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Predicting the 2017 Academy Awards

Can anything beat 'La La Land'?

Who will win? La La Land or Moonlight? (Summit | A24)
Who will win? La La Land or Moonlight? (Summit | A24)

The 89th annual Academy Awards airs live tomorrow night on ABC with first-time host Jimmy Kimmel. Neo-musical La La Land is the favorite with 14 nominations in 13 categories (two for Best Song) which ties it with 1997's Titanic and 1950's All About Eve for the most nods in a single year. Titanic would go on to win 11 Oscars and All About Eve would win six. So expect La La Land to fall somewhere in-between when the night is over. 

Alien drama Arrival and the coming-of-age story Moonlight both placed second to La La Land this year, with eight nominations each. Neither should be ignored, especially Moonlight, the most critically-acclaimed film of the year. However, it's Fences that may rule the acting categories with heavyweights Denzel Washington and Viola Davis looming large in each the Best Actor and Best Actress column. Who will win? Who will place? And who will just go home with a $200k bag of swag?

Check out our editors' predictions for most of the major categories ahead:

[Bold indicates winner]

Joe Robberson - Senior Associate Editor

It's a La La year. These musicals only come around once every 15-20 years and Oscar history points to big nights when they do. The last one was Chicago in 2002 and it won six Oscars including Best Picture. La La Land was loved this year, much moreso than Chicago was. It's the clear frontrunner for the lead category and it has slim competition apart from Moonlight, which was also loved, but more by critics. La La benefits from its medium, which combines many art forms. And, maybe more importantly, it benefits from its subject matter. It's a movie about two artists trying to make it big in the city of lights. The Oscars loves nothing more than movies about Hollywood and the entertainment industry.

The year 2016 was also simply a down one for movies. Blame Trump, blame whatever, but compared to years past, this crop of nominees won't hold up as well. Basically that should mean more wins for La La Land, which would be nominated in any year. 

I like most of the favorites. Emma Stone has the triple threat—acting, singing, dancing—going for her in La La Land. It's a throwback performance from Hollywood yore. Denzel Washington has the stage-to-screen performance in Fences. (He already ruled the part on Broadway.) And ditto for Viola, who should probably be in the lead category, and when that happens, that nominee usually wins (see: Alicia Vikander last year). The one upset pick I have is Dev Patel over Mahershala Ali for Best Supporting Actor. I think the voters will want to reward Lion somewhere and Dev and little Sunny Pawar have been everywhere campaigning for this thing. 

BEST PICTURE
La La Land
Moonlight
Manchester by the Sea
Arrival
Lion
Fences
Hell or High Water
Hacksaw Ridge
Hidden Figures

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Emma Stone, La La Land
Natalie Portman, Jackie
Isabelle Huppert, Elle
Ruth Negga, Loving
Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins
 
ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Denzel Washington, Fences
Ryan Gosling, La La Land
Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic

SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Viola Davis, Fences
Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea
Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Nicole Kidman, Lion
Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures

SUPPORTING ACTOR
Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
Dev Patel, Lion
Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea
Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals

DIRECTOR
Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Denis Villeneuve, Arrival
Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge 

WRITING - ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Moonlight
Arrival
Fences
Lion
Hidden Figures

WRITING - ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Manchester by the Sea
La La Land
Hell or High Water
The Lobster
20th Century Women

ANIMATED FEATURE
Zootopia
Kubo and the Two Strings
Moana
The Red Turtle
My Life as a Zucchini

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
O.J.: Made in America
13th
I Am Not Your Negro
Fire at Sea
Life, Animated

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Toni Erdmann
The Salesman
A Man Called Ove
Land of Mine
Tanna

CINEMATOGRAPHY
La La Land
Arrival
Moonlight
Lion
Silence

COSTUME DESIGN
La La Land
Jackie
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Florence Foster Jenkins
Allied

MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING
Star Trek Beyond
Suicide Squad
A Man Called Ove

PRODUCTION DESIGN
La La Land
Arrival
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Hail, Caesar!
Passengers

EDITING
La La Land
Hacksaw Ridge
Arival
Moonlight
Hell or High Water

MUSIC - ORIGINAL SONG
"City of Stars" - La La Land
"How Far I’ll Go" - Moana
"Audition" - La La Land
"Can’t Stop the Feeling" - Trolls
"The Empty Chair" - Jim: The James Foley Story

VISUAL EFFECTS
The Jungle Book
Rogue One
Doctor Strange
Kubo and the Two Strings
Deepwater Horizon

Lani Conway - Interactives Editor

Out of all the Best Picture nominees I have only seen Moonlight. I loved Moonlight. I think Moonlight should win Best Picture. It was breathtaking, thought-provoking, and stunning. I appreciated the use of silence and music to add tension and create moments of pure beauty. However, I don't think Moonlight will win (though I hope I am proven wrong). As amazing as it is for a film like Moonlight to have been nominated, it will be interesting to see if it wins against the highly favored La La Land, a film that has been blamed for "whitesplaining jazz music" among other things. To me, a win could prove that a mostly white Academy is able to empathize with other stories and narratives that don't necessarily translate for a white audience. 

In thinking about this Moonlight/La La Land controversy that has raged online for weeks, I draw parallels to Myles E. Johnson's New York Times article explaining Beyonce's shocking Best Album loss to Adele at this year's Grammys, and how Beyonce never decided to make herself "more palatable to white viewers." "Instead," Johnson writes, "she let her imagination serve her goals, her child and her community." 

You may think that such events like the Grammys or the Oscars are dumb, and don't matter. But it matters. A win for Moonlight matters. 

BEST PICTURE
La La Land
Moonlight
Manchester by the Sea
Arrival
Lion
Fences
Hell or High Water
Hacksaw Ridge
Hidden Figures

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Emma Stone, La La Land
Natalie Portman, Jackie
Isabelle Huppert, Elle
Ruth Negga, Loving
Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins
 
ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Denzel Washington, Fences
Ryan Gosling, La La Land
Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic

SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Viola Davis, Fences
Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea
Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Nicole Kidman, Lion
Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures

SUPPORTING ACTOR
Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
Dev Patel, Lion
Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea
Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals

DIRECTOR
Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Denis Villeneuve, Arrival
Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge 

WRITING - ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Moonlight
Arrival
Fences
Lion
Hidden Figures

WRITING - ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Manchester by the Sea
La La Land
Hell or High Water
The Lobster
20th Century Women

ANIMATED FEATURE
Zootopia
Kubo and the Two Strings
Moana
The Red Turtle
My Life as a Zucchini

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
O.J.: Made in America
13th
I Am Not Your Negro
Fire at Sea
Life, Animated

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Toni Erdmann
The Salesman
A Man Called Ove
Land of Mine
Tanna

CINEMATOGRAPHY
La La Land
Arrival
Moonlight
Lion
Silence

COSTUME DESIGN
La La Land
Jackie
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Florence Foster Jenkins
Allied

MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING
Star Trek Beyond
Suicide Squad
A Man Called Ove

PRODUCTION DESIGN
La La Land
Arrival
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Hail, Caesar!
Passengers

EDITING
La La Land
Hacksaw Ridge
Arival
Moonlight
Hell or High Water

MUSIC - ORIGINAL SONG
"City of Stars" - La La Land
"How Far I’ll Go" - Moana
"Audition" - La La Land
"Can’t Stop the Feeling" - Trolls
"The Empty Chair" - Jim: The James Foley Story

VISUAL EFFECTS
The Jungle Book
Rogue One
Doctor Strange
Kubo and the Two Strings
Deepwater Horizon

Areeba Abid - Associate Editor

In a few years, I have a feeling everyone's going to think of La La Land the way they now think of American Beauty. That means it'll rack up a ton of awards for being palatable and visually stunning, but the film's lack of depth will eventually catch up to it. Even though I picked Isabelle Huppert as the upset winner in the Best Actress category, I wouldn't be shocked if Emma Stone won it in the end. After all, she would be Kevin Spacey in this situation and Ryan Gosling would be Annette Bening.

BEST PICTURE
La La Land
Moonlight
Manchester by the Sea
Arrival
Lion
Fences
Hell or High Water
Hacksaw Ridge
Hidden Figures

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Emma Stone, La La Land
Natalie Portman, Jackie
Isabelle Huppert, Elle
Ruth Negga, Loving
Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins
 
ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Denzel Washington, Fences
Ryan Gosling, La La Land
Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic

SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Viola Davis, Fences
Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea
Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Nicole Kidman, Lion
Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures

SUPPORTING ACTOR
Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
Dev Patel, Lion
Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea
Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals

DIRECTOR
Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Denis Villeneuve, Arrival
Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge 

WRITING - ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Moonlight
Arrival
Fences
Lion
Hidden Figures

WRITING - ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Manchester by the Sea
La La Land
Hell or High Water
The Lobster
20th Century Women

ANIMATED FEATURE
Zootopia
Kubo and the Two Strings
Moana
The Red Turtle
My Life as a Zucchini

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
O.J.: Made in America
13th
I Am Not Your Negro
Fire at Sea
Life, Animated

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Toni Erdmann
The Salesman
A Man Called Ove
Land of Mine
Tanna

CINEMATOGRAPHY
La La Land
Arrival
Moonlight
Lion
Silence

COSTUME DESIGN
La La Land
Jackie
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Florence Foster Jenkins
Allied

MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING
Star Trek Beyond
Suicide Squad
A Man Called Ove

PRODUCTION DESIGN
La La Land
Arrival
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Hail, Caesar!
Passengers

EDITING
La La Land
Hacksaw Ridge
Arival
Moonlight
Hell or High Water

MUSIC - ORIGINAL SONG
City of Stars - La La Land
How Far I’ll Go - Moana
Audition - La La Land
Can’t Stop the Feeling - Trolls
The Empty Chair - Jim: The James Foley Story

VISUAL EFFECTS
The Jungle Book
Rogue One
Doctor Strange
Kubo and the Two Strings
Deepwater Horizon

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