×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Final Oscar Predictions as the Season Hits the Home Stretch

Pencils down — the ballots are in. Who will win?

Ballots were due on a rainy Feb. 21 in Los Angeles as the Academy rounds the final corner en route to the 89th Oscars. So…what can we expect to happen?

Barring anything wildly unforeseen, “La La Land” should stay on track to win best picture, as well as director and actress honors following the same wins from the major guilds and the British Academy. Another safe bet is Viola Davis as supporting actress for “Fences,” after she swept through the precursor circuit.

The other two acting races present tighter contests. Lead actor, in particular, feels very much up in the air. But I’ll lean toward SAG winners Denzel Washington (“Fences”) and Mahershala Ali (“Moonlight”) topping BAFTA winners Casey Affleck (“Manchester by the Sea”) and Dev Patel (“Lion”).

In the screenplay categories, the Academy’s shift of “Moonlight” from original to adapted keeps things interesting. I think it was a fortuitous move; Barry Jenkins’ script — which won the WGA’s original prize anyway — has an easier path to victory in the adapted category, with BAFTA winner “Lion” the toughest competition. That leaves original screenplay a two-horse race between presumed frontrunner “Manchester by the Sea” and “La La Land.” Flip a coin — I’ll go with Damien Chazelle as part of a dominant showing for the musical.

In the crafts categories, the easiest pick is “The Jungle Book” for visual effects; any other winner would be a shock. “La La Land” can probably count on original score and original song (“City of Stars”), plus the cinematography prize; the American Society of Cinematographers may have picked “Lion,” but the BAFTA Awards suggested that the “La La Land” aesthetic stands out to a broader group of voters.

After that, there are a lot of question marks. “Arrival,” “Hacksaw Ridge,” and “La La Land” have won editing prizes from the British Academy and the American Cinema Editors organization. My instinct for the Oscar is to go with “La La Land,” despite the fact that the best picture winner hasn’t taken this prize since “Argo.”

The makeup and hairstyling category pits two underwhelming studio blockbusters against a quaint Swedish film that’s also nominated for foreign language film. It depends on which movies Academy voters actually saw. Both “Suicide Squad” and “Star Trek Beyond” won makeup and hairstylists guild awards, but I’ll give “Star Trek” the edge. (BAFTA winner “Florence Foster Jenkins” isn’t even in play.)

“Arrival” won the sound prize at the BAFTAs, but the U.S. Academy splits the field into mixing and editing. It’s difficult to bet against a musical (Cinema Audio Society winner “La La Land”) for sound mixing, while sound editing could come down to the sci-fi drama (“Arrival”) versus a war film (“Hacksaw Ridge”). That BAFTA win has me thinking “Arrival” could walk away with it, but my gut says “Hacksaw Ridge,” particularly after a strong showing with the Motion Picture Sound Editors’ awards.

Finally in the crafts categories, costume and production design are toss-ups all around. “La La Land” is a fierce contender in each, but it’s a relatively modest production overall. I’ll bet on it in production design (which also feels like an interesting, if atypical, place to honor “Arrival”). But I’ll spread my chips over to BAFTA winner “Jackie” for costumes.

Rounding out the feature categories, I expect “Zootopia” to finish strong in animated, “O.J.: Made in America” to fend off competition from “13th” and “I Am Not Your Negro” in documentary, and a photo finish in foreign film between “A Man Called Ove” and “The Salesman.” I’ll take a flyer on the palatable “Man Called Ove” eking it out, despite a headwind of travel ban protest votes on behalf of “The Salesman.”

And to be completist, put me down for “Ennemis Interieurs” (live action), “Piper” (animated), and “Joe’s Violin” (documentary) in the shorts categories.

With all of that guesswork out of the way, questions still remain. How will the injection of nearly 700 new Academy members, many of them international artists, affect the vote this year? How will the #OscarSoWhite narrative continue to play out this season? Will emcee Jimmy Kimmel nail it or bomb?

We’ll get answers on Feb. 26.

More Film

  • Jake Gyllenhaal

    Jake Gyllenhaal to Star in Remake of Denmark's Oscar Entry 'The Guilty' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Bold Films, and Jake Gyllenhaal and Riva Marker’s Nine Stories banner have acquired the rights to remake the Danish thriller “The Guilty,” with Gyllenhaal attached to star. The pic, which premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, won the world cinema audience award and was also named one of the top five foreign language films of [...]

  • Toxic Avenger

    'Toxic Avenger' Movie in the Works at Legendary

    Legendary Entertainment is developing “The Toxic Avenger” as a movie after acquiring the feature film rights. Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz of Troma Entertainment will serve as producers. Alex Garcia and Jay Ashenfelter will oversee for Legendary. Kaufman and Herz produced the original 1984 comedy, set in the fictional town of Tromaville, N.J., and centered [...]

  • Constance Wu

    'Crazy Rich Asians' Star Constance Wu in Negotiations for Romantic Comedy

    “Crazy Rich Asians” star Constance Wu is in talks to join Sony’s Screen Gems’ untitled romantic comedy, with Elizabeth Banks and Max Handelman producing. “GLOW” actress Kimmy Gatewood is making her feature directorial debut on the project. She will be directing from a Savion Einstein script about a woman who becomes pregnant with two babies [...]

  • Maggie Gyllenhaal AoA

    Maggie Gyllenhaal on Why a Woman Director Doesn't Automatically Make a Story More Feminine

    Having a female director doesn’t automatically make a story more feminine, says “The Kindergarten Teacher” star Maggie Gyllenhaal, but when it comes to her film with director Sara Colangelo, she says the female narrative is fully encapsulated. “Just because something is written or directed by a woman doesn’t necessarily make it a feminine articulation,” she says [...]

  • Kevin Hart Hurricane Harvey

    Academy Looks Warily at Oscar Host Options As Board Meeting Looms

    Kevin Hart’s abrupt departure as Oscars host has left the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences scrambling to find someone to take the gig. As of now, the situation remains fluid as the group’s leadership explores options, including going host-less, individuals familiar with the situation told Variety. The Academy was blindsided by Hart’s announced departure Thursday [...]

  • Regina King Maggie Gyllenhaal

    Maggie Gyllenhaal, Regina King on Intimacy Experts: 'I Could Have Used the Help When I Was Younger'

    Maggie Gyllenhaal’s sex-trade industry series “The Deuce” features one job that’s unlike any other in television: an intimacy expert. During her Variety Actors on Actors interview with Regina King, “The Kindergarten Teacher” actress explained how the strange role is actually important in helping young actresses stand up for themselves, especially when it comes to sex scenes on [...]

  • Javier Bardem Elle Fanning Salma Hayek

    Javier Bardem, Elle Fanning, Salma Hayek to Star in Sally Potter Drama

    Production has begun in Spain on Sally Potter’s untitled family drama, starring Javier Bardem, Elle Fanning, Salma Hayek, Chris Rock, and Laura Linney. The story is described as a chronicle of a wild day in the life of a man on the edge, held together by the unconditional love of his daughter with Bardem and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content