2017 Oscar Nominations: Our Analysis Of The Main Categories

The 2017 Academy Award nominations were announced yesterday and, as is pretty much customary these days, a few films swept the board. La La Land, the beloved Ryan Gosling/Emma Stone musical, received 14 nominations, putting it on par with Titanic and All About Eve as one of the three most nominated films in Oscar history. It's sure to win a selection of these awards, and is another huge triumph for director Damien Chazelle, whose previous film Whiplash was nominated for five Oscars, and won three.

The Amy Adams-starring alien invasion drama Arrival also fared well, with 8 nominations. This is the same number as Moonlight, the searingly compassionate drama directed by Barry Jenkins. Manchester By The Sea was nominated for six awards, with lead actor Casey Affleck hotly tipped to win in that category. And there was also something of a comeback for Mel Gibson, who has been a Hollywood pariah for the last number of years. His directorial effort Hacksaw Ridge received 6 nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actor In A Leading Role for Andrew Garfield, and Best Director for Gibson himself.

Who do we think will take home the awards this year though? In this article we're going to go through most of the big categories and pick both who we think will win, and also who we want to win. Lets see if any of them line up, shall we?

Best Picture

  • Arrival
  • Fences
  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • Hell or High Water
  • Hidden Figures
  • La La Land
  • Lion
  • Manchester By The Sea
  • Moonlight

Who We Think Will Win: La La Land
Who We Want To Win: Hell Or High Water

This is the big one, folks. Best Picture is a very strong category this year, with the likes of Arrival, Lion and Manchester By The Sea making particularly compelling options in our eyes. However, we're pretty sure that La La Land will take home the gold this year, as it has definitely captured the imagination of the Academy and the public in equal measure.

We can't help flying the flag for Hell Or High Water, though. It's a real victory for this low budget crime drama to be included in the biggest category at the Oscars, and our heart is pulling for it to cause an upset. We loved everything about the movie, from its performances, to its humour, to its bruising action sequences. This one is unlikely, we admit, but certainly not out of the realm of possibility.

Best Director

  • Denis Villeneuve - Arrival
  • Mel Gibson - Hacksaw Ridge
  • Damien Chazelle - La La Land
  • Kenneth Lonergan - Manchester By The Sea
  • Barry Jenkins - Moonlight

Who We Think Will Win: Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Who We Want To Win: Denis Villeneuve, Arrival

We mentioned that Damien Chazelle's previous movie Whiplash received five Oscar nominations in 2015. And while it was spotlighted in many of the bigger categories, Chazelle wasn't in the mix for Best Director. We're pretty sure the Academy will therefore give him the nod this year for La La Land, and it would be richly deserved.

But we'd be lying if we didn't say that we'd love to see superb French-Canadian director Denis Villeneuve win. Arrival was sumptuously directed, with gorgeous visuals and incredible tension, married to his usual thoughtful-yet-still-entertaining tone. He's been on a roll in the last few years, with the likes of Sicario and Enemy also being great movies, so maybe he has a chance to take this one home?

Best Actor in a Leading Role

  • Casey Affleck - Manchester By The Sea
  • Andrew Garfield - Hacksaw Ridge
  • Ryan Gosling - La La Land
  • Viggo Mortensen - Captain Fantastic
  • Denzel Washington - Fences

Who We Think Will Win: Casey Affleck, Manchester By The Sea
Who We Want To Win: Casey Affleck, Manchester By The Sea

Casey Affleck seems destined to win Leading Actor this year, and we can't think of another performance more deserving. The rest of the nominees are all top candidates: Garfield is excellent in Hacksaw Ridge, and Gosling is effortlessly charming and eminently watchable in La La Land. Denzel Washington's performance in Fences is full of passion and an intensity of emotion that practically leaps off the screen.

But we reckon it's Affleck's time this year. His performance in Manchester By The Sea is a career best; he truly feels like a real, full-bodied and multi-layered human being in the movie, not simply a character spouting lines. He was previously nominated for Best Supporting Actor for The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford in 2007, and that performance was superb. But this was better, and we think his name is written all over the trophy this year.

Best Actress in a Leading Role

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

Who We Think Will Win: Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins
Who We Want To Win: Ruth Negga, Loving

Meryl Streep has been nominated for 20 acting Oscars over the last four decades or so. That's a pretty damn good batting average and it's actually gotten to the point lately where it seems like one spot in either Best Leading Actress or Best Supporting Actress is reserved for her, regardless of what movie it's for. Her nominations for the likes of August: Osage County, Julie & Julia and Into The Woods were a bit suspect, as those movies weren't all that great, but we reckon she'll win for Florence Foster Jenkins this year. She is reliably top notch in the film, and hasn't actually taken home a trophy since her win for The Iron Lady in 2011.

But Ruth Negga could stand a very good chance of challenging Streep's Hollywood royalty. Most people will know the Ethiopian-Irish actress from her roles on TV in the likes of Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Preacher, but her role in Loving truly put her on another level. Jeff Nichols' (Mud, Midnight Special) movie was a sensitive, understated portrayal of the stirring real-life story of Richard and Mildred Loving, the plaintiffs in the 1967 US Supreme Court decision Loving V. Virginia, which invalidated state laws prohibiting interracial marriage.

Best Supporting Actor

  • Mahershala Ali - Moonlight
  • Jeff Bridges - Hell Or High Water
  • Lucas Hedges - Manchester By The Sea
  • Dev Patel - Lion
  • Michael Shannon - Nocturnal Animals

Who We Think Will Win: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Who We Want To Win: Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals

Mahershala Ali mightn't be a household name yet. But chances are you will recognise him from some of his prominent TV work over the years. The likes of The 4400, House Of Cards and Luke Cage feature him in prominent roles, and he has also appeared in films like The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button and Predators. He has already won the Critics Choice Award for his portrayal of drug dealer Juan in Moonlight, and we think he's poised to win the Oscar too.

Spare a thought for Michael Shannon, however, whose role as Detective Bobby Andes in Nocturnal Animals' story-within-a-story was so damn magnetic. Shannon is an actor with incredible screen presence and he put it to superb use in Tom Ford's dark neo-noir. He was previously nominated for Best Supporting Actor for 2008's Revolutionary Road and didn't win, so we get bummed out thinking about him failing to win again this year!

Best Supporting Actress

  • Viola Davis - Fences
  • Noamie Harris - Moonlight
  • Nicole Kidman - Lion
  • Octavia Spencer - Hidden Figures
  • Michelle Williams - Manchester By The Sea

Who We Think Will Win: Viola Davis, Fences
Who We Want To Win: Viola Davis, Fences

Viola Davis made history when the nominations were released, as she is the first African-American actress to receive three Academy Award nominations in her career. Her first nomination was for 2008's Doubt, and the second was for 2011's The Help. She didn't win either of those times, so we think it'll be third time lucky for the versatile actress, whose career is at it's peak of commercial recognition thanks to her roles in TV hit How To Get Away With Murder and summer blockbuster Suicide Squad.

She matches Denzel Washington every step of the way in Fences, with both actors committing entirely to their roles. They are so raw and so compelling when on-screen together in the film, and perhaps that comes from the fact that the film is not the first time they have played these parts. They both performed in the 2010 stage version of Fences, which started life as a play written by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright August Wilson.

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