Art and Experience: THR’s awards analyst gives a final read of the race ahead of Monday morning’s big announcement.
La La Land, in the best picture (musical/comedy) category, is the safest bet of the day, and could wind up sweeping all of the musical/comedy-specific categories. It faces no real threat, although the group quite liked Florence Foster Jenkins (they’re big fans of Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant) and Love & Friendship. After those, put your chips on Rules Don’t Apply and 20th Century Women, while giving an outside shot to the Coen brothers’ Hail, Caesar!, from the first quarter of the year, and The Edge of Seventeen, a more recent charmer, which they liked more than other groups. A sleeper possibility: that The Lobster and/or A Bigger Splash and/or Sing Street,early releases made by non-American directors, could be this year’s Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, aka a seemingly random indie that does way better than anyone expected.
In the best actor (drama) race, Fences‘ Denzel Washington and Sully‘s Tom Hanks are getting nominated, despite any reservations with their films, but the race actually could come down to Manchester by the Sea‘s Casey Affleck and Hacksaw Ridge‘s Andrew Garfield. That fifth slot is going to be close. Gold‘s Matthew McConaughey and Nocturnal Animals‘ Jake Gyllenhaal are admired by the group, and Captain Fantastic‘s Viggo Mortensen and Loving‘s Joel Edgerton have their fans, but The Founder‘s Michael Keaton has come on strong late in the game (it helps to have Weinstein at his back), so I’ll give him the edge.
The musical/comedy actor race feels less fluid. La La Land‘s Ryan Gosling is in, and a trio of veteran A-listers — Rules Don’t Apply‘s Warren Beatty, Florence Foster Jenkins‘ Hugh Grant and The Comedian‘s Robert De Niro — seem all but certain. I get the sense that Deadpool‘s immensely likable Ryan Reynolds will squeeze into the fifth slot, but do not count out The Lobster‘s Colin Farrell or Hail, Caesar!‘s George Clooney, both longtime favorites of the group.
On the distaff side, in the best actress (drama) race, hold seats for Jackie‘s Natalie Portman, Arrival‘s Amy Adams and Hidden Figures‘ Taraji P. Henson — they’re in. This European-dominated group also is going to have a hard time resisting Frenchwoman Isabelle Huppert for Elle. Loving‘s Ruth Negga widely is tipped for the fifth slot, but she’s still relatively unknown and soft-spoken and may not have sealed the deal with voters, who could instead opt to recognize Jessica Chastain for Miss Sloane or Marion Cotillard for Allied. I have a hunch it will be Chastain.
Musical/comedy actress contenders certainly will include La La Land‘s Emma Stone, Florence Foster Jenkins‘Streep and 20th Century Women‘s Annette Bening. I’m told there’s a lot of love for Love & Friendship‘s Kate Beckinsale. And while some are voting for Hello, My Name Is Doris‘ Sally Field and Bridget Jones’ Baby‘s Renee Zellweger, both old favorites of the group, I suspect it’s likelier we’ll see a nom for some young blood, namely either The Edge of Seventeen‘s Hailee Steinfeld or Rules Don’t Apply‘s Lily Collins — the HFPA loves nothing more than being able to claim that they sent an actress on her way to stardom, and in this case Steinfeld is eminently deserving.
Supporting actor nominees likely will include Lion‘s Dev Patel, Hidden Figures‘ Kevin Costner and Moonlight‘s Mahershala Ali. Oscar favorite Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water) seems probable. As for the fifth slot, there are a lot of possibilities — people like Florence Foster Jenkins‘ Simon Helberg, Nocturnal Animals‘ Michael Shannon and A Bigger Splash‘s Ralph Fiennes (an HFPA fav). Put me down for Helberg.
As for supporting actress, Lion‘s Nicole Kidman, Fences‘ Viola Davis and Moonlight‘s Naomie Harris are in. Manchester by the Sea‘s Michelle Williams probably snags a slot, too. And then it’s anyone’s guesss. Some are picking Eye in the Sky‘s Helen Mirren, others one of the Hidden Figures ladies (Janelle Monae or Octavia Spencer), but I’m going with 20th Century Women‘s Greta Gerwig, of whom the group is very fond.
For director and screenplay, save slots in both for La La Land (Damien Chazelle) and Moonlight (Barry Jenkins). I’m also hearing, in the former, Gibson for Hacksaw, Clint Eastwood for Sully and Martin Scorsese for Silence, and in the latter, Kenneth Lonergan for Manchester by the Sea, Whit Stillman for Love & Friendship and Tom Ford for Nocturnal Animals, with The Lobster and 20th Century Women as possible spoilers.
The likeliest animation prospects are Zootopia, Moana, Kubo and the Two Strings and Sing. And the backers of My Life as a Zucchini have nurtured the group and seem poised to beat out bigger studio fare for the fifth slot.
Foreign-language film noms are harder to predict, since the group is very fractured, with some members particularly loyal to certain countries or regions. Toni Erdmann (Germany) and Elle (France) are the only sure things. Land of Mine (Denmark) and The Salesman (Iran) seem likely. And that fifth slot could go to any number of options — Poland’s Afterimage, as a tribute to its recently deceased director, or Chile’s Neruda, which got a profile boost from its helmer’s other film, Jackie, or Belgium’s The Ardennes, a popular choice — but I’ve spoken with many voters who loved Finland’s The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki, the black-and-white boxing pic that won Cannes’ Un Certain Regard prize, so, even though it may lose a few votes to another Finnish film that some voters like (Little Wing), you can put me down for that.