If Leo was last year’s big Oscar news, this year’s is La La Land tying with Titanic and All About Eve for the most nominations of all time – 14, if you’re asking. So, before you decide to base your final Oscar predictions on the Golden Globe winners (Best Supporting Actor winner Aaron Taylor-Johnson wasn’t even nominated by the Academy), well, don’t. For, if you take a closer look at the science behind the Academy Awards, you’ll know that matching the Golden Globes to the Oscars is about as simple as Leo’s hunt for that second golden statue.
Here’s how we see it playing out in 2017:
1. Manchester By The Sea won’t win Best Picture
Kenneth Lonergan’s family weepy may have Casey Affleck leading the Best Actor race (with Denzel Washington nipping at his heels), but the film itself won’t fare as well in the Oscars’ biggest category. Why? Because you need an editing nomination to win the grand prize. (This also dashes the Best Picture chances of Hidden Figures, Lion and Fences.)
However this isn’t completely set in stone. In fact as recently as 2015 Birdman broke with convention by winning Best Picture without an editing nomination. Before that? You’d have to head back to 1981’s Ordinary People to find the last Best Picture winner to achieve such a feat.
Something Manchester By The Sea absolutely should be applauded for, however, is being the first film backed by a streaming company to crack the Best Picture race. Kudos, Amazon Studios.
2. Mel Gibson may have slipped in, but Hacksaw Ridge won’t win the top prize either
Of this year’s nine Best Picture nominees, eight have a screenplay nomination – except Hacksaw Ridge. Only one film in five decades has won Best Picture without a writing nod. The film in question? A tiny indie called Titanic.
3. You’re not meant to win Best Picture without a Best Ensemble nomination from the Screen Actors Guild
As we explained in our ‘yeah, science!’ piece, you can’t win Best Picture without a Best Ensemble nomination from the Screen Actors Guild. So has La La Land pirouetted itself into trouble by not receiving said SAG nomination?
If Chazelle’s film takes the big prize come next month – which at this point seems 99.9% likely – it will be the first film to do so since 1996, when Mel Gibson’s Braveheart unconventionally marched its way to Best Picture glory without a SAG Best Ensemble nod of its own.
But La La Land fans needn’t worry. The film is a definite two-hander as opposed to an ensemble effort (hence the nomination omission), and, with Hidden Figures surprisingly beating Moonlight to SAG’s top prize, La La Land’s Best Picture hopes are now even brighter.
(SAG deemed Captain Fantastic, Fences, Hidden Figures, Manchester By The Sea and Moonlight fit for their Best Ensemble category – all of which are nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, except Captain Fantastic.)
4. Acting nominations boost your Best Picture chances
Question: what was the last film to win Best Picture without a single acting nomination? Answer: Slumdog Millionaire. Alright, so the 2009 Oscars weren’t all that long ago, but it’s incredibly rare to take the grand prize without at least one actor in contention.
It’s worth remembering that actors make up the majority of the Academy’s members – that’s a powerful bunch you want on side. So, while Arrival may be up for Best Picture, it would help if it had an acting nomination, too. Here’s looking at you, La La Land (Emma Stone; Ryan Gosling), Manchester By The Sea (Casey Affleck; Lucas Hedges; Michelle Williams) and Moonlight (Mahershala Ali; Naomie Harris).
Hacksaw Ridge, Hidden Figures, Lion, Fences and Hell Or High Water also boast acting nominations, but, for the reasons explained above and here we’re placing them well outside the Best Picture frame.
5. Meryl Streep won’t win this year...
This is Streep’s twentieth Oscar nomination. (Twentieth!) But her mantelpiece isn’t in any danger of gaining a fourth Oscar this year. The pair battling it out for Best Actress in 2017? Emma Stone (La La Land) and Natalie Portman (Jackie).
6. But we will see our first non-white acting double win in 12 years
Mahershala Ali. Viola Davis. Place your bets now.
7. Critics’ groups tend to show us where the acting love lies
Remember when we said the Critics’ Choice Awards had a pretty great track record for forecasting the bigger Oscar categories (and that their Best Picture prediction rate was better than that of SAG, BAFTA and the Golden Globes)? Last year they ‘wrongly’ handed Mad Max Best Picture (Spotlight went on to win the Oscar), but their shiny acting prizes went to Leonardo DiCaprio, Brie Larson, Sylvester Stallone and Alicia Vikander – a motion the Academy replicated, apart from Stallone (Mark Rylance won). This time around, they’ve opted for La La Land, Casey Affleck, Natalie Portman, Mahershala Ali and Viola Davis. Will Portman beat Emma Stone to Best Actress on the night? Will Denzel take Best Actor? We’ll have to wait and see.
8. It doesn’t look like Lin-Manuel Miranda will be getting his EGOT just yet
Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony. Only 12 people (including Mel Brooks, Mike Nichols, Audrey Hepburn and Whoopi Goldberg) have won all four. With the ‘EGT’ part already under his belt – and a Pulitzer to boot – it looks like Hamilton creator, Moana songmeister, and all-round musical wizard Miranda will have to hold on for at least another year before he can secure that elusive ‘O’.
9. The guilds hold the answer
It’s hard to predict which way Best Picture will swing before two specific guilds – and SAG – have their say. Receiving critical buzz and regional awards in the earlier parts of Oscar season is all well and good, but while they may be a handy indicator, critics’ awards (besides the Critics’ Choice, as mentioned above) and the Golden Globes mean diddly squat in the grand scheme of things.
It’s all about the choices of the DGA (Directors Guild of America – Best Director), PGA (Producers Guild of America – Best Producer) and SAG (Screen Actors Guild – Best Ensemble). Win all three and you’re positively golden. But if the trio find themselves split? Well, things might just get a little complicated: see the 1996 Oscars where the SAG, PGA and DGA-winning Apollo 13 lost Best Picture to Braveheart (the last film to win the holy trifecta and not go on to take the Academy’s top prize, fact fans).
This is also how 2015’s big Boyhood v. Birdman face-off was easy to settle. Birdman took the SAG, DGA and PGA’s top honours. It was never going to lose.
As mentioned earlier, La La Land’s lack of a SAG Best Ensemble nom makes things that little bit more interesting, but it took both the PGA and DGA which essentially secures its Best Picture Oscar.
10. But we’re putting our money on La La Land
Taking the above and our more comprehensive Oscar science into account, La La Land should come out on top this year.
Last year was harder. The DGA awarded The Revenant. SAG opted for Spotlight. The PGA then decided to mess it all up by giving their top prize to The Big Short which confused things, as, prior to last year the PGA and eventual Best Picture winners had matched since 2008. However Spotlight came out victorious, as we rightly predicted.
11. Here’s how we see it panning out on 26 February
(We will keep this updated as and/or if the race changes)
PICTURE: La La Land
DIRECTOR: Damien Chazelle, La La Land
ACTOR: Denzel Washington, Fences
ACTRESS: Emma Stone, La La Land
SUPPORTING ACTOR: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Viola Davis, Fences
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Manchester By The Sea
ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Moonlight
DOCUMENTARY: O.J.: Made In America
FOREIGN: The Salesman
EDITING: La La Land
CINEMATOGRAPHY: La La Land
PRODUCTION DESIGN: La La Land
SCORE: La La Land
VISUAL EFFECTS: The Jungle Book
COSTUME: Jackie (Even if we did tell you never to bet against Colleen Atwood…)
HAIR AND MAKEUP: Star Trek Beyond
SOUND EDITING: Hacksaw Ridge
SOUND MIXING: La La Land
SONG: City Of Stars, La La Land
SHORT: Ennemis Interieurs
ANIMATED SHORT: Piper (Pixar’s short film, which preceded Finding Dory)
DOCUMENTARY SHORT: The White Helmets