As is our tradition, May begins our first predictive look at the year’s Oscar hopefuls. A lot of factors will play into how well our guesses hold up. Expect many of them to fall by the wayside as the year progresses and new contenders to rise into their places.
Our plan is to update our predictions monthly through November, adding one or two categories each month as we go along. We start things off with the absolute basics of categories: Best Picture, Best Director, and the four acting categories. Looking over our initial submissions, we have a lot of agreement and a lot of disagreement. One of the major contenders has already been seen and makes a strong showing on our list: Call Me By Your Name. It and Dunkirk in Best Picture are two of only five films that have the prediction of all four contributors. The others are Gary Oldman in Best Actor, Judi Dench in Best Actress, and Julianne Moore and Michelle Pfeiffer in Best Supporting Actress.
While having unanimous agreement is a rarity at this stage in the game, some factors arise that alter the landscape. In May of last year, we agreed on 13 different nominations. Among those, films like The Birth of a Nation, Billy Lynn’s Longhalftime Walk, Silence, Loving, and Sully all collapsed in terms of their potential nominations. Of those thirteen, only one, Ruth Negga, ended up making it all the way through the year. That doesn’t mean some of the other agreements that weren’t unanimous didn’t survive to the end, but it’s telling that some factors often impede our predictions. So, as always, take these with a grain of salt and expect it to change wildly over the next several months.
And here we are at the end of the road. Oscar Season 2016 ends this weekend and we have our final predictions to present to you. Before we get into the meat of the predictions, here are some introductions written by our contributors. Tripp felt he had said everything he needed to during the Rundown series, so he chose not to provide additional commentary. After you finish reading our introductions, head into the predictions and see where we stand and how you compare.
Wesley Lovell: In what has to be one of the least suspenseful Oscar seasons in recent memory, the frontrunner has remained the frontrunner the entire season and few distractions or alterations have made it into the mix. There is still the potential for surprises as BAFTA proved, but how things play out depends on just how potent La La Land truly is. As I referenced in my article Can “La La Land” Tie or Break a Record?, I discussed at length how the Oscar season may play out for the year’s most nominated film. Take a look there to see my thoughts on its chances of tying or breaking a record. I’ve also spent a lot of time writing about these categories, so I’ll be brief in the comments below. If you want to read my thoughts in more deatil, take a look at my article Oscar Guy’s Final Thoughts to know more about what I see as this year’s best bets and runners-up.
Peter J. Patrick: Down to the wire, the big question seems to be how many Oscars La La Land will win. My guess is between 7 and 10, but not the 13 it could win.
Although any of the acting wins could conceivably be a surprise, the one that is generating the most talk is whether or not Denzel Washington can repeat his Screen Actors Guild win. I say “not.” Washington, one of the most awarded actors of our time, had never won a SAG award and was overdue. That’s not the case with Oscar, of which he already has two.
Tripp Burton: Commentary not provided.
Thomas La Tourrette: At this point I have seen all but one animated film, two foreign language films, two documentaries, and one film with a song nominee. I hope to see one of the foreign language films and one if not two documentaries before the awards, though the O.J. documentary is almost eight hours long, so that might not happen. This will definitely be the most movies I have seen before the Oscars. It has been a fun and time-consuming task preparing for this. I do not know how many I will get right, but it is a passion of mine to work on. I hope you enjoy reading it. This definitely will be the year of La La Land. It is a fun movie, if a bit of fluff. But I did enjoy the fact that the director was willing to do a lush, romantic, and original musical, something that rarely happens. The last original musical nominated for best picture was 1979’s All That Jazz. It definitely will be winning a number of awards, probably between 8 and 11. There will be lots of debate as to whether it deserves that many, but it will be fun to see how the awards fall. Some are set, as always, but some are definitely in flux. It definitely makes for a more interesting Oscars when we do not know who they will all go to. So mark your ballots and be prepared.
There’s not much time left. Sunday, we will find out just how much we did and did not know about this Oscar season. While I’ve contributed quick thoughts to our Rundown articles, I always like to do more with my final post of the year. This will include how I think the races will finish out, what has the best chances of surprising and what I overall felt about the nominees, non-nominees and other general thoughts. Please note that I have not made it through all of the Oscar nominees, so my thoughts will be based on what I have seen and what I see as problem nominees if that applies.
The categories below are sorted in order from least competitive to most competitive.
I will not be sharing my personal thoughts on the quality of the foreign language, documentary, or short film categories since I haven’t seen many of these and apart from Foreign Language Film and Documentary Feature, I don’t know that my guesses would have much impact. I have still written a little something on each and these are separated out at the end of this article.
For our eighteenth and final Rundown article, it’s the final category. After the jump, you’ll find our winner and runner-up predictions for Best Pictureas well as general commentary about the race.
The final major precursor of 2017 will have zero impact on the Oscar winners as votes for the Oscars are already due. However, their selections have, in recent years, been far more in line with the Academy’s tastes than many other groups. They can be instructive at times, but also confusing. Here are our predictions for these awards. (EDIT: Somehow, I managed to miss the announcement of winners in three categories that we covered below. I have left the commentary and predictions, but noted who the winners were.)
Manchester by the Sea (RU:Wesley, RU:Peter, RU:Tripp, RU:Thomas)
Moonlight (Wesley, Peter, Tripp, Thomas)
Wesley Lovell: The theme of my predictions with the Spirit Awards is: Oscar nominees become winners. While that can help in some categories, there are a few where two or more Oscar nominees appear. Those are the ones that require a bit of thought. That is with the exception of Best Picture. Moonlight is the most acclaimed film of the year in terms of critical consensus and when you have a film this independent and this well received, it’s an easy choice for the winner. Manchester by the Sea is also Oscar-nominated and is more traditional in terms of its indie cred, but it would be a shock if it won.
Peter J. Patrick: This one’s a toss-up between Moonlight and Manchester by the Sea. It’s a coin toss as to which one will prevail.
Tripp Burton: Only once in the past decade, and never since the expansion of Best Picture, has this award not gone to an Oscar Best Picture nominee. That leaves us with Moonlight and Manchester by the Sea, and my guess is Moonlight does very well here, partially in consolation for the Oscars the next night.
Thomas LaTourette: Without a corresponding nomination for best director, Manchester does not seem as likely to win here. I will predict Moonlight to win.
For our seventeenth Rundown article, the categories associated with dressing, sets and people. After the jump, you’ll find our winner and runner-up predictions for Best Production Design and Best Costume Design as well as general commentary about the race. Friday, we’ve reached the end of the line.
For our sixteenth Rundown article, the categories that are required for any film. After the jump, you’ll find our winner and runner-up predictions for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Screenplay as well as general commentary about the race. Thursday, we have our penultimate article with the categories related to dressing.
When La La Land pulled off a surprising record-tying 14-nomination haul at the Oscars (it ties with All About Eve and Titanic for most nominations ever), the next question that popped up was whether it could possibly top or tie the current crown holders for most wins: Ben-Hur, Titanic, and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, which each have 11 awards (Return of the King is the only one of these films to sweep all of its categories).
For it to pull off that feat, it has to perform incredibly well in at least 11 of its 13 categories (it cannot win 14 as it has two tracks nominated for Best Original Song). To that end, here is the category breakdown as I currently see it.
Safe Bet (6):
Picture, Director, Original Score, Original Song, Film Editing, Sound Mixing
Actress, Cinematography, Production Design
Tipping Point (3):
Actor, Costume Design, Sound Editing
For our fifteenth Rundown article, two aural categories and a category with a new face every year. After the jump, you’ll find our winner and runner-up predictions for Best Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, and Best Makeup & Hairstyling as well as general commentary about the race. Wednesday, we approach the end with two categories that create the perfect endings.
Tuesday night, the final guild precursor announces with the Costume Designers Guild recognizing the best in three categories. (NOTE: Updated 8:05pm to add Tripp’s predictions and commentary)
COSTUME DESIGNERS GUILD AWARDS
Best Period Costume Design
The Dressmaker (Peter)
Florence Foster Jenkins (Wesley, Thomas, RU:Peter, RU:Tripp)
Jackie (Tripp, RU:Wesley, RU:Thomas)
Wesley Lovell: Period styles and lots of them. That’s what costume designers love. The fact that their is a separate period design category should attest to that. However, that doesn’t mean that all periods are equal. The periods with the most flourish do well. That’s why I give the lead to Florence Foster Jenkins, a film filled to the brim with bold and vivid costumes, which is more than the rest of these nominees have. The only thing that could stop them is the iconic outfits recreated for Jackie.
Peter J. Patrick: I can’t see how costume designers could vote against one of their own, the title character of The Dressmaker, but either Florence Foster Jenkins or Jackie could just as easily prevail.
Tripp Burton: The presidential gowns of Jackie have done well in the precursors this year, but the more ornate Florence Foster Jenkins could get some votes too. Both are Oscar nominees and are the most likely winners here.
Thomas LaTourette: This will probably be a battle between the two Oscar nominees, Jackie and Florence Foster Jenkins. Jackie has a couple precursor wins which Florence does not, but I could imagine the wild outfits Florence wore onstage taking the award.
For our fourteenth Rundown article, we take a peek behind the scenes of the green screen. After the jump, you’ll find our winner and runner-up predictions for Best Visual Effects as well as general commentary about the race. Tuesday, we’ll cover two categories with a connection and a third that deals with a face-off. (NOTE: Post updated at 8:02pm to add Tripp’s predictions and commentary.
The Motion Picture Sound Editors were the stragglers of the guild nominations announcements, but they are right in the thick of handing out awards. With so many categories, they have plenty of chances to match the Oscar winner, so their selections may be intriguing.
MOTION PICTURE SOUND EDITORS AWARDS
Best Sound Editing: Sound Effects and Foley in a Feature Film
Arrival (Tripp, RU:Peter)
Captain America: Civil War
Deepwater Horizon (RU:Wesley, RU:Thomas)
Hacksaw Ridge (Wesley, Peter, Thomas, RU:Tripp)
The Jungle Book
Wesley Lovell: Sound Effects and Foley, this is where the magic of sound creation happens. It’s this category that tends to favor the film with the most and most original sound effects. While all of them are strong entries, things may come down to potentially three films: war drama Hacksaw Ridge, explosion-heavy Deepwater Horizon, and alien sci-fi Arrival. I want to say Arrival will win simply because it was the film that had to create the most original effects, but this group loves war movies and the sheer volume of effects in Deepwater Horizon may be more likely. All three films are Oscar nominees, so one of them will likely win. However, it’s a neck-and-neck-and-neck race and my predictions are far from assured.
Peter J. Patrick: The obvious choice here is Hacksaw Ridge, unless they’re going for subtlety, in which case Arrival wins.
Tripp Burton: With no La La Land, this is between Oscar nominees Hacksaw Ridge and Arrival. I have no idea which will win, but I’ll guess the BAFTA-winning Arrival.
Thomas LaTourette: A case could be made for all of these, but I will go with Hacksaw Ridge.
The youngest guild in the Oscar competition has several categories and an imperfect track record with the Oscars. We’ll follow them anyway.
HOLLYWOOD MAKE UP & HAIR STYLISTS GUILD AWARDS
Best Period and/or Character Make-up
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Peter, Thomas, RU:Wesley, RU:Tripp)
Suicide Squad (Wesley, Tripp, RU: Peter, RU:Thomas)
Wesley Lovell: There’s a single Oscar nominee on the list, it would be unwise to bet against it. However, the way the Academy selects their nominees isn’t typical and could mean their nominations are less indicitive of broad support. In terms of makeup, only Fantastic Beasts is likely to compete, but I suspect the volume of makeup work in Suicide Squad may top all others.
Peter J. Patrick: This will likely go to the one with the most makeup.
Tripp Burton: Suicide Squad is the only Oscar nominee here, and the bulk of tattoos and prosthetics should service it well.
Thomas LaTourette: Fantastic Beasts seems like a good fit to win, though the Oscar-nominated Suicide Squad could pull it off.
The Cinema Audio Society correlates with the Sound Mixing award at the Oscars. We’ll look to them to tell us just how strong the love for La La Land is.
CINEMA AUDIO SOCIETY AWARDS
Best Sound Mixing – Live Action
Hacksaw Ridge (Peter, RU:Wesley, RU:Tripp)
La La Land (Wesley, Tripp, Thomas)
Rogue One (RU:Thomas)
Wesley Lovell: They only have one category with any potential of predicting the Oscars. This is it. Three of the Oscar nominees are here. Missing are Arrival and 13 Hours. They are replaced by Doctor Strange and Sully. The winner is likely to be an Oscar nominee and La La Land is the prohibitive frontrunner. Since this is voted on by the entire membership at the Oscars, La La Land is sure to win there. However, I’ve heard from a friend who works in sound and he was not impressed with the work done on the film. That doesn’t mean this group won’t go for it, but I do consider it a less-than-safe selection with Hacksaw Ridge a very likely spoiler.
Peter J. Patrick: It’s probably foolish to bet against La La Land, but it can’t win everything, right? Hacksaw Ridge would be a more conventional choice, as would Sully.
Tripp Burton: Three of these nominees got Oscar nominations, and they would appear to be the frontrunners. My hunch is with La La Land, with a blend of music that seems tailor-made for a victory here.
Thomas LaTourette: Being a musical, La La Land should have the edge on the competition in this category.
The Writers Guild of America is the last precursor to award above-the-line achievements. Their atypical eligibility rules make them the least reliable at times, though this year might not be the case.
WRITERS GUILD OF AMERICA AWARDS
Best Original Screenplay
Hell or High Water
La La Land (RU:Wesley)
Manchester by the Sea (Wesley, Peter, Tripp, RU:Thomas)
Moonlight (Thomas, RU:Peter, RU:Tripp)
Wesley Lovell: The Writers Guild is the only guild that mandates nominations come only from guild signatories. As such, their nominations are seldom instructive. Their winners, however, can be. That all depends on what’s nominated. Three of the Academy’s Best Original Screenplay nominees are here, the missing are The Lobster and 20th Century Women. Part of the reason is that Moonlight and Loving were both declared adapted by the Academy and were thus not eligible in this category. However, all we need to do is look at the three that were nominated to know which films have a shot. Right now, Manchester by the Sea seems like a good bet. It’s the film that has won the most precursors for writing among actual originals. The big question mark here is whether La La Land is going to build momentum towards a sweep. If it weren’t for Moonlight here, that might be possible. I think Manchester still holds an edge, but La La Land wouldn’t be surprising and if they want to throw things into turmoil, they could go with Moonlight, since they can’t honor it anywhere else.
Peter J. Patrick: La La Land could win, but I think the WGA will go for the more serious Manchester by the Sea or Moonlight.
Tripp Burton: The rules make this a different category than the Oscars, with two of these nominees (Moonlight and Loving) eligible for Adapted Screenplay there. Moonlight is the most praised screenplay of the year, and should win here, which makes things interesting come Oscar night.
Thomas LaTourette: There are four strong possibilities here. Loving seems to have the least chance. Manchester and Moonlight seem to have the best, though they are competing in the same category here rather than at the Oscars. La La Land and Hell or High Water cannot be ruled out, but I think they are not in as strong a position. A win here will definitely place a film into an even stronger place to win the Oscar. I am guessing that Moonlight will come out on top, but it really could go any way.