Oscars 2017: Who Will (and Who Should) Win

Oscars 2017

It’s one of our favorite times of year: Oscars time! There were, as always, some snubs and some surprises with this year’s batch of nominees. The other awards shows—Golden Globes, SAG, BAFTAs, Critic’s Choice—leading up to the Oscars have essentially cemented certain category wins, but have left a few up for grabs. So, naturally, we prepped our predictions for many of the main categories:

Best Picture

Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
Hidden Figures
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea

Who will win: La La Land. This musical film has taken Hollywood by storm and has been winning awards left and right. It will be a surprise if it does not win Best Picture. (Aside: while it is a well-done film, I had several issues with it that, in my mind, makes its almost shoe-in win unwarranted.)

Who should win: For me, it’s a toss-up between Arrival and Moonlight. Arrival has the feel of the big, soaring Oscar-winners of the past. It’s also about understanding things that are different, working together, and the beauty of life—all big ideas that the Academy loves. Moonlight, on the other hand, is an exquisite examination of one man. It is told with restraint. Its themes of discovering who you are and the strength of love are universal.

Photo Credit: Summit Entertainment

Best Director

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

Who will win: Damien Chazelle, La La Land. It’s pretty rare for the Best Director to NOT win Best Picture, so Chazelle is also the clear leader in this race.

Who should win: Barry Jenkins, Moonlight. It is beautiful, heart wrenching, and boasts several really wonderful performances. It takes a skilled director to make all of that happen and keep it more restrained in feeling and tone.


denzel washington fences

Photo Credit: David Lee/Paramount Pictures

Best Actor

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

Who will win: Denzel Washington, Fences. He won a few awards for this role already (both this film version and the stage version he was in).

Who should win: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea. If he weren’t plagued by sexual harassment allegations, I would say Affleck would be a shoe-in for this award. His quiet performance with an underlying, simmering rage was mesmerizing.


emma stone la la land

Photo Credit: Summit Entertainment

Best Actress

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

Who will win: Emma Stone, La La Land. She’s been winning many of the awards this season so she’s likely to win this, too, despite the role being relatively flat and underwritten.

Who should win: Isabelle Huppert, Elle. She did win the Golden Globe for this role, and this role is MUCH meatier than Stone’s in La La Land.


mahershala ali moonlight

Photo Credit: A24

Best Supporting Actor

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

Who will win: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight. Even though his character has little screen time compared to some of these others nominated, Ali commands the screen. He also brings a vulnerability to the character that is simply lovely.

Who should win: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight. (I will say, though, that Lucas Hedges in Manchester by the Sea was surprising with his raw and authentic performance. He’s definitely going to be someone to watch.)


viola davis la la land

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures

Best Supporting Actress

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

Who will win: Viola Davis, Fences.

Who should win: Viola Davis, Fences. She’s been nominated twice before, but never won. As Rose, she has an inner strength that, when it cracks, is a moment of masterful acting. (Another aside: Michelle Williams gave a heartbreaking, visceral performance in her limited amount of screen time in Manchester by the Sea. If Viola weren’t in the running, I’d give this one to Michelle. This is her fourth nomination, and I’m sure it won’t be her last.)


The Salesman

Photo Credit: Habib Majidi

Best Foreign Language Film

Toni Erdmann
The Salesman
Land of Mine
A Man Called Ove

Who will win: The Salesman. Asghar Farhdi is a brilliant director. His last film, A Separation, was nominated and won Best Foreign Language Film a few years ago. Because of the nuanced way the story is told, this should be the clear winner.

Who should win: The Salesman. For more of my thoughts on this wonderfully done film, read our film review.


Photo Credit: Disney

Best Animated Feature

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

Who will win: Zootopia. This engaging film is not just entertaining; it is also a very smart commentary about systemic racism.

Who should win: Zootopia. Full disclosure: it was one of our favorite films of 2016. (Aside: I’d be happy with a Moana win, as well, with its catchy music and celebration of the time-honored ideas that you must be be true to yourself and believing in yourself. Also, girls make great leaders!)


Best Original Song

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

Who will win: “City of Stars,” La La Land. Despite its repetitive sound, this one has won previously so it’s likely to again.

Who should win: “How Far I’ll Go,” Moana. The message, the vocals, the music…everything about this song screams Best Original Song to me. Plus, if Lin-Manuel Miranda wins this one, he’s going down in history as only the thirteenth person to have the prized EGOT (Emmy-Grammy-Oscar-Tony-awards).


Have your own Oscars ballot? Who do you think will win? Let us know!


Taraneh has been happily living in NYC for over a decade, but originally hails from the Midwest. Enamored with books at a young age, she grew up making stories, playing make believe, and loving the musical and performing arts. She is great at binge-watching TV shows. Some current favorites: Schitt's Creek, A Court of Mist & Fury, Prince Harry, and The Magicians.

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