The 89th Academy Awards: Predictions

In the lead up to tonight’s 89th Academy Awards ceremony, due to kick off at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre at 1:30am (GMT/UTC), we take a look at some of the OSCARS’ biggest categories and make our final predictions for the most celebrated event in the film calendar.


THE NOMINEES


BEST PICTURE


Arrival

Fences

Hacksaw Ridge

Hell or High Water

Hidden Figures

La La Land

Lion

Manchester by the Sea

Moonlight


Verdict: With a record-equalling total of 14 nominations, Damien Chazelle’s whimsical, yet bittersweet chamber musical La La Land is the clear favourite to walk away with the top gong, however in the absence of Martin Scorsese’s sadly overlooked masterpiece SilenceHacksaw Ridge and Moonlight are the most assured and complete works on the shortlist, and are both equally deserving of the Best Picture title.


Will Win: La La Land

Should Win: Hacksaw Ridge or Moonlight


 BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE


Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge

Ryan Gosling, La La Land

Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic

Denzel Washington, Fences


Verdict: Casey Affleck’s performance as the sullen and brooding ticking-time-bomb Lee Chandler in Manchester by the Sea has already seen him take home numerous accolades for his excellent work – including the Golden Globe and BAFTA for Best Actor, however, in terms of the physical demands of the role and exertion required, Andrew Garfield’s turn as conscientious objector and World War II hero Desmond Doss in Mel Gibson’s profound, brutal and brilliant Hacksaw Ridge is outstanding, carrying the action virtually single-handedly for large portions of the film.


Will Win: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

Should Win: Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge


BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE


Isabelle Huppert, Elle

Ruth Negga, Loving

Natalie Portman, Jackie

Emma Stone, La La Land

Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins


Verdict: Despite being an early, pre-nominations favourite to take home the award – alongside Arrival’s bizarrely overlooked Amy Adams and Hidden Figures‘ exceptional Taraji P. Henson – Jackie‘s Natalie Portman seems to have slipped down the table in recent weeks with La La Land’s Golden Globe-winner Emma Stone (Best Actress, Musical or Comedy) now sitting firmly atop the predictions lists, followed closely by fellow Golden Globe-winner Isabelle Huppert (Best Actress, Drama) for her superb performance in Paul Verhoeven’s taut revenge thriller, Elle. At this stage it is hard to see Stone going away empty handed, but as one of cinema’s most consistent and brilliant actresses, Huppert most definitely deserves the Best Actress title.


Will Win: Emma Stone, La La Land

Should Win: Isabelle Huppert, Elle


BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE


Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water

Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea

Dev Patel, Lion

Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals


Verdict: Despite Dev Patel winning at the BAFTA’s, Mahershala Ali is still the clear and deserving frontrunner here for his stirring performance in Barry Jenkins’ extraordinary Moonlight, though it is a real shame that there were no nominations for Trevante Rhodes, Ashton Sanders and Alex Hibbert who respectively portray Moonlight‘s emotionally conflicted protagonist Chiron at the various stages of his life.


Will Win: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Should Win: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight


BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE


Viola Davis, Fences

Naomie Harris, Moonlight

Nicole Kidman, Lion

Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures

Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea


Verdict: Though she has proved herself one of the year’s most engaging and watchable new talents, Janelle Monáe was another pre-nominations frontrunners completely overlooked for her fine performances in both Moonlight and Hidden Figures. Octavia Spencer gives an expectedly high quality performance in Hidden Figures as does Naomie Harris, playing completely against type in Moonlight, however having already taking home numerous awards for her powerful performance as Fences‘ matriarchal lynchpin Rose,  Viola Davis is surely a dead cert for the award.


Will Win: Viola Davis, Fences

Should Win: Viola Davis, Fences


BEST DIRECTOR


Denis Villeneuve, Arrival

Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge

Damien Chazelle, La La Land

Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea

Barry Jenkins, Moonlight


Verdict: Damien Chazelle is again the unsurprising favourite for the unique La La Land and it is hard not to see the Academy rewarding him for his bold, courageous directorial vision. It is though a very tough category and there is stiff competition from Manchester by the Sea‘s Kenneth Lonergan, Moonlight‘s Barry Jenkins and Mel Gibson, who made an exceptional return to top form with Hacksaw Ridge. Despite early speculation, Arrival’s Denis Villeneuve is perhaps now the rank outsider as momentum for the visionary, thinking person’s sci-fi drama has been slowed quite considerably in the wake of nominations juggernaut La La Land, despite its 8 nominations.


Will Win: Damien Chazelle, La La Land

Should Win: Damien Chazelle, La La Land


BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY


Taylor Sheridan, Hell or High Water

Damien Chazelle, La La Land

Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthimis Filippou, The Lobster

Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea

Mike Mills, 20th Century Women


Verdict: Once again it is Damien Chazelle leading the pack for La La Land and once again it is hard to argue. Lonergan screenplay for Manchester by the Sea is layered and beautifully rendered, but Chazelle is the man to beat.


Will Win: Damien Chazelle, La La Land

Should Win: Damien Chazelle, La La Land


BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY


Eric Heisserer from “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang, Arrival

August Wilson from Fences by August Wilson (posthumous nomination), Fences 

Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi from Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly, Hidden Figures

Luke Davies from A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley and Larry Buttrose, Lion

Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney from In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue by Tarell Alvin McCraney, Moonlight


Verdict: Though Denzel Washington used an uncredited Tony Kushner to build on a draft screenplay written by August Wilson before his death, Fences’ screenplay remains incredibly faithful to Wilson’s original play-text, transposing the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama – and landmark of 20th Century American Theatre – from the stage to the screen with very little interference.

Washington stated that “The star of the movie is the screenplay and August Wilson’s words” … we can only agree.

Standing in its way however is Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney’s powerful and poignant screenplay for Moonlight, adapted from McCraney’s own play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue with superb effect.


Will Win: Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney, Moonlight or August Wilson, Fences

Should Win: Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney, Moonlight or August Wilson, Fences


BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM


Martin Zandvliet, Land of Mine (Denmark)

Hannes Holm, A Man Called Ove (Sweden)

Asghar Farhadi, The Salesman (Iran)

Martin Butler and Bentley Dean, Tanna (Australia)

Maren Ade, Toni Erdmann (Germany)


Verdict: Due to Donald Trump’s travel ban preventing Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi from entering the country, the Best Foreign Language Film category has swiftly become the most controversial award in the lead up to the event. A win for Farhadi and The Salesman would be huge, but Maren Ade’s Toni Erdmann is one of the year’s very best, and that is most definitely the one to beat.


Will Win: Maren Ade, Toni Erdmann

Should Win: Maren Ade, Toni Erdmann or Asghar Farhadi, The Salesman


BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY


Arrival – Bradford Young

La La Land – Linus Sandgren

Lion – Greig Fraser

Moonlight – James Laxton

Silence – Rodrigo Prieto


Verdict: It would be wonderful to see Silence go away with at least something as a consolation for being overlooked in all other categories, though as stunningly lensed as the film is, Rodrigo Prieto is in a tough group to say the least. Bradford Young’s nomination made him the first ever African-American cinematographer to be nominated for an Academy Award so a win for him would be a real landmark, however once again it is the lush, dreamlike La La Land is the one to beat courtesy of Linus Sandgren’s colourful, CinemaScope-emulating cinematography.


Will Win: Linus Sandgren, La La Land

Should Win: Rodrigo Prieto, Silence


BEST ORIGINAL SCORE


Jackie – Mica Levi

La La Land – Justin Hurwitz

Lion – Dustin O’Halloran and Hauschka

Moonlight – Nicholas Britell

Passengers – Thomas Newman


Verdict: La La Land has yet another firm favourite in Justin Hurwitz’s bristling original score, a joyous throwback to the golden age of the classic MGM Hollywood musicals of the 1940s and 50s. Mica Levi followed her brilliantly unsettling work on Under the Skin with another great score for Jackie, and it is hard to argue with the inclusion of the other three nominees, be it the gentle, melodies of Nicholas Britell’s Moonlight, Dustin O’Halloran and Hauschka’s beautiful work on Lion or Thomas Newman’s vast, pulsing soundscape for Morten Tyldum’s big-budget space thriller, Passengers.


Will Win: Justin Hurwitz, La La Land

Should Win: Justin Hurwitz, La La Land


Stay tuned for more predictions …

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