toni Erdmann, Jackie.