It's not long until the Oscars now, so it's time to start guessing the winners! This year's nominations were generally well received, with a relatively impressive array of new and diverse talent, as well as plenty of nods for La La Land - which is of course the biggest talk of this year's awards. It's widely expected to sweep a number of categories, but we can never be too sure, so I figured I'd rank each film by their likelihood of a win in each category. After you've taken a look at my guesses, you can let me know who you think will (or should) win for each category in the comments too. But first, let’s begin with my picks for best picture...
BEST PICTURE: This is the only category voted for by all academy members, and the way it's voted can make it hard to predict. However, I think we can be fairly sure that the favourite this year is 'La La Land'-land-2016 - a film that has received a glowing response from virtually everyone, and is not only winner of a record-breaking 14 golden globes, but is also about Hollywood itself - which nicely ups its chances with the academy. However, you can never be too certain with these things, and it could be said that more recently released, impactive movies will leave a greater lasting impression on voters, or create a stronger cult following with more first choices. In that sense, I can easily see La La Land slipping to second or third on some ballots (which still doesn't put it out of the race if everyone's first choices differ) but if that is the case, we could also see a win for moonlight-2016 (which could receive a boost after last year's diversity controversy) or even manchester by the sea-2016 . Equally, I wouldn't be surprised if lots of voters enjoyed hell or high water-2016 rather a lot, which could create a batch of first choices from certain voting demographics. Nevertheless, here are the nominations ranked by the likelihood of a win:
BEST DIRECTOR Here the director members get a vote, and that seems to instantly put Hacksaw Ridge's Mel Gibson out of the race for many, as he didn't receive a nomination at the Directors Guild awards. Regardless, I once again have few doubts that Damien Chazelle will win for La La Land here, though again, my second choice is Moonlight as there's no doubt Barry Jenkins' direction was brilliant. Equally, I wouldn't be massively shocked if Kenneth Logan (Manchester by the Sea) or even Denis Villenueve (Arrival) took it either, but my bets still lie with my top 2 best picture picks.
BEST ACTOR This is always an interesting one to call, and this year is no different as we have lots of great performances with a great chance of winning. First up for me though is Casey Affleck, who recently won the BAFTA, and who I believe is still the most likely to win after his amazing work in Manchester by the Sea. However, I'd be far from surprised if Andrew Garfield won for Hacksaw Ridge either, as in some ways it's where the film excelled most, though it could also be argued that the large amount of younger talent on ballot this year will draw certain voters to Denzel Washington - a more seasoned veteran for sure, and someone who recently won the actors guild award. As for Ryan Gosling? Well that depends on how intense the overall La La Land love is, as if it's still winning everyone over as it seemingly did nearer its release, Gosling certainly stands a chance. Whether he truly deserves best actor is another question, but I certainly wouldn't rule it out if the buzz is still truly with La La Land.
BEST ACTRESS: As far as I'm concerned this could go one of three ways. Much like with best actor, Emma Stone's winning largely depends on the overall La La Land love, though I have to say I feel a win is much more likely for her than it is for Gosling. The other two equally likely winners in my eyes are Isabelle Huppert for Elle and Natalie Portman for Jackie, as whilst the films have had a fairly limited commercial buzz, the incredible standard of their leads' work may draw voters to single out their performances and get them noticed. Of course this is a category where many will be waiting on baited breath, especially after the infamous Amy Adams 'snub' where many feel a great performance was dropped over a less impressive one from Meryl Streep. In fact, could Streep win? Well, I actually doubt it very much, despite all her Hollywood love. Here are my pics:
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Everyone's dead-set on the fact Mahershala Ali will win this one, and I have to say I agree. After all, his work has been universally praised, and whilst I'm sure he could bat away even the toughest competition here, most of the rival contenders haven't had much buzz at all. Perhaps Dev Patel's performance in Lion has a shot after his BAFTA win too, and maybe even Lucas Hedges could scrape it despite his young age, but if I'm honest I'd still go for Mahershala Ali without question. I've no doubt he deserves it.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Once again there's very little doubt in this category, and I certainly agree with the masses in saying that Viola Davis will grab this one for her work in Fences. Nevertheless, there's still a chance some less talked-about performances will get recognition - particularly Michelle Williams in Manchester by the Sea or Naomi Harris in Moonlight, and perhaps even Nicole Kidman will get some love. Still, this is Viola Davis' for the win - and much deserved too.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: La La Land again? Well, I actually think some other contenders are in with a shot here too, as whilst the Golden Globe for La Land could certainly help it to a win, I wouldn't be shocked if these screen-writing voters don't choose it. Instead, I expect they'll go for something a little more assured in that department, and that makes for a very interesting category to choose from. Manchester by the Sea is probably my favourite, though I'd be overjoyed to see some love for 20th Century Women on here too. Who knows, maybe even Hell or High Water will receive a lot of votes, and perhaps a lot of members will be drawn to a more left-field choice in 'The Lobster' as well? This really is anyone's game actually, and I'm pretty excited to see who will win, even if I'd put my money on Manchester by the Sea overall.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Adapted Screenplay is one place where I think Arrival has an outside chance of a win, as its script is very smart and developed, even if Eric Heisserer is a bit of a new name to this kind of film. However, I do feel that Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney's Moonlight has by far the highest chance in the end, as they won the BAFTA, and their work has received an awful lot of praise across the board. If not, we could also easily see Lion get it here.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM: Usually I'd just say Zootopia here as it's the best Disney offering and this award tends to go to Disney in some way or another (Pixar have no entry this time around). However, there are some surprisingly good smaller rivals here that could shake up the mould for this category, and in that regard, it'd be great to see a win for My Life as a Zucchini or The Red Turtle, or even my personal favourite Kubo and the Two Strings. Those are long shots though, and really I think Zootopia will get it, even if I'd love a surprise...
BEST ANIMATED SHORT: I'm afraid having only seen a handful of these nominations, I've had to hedge my bets here based on roughly what types of shorts have won in the past. Based on that, I feel that 'Piper,' or 'Pearl' could equally be in with a chance here, or indeed Borrowed Time, though we will have to wait until the day to be truly certain.
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: The overall political climate may sway this one a lot, as whilst voters have been known to avoid the heavier entries here, the US election and Hollywood's general stance on that is likely to draw votes for the likes of OJ: Made in America, 13th or Fire at Sea. However, if they still stick with their trend, we'll likely see a win for 'Life, Animated,' as that's definitely the less heavy-going option on the ballot.
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT: Political relevance will no doubt affect the ballot choices here too, and on the face of it, that leaves The White Helmets, Watani: My Homeland and 4.1 Miles in top 3. However, that's not all that counts, as the Oscars reward creatively strong work too of course, and for me that places the White Helmets at number one immediately, but also puts Joe's Violin right up there too. Both are excellent documentaries, and both deserve recognition, but the political relevance of The White Helmets means it's definitely my favourite for the win.
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: This category is a particularly interesting one this year, as 'The Salesman' director Asghar Farhadi is boycotting the ceremony after Donald Trump's ban. As far as I'm concerned, that will hugely up his chances, as voters will no doubt rush to vote for his film in protest to the president's actions. If that doesn't happen though, we could undoubtedly see Toni Erdman get the prize as it's been creating an equally copious amount of awards chatter. Having said that, given the current situation, this is probably the easiest of the bunch to predict.
BEST EDITING: I once again reserve very few doubts that La La Land will get this one, but there is certainly a chance that Arrival (or even the likes of Hacksaw Ridge) will be in with a shot, as it may be a way for voters to get them noticed where they're unlikely to win much else. Moonlight could also get it, as the editing in that film was sublime, but having seen the Eddie award winners, I hold the most hope for La La Land here, with an outside chance remaining for Arrival.
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: This is a very difficult category to decide from this year, as all 5 entries are very strong indeed. I can personally see a lot of votes headed for Silence, as the movie was largely snubbed during the nominations, though I do also feel that some others are more deserving on their own. Personally, my favourite would be La La Land again, or perhaps Moonlight or Lion, though equally I think Bradford Young did a great job with Arrival. It's basically a very hard one to predict, but my bets lie mostly with La La Land yet again.
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS: For me this is a fairly safe bet for the Jungle Book, as the effects were truly ground-breaking in that film. However, that still doesn't completely rule out a more "conventional" VFX set winning the ballots, as both Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and the somewhat unusual Doctor Strange are certainly strong contenders here. Who knows, maybe the impressive CGI work of Deepwater Horizon will turn heads, or perhaps Kubo and the Two Strings' bold effects style will win voters over too. My guess would still be the Jungle Book taking the prize, but this award's fate is by no means a certainty.
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE: This is where La La Land is absolutely guaranteed a win in my eyes, as the score is not only the grounding centre for the film's overall identity, but it's also downright amazing. There were lots of great entries here that could win if La La Land wasn't in the picture; particularly Moonlight or Jackie, but overall this is probably the award that's easiest to call. Thomas Newman for once isn't top of my personal list, and many (myself included) were surprised he got a nomination for Passengers at all. Still, if La La Land is rejected here for some insane reason, I could see it falling in any of the others' hands. That really would be a shock though, as I think La La Land is pretty much guaranteed it here yet again.
BEST ORIGINAL SONG: La La Land should pretty much definitely get this one too, but there are actually two options from the score here, which could split the votes. If enough people go for them though (which I'm sure they will) - the real question is “City of Stars,” or “Audition”? My guess personally lies with City of Stars, but I could equally see it headed for the other.
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN: Another category where La La Land looks set for a win; best production design is an award that often gets overlooked, but is actually a pretty big deal. So whilst La La Land is certainly the favourite, there are a lot of strong contenders this year, and I personally wouldn't be too shocked to see Fantastic Beasts steal it with its timely world-building, or indeed Arrival with its fresh approach to sci-fi. I'll be interested to see where this one goes, but frankly La La Land looks fairly likely here yet again.
BEST COSTUME DESIGN: After its BAFTA win, this is the first category where a win looks likely for Jackie. If not, the only other possibility really lies with La La Land again, though we can now be fairly certain of the Costume Guild's overall favourite. Much deserved I'm sure.
BEST MAKE-UP AND HAIRSTYLING: Who should win this? Suicide Squad. Who won’t win this? Yep, it's Suicide Squad. Sadly, this category is left with just two options; Star Trek: Beyond, or A Man Called Ove. Something wants me to see A Man Called Ove edge it, but that's just personal opinion. If we look to the past, it's certainly more likely to go to the adventure that's slightly more other-worldly... My bets are on Star Trek: Beyond, but there were hardly any stand-outs this year.
BEST SOUND MIXING: La La Land will very likely get this one for the sheer level of intimacy and fantastical yet grounded realism its sound brings, but if not I could see it headed for pretty much any of the others - perhaps bar 13 hours. Rogue One was very well balanced in my opinion (though maybe slightly all-guns-blazing to take the prize) and Hacksaw Ridge was also very well done here. All in all though, I have few doubts that our favourite dreamy musical will take the top spot yet again.
BEST SOUND EDITING: Previous winners here tend to be the bigger blockbusters with a more impressive display of sound editing and effects, so for me that puts the likes of the incredible Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge or even Deepwater Horizon at the top. However, a musical as assured as 'La La Land' is most definitely a rarity too, so I would't be too surprised to see it take the title, particularly if it's sweeping a lot of other votes across the board.
So there are my Oscar predictions; we'll have to wait and see the results on Sunday 26th February. In the meantime, who do you think will win in each category? And also, who do you want to win? Let me know in the comments, I'd love to hear from you!