2016 Oscar Winner Predictions


You know the drill, so why write an introduction?

Best Picture

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

The big question this year, as I’ve written about extensively, is exactly how many Oscars La La Land will manage to win. Will it win more than eleven statues, and thus beat the record for most wins by a single movie? To be determined, but one thing’s for sure: That sort of narrative going into the ceremony must mean that the Best Picture win is all but guaranteed. I suppose there is a chance the overwhelming critical support for Moonlight or the gigantic box office numbers of Hidden Figures could help either of those movies sneak a win Sunday night, but it’s a small chance.
Will Win: La La Land


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

Despite recent history, Best Picture and Director usually go hand-in-hand, especially when the winner is as big an awards juggernaut as La La Land has become.
Will Win: Damien Chazelle

Lead Actor

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

I’m going to be honest. I have no idea who’s going to win. Casey Affleck seemed like the obvious winner for much of the race, until those sexual harassment allegations came knocking. Denzel seems like a good alternative, but he already has two Oscars and Fences doesn’t seem like the busiest title. I even think they might split the vote and open it up to Ryan Gosling, leaving room for La La Land’s clean sweep. I change my mind about this every three minutes, so don’t trust my prediction. That being said…
Will Win: Denzel Washington

Lead Actress

  • Isabelle Huppert (Elle)
  • Ruth Negga (Loving)
  • Natalie Portman (Jackie)
  • Emma Stone (La La Land)
  • Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins)

Here’s my dream scenario: Leonardo DiCaprio opens the envelope and he informs us that there’s a tie. For the second time in Oscar history two women win Best Actress in the same year. Isabelle Huppert will have to share her Oscar with Ruth Negga. It would be the most deserving Oscar decision of all time. That being said, I think Emma Stone is quite good in La La Land and I won’t be upset when she wins.
Will Win: Emma Stone

Supporting Actor

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

Ali has been the presumed front-runner (and critical darling) for most of the season, but he’s won shockingly few of the “big” awards. I see Dev Patel (who has the ridiculous advantage of being nominated here despite being the lead character of his movie) as a very likely contender for an unexpected win. I’m going with Ali, but this is a close call. 
Will Win: 
Mahershala Ali

Supporting Actress

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

There is no question about this. Why wait until Sunday? They might as well write Viola’s name on that statue right now. 
Will Win: 
Viola Davis

Original Screenplay

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

Two of the best movies of the year only got nominated in this category, which means they have no chance of winning. This is one of the few categories La La Land could lose, and Manchester by the Sea is sure to be tough competition now that Best Actor doesn’t feel like the safest place to reward it. Still, no Best Picture winner in the last twelve years has lost the Screenplay award (except for The Artist, but that was a silent film).
Will Win: La La Land 

Adapted Screenplay

  • Arrival (Eric Heisserer)
  • Fences (August Wilson)
  • Hidden Figures (Allison Schroeder, Theodore Melfi)
  • Lion (Luke Davies)
  • Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, Tarrell Alvin McCraney)

Wow, this seemed like an easy win for Moonlight when nominations were announced, but I’ve grown less certain in the last couple weeks, as Hidden Figures became a huge box office hit and Lion started winning awards out of nowhere. I wouldn’t be surprised if any of these movies won.
Will Win: Moonlight 


  • Arrival (Bradford Young)
  • La La Land (Linus Sandgren)
  • Lion (Greig Fraser)
  • Moonlight (James Laxton)
  • Silence (Rodrigo Prieto)

Again, the question is how many can La La Land win, and this one seems like a pretty easy get.
Will Win: La La Land 

Production Design

  • Arrival (Patrice Vermette)
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Stuart Craig)
  • Hail, Caesar! (Jess Gonchor)
  • La La Land (David Wasco)
  • Passengers (Guy Hendrix Dyas)

In theory, La La Land should be vulnerable enough to lose this category, but I just don’t think any of the other nominees has the right combination of buzz and showy design to challenge it.
Will Win: La La Land 

Costume Design

  • Allied (Joanna Johnston)
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Colleen Atwood)
  • Florence Foster Jenkins (Consolata Boyle)
  • Jackie (Madeline Fontaine)
  • La La Land (Mary Zophres)

Unlike Production Design, I think there is a clear challenger to upset La La Land here. Jackie Kennedy is one of the biggest fashion icons in history, and the movie features the type of flashy period costumes that usually triumph in this category.
Will Win: Jackie

Film Editing

  • Arrival (Joe Walker)
  • Hacksaw Ridge (John Gilbert)
  • Hell or High Water (Jake Roberts)
  • La La Land (Tom Cross)
  • Moonlight (Nat Sanders, Joi McMillon)

It only makes sense for La La Land to win here, considering how Best Picture winners tend to win Editing as well. I’d say Arrival and Hacksaw Ridge have a shot at an upset, but I wouldn’t believe it.
Will Win: La La Land 

Original Score

  • Jackie (Mica Levi)
  • La La Land (Justin Hurwitz)
  • Lion (Dustin O’Halloran, Hauschka)
  • Moonlight (Nicholas Britell)
  • Passengers (Thomas Newman)

My second dream scenario: Mica Levi wins. This will obviously never happen with the second coming of the Hollywood musical standing right there in the corner.
Will Win: La La Land 

Original Song

  • “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” (La La Lad)
  • “Can’t Stop the Feeling” (Trolls)
  • “City of Stars” (La La Land)
  • “The Empty Chair” (Jim: The James Foley Story)
  • “How Far I’ll Go” (Moana)

Lin-Manuel Miranda will have to wait to complete his EGOT, even though his song for Moana is easily the best song in the category. The question here is which La La Land song will prevail. “Audition” features in one of the most emotional scenes in the film, but “City of Stars” has become sort of the movie’s official theme song.
Will Win: “City of Stars”

Sound Mixing

  • Arrival
  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • La La Land
  • Sully
  • 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

Ironically, there is no way La La Land will lose this award. Even though I couldn’t understand a single word that was sung during that opening number (and I know I’m not alone).
Will Win: La La Land 

Sound Editing

  • Arrival
  • Deepwater Horizon
  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • La La Land
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story 

Pay attention to this category Sunday night, because if La La Land wins here, it will probably sweep all over the place. You see, it doesn’t really make sense for a musical to win Sound Editing (which used to be known as Sound Effects Editing). It’s not a genre that is known for the use of sound effects, unlike war films and such.
Will Win: Hacksaw Ridge 

Makeup and Hair

  • A Man Called Ove
  • Star Trek Beyond
  • Suicide Squad 

I have the sneaking suspicion that Suicide Squad is going to win this category. It is, after all, the one movie in this category that had a lot of conversation build around the makeup. Sure, a lot of it was people complaining about how silly Jared Leto’s Joker looked, but that’s still a conversation. Anyway, Star Trek Beyond is the only acceptable winner in a rational world, and I must cling to sanity as often as possible.
Will Win: Star Trek Beyond

Visual Effects

  • Deepwater Horizon
  • Doctor Strange
  • The Jungle Book
  • Kubo and the Two Strings
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story 

For some reason, I have this feeling that people really love computer generated tigers. Life of Pi won here, and it makes for The Jungle Book to follow in its foot-steps.
Will Win: The Jungle Book  

Animated Feature

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

I will never quite understand why the world fell in love with Zootopia, but it did. And even I must admit it will be nice to award a movie about accepting those who are different from you in a time when empathy has become a partisan issue.
Will Win: Zootopia 

Foreign Film

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

I am afraid Toni Erdmann is too funny, too long, too unique, and too good for the Academy. However, I remain optimistic that despite fitting in a genre that the Academy loves, A Man Called Ove is too generic and pedestrian to actually win the award. A nice compromise might be The Salesman, which mixes artistic merit and accessibility with the familiarity of a past winner in this category and the political timeliness of how the movie’s crew will not attend the ceremony due to the travel ban.
Will Win: The Salesman  

Documentary Feature   

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

The fact that O.J. is seven and a half hours long should be enough to overcome the voices that insist (rightfully) that it’s not a movie but a television series. Either way, the extreme length makes it look like a titanic achievement that must rewarded.
Will Win: O.J. Made in America 

 Animated Short

  • Blind Vaysha
  • Borrowed Time
  • Pear Cider and Cigarettes 
  • Pearl
  • Piper

Remember when we all went to see Finding Dory and thought Piper was so much better than the actual movie? This is how it pays off.
Will Win: Piper

Documentary Short

  • Extremis
  • 4.1 Miles
  • Joe’s Violin
  • Watani: My Homeland
  • The White Helmets 

Haven’t seen any of this, but I’m predicting the one that’s about the Holocaust, and I’m told, is weirdly the least depressing of the five.
Will Win: Joe’s Violin 

Live Action Short

  • Ennemis Interieurs 
  • La Femme et le TGV
  • Silent Nights
  • Sing
  • Timecode 

Sam as the Documentary Short category, my predictions are going off reading about these movie’s subject matters. I’m picking a French movie about the inhumanity of the refugee vetting process.
Will Win: Ennemis Interieurs 


One comment

  1. The Animation Commendation · February 22, 2017

    Glad to know we agree on most things. Where I differ is that I think Portman will win Best Actress, Casey for Best Actor, Arrival for Best Sound Mixing, Hidden Figures for Best Adapted Screenplay, and Sing for Live Action Short.

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