It’s that time of year when the movie studios load up the theaters with their best films. Or if not their best, then their most serious adult dramas. Or maybe the ones with their biggest stars. Whatever the criteria, they are angling for some awards attention for these mostly fall and winter films. So with such an abundance, how do we as audience members pick out what to go see to be best prepared to know what’s going on at the Oscars? We read Buzzmeter, that’s how. Here, we look to six of the most qualified Oscar pundits, film writers and critics to tell us which movies will lead this year's Oscar race.
The following are their picks as to what names and titles we’ll be hearing when the Oscar nominations are announced on Jan. 24. Are they on the right track? Tell us in the comments who you think deserves to be nominated, and check back for updates as the awards season progresses. The Oscars are on Feb. 26 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.
Tom O’Neil (Gold Derby), Nicole Sperling (Entertainment Weekly), Anne Thompson (Thompson on Hollywood), Glenn Whipp (The Envelope), Justin Chang (L.A. Times),
Here are their picks in the key categories, with the top vote-getters highlighted in red:
Best picture |
"La La Land"
“A record-tying number of nominations + Producers Guild honor = slam dunk victory”
— Glenn Whipp
"La La Land": Thompson, O’Neil, Sperling, Chang, Turan, Whipp
Best director | Damien Chazelle, "La La Land"
“If ‘Moonlight’ was magic, and it was, Barry Jenkins was the central magician.”
— Kenneth Turan
Barry Jenkins, "Moonlight": Turan
Damien Chazelle, "La La Land": Sperling, O’Neil, Thompson, Whipp, Chang
Kenneth Lonergan, "Manchester by the Sea"
Denis Villeneuve, "Arrival"
Animated Film | "Zootopia"
“Most will pick ‘Zootopia’ to prevail, but watch out for ‘Kubo and the Two Strings.’ Japanese-influenced art house fare has triumphed in the past ("Spirited Away," 2002)."
— Tom O’Neil
"Zootopia": Sperling, Thompson, Whipp, Chang, Turan
"Kubo and the Two Strings": O’Neil
"My Life as a Zucchini"
"The Red Turtle"
Lead Actor |
Casey Affleck, "Manchester by the Sea"
“With Denzel pulling out the surprise win at SAG, the momentum just shifted from Affleck to the two-time winner. Looks like he could be making a three-peat. ”
— Nicole Sperling
Casey Affleck, "Manchester by the Sea": O’Neil, Thompson, Chang, Turan
Ryan Gosling, "La La Land"
Viggo Mortensen, "Captain Fantastic"
Andrew Garfield, "Hacksaw Ridge"
Lead Actress |
Emma Stone, "La La Land"
“I should probably mark down Emma Stone, but the heart wants what it wants. ”
— Justin Chang
Natalie Portman, "Jackie"
Emma Stone, "La La Land": Sperling, Whipp, O’Neil, Thompson, Turan
Ruth Negga, "Loving":
Isabelle Huppert, "Elle": Chang
Meryl Streep, "Florence Foster Jenkins"
Supporting Actor |
Mahershala Ali, "Moonlight"
“Wily acting veteran
— Anne Thompson
Mahershala Ali, "Moonlight": Sperling, Whipp, O’Neil, Thompson, Chang, Turan
Lucas Hedges, "Manchester by the Sea"
Jeff Bridges, "Hell or High Water"
Dev Patel, "Lion"
Michael Shannon, "Nocturnal Animals"
Supporting Actress | Viola Davis, "Fences"
“Viola Davis has two strong plusses: a lead performance competing in supporting, and she plays a favorite role among winners in this category – the long-suffering wife. ”
— Tom O’Neil
Viola Davis, "Fences": Sperling, Whipp, O’Neil, Thompson, Chang, Turan
Michelle Williams, "Manchester by the Sea"
Naomie Harris, "Moonlight"
Octavia Spencer, "Hidden Figures"
Nicole Kidman, "Lion"
Original Screenplay | "Manchester by the Sea"
“'La La Land' could take it, but I have a sense the academy will see this as Kenneth Lonergan’s consolation prize. ”
— Justin Chang
"Manchester by the Sea"
"La La Land" Whipp, O’Neil, Turan, Sperling, Chang, Thompson
"20th Century Women"
"Hell or High Water"
Adapted screenplay | "Moonlight"
“One place (at minimum) where voters can reward Barry Jenkins for his achingly beautiful film, ‘Moonlight.’”
— Glenn Whipp
"Moonlight:" Thompson, Whipp, O’Neil, Sperling, Chang