Oscars 2017 Winners & Predictions

It’s Oscars night! I have a running tradition with a friend of exchanging our picks for every category, including who we think WILL win and, of course, who really SHOULD.

It’s Oscars night! And I have a running tradition with a friend of exchanging our picks for every category, including who we think WILL win and, of course, who really SHOULD win. Enjoy:

Best Picture 

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

Will Win: La La Land. For one, everybody has seen it, which goes a long way towards taking this award. Plus, everybody loves it, which is not to say it’s everyone’s favorite movie, but the way the voting is set up, if La La Land is at least everyone’s second choice while drama buffs spilt between Moonlight and Manchester, then it should coast. It has the momentum and nominations to be the safe the bet.

Should Win: Moonlight. It’s the most important movie of the year, while still being as cinematically and stylistically bold and inventive as La La Land, just in subtler ways that have gone unsung in the comparison. I also want to just mention Manchester by the Sea here because it broke me.


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

Will Win: Chazelle. To his credit, he did manage to paste together tons of seemingly at odds tone and genre elements, pull off some audacious set pieces and make it all feel cohesive enough to score a blockbuster Hollywood musical.

Should Win: Jenkins, for so many reasons. He pulled off having three actors play his protagonist, coaxed out some incredible child acting performances, shot the most beautiful movie of the year, made the genius choice to set it to classical music and made an art film that never got preachy, pretentious or boring.

Actor in a Leading Role

  • Casey Affleck, “Manchester by the Sea”
  • Andrew Garfield, “Hacksaw Ridge”
  • Ryan Gosling, “La La Land”
  • Viggo Mortensen, “Captain Fantastic”
  • Denzel Washington, “Fences”

Will Win: Affleck. It’s more than the performance of the year, it’s in the running for performance of the decade. It’s so subtle and complex, building so many emotional layers over the course of the movie that when there actually are moments of raw, unsuppressed emotion towards the end it feels so honest and authentic and heartbreaking.

Should Win: Affleck, but if the sexual harassment allegations against him turn off voters — and that is a conversation we should be having – I think Denzel would stand to benefit. He’d be second choice. Fences was an acting clinic.

Actor in a Supporting Role

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

Will Win: Ali, although I have a sneaking suspicion Dev Patel could steal this one. Lion has seemed to really win over a lot of hearts.

Should Win: Nothing would make me happier (or make me feel more validated as a longtime fan) than to see Michael Shannon accept an Oscar, but I have to go with Ali. I just love that character so much. His sympathetic, father figure drug dealer was such a subversive, moving and important lesson on the kind of empathy movies can inspire.

Actress in a Leading Role:

  •  “Lion,” by Luke Davies
  •  “Arrival,” by Eric Heisserer
  •  “Moonlight,” by Barry Jenkins
  •  “Hidden Figures,” by Theodore Melfi and Allison Schroeder
  •  “Fences,” by August Wilson

Will Win: Jenkins is going to get screwed tonight, but hopefully he will somewhat get his due here.

Should Win: Jenkins.

Original screenplay

  •  “Manchester by the Sea,” by Kenneth Lonergan
  •  “Hell or High Water,” by Taylor Sheridan
  •  “La La Land,” by Damien Chazelle
  •  “20th Century Women,” Mike Mills
  •  “The Lobster,” by Efthymis Filippou and Yorgos Lanthimos

Will Win: La La Land, which is a shame. Writing is not the strength of that movie.

Should Win: Lonergan, but should out to Mike Mills. 20th Century Women is awesome.


  • Bradford Young, “Arrival”
  • Linus Sandgren,“La La Land”
  • Greig Fraser, “Lion”
  • James Laxton, “Moonlight”
  • Rodrigo Prieto, “Silence”

Will Win: La La Land. And it sure is pretty. Some of those tracking shot set pieces will make it hard to complain.

Should Win: Moonlight. Because it’s fucking gorgeous.

Documentary feature

  • “Fire at Sea”
  • “I am Not Your Negro”
  • “Life, Animated”
  • “OJ: Made in America”
  • “13th”

Will Win: OJ: Made in America. It certainly gets some help from the long running time and event tv-like feel of its release.

Should Win: OJ. I’ve never seen anything like it. Coming on the heels of the FX series it should have felt like retread. Instead it felt like one of the most eye opening and unique dissections of race in the US I’ve ever seen or read. And that’s saying something in a year where truly unforgettable documentaries about race refreshingly filled up the nominations. So much love for 13th and I am Not Your Negro, also.

Original score

  • Justin Hurwitz, “La La Land”
  • Mica Levi, “Jackie”
  • Nicholas Britell, “Moonlight”
  • Volker Bertelmann and Dustin O’Halloran, “Lion”
  • Thomas Newman, “Passengers”

Will Win: Hurwitz. The music from the big musical will triumph.

Should Win: Mica Levi. That score was hypnotic and I think more essential to the tone and execution of the movie than even La La Land. But I may still be high on her score for Under the Skin.

*I either have not seen enough of the movies for or do not have a strong enough opinion about the following categories for a Will Win/Should Win section. These are just my (sometimes arbitrary) predictions in bold. 

Documentary short:

  • “Extremis”
  • “4.1 miles”
  • “Joe’s Violins”
  • “Watani: My Homeland”
  • “The White Helmets”

Foreign language film:

  • “Toni Erdmann,” Germany
  • “The Salesman,” Iran
  • “A Man Called Ove,” Sweden
  • “Tanna,” Australia
  • “Land of Mine,” Denmark

Sound editing

  • Sylvain Bellemare, “Arrival”
  • Wylie Stateman and Renée Tondelli, “Deepwater Horizon”
  • Robert Mackenzie and Andy Wright, “Hacksaw Ridge”
  • Ai-Ling Lee and Mildred Iatrou Morgan, “La La Land”
  • Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman, “Sully”

Sound mixing

  • Bernard Gariépy Strobl and Claude La Haye, “Arrival”
  • Kevin O’Connell, Andy Wright, Robert Mackenzie and Peter Grace, “Hacksaw Ridge”
  • Andy Nelson, Ai-Ling Lee and Steve A. Morrow, “La La Land”
  • David Parker, Christopher Scarabosio and Stuart Wilson, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”
  • Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush and Mac Ruth, “13 Hours”

Original song

  •  “City of Stars” (“La La Land”)
  • “How Far I’ll Go” (“Moana”)
  • “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” (“La La Land”)
  • “The Empty Chair” (“Jim: The James Foley Story”)
  • “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” (“Trolls”)

Production design

  • Patrice Vermette, Paul Hotte, “Arrival”
  • Stuart Craig, Anna Pinnock, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”
  • Jess Gonchor, Nancy Haigh, “Hail, Caesar!”
  • David Wasco, Sandy Reynolds-Wasco, “La La Land”
  • Guy Hendrix Dyas, Gene Serdena, “Passengers”

Visual effects:

  • Craig Hammack, Jason Snell, Jason Billington and Burt Dalton, “Deepwater Horizon”
  • Stephane Ceretti, Richard Bluff, Vincent Cirelli and Paul Corbould, “Doctor Strange”
  • Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones and Dan Lemmon, “The Jungle Book”
  • Steve Emerson, Oliver Jones, Brian McLean and Brad Schiff, “Kubo and the Two Strings”
  • John Knoll, Mohen Leo, Hal Hickel and Neil Corbould, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”

Makeup and hairstyling

  • Eva von Bahr and Love Larson, “A Man Called Ove”
  • Joel Harlow and Richard Alonzo, “Star Trek Beyond”
  • Alessandro Bertolazzi, Giorgio Gregorini and Christopher Nelson, “Suicide Squad”

Costume design

  • Mary Zophres, “La La Land”
  • Madeline Fontaine, “Jackie”
  • Consolata Boyle, “Florence Foster Jenkins”
  • Colleen Atwood, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”
  • Joanna Johnston, “Allied”

Film editing

  • Joe Walker, “Arrival”
  • John Gilbert, “Hacksaw Ridge”
  • Jake Roberts, “Hell or High Water”
  • Tom Cross, “La La Land”
  • Nat Sanders and Joi McMillon, “Moonlight”

Live-action short

  • “Ennemis intérieurs,” Selim Azzazi
  • “La femme et le TGV,” Timo von Gunten
  • “Silent Nights,” Aske Bang, Kim Magnusson
  • “Sing,” Kristof Deák, Anna Udvardy
  • “Timecode,” Juanjo Gimenez

Animated short film

  • “Blind Vaysha”
  • “Borrowed Time”
  • “Pear Cider and Cigarettes”
  • “Pearl”
  • “Piper”

Animated feature film

  • “Kubo and the Two Strings”
  • “Moana”
  • “My Life as a Zucchini”
  • “The Red Turtle”
  • “Zootopia”

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