Feinberg Forecast: Final Predictions for the 89th Oscar Nominations

4:04 PM 1/23/2017

by Scott Feinberg

THR's awards columnist locks in his picks ahead of Tuesday's announcement, projecting a field-leading — and record-tying — 14 noms for 'La La Land.'

'La La Land'
'La La Land'
Courtesy of Lionsgate

These projections are a reflection of Scott Feinberg's personal impressions (from advance screenings), publicly available information (release dates, genres, talent rosters and teasers/trailers often offer valuable clues), historical considerations (how other films with similar pedigrees have resonated), precursor awards (some awards groups have historically correlated with the Academy more than others) and consultations with industry insiders (including fellow members of the press, awards strategists, filmmakers and awards voters).

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  • Best Picture

    David Bornfriend/Courtesy of A2

    PROJECTED NOMINEES

    La La Land (Lionsgate)
    Moonlight (A24) [pictured above]
    Manchester by the Sea (Amazon/Roadside Attractions)
    Arrival (Paramount)
    Hell or High Water (CBS Films/Lionsgate)
    Lion (The Weinstein Co.)
    Hidden Figures (Fox)
    Hacksaw Ridge (Lionsgate)
    Fences (Paramount)
    Captain Fantastic (Bleecker Street)

    ALTERNATE

    Deadpool (20th Century Fox)

    POTENTIAL SURPRISE

    O.J.: Made in America (ESPN Films)

    SHOULDA BEEN A CONTENDER

    The Founder (The Weinstein Co.)

    COMMENTARY

    Three films appear to be slam-dunks, based on my conversations with a wide cross-section of voters and the fact that the films have landed just about every form of recognition for which they have been eligible, thus far: La La Land (which has such broad support that it may tie, or come close to tying, the all-time record for noms), Moonlight and Manchester by the Sea (which would mark the first best pic nom for a film distributed by a streaming service, namely Amazon). Apart from them, nothing is certain, and we could just as easily land up with five nominees in the category (the minimum) as ten (the maximum). Arrival isn't everyone's cup of tea, but its fans are passionate. Hell or High Water, as much as any contender, caters to the male demo that dominates the membership. Lion, Hidden Figures and Hacksaw Ridge are based on true stories and tug at the heartstrings, two things that always play well. And the actors, whose branch is the Academy's largest by far, should propel Fences. The tenth slot, if there is one, could go any number of ways: some voters tell me they voted for the 7.5-hour O.J. doc, deeming it as ambitious and accomplished a film as any this year and therefore worthy of becoming the first doc ever nominated in this category; others are pulling for Deadpool or Sully, arguing that the category was expanded beyond five slots specifically with the hope that doing so would make room for a well-made popular hit; and others still are backing love-or-hate art-house fare like Nocturnal Animals, 20th Century Women and Florence Foster Jenkins. My hunch is that actors, who already have championed Captain Fantastic with a best ensemble SAG nom, will push it across the finish line here — but I wouldn't be shocked if I, Daniel Blake, despite minimal stateside ballyhoo, catches a wave of European support (its BAFTA noms include best film and best director) in a year in which the Academy welcomed into its membership an unprecedented number of international members.

  • Best Director

    Claire Folger/Courtesy of Amazon Studios and Roadside Attractions

    PROJECTED NOMINEES

    Damien Chazelle (La La Land)
    Barry Jenkins (Moonlight)
    Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea) [pictured above]
    Denis Villeneueve (Arrival)
    Garth Davis (Lion)

    ALTERNATE

    Ken Loach (I, Daniel Blake)

    POTENTIAL SURPRISE

    Mel Gibson (Hacksaw Ridge)

    SHOULDA BEEN A CONTENDER

    David Mackenzie (Hell or High Water)

    COMMENTARY

    It will be shocking if noms aren't accorded to Chazelle (who, at 32, could become the category's youngest winner ever), Jenkins (the critics' darling who could become its first black winner) or Lonergan (who, like Chazelle, but unlike BAFTA-snubbed Jenkins, has been recognized with a nom by every major precursor group). After that, it gets tricky. The DGA nominated those three plus Villeneuve — and, somewhat surprisingly, Davis, an Aussie in the running for his feature debut who was unavailable to campaign pre-noms. The DGA's picks rarely match up perfectly with those of the Academy's directors branch, but I think they might this year. Some suspect Davis will be bumped by Gibson, who was welcomed out of the doghouse with Critics' Choice and Golden Globe noms, although I'm not sure the industry itself is ready to honor him as an individual; Mackenzie, who got a Critics' Choice nom for helming a movie many love; or directing "outsiders" Tom Ford, the fashion maven behind Nocturnal Animals (he got Globe and BAFTA noms) or Denzel Washington, who directed himself in Fences (and got a Critics' Choice nom). If anyone is going to displace Davis, I think it might be veteran Loach, the British octagenarian master of the kitchen-sink drama who never has been nominated before, since he already landed a BAFTA nom and should play well with the new, mostly European members of this branch, many of whom also specialize in neorealism. But Loach's health has prevented him from traveling to the U.S. to campaign, and his film's distributor, perhaps as a result, hasn't mounted an especially aggressive stateside campaign on his behalf, so I'm sticking with the DGA line-up.

  • Best Actor

    Courtesy of Sundance Institute

    PROJECTED NOMINEES

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

    ALTERNATE

    Tom Hanks (Sully)

    POTENTIAL SURPRISE

    Jake Gyllenhaal (Nocturnal Animals)

    SHOULDA BEEN A CONTENDER

    Sunny Pawar (Lion)

    COMMENTARY

    These same five actors have been nominated alongside each other for virtually every award, thus far, and I see no reason why that would stop now. I wouldn't read anything into BAFTA snubbing Washington in favor of Gyllenhaal, beyond the fact that BAFTA has some soul-searching to do. The only real alternatives seem to be two masters of understatement: Hanks, who garnered a Critics' Choice nom (but probably blew his shot at landing his first nom in 16 years by not putting himself out there as much as his competitors); and Loving's Joel Edgerton, who garnered Critics' Choice and Globe noms (but still flies under the radar of many).

  • Best Actress

    William Gray/Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

    FRONTRUNNERS

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

    ALTERNATE

    Annette Bening (20th Century Women)

    POTENTIAL SURPRISE

    Emily Blunt (The Girl on the Train)

    SHOULDA BEEN A CONTENDER

    Hailee Steinfeld (Edge of Seventeen)

    COMMENTARY

    With SAG, BAFTA, Globe and Critics' Choice noms to their names, you can't not pick Stone, Portman and Adams — but after that, things get tricky. Streep's movie came out early in the season and isn't for everyone — but she played her part as well as anyone could have, people really like the movie, she has campaigned quite aggressively on behalf of it and she only boosted her stock with her recent Golden Globe speech, so I think she's getting in. As for the fifth slot? Many look at Blunt's BAFTA and SAG noms and assume that means she's a safe bet for an Oscar nom, too, but, in recent years, many have garnered the first two but not the third, and I just can't imagine this talented actress landing her first Oscar nom for such a poorly-received film. Some expect Bening, a revered veteran, to rack up nom #5 for her film, and she might, having done career-best work and been very visible in conjunction with not only this film but also Rules Don't Apply. And Golden Globe nominees Jessica Chastain and Ruth Negga have their supporters, too, for the underseen Miss Sloane and Loving, respectively. But I'm putting my chips on France's never-before-nominated Huppert — admittedly, most of her accolades, thus far, have come from journalists and critics, who aren't represented in the Academy, but Europeans certainly are, and I think they will put her over the top.

  • Best Supporting Actor

    CBS Films

    PROJECTED NOMINEES

    Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water) [pictured above]
    Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)
    Dev Patel (Lion)
    Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea)
    Hugh Grant (Florence Foster Jenkins)

    ALTERNATE

    Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Nocturnal Animals)

    POTENTIAL SURPRISE

    Ben Foster (Hell or High Water)

    SHOULDA BEEN A CONTENDER

    Kevin Costner (Hidden Figures)

    COMMENTARY

    There's only one slam-dunk and his name is Bridges. Ali, if nominated, could beat him, but one never should take for granted a nom for a performance as brief as Ali's, even one as respected as his is (he won critics' awards on both coasts) and in a movie as respected as Moonlight. Patel seems a safe bet — he's received every major nom for which he's been eligible — but the same cannot be said for Hedges (still largely unknown, although his SAG nom is a profile-booster) or Grant (who garnered SAG, Globe and BAFTA noms, but across two different categories, which suggests Oscar voters may be backing him in two different categories, too). If one of these fall through, look for Taylor-Johnson to be the beneficiary — he's already won a Globe and been nominated for a BAFTA — even though his costar, Michael Shannon, initially received far better notices.

  • Best Supporting Actress

    David Lee/Paramount Pictures

    PROJECTED NOMINEES

    Viola Davis (Fences) [pictured above]
    Naomie Harris (Moonlight)
    Nicole Kidman (Lion)
    Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea)
    Greta Gerwig (20th Century Women)

    ALTERNATE

    Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures)

    POTENTIAL SURPRISE

    Janelle Monae (Hidden Figures)

    SHOULDA BEEN A CONTENDER

    Hayley Squires (I, Daniel Blake)

    COMMENTARY

    Three of these ladies — Davis, Harris and Kidman, each a key part of a probable best picture nominee, each recognized in every way possible so far — you can take to the bank. I'm a little wary about picking Williams for a performance that accounts for just 11 minutes of screen time, but she got the same noms as the other three, so I can't justify not including her. That leaves the fifth slot, which could go to one of two Hidden Figures stars — SAG and Globe nominee Spencer, a past Oscar winner, or Critics' Choice nominee Monae, a newcomer — but which I suspect will go to Critics' Choice nominee Gerwig (who never before has been nominated for an Oscar) for another, very different film about women.

  • Best Adapted Screenplay

    Paramount Pictures

    PROJECTED NOMINEES

    Moonlight (Barry Jenkins)
    Lion (Luke Davies)
    Hacksaw Ridge (Andrew Knight, Robert Schenkkan)
    Arrival (Eric Heisserer) [pictured above]
    Fences (August Wilson)

    ALTERNATE

    Hidden Figures (Allison Schroeder, Theodore Melfi)

    POTENTIAL SURPRISE

    Sully (Todd Komarnicki)

    SHOULDA BEEN A CONTENDER

    Loving (Jeff Nichols)

    COMMENTARY

    In even the most straightforward of years, precursor awards aren't of much help when it comes to screenplay categories — the Globes consider adapted and original screenplays together, and the WGA only considers screenplays written under the terms of its contract — but this year, with several scripts classified differently by different groups, they're particularly useless. Therefore, one can only predict these categories based on the sort of preferences that the writers branch has displayed in the past. So? It should be very hard for writers to resist Moonlight's gritty and personal story; Lion's moving saga; Hacksaw Ridge's true story; and Arrival's creative homage to language. After that, I suspect they'll want to pay homage to Wilson, the playwright who adapted his own work for the screen shortly before his death in 2005. Two other scripts about race in America — Hidden Figures and Loving — also have a shot.

  • Best Original Screenplay

    Courtesy of Alchemy/Sundance Institute

    PROJECTED NOMINEES

    Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan)
    La La Land (Damien Chazelle)
    Hell or High Water (Taylor Sheridan)

    Captain Fantastic (Matt Ross)
    The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos, Efthymis Filippou) [pictured above]

    ALTERNATE

    I, Daniel Blake (Paul Laverty)

    POTENTIAL SURPRISE

    Zootopia (Jared Bush, Phil Johnston)

    SHOULDA BEEN A CONTENDER

    Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade)

    COMMENTARY

    Again, precursors are less valuable than an understanding of what sorts of scripts writers respond to. They love scripts with complex characters and storylines, like Manchester by the Sea and Hell or High Water. They're skeptical about musicals, but appreciate inventive storytelling, which La La Land provides. And they adore fearless quirkiness, which is synonymous with Captain Fantastic and The Lobster. I think they'll be tempted by I, Daniel Blake and Zootopia, but ultimately may find them a little too emotionally manipulative.

  • Best Animated Feature

    Courtesy of Disney

    PROJECTED NOMINEES

    Zootopia (Disney) [pictured above]
    Kubo and the Two Strings (Focus Features)
    Moana (Disney)
    My Life As a Zucchini (GKIDS)
    Finding Dory (Pixar)

    ALTERNATE

    The Red Turtle (Sony Classics)

    POTENTIAL SURPRISE

    Sing (Illumination/Universal)

    SHOULDA BEEN A CONTENDER

    Sausage Party (Sony Animation)

    COMMENTARY

    Bloc voting — when people employed by a studio automatically vote for that studio's product — played a huge role in the voting process when the studio system still was intact. These days, its only vestige is in the animation realm, since many people, including many members of the Academy's short films and feature animation branch, still work exclusively for, say, Disney/Pixar (which currently has the biggest bloc), and therefore have a huge personal incentive to help their studio's films do well. That's why you can almost certainly count on noms in this category going not only to Disney's Zootopia and Moana getting noms, but also to Pixar's Finding Dory, the underwhelming sequel to a past winner of this category. Having voted for their own product, many of these animators then vote for the sort of work that helped them to fall in love with animation in the first place: hand-drawn (e.g. The Red Turtle) and/or stop-motion (e.g. Kubo and Zucchini). It's far rarer for a nom to go to a patently commercial outing (e.g. Sing, which spent more on music licensing than the entire budget of some of its competitors).

     
  • Best Documentary Feature

    Courtesy of TIFF

    PROJECTED NOMINEES

    O.J.: Made in America (ESPN)
    Cameraperson (Janus Films)
    I Am Not Your Negro
    (Magnolia) [pictured above]
    Fire at Sea (Kino Lorber)
    13th (Netflix)

    ALTERNATE

    Life, Animated (The Orchard)

    POTENTIAL SURPRISE

    Tower (Kino Lorber)

    SHOULDA BEEN A CONTENDER

    Tickled (Magnolia)

    COMMENTARY

    The best way to get a read of what the doc community is responding to is to see — in aggregate — what the the Cinema Eye Honors, DOC NYC shortlist and International Documentary Association Awards agree on. Over the four years in which these groups have coexisted, they have agreed on six films, five of which went on to best doc feature Oscar noms. (The only one that missed was 2012's Stories We Tell, which probably missed with the traditionalist Academy doc branch because it features — spoiler alert — reenactments.) This year, all three groups agreed on an unprecedented four films — Cameraperson, Fire at Sea, O.J. and Weiner — and while it's tempting to project that all of them will go on to Oscar noms, I'm skeptical about Weiner, with its repugnant subject who helped to sink the presidential prospects of Hillary Clinton, something that has repelled some members of the branch. Cameraperson, made by a popular member of the doc community who has worked with many branch members, seems safe. And there is a sense of urgency about Fire at Sea, not only because of its timely subject matter, but because it was left off the foreign language shortlist, so this is now the only place to acknowledge it. O.J. is a bit intimidating to predict, since some branch members reject it as a TV miniseries passing as a film, but then again it played within the rules as they stand now, so others say it would be unfair to punish it for being so different. I believe that it will be joined by two other films about race in America, I Am Not Your Negro, a critics' darling, and 13th, which has enjoyed the backing of Netflix — but there is no shortage of other worthy options on the shortlist, including the daring Hooligan Sparrow, the inventive Tower and the heartwarming Life, Animated, the last of which was directed by a popular past Oscar winner who now serves as one of the doc branch's three governors.

  • Best Foreign Language Film

    Courtesy of TIFF

    PROJECTED NOMINEES

    Toni Erdmann (Germany) [pictured above]
    The Salesman (Iran)
    A Man Called Ove (Sweden)
    Land of Mine (Denmark)
    My Life As a Zucchini (Switzerland)

    ALTERNATE

    The King's Choice (Norway)

    POTENTIAL SURPRISE

    Paradise (Russia)

    SHOULDA BEEN A CONTENDER

    The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki (Finland)

    COMMENTARY

    The only jaw-dropper would be if laugh-out-loud Toni Erdmann isn't among the final five. I'd also be fairly surprised if The Salesman, which was made by the director of the film that won in this category five years ago, isn't a finalist, as well. After that, it's easier to work backwards, eliminating titles from the shortlist of nine: It's Only the End of the World is divisive and wasn't widely expected to get as far as it has; the same goes for Tanna, a Romeo and Juliet type of story; Russia, which landed a nom just two years ago, isn't exactly in the good graces of most Americans today, which will make it an uphill climb for Paradise; and I bet there's room for only one World War II film from Scandinavia, either Land of Mine or The King's Choice. I'm putting my chips on Land of Mine; A Man Called Ove, an effective tearjerker; and stop-motion My Life As a Zucchini, which would become only the second animated film ever to land a nom in this category (eight years after Israel's Waltz with Bashir).

     

     

  • Best Cinematography

    Courtesy of The Weinstein Company

    PROJECTED NOMINEES

    La La Land (Linus Sandgren)
    Moonlight (James Laxton)
    Arrival (Bradford Young)
    Lion (Grieg Fraser) [pictured above]
    Nocturnal Animals (Seamus McGarvey)

    ALTERNATE

    Hell or High Water (Giles Nuttgens)

    POTENTIAL SURPRISE

    Silence (Rodrigo Prieto)

    SHOULDA BEEN A CONTENDER

    Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Grieg Fraser)

    COMMENTARY

    The ASC, BFCA and BAFTA all agreed that La La Land and Arrival deserve noms in this category, and I see no reason why the Academy would disagree. The ASC, which is the strongest indicator, also backed Moonlight (as did the BFCA) and Lion (as did BAFTA), so I'm inclined to forecast them, too. I'm more skeptical about seconding the ASC's fifth pick, Silence, even if its d.p., Prieto, is a past nominee (for Brokeback Mountain) — unfortunately, the film has landed with a thud, which has pushed me towards Nocturnal Animals' McGarvey, a two-time past nominee (who already was nominated by BAFTA and the BFCA this year). Hell or High Water is every bit as good, but its lenser, Nuttegens, is a less prominent figure in the cinematography community.

  • Best Costume Design

    Courtesy of Warner Brothers

    PROJECTED NOMINEES

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

    ALTERNATE

    Love & Friendship (Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh)

    POTENTIAL SURPRISE

    Captain Fantastic (Courtney Hoffman)

    SHOULDA BEEN A CONTENDER

    Cafe Society (Suzy Benzinger)

    COMMENTARY

    Nothing comes between Atwood and an Oscar nom, especially in a year like this, when she's already received Costume Designers Guild, BAFTA and Critics' Choice noms for Fantastic Beasts — this will be Oscar nom #12. That same trio of noms also was accorded to Jackie, Florence Foster and La La Land, so I can't justify not picking them, as well. The fifth spot is a bit of a tougher call, with so many worthy options, from Love & Friendship, with its gorgeous period dresses, to contemporary Captain Fantastic, with its eccentric red suit — and, of course, Nocturnal Animals, which was costumed by two-time Oscar nominee Arianne Phillips and directed by fashion-world god Tom Ford. Still, I can't quite imagine that Johnston's BAFTA and Critics' Choice nominated work on exotic and sexy Allied could be overlooked.

  • Best Film Editing

    Courtesy of Jonathan Olley/Lucasfilm Ltd.

    PROJECTED NOMINEES

    La La Land (Tom Cross)
    Moonlight (Joi McMillon, Nat Sanders)
    Manchester by the Sea (Jennifer Lame)
    Arrival (Joe Walker)
    O.J.: Made in America (Bret Granato, Maya Mumma, Ben Sozanski)

    ALTERNATE

    Hacksaw Ridge (John Gilbert)

    POTENTIAL SURPRISE

    Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (John Gilroy, Jabez Olssen, Colin Goudie)

    SHOULDA BEEN A CONTENDER

    Deadpool (Julian Clarke)

    COMMENTARY

    The film editors branch generally is pretty edgy. They tend to recognize the strongest best picture contenders (e.g. La La Land, Moonlight, Manchester and Arrival), but they also occasionally display an independent spirit, and that's why I wouldn't put it past them to recognize the folks who cut countless hours of interviews and archival footage together into an epic doc (O.J.) — in fact, they've done it once before, with Hoop Dreams, which they nominated even though the doc branch failed to do the same (which could conceivably occur again this cycle). All five of my picks received guild recognition from ACE. If I'm wrong about O.J., look for that spot to go to either a war film (Hacksaw Ridge is action-packed); a Star Wars film (Rogue One would follow in the footsteps of The Force Awakens) or another ACE-recognized actioner, Deadpool.

     
     
  • Best Makeup & Hairstyling

    Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

    PROJECTED NOMINEES

    Florence Foster Jenkins [pictured above]
    Suicide Squad
    Hail, Caesar!

    ALTERNATE

    Star Trek Beyond

    POTENTIAL SURPRISE

    Deadpool

    SHOULDA BEEN A CONTENDER

    Jackie

    COMMENTARY

    The field already has been whittled down to seven, thanks to the makeup and hairstyling branch's shortlist. Of those seven, from which three will be chosen as nominees, only three received recognition from the Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild — Florence, Suicide Squad and Hail — and I can't justify switching any of them out for something else.

  • Best Original Score

    Merrick Morton/Focus Features

    PROJECTED NOMINEES

    La La Land (Justin Hurwitz)
    Lion (Dustin O'Halloran, Hauschka)
    Moonlight (Nicholas Britell)
    Nocturnal Animals (Abel Korzeniowski) [pictured above]
    Jackie (Micachu)

    ALTERNATE

    Hidden Figures (Pharrell Williams, Benjamin Wallfisch)

    POTENTIAL SURPRISE

    The BFG (John Williams)

    SHOULDA BEEN A CONTENDER

    Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

    COMMENTARY

    It's hard to argue with Golden Globe, BAFTA and Critics' Choice noms, which is what La La Land and Lion received, and music branch members tell me they're comparably enamored with the music of Moonlight. Rare is the occasion when John Williams and/or a Star Wars score is up for an award and doesn't at least get nominated, but, as tempting as it is to forecast the master for The BFG or Michael Giacchino for Rogue One, I must instead go with the haunting compositions featured in Nocturnal and Jackie, while acknowledging that Hidden Figures could well prove a spoiler.

  • Best Original Song

    Courtesy of Disney

    PROJECTED NOMINEES

    "City of Stars" (La La Land)
    "Audition" (La La Land)
    "Can’t Stop the Feeling!" (Trolls)
    "How Far I'll Go" (Moana) [pictured above]
    "The Great Beyond" (Sausage Party)

    ALTERNATE

    "Letters to the Free" (13th)

    POTENTIAL SURPRISE

    "The Rules Don't Apply" (Rules Don't Apply)

    SHOULDA BEEN A CONTENDER

    "Never Give Up" (Lion)

    COMMENTARY

    The only thing that seems a given is that La La Land will claim at least one of the five slots (for its recurring theme song "City of Stars"), and possibly two (people in the music world, including some associated with the film, actually regard "Audition" as a better song). After that, it's a crapshoot. The branch has been gravitating toward more popular fare in recent years, which bodes well for Justin Timberlake's chart-topper "Can't Stop the Feeling!" And they almost always find room for one standout from an animated film, which this year should be Lin-Manuel Miranda's "How Far I'll Go." I actually think a second song from an animated film will sneak in, too: "The Great Beyond," the extremely creative — and risque — homage, of sorts, to the great Disney songs of the 1990s, with music by the man responsible for several of them, 19-time Oscar nominee/8-time winner Alan Menken. (It wouldn't be the first edgy song to get a nom — "Lose Yourself" and "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" both won in this category.) Several other excellent songs play over their films' end-credits, but the branch votes based on footage of where and how each song is employed in the context of their film, so songs like that (e.g. "Never Give Up," Audrie & Daisy's "Flicker" and Jim: The James Foley Story's "The Empty Chair") face a higher hurdle than songs that are integrated into and integral to a plot (e.g. "The Rules Don't Apply").

  • Best Production Design

    Courtesy of Marvel

    PROJECTED NOMINEES

    La La Land (Sandy Reynolds-Wasco, David Wasco)
    Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Stuart Craig)
    Nocturnal Animals (Shane Valentino, Meg Everist)
    Doctor Strange (John Bush, Charles Wood) [pictured above]
    Arrival (Patrice Vermette)

    ALTERNATE

    Hail, Caesar! (Jess Gonchor, Nancy Haigh)

    POTENTIAL SURPRISE

    The Handmaiden (Seong-hie Ryu)

    SHOULDA BEEN A CONTENDER

    Rules Don't Apply (Jeannine Oppewall)

    COMMENTARY

    The Art Directors Guild is the best indicator of how the Academy's designers branch is likely to behave. Granted, the ADG does recognize production design in three categories (period, fantasy and contemporary), whereas the Academy only has one, but rare is the production design Oscar nominee that wasn't nominated in one of the ADG's three, as all five of my picks were. Period and fantasy work tends to dominate at the Oscars, but I've included two contemporary films — La La Land and Nocturnal Animals — because BAFTA, another strong indicator, still nominated both of them. One of them could be bounced by Hail, Caesar!, a lesser film that got those same noms, or by another fine period film, such as Cafe Society, Rules Don't Apply or Live by Night.

  • Best Sound Editing

    Mark Rogers/Summit Entertainment

    PROJECTED NOMINEES

    La La Land
    Hacksaw Ridge [pictured above]
    Arrival

    Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

    Deepwater Horizon

    ALTERNATE

    Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

    POTENTIAL SURPRISE

    Deadpool

    SHOULDA BEEN A CONTENDER

    Hell or High Water

    COMMENTARY

    The sound editors' organization, the MPSE, has not yet come out with its Golden Reel nominations, so I'm flying a little blind here. But, from conversations with people in the sound community, it seems likely that BAFTA's sound nominees will repeat here. One open question: whether or not Rogue One can follow in the footsteps of The Force Awakens and land a nom here.

  • Best Sound Mixing

    Joe Lederer/Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

    PROJECTED NOMINEES

    La La Land
    Hacksaw Ridge
    Arrival

    Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

    Deepwater Horizon

    ALTERNATE

    Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

    POTENTIAL SURPRISE

    Deadpool [pictured above]

    SHOULDA BEEN A CONTENDER

    13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

    COMMENTARY

    Again, not much to go on at this point besides BAFTA — which picked the same five that I'm picking — and conversations with voters, who insist that a musical as distinguished as La La will not be passed over in this category, nor will as worthy an excuse to honor the somehow-still Oscar-less Kevin O'Connell (this would be his 21st nom!) as Hacksaw, nor will a film as highly regarded as Arrival. After that, there's certainly a possibility for a loud actioner like Rogue One or Deadpool or 13 Hours (the third of which comes from another still-Oscar-less great, Greg P. Russell, who is hoping for nom #17) — but I'm inclined to stick with Fantastic Beasts and Deepwater.

  • Best Visual Effects

    Courtesy of Disney Enterprises

    PROJECTED NOMINEES

    Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
    The Jungle Book
    [pictured above]
    Doctor Strange

    Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
    Arrival

    ALTERNATE

    The BFG

    POTENTIAL SURPRISE

    Kubo and the Two Strings

    SHOULDA BEEN A CONTENDER

    A Monster Calls

    COMMENTARY

    The visual effects branch already has done the heavy lifting for me, having chopped its list down to 20 and then 10 finalists. Of them, three — The Jungle Book, Doctor Strange and Fantastic Beasts — have garnered every form of precursor recognition they could, specifically Visual Effects Society, BAFTA and Critics' Choice noms. Then there's Rogue One, which, had it been released a little earlier, surely would have garnered a Critics' Choice nom to go with its VES and BAFTA shoutouts, and the VFX of which have been more discussed and complimented than any other film's (Peter Cushing!). As for the fifth slot, I expect Arrival to prevail over its formidable competition, not least because its the most highly-regarded overall film of the remaining lot (with all due respect to The BFG, Captain America: Civil War, Deepwater Horizon, Kubo and the Two Strings and Passengers).

  • Best Animated Short

    Courtesy of Disney

    PROJECTED NOMINEES

    Inner Workings (Disney) [pictured above]
    Piper (Pixar)
    Once Upon a Line (University of Southern California)
    The Head Vanishes (National Film Board of Canada and ARTE France Cinema Department)
    Happy End (Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague)

    ALTERNATE

    Borrowed Time (Quorum Films)

    POTENTIAL SURPRISE

    Blind Vaysha (National Film Board of Canada)

  • Best Documentary Short

    Courtesy of Netflix

    PROJECTED NOMINEES

    The White Helmets (Grain Media and Violet Films) [pictured above]
    Joe’s Violin (Lucky Two Productions)
    Extremis (f/8 Filmworks in association with Motto Pictures)
    4.1 Miles (University of California, Berkeley)
    Close Ties (Munk Studio – Polish Filmmakers Association)

    ALTERNATE

    Watani: My Homeland (ITN Productions)

    POTENTIAL SURPRISE

    Frame 394 (Compy Films)

  • Best Live Action Short

    Courtesy of Dschoint Ventschr Filmproduktion AG

    PROJECTED NOMINEES

    Graffiti
    Bon Voyage
    [pictured above]
    Nocturne in Black
    The Way of Tea
    La Femme et le TGV

    ALTERNATE

    Sing

    POTENTIAL SURPRISE

    Timecode

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