Opinion

First Oscar 2017 Predictions: ‘La La Land’ Emerges the Early Frontrunner

September 5, 2016
7 min read

If you check out our last year’s first Oscar predictions, you’ll realize that the idea of predicting Oscars six months ahead of the actual ceremony isn’t actually as wild as you may think it to be. Not only we predicted Best Director and Best Actor correctly, but we were also right with 25 our 48 nominations (that we predicted).

This year, I feel it is going to be difficult to maintain last year’s accuracy. And that’s not only because of the surprising lack of quality of films that have released till now, but also there’s still flux on what Academy members are going to lean towards this year. Will it be a musical or will it be minority-centered drama? Or will be it be a science-fiction? We don’t know.

There are always good reliable sources like Hollywood Elsewhere and Awards Daily that I trust when it comes to getting a sense of the pulse of the industry during the awards season, but as far as making Oscar predictions is concerned, I trust my gut instinct more than anything else. And if you have been following The Cinemaholic for long enough, you will know that I enjoy making predictions more than watching the actual awards ceremony itself.

 

Best Picture

1. La La Land
2. Manchester by the Sea
3. Fences
4. Loving
5. Moonlight
6. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
7. Allied
8. American Pastoral
9. 20th Century Women
10. Rules Don’t Apply
11. Arrival
12. Passengers
13. The Founder
14. Gold
15. Collateral Beauty
16. Sully
17. Bleed For This

Insight: This year we saw a huge controversy, #OscarsSoWhite, erupt over not a single minority person getting acting nomination. My personal opinion is that the Academy members are not racist; it is the studios who need to be more inclusive. For next year’s Oscars, they will have sufficient choices to nominate minority actors, especially, featuring African-Americans performers. With chances of ‘The Birth of a Nation’ getting any attention from industry squashed (justifiably so), three movies are looking to take its slot: ‘Fences’, ‘Loving’ and ‘Moonlight’. 

‘Loving’ and ‘Moonlight’ have been seen by many critics and the word has been extraordinarily positive on both the films. ‘Fences’ hasn’t been seen yet. But with talents like Denzel Washington and Viola Davis involved, there’s a good chance it will be great. 

Though, the two frontrunners at this point time, going by media and industry reactions, are ‘La La Land’ and ‘Manchester by the Sea’, especially the former. It’s been quite a while since a musical won Best Picture (the last one was ‘Chicago’ in 2002). And within a political climate that has ruined country’s mood, I won’t be surprised if Academy members pick something uplifting and cheerful, which I have heard ‘La La Land’ is. But if they choose to go by straight up serious drama (which most of the times they do), they will have plenty of options from ‘The Manchester by the Sea’ to ‘Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk’

Best Director

1. Damien Chazelle, ‘La La Land’
2. Kenneth Lonergan, ‘Manchester by the Sea’
3. Denzel Washington, ‘Fences’
4. Ang Lee, ‘Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk’
5. Robert Zemeckis, ‘Allied’
6. Jeff Nicholas, ‘Loving’
7. Barry Jenkins, ‘Moonlight’
8. Denis Velleneuve, ‘Arrival’
9. Ewan McGregor, ‘American Pastoral’
10. Warren Beatty, ‘Rules Don’t Apply’

Insight: Even if ‘La La Land’ manages to completely knock the socks off Academy members, its director Damien Chazelle will have a difficult path to victory, for the simple reason that he is still very young — only 31, and this his third feature film. Of course, a lot depends on the competition. But if there are heavyweights and veterans like Denzel Washington, Ang Lee and Kenneth Lonergan competing against him, I won’t be surprised if there’s a split at the top (Best Picture and Best Director go to two different films) just like it happened this year. ‘La La Land’, I’m assuming, is going to be an easy film to like (that’s how Spotlight trumped the competition) and therefore, it can win Best Picture without Chazelle winning Best Director. Still, at this point of time, not knowing much about most of the other contender’s films, I think it’s best to place the bets on him.

Best Actor

1. Casey Affleck, ‘Manchester by the Sea’
2. Denzel Washington, ‘Fences’
3. Michael Keaton, ‘The Founder’
4. Ryan Gosling, ‘La La Land’
5. Joel Edgerton, ‘Loving’
6. Miles Tiller, ‘Bleed For This‘ 
7. Tom Hanks, ‘Sully’
8. Brad Pitt, ‘Allied’
9. Matthew McConaughey, ‘Gold’
10. Dev Patel, ‘Lion’

Insight: This is going to be an interesting race. Can Casey Affleck pull off a Eddie Redmayne and beat out other industry veterans? Even though Affleck has been working for quite a while now and has even received Best Supporting Actor nomination before, he still feels like a newcomer; probably because he doesn’t have a strong portfolio of work to show off. Nevertheless, he is brilliant in ‘Manchester by the Sea’ and considering Denzel Washington already has got two Oscars in his bag, this might be his year. 

If ‘The Founder’ turns out to great, Michael Keaton will get a second shot at the Best Actor Oscar after the painful loss for ‘Birdman’. I think strength of ‘La La Land’ will carry Ryan Gosling to at least a nomination. 

Best Actress

1. Viola Davis, ‘Fences’
2. Emma Stone, ‘La La Land’
3. Ruth Negga, ‘Loving’
4. Annette Bening, ’20th Century Women’
5. Emily Blunt, ‘The Girl on the Train’
6. Jessica Chastain, ‘Miss Sloane’
7. Meryl Streep, ‘Florence Foster Jenkins’
8. Amy Adams, ‘Arrival’

Insight: This is a race that is as clear as it can get. An industry veteran vs. a young ingénue. I don’t think there’s chance for anybody else. Viola Davis has long been overdue for an Oscar and if ‘Fences’ is any good, she will finally win one. Emma Stone, on the other hand, is one of the most promising up and coming actresses. She got nominated last year for ‘Birdman’. Next year, she is almost guaranteed to get her second nomination. She might even win it too, if ‘Fences’ somehow falls flat and with that Viola Davis’ chances. 

Best Supporting Actor 

1. Mahershala Ali, ‘Moonlight’
2. Mykelti Williamson, ‘Fences’
3. Lucas Hedges, ‘Manchester by the Sea’
4. Warren Beatty, ‘Rules Don’t Apply’
5. Steve Martin,’Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk’
6. Edgar Ramirez, ‘Gold’
7. Hugh Grant, ‘Florence Foster Jenkins’

Insight: I will be honest here. I have no confidence at all in any of my seven predictions in this category. For some reason, things seem to be very fluid here — that could be because we haven’t seen a lot of great supporting performances this year. So, expect a lot of updates in this category as we move closer to the end of the year. 

Best Supporting Actress

1. Naomie Harris, ‘Moonlight’
2. Michelle Williams, ‘Manchester by the Sea’
3. Kristen Stewart, ‘Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk’
4. Elle Fanning, ’20th Century Women’
5. Greta Gerwig,’20th Century Women’
6. Nicole Kidman, ‘Lion’
7. Dakota Fanning,’American Pastoral’ 
8. Helen Mirren, ‘Collateral Beauty’

Insight: An interesting category that as of now looks weak but can easily turn into a strong line up of contenders, considering there are several women-centric movies coming out later in the fall. For now, though, just based on the strong reviews that ‘Moonlight’ and Naomie’s performance are getting, I have placed her on the top. Michelle Williams’ nomination is almost locked, though, I don’t think she will win.

After doing some phenomenal work for the past two years, Kristen Stewart might finally be able to make an Oscar breakthrough with ‘Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk’. Same is true for Elle Fanning, who just keeps impressing us every time she turns up on-screen (most recently in ‘The Neon Demon’). Interestingly, her sister Dakota Fanning is in contention too. It will be a great seeing both Fanning sisters getting nominated. They have been slogging for quite some time now. 

Read More: Every Best Picture Winner Since 2000, Ranked

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