So I did pretty well with the nominations (my hit rate was 87% based on the full field of 103 choices across the major categories as listed on HSX), but there were definitely some surprises. I also didn’t list all of the potential categories, but I’ll be honest about where I hit or not below. Updates to my picks on winners will occur just prior to the big night… and I’m sure there will be some rethinking after the SAG awards this Sunday. This year, I also discovered 538’s ongoing statistical analysis of the choices, which was both surprising and a bit disappointing. But as we all know, stats often don’t tell the whole or a reliable story.
I still have some gaps at the time of the initial writing, but I hope to fill as many of them as possible before the great event.
Best supporting actress
- Viola Davis (Fences)
- Naomie Harris (Moonlight)
- Nicole Kidman (Lion)
- Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures)
- Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea)
Viola Davis has the edge here in a really tough field. I couldn’t argue with her win, but I think Spencer’s performance was more controlled and subtle.
Best supporting actor
- Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)
- Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water)
- Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea)
- Dev Patel (Lion)
- Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals)
Mahershala Ali is the clear front-runner, and deservedly so. While the other performances are all solid, his was the most ranging and subtle.
- Isabelle Huppert (Elle)
- Ruth Negga (Loving)
- Natalie Portman (Jackie)
- Emma Stone (La La Land)
- Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins)
I did get partially caught out here. Dropping Amy Adams and keeping Streep (who was also up for SAG) surprised me. Adams performance is solid, but understandably challenging to interpret due to the story. But Streep, as talented as she is, just wasn’t that good in Florence Foster Jenkins. Not adding Taraji Henson to this field was criminal. Huppert has a head of steam globally, and I did miss those winds previously, but it wasn’t that surprising. However I did call Negga for Blunt (again as compared to SAG).
The win here is tough. Stone will have a lot of focus and love. If I had to pick this moment, I’d go with the tidal wave of La La Land.
- Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea)
- Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge)
- Ryan Gosling (La La Land)
- Viggo Mortenson (Captain Fantastic)
- Denzel Washington (Fences)
Had this, though there was an outside chance Hanks would have been added over Mortenson.
The race here is Washington vs. Gosling. Washington is the better performance, but Gosling’s piano work alone is enough to astound. As of now, I think Washington will walk away with Oscar despite La La’s rolling thunder.
- Denis Villeneuve (Arrival)
- Mel Gibson (Hacksaw Ridge)
- Damien Chazelle (La La Land)
- Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea)
- Barry Jenkins (Moonlight)
Chazelle is the likely winner here, but my personal preference would be Villenueuve, whose achievements in Arrival really outshine the other movies in this list.
Best foreign language film
- A Man Called Ove (Sweden)
- Land of Mine (Denmark)
- The Salesman (Iran)
- Tanna (Australia)
- Toni Erdmann (Germany)
Based on what’s been happening, Toni Erdmann is the likely win here.
Had half-expected Silence to be part of this field, but had the rest of them, not that it was a difficult list to guess this year. The winner… now that gets more interesting.
My personal pick for best in this field is Arrival. It accomplished some very difficult feats and left the audience with some very interesting ideas and did it all honestly, while managing to let you trick yourself. Hidden Figures manages to deliver a powerful, but personal story. Either are solid choices for the win.
However, La La Land, which I did enjoy a great deal, has the Hollywood and Broadway inside track and massive momentum (not to mention 14 new nominations). I suspect La La takes the statuette.
Best adapted screenplay
- Eric Heisserer (Arrival)
- August Wilson (Fences)
- Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi (Hidden Figures)
- Luke Davies (Lion)
- Barry Jenkins and Alvin McCraney (Moonlight)
Arrival. Period. It even improved on the award-winning original story it was based upon. But, honestly, likely to be one of the others; probably Moonlight.
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)
La La Land is the likely winner. While Lobster is quite unique, it just isn’t that great a script/story at the end of it all. Manchester, as well, fell flat for me, the strength it has is really the performances, not its words or story.
Best animated feature
Kubo and Two Strings was one of the best animated flicks I’ve seen in ages. It was original, unique, and flat-out gorgeous and fun. However, I know Zootopia is likely to win.
That said, I’m sticking to my guns on on this one and sticking with Kubo for the statuette because if it doesn’t I will scream a bit at the reveal.
Best documentary feature
This one is tough, but I’m thinking the politics of the moment insist that 13th takes the category.
Best original song
- La La Land – Audition (The Fools Who Dream) by Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
- La La Land – City of Stars by Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
- Moana – How Far I’ll Go by Lin-Manuel Miranda
- Trolls – Can’t Stop the Feeling by Justin Timberlake, Max Martin and Karl Johan Schuster
- Jim: The James Foley Story – The Empty Chair by J Ralph and Sting
La La may well work against itself here and split the vote. But, while not entirely upbeat as a song, I’d go with Fools Who Dream. If the vote splits, will probably go to Trolls.
The only wild card is Miranda. As I mentioned in the prelim to this post before the announcements, crowning another EGOT is a hard opportunity not to take for voters (and in this case PEGOT since he has a Pulitzer as well, which only 2 others have done before).
Best original score
- Jackie by Mica Levi
- La La Land by Justin Hurwitz
- Lion by Dustin O’Halloran and Hauschka
- Moonlight by Nicholas Britell
- Passengers by Thomas Newton
Yeah, La La Land by a mile. No matter how you feel about this movie, the complexity and originality of the score is way beyond any of the other entrants.
Best live action short
- Ennemis Interieurs
- La Femme et le TGV
- Silent Nights
As usual, throw a dart and pick one (I really wish you could get to see these more easily). I’ll start with Sing as my choice and will revise based on buzz later.
Best documentary short
- 4.1 Miles
- Joe’s Violin
- Watani: My Homeland
- The White Helmets
Ditto: but going with Joe’s Violin for now cause I like the title.
Best animated short
- Blind Vaysha
- Borrowed Time
- Pear Cider and Cigarettes
Second ditto: Going with Pear Cider and Cigarettes in honor of the nod to Jarmusch.
Best costume design
This gets interesting. Usually this goes to a period piece… but they are all period pieces. Several are flamboyant period pieces. Based on scope and challenge, I’m thinking Fantastic Beasts. While the others all did wonderfully, they were invisible (a feat in itself) but Beasts had both ends… the invisible and the inventive, which tips the scales in its favor.
Best make-up and hairstyling
Wow, just not the three I’d have expected. Suicide Squad, I think in this case. Harley Quinn and the Joker alone deserve it; utterly unforgettable, the pair of them.
Best production design
Another tough choice as each succeeds quite well in its way. I’m going to go to an outlier here because, honestly, the production design really did impress me: Passengers. However, Beasts is likely to take this one as well for similar reasons as costume. But I didn’t think the design in Beasts was really all that good… it felt forced and unreal rather than magical to me. Passengers was seamless and felt real to the tale rather than distracting from it.
For this it is between Arrival and Silence. Arrival’s work is more complex, with focus and framing adding to the story telling. Silence is just plain pretty, from what I’ve seen. With no other nods, Silence may get its shot here. For my sensibilities, though, Arrival deserves it in this field.
Best film editing
Arrival, without question for me. The editing made this film. No other nominee can claim that integral a role for its success.
Best sound editing
La La Land for this. The soundscape of the film is just as important as its story in this case.
Best sound mixing
Thinking Rogue One for this one… keeping any dialogue intelligible over all that racket took some serious effort.
Best visual effects
For sheer inventiveness, probably Doctor Strange, though Jungle Book rewrote the tech handbook quite a bit and it has nothing else on order this year despite being such a huge, popular hit. And I’m not sure I could pull apart Kubo to place it in this category… so suspect others can’t either.