Oscarathon 2017: Oscar Forecast Megathread – The Big Six Categories

In All, Movies by David

Now that Oscar nominations and some of the bigger awards have rolled out, true Oscar prognosticating can begin as Oscarathon 2017 continues. This year we are going to try something a bit different, as there are going to be four major posts that are just going to be continuously updating once they are up. After different major awards, I’ll be adding new thoughts on each race so you can see how each event changes the race as we go along. This first post is going to be covering the action for the six major categories at the Oscars.

You just had to take over the race…


Current Rankings

  1. La La Land
  2. Moonlight
  3. Hidden Figures
  4. Arrival
  5. Manchester by the Sea
  6. Lion
  7. Fences
  8. Hell or High Water
  9. Hacksaw Ridge

Will Win: La La Land

Should Win: Moonlight (even though I think La La Land is slightly better, this would be a better win)

Should Have Been Nominated: Meh, I am pretty good with this list, so I’ll go off book with The Handmaiden


Initial Thoughts:

Nothing too surprising in these nominations. These were the nine films that have stood out most in the awards season. It would have been fun if Deadpool had slipped in, because of how anti-Oscars that movie is, but it really didn’t deserve to, so meh. Let’s break down the list.


La La Land

  • What started as a back and forth has quickly shifted and La La Land is moving full steam ahead. With 14 nominations, it ties the record for most nominations of all time with Titanic and All About Eve. Hollywood loves films about Hollywood, and this is looking to be the latest example–and it helps that this film is incredible. Even if I actually do think La La Land is the best of the nominated films (albeit not by much), its ascendancy still continues a trend I have been troubled by for years. It is sad that the hive mind of the award season looks to be back in full force after last year’s delightful spreading of the love, with La La Land picking up more and more steam as the year has gone along. Whether it deserves to or not, this film has a legit chance of winning 13 Oscars at this point (it can’t win 14, seeing as two of its nominations are in the same category), which would break the previous record of 11. Now, it is highly unlikely it can actually win 13, as Ryan Gosling winning Best Actor would be a major upset, but it is possible. I think the backlash for the film and the quirks of some of these categories mean that this film will likely top out at 10 wins, possibly 11, to either fall just short of or tie the record. Speaking of this backlash: it is growing, and it is possible that some of the bigger guilds might actually prefer other films, but in order for that to change things they need to coalesce around the same film. Otherwise, this race is over.

Ready To Strike


  • If I had to choose a film to win from these nine that would be the most vital to win, it would be this one. Moonlight is everything the Academy says it strives for in a film: an intimate and personal piece that speaks to a diverse experience in a way that only film can. I do find myself preferring La La Land as an overall movie, but I am going to be rooting for Moonlight come Oscar Sunday. This also feels like the only movie that can really challenge La La Land at this point. With eight nominations all in the right places and support from the directing, writing, editing, and acting branch, this film checks all the boxes of what a Best Picture winner normally looks like. At the beginning of the awards season, you could argue that at the very least it was a co-favorite with La La Land, and possibly even the actual favorite. It helps that this is the film that won the Golden Globe for Best Drama, and unlike La La Land has a chance to shine at SAG. Barry Jenkins could still win Best Director, and this film is almost definitely winning Best Adapted Screenplay. It needs a real momentum shift, however, to prove it can pull off the big win. Otherwise, while Moonlight will still have a good night during the Oscars, it will come up short against La La Land.

Still Has a Shot


Manchester By The Sea

  • These two films are about even at this point. Arrival got eight nominations, just like Moonlight, although the surprising snub of Amy Adams does hurt. The film got nominations in writing, editing, and directing, so it checks a lot of boxes for winning Best Picture. It also has done fairly well in the box office, so it is rather well known. The problem is that Arrival just hasn’t really won anything this award season. Manchester By The Sea, on the other hand, has won quite a bit this season, and is one of the top contenders for both Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay. It has lost a lot of momentum lately, though, because while it got a respectable number of nominations (six), it didn’t get an editing nomination, which is not a great sign for its Oscar chances. At this point, both of these films are pretty big longshots, but they are also the only other two I can see any real case for actually pulling off the Best Picture upset. It is highly unlikely, but both have a shot.

Happy to Be There



Hidden Figures

Hacksaw Ridge

Hell or High Water

  • The rest of these movies are basically just happy to be here. Lion likely pulled off this nomination purely because it has the Weinsteins behind it. Hacksaw Ridge getting nominated is basically the Academy agreeing to forgive Mel Gibson, but it isn’t winning anything. Hell or High Water is a nice story, but it has no chance of winning. Fences and Hidden Figures are a little more interesting, but neither is going to win. If either had come out much earlier, I think they could have been in contention, but they got started too late. Still, Fences has the fact that it has a legit chance to win Acting Oscars for both of its “leads,” while Hidden Figures is the kind of movie the Oscars love. You could maybe argue these two films deserve their own category, but neither has won anything to really make them feel like they have any real chance (although the SAG awards could change that for both of them). Overall, these are all good movies, but each really only has one or two shots at taking home any Oscars at all, and otherwise is basically there to look pretty and get drunk.

PGA Awards Update:

La La Land was already the presumptive favorite before the PGAs thanks to 14 nominations and tons of momentum, but honestly, after this win, this race is likely over. This is sad, because this was shaping out to be one of the most competitive races ever earlier in the season, with La La Land, Moonlight, and Manchester by the Sea trading awards, and Arrival lurking on the outside, but the Producers Guild Awards win is one of the best predictors in the race. Only seven times in the 28 years this ceremony has been held resulted in a mismatch between the PGA winner and Best Picture at the Oscars, and one only of those times has occurred since 2007. So it is hard to imagine this race not being over. The only real question at this point is how many Oscars will La La Land actually win. Moonlight still feels like the one movie that could beat La La Land, but it really needed this PGA win to makes that a real conversation again. The only sliver of hope is that the one time since 2007 that the PGAs didn’t match the Oscars was last year, when the PGAs picked The Big Short while the Oscar went to Spotlight. Last year, however, might end up being a true historical aberration, as it was the race that it looked like what this year’s could have been, with four films having legitimate chances of winning on Oscar night (Spotlight, The Big Short, The Revenant, and Mad Max: Fury Road).

SAG Awards Update:

While Hidden Figures was the big winner of the night (to the surprise of many but not me, as this always felt like the kind of film that generally wins the SAG Award), honestly, the bigger story is that Moonlight is a real loser from this night, and during the weekend as a whole. It really need to win either the PGA or SAG top prize (really both) in order to be a real threat to La La Land, but instead it came up with nothing. La La Land‘s coronation seems cruising toward the finishing line with no real drama ahead, unless the DGAs and BAFTAs really shake things up. Part of me also wonders if Emma Stone’s win was a way for SAG to show love to La La Land, seeing as it would have made zero sense for that film to get a nomination for Best Ensemble when there are only two real characters in the movie (and also however much John Legend counts).

Hidden Figures, meanwhile, does probably deserve to be in its own Best Picture tier, as this win does prove that this film could have had a lot more juice if it had come out earlier. I could definitely see another universe where this film came out in early December and was right in the thick of things, considering how popular it has ended up being and how important this film is in terms of social politics. Instead it got a nice award from SAG, and the slightest possibility of pulling off a monumental upset on Oscar night. If nothing else, Hidden Figures is going to try its darndest to make itself look like it is a legit threat with this win, but really, nothing the SAG Awards did suggests that La La Land has anything to worry about.

DGA Awards Update:

Damien Chazelle’s win at the DGAs likely ties up both Best Director and Best Picture. There have only been three instances in history in which a film won both the DGA and PGA and didn’t go onto win best picture: Apollo 13Saving Private Ryan, and Gravity. All three were weird years. Apollo 13 ran into the Academy’s love for actors becoming directors, with Braveheart taking both Director and Picture. Saving Private Ryan was subject to one of the biggest upsets in Oscar history when it lost to Shakespeare in Love for Best Picture (but not Best Director). (In retrospect, though, considering Shakespeare in Love won both the SAG and BAFTA, this so-called upset is kind of overblown, especially compared to Braveheart beating Apollo 13, considering Braveheart basically won nothing before Oscar night and everyone loved Apollo 13 except for the Oscars). As for Gravity, well, it gets on this list as a technicality, because while it did win both PGA and DGA, that only happened because the PGAs had a tie between eventual Best Director winner Gravity and eventual Best Picture winner 12 Years a Slave, which allowed the PGAs to be both right and wrong.

The point is that, while it has happened before, La La Land losing at this point would be really unusual. It seems especially unlikely considering how much Hollywood loves patting themselves on the back by voting for movies about themselves. Moonlight objectively is probably still the biggest threat (and could jump up more if it somehow won the BAFTA), but in terms of historical indicators, just about the only film that really seems like it has a chance is actually Hidden Figures (even without an Editing nomination). I don’t put as much stock in the movie’s SAG Award win as some people, simply because it would have made no sense for La La Land to win the biggest SAG award or as it turns out, even get nominated, considering (as I have said before) the film isn’t an ensemble and is instead built around its leads. SAG giving Best Actress to Emma Stone in a lot of ways felt like the guild giving their support in a less ridiculous way.

That said, the only real blueprint I can still see for an upset is that the actor’s branch rebels against La La Land for its lack of supporting characters. The real problem is that it is really hard to view Hidden Figures as a compelling threat, considering it didn’t get a BAFTA nomination. A win there could at least have positioned the film in the same place as Shakespeare in Love; add in that a lot of people are concerned that La La Land is not important enough of a movie to win Best Picture (a very dubious argument for a lot of reasons), and a so-called important film like Hidden Figures might just have pulled it off. Without BAFTA, though, all this seems really like grasping at straws to find a reason that La La Land won’t win. I will say, though, that I am rethinking the overall win count for La La Land. At first it felt like the film was heading to 10-11 wins, and that still feels really possible, but the backlash for this film is strong, and if you actually look at each category it is only the clear favorite in maybe four categories (Best Picture, Director, Original Song, and likely Score). It will likely win more than four, but this film is feeling more and more like maybe a 7-8 winner, if not less. You would think that would lessen its Best Picture chances, but really I think it just means people will be more likely to look to spread the love to other films instead of simply checking all the La La Land boxes.

BAFTA Awards Update:

Another win for La La Land on its likely road toward a Best Picture win. There was a bit of intrigue, though, as La La Land “only” won five awards out of eleven nominations. Of course, I am being somewhat sarcastic, because five is still an impressive number and it did win Best Picture, but it was not the Golden Globes-style landslide that many were expecting. This honestly doesn’t surprise me all that much. The Golden Globes set up a silly standard that came from a combination of the split categories and the Hollywood Foreign Press clearly wanting to make a statement and make everyone pay attention to them. This infected everyone right before the Academy finished voting on their nominations, and La La Land ended up with a record-tying 14 noms. This really never should have happened, even if you can go category by category and find that La La Land nominations make sense everywhere (in some categories more so than in others). This overhype contributed to the backlash La La Land is now facing (in addition to the backlash that all movies with frontrunner status suffer from, because Hollywood is a petty, petty place). In addition, a lot of categories even in a somewhat weak movie year (or very weak, depending on who you ask) have some really stiff competition, which means La La Land is probably only even the clear favorite in about five categories at this point: Picture, Director, Actress, Score, and Original Song.

What does all this mean? It is a good time to remember that a shit ton of nominations doesn’t always translate into a ton of wins. The Revenant got 12 nominations last year, and ended up with only three Oscars. Also, people have had time to mellow. If voting had happened maybe a week or two ago, La La Land probably wins a record-tying or record-breaking number of Oscars, but instead the voting happens between February 13th and February 21st, so that can change things a lot. The floor for La La Land seems to be about five, and more than likely it will carry other categories, so it is probably looking at a seven-to-nine win night, depending on what we find out from a couple more guild awards. This is still a really good number, but maybe not what people had originally expected (or in some cases dreaded). At this point, how much La La Land actually wins could be deciding a lot of Oscar pools, which has at least made the overall night much more interesting, even if Best Picture is still basically a done deal barring a rather historic upset.

You aren’t out of this yet, Barry.


Current Rankings

  1. Damien Chazelle, La La Land
  2. Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
  3. Denis Villeneuve, Arrival
  4. Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
  5. Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge

Will Win: Damien Chazelle

Should Win: Chazelle or Jenkins

Should Have Been Nominated: Park Chan-wook, The Handmaiden


Initial Thoughts:

These nominations mostly went to script. There were really only two questions. The more obvious one was whether the Academy was ready to forgive Mel Gibson and give him a nomination, or if the Academy would follow suit with the DGAs and pick Lion‘s Garth Davis. The other question was just whether the directors’ branch would throw a curveball like it has in some past years, and for example leave off Kenneth Lonergan because they view him more as a writer than a director. It turns out the first question is the only one that mattered. The Academy did give Gibson the nomination, and the rest of the nominations were as expected.

Leader of the Pack

Damien Chazelle

  • Even without his recent success at the Globes and other award ceremonies, Chazelle would be the leader simply from the fact that La La Land is such a heavy favorite to win Best Picture. That historical trend has been less telling this decade, but in general the film that wins Best Picture is also going to win Best Director. Chazelle has been at the top or near the top this whole season even before La La Land took off, so its ascendancy is making him a pretty clear favorite. Add in that Chazelle already has a lot of clout from directing Whiplash, as well as him presenting chance for the directing branch to award some new-but-not-too-new blood and things are looking pretty good for him. He isn’t the same level of favorite as his film is quite yet, though that might change once the DGAs pass. If he wins there, it is really hard to see Chazelle losing, especially considering his closest competition wasn’t nominated for a BAFTA.

Clear Challenger

Barry Jenkins

  • It should be said that Jenkins has a much better shot at this point at winning Best Director than Moonlight does winning Best Picture. Early in the season, Jenkins was able to beat Chazelle quite a few times, so he is a real threat even if La La Land goes win crazy on Oscar night. The Academy has slowly shown they are more and more okay with splitting Best Director and Best Picture in the last decade, so the two are no longer the automatic pair they once were. Obviously, Jenkins would get a real boost if Moonlight was also likely to win Best Picture, but that doesn’t feel like a requirement for him to win the way it does for every other nominee including Chazelle. That said, Jenkins hasn’t won anything in a while, and this La La Land train has really gotten out of hand, so a DGA win is probably a requirement for this to be viewed as a real possibility instead of just the most likely fantasy. Especially since Jenkins will probably win the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar so the Academy doesn’t have to worry about him going home empty handed.

Not Impossible

Denis Villeneuve

Kenneth Lonergan

  • Just like their movies, these two directors seem to be in the same boat. I can’t really imagine either winning, but if their films do better than expected they certainly have a shot. Villeneuve probably more so than Lonergan, who has already overcome quite a bit to get nominated, considering many probably view him as a writer first. Both of these films have an outside chance at Best Picture, and the best hope for Villeneuve or Lonergan is that an upset in the top prize pulls them along for the ride in the traditional pairing of Best Picture and Best Director.

Don’t Ask for Anything Else

Mel Gibson

  • Gibson’s reward is that he got nominated. There is no way in hell he is winning, so let’s just move along. 

PGA Awards Update:

While this doesn’t really mean much for the directors, the momentum boost Moonlight and by extension Jenkins could have gotten from the PGAs would have been nice to see. That didn’t happen, so Chazelle looks to be firmly in control.

DGA Awards Update:

Well, that was a fun race while it lasted. There have only been eight directors to ever win the DGA Award and then not win the Oscar: Rob Marshall (Chicago), Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather), Anthony Harvey (The Lion in Winter), Ben Affleck (Argo), Ron Howard (Apollo 13), and Steven Spielberg (The Color Purple), and Robert Rossen (All the King’s Men), sort of, because the wonky non-calendar year schedule of the first and second DGA awards allowed for the man that beat Rossen for the Oscar, Joseph L. Manckiewicz (A Letter to Three Wives), to win the DGA for the first year while Rossen won for the second year before both men faced off during the same Academy Awards. Affleck, Howard, and Spielberg are also unique in that they are the only three to win the DGA and then somehow not even be nominated for an Oscar. Only Rossen, Coppola, Lee, and Affleck also won the Golden Globe and failed to win. So Damien Chazelle’s win at the DGAs has likely ended what started out as quite the competitive race, especially considering his closest competitor, Barry Jenkins, isn’t even nominated for a BAFTA. This might have actually become a bigger lock than Best Picture is for La La Land.

BAFTA Awards Update:

The Damien Chazelle train just keeps on rolling as he picks up the BAFTA trophy. At this point it will take a severe historical anomaly for Chazelle not to win. The only directors in history to win the DGA, the Golden Globe, and the BAFTA but not the Oscar are Ben Affleck (who wasn’t even nominated for the Oscar) and Ang Lee (who ironically did win the year Affleck was snubbed). So while not completely unprecedented, a Chazelle loss would be pretty damn near, and no offense to the rest of the nominees this year, none of them other than maybe Mel Gibson (who has his own issues) have the clout and influence Steven Soderbergh had when he ended up defeating Lee (not to mention Soderbergh was nominated for two movies that year, Traffic and Erin Brockovich). If La La Land somehow fails to win Best Picture this could change, but that seems like the only real scenario where Chazelle loses at this point).

You probably won’t win, but welcome to the show! It is well-deserved.


Current Rankings

  1. Emma Stone, La La Land
  2. Isabelle Huppert, Elle
  3. Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins
  4. Natalie Portman, Jackie
  5. Ruth Negga, Loving

Will Win: Emma Stone

Should Win: Isabelle Huppert

Should Have Been Nominated: Annette Bening, 20th Century Women


Initial Thoughts:

This was such a brutal race, with at least seven (and really more) actresses vying over five spots. The big surprise is that Amy Adams ended up being left out, after seeming like a lock. It was a weird exclusion, because Arrival did quite well overall, and the entire movie is built around Adams, so it is hard to figure what happened. It is less hard to figure out what happened to Annette Bening, whose film simply came out too late to build up any real buzz. Meryl Streep landed her record 20th nomination off of a strong performance in both her movie, and more importantly her rousing Golden Globes speech, which likely cost Adams her nomination. Some may think that Ruth Negga’s inclusion is what cost Adams, and that might be true, but Negga’s performance had been better regarded than Streep’s throughout the awards process for the most part until the end. Plus, although Loving didn’t receive any other noms, it wasn’t for lack of trying, as distributor Focus Features pushed really hard for acting nominations in places like Variety, spending more on advertising than almost any other campaign. Also, the nonsense talk that Huppert might not get a nomination was thankfully just that–nonsense. This is one of the few categories that really any of the nominees could actually win (even Negga, if things fell the right way).

Narrative Leader

Emma Stone

  • Emma Stone is a weird favorite whose results haven’t quite matched her so-called favorite status so far. Sure, she won the Golden Globe, but she only had to face off against a pre-speech Streep and Bening. This has been a real competitive year, but sometimes people have forgotten about this and anointed Stone a bit too early. Still, Stone has a lot going for her. She is the beating heart of La La Land, and anchors the part of the story that doesn’t have the white savior undertones of co-star Gosling’s half. While not the strongest singer (especially seeing as the movie purposely made her sing out of her range to show why she would be a struggling actress), she delivers when the movie needs her to, and her singing of ‘Audition’ is one of the most chill-inducing performances in quite some time. All of this would make her a strong contender, but add in that La La Land appears heading for a resounding victory come Oscar night, and she has emerged as the favorite.

Unfortunately Foreign Role

Isabelle Huppert

  • If this performance was done by an American actress, or at the very least done in an American film, this race would be over. Quite frankly, even in a year full of strong performances, Huppert gave by far the strongest performance in this category or arguably any other. She is stunning in this role, and if this was purely based on merit, this contest wouldn’t even be close and Huppert would be the first person since Marion Cotillard to win a Leading Acting Oscar for a Foreign Language role. History simply isn’t on her side, however, as generally it has been an uphill battle for a performance like hers to even get a nomination. Despite resonating this season with numerous groups, including the Golden Globes, Huppert’s performance has the potential to turn off quite a few people, especially the older members of the Academy. This is the kind of role that doesn’t exist in America, and the reasons for that may come back to hurt her in the end. While Huppert is a strong threat to win, Stone remains the favorite, because Stone’s role is so much easier to stomach, and a lot of people may have trouble getting through all of Elle.

Fading Favorite

Natalie Portman

  • How the mighty have fallen. Portman and her movie Jackie started the season strong, but both faded as things went along. Portman did win the Critics’ Choice Award, among others, but she has slowly lost a lot of her mojo to Stone and Huppert. Some major advantages remain: this is the type of performance the Academy loves, and Portman could find herself benefitting from Academy members who want to reward harkening back to the Camelot era given the current political landscape. Portman still feels like a really good pick to win, but one has to wonder how badly she wants it right now. For justifiable reasons, she hasn’t been nearly the campaigner others have been, and that might also be what has slowly cost her momentum. More than anyone else (besides Negga), she could really use a major win at this point to prove she is still in contention.

Umm, It’s Meryl Streep

Meryl Streep

  • Look, by all objective standards, this should be as far as Streep goes. Even as a big fan of her performance this year, she was probably ranked seventh out of the seven big contenders in terms who gave the best performance. Most people consider this to be a B-Level Meryl performance, but honestly, she was so clearly voted in as a signal of support for her Golden Globes speech that who the hell knows what will happen. Streep is so good that she is both overrated and underrated at any given time, so it’s impossible to know which way the Academy will go. Streep could easily win as a giant middle finger to Donald Trump and the rest of right-wing America–a prospect which would be kind of unfortunate for a lot of reasons, but which cannot be wholly discounted.

Probably Used Up All Her Magic

Ruth Negga

  • I guess Negga was the surprise of this category, since she was able to get nominated over much higher profile actresses like Adams and Bening, but really Negga has been in the thick of things the entire season, and only lost ground once Loving began to falter in general. A good campaign kept her in everyone’s consciousness and allowed her to score a nomination anyway. Likely at this point Negga is an “it’s an honor just to be nominated” nominee, but there is enough juice in her performance and campaign that her winning wouldn’t be a complete shock. Her campaign has already proved strong, so counting her out completely would be foolish, but she is definitely the longest shot at this point.

SAG Awards Update:

This is the win I have been waiting for Emma Stone to get. She beat a stacked field against both Streep and Portman, and now she really does look like the true frontrunner. The only hesitation is that Stone still has never really beat Huppert, so it really feels like it is coming down to those two. Stone seems to have taken most of Portman’s momentum, and Streep winning will be more of a statement about her speech than recognition for her performance, so there is no way to predict whether that will happen until, well, it happens. Huppert isn’t going to get any chance to change the narrative before Oscar night, and Stone is the favorite right now to win the BAFTA, so ultimately it is just going to come down to whether the Academy can stomach Huppert’s performance and be willing to reward a foreign actress, or if they will go with the safer and more palatable performance of Stone. All bets right now should be on Stone.

BAFTA Awards Update:

Though once again it came in a field that didn’t involve Huppert, Emma Stone notched another victory, and is likely heading toward an Oscar night win. At the very least, it is hard to pick anyone to beat her other than Huppert, who has to overcome that she was not on either the BAFTA or SAG ballot to even compete against Stone. Stone has been a constant fixture throughout the awards season, and no one seems to have any real issues with her, so everything is aligning for her to pull off this win. This is still a brutal category, and things could shift, but one can now pick Stone with confidence.

Can you make this a real race?


Current Ranking

  1. Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
  2. Denzel Washington, Fences
  3. Ryan Gosling, La La Land
  4. Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
  5. Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic

Will Win: Casey Affleck

Should Win: Casey Affleck on merit, Denzel Washington if Hollywood wants to be consistent

Should Have Been Nominated: Meh, I’m good. I guess Ryan Reynolds for Deadpool would have been fun.


Initial Thoughts:

This was mostly as expected, as there were really only six people being considered, and of those six only Mortensen and Loving‘s Joel Edgerton were actually fighting over a spot, with the other four nominees more or less set. Mortensen had the momentum and got the nod over Edgerton, which is fine–as Edgerton is good, but his co-star Negga is the engine that runs that movie. I am sad that Gosling didn’t get enough attention for his work in The Nice Guys, but really this was kind of a shallow category outside of the top five or six (unlike the actress side, which was much deeper). I guess maybe the Academy should start looking at Tom Hanks again, as it does feel like he is being overlooked and taken for granted, the way people wrongly used to describe Meryl Streep.


Casey Affleck

  • Let’s get this out of the way: outside of maybe Huppert, no one gave a better performance this year than Casey Affleck. He is stunning in Manchester By The Sea playing a broken man trying to do the right thing even though he is dead inside. It is a truly breathtaking feat, and it is not surprising that Affleck has swept through the awards season so far. If this was only about merit, I don’t think he could lose at this point, but because voters are human there is one major nagging issue–Affleck’s ongoing sexual assault allegations. A similar issue destroyed any chance of Nate Parker gaining award recognition, but Affleck has been unaffected so far, and even though the allegations are different enough to potentially explain the different reactions, it also looks a lot like Affleck is getting a pass because he is white. Whether it is the job of the Academy to make a moral judgment about a person is a different argument altogether, but these allegations have made a number of people deeply uncomfortable, and even his nomination brought some real backlash, especially from women. In a year where Hollywood is really trying to make a statement about how great it is, especially compared to the Trumpian politics ruling the day, it would look really bad for someone who has allegedly committed sexual assault to get rewarded without at least some measure of social punishment. This could cause a lot of voters to jump ship and hand the award to someone else… but so far no awards show has actually done that.

Hello, Mr. Washington

Denzel Washington

  • If you ask Twitter, Washington should be the favorite, as the tweetosphere lost its God damned mind when he lost at the Golden Globes. But everyone loves Denzel. The Academy tends to love actors that also direct, and this would be the perfect way to award Washington for his work on Fences in total. Washington’s chances suffer from the fact that his film got off to a really late start that likely cost it any real shot at Best Picture, and also because Casey Affleck has won everything and looks like a runaway train. If Affleck does falter because people start to get skittish about his sexual assault issues, Washington is going to be there to pounce for the win. The best part is that, considering it is Denzel and he is amazing, it is arguable that he deserved to win this on merit anyhow, so it is not like it would be a great tragedy if Affleck was defeated. Still, Washington needs to win something major for this to be a real race.

Ryan Gosling is so Charming, and La La Land Sweeps

Ryan Gosling

  • Everyone loves Ryan Gosling, and Chazelle, Stone, and Gosling have been killing the press circuit for this film. Gosling certainly has the lowest chance of winning of the three, but he totally could pull it off if the Academy basically completely loses its mind with La La Land and the film sweeps double-digit awards. This is totally a real thing that could happen, because Academy voters get check happy going down their lists. Even with all of that, though, Gosling is a distant third in this race. Affleck has dominated the circuit, and the popular sentiment is with Washington as the alternative. If Gosling can win a major award against real competition (sorry, Globes field) I will buy his chances a lot more, but otherwise it will likely take a lot for him to pull this win off. But man, he is so goddamn charming that you shouldn’t count this out.

Happy to Be Here

Andrew Garfield

Viggo Mortensen

  • Neither one of these two is winning. They are both just going to be happy to be there. Garfield would probably have a better chance than Mortensen, but it won’t really matter. Soak up the spotlight and drink, dudes.

SAG Awards Update:

Hello, we have a race. Denzel Washington’s win is the first time things have gone against Affleck, and like I said before, signals that this is a real contest. It is unclear whether this is a blip or not, but Washington has had a lot of support this season, and well, maybe Affleck’s legal issues are finally starting to affect him. Washington has the star power going for him, and with the SAG win you can bet he is really go to press the campaign trail. Honestly, it would be a good look for Hollywood if Washington does beat Affleck, just from an optics perspective, even if Affleck’s performance is extraordinary and from a pure merit perspective likely shouldn’t be losing. But if these types of legal issues are going to completely destroy Nate Parker’s chances of getting real award recognition, they really should destroy Affleck’s chance as well. I am not ready to say Washington is now the favorite, but this certainly does alter the race going forward.

BAFTA Awards Update:

And the Casey Affleck train is rolling again, as he picks up a key win at BAFTA. This leaves him as the clear favorite in this category, but a Denzel Washington win would have been almost more clarifying, because then two of the bigger voting blocks would have picked Washington. Instead, we are left with the biggest voting block in SAG picking Washington, and everyone else more or less picking Affleck. So this might come down to how close the vote is in the acting block. If it is a landslide for Washington, he can win, but if it is the more likely scenario, a very close vote between the two, then Affleck has the advantage. Ultimately, only Affleck’s sexual assault issues will stop him from winning at this point, and whether not you believe these issues should affect whether Affleck should win or not, it is clear that a significant chunk of voters are definitely holding it against him. This is a much tighter race than it ever seemed like it would be.

There just isn’t a way you can compete against Viola Davis, no matter how good you are in limited screen time.


Current Ranking

  1. Viola Davis, Fences
  2. Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea
  3. Naomie Harris, Moonlight
  4. Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures
  5. Nicole Kidman, Lion

Will Win: Viola Davis

Should Win: Viola Davis–or if this category was done correctly, Naomie Harris

Should Have Been Nominated: I can’t really argue with these nominees, though it is shame that Janelle Monae couldn’t sneak in somehow.


Initial Thoughts:

This category went mostly as expected, as the only real drama was which Hidden Figures actress would get nominated between Spencer and Monae. Greta Gerwig also missed out, which is a shame, but not something all that surprising. One does have to wonder what would happen if this category actually forced people to be in the right category, as Viola Davis is without question the female lead in her movie, and not a supporting character. I understand why she went here, because Lead Actress was much, much more competitive, but just like last year with Rooney Mara and eventually winner Alicia Vikander, it doesn’t seem all that fair to compare the performances between Davis and Michelle Williams or Naomie Harris when one is on screen for most of the movie while the others are getting hardly any screen time. This isn’t changing anytime soon, though, so not much can be done.

It is Your Time, Viola

Viola Davis

  • After getting robbed in 2012 for her work in The Help so that poor Meryl Streep could finally get her third Oscar, since just nominating her was such an insult (you’re damn right this still bothers me), Davis looks to finally be getting an Oscar. It is a shame that in order to do so she had to submit herself in the supporting category for what is essentially a lead performance, but that is where we are, I guess. Davis has been one of the greatest actresses alive for years, and after picking up some trophies on the TV side, it is finally time to get the big one for her work in movies. Unless the Academy voters just decide to arbitrarily punish Davis for not being in the right category (not going to happen), it is hard to really see how she could lose. Get ready to hear another great speech, because Davis is getting herself an Oscar.

If This Category Was Done Correctly

Michelle Williams

Naomie Harris

  • If Davis wasn’t in this race, this would be a real nailbiter between these two, as they have traded awards throughout the season even at times when Davis was in the field. Williams had the early edge, but Harris has hung around, and either could still pull off the win. More than likely, though, to do this both would need their films to have a much better showing than expected, probably including a Best Picture win. That seems unlikely to happen, but it is possible. Plus, from pure scene to scene work, both performances are just as good as Davis’, just in much less screentime. If either can win a major award going forward, that could really change things up, but this is likely Davis’s time.

Thanks for the Star Power, but You Are Not Winning

Nicole Kidman

Octavia Spencer

  • Both Kidman and Spencer serve as past Oscar winners that help make this category look quite stacked, but neither really has a chance at this point. Kidman probably got this nomination off of starpower, the Weinsteins and one really stellar scene, while Spencer is excellent in Hidden Figures but at times overwhelmed by her co-stars. It is nice that they got nominations, but this is as far as they go.

SAG Awards Update:

Viola Davis’s quest looks a lot clearer now. Once she was put into Supporting Actress, this race was over. Davis has now given three great speeches during this season, and that should continue all the way to the Oscars, so let’s just move along.

BAFTA Awards Update:

At this point can we just go ahead and say Viola Davis is the winner, because after her BAFTA win, this race is completely over. Just let her open the show with a fantastic speech with a statue already in hand so we get the night off to a great start.

Just because it is the boring choice for some, doesn’t mean it isn’t the right choice.


Current Ranking

  1. Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
  2. Dev Patel, Lion
  3. Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
  4. Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals
  5. Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea

Will Win: Mahershala Ali

Should Win: Mahershala Ali

Should Have Been Nominated: Hugh Grant, Florence Foster Jenkins


Initial Thoughts:

This category was probably one of the crazier ones come nomination time. Ali, Bridges, and probably Patel were always going to get nominations, but those last two spots were a real question mark between Hedges, Shannon, Grant, and Shannon’s co-star Aaron Taylor-Johnson. Grant likely got robbed because the constant unwarranted attention to Nocturnal Animals meant that either Shannon or Taylor-Johnson was going to get a nomination. Hedges was a bit of a surprise because of how young he is, but Supporting Actor is much more willing to let younger performers in than Lead Actor is. So where are we at now?

Probable Frontrunner

Mahershala Ali

  • For a while Ali was looking like a pretty clear favorite, but the Golden Globes and some other awards have thrown things into a bit of uncertainty. Still Ali looks like an easy way to help get Moonlight‘s win count up, and he is one of the best parts of that movie. It also helps that Ali has saw his profile rise quite a bit this year with his work in Luke Cage and Hidden Figures, so some of this potential win may be a reward for his great work over the entire course of 2016. Ali just needs another major win to get himself back on track, because he does look like the boringly easy choice to win, but things haven’t been quite as smooth for him as they have been for past Supporting Actor winners like J.K. Simmons or Christopher Plummer.

Probably in the Wrong Category

Jeff Bridges

  • Like Davis, it is questionable whether Bridges should be in this category, as he is really more like a co-lead and one of two perspective characters in Hell or High Water. To be fair, he is much more of a supporting actor than Davis is a supporting actress in her film, but that doesn’t change the fact that he is overqualified for this spot. Bridges has a lot of respect from the Academy, and that could really help him, especially considering how much more screentime he gets than Ali, but he hasn’t nearly won consistently enough this season to suggest him as the favorite. These lead-in-supporting-category turns can be successful, so it’s worth mentioning.

Underrated and Overlooked

Dev Patel

  • Honestly, Patel should really be getting more attention than he has for this role. Other than the score, he is the best part of Lion by quite a bit, and is really able to help anchor the film even as his character veers off into rather dickish and crazy territory. Unfortunately, he just never got any real traction. He has the support of the Weinsteins, and other than Best Score this is the only place Lion has a chance of winning (with the added plus of not going against La La Land in this category), so Patel is going to be pushed hard. It won’t be enough, but he has an outside shot.

This is It

Lucas Hedges

Michael Shannon

  • Neither of these two is winning. If things weren’t so split on which Nocturnal Animals‘s performer was best, Shannon would have a real shot because of the strange love people seem to have for a film that is boring as fuck (I have really turned on this movie as the season has gone along). Things are split, though, so Shannon is likely out of luck. Hedges is way too young to win here if we are being honest, and truly should just be happy for the nomination that will hopefully help catapult him to better roles as he grows up.

SAG Awards Update:

That is exactly what Ali needed, and he delivered quite the speech. Things are back on track for Ali, and he probably will coast to an Oscar from here, but this race has been way more competitive than expected. Supporting Actor is probably the only major category that could produce a real surprise from the acting categories, so the BAFTAs could alter how things look, but Ali is in great shape.

BAFTA Awards Update:

Well, this is something. Dev Patel has honestly probably been a bit overlooked this entire season for his performance in Lion, which has a lot of leading qualities and screen time attached to it. His BAFTA win makes this race a lot more interesting, though probably not as much as you would expect. His other big win this season was at the AACTA International Awards, and it feels like his support is a bit too narrow to pull off the win. Patel’s BAFTA success has to give new ammunition to the Weinsteins, who can use it to make a final push during the voting week as this is the last major win before the vote. This likely means that Patel is now the best chance Lion has to win an Oscar, and now the greatest threat to stop Mahershala Ali from winning.

That covers the first six categories. This page will be updated through the rest of the Oscar season, and there are three other posts that will accompany it, so keep checking in for updated analysis of the 2017 Oscar race.