The competition: Arrival, Fences, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures, La La Land, Lion, Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight
Previous winners: Spotlight, Birdman, 12 Years a Slave, Argo, The Artist, The King’s Speech, The Hurt Locker, Slumdog Millionaire
My winner: To be announced soon!
The facts: So, we’re finally here. “La La Land” leads with fourteen nominations and has won the top prize from the Golden Globes, DGA, PGA, BAFTA, and Critics Choice. It ties the record for the most nominations but can’t win all of them because two bids are for Best Song. Winning 12 would set a record. “Moonlight,” which won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture - Drama and is seen as the number one threat to topple the musical that isn’t winning everyone over, has eight nominations, as does “Arrival.” “Hacksaw Ridge,” “Lion,” and “Manchester by the Sea” all have six bids and are each missing something helpful for a win - mentions in screenplay, directing, and editing, respectively. Films have triumphed in this category with those things missing most recently in 1997, 2012, and 2014, but it’s rare. “Fences” and “Hell or High Water” both have four nominations. The nominee with the least nominations (three), “Hidden Figures,” may have gotten a big boost from its recent SAG win for Best Ensemble. “La La Land” wasn’t nominated but honestly was never in the running, and “Moonlight” was expected to win. Since the SAG Awards started handing out the ensemble prize, only the first year saw an eventual Best Picture Winner - “Braveheart” - not nominated. Aside from the first decade of the Oscars, no film has won with fewer than five nominations. The last time a musical won Best Picture was in 2002.
Who should win: This is definitely a good year for this category. I didn’t love “Hacksaw Ridge” and “Hidden Figures” but they’re both still decent movies. My favorite film of the year was “Manchester by the Sea,” followed closely by “Hell or High Water” and then “La La Land.” I’d be most excited about “Hell or High Water,” but I’ll still be happy when the expected frontrunner triumphs.
Who will win: Sure, there’s lots of backlash against La La Land, but it looked like “Spotlight” wouldn’t be able to pull off a win last year and it still squeaked through. Buzz isn’t strong enough for “Moonlight” at the moment and I don’t think “Hidden Figures” is strong enough to topple it. None of the other six films will be able to muster enough votes to win, so I think a film that is being bashed as overrated is still going to be able to win over voters and take the top prize.