89th Academy Awards: Final Predictions

It’s Oscar time…and that means another round of predictions. The big question of the voting: how big of a sweep will La La Land have? (It could go anywhere from three to daresay 13, depending on how much voters love LA.) And the big question of the ceremony: how many times will someone reference Donald Trump?

For the tl;dr crowd, the following two tables provide a summary of the more detailed predictions outlined in the later part of this post. Note that in the first table, races were assigned to each category (Lock/Likely/Lean/Toss-Up) based on which movies won at the various awards ceremonies that are considered to be precursors to the Oscars (BAFTA/Golden Globe/Critics’ Choice/SAG/PGA/DGA/WGA/Eddies/USC Scripter/VES/MPSE/ASC/ADG/CDG). The accuracy with which each of these ceremonies has predicted Oscar winners in the past was also taken into consideration.

Overall Distribution of Categories

Picture Actress Actor Original Screenplay
Director Supporting Actor Animated Film Foreign Language Film
Supporting Actress Adapted Screenplay Sound Mixing Film Editing
Documentary Cinematography Sound Editing Makeup
Score Song Animated Short
Visual Effects Production Design Live Action Short
Costume Design Documentary Short

Overall Tally for Best Pic Nominees

Best Pic Nominee Predicted Number of Oscars Possible Range FilmWatcher Rating
Arrival 0 0-3 ***
Fences 2 1-2 *** ½
Hacksaw Ridge 2 0-3 *
Hell or High Water 0 0-0 *** ½
Hidden Figures 0 0-0 ***
La La Land 9 3-13 ***
Lion 0 0-3 ***
Manchester by the Sea 0 0-2 *** ½
Moonlight 2 0-2 ****

More specific predictions follow below. To jump to a particular set of them, use the following links:



These categories are virtually guaranteed to end up a certain way.

Best Picture

Will: La La Land

Should: Moonlight

Snubbed: Loving, Paterson, I Am Not Your Negro, Elle, Silence


Best Director

Will: Damien Chazelle, La La Land

Should: Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

Snubbed: Jim Jarmusch (Paterson), Martin Scorsese (Silence), Jeff Nichols (Loving), David Mackenzie (Hell or High Water)


Best Supporting Actress

Will: Viola Davis, Fences

Should: Viola Davis, Fences


Best Documentary

Will: O.J. in America


Best Original Score

Will: La La Land

Should: Lion or Moonlight

Snubbed: The Red Turtle, Arrival


Best Visual Effects

Will: The Jungle Book

Should: Kubo and the Two Strings



These categories have a good chance of ending up a certain way, but there’s room for an upset in each.

Best Actress

Will: Emma Stone, La La Land

Could: Isabelle Huppert (Elle) remains Stone’s biggest competition; in a huge upset, Natalie Portman (Jackie) could also pull it off.

Should: Isabelle Huppert, Elle or Ruth Negga, Loving

Snubbed: Amy Adams, Arrival + Nocturnal Animals; Emma Suárez, Julieta


Best Supporting Actor

Will: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Could: Dev Patel, Lion

Should: Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea

Snubbed: Everyone in Moonlight; Liam Neeson, Silence; Jovan Adepo and Stephen Henderson, Fences; Hugh Grant, Florence Foster Jenkins; Ben Foster, Hell or High Water


Best Adapted Screenplay

Will: Moonlight

Could: Arrival or Lion

Should: Moonlight


Best Cinematography

Will: La La Land

Could: Lion

Should: Silence


Best Original Song

Will: “City of Stars,” La La Land

Could: “How Far I’ll Go,” Moana

Should: “City of Stars,” La La Land


Best Production Design

Will: La La Land

Could: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Should: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them


Best Costume Design

Will: Jackie

Could: La La Land

Should: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them



These categories are more uncertain, although one movie holds a slight advantage over all the rest in each.

Best Actor

Will: Denzel Washington, Fences

Could: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea – or Ryan Gosling of La La Land if La La Land pulls a historic sweep.

Should: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea – although for the performance alone, not for his conduct away from the cameras.

Snubbed: Andrew Garfield, Silence; Adam Driver, Paterson; Michael Keaton, The Founder; Joel Edgerton, Loving; Sunny Pawar, Lion; Chris Pine, Hell or High Water


Best Animated Film

Will: Zootopia

Could: Kubo and the Two Strings

Should: Kubo and the Two Strings or The Red Turtle


Best Sound Mixing

Will: La La Land

Could: Arrival or Hacksaw Ridge


Best Sound Editing

Will: Hacksaw Ridge

Could: Arrival or La La Land




These ones could go any one of two or three ways depending on the whims of the Academy voters.

Best Original Screenplay

Will: La La Land

Could: Manchester by the Sea

Should: Hell or High Water

Snubbed: Paterson


Best Foreign Language Film

Will: The Salesman

Could: Toni Erdmann

Should: Anything but Toni Erdmann. Please, Academy voters. If nothing else.


Best Film Editing

Will: Hacksaw Ridge

Could: La La Land or Arrival


Best Makeup

Will: Suicide Squad

Could: Star Trek Beyond

Should: None of them, since the ones with good makeup (Jackie, Florence Foster Jenkins) were somehow not nominated.


Best Animated Short

Will: Pear Cider and Cigarettes

Could: Any of the nominees.

Should: Pear Cider and Cigarettes


Best Live Action Short

Will: Ennemis Interieurs

Could: Any of the nominees.

Should: La Femme et le TGV or Sing


Best Documentary Short

Will: Joe’s Violin

Could: Any of the nominees.