Best picture – La La Land
La La Land is almost a shoo-in to win. The cinematography is stunning, the dance numbers are magical, and the chemistry between Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone captivates moviegoers from beginning to end. While Moonlight is a competitor for the win, La La Land will be difficult to beat with its 14 nominations, glitzy musical numbers, and stunning on-screen visuals.
Best director – Damien Chazelle (La La Land)
Chazelle creates a magical masterpiece with La La Land and reinvents the meaning of musical. He is able to add fantastical elements to the film without making it cheesy, and creates a cinematic experience that is modern and relatable. A possible competitor is Barry Jenkins for Moonlight, who creates an incredibly important film about identity. However, with the surreal film experience established by Chazelle, this win is his.
Best actor – Denzel Washington (Fences)
Washington delivers a larger-than-life performance in Fences that will earn him an Oscar. While critics claim Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea) to be the front-runner, I find Washington’s performance to be the more captivating of the two. Affleck’s performance is reserved while Washington is bold and crass. While both actors deal with the tragedies of their past in different ways, I feel Washington digs deeper and delivers a stronger performance.
Best actress – Emma Stone (La La Land)
Stone will most likely go home with best actress of the year — however, it’s not because she is the best. Rather, it’s because La La Land received so much buzz from critics and is the favourite this year. My hope is that Isabelle Huppert of Elle steals the show. Her acting is captivating, twisted, and truly deserved the Golden Globe win. Stone will be difficult to beat, but let’s see if Huppert can do it!
Best supporting actor – Dev Patel (Lion)
Patel will win as he succeeds at following the impressive first act by Sunny Pawar (five-year-old Saroo) and embodies the same mischievous, curious and resilient essence of Saroo. Additionally, Patel completely transforms from the skinny, geeky teenager from Slumdog Millionaire, to a handsome, young man with a mane like a lion. A possible steal is Mahershala Ali of Moonlight — however, Patel’s transformation and depth of emotion outlasts Ali’s brief onscreen appearance.
Best supporting actress – Viola Davis (Fences)
Davis blows the other nominees out of the water, and delivers a heartfelt performance that makes viewers reflect on the importance of choice. She embodies her character and handles everything life throws her way with grace. An unlikely competitor is Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea) who delivers an extremely emotionally driven performance. However, Davis supports Washington’s role in a way that is essential to the meaning of Fences, which will win her the Oscar.
Best original song – “City of Stars” (La La Land)
It is only fitting that the Oscar will go to a song from a musical. While either “City of Stars” or “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” — also from La La Land — could win, “City of Stars” has a simple, yet iconic melody that gets stuck in your head. Moreover, this song is the embodiment of La La Land and is used to represent Sebastian’s (Gosling) love towards Mia (Stone) throughout.