It’s almost here. We are a one day away from the announcement of the 89th Academy Award nominees. I have analyzed the data and predicted which films will receive nominations in five categories: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Supporting Actress.
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea
Hell or High Water
Due to the loose constraints regarding the number of nominees in the category, it is very difficult to guess the number of nominees. Since changing the rules to state that the number of nominated films is between five and ten, the Academy has generally gone with nine nominees. La La Land, Moonlight, Manchester by the Sea, and Arrival are guaranteed to be nominated. The others are a little more flexible. Fences received nominations for a Screen Actors Guild Award (SAG) for Best Ensemble Cast, a Producers Guild Award (PGA), and an American Film Institute Award (AFI) as one of the 10 best films of the year. Where it faltered was with the Golden Globes and the BAFTAs. While the two leads are almost assured nominations, the film itself may be thought of as too much like a filmed play. Hacksaw Ridge has surprised many with its momentum going into the Oscar nominations. No one was more surprised than me when Mel Gibson was nominated for Best Director at the Golden Globes. I think that the film could overcome Gibson’s transgressions; however, I highly doubt that he will receive a nomination for Best Director. Hell or High Water was released back in August, which could be a handicap to the film. Generally, films that open prior to September are forgotten when Awards Season rolls around. Water has surprised me by receiving nominations at the Golden Globes, the PGA, and AFI, so it may win over Academy voters. Lion and Hidden Figures fall into the well-acted-true-story category. These films are generally Oscar bait. I fully expect nominations in the acting categories for Lion and potentially Figures, but their position on this list has not been solidified.
Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
Ryan Gosling, La La Land
Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic
Denzel Washington, Fences
Since the film came out, Manchester by the Sea has received Oscar buzz. The performance given by Casey Affleck is considered to be the best of his career and he has racked up the awards and nominations to prove it (look for him to win a SAG this weekend). It is a foregone conclusion that he will end up with a second Oscar nomination. Ryan Gosling will also hear his name called on Tuesday morning for his role as the love struck jazz pianist in La La Land. After all, the film will probably be the most nominated film of the year. Andrew Garfield is poised to receive his first nomination for his role in Hacksaw Ridge. He has been nominated for a Golden Globe, SAG, and BAFTA thus far, so I am pretty sure he will be on this list. The surprise of the award season is the performance of Viggo Mortensen in Captain Fantastic. Fantastic was an independent film that came out back in July. It flew well below the radar before the Golden Globes, but now everyone seems to feel the love. The only person I am somewhat concerned about on this list is Denzel Washington. He is the only one on the list who did not receive a BAFTA nomination. I believe that this was an oversight, as Washington’s performance in Fences is one his best. This is a true complement to the man who played Malcolm X, Alonzo Harris, Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, Private Trip, and Steve Biko. While most years I get three to four of the nominations correct, I am almost positive that the list above is the complete list of this year’s Best Actor nominees.
Amy Adams, Arrival
Natalie Portman, Jackie
Emma Stone, La La Land
Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins
Annette Bening, 20th Century Women
Adams, Portman, and Stone are all shoo-ins in this category. If one of them doesn’t get a nomination, I fully expect to choke on my breakfast tomorrow. The last two places are not as definite. Everyone loves Meryl Streep. She is the greatest actress of her generation, and possibly the greatest actress of all time. However, I am always wary come Oscar time that she will not receive a nomination, because she I think people can feel a little Streeped out. If nominated for Florence Foster Jenkins it will be her 20th acting nomination, far surpassing Katherine Hepburn and Jack Nicholson who each have only 14 nominations. I ultimately included her because she has received many nominations for this role, and, let’s face it, Oscar loves her. The final spot is a tough one to call. There have been so many incredible performances by women this year. Ruth Negga in Loving, Isabelle Huppert in Elle, Emily Blunt in The Girl on the Train, and Annette Bening in 20th Century Women are the ones that come to mind. Negga received a Golden Globe nomination, and she is playing a real-life person who changed our country’s civil rights laws. Huppert won the Golden Globe for playing a rape victim who is determined to take her life back. Blunt brings to life the boozy, self-destructive “heroine” of last year’s best selling fiction book. She received nominations for a SAG and a BAFTA. Bening plays a single mother trying to connect with her teenage son, and she received a Golden Globe nomination for her efforts. These amazing performances make this a really tight race for that final slot. Ultimately, I went with Bening. She is ripe for another Oscar nomination. However, look out for Blunt as the dark horse.
Best Supporting Actor
Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Hugh Grant, Florence Foster Jenkins
Dev Patel, Lion
Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Nocturnal Animals
Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
Ali and Patel have consistently received accolades and nominations for their work in Moonlight and Lion, respectively. They are assured to be among the Oscar nominees. Bridges is the one actor from Water to receive multiple nominations from the various pre-Oscar awards. That leaves two spots. I honestly feel that Grant will receive his first nomination for his work in Jenkins. However, he was nominated for Best Actor at the Golden Globes and Best Supporting Actor at the SAGs. This is where it can get sticky. I ended up in the same place last year with Alicia Vikander and her role in The Danish Girl. She was consistently nominated for Best Actress, but come Oscar time she was Best Supporting Actress. Since the Screen Actors Guild put him in as Best Supporting Actor, I will follow their lead and say he will end up in the supporting category. Taylor-Johnson surprisingly won a Golden Globe for his work in Nocturnal Animals, but then he was forgotten by the SAGs. Not to mention, there are several other actors who have received nominations from the other voting bodies. Simon Helberg (Florence Foster Jenkins) received a nomination for a Golden Globe and Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea) was nominated for a SAG. Ultimately, I think that Taylor-Johnson will fill out the category.
Best Supporting Actress
Viola Davis, Fences
Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Nicole Kidman, Lion
Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea
Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures
Again, I get angry when the studios try to game the system by having leading actors/actresses nominated for supporting actor/actress in order to win an award. Viola Davis won a Tony for her work in Fences as Best Leading Actress in a Play, not supporting. However, the studio feels that for Davis to win, she will need to be in the supporting category. Harris, Kidman, and Williams have all been part of the five nominees at the Globes, SAGs, and BAFTAs. The only question here is Spencer. She received a Globe and SAG nomination, but not a BAFTA. That spot went to Hayley Squires for I, Daniel Blake. Since Blake has not received any award buzz here in the U.S., I would say that Spencer will finish out the category.
What about you guys? Do you think there will be something else nominated? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter. The Oscar nominations will be announced tomorrow, January 24, at 8:18 am ET/5:18 am PT.