Final 2016 Oscar Predictions

The 2015 acting winners. Who will join their ranks this year?

The 2015 acting winners. Who will join their ranks this year?

The day has arrived! We've reached the finish line of this long movie awards season, and it's time to hand out the final trophies of the year! We here at CineMunch have ranked our favorite films of 2016 and bestowed our own awards (the 3rd Annual CineMunchies, don'tchaknow), so now we look to the 89th Annual Academy Awards to put a feather in 2016's cap tonight on ABC. Find out who we'd vote for if we had a ballot here.

This year the suspense won't be what's inside the final envelope (congrats, La La Land), but in just how many statues Damien Chazelle's original musical will take home. It's poised to nab at least eight, but could win as many as twelve, which would break the record of eleven wins set by Ben-Hur in 1959 (and then matched by Titanic in 1997 and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King in 2003).

So settle in, mix yourself a cocktail (we'll be starting with Viola's Triumph martinis from our Oscar Menu), and follow along with our predictions below! For more (snarky) commentary and up-to-the-minute analysis, be sure to follow us on Twitter @CineMunch.



Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
Hidden Figures
La La Land

Manchester by the Sea

Matt’s Prediction: La La Land
Alternate: Moonlight

With a record-breaking seven Golden Globe wins, a record-tying 14 Oscar nominations, stellar reviews, awards from the directors guild, the producers guild, and the British Academy, plus a hefty domestic box office total, Damien Chazelle's original musical has this in the bag. The Oscars' use of the preferential ballot (where voters rank the nominees rather than simply vote for their single favorite) can sometimes offer a surprise choice (witness last year's nail-biter of a race that saw Spotlight emerge victorious), but La La Land is pretty clearly the consensus pick to begin with.

Nathan’s Prediction: La La Land



Damien Chazelle (La La Land)
Mel Gibson (Hacksaw Ridge)
Barry Jenkins (Moonlight)
Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea)
Denis Villeneuve (Arrival)

Matt’s Prediction: Damien Chazelle (La La Land)
Alternate: Barry Jenkins (Moonlight)

When Damien Chazelle wins (and he will), he will become the youngest Best Director winner in Oscar history. He'll beat the record only by a matter of months, but it's still an impressive stat, especially considering it won't be his first Oscar winning film (his previous feature was the thrice awarded Whiplash from 2014). Barry Jenkins has vocal supporters (as does his film), and voters in the past several years have shown a willingness to consider directorial achievements apart from Best Picture (the Oscars for Picture and Director have split between two films in three of the past five years), but La La Land is going to be a sweeper.

Nathan’s Prediction: Damien Chazelle (La La Land)



Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea)
Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge)
Ryan Gosling (La La Land)
Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic)
Denzel Washington (Fences)

Matt’s Prediction: Denzel Washington (Fences)
Alternate: Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea)

A toss up, really. Affleck has dominated the season with critics awards, the Golden Globe, and the BAFTA (where Washington was not even nominated), but Denzel won at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, where the Best Actor winner has gone on to win the Oscar in every single year since 2004. Theirs are two titanic performances, but Affleck's, which is so internalized and restrained, may pale next to Denzel's commanding star turn in the eyes of many voters. Many will certainly balk at awarding Affleck given his checkered past, but a great many might also hesitate to award Denzel a third Oscar. It's also conceivable that voters love La La Land even more than we already know they do and Ryan Gosling upsets both of the presumed frontrunners. We'll know soon enough...

Nathan’s Prediction: Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea)



Isabelle Huppert (Elle)
Ruth Negga (Loving)
Natalie Portman (Jackie)
Emma Stone (La La Land)
Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins)

Matt’s Prediction: Emma Stone (La La Land)
Alternate: Isabelle Huppert (Elle)

Though the competition to net a nomination in this category was fierce (sorry, Amy Adams and Annette Bening!), the race for the statue looks to be much less heated. Emma Stone has everything working in her favor: she's a beautiful, young ingenue starring in the presumed Best Picture winner who is impossibly charming, a box office success, and a previous nominee. Portman might've put up more of a fight if her film was more warmly received and she hadn't recently won this award, but the real threat to Stone's win might come from Globe winner Isabelle Huppert. I suspect she'll be a distant second though.

Nathan’s Prediction: Isabelle Huppert (Elle)



Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)
Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water)
Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea)
Dev Patel (Lion)
Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals)

Matt’s Prediction: Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)
Alternates: Dev Patel (Lion), Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water)

Despite losses at the Golden Globes and, more recently, the BAFTA, Mahershala Ali has remained out front of this pack all awards season long. His moving SAG Awards acceptance speech secured him this win in my estimation, but it'll still be an uphill battle. Dev Patel, who won the BAFTA and voters will remember fondly as the lead of 2008 Oscar behemoth Slumdog Millionaire, has a solid chance to spoil. And, while virtually no one is predicting a Jeff Bridges upset, I maintain it's entirely possible. Plus, this might be the best chance voters have to reward Lion or Hell or High Water, both well liked Best Picture nominees unlikely to score elsewhere.

Nathan’s Prediction: Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)



Viola Davis (Fences)
Naomie Harris (Moonlight)
Nicole Kidman (Lion)
Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures)
Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea)

Matt’s Prediction: Viola Davis (Fences)
Alternate: none

The easiest call of the night. Viola Davis will finally win her Oscar - both as a make up for losing Best Actress in 2011 for The Help and because her Fences performance towers above all other mortals.

Nathan’s Prediction: Viola Davis (Fences)



Hell or High Water
La La Land
The Lobster
Manchester by the Sea

20th Century Women

Matt’s Prediction: Manchester by the Sea
Alternate: La La Land

This race is neck-and-neck, but musicals have not historically done well in winning screenplay categories, and Lonergan's drama is often thought of firstly as an achievement in screenwriting, so even though La La Land is likely to clean up in most of its categories, I'd still give Manchester by the Sea the slight edge

Nathan’s Prediction: Manchester by the Sea



Hidden Figures

Matt’s Prediction: Moonlight
Alternate: Lion, Arrival

Moonlight has won several screenplay prizes throughout the season, though in most instances it was competing in Original Screenplay (the Academy deemed it Adapted as it is based on a play, though that play was never published or produced). As the Adapted Screenplay race is less competitive, that should mean Moonlight has this all sewn up. This is also the best place for voters to reward Barry Jenkins, but each of the other nominees will find healthy support, so I wouldn't say it's a lock.

Nathan’s Prediction: Moonlight



Kubo and the Two Strings
My Life as a Zucchini
The Red Turtle

Matt’s Prediction: Zootopia
Alternate: Kubo and the Two Strings

Disney's Zootopia is probably unbeatable given its critical praise, a billion dollars in box office receipts, and its topicality, but look out for Kubo (also a surprise Visual Effects nominee) if there's to be a spoiler.

Nathan’s Prediction: Zootopia



Land of Mine (Denmark)
A Man Called Ove (Sweden)
The Salesman (Iran)
Tanna (Australia)
Toni Erdmann (Germany)

Matt’s Prediction: The Salesman
Alternates: Toni Erdmann, A Man Called Ove

Toni Erdmann is the clear critical favorite, but previous winner Asghar Farhadi's The Salesman has the current buzz (especially after Farhadi announced he would not be attending the ceremony due to Trump's travel ban).

Nathan’s Prediction: The Salesman



Fire at Sea
I Am Not Your Negro
Life, Animated
O.J.: Made in America

Matt’s Prediction: O.J.: Made in America
Alternates: 13th; I Am Not Your Negro; Fire at Sea; Life, Animated

O.J.: Made in America was one of the achievements of the year and I will cheer loudly when it wins an Emmy Award, but I'll give it a respectful but pointed side-eye when it wins here because it is a miniseries and not a feature film. That said, it's not a lock and this is a very strong category where you could make a case for any one of the nominees.

Nathan’s Prediction: O.J.: Made in America



La La Land

Matt's Prediciton: La La Land
Alternate: none

Voters will remember all the spotlights, the long, unbroken shots during musical numbers, and the flashy camerawork of La La Land and waste no time in checking its name off here.

Nathan’s Prediction: La La Land



Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
La La Land

Matt’s Prediction: La La Land
Alternates: Hacksaw Ridge, Arrival

Tom Cross won this category two years ago for Whiplash, and he's likely to make it two for two when he wins for La La Land. This category's winner has lately tended to be a more action heavy film though, so that may favor Hacksaw Ridge (which won the BAFTA) or even Arrival.

Nathan’s Prediction: La La Land



Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Hail, Caesar!
La La Land

Matt’s Prediction: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Alternates: La La Land, Arrival

Even voters who adore La La Land might pause before voting for it in every single category. While the musical does feature some noticeable and imaginative sets (mostly included in the film's final dream ballet sequence), I can't imagine that the majority of voters will think it was the best production design of the year. That said, it's considered the frontrunner, but I'm going to predict the Harry Potter universe finally wins an Oscar with an upset win here. Arrival may also be a strong contender, too.

Nathan’s Prediction: La La Land



Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Florence Foster Jenkins
La La Land

Matt’s Prediction: La La Land
Alternates: Jackie, Florence Foster Jenkins

The one instance where La La Land is not the presumed winner, but I'm predicting it anyway. A slim majority of prognosticators are betting that Jackie takes this, which makes sense given how stylish Jackie Kennedy was and how prominently the film features its costumes and recreations of iconic looks. Florence Foster Jenkins, or even Fantastic Beasts, might win for most costumes, but I'm tentatively guessing La La Land inches past them all in the final count.

Nathan’s Prediction: La La Land



La La Land

Matt’s Prediction: La La Land
Alternate: none

A lovely set of nominees, but it's a no-brainer that the original musical will take the Original Score award.

Nathan’s Prediction: La La Land



"Audition (The Fools Who Dream)" (La La Land)
"Can't Stop the Feeling" (Trolls)
"City of Stars" (La La Land)
"The Empty Chair" (Jim: The James Foley Story)
"How Far I'll Go" (Moana)

Matt’s Prediction: “City of Stars” (La La Land)
Alternates: “How Far I'll Go” (Moana), “Can't Stop the Feeling” (Trolls)

There is a possibility the two La La Land songs pull support from each other and split their vote, but Globe winner "City of Stars" is a safe bet. Should Lin-Manuel Miranda win for his Moana tune, he would become the youngest person to win the coveted "EGOT" (he has already won an Emmy, a Grammy, and a Tony Award). Voters could be starstruck into voting for Justin Timberlake and his earworm from Trolls, but I think the nomination is as far as he gets.

Nathan’s Prediction: “City of Stars” (La La Land)



A Man Called Ove
Star Trek Beyond
Suicide Squad

Matt’s Prediction: Star Trek Beyond
Alternates: A Man Called Ove, Suicide Squad

I so appreciate that this branch of the Academy regularly recognizes what they feel is the best work in their field regardless of the quality of the overall film. That said, we can't live in a world where Suicide Squad is an Oscar winner, can we? 2009's Star Trek reboot took this award, so voters may feel comfortable awarding its third installment, but it's really anyone's guess among this pretty bizarre set of nominees.

Nathan’s Prediction: Suicide Squad



Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

Matt’s Prediction: La La Land
Alternate: Hacksaw Ridge, Arrival

Musicals do well in this category even if they're not also headed for a Best Picture victory, so La La Land is the heavy favorite.

Nathan’s Prediction: La La Land



Deepwater Horizon
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land

Matt’s Prediction: Hacksaw Ridge
Alternate: Arrival, La La Land

Most voters don't actually know the difference between Sound Mixing (the balance of all aural elements on a film) and Sound Editing (the sounds created for a film), so these categories can be difficult to predict. Though it's not uncommon for the two sound awards to go to different films, it's usually best to predict the same film takes both. That said, it's a bit of a shock that La La Land even received this nomination, so should it win here, it's just voters being lazy. I'll say that Hacksaw Ridge takes this for its impressive battle scenes, but I'm rooting for Arrival.

Nathan’s Prediction: Hacksaw Ridge



Deepwater Horizon
Doctor Strange
The Jungle Book
Kubo and the Two Strings
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Matt’s Prediction: The Jungle Book
Alternate: none?

The Jungle Book seems like an obvious winner here (and well deserved), though very few could've predicted Ex Machina's win from just last year, so I guess we never know.

Nathan’s Prediction: Kubo and the Two Strings



Ennemis Intérieurs
La Femme et le TGV
Silent Nights

Matt’s Prediction: Ennemis Intérieurs
Alternates: Sing, La Femme et le TGV, Timecode

And here is where Oscar prediction contests are won or lost. Even having seen these films doesn't make me any wiser in guessing what voters will choose (assuming, too, that many skip over these short film categories and don't even vote). I thought Ennemis was objectively the best of the five and is also very topical, so I'll say it edges out the three feel-good shorts listed as alternates.

Nathan’s Prediction: La Femme et le TGV



Blind Vaysha
Borrowed Time
Pear Cider and Cigarettes

Matt’s Prediction: Piper
Alternates: Pearl

Pixar has only won this category three times, and not since 2001, so Piper may not be the slam dunk I presume it to be. That said, it's gorgeous and far and away my favorite of the five, so I think it deserves it.

Nathan’s Prediction: Piper



4.1 Miles
Joe's Violin
Watani: My Homeland
The White Helmets

Matt’s Prediction: Joe's Violin
Alternates: The White Helmets, Watani: My Homeland

Nathan’s Prediction: Joe's Violin