Oscars 2017 Predictions: It’s ‘La La Land’ vs. ‘Fences’ vs. ‘Silence’

First thing first. ‘Fences’ had its first screening today for SAG members and press. As expected, the reactions were through the roof. You can read them herehere and here. Every oscar pundit in town is saying the same thing: Viola Davis will win Best Supporting Actress and Denzel Washington might win his third Oscar. Though, it does seems like that ‘La La Land’ still hold the edge when it comes to the top prize. Having said that, nobody has seen ‘Silence’ yet. Going by reports that I have read and heard, ‘Silence’ deals in quite heavy stuff. And we know from Oscars history that such films typically don’t win Best Picture (There are always exceptions to the rule like ’12 Years a Slave’). In any case, I am not ready to back off my prediction of ‘La La Land’ winning Best Picture. But yes, things are not going to be as easy for ‘La La Land’ as I had initially thought. You can never discount Martin Scorsese out of the Oscar race. He has just won only one Oscar for Best Director and we all know he certainly deserves to win many more. So, I don’t think the Academy members will bat an eyelid if they feel he deserves another Best Director award for ‘Silence’. 

Again, there are always good reliable sources like Hollywood Elsewhere and Awards Daily that I trust when it comes to getting a sense of the pulse of the industry during the awards season, but as far as making Oscar predictions is concerned, I trust my gut instinct more than anything else. And if you have been following The Cinemaholic for long enough, you will know that I enjoy making predictions more than watching the actual awards ceremony itself.

Best Picture

1. La La Land
2. Fences
3. Silence
4. Manchester by the Sea
5. Moonlight
6. Jackie
7. Loving
8. Hidden Figures
9. Arrival

10. Lion
11. Live by Night
12. 20th Century Women
13. The Founder
14. Passengers
15. Allied
16. Sully
17. Hacksaw Ridge
18. Rules Don’t Apply

Insight: This year we saw a huge controversy, #OscarsSoWhite, erupt over not a single minority person getting acting nomination. My personal opinion is that the Academy members are not racist; it is the studios who need to be more inclusive. As far as chances of ‘Fences’ winning Best Picture is concerned, I feel due the pervasive political climate and the ongoing conversation around racial injustice, it stands a very good chance. The early reactions have confirmed to us that it is surely going to be a major threat to ‘La La Land’. 

‘La La Land’ is a film that defines and validates the existence of cinema as the most transformative art form.I am sure it will receive immense love from the folks in the film industry. Also, it’s been quite a while since a musical won Best Picture (the last one was ‘Chicago’ in 2002). And within a political climate that has ruined country’s mood, I won’t be surprised if Academy members pick something uplifting and cheerful, ‘La La Land’ is. But if they choose to go by straight up serious drama (which most of the times they do), they will have plenty of options from ‘Silence’ to ‘Fences’.

‘Moonlight’ and ‘Arrival’ are receiving tremendous critical acclaim and therefore, both of them have found place in the top 10, whereas ‘Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk’ got a very lukewarm response after its first screening. That means it is more or less out of the race. 

Best Director

1. Damien Chazelle, ‘La La Land’
2. Martin Scorsese, ‘Silence’
3. Denzel Washington, ‘Fences’
4. Barry Jenkins, ‘Moonlight’
5. Kenneth Lonergan, ‘Manchester by the Sea’
6. Pablo Larraín, ‘Jackie’ 
7. Denis Velleneuve, ‘Arrival’
8. Jeff Nicholas, ‘Loving’
9. Ben Affleck, ‘Live by Night’
10. Theodore Melfi, ‘Hidden Figures’

Insight: Even if ‘La La Land’ manages to completely knock the socks off Academy members,its director Damien Chazelle will have a difficult path to victory, for the simple reason that he is still very young — only 31, and this his third feature film. Of course, a lot depends on the competition. But if there are heavyweights and veterans like Martin Scorsese, Denzel Washington and Kenneth Lonergan competing against him, I won’t be surprised if there’s a split at the top (Best Picture and Best Director go to two different films) just like it happened this year. ‘La La Land’, I’m assuming, is going to be an easy film to like (that’s how Spotlight trumped the competition) and therefore, it can win Best Picture without Chazelle winning Best Director. Still, at this point of time, I think it’s best to place the bets on him.

Best Actor

1. Casey Affleck, ‘Manchester by the Sea’
2. Denzel Washington, ‘Fences’
3. Michael Keaton, ‘The Founder’
4. Ryan Gosling, ‘La La Land’
5. Andrew Garfield, ‘Silence’
6. Warren Beatty, ‘Rules Don’t Apply’
7. Matthew McConaughey, ‘Gold’ 
8. Tom Hanks, ‘Sully’ 
9. Brad Pitt, ‘Allied’
10. Joel Edgerton, ‘Loving’

Insight: This is going to be an interesting race. Can Casey Affleck pull off a Eddie Redmayne and beat out other industry veterans? Even though Affleck has been working for quite a while now and has even received Best Supporting Actor nomination before, he still feels like a newcomer; probably because he doesn’t have a strong portfolio of work to show off. With Denzel Washington coming up strong, his position at the top has become really vulnerable. 

If ‘The Founder’ turns out to great, Michael Keaton will get a second shot at the Best Actor Oscar after the painful loss for ‘Birdman’ a couple of years ago. I think the strength of ‘La La Land’ will carry Ryan Gosling to at least a nomination. Watch out for Andrew Garfield. He might turn out to be a real threat if ‘Silence’ hits off in a big way.

Best Actress

1. Emma Stone, ‘La La Land’
2. Natalie Portman, ‘Jackie’
3. Annette Bening, ‘20th Century Women
4. Ruth Negga, ‘Loving’
5. Amy Adams, ‘Arrival’
6. Taraji P. Henson, ‘Hidden Figures’ 
7. Jessica Chastain, ‘Miss Sloane’
8. Meryl Streep, ‘Florence Foster Jenkins’
9. Isabelle Huppert, ‘Elle’
10. Marion Cotillard, ‘Allied’

Insight: We already wrote about how this year’s Best Actress race is turning out to be most competitive in years. But with Viola Davis taking herself out of the Best Actress race, the road is pretty much clear for Emma Stone. Natalie Portman is sure-shot contender who should easily find a place in the top 5. Since she recently won, I don’t think she will again. Though, the real threat, if anyone, to Emma Stone could be Annette Bening, who is an industry veteran yet to be rewarded by the Academy. 

Best Supporting Actor 

1. Liam Neeson, ‘Silence’
2. Mahershala Ali, ‘Moonlight’
3. Lucas Hedges, ‘Manchester by the Sea’
4. Stephen McKinley Henderson, ‘Fences’
5. Dev Patel, ‘Lion’
6. Jeff Bridges, ‘Hell or High Water’
7. Edgar Ramirez, ‘Gold’
8. Hugh Grant, ‘Florence Foster Jenkins’
9. Adam Driver, ‘Silence’
10. Kevin Costner. ‘Hidden Figures’

Insight: It seems like finally it will be Liam Neeson’s year. With not much competition from anywhere else, except probably Mahershala Ali, I think he has a very good chance of winning. But still, for some reason, things seem to be very fluid here — that could be because we haven’t seen a lot of great supporting performances this year. So, expect a lot of updates in this category as we move closer to the end of the year. 

Best Supporting Actress

1. Viola Davis, ‘Fences’
2. Michelle Williams, ‘Manchester by the Sea’
3. Naomie Harris, ‘Moonlight’
4. Nicole Kidman, ‘Lion’
5. Octavia Spencer, ‘Hidden Figures’
6. Elle Fanning, ’20th Century Women’
7. Greta Gerwig,’20th Century Women’
8. Laura Linney, ‘Nocturnal Animals’
9. Janelle Monae, ‘Hidden Figures’
10. Felicity Jones, ‘A Monster Calls’

Insight: Gave over, folks. Pack your bags and go home because Viola Davis has this one in her bag. 

Read More: Every Best Picture Winner Since 2000, Ranked