This post was updated January 23rd and these predictions are FINAL
The Predicted Nominees
We’ve finally made it down to the deadline, and the best picture nomination race still seems wide open after the top 3 slots (La La Land, Moonlight, Manchester by the Sea). It’s going to be a numbers game. Anything between 6-10 nominees is a possibility. Remember, when it comes to nominations, films that receive a lot of #1 votes even if left off many ballots score big. Think, what films will certain sectors of the Academy absolutely fall in love with even if others haven’t?
I feel good about Arrival, especially after its director landed a DGA nom. It’s a popular/acclaimed film that should get love from many branches above and below the line. Oscar has warmed up to sci-fi as of late, too. Lion is reportedly playing much stronger to the Academy than precursors suggest. It’s a skillfully made tearjerker, and Oscar loves those. Hidden Figures has put up strong numbers and is the feel-good film of the year. I don’t think its PG-rating hurts it here.
Hacksaw Ridge and Hell or High Water have both done better than anyone expected throughout the season. They’re both in play in many categories, including some acting categories. Both would make for fine selections and precursors suggest they should be in. My big shocker is Sully, which hasn’t popped anywhere yet. It’s the type of film that plays well to Oscar, and Warner Bros is running a strong campaign (it’s all they have). I don’t doubt the power of Eastwood/Hanks/true story. I think it sneaks in and that’s the big shocker in the category this year.
1) La La Land
Distributed by Summit Entertainment/Lionsgate (Dec. 9th). Directed by Damien Chazelle.
Distributed by A24 Films (Oct. 21st). Directed by Barry Jenkins.
3) Manchester by the Sea
Distributed by Roadside Attractions/Amazon Studios (Nov. 18th). Directed by Kenneth Lonergan.
Distributed by Paramount Pictures (Nov. 11th). Directed by Denis Villeneuve.
Distributed by The Weinstein Company (Nov. 25th). Directed by Garth Davis.
6) Hidden Figures
Distributed by 20th Century Fox (Dec. 25th). Directed by Theodore Melfi.
7) Hacksaw Ridge
Distributed by Summit Entertainment/Lionsgate (Nov. 4th). Directed by Mel Gibson.
8) Hell or High Water
Distributed by CBS Films (Aug. 12th). Directed by David Mackenzie.
Distributed by Warner Bros. (Sept. 9th). Directed by Clint Eastwood.
On The Bubble
We know the actors will go for Fences. Hell, Viola Davis is winning her category and Denzel is the #2 contender in his. But I have doubts how the almost anti-cinematic film plays to other branches, and while everyone agrees it’s good it doesn’t seem like something many will write down as #1. Silence got into the season very late, and it’s a very challenging film. It getting director and editing nods (like I’m predicting) while missing here would be unprecedented, but where’s the fun in not predicting any shockers?
Jackie and Loving both seem dead in the water here, and I almost want to slot the divisive but passion-inspiring Nocturnal Animals ahead of them. Any of the three could get in.
Distributed by Paramount Pictures (Dec. 25th). Directed by Denzel Washington.
Distributed by Paramount Pictures (Dec. 23rd). Directed by Martin Scorsese.
Distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures (Dec. 2nd). Directed by Pablo Larraín.
Distributed by Focus Features (Nov. 4th). Directed by Jeff Nichols.
14) Florence Foster Jenkins
Distributed by Paramount Pictures (Aug. 12th). Directed by Stephen Frears.
15) Nocturnal Animals
Distributed by Focus Features (Nov. 18th). Directed by Tom Ford.
16) Patriots Day
Distributed by CBS/Lionsgate (Dec. 21st). Directed by Peter Berg.
17) Captain Fantastic
Distributed by Bleeker Street (July 8th). Directed by Matt Ross.
See predictions in other categories here.