My Oscar Predictions! Who Should Win and Who Will Win


Ah it’s finally here!  Oscar time!  The one night of the year where the toast of Tinseltown come together to butter each other up, drink, and get rewarded with exorbitant gift baskets.

Also some awards are given out.

Here are my predictions for this year’s Oscars.  Please note that I have chosen to predict only the most prominent awards.  These include:  Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Adapted Screenplay.

So without further ado…



The Nominees:  Eric Heisserer-Arrival, August Wilson-Fences, Theodore Melfi and Allison Schroeder-Hidden Figures, Barry Jenkins-Moonlight, Luke Davies-Lion


Who Should Win:  Arrival -Eric Heisserer

Although I’ve never read Ted Chiang’s “Story of Your Life,” by most accounts writer Eric Heisserer’s phenomenal screenplay captures the spirit and substance of Chiang’s work in totality.  It’s not easy to adapt one medium to another and keep the impact and pathos of the original text.  However, that’s exactly what Heisserer accomplishes with Arrival.  Great movies begin and end with the written word, and Heisserer hands down delivered here.


Who Will Win:  Barry Jenkins-Moonlight

After the #OscarsSoWhite debacle of the last few years, minorities are extremely well represented at the Oscars this year.  While some might consider this a pendulum shift to the other side (they’re wrong) I see it as, “talent winning out” as my grandfather used to say.  Barry Jenkins is unquestionably a young up and coming talent.  (This is only his second feature film.)  Not only was he nominated in the writing category but also as Best Director.  However, it is his soulful adaptation of Tarell Alvin McCraney’s sublime novel In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, that will earn him Oscar gold.  At thirty-seven, Jenkins has a bright future ahead of him.  Come Sunday night he’ll also have a statue as well.



The nominees:  Taylor Sheridan-Hell or High Water, Damien Chazelle-LA LA LAND, Efthimis Filippou and Yorgos Lanthimos-The Lobster, Kenneth Lonergan-Manchester by the Sea, Mike Mills-20th Century Women



Who Should Win:  Taylor Sheridan-Hell or High Water

Hell or High Water was my number two movie of the year and one of the main reasons was the brilliant screenplay by Sheridan.  Sheridan proved his writing chops last year with Sicario, which he unfortunately didn’t get nominated for.  With Hell or High Water he cements his position as one of the best screenwriters in Hollywood.  An elegiac, heartbreaking, funny, and philosophical neo-noir Western, Sheridan crafted one of the finest original scripts in years.  His directorial debut, Wind River, releases this year and if it’s half as good as his writing, audiences are in for a treat.


Who Will Win:  Damien Chazelle-LA LA LAND

Sigh.  Despite it’s 14 Oscar nominations, I thought Chazelle’s musical was one of the most overrated films of the year.  There’s nothing particularly original about this movie.  We’ve heard the struggling-artists-fall-love-and-one-makes-it-big story a thousand times.  It’s a cliché.  Yet Vegas odds are good that LA LA LAND will dominate and I have no doubt Chazelle will take home the golden statue come Sunday night.



The nominees:  Denis Villeneuve-Arrival, Damien Chazelle-LA LA LAND, Mel Gibson-Hacksaw Ridge, Barry Jenkins-Moonlight, Kenneth Lonergan-Manchester by the Sea


Who Should Win:  Denis Villeneuve-Arrival

Denis Villeneuve is one of the best directors in Hollywood working today, bar none.  He won me over three and half years ago with Prisoners and Sicario continued that streak.  Arrival is his masterpiece.  Villeneuve’s distinct signature is all over this film.  His ingenuity and ability to get the best out of his actors is second to none.  Blade Runner 2049 is in very good hands.


Who Will Win:  Damien Chazelle-LA LA LAND

By the end of this Sunday’s Oscars, Mr. Chazelle is going to have a statue for each hand.  One for writing and one for directing.  I don’t see a scenario where he doesn’t win this award running away.  The irony is that his direction was ten times better for Whiplash two years ago and he wasn’t even nominated.



The nominees:  Viola Davis-Fences, Naomi Harris-Moonlight, Nicole Kidman-Lion, Octavia Spencer-Hidden Figures, Michelle Williams-Manchester by the Sea

I want to make a quick comment on the this category before I give my picks because…well…there’s just a couple of strange things.  First off why Nicole Kidman was nominated for Lion is beyond me.  She clearly took Janelle Mone Robinson’s spot from either Hidden Figures or Moonlight.  Robinson could easily have been nominated for either.  And with apologies to Octavia Spencer you’re sitting in Taraji P. Henson’s spot.  Henson absolutely crushed it as mathematician Katherine Goble Johnson, with a racially charged scene between her and Kevin Costner being particularly memorable.  Additionally, the fact that Viola Davis was nominated in the Supporting Actress category is a little perplexing too, as she had just as much screen time in Fences as Denzel Washington.  Which leads me to my pick…


Who Should and Will Win:  Viola Davis-Fences

This year’s category is stacked with talent.  After I saw Naomi Harris in Moonlight I was positive no one could top that role.  Then I saw Viola Davis in Fences go toe to toe and scene for scene with Denzel Washington as Rose Lee Maxson, the scorned and long-suffering housewife of Troy Maxson.  Powerful and provocative doesn’t begin to describe her performance.  Davis is simply magnificent.  She should have won Best Actress five years ago for The Help.  Davis will definitely win this year.  (Incidentally if Davis does she will be one of the rare actresses to win both a Tony, an Emmy, and an Oscar.)



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


Who Should Win:  Jeff Bridges-Hell or High Water

The Dude abides.  Again.  Granted the role of Texas Ranger Marcus Hamilton is right in the actor’s wheelhouse, however he’s none the less captivating.  Every time he’s on screen Bridges grabs your attention.  His climactic scene with Chris Pine in the film’s final moments is a capper to a magnificent performance.



Who Will Win:  Mahershala Ali-Moonlight

Ali is a busy and talented man.  House of Cards, Luke Cage, Hidden Figures, Moonlight.  I’m starting to wonder if the guy ever sleeps.  Ali brings a pathos and relatablity to Juan, a drug dealer who takes the main character Chiron under his wing.  Ali plays Juan as a reluctant drug dealer, someone who does what he needs to survive.  He shields Chiron from the drug life and shows a compassion you don’t often associate with drug dealers.  Though Ali’s screen time is limited, he makes the most of it.



The nominees:  Emma Stone-LA LA LAND, Isabelle Hubert-Elle, Natalie Portman-Jackie, Ruth Negga-Loving, Meryl Streep-Florence Foster Jenkins


Who Should Win:  Ruth Negga-Loving

This is a bit of a difficult category for me to pick because truth be told I’ve only seen two of the performances–Stone’s and Negga’s.  However, comparing the two, I’d say Negga edges out Stone.  Her restrained and nuanced performance as Mildred Loving, who along with her husband Richard fought to have their inter-racial marriage legal, was both subtle and touching.


Who Will Win:  Emma Stone-LA LA LAND

LA LA LAND is bound to win between 8 to 10 Oscars and this is one of them.  Emma Stone absolutely earned this nomination as Mia, the struggling actress who falls in love with an aspiring jazz club owner.  Her Mia is tender, touching, and driven.  Stone shows a vulnerability and tenacity that you don’t often see on the big screen anymore.  Emma start dusting off the mantle now because you’re going home with the gold.



The nominees:  Denzel Washington-Fences, Casey Affleck-Manchester by the Sea, Andrew Garfield-Hacksaw Ridge, Viggo Mortensen-Captain Fantastic, Ryan Gosling-LA LA LAND


Who Should and Will Win:  Denzel Washington-Fences

A month ago I would have said Casey Affleck had this award wrapped up but oh how quickly things change.  Affleck’s sexual harassment controversy from a few years ago has dogged him on the press circuit and probably influenced the members of the Academy.  Additionally, Washington won the SAG award a few weeks back and winners of the SAG award have won the Oscar over 80% of the time since the award show’s inception.  And truthfully Washington is just better than Affleck as Troy Maxson, the stern, bitter, and larger than life personality of August Wilson’s play turned film.  Washington is by no means a method actor and tends to stick to roles attuned for him.  However, it doesn’t make his performance in Fences any less remarkable or captivating.



The Nominees:  Fences, Hidden Figures, Lion, Arrival, LA LA LAND, Manchester by the Sea, Hell or High Water, Moonlight, Hacksaw Ridge


Who Should Win:  Arrival

I didn’t see a better film last year than Arrival.  Visually breathtaking with amazing performances and flawless direction, I was in awe of this film.  From top to bottom it’s one of the best science fiction films I’ve ever seen.  A philosophical commentary on communication, relationships, and our purpose in this life, it affected me in a very personal way.  It’s a film I plan on revisiting for years to come.


Who Will Win:  LA LA LAND

LA LA LAND, overrated.  Totally out of touch actors who don’t get it.  SAD.”  I hate to recreate and appropriate a Donald Trump  tweet, but in this case I think it’s apropos.  LA LA LAND is without a doubt the most overrated film of the year.  I’ve made no secret of this.  A film that celebrates Hollywood seems so self-indulgent as to be borderline narcissistic.  We are literally about to have an awards show with Hollywood bigwigs toasting each other.  And I’m giving you a 100% guarantee that LA LA LAND will win Best Picture.  It’s really quite sad because the film is a surface deep old school musical that has nothing new to say.  In no way (aside from the distinctly non-Hollywood ending) does it explore new themes, provoke deep reflection, or compel one towards enlightening conversation.  You know, everything that Arrival actually does.  Leave it to Hollywood to fawn over a movie that essentially pats themselves on the back.  Aside from Emma Stone’s performance, LA LA LAND is no more the Best Picture of the year than I am George Clooney.  But hey, I’m just King Lear shouting into the storm.  Hollywood is notorious for having a tin ear for reason.


As much as I denigrate the “me” culture of Hollywood I still watch the Academy Awards show every year.  If for no other reason than I enjoy the spectacle, the sometimes inspirational speeches, the IN MEMORIAM section, and sometimes the host.  Speaking of, I’d be very surprised if Jimmy Kimmel doesn’t knock it out of the park come Sunday.  While the majority of people who should win won’t win, it’s bound  to be one Hell of a show.

*As I’ve done for the last few years I will be live tweeting the event Sunday night.  To tune in, you can follow me on Twitter at @DarthGandalf1.  See you then!


<> on October 19, 2009 in Santa Clarita, California.