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Predicting the 89th Academy Awards Nominees

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I fancy they’ll be recognized – but what about their film?

Tomorrow morning, the nominees for the 89th Academy Awards will be announced. You’ll see many a blog post trying to predict the contenders; you’ll hear many a pundit try and make the case for Film A over Film B; commenters on an infinitude of social media posts will tell you why one nomination can’t happen but another must.

Let me be an oasis of practicality amidst all the sound and fury. Let me, who has devoted more time than any reasonable man should to meditating on films and film awards, offer you my insight into what the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will likely anoint and elevate into the canon.

If you wish to read my thoughts on other aspects of the awards race, I have compiled a list of key articles at the bottom of this post. We have a lot of ground to cover, and let us commence without delay.

(A quick list of acronyms you’ll see a lot of: ASC – American Society of Cinematographers; BAFTA – British Academy of Film and Television Arts; CAS – Cinema Audio Society; LAFCA – Los Angeles Film Critics Association; NBR – National Board of Review; NSFC – National Society of Film Critics; NYFCC – New York Film Critics Circle; PGA- Producers Guild of America; SAG – Screen Actors Guild; WGA – Writers Guild of America.)

Best Picture:

  • Arrival
  • (Fences)
  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • Hell or High Water
  • Hidden Figures
  • La La Land
  • Lion
  • Manchester By the Sea
  • Moonlight
  • (Nocturnal Animals)

This is the first category you’re reading, but the last one I wrote up.

Having gone over every other nominee, having weighed the words of the guilds and awards groups which came before, having built up a field of nominees from the bottom up…here, at last, we are.

We have to start by asking: how many nominees will there be? The last two years, there have been 8. The three years before that, there were 9. The two years before that, there were a fixed 10. In truth, we don’t know. I think we’ll have 8. I will, however, predict a total of 10 films, with the proviso that I think only 8 will likely make the final cut.

The PGA nominated Arrival, Deadpool, Fences, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures, La La Land, Lion, Manchester By the Sea, and Moonlight.

The BAFTAs nominated Arrival, I, Daniel Blake, La La Land, Manchester By the Sea, and Moonlight.

The Globes nominated Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Lion, Manchester By the Sea, and Moonlight for Drama, and Deadpool, Florence Foster Jenkins, La La Land, Sing Street, and 20th Century Women for Musical/Comedy.

I’m not going to dig into the groups who only announced winners here. I’ll do so for all the other categories.

The Satellites, of the films previously mentioned, nominated Fences, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures, La La Land, Lion, Manchester By the Sea, and Moonlight.

The Critics’ Choice nominated Arrival, Fences, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Lion, Manchester By the Sea, and Moonlight.

Three films, we know, are already locked in: La La Land, Manchester By the Sea, and Moonlight.

Based on all available evidence, Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures, and Lion all feel quite likely. That gives us 8.

However, there could be up to 10 films, and we must be prepared for that. So I must decide on the hypothetical 9th and 10th films, which are given above in brackets.

Fences is a frustrating case, because I don’t see a lot of traction for it outside of the acting categories. It could get into the race, but it might have as few as three nominations. I’m not quick to pick it.

Nocturnal Animals hasn’t popped up a lot in the Best Picture races to date, but I feel like it could earn quite a few other nominations, which might cumulatively push into the Picture race. Honestly, I think it might have a better chance than Fences.

Silence and Sully both have the reputation of their directors to prop them up, but the former has not been rapturously received and the latter arguably peaked too early.

Jackie would seem to be a given, considering the subject matter and generally solid reviews, but it has received very few accolades for its writing, direction, or as one of the year’s top films. So it, sadly, seems unlikely.

An animated nominee could, potentially, happen; Zootopia might be able to ride its excellent reviews, thematic relevance, and massive success to a nomination. But not since the two years of 10 fixed nominees has any animated film gotten all that close to the Picture race (though I could imagine Inside Out got its share of votes).

A foreign nominee could also possibly happen, though it usually requires a great deal of momentum, and no film seems to have the requisite support. There is the matter of Elle, but as it did not make the Foreign Film shortlist, don’t bank on it.

Honestly, I’m thinking Fences and Nocturnal Animals are it. It is worth noting that the Academy usually nominates at least one film not mentioned by the PGA, and it might actually make the final cut over Hacksaw Ridge, Hidden Figures, or Lion, which seem the most vulnerable of the big 8.

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His second film; his first nomination?

Best Director:

  • Damien Chazelle, La La Land
  • Tom Ford, Nocturnal Animals
  • Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
  • Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester By the Sea
  • Denis Villeneuve, Arrival

Damien Chazelle won the Globe and is up for the DGA and BAFTA. Oh, and he directed the darling of the awards season. So yeah. He’s in.

Kenneth Lonergan got Globe, DGA, and BAFTA nods. You might think his direction is too low-key to be a surefire nominee, but Tom McCarthy got in last year for Spotlight, and I can’t say he did anything especially memorable there. So let’s assume he’s in.

They’re actually the only two directors to hit all three. Denis Villeneuve has DGA and BAFTA nods, he’s been building up to a nomination for several years (he was probably pretty close to getting on last year for Sicario), and his film has been heavily acclaimed. I’m going to err in his favor.

Barry Jenkins missed BAFTA, but he was Globe and DGA-nominated, won the NBR, and his film is one of the three major front-runners for Best Picture. He seems like a safe bet.

But who’s the #5? Tom Ford got Globe and BAFTA noms. His film wasn’t universally beloved, but he should definitely be considered a contender. Mel Gibson got a Globe nod and his film might still break into Best Picture. I don’t know if the Academy would be willing to do it – I even doubt it, honestly – but it’s not impossible.

The 5th DGA nominee was Garth Davis for Lion, who was a bit of a surprise. I’m not sold on him getting nominated, as it’s rare for a director to get a DGA nod, miss at the Globes and BAFTA, and still get an Oscar nomination*.  The film does have a solid chance of making the Best Picture list, but I don’t think he’ll go along with it.

The 5th BAFTA nominee is Ken Loach, and as far as I can tell, he’s never come within pissing distance of an Oscar nomination (which is probably fine by him). So yeah.

I don’t know if anyone seriously thinks Scorsese could get nominated for Silence, but that film hasn’t really gone over to the degree where that seems likely. There are those who would say Eastwood could still get in for Sully, but there were also those who kept saying Bernie could win.

David Mackenzie for Hell or High Water, Denzel Washington for Fences, and Pablo Larraín for Jackie are all in that vague tier where they’re on the table, but there’s no realistic chance they’ll get on. In Larraín’s case that’s especially unfortunate, but those are the breaks.

I’ll give Ford the benefit of the doubt. I liked the film enough to where I’ll root for him to get on. Don’t rule out Davis, but I suspect he’s the only one with any real shot at getting on, unless someone (possibly Mackenzie) pulls a Lenny Abrahamson.

*I’m not absolutely certain, but it looks like the most recent instance was in 2007, when Tony Gilroy was nominated for Michael Clayton.

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Far and away the frontrunner – or so we assume.

Best Actor:

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

We know Casey Affleck is happening. Denzel Washington is almost certainly happening. Viggo Mortensen has Globe, SAG, and BAFTA nominations, and I’m not inclined to bet against him. Andrew Garfield also has Globe, SAG, and BAFTA; it’s only my appraisal of his performance that keeps me from predicting him automatically. But it seems likelier than not that he’ll get it.

That leaves one slot open…or does it? Ryan Gosling in La La Land has Globe, SAG, and BAFTA as well. He’d be the slightest nominee of the five (though not necessarily the least, performance-wise), and there’s a chance he (or maybe Mortensen) could get bumped for someone else. But who?

Joel Edgerton was looking like a solid bet for Loving, but he seems to have been crowded out of the field. Jake Gyllenhaal got a surprise BAFTA nomination for Nocturnal Animals, but that doesn’t really seem all that likely. Tom Hanks in Sully isn’t totally out of the question – Bradley Cooper was something of a surprise nominee for American Sniper – but I think that film opened too early to be a real contender.

Adam Driver’s received some attention for Paterson, but I don’t think a Jim Jarmusch film has ever been nominated for anything. So I’m not going to predict him. There’s also the question of Michael Keaton in The Founder. It doesn’t really seem possible, but the man starred in the last two Best Picture winners, which has to count for something.

I’ll assume they go with Gosling. That seems the most logical choice. Gyllenhaal and Edgerton might upset, but I’d put their odds at less than 10%.

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One of the best performances of the year, in one of its most provocative films.

Best Actress:

  • Amy Adams, Arrival
  • Isabelle Huppert, Elle
  • Natalie Portman, Jackie
  • Emma Stone, La La Land
  • Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

Since the Golden Globes began, only twice has the Best Actress – Drama winner not received an Oscar nomination: in 1988, when Shirley MacLaine won for Madame Sousatzka as part of a three-way tie (with Jodie Foster and Sigourney Weaver, who were nominated), and in 2008, when Kate Winslet won for Revolutionary Road…but she won the Oscar that year for The Reader, which the Globes had given her Supporting Actress for. So both instances have to be heavily asterisked.

What I’m getting at is that Isabelle Huppert is more than likely getting nominated. She missed SAG, yes, but she won the NYFCC, NSFC, and LAFCA awards, and only missed BAFTA because Elle won’t be eligible until next year. You can bet against her, but I’d rather be disappointed than faithless.

Emma Stone is happening, of course. Natalie Portman is happening, even though the film didn’t catch on with the awards groups to the degree expected (or deserved). Amy Adams won the NBR and has been nominated pretty much everywhere. (Not the Satellites, but they nominated her for Nocturnal Animals, so…)

There’s some competition for that 5th spot, though. Emily Blunt was pegged early on as a contender for The Girl on the Train, and has recently resurged with SAG and BAFTA noms. The film was a critical dud, but she’s never been nominated and may be seen as due. Meryl Streep is always a threat, and for Florence Foster Jenkins she’s hit the Globes, SAG, and BAFTA. Ruth Negga in Loving and Rebecca Hall in Christine (please, God) have a fair number of precursors between them, but the odds are against them.

An interesting wild card is Annette Bening in 2oth Century Women. The film opened pretty late (I haven’t even seen it yet), but it’s been well received, she was up for the Globe, and she has something of an overdue narrative going. I might even say she could get in over Streep, but I think the film opening so late will fuck her over in the end.

Let’s say Streep, with maybe a 35% chance it’s Bening or Blunt instead.

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Six weeks ago I’d never have guessed it. Now I’d be a fool not to.

Best Supporting Actor:

  • Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
  • Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
  • Hugh Grant, Florence Foster Jenkins
  • Dev Patel, Lion
  • Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Nocturnal Animals

Mahershala Ali seemed invincible until he lost at the Globes. That could have been a fluke, but it throws a bit of a wrench into things. That said, he’s going to be nominated, no doubt. We’ll worry about who’s going to win later. Outside of him, there’s some room for speculation.

Jeff Bridges has been showing up pretty much everywhere for Hell or High Water. SAG, BAFTA, Globes, and he won the NBR. Let’s figure on his winning streak continuing. Also hitting the Globe-SAG-BAFTA trifecta is Hugh Grant for Florence Foster Jenkins. It’d be his first nomination, but it would be deserved. I maintain that Bridges and Grant are leads (well, you could maybe argue Bridges is supporting, but Grant is most definitely lead), but that’s an issue for my own awards.

Dev Patel also hit all three awards for Lion. I confess I don’t quite see it, but he’s probably getting on.

For that fifth spot, however, there’s not a clear front-runner. Michael Shannon seemed like a safe bet for Nocturnal Animals (and deservedly so), but then Aaron Taylor-Johnson got the Globe nomination and won (shocking the hell out of everyone), and then he followed that up with a BAFTA nomination.

Meanwhile, the fifth SAG slot went to Lucas Hedges for Manchester By the Sea, who’s popped up in a lot of smaller groups (and the Critic’s Choice Awards). So don’t count him out, should the Academy really go whole hog for Manchester.

Also worth keeping in mind: Ben Foster in Hell or High Water, Issey Ogata in Silence (he’s awesome), and Ralph Fiennes for A Bigger Splash (a long, long shot, but not totally out of the question).

My instincts say it’s either Taylor-Johnson or Hedges. I think the Globe win will be just enough to nudge Taylor-Johnson in there (you have to go back to 1975 to find the last Globe winner not to get nominated*), but don’t be surprised if it’s Hedges. Or even Shannon.

*The unlucky actor in that case was Richard Benjamin for The Sunshine Boys; worse, his co-star, George Burns (nominated lead by the Globes), won the Oscar!

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The likeliest nominee of an acclaimed ensemble.

Best Supporting Actress:

  • Viola Davis, Fences
  • Naomie Harris, Moonlight
  • Nicole Kidman, Lion
  • Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures
  • Michelle Williams, Manchester By the Sea

Viola Davis won the Globe, was nominated at SAG, and got the only nomination for her film at the BAFTAs. She’s in. (Watch the film. You’ll see why.)

Michelle Williams has won most of what Davis hasn’t. And what she hasn’t won (mainly the NBR) has gone to Naomie Harris. So they’re both in.

Nicole Kidman hit the Globes-SAG-BAFTA trifecta (though, as with Dev Patel, I’m not totally sure why), and so we have to consider her likely.

The 5th BAFTA nominee was Hayley Squires for I, Daniel Blake. That’s not happening.

The 5th Globe nominee and the 5th SAG nominee were both Octavia Spencer for Hidden Figures. And given her previous-winner status and the ever-rising profile of that film, she has to be considered a contender.

Is there even really anyone else? Greta Gerwig had a little traction going for 20th Century Women, but like I said under Best Actress, I think the film itself opened too late in the game to make it in. Janelle Monáe in Hidden Figures got a little buzz, but not nearly as much as Spencer. Lily Gladstone in Certain Women impressed quite a few people, but I doubt remotely enough people saw the film.

So let’s assume it’s Spencer. The worst I can be is wrong.

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The modern Western that became a word-of-mouth hit.

Best Original Screenplay:

  • Hell or High Water
  • La La Land
  • The Lobster
  • Loving
  • Manchester By the Sea

Before I start going over the precursors, remember that the Academy decided Moonlight should compete in Adapted Screenplay.

The Writer’s Guild nominated Hell or High Water, La La Land, Loving, Manchester By the Sea, and Moonlight.

The BAFTAs nominated Hell or High Water, I, Daniel Blake, La La Land, Manchester By the Sea, and Moonlight.

The Globes nominated Hell or High Water, La La Land, and Manchester By the Sea.

The NBR, NYFCC and NSFC gave their awards to Manchester By the Sea. The LAFCA gave their award to The Lobster. 

The Satellites gave their award to Moonlight. The Critics’ Choice had a tie between Manchester and La La Land. They both nominated Hell or High Water and The Lobster.

This category honestly seems pretty sewn up at this point.

Hell or High Water is in. La La Land is in (pardon me whilst I retch). Manchester By the Sea is in and then some.

I’m afraid to predict The Lobster because I want it to happen so badly. But the LAFCA winner has missed out on the Oscars only once since 1989 and only four times ever. And with Moonlight in Adapted, that makes it all the more likely to get in.

So what’s the fifth film gonna be? Loving? Possibly. But it feels like it’s peaked already. Hacksaw Ridge? Not really about the writing (and might be Adapted). Captain Fantastic? Maybe, but I feel like that’s been praised more for the acting than the writing. Jackie? It’d be a great choice, but I wouldn’t be inclined to predict it. Toni Erdmann? Foreign language films do sometimes get in, but I don’t know if this one made a big enough impact.

(UPDATE: Sasha Stone at AwardsDaily mentioned 20th Century Women, which might happen, but I haven’t seen the traction for it.)

Honestly, I’m gonna go with Loving. Between the WGA nod, the fact that he had two critically-acclaimed films this year, and the reputation he’s been building up over the last few years…he seems like the best bet.

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The inspirational true story which rose above Oscar bait.

Best Adapted Screenplay:

  • Arrival
  • Hidden Figures
  • Lion
  • Moonlight
  • Nocturnal Animals

The WGA nominated Arrival, Deadpool, Fences, Hidden Figures, and Nocturnal Animals.

The BAFTAs nominated Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, Hidden Figures, Lion, and Nocturnal Animals.

The Globes nominated Moonlight (again, the Oscars deemed it Adapted) and Nocturnal Animals.

The NBR gave their award to Silence. The Satellites went a bit rogue and went with Snowden. The Critics’ Choice went with Arrival. Both of them nominated Hidden Figures, Lion, and Sully.

In addition to Moonlight, these seem to be the major contenders: Arrival, Hidden Figures, Lion, and Nocturnal Animals (which, even if I’ve overestimated it elsewhere, is so much a writers’ film that it will almost certainly appear here).

On top of those, Fences, Hacksaw Ridge, and Sully round out the playing field. And yes, there is Deadpool to consider, but I’ll be the first to admit I was wrong if the Academy nominates it. I’m not going to predict it.

Fences could happen, but at this point it feels like an also-ran outside of the acting categories. (It also doesn’t open up the play all that much, which may count against it for some.) Hacksaw Ridge isn’t out of the question, but again, it feels like that’s more about Andrew Garfield and about the technical aspects than about the writing. And Sully not only might have peaked too early, but it’s fair to wonder if the script’s treatment of the NTSB wouldn’t deter the writers from nominating it. They did nominate American Sniper, but that opened much later in the year.

There is also Silence, which might do what Inherent Vice did and overcome a mixed reception to get a nomination…but does that really feel likely? Not to me.

So I’ll go with the big four plus Moonlight. Let the outcome surprise me if it will.

Best Cinematography:

  • Arrival
  • La La Land
  • Moonlight
  • Nocturnal Animals
  • Silence

To recap: the ASC nominated Arrival, La La Land, Lion, Moonlight, and Silence.

The BAFTAs nominated Arrival, Hell or High Water, La La Land, Lion, and Nocturnal Animals.

The NYFCC, LAFCA, and NSFC all gave it to Moonlight.

Looking at the other awards, La La Land and Moonlight seem like the heavy hitters, with Arrival, Hell or High Water, Jackie, and Nocturnal Animals creeping around the edges.

The way things are going, I’d say Arrival, La La Land, and Moonlight are locks.

Unless they really go all in on Hell or High Water or Lion, I don’t really see either of those making it on. If they get nominated, that might be a tip-off.

Last year, the ASC and BAFTA actually matched 5/5, but the Academy went with The Hateful Eight over Bridge of Spies. The Academy doesn’t match the ASC 5/5 all that often, actually, though a couple of times the ASC has nominated more than 5 films and encompassed all of the Oscar nominees in doing so.

If they go all in for Nocturnal Animals, it could show up here. The cinematography is certainly noteworthy. And I really think they’ll get Silence a nomination, between it being beautifully shot and the prestige factor (and maybe a bit of consolation for good measure).

I can’t dismiss Lion out of hand, so if you want to predict that over Nocturnal Animals, you’d be entirely justified. I’ve already predicted it for several major awards, and I’ll stick to that. I would be absolutely thrilled if Jackie somehow made it on, but I’m not going to predict it.

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Before I saw the trailer, I knew nothing about it. After I saw the trailer, I couldn’t wait to see it.

Best Editing:

  • Arrival
  • Hell or High Water
  • La La Land
  • Manchester By the Sea
  • Moonlight

The editors guild has Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Manchester By the Sea, and Moonlight under Drama, and Deadpool, Hail, Caesar!, The Jungle Book, La La Land, and The Lobster (huzzah!) under Comedy.

BAFTA has Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, La La Land, Manchester By the Sea, and Nocturnal Animals.

This category can be a touch unpredictable, especially since they often auto-nominate the frontrunners. So let’s put the big three on there right away. If one of them misses, that could be a sign.

Arrival seems like the big tech contender of the year. I’m assuming it’s getting on.

Hacksaw Ridge has hit pretty much every precursor in this category. It’s the likeliest fifth film. Nocturnal Animals has some pretty showy editing, though, which could carry it over. (It could also get on over Manchester By the Sea, though I’m not going to assume that.) Don’t be totally shocked if Hidden Figures or Lion makes it on. Dallas Buyers Club was a surprise nominee in 2013, after all.

And there’s Hell or High Water, which…you know what? I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that’ll be the 5th film. I’ve been playing it too safe. It feels like a film that would get recognized here.

Best Production Design:

  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • Hidden Figures
  • Jackie
  • La La Land

The Art Directors Guild nominated 16 films across three categories. I won’t list them all, I’ll just note where they matched with the other groups.

The BAFTAs nominated Doctor Strange, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Hail, Caesar!, La La Land, and Nocturnal Animals. The ADG nominated all of those.

The Satellites gave their award to La La Land, as did the Critics’ Choice Awards. They both nominated Jackie (as did the ADG), and the Critics’ Choice nominated Fantastic Beasts.

There’s not a ton of consensus here, and the Academy only matched the BAFTAs 3/5 last year. In fact, they haven’t matched 5/5 since 2001.

La La Land is in. No question.

Arrival feels like a safe bet. Science fiction has done well here recently.

Jackie honestly feels decently likely as well. And Hidden Figures, since any period-piece front-runner should be considered likely. And if you’re wondering, “Does that include Hacksaw Ridge?”, I would say…it might.

I can’t see Doctor Strange actually happening here, but the BAFTA nod at least puts it in the conversation. I’d lean more towards Fantastic Beasts, which has both the period and the fantasyangles in its favor.

I’d be delighted by a rogue High-Rise nomination (or The Handmaiden), but neither feels likely enough to bank on.

1200

A brilliant film – but how many others felt the same?

Best Costume Design:

  • Allied
  • The Dressmaker
  • Florence Foster Jenkins
  • Jackie
  • La La Land

The Costume Designers Guild nominated 15 films across three categories. Including Kubo and the Two Strings. I’m not predicting a nomination for that, but know that it could happen.

BAFTA nominated Allied, Fantastic Beasts, Florence Foster Jenkins, Jackie, and La La Land. The latter four were nominated by the CDG.

The Satellites gave their award to Jackie, as did the Critics’ Choice. They both nominated La La Land, and the latter nominated Allied and Florence Foster Jenkins.

Now, this is one of those categories where random films sometimes pop up. And the Oscars haven’t matched the BAFTAs perfectly in…possibly ever. (Pre-2000, a smaller category and eligibility issues make matching them very difficult.)

So let’s say Jackie and La La Land are in without question. And Florence Foster Jenkins is more likely than not.

Fantastic Beasts could happen. Allied, the film’s failure to find an audience aside, could happen. Love & Friendship feels like it would happen, though it could’ve opened too early.

But given this category’s unpredictability, I’m going to say The Dressmaker has a fair shot. Films about fashion tend to do very well here, and the CDG nominated it. Nocturnal Animals also feels like a possibility, though I’m less certain of it. Though I’m not exactly flush with alternatives.

I would honestly go with Allied if Joanna Johnston had a stronger track record with the Academy. (She’s been nominated once, for Lincoln.) She also missed the CDG, which doesn’t help. But then again, they’ve made some strange choices – did anyone see The Revenant coming in this category?

So fuck it, I’ll take the risk. Which means they’ll probably nominate Kubo.

Best Makeup & Hairstyling:

  • Deadpool
  • Florence Foster Jenkins
  • Hail, Caesar!

This is the shortlist: Deadpool, The Dressmaker, Florence Foster Jenkins, Hail, Caesar!, A Man Called Ove, Star Trek Beyond, Suicide Squad.

The BAFTAs nominated Florence Foster Jenkins, and four films that weren’t shortlisted.

The M.U.A.H.S. (the makeup/hairstyling guild) nominated, in varying categories, Deadpool, Florence Foster Jenkins, Hail, Caesar!, Star Trek Beyond, and Suicide Squad.

Since they only nominate three films in this category, that makes our job both easier and harder. This category also tends to do its own thing (as I pointed out last year), so predict accordingly.

Let’s assume Florence is on. That seems to be a constant. And given that the makeup in Deadpool is pretty vital to the story, I’m inclined to say it’ll happen. As for the third film, they usually throw at least one random/semi-random film in there.

I would guess A Man Called Ove, but the makeup isn’t that notable. Hail, Caesar! could happen. There’s some subtly effective work there. Star Trek should get on, based solely on the quality of the work done. And Suicide Squad might have been critically ravaged, but remember: they nominated The Lone Ranger here. And then there’s The Dressmaker, but I really don’t know what that has to offer.

I’ll just guess Hail, Caesar! and accept it if I get 2/3. If I noticed and appreciated what they did there, there’s a chance they did as well.

La La Land first look

Could there be a more certain nominee?

Best Original Score:

  • Hidden Figures
  • Jackie
  • La La Land
  • Lion
  • Moonlight

This is always a tough one to predict. There’s no guild and not that many precursors to build off of.

The Globes had Arrival, Hidden Figures, La La Land, Lion, and Moonlight. La La Land won.

BAFTA had Arrival, Jackie, La La Land, Lion, and Nocturnal Animals.

Arrival would be a lock for a nomination, but it was declared ineligible. Usually at least one major score gets fucked over like that.

La La Land is happening, no question. It’s almost certainly winning, too. Moonlight feels like it’s probably getting on. It probably would anyway, but with an otherwise surefire contender out of the running, I think it’s safely in. And I feel like Hidden Figures could happen, given the support it’s likely to get.

And let’s put on Lion. When in doubt, look to the consensus.

In the absence of a strong fifth, I’m gonna put on Jackie. But look out for a surprise nominee here. John Williams did the BFG score, though I’d be shocked if they actually went for it. Nocturnal Animals has a great score and I’d love if it happened, but I’m not yet sold on it happening. Reznor & Ross did the Patriot’s Day score, which might get something. Hell, Swiss Army Man is on the eligible list, if you want to go there.

Best Song:

  • “Audition (Fools Who Dream)”, La La Land
  • “City of Stars”, La La Land
  • “Drive It Like You Stole It”, Sing Street
  • “How Far I’ll Go”, Moana
  • “Runnin'”, Hidden Figures

This is a hell of a category to try and predict. The Oscars and the Globes haven’t matched better than 2/5 since 2004. They’ve matched 5/5 once in the last 25 years.

This year is a little easier, thanks to La La Land and Moana. “Audition (Fools Who Dream)” and “City of Stars” seem to be the favorites there. Under the current rules, we could potentially have just three nominees – and it would probably be those two and “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana. Probably. But not definitely.

I’ll assume they go for five. Hidden Figures has two eligible songs, and I figure “Runnin'” is the one they’ll go with. But past that…

“Drive It Like You Stole It” from Sing Street is really well liked. John Carney has a good track record here, with Once winning and Begin Again getting nominated. Documentaries sometimes end up here: Miss Sharon Jones! and The Eagle Huntress could both happen.

I’d just like to note that my current top 3 songs all got on the eligible list: “Gone 2015” from Miles Ahead, “I’m So Humble” from Popstar, and “Montage” from Swiss Army Man. Any of those would make me very happy.

And don’t forget “The Rules Don’t Apply” from Rules Don’t Apply. If they immortalized that film as an Oscar nominee I’d be tickled.

I’ll stick with “Drive It Like You Stole It”. If I get 4/5 here I’ll be quite happy.

960

A 208-second event. A 96-minute film. $125 million domestic.

Best Sound Mixing:

  • Arrival
  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • La La Land
  • Rogue One
  • Sully

The CAS nominated Doctor Strange, Hacksaw Ridge, La La Land, Rogue One, and Sully for Live Action, and Finding Dory, Kubo and the Two Strings, Moana, The Secret Life of Pets, and Zootopia for Animation.

The BAFTAs went with Arrival, Deepwater Horizon, Fantastic Beasts, Hacksaw Ridge, and La La Land. (It’s worth noting they have one sound category, while the Academy has two.)

The Satellites, who also have one sound category, gave their award to Hacksaw Ridge, and nominated Allied, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, The Jungle Book, La La Land, and 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi.

Hacksaw Ridge and La La Land are gimmes. And I would be shocked if Arrival missed out.

The Academy and the CAS haven’t matched 5/5 since 2003. And the Academy has never nominated a Marvel film for mixing. So I’m not banking on Doctor Strange. Rogue One could happen, but I’m not really feeling it.

Would Fantastic Beasts happen? No Potter film ever has. So I wouldn’t predict it. Hell or High Water? Maybe. Sully? Actually not out of the question. In fact…I think I’ll predict that one at least. I’d be surprised if it didn’t get anything, and it’s a decently worthy nomination.

Deepwater Horizon should happen, but the BAFTA nomination is about all it’s gotten.

Eh, to hell with it. Rogue One fits the bill. And Star Wars has historically done very well in this category.

Best Sound Editing:

  • Arrival
  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • Hell or High Water
  • Rogue One
  • Sully

This one will be quick, for several reasons.

One, there are pretty much no precursors. Most other groups do only one sound category.

Two, the MPSE (the sound editing guild) hasn’t announced their nominees yet.

Three, this category and Sound Mixing usually match…fairly closely. There’s usually one Mixing nominee that can come right off. In this case, La La Land.

And what do we replace it with? I’d say either Fantastic Beasts or Hell or High Water. And frankly, the latter seems more likely to me. So let’s just go with that. (There’s a chance one of these could get bumped for Fantastic Beasts. If that does happen, probably Sully would be the one bumped.)

Idris Elba Shere Khan

A story with one human character, set in the jungles of India…filmed in downtown Los Angeles.

Best Visual Effects:

  • Arrival
  • Doctor Strange
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
  • The Jungle Book
  • Rogue One

The Academy’s shortlist has 10 films: Arrival, The BFG, Captain America: Civil War, Deepwater Horizon, Doctor Strange, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, The Jungle Book, Kubo and the Two Strings, Passengers, and Rogue One.

The Visual Effects Society has a ton of nominees. I won’t ever bother to sift through them.

BAFTA went with Arrival, Doctor Strange, Fantastic Beasts, The Jungle Book, and Rogue One.

The Satellites and Critics’ Choice both gave their awards to The Jungle Book, and both nominated Doctor Strange.

Honestly, I feel like the BAFTA list is pretty much spot on. But since the Academy fixed the category at 5 nominees in 2010, they’ve never matched 5/5. I’m just not sure what would come off. If Star Trek Beyond was shortlisted I might put it forward over Fantastic Beasts, but that’s obviously out.

If I absolutely had to pick one, I’d say Deepwater Horizon, because that was fairly impressive effects-wise. The BFG isn’t happening (or at least it shouldn’t), I don’t feel like Captain America would make it on, Kubo would only be the second animated film ever to get nominated here (the first being The Nightmare Before Christmas), and Passengers…yeah.

I think the Oscars will match the BAFTAs. I just can’t see any likely alternatives.

Best Foreign Language Film:

  • The King’s Choice (Norway)
  • Land of Mine (Denmark)
  • A Man Called Ove (Sweden)
  • The Salesman (Iran)
  • Toni Erdmann (Germany)

Here’s the shortlist: It’s Only the End of the World, The King’s Choice, Land of Mine, A Man Called Ove, My Life as a Zucchini, Paradise, The Salesman, Tanna, Toni Erdmann.

Toni Erdmann would be an upset if it didn’t get on. A Man Called Ove is a crowdpleaser. The Salesman is by a previous winner (Asghar Farhadi) and has been nominated elsewhere. So those are three solid likelihoods off the bat.

Looking at the others, we have no less than three WWII dramas: The King’s Choice, Land of Mine, and Paradise. Of those, I feel like Land of Mine is the likeliest nominee, then King’s Choice, then Paradise. 

It’s Only the End of the World got pretty not-great reviews overall, so I would be surprised if it happened. Tanna might happen, but it would be the first time Australia actually made it on. And the more I think about it, the less likely it seems.

So I’m going to predict they’ll double up on WWII dramas. It’s not like either of them are likely to win.

the-red-turtle

No words? No problem.

Best Animated Feature:

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

There’s not exactly a shortlist here. There’s a list of 27 eligible films. I’m not going through all of them.

Let’s assume Moana is in. And ZootopiaKubo is pretty damn likely – it would be the first Laika film to miss if it didn’t get on.

Finding Dory was great, but I feel like it’s been a bit of an afterthought with the awards groups. BAFTA nominated it, but the Globes didn’t. And since Pixar getting on is no longer a given (we figured The Good Dinosaur would just happen and…it didn’t), I’m not going to bank on it.

Looking at the longlist, these films all stand out as reasonably promising: April and the Extraordinary World, Long Way North, My Life as a Zucchini, The Red Turtle, and Your Name.

My Life as a Zucchini got a Globe nomination and was shortlisted for Foreign Film. I really feel like that might happen. So I’ll predict it.

And The Red Turtle has gone over pretty well with the awards groups (and got 5 nominations at the Annies). So I’m gonna go with that as well.

I’d love if they put Miss Hokusai on here, but they’ve never nominated a non-Studio Ghibli Japanese film, and I doubt they’ll start with a film that hardly got seen. (Your Name isn’t impossible, but not overly likely either.)

Best Documentary Feature:

  • Gleason
  • Life, Animated
  • O.J.: Made in America
  • 13th
  • Weiner

This shortlist goes to 15: Cameraperson, Command and Control, The Eagle Huntress, Fire at Sea, Gleason, Hooligan Sparrow, I Am Not Your Negro, The Ivory Game, Life, Animated, O.J.: Made in America, 13th, Tower, Weiner, The Witness,  Zero Days.

O.J.: Made in America feels like a lock. That doesn’t always pan out (it is eight hours long, though it keeps you riveted throughout), but I’m not predicting it won’t. I don’t know if Weiner is a lock, but it’s so fucking good (and topical) that I’m thinking they’ll put it on.

The Eagle Huntress, Gleason, and Life, Animated all fit the inspirational/feel-good bill. I Am Not Your Negro and 13th fit the social-issue bill. It’s actually a pretty strong year. And let’s not forget Cameraperson and Tower, both heavily acclaimed. As is Hooligan Sparrow.

I’m accepting a solid margin of error in this category. I’ll say Gleason and Life, Animated get on, and 13th gets on through a combination of its high profile, critical acclaim, relevance, and previously Oscar-recognized director (Ava DuVernay).

I will not try and predict the short film categories. They’re an entirely different game and I’ve already been going on for over 6,000 words. Let’s move on.

Predicted Totals (multiple nominations only):

La La Land: 13 nominations

Arrival: 9 nominations

Moonlight: 8 nominations

Hidden Figures, Manchester By the Sea: 6 nominations

Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Lion: 5 nominations

Nocturnal Animals: 4-5 nominations

Florence Foster Jenkins, Jackie: 4 nominations

Rogue One: 3 nominations

Fences: 2-3 nominations

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Moana, Sully: 2 nominations

And lastly, some additional articles you may find useful, if after 6,300 words you want more of my writing:

I’ve got more, but these, I think, are the most pertinent.

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