Oscar predictions: ‘La La Land’ sure to win Best Picture

With the “Arrival” of the 89th annual Academy Awards, you’re probably asking a number of important questions.

Will “La La Land” dance its way to the Best Picture Oscar? Or could some “Hidden Figures” step in its way? Is the sun going to shine on “Moonlight?” Or will “Manchester by the Sea” ride a wave to Oscar glory? And could “Lion” leap over “Fences” to reign as the king of Hollywood’s biggest night?

For the past nine years, I’ve done my royal best to provide the finest (and most foolproof) Oscar predictions in the cyber kingdom. In keeping with tradition, I’m proud to present my tenth annual Academy Awards forecast.

May you take the crown in your Oscar pool, come “Hell or High Water.”


NOMIEES: “Arrival,” “Fences,” “Hacksaw Ridge,” “Hell or High Water,” “Hidden Figures,” “La La Land,” “Lion,” “Manchester by the Sea,” “Moonlight”


With a record-tying 14 Academy Award nominations, it’s almost impossible for musical sensation “La La Land” to hit a sour note here. Hailed as the Oscar frontrunner since the start of the season, it’s won virtually all of the traditional precursor prizes. That includes the Critics’ Choice, Golden Globe, Producers Guild and British Academy (BAFTA) awards. Seen as a love letter to the Golden Age of the movie musical, it also makes contemporary Hollywood look as magical as ever. Show business themes have been prevalent in a number of recent Best Picture recipients, like “The Artist,” “Argo” and “Birdman.” “La La Land” seems to follow that trend. The enthusiastic audience reception and healthy box office grosses further cement its status as the movie to beat. I would caution that there a number of Academy members who have been underwhelmed by the film and question whether it truly deserves the attention that it’s been getting. However, no other film has enough traction to overtake it. Contenders like “Moonlight” and “Manchester by the Sea” are likely to be honored in other categories. In short, expect “La La Land” to dance the night away – and prance off with Hollywood’s most prestigious prize.


NOMINEES: Damien Chazelle, “La La Land;” Mel Gibson, “Hacksaw Ridge;” Barry Jenkins, “Moonlight;” Kenneth Lonergan, “Manchester by the Sea;” Denis Villeneuve, “Arrival;”

PREDICTION: Damien Chazelle, “La La Land”

More often than not, Best Picture and Best Director go hand in hand. That should be music to Chazelle’s ears. Like his film, he’s been honored by the Critics’ Choice, Golden Globe and BAFTA voters. More importantly, he took the coveted Directors Guild of America Award – which leads to the Best Director Oscar about 90 percent of the time. Chazelle’s biggest competition probably comes from Jenkins for the acclaimed “Moonlight.” Still, watch for Chazelle to be over the moon when he accepts the Directing Oscar. (At 32, he’ll be the youngest champion in the category’s history.)


NOMIEES: Casey Affleck, “Manchester by the Sea;” Andrew Garfield, “Hacksaw Ridge;” Ryan Gosling, “La La Land;” Viggo Mortensen, “Captain Fantastic;” Denzel Washington, “Fences”

PREDICTION: Denzel Washington, “Fences”

Up until recently, Affleck was seen as the Best Actor favorite for his role as a grieving father, ex-husband and uncle trying to come to terms with his past in “Manchester by the Sea.” He swept the critics’ awards, and accepted statuettes at both the Golden Globe and BAFTA ceremonies. Widely considered a more serious thespian than his more famous brother Ben, he earned his first Oscar nod almost a decade ago for “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.” So why isn’t he winning this time? Everything changed after he lost the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award to Washington. Over the years, the SAG results have proven to be the best indicator of Oscar success, particularly in the leading races. The last time a Best Actor nominee triumphed at SAG and lost the Oscar was thirteen years ago. That was when then red-hot Johnny Depp in “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” upset at SAG, only to curse on Oscar night when Sean…