2017 Oscar Predictions by Clayton Barnett

I love the Oscars, the surprises, the snubs and the shocking upsets. This year the on-song La La Land looks to sweep the Academy off their feet, and after #OscarsSoWhite last year it should be a rewarding night for diversity too.

For once one of my favourite films of the year might actually win Best Picture with a record-equalling 14 nominations (tied with Titanic and All About Eve). La La Land put a permanent smile on my face, and with the love the Academy has for old-school Hollywood – see 2011’s The Artist – this toe-tapping tribute should beat out close rivals Manchester by the Sea and Moonlight. Though these two will respectively win Best Original and Best Adapted Screenplay gongs.

La La Land
Over 88 Oscar presentations the Best Picture and Best Director awards have been handed out to different films only 26 times, and it’s 50/50 whether La La Land director Damien Chazelle will dance away with both or whether the Academy will take a shine to Moonlight director Barry Jenkins. With Denzel Washington also nominated for Fences, this could be the year for the first ever African American Best Director win.

Lock in Casey Affleck for Best Actor for his role as a mournful janitor in Manchester by the Sea, though I’d rather see Viggo Mortensen win with his fantastic performance in Captain Fantastic. It’s a two-way tussle for Best Actress, with my pick – and crush - Emma Stone (La La Land) vying for her first and Natalie Portman (Jackie) out to nab number 2. Though how the amazing Amy Adams didn’t get a nomination for Arrival – where she turned me into a blubbering mess – is beyond me.

The supporting categories always surprise, like Mark Rylance upsetting Stallone last year, so could the #OscarsSoWhite backlash split the vote between the three African American Supporting Actresses? Unlikely with Viola Davis up for her third nomination with Fences, and in dominating form this awards season.

Same goes for Mahershala Ali, who’s had breakout year showing his range in Netflix’s Luke Cage, Hidden Fences and his nominated role in Moonlight, though I’d love an upset from the Dude himself Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water) or Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea).

I’m a big softie for animation and it was an exceptional year for computer generated, hand-drawn and hand-made kid’s movies. My heart’s torn between Kubo and the Two Strings, Moana and Zootopia but the latter should just hop ahead of the rest.

Toni Erdmann won fans at the local Film Festival last year and the popular German comedy looks a favourite for Best Foreign Language Film, and with different O.J. Simpson projects winning all the awards it’s likely the eight-hour ESPN series O.J. Simpson: Made in America will score a touchdown with Best Documentary.

And with La La Land being such a visual and aural achievement -  the last sequence alone is just breath-taking – it looks likely to take a swag of technical awards like Cinematography, Production Design, Editing, Sound Mixing, Score and Song (where it’s nominated twice – City of Stars and Fools Who Dream).

I’m hoping for a La La Land sweep, but even with multiple award ceremonies making a song and dance for this song and dance number Oscar politics and #OscarsSoWhite repercussions could cause controversy on the night. I can’t wait. 

- Clayton Barnett