Oscar Predictions 2017

Best Picture

A very strong category this year that boasted a number of powerful performances, important stories that needed to be told (No, I'm not counting La La Land there) and several pictures that confirmed the prestige of their directors. While Manchester by the Sea, Arrival and Fences were all excellent releases that could easily have won in previous years, it was inevitably going to come down to La La Land vs Moonlight. Both critically adored, Chazelle's musical was a nostalgic and uplifting romp while Jenkins' drama was an epic tale of self-discovery and struggle that confronted previously uncovered issues with unflinching brilliance. For its ambitious cinematography, understated storytelling and flawless performances, Moonlight edges it for me. But the optimism, charming chemistry and dazzling choreography of La La Land will win over the Academy.

Will win: La La Land
Should win: Moonlight

Best Actor

For me, there's only one winner. Denzel Washington's performance as Troy Maxson in Fences was extraordinary, providing an unparalleled depth and complexity to a troubled character that managed to constantly toy with our sympathies like never before. Yes, Ryan Gosling was the perfect fit for the suave, confident Sebastian in La La Land and Casey Affleck was impressive as the bitter, often furious Lee in Manchester by the Sea but Washington was simply unmatchable. 

Will win: Denzel Washington
Should win: Denzel Washington

Best Actress

Much like in the best picture category, it's looking like a two-horse race between Natalie Portman and Emma Stone. Portman carried Jackie with a powerful performance as the tormented, fragile wife of JFK in such style that it was hard to imagine any other actress ever playing the role. Stone was incredibly likeable as always as the hopeless dreamer Mia in La La Land, delivering a stunning monologue in an early audition scene, and her chemistry with Gosling may just win it for her. But for me, the way in which Portman dominated Larrain's film so completely is hard to look past. 

Will win: Emma Stone
Should win: Natalie Portman

Best Supporting Actor

Jeff Bridges and Michael Shannon gave two remarkably similar performances in this category, both portraying weathered cops with a great dose of grim wit (Bridges in particular). By contrast, Lucas Hedges was the weakest element of Manchester by the Sea so it is very surprising to see him nominated. Ultimately though, Mahershala Ali's performance as Juan in Moonlight will take the award and deservingly so, an outstanding depiction of an unlikely father figure who dominated the first act of Jenkins' film. 

Will win: Mahershala Ali
Should win: Mahershala Ali

Best Supporting Actress

The theatrical nature of Fences placed much emphasis on the central characters and Viola Davis delivered in style, a beautifully subtle performance that was the perfect balance to Washington's humourous role. Davis brought stability and charm to the film and, as it progressed, an increasing amount of emotional drama that heightened the tensions within the family.

Will win: Viola Davis
Should win: Viola Davis