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89th Academy Awards Nominations Predictions and Live Stream

If there are nine nominees for Best Picture, the field could very well look something like this.

Watch the nominations announced live Tuesday 1/24 at 5:18 AM PST / 8:18 AM EST:

Surprises from the Academy Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences are more likely to come in the announcement of nominations then at the ceremony itself. The Oscars themselves end Hollywood's six-month-long awards season and you usually have a good idea of who's going to win what long before the envelopes are opened. If like me, you've been watching closely at the different critics and guild awards that began back in December, you may know who is expected to draw nominations, particularly if you pay notice to historical trends and statistics that have defined the Academy for nearly one hundred years. Still, the sheer number of categories (24) and number of nominees (118) suggests there is plenty of room for surprises.

Having seen nearly every possible contender (with the exception of Sing, imported animation, and some short-listed foreign language films and documentaries), I now offer you my educated guesses for what we'll be hearing announced at next Tuesday's morning ceremony, which I hope to be able to stream live for you here.


Best Picture
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea
Hell or High Water
Hacksaw Ridge
Hidden Figures

Next in line:
Nocturnal Animals
Captain Fantastic

"La La Land", starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, is almost certain to draw the most Oscar nominations among any 2016 film.

Since the Academy updated their Best Picture field from a constant ten nominees to somewhere in between five and ten, we've gotten nine three times and eight twice. It seems likely we'll get eight or nine again this year, although there remains the possibility that we get fewer, should support among the contenders be spread out enough to keep them from getting the 5%* of first place votes needed. When considering what makes the Best Picture nominee field, you've got to think about passion;
first place votes are extremely important and though the category can support up to ten films, Academy members can only nominate up to five. That hurts something like Loving, which very few disliked, but not many have loved enough to rank among their top five.

Another thing to remember is the studios backing the films. Every studio has one or more films they're pushing and not all of them have a great track record of getting recognition. The Weinstein Company, for instance, is renowned for usually succeeding at cracking the field. They struck out last year with Carol, but the odds are in their favor for Lion getting in. Few seem to notice that Warner Bros. has gotten at least one movie (and sometimes more) every year for a very long time, going back to the days of five Best Picture nominees. Should Sully miss out, as most are expecting, that streak would end. But then, few expected Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close to make the cut back in 2011-12, as you may recall from the gasps of surprise from the press in attendance (which strangely the Academy has done away with for this year's nomination announcements). Fox Searchlight has fared very well, with back to back wins for 12 Years a Slave and Birdman and nominations for many more, like The Descendants and Brooklyn. This year, their hopes lie with Jackie, a film that has not been performing as well in the precursors as many would have expected prior to its release.

The studio thing may be just another factor working against Martin Scorsese's Silence, which has had to overcome late exposure and minimal screener mailings in addition to the challenges of its length, content, and subject matter. To sneak in here would probably mean Paramount Pictures getting three nominees, with Arrival and Fences seemingly on sturdy ground. It would be very unusual for a major studio to get three horses in this race.

* - The 5% is a simplification since votes for swiftly-eliminated or overly-supported films are redistributed to the next highest ranked nominee on the ballot.

Casey Affleck looks like the Best Actor frontrunner for his heartbreaking turn as grieving custodian Lee Chandler in "Manchester by the Sea."

Best Actor
Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Ryan Gosling, La La Land
Denzel Washington, Fences
Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
Tom Hanks, Sully

Next in line:
Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic
Joel Edgerton, Loving
Andrew Garfield, Silence
Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool
Jake Gyllenhaal, Nocturnal Animals
Adam Driver, Paterson

What has transcended so far suggests that Mortensen, nominated by both SAG and the Golden Globes, is a much more likely nominee than Hanks, who hasn't really featured anywhere of note. Hanks probably narrowly missed out a nomination for Captain Phillips, though, which means he hasn't been an acting nominee since 2000's Cast Away. Winning back to back Oscars over twenty years ago cemented him as a great talent and Academy favorite, but he's overdue for some new recognition. Garfield gives a better performance in Silence than Hacksaw Ridge, but the latter seems more likely to have been seen and embraced by voters. An actor can't get nominated twice in the same category, but if the vote is split between the two acclaimed films, that could hurt his chances of becoming a first-time nominee. Affleck, Washington, and Gosling seem like the three locks here and deservedly so.

Though out of the running for Best Foreign Language Film, the French drama "Elle" seems poised to earn Isabelle Huppert her first Oscar nomination for Best Actress.

Best Actress
Emma Stone, La La Land
Amy Adams, Arrival
Natalie Portman, Jackie
Isabelle Huppert, Elle
Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

Next in line:
Emily Blunt, The Girl on the Train
Ruth Negga, Loving
Taraji P. Henson, Hidden Figures
Annette Bening, 20th Century Women
Jessica Chastain, Miss Sloane

For a long time, I didn't have Streep in here, since her movie isn't so good and she's gotten way too many nominations before to push her ahead of something better. But her splashy speech at the Golden Globes coming right in the middle of Oscar nomination time probably helps her get in over Negga, whose understated film has been fading away, and Blunt, who surprisingly has never been nominated at the Oscars and whose SAG nomination was a bit unexpected. The biggest potential surprise here would be Fences' Viola Davis getting nominated here instead of Supporting Actress, where she is being campaigned and groomed for a likely first win. (Streep's Margaret Thatcher impression in 2011's The Iron Lady beat Davis' work in The Help.)

With a supporting performance that is the biggest of his film "Lion", Dev Patel seems destined to become the rare actor of Indian descent to earn an acting Oscar nomination.

Best Supporting Actor
Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water

Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Dev Patel, Lion
Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals
Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea

Next in line:
Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Nocturnal Animals
Kevin Costner, Hidden Figures
Hugh Grant, Florence Foster Jenkins
Ben Foster, Hell or High Water
Issei Ogata, Silence
Liam Neeson, Silence
Ralph Fiennes, A Bigger Splash
Mykelti Williamson, Fences

Wishful wishing: Kyle Chandler, Manchester by the Sea (he just needed one more big scene!)

Aaron Taylor-Johnson's win in this category was the Golden Globes' biggest surprise. Few even expected him to get nominated. Shannon's performance in the same film does seem worthier of acknowledgment and he's been nominated before. I still think Bridges has a good chance of pulling off this win. It's a substantial turn that could almost be categorized as lead. The same could be said for Patel, even if he doesn't turn up until about an hour in to his distinctly two-parted film. I don't know about Hedges; young male performances rarely get Oscar nominations. But I don't think any other one seems as likely to be announced here. If there's one big surprise of the morning, I think it's for that fifth slot.

With far more screentime than the competition, Viola Davis seems likely to run away with the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her fantastic work across from Denzel Washington as Rose Maxson in "Fences."

Supporting Actress
Viola Davis, Fences
Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea
Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Nicole Kidman, Lion
Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures

Next in line:
Janelle Monae, Hidden Figures
Greta Gerwig, 20th Century Women
Molly Shannon, Other People
Felicity Jones, A Monster Calls

As a substantial dramatic performance that could be successfully argued as lead, Davis should have this win in the bag. Williams, Harris, and Kidman all seem to have nominations here locked in. And Spencer could be replaced by her co-star Monae. That fifth slot does seem up for grabs, but as usual, there is a shortage of strong female roles that would seem to warrant consideration here, even in a category where a great scene or two could get you in.

Continue >>

Related Reviews -- Predicted Nominees:
La La Land Manchester by the Sea Moonlight Hacksaw Ridge Hell or High Water
Arrival Lion Hidden Figures Loving Sully Elle
Zootopia Moana Kubo and the Two Strings Finding Dory
Silence Doctor Strange The Jungle Book Florence Foster Jenkins Hail, Caesar!

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Posted January 17, 2017.

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