Who's Going To Take Home Gold At The Oscars?

The 89th annual Academy Awards are this Sunday and we want you to look smart at your hoity-toity Oscars party. We want you name-dropping Denis Villeneuve while eating shrimp cream puffs and quoting Manchester by the Sea while popping champagne (that’s what happens at Oscar parties, right?)
So with the ceremony right around the corner, I’m going to make my predictions for who will win the major categories, as well as who should win. While I very much respect the technical categories, this list will not be delving into Visual Effects, Makeup and Hairstyle or Sound Editing. Sorry.
Here are your Oscar winners.

Best Picture

  • Arrival
  • Fences
  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • Hell or High Water
  • Hidden Figures
  • La La Land
  • Lion
  • Manchester by the Sea
  • Moonlight

Who Will Win: Barring breaking news about La La Land director Damian Chazelle orchestrating a human trafficking ring, his vibrant throwback musical is taking home the gold. La La Land is an homage to old-school filmmaking with some lovely modernizations and the Academy has always loved movies about movies, as evidenced by La La Land‘s 14 total nominations. It’s a wonderfully delightful film, but is it worthy of Best Picture?
Who Should Win: MoonlightMoonlight should absolutely win because with apologies to Chazelle and Co., nothing was at heart wrenchingly beautiful as this soft-spoken character drama.

Best Director

  • Denis Villenueve, Arrival
  • Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge
  • Damien Chazelle, La La Land
  • Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
  • Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

Who Will Win: La La Land’s domination continues as Chazelle will nab his first Best Director trophy. The degree of difficulty La La Land took to make puts Chazelle at the front of the pack and for good reason. Should he win, he’ll be the youngest Best Director-winner of all time at 32. Bravo.
Who Should Win: Mel Gibson…Just kidding. This award is all Chazelle.

Best Actor

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

Who Will Win: This is a two-man race between Affleck and Washington. While both were great (and I put money on Washington at +400 a month ago, now he’s -110), this award is going to Affleck. Yes, a negative narrative stemming from a former sexual assault charge has developed around him. But based on performance alone, Affleck is the rightful winner after his tortured turn as a man who can’t forgive himself in Manchester.
Who Should Win: Again, it’s Affleck. His externalization of grief and self-loathing is commanding on screen.

Best Actress

  • Isabelle Huppert, Elle 
  • Ruth Negga, Loving
  • Natalie Portman, Jackie
  • Emma StoneLa La Land
  • Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

Who Will Win: Like the Best Actor race, this competition comes down to two: Stone and Portman. While Portman absolutely carries Jackie as a complex woman dealing with loss and legacy, the overwhelming love for La La Land will push Stone up onto that stage come awards night.
Who Should Win: As great as Portman was, Stone was all encompassing in La La Land. There’s not a moment when she’s on screen in which she doesn’t glow. Some critics have complained that her role didn’t have the depth of a First Lady or a wife up against unspeakable racism, but there also wasn’t a performance as magnetic as Stone’s this year.

Best Supporting Actor

  • Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
  • Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
  • Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea
  • Dev Patel, Lion
  • Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals

Who Will Win: This is Ali’s award to lose. As the sensitive father figure to a young boy questioning his sexuality, Ali is powerful in his limited screen time. He may not be the runaway favorite in this category like J.K Simmons was for Whiplash in 2014, but he’s got enough to juice to take this statue.
Who Should Win: Not to beat a dead horse, but Ali. Have you seen him in Moonlight? Shut up, I’m not crying. You’re crying!

Best Supporting Actress

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

Who Will Win: Viola Davis, who probably should’ve won in 2012 for The Help, will win her first Oscar this year. Fences is an acting type of movie, if you know what I mean, and Davis shines alongside Denzel Washington in this slow burn tale.
Who Should Win: Harris should actually take home this trophy. Davis has nearly as much screen time as Washington and could have easily been nominated for Best Actress. I hate when the Academy plays around with the categories to suit their own preferences. As such, Harris’ turn as a drug-addicted mother who seeks redemption later on in life is one of the fiercest performances of the year.

Best Original Screenplay

  • Taylor Sheridan, Hell or High Water
  • Damien Chazelle, La La Land 
  • Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthimis Filippou, The Lobster
  • Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
  • Mike Mills, 20th Century Women

Who Will Win: La La Land is going to win almost every Oscar that it’s up for. It’s such a swooning and melodic ride that I can’t really fault the Academy for embracing the front runner. Sure, Chicago and Moulin Rouge! were successful. But La La Land made the musical cool again.
Who Should Win: Who said Westerns were dead?! Taylor Sheridan’s Hell or High Water is a quiet contemplation on family, loyalty and doing the wrong thing for the right reasons. It’s an updated take on an old genre that mixes soft drama with snappy dialogue.

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • Eric Heisserer, Arrival
  • August Wilson, Fences
  • Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi, Hidden Figures
  • Luke Davis, Lion
  • Barry Jenkins with story by Tarell Alvin McCranley, Moonlight

Who Will Win: Barry Jenkins. By now, I think you have a good sense of my love for this movie. It’s subtle and understated yet layered with meaning and deep expression. If you need more of an argument, read this and tell me you’re not convinced.
Who Should Win: Moonlight is absolutely deserving of this award, but I also think Arrival should be considered as well. The Academy has long looked down on sci-fi, but Heisserer is able to use aliens as a backdrop for one of the most human stories of the year.

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