It’s Hollywood’s biggest and shiniest night, where the industry gets together to celebrate the year in film and young up-and-comers get to rub shoulders with living legends. To many, the Oscars may seem a superficial evening about fashion, but it really is a great night for film, a recognition of all the great achievements made in movies that year.
This year’s Academy Awards are anything but a lock: with this show coming so late in the awards season, many nominees are gaining momentum whilst some are running out of steam, which means that anything can happen on Hollywood’s night of nights. La La Land might be sweeping awards at the other big shows, but does it have what it takes to win Best Picture?
Need some help for your Oscars pool? I’ve got you covered, as I break down the biggest contenders for the biggest categories below:
Who Will Win: Damien Chazelle, La La Land
This one is pretty much a lock, with Chazelle winning Best Director at all of the major awards shows (Golden Globes, BAFTAs and the Director’s Guild Awards). La La Land is such a beautifully directed film that it most certainly deserves this win: Chazelle combines such a vibrant colour palette with a very agile directorial style that instils such life into his film, along with his two spirited leads, of course. He may only be a young director, but La La Land is truly beautiful.
Who Could Steal: Barry Jenkins, Moonlight and Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester By The Sea
My Personal Favourite: Denis Villeneuve, Arrival
Best Supporting Actor:
Who Will Win: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Of the three major awards, there have been three separate winners: Ali won the SAG Award, Dev Patel won the BAFTA, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson won the Golden Globe. Since Taylor-Johnson isn’t even nominated, and Lion as a film doesn’t quite have the momentum in the United States, Ali is the best choice, especially since he won the SAG specifically, the voting body of which has the largest cross-over with the Academy. That being said, Ali gives a fantastic performance as Juan, a rock for Little in a world out to get him, bringing some intensity and a little bit of light to a deep film.
Who Could Steal: Dev Patel, Lion
My Personal Favourite: Lucas Hedges, Manchester By The Sea
Best Supporting Actress:
Who Will Win: Viola Davis, Fences
I haven’t even seen this film yet and I know she’s going to win. Every other nominee is strong in this category, and certainly worthy of a win, but Viola looks like a tour de force from the clips, stills and trailers I’ve seen; she’s also won every single award in this category, and as a 3 time nominee, this brilliant actress deserves to finally get an Oscar.
Who Could Steal: Naomie Harris, Moonlight
My Personal Favourite: Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures
Best Original Screenplay:
Who Will Win: Manchester By The Sea
For all its magnificence, La La Land’s screenplay doesn’t deserve to win Best Screenplay. And while part of me wants to see a more underrated film win the Oscar, like The Lobster or Hell or High Water, Manchester is your best bet, a tumultuous screenplay that takes you through all the emotions of grief, family life and growing up.
Who Could Steal: La La Land
My Personal Favourite: Manchester By The Sea
Best Animated Feature Film:
Who Will Win: Zootopia
The animated category is so strong this year! But it will ultimately go to Zootopia, whose hilarious humour, cute animals, and surprising social message makes it a really wonderful movie for both adults and kids.
Who Could Steal: Moana, Kubo and the Two Strings
My Personal Favourite: Kubo and the Two Strings
Best Adapted Screenplay:
Who Will Win: Moonlight
This race is so tough, because all of these films could potentially win. But I’m going to choose Moonlight, which has so much momentum for all the right reasons: Barry Jenkin’s sparing screenplay says so much between the lines, and works so well with the cast it employs, that it just has to win.
Who Could Steal: Fences, Arrival, Lion and Hidden Figures
My Personal Favourite: Arrival
Who Will Win: Denzel Washington, Fences
This was such a tight race early on in the season, with Ryan Gosling and Casey Affleck taking out the Golden Globe in each of their respective comedy and drama categories, but when Denzel Washington won the SAG Award, that tipped the scale. Since the Screen Actors Guild and the Academy have the largest crossover in their voting bodies, Denzel’s masterclass of acting in Fences is most likely to take the top honour.
Who Could Steal: Casey Affleck, Manchester By The Sea OR Ryan Gosling, La La Land
My Personal Favourite: Ryan Gosling, La La Land
Who Will Win: Emma Stone, La La Land
She’s not a lock, but she’s won pretty much every other award out there, so… Her performance might not be a traditional Oscar winning performance, such as Natalie Portman’s Jackie, but she does so much in this movie, singing, dancing, and she does add a layer of emotion and reality that goes beyond what another actress could do. She’s been so consistently good the last few years that now is her time.
Who Could Steal: Natalie Portman, Jackie or Isabelle Huppert, Elle
My Personal Favourite: Emma Stone, La La Land
Who Will Win: La La Land
After much consideration, La La Land is the most likely to win. It’s about Hollywood, which the Academy loves, it’s from a young director, it’s a musical, it has the most momentum – but just because everyone is raving about it, doesn’t mean it’s not worthy. Popular certainly doesn’t mean bad, and La La Land is wonderful, so vibrant and sweet, and even emotional. Damien Chazelle has wanted to make this film for so long (he only made Whiplash to get the attention he’d need to make La La Land), and such a passion project deserves recognition.
Who Could Steal: Moonlight
Well, anything could steal, especially Manchester or Fences, but Moonlight is so close to La La Land in this race. It also has a young newcomer as director, and it has a very important story, told brilliantly too. An indie like this taking the big prize would be wonderful, but can it beat La La Land? We’ll see this weekend.
My Personal Favourite: All of them!
Of the 6/9 films I’ve seen that are nominated, I really do love all of them. They all tell such wonderful stories and get under our skin about what it means to be human, about success and grief and passion, and it’s wonderful that the Best Picture category is so good this year. No matter who wins, as long as more people see these brilliant films, then I’ll be happy.
Photos taken from IMDb.com: