The 89th Academy Awards… My Predictions


After the wild and crazy year that was 2015, 2016’s Oscars are looking a lot more set in stone. In a twist that surprises no one, I’m predicting La La Land, with it’s record-tying 14 nominations, will win a lot of awards. That doesn’t make this year too exciting, so I hope I’m wrong on some level, but I’m also hoping that my prediction average isn’t as horrible as it was last year.

As a recap, my previous prediction averages are: 68% (2012), 80% (2013), 75% (2014), and 65% (2015). Hopefully I can do better than last year, but last year was a really, really low bar. As usual, my sources are The Hollywood Reporter, VarietyIndiewire, and in a few instances, my own experience.

Documentary Feature…


I haven’t seen any of the docs this year so I’m pretty unbiased in who I root for, but the award with go to OJ: Made in America

What Was Nominated: Fire at Sea, I Am Not Your Negro, Life, Animated, OJ: Made in America, and 13th

There are no music documentaries this year, so it seems like anyone’s game. However, OJ: Made in America, having been deemed a film and not a TV series, has a major advantage in its length and depth into its subject. As such, I don’t think any of these other films has a chance, providing the Academy members watched the whole thing.


Animated Feature…


I’m rooting for Zootopia, and the award will go to Zootopia.

What Was Nominated: Kubo and the Two Strings, Moana, My Life as a Zucchini, The Red Turtle, and Zootopia  

I’m rooting for Zootopia by default, because it’s the only one I’ve seen so far. Though Kubo and Moana have nominations in other categories, but the consensus prediction seems to be Zootopia. I’m not sure how strong it is, but I think it’s strong enough to take this one home.


Foreign Film…


Sight unseen, can’t officially root for anything, but the award will go to The Salesman.

What Was Nominated: Land of Mine from Denmark, A Man Called Ove from Sweeden, Tanna from Australia, The Salesman from Iran, and Toni Erdmann from Germany

I had a one week window to see The Salesman in Hartford, and I blew it. Because of snow and my own cheapness, I missed it. Hopefully I’ll get another chance sometime. It’s clear the film will take it though, as long as the Academy’s desire to be on the right side of Trump’s Muslim ban comes through.


Original Score…


I’m rooting for Jackie, but the award will go to La La Land.

What Was Nominated: La La Land, Moonlight, Lion, Jackie, and Passengers

Because it’s a musical, I think La La Land will take this one home. I also think that’s a little ridiculous, because the music you remember from La La Land is the songs, not the score, technically. Mica Levi followed up one of my favorite scores ever (Under the Skin) with another really good score in Jackie, and it’s crucial to the film’s success. La La Land seems like a regrettably safer choice in comparison.


Original Song…


I’m rooting for “City of Stars,” but the award will go to “How Far I’ll Go.”

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

I think the Academy’s desire to award Lin Manuel Miranda and get him his EGOT will override the steam train that is La La Land. Plus La La Land has two songs here; they’ll probably split the vote anyway. I could be wrong on this, because of the sites I’ve checked more have “City of Stars” winning, but I can’t shake my own sense of logic on this one.


Sound mixing…


I’m rooting for La La Land, and the award will go to La La Land.

What was nominated: Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, La La Land, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and Thirteen Hours

I don’t super have a steak in the sound mixing race, because I don’t understand a lot of what makes sound mixing good. I’ve never had a good handle on sound. However, La La Land is a musical, and I think the Academy will be following my thinking on this one.


Sound editing…


I’m rooting for Arrival here, but the award will go to La La Land.

What was nominated:  Arrival, Deepwater Horizon, Hacksaw Ridge, La La Land, and Sully

Why? because singing. The alien sound effects in Arrival are cooler though.


Makeup and Hairstyling…


I’m rooting for Star Trek Beyond, but the award will go to A Man Called Ove

What was nominated: A Man Called Ove, Star Trek Beyond, and Suicide Squad

The makeup and hair category is always super weird from an outsider’s perspective. What makes them pick what they pick? I have no idea. I’m not rooting for Star Trek Beyond here on the strength of its hair and makeup, but rather just because I’m a Trek fan in general. I’m going to fall back on the old stand by when predicting this category, that the Academy is made up of, and loves, old people.


Costume design….

I'm rooting for Jackie, and the award will go to Jackie.

I’m rooting for Jackie, and the award will go to Jackie.

What was nominated: Allied, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Florence Foster Jenkins, Jackie, and La La Land

I’ve only seen two of these movies, and the sites I’m looking at all say something different, so I’m just going with my gut on this one. I really want Jackie to get an award, and the costumes here besides being well done were pretty crucial to the story. The outfits Portman wears are pretty iconic in a lot of instances, and help bring the character to life as well as registering powerfully on the screen in their own right.


Production Design…

I'm rooting for Hail, Caesar!, but the award will go to La La Land.

I’m rooting for Hail, Caesar!, but the award will go to La La Land.

What was nominated:  La La Land, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Arrival, Hail, Caesar!, and Passengers


I’m only seeing La La Land predicted in this category, which I guess makes sense with the whole theatrical fantasy giant set extravaganza at the end. So Academy, I get it. However, it’s Hail, Caesar!‘s only nomination and they blended different periods and genres into a Coen vision of old Hollywood that was really delightful. I wish it would get an award in its only nomination, but alas, this category will be just another notch on La La Land‘s belt.


Visual Effects…


I’m not really rooting for anyone here, but the award will go to The Jungle Book.

What was nominated: Deepwater Horizon, Dr. Strange, The Jungle Book, Kubo and the Two Strings, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

I wasn’t a huge fan of Rogue One, the only film I’ve actually seen on this list. A main part of that was because of the creepy CGI Peter Cushing. Not a fan. I don’t have a lot to go by here. Most seem to be predicting The Jungle Book though, with its photo-realistic CGI. Seems good enough for me.



I'm rooting for Moonlight, but the award will go to La La Land.

I’m rooting for Moonlight, but the award will go to La La Land.

What Was Nominated: Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, La La Land, and Moonlight

When in doubt go with La La Land. Editing is not easy for me to judge, and I’m going with Moonlight here more as a gut reaction than anything else. I’ve heard that BP is historically linked to editing, which makes sense as editing is so crucial to the overall flow of a picture. With musicals, the transitions in and out of numbers are key to the film’s authenticity, so I suppose it makes sense to award La La Land here.



I'm rooting for Bradford Young, but the award will go to Linus Sandgren for La La Land.

I’m rooting for Bradford Young, but the award will go to Linus Sandgren for La La Land.

What was nominated: Bradford Young for Arrival, Linus Sandgren for La La Land, Greig Fraser for Lion, James Laxton for Moonlight, Rodrigo Pieto for Silence

This is not to knock the cinematography in La La Land, I thought it was great, particularly the in-camera lighting effects. I’m a sucker for that shit. I’m not going to be sad if La La Land does win, I’m just reflexively rooting against it because favorites and sweeps are kind of annoying. Out of these, I’d go with Arrival though, mostly because I finally got what Young was doing there. The cinematography I most appreciated in a theater this year though, was definitely Jackie, but I’m also biased because that’s precisely the style I like. All this is moot though, because it’s basically a sure thing at this point that Sandgren is going to take this one home.


Adapted Screenplay….

I'm rooting for MOONLIGHT, and I think it'll take the award too.

I’m rooting for Moonlight, and I think it’ll take the award too.

What was nominated:  Arrival, Fences, Hidden Figures, Moonlight, and Lion

For once, they match up and in my favor (well, not really my favor but you get what I mean). I’m afraid Moonlight is not really going to be taking many awards home on Sunday, so we’re basically putting all our hopes on adapted screenplay and one other (more on that later). I do really like Arrival, and Fences has a very interesting story behind it, but I just can’t see any other film taking it than Moonlight.


Original Screenplay…

I'm rooting for HELL OR HIGH WATER, but the award will go to MANCHESTER BY THE SEA.

I’m rooting for Hell or High Water, but the award will go to Manchester by the Sea.

What was nominated: Hell or High Water, La La Land, The Lobster, Manchester by the Sea, and 20th Century Women

I wasn’t a huge fan of Manchester by the Sea, but the Academy and critics alike are, and I think they will award Manchester in this category because like Moonlight, they won’t have many other chances to. For my money, I was more impressed by the mechanics of Hell or High Water, or the originality and strangeness of The Lobster. I’ll just have to be happy they were nominated at all. But I’d rather Manchester than La La Land, because the story is the weak point of that movie if it has one, just saying.


Supporting Actor…

I'm rooting for Mahershala Ali for Moonlight, and I'm pretty sure he'll take it home.

I’m rooting for Mahershala Ali for Moonlight, and I’m pretty sure he’ll take it home.

What was nominated: Mahershala Ali for Moonlight, Michael Shannon for Nocturnal Animals, Jeff Bridges for Hell or High Water, Lucas Hedges for Manchester by the Sea, and Dev Patel for Lion

He’s got the globe, he’s got the SAG, there’s basically no stopping Ali for this one. He missed out on the BAFTA but I don’t think that’ll slow him down that much. He also happens to have given the best performance in this category, and the Academy will be happy to give Moonlight at least one other award besides screenplay I think.


Supporting Actress….

I'm rooting for Viola here, and she'll take it home for sure.

I’m rooting for Viola here, and she’ll take it home for sure.

What was nominated: Viola Davis for Fences, Naomi Harris for Moonlight, Nicole Kidman for Lion, Octavia Spencer for Hidden Figures, and Michelle Williams for Manchester by the Sea

She’s got the globe, she’s got the SAG, there’s basically no stopping Davis for this one. She also happens to have given the best performance in this category. And she even got the BAFTA too. She’s long overdue for an Oscar, so I’m happy to see her get it for her powerful performance in Fences.


Leading Actor…

I'm rooting for Denzel and it'll be close but I think he'll win.

I’m rooting for Denzel and it’ll be close but I think he’ll win.

What was nominated: Casey Affleck for Manchester by the Sea, Andrew Garfield for Hacksaw Ridge, Ryan Gosling for La La Land, Viggo Mortensen for Captain Fantastic, and Denzel Washington for Fences 

Affleck’s got the globe, Denzel’s got the SAG… makes this one a bit tougher to call. I’m really hoping its Denzel. He doesn’t have the bad press that Affleck has, but will the Academy care about that? Are they more likely to see Affleck as deserving because he doesn’t have the two Oscars that Denzel already has? I really can’t say for sure, and despite the beginning of the season when actor was less interesting than actress, the tide has turned as Denzel and Affleck seems about neck in neck here. I believe in the power of Denzel though, and I really hope he’ll come away with his third Oscar on Sunday.


Leading Actress…

I'm rooting for Natalie Portman, but the award will go to Emma Stone.

I’m rooting for Natalie Portman, but the award will go to Emma Stone.

What was nominated: Isabelle Huppert for Elle, Natalie Portman for Jackie, Emma Stone for La La Land, Meryl Streep for Florence Foster Jenkins, and Ruth Negga for Loving 

I originally thought Isabelle Huppert was a shoo-in for Elle, that the Academy would want to award the veteran actress for her long career and daring recent role (plus she had two good performances this year as I understand it). However, then I remembered the lesson of Emmanuelle Riva vs. Jennifer Lawrence in 2012. You think the Academy loves old people, but not as much as they love young people apparently. Though the parallels are not complete, I think Stone fulfills that role this year. And what started out as an incredibly tight race between many talented women ended up being a default win for Stone. I like Stone and I like her fine in La La Land, but I wouldn’t give her the award this year. Natalie Portman already has an Oscar, for a performance that is at least as great or better than her performance in Jackie, but I don’t care. If it was up to me, she’d get another one. (Moment of silence for Amy Adams.)



I'm rooting for Barry Jenkins, but Damien Chazelle has got this one in the bag.

I’m rooting for Barry Jenkins, but Damien Chazelle has got this one in the bag.

What was nominated: Denis Villeneuve for Arrival, Mel Gibson for Hacksaw Ridge, Damien Chazelle for La La Land, Kenneth Lonergan for Manchester by the Sea, and Barry Jenkins for Moonlight

I was originally hoping against hope that the Academy would split director and picture like it has been doing in previous years, that maybe it could find it in its heart to award Jenkins or Chazelle while still giving the other best picture. However, as La La Land shows no signs of slowing down and Jenkins and Moonlight were nowhere near frontrunners at any point, I gotta think Damien Chazelle is going to take this one home. Again, I wouldn’t count myself as a La La Land hater and I have nothing but respect for Chazelle. He just didn’t make my favorite film of the year, that’s all.




I’m rooting for Moonlight, but you guessed it, this award will go to La La Land.

What was nominated:  Arrival, Fences, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures, La La Land, Lion, Manchester by the Sea, and Moonlight

At this point, it’s Moonlight vs. La La Land, with Manchester by the Sea pretty much fading into the background. Let’s look at the precursors shall we? The globes kind of cancel each other out because La La Land won comedy/musical while Moonlight won drama. Hidden Figures won the SAG ensemble award, which is sometimes a good predictor because actors are the largest voting block in the academy. That seems like a strike against Moonlight to me, because La La Land didn’t really have an ensemble and as such couldn’t win that award. If Moonlight had the power to win best picture, you’d think it would have taken the ensemble award, yes? La La Land won the PGA though, so it’s looking like people are more likely to go for the escapist vision of La La Land rather than the more socially relevant Moonlight. Sigh. I hope against hope the Oscars will differentiate themselves by going for Moonlight (they sometimes do that), but I kind of doubt it at this point. Here’s hoping that I’m wrong for the second year in a row.

There are 24 Oscar categories, and I’m only predicting 21 this year (because I haven’t seen hardly any of the shorts or been following the categories at all). I’m predicting only 11 films will come away with any awards on Sunday. If I’m right, La La Land will sweep big, including a win for Best Picture, with 9 awards (and I feel like I’m being a bit conservative with that estimate). The runners up will be Moonlight and Fences with only 2 awards. The rest will only be getting one: OJ: Made in America, Zootopia, The Salesman, Jackie, Manchester by the Sea, Moana, A Man Called Ove, and The Jungle Book. Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures, and Lion will go home empty handed.  Most of my predictions are not aspirational, though a few are; if it was up to me La La Land would not be dominating nearly as much. We’ll see how accurate these predictions are come Sunday night, where I will be live-blogging the ceremony here on the site. Happy Oscars, everyone!

2 responses to “The 89th Academy Awards… My Predictions

  1. Ugggh I really hope La La Land doesn’t win THAT much. Every year the Oscars have at least one huge surprise/upset, and I’m hoping one of them involves a snub for La La Land in a major category 🙂

    • Yeah I’m with you. I’m definitely hoping it doesn’t win as much as I expect that it will… I think I was actually a little bit conservative lol. But hopefully the Oscars will be a little bit more exciting ha ha

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