Predicting the Oscar Nominees for 2016


Why write an intro if you know how it works. In case you don’t: I try to guess what will be nominated, am wrong.

Best Picture

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

If there’s 8 nominees: Hidden Figures
If there’s 9 nominees: Nocturnal Animals
If there’s 10 nominees: Fences 

As you can see, there are seven movies that I’m most certain will make the cut. Hidden Figures looks like an increasingly likely possibility thanks in no small part to its amazing performance at the box office. Nocturnal Animals keeps popping up for nominations all over the place for some reason. And while Denzel Washington’s adaptation of Fences hasn’t done as well as it was once expected, there is still a chance it could show up, although 10 nominees seems highly unlikely (if not impossible).

Best Director

  • Damien Chazelle (La La Land)
  • Berry Jenkins (Moonlight)
  • Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea)
  • David Mackenzie (Hell or High Water)
  • Denis Villeneuve (Arrival)

Here’s the thing. There seems to be four likely nominees in this race (Chazelle, Jenkins, Lonergan, and Villeneuve), and it’s getting really hard to predict who the fifth nominee is going to be if you believe the Academy will be cautious enough to steer clear from nominating Mel Gibson and have the decency to not nominate Tom Ford. Hell or High Water seems to be a beloved movie, so my guess is the most likely candidate to benefit.

Best Actor

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

This lineup might as well be written in stone, so I wouldn’t be surprised if something stupid happens like Ryan Reynolds getting nominated for Deadpool happens. We’ll know the world has truly gone to shit when Reynolds gets in over Denzel Washington.

Best Actress

  • Amy Adams (Arrival)
  • Isabelle Huppert (Elle)
  • Natalie Portman (Jackie)
  • Emma Stone (La La Land)
  • Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins)

If 2016 taught us anything is that the world isn’t fair. The trend will continue when Annette Bening fails to be nominated for what is probably the very best performance of her already impressive career. I’ll take solace, as I do most every day, in the fact that Isabelle Huppert exists.

Best Supporting Actor

  • Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)
  • Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water)
  • Hugh Grant (Florence Foster Jenkins)
  • Dev Patel (Lion)
  • Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Nocturnal Animals)

There is a scene in Nocturnal Animals in which it is revealed that Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s character has an operating toilet in the front porch of his house. He then poops and wipes his ass on screen. I have to assume that’s why he won the Golden Globe is bound to get nominated for an Oscar.

Best Supporting Actress

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

This has been a consistent line-up through much of Awards Season, so I’d be surprised if any of these five ladies gets left out. (If I had to guess who is most likely to miss the nomination, I’d say Nicole Kidman, but it’s not going to happen).

Best Original Screenplay

  • Captain Fantastic (Matt Ross)
  • Hell or High Water (Taylor Sheridan)
  • La La Land (Damien Chazelle)
  • The Lobster (Efthymus Filippou, Yorgos Lanthimos)
  • Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan)

With the Academy deciding to move Moonlight to the Adapted category, there comes the possibility for a surprised nomination for The Lobster, which makes me really happy. That being said, every good news comes with a downside, which in this case is the likely inclusion of Captain Fantastic. How anyone can watch that movie and find it to be anything but terrible I will never know.

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • Arrival (Eric Heisserer)
  • Hidden Figures (Theodore Melfi, Allison Schroeder)
  • Lion (Luke Davies)
  • Moonlight (Barry Jenkins)
  • Nocturnal Animals (Tom Ford)

Yup, you read that right. Don’t be surprised when Fences, written by the late August Wilson, one of the most honored and significant playwrights in American history doesn’t get nominated to make room for Tom Ford’s bullshit screenplay.

Best Cinematography

  • Arrival (Bradford Young)
  • La La Land (Linus Sandgren)
  • Lion (Greig Fraser)
  • Moonlight (James Laxton)
  • Nocturnal Animals (Seamus McGarvey)

This seems to be the one place where Martin Scorsese’s long gestating passion project could get a nomination, but competition is stiff, and Silence has performed so poorly (awards-wise and at the box office), I’m afraid it’s most likely to be forgotten on nomination morning.

Best Costume Design

  • The Dressmaker (Marion Boyce, Margot Wilson)
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Colleen Atwood)
  • Florence Foster Jenkins (Consolata Boyle)
  • Jackie (Madeline Fontaine)
  • La La Land (Mary Zophres)

I feel quite confident about four of these picks, but then there’s that fifth slot and I have no idea what to fill it with. The Dressmaker is a movie about clothes, and even though it hasn’t been broadly seen, it does seem like the kind of movie that this branch nominates while others ignore it.

Best Film Editing

  • Hacksaw Ridge (John Gilbert)
  • Hell or High Water (Jake Roberts)
  • La La Land (Tom Cross)
  • Manchester by the Sea (Jennifer Lame)
  • Moonlight (Joi McMillion, Nat Sanders)

I think Arrival has a very good chance of getting nominated here, I just don’t know who would be left out if it did.

Best Makeup and Hair

  • Deadpool
  • Florence Foster Jenkins
  • A Man Called Ove

Every year, the Academy releases a shortlist of 7 movies before nominating 3 in this category, and it’s always a bizarre selection. I’m not a makeup expert so what do I know. I guess I’ll be tickled if Suicide Squad joins Click and Norbit in the hall of fame of infamously bad movies nominated for an Oscar.

Best Production Design

  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Stuart Craig)
  • Florence Foster Jenkins (Alan MacDonald)
  • Hail, Caesar! (Jess Gonchor)
  • Jackie (Jean Rabasse)
  • La La Land (David Wasco)

I’m going to be honest with myself and admit that this is the category I’m least certain about, which most certainly means it’s the category I’m going to get completely wrong. The only movie I’m certain will be here is La La Land, the rest is pure guesswork.

Best Original Score

  • The BFG (John Williams)
  • Jackie (Mica Levi)
  • La La Land (Justin Hurwitz)
  • Lion (Hauschka, Dustin O’Halloran)
  • Nocturnal Animals (Abel Korzeniowski)

Maybe it’s wishful thinking on my part to think Mica Levi has a chance of getting nominated by a branch that has proved itself to be incredibly cold to outsiders, so I’m balancing it out with a nomination for John Williams, the least “outsidery” person imaginable.

Best Original Song

  • “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” (La La Land)
  • “City of Stars” (La La Land)
  • “Drive It Like You Stole It” (Sing Street)
  • “How Far I’ll Go” (Moana)
  • “Runnin” (Hidden Figures)

Since Annette Bening’s nomination seems increasingly unlikely, all I really want from the Oscars is for Sing Street to get nominated here so we get those crazy kids performing at the ceremony.

Best Sound Mixing

  • Arrival 
  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • The Jungle Book 
  • La La Land 
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story 

Musicals, war movies, science fiction, visual effects extravaganzas, that’s the kind of movie that usually gets nominated in this category.

Best Sound Editing

  • Arrival
  • Deepwater Horizon 
  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • The Jungle Book 
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story 

The key to predicting Sound Editing is look if any musical is going to be nominated in Sound Mixing and replace it with a movie that involves a lot of water. Thus, La La Land gets replaced by Deepwater Horizon. 

Best Visual Effects

  • Deepwater Horizon 
  • Doctor Strange
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
  • The Jungle Book
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story 

Big blockbusters with healthy box office returns usually dominate this category. The odd man out is Deepwater Horizon, which seems to have come and gone without much hoopla. That being said, literally the only thing I’ve heard about that movie is that the visual effects are absolutely amazing so I’m counting it in.

Best Foreign Film

  • Land of Mine (Denmark)
  • A Man Called Ove (Sweden)
  • The Salesman (Iran)
  • Tanna (Australia)
  • Toni Erdmann (Germany)

Every year, the Academy releases a shortlist of 9 finalists in the foreign film category before nominating five of those movies. I haven’t seen (or know much) about most of them, so this prediction is basically guesswork based on plot synopsis and previous Oscar winners.

Best Animated Feature

  • Kubo and the Two Strings
  • Moana
  • My Life as a Zucchini
  • The Red Turtle
  • Zootopia 

In recent years, the Academy has favored foreign movies over sequels and uninspired big hits. That’s why I’m fairly certain Finding Dory, the highest grossing movie of the year, won’t get a nomination. I am afraid, however, that something horrible like Sing might get nominated and then I’ll have to watch the wretched thing.

Best Documentary Feature

  • 13th
  • Cameraperson 
  • Fire at Sea
  • I Am Not Your Negro
  • O.J. Made in America 

Not much to say here, I haven’t seen many documentaries this year. These are just five movies that people seem to love, so I expect the Academy to love them, too.


One comment

  1. The Animation Commendation · January 19, 2017

    Great list! I haven’t seen enough films this year yet to make “prediction predictions”, but I will make predictions once the nominations come out.

    I agree that I don’t think Finding Dory will make the Best Animated Feature list.

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