Best Film Editing: La La Land
Tom Cross won the award for Best Film Editing in 2014 for his work on Whiplash. It was considered a surprise win because people had Boyhood as the clear frontrunner and American Sniper as serious competition as well. Cross doesn’t have as much to worry about this year, luckily. Hacksaw Ridge could easily sneak up and steal La La Land’s victory, but it’s beginning to seem like that won’t happen.
Cross has now proven that him and Chazelle are some kind of dynamic duo. Chazelle shoots brilliant footage, and Cross stitches it together and turns it into something magical. La La Land doesn’t utilize the fast-paced, anxiety-inducing editing techniques found in Whiplash. Instead, you get bouncier editing that once again pairs perfectly with the rest of the movie. In terms of editing, the hard work is evident in La La Land. It shouldn’t have trouble winning this award.
Best Production Design: La La Land
Usually, period movies have a huge advantage in this category. Usually, movies like La La Land aren’t around to prove that contemporary movies can be just as dazzling. The period movie looking to give La La Land the most trouble is Hail, Caesar!, but that’s still a bit of a stretch. If the 14 nominations prove anything, it’s that people are nuts for La La Land.
Also helping La La Land is the fact that this is a pretty weak category overall. Last year, Mad Max: Fury Road faced off against The Danish Girl and The Revenant. This year, Passengers somehow wound up sneaking into the category. There was a shortage of lavish period pieces this year to compete in the category, so La La Land has a lot to lose here. There are technical categories that could be tough for La La Land to win, but this isn’t one of them.
Best Costume Design: Jackie
This should be 50/50 between Jackie and La La Land. Oscar voters tend to lean more toward flashy period films though, so let’s go with Jackie. It recently ran off with a BAFTA award despite the fact that the odds were against it. In fact, people are still underestimating Jackie in this category.
Looking at patterns from past years, Jackie looks like the more obvious choice when you set aside the obvious love for La La Land. The costumes are more complex, they fit in with the period setting, and they appropriately transform the characters. This is a tough call, but Jackie looks like the stronger choice.
Best Makeup and Hairstyling: A Man Called Ove
This category feels a bit wonky this year. There were so many more obvious choices for the category, but they chose something like Suicide Squad instead. The category tends to be an even mix of period pieces and blockbusters, but this year the period pieces are missing.
Taking the usual period piece slot is a quirky little foreign movie by the name of A Man Called Ove. Based on the unpredictability of this category this year, it could very well win the category. If not, the award is going to Star Trek Beyond. The Oscars won’t let Suicide Squad win. They’re not that crazy.
Best Score: La La Land
How can they not pick La La Land for this category? Original songs aside, the jazzy instrumentals are stellar. Hurwitz previously collaborated with Chazelle on his movie Whiplash. Unfortunately, the Academy didn’t think his score for that film was worth of the top five. This year is different. La La Land is a different beast entirely in terms of Oscar promise.
People have been whistling the tunes from La La Land since before it came out. The infectious music has warmed the hearts of the BAFTA voters and the Golden Globe voters, who each gave the movie an award for Best Score. The Oscars will almost definitely do the same.
Best Song: City of Stars – La La Land
This should be an easy victory for La La Land. Though there has been some recent backlash regarding the musical aspects of La La Land, there hasn’t been nearly enough backlash to deprive La La Land of the award it deserves.
The fact that many of you are probably humming the song now after reading the title says something about its popularity. The only thing standing in its way is another song from the same movie. Not too shabby.
Best Sound Editing: Hacksaw Ridge
If you have trouble predicting the two sound awards, know that the Academy typically goes for war movies in the editing category and musicals in the mixing category. This isn’t exactly science, but it’s a good rule of thumb. Due to the overwhelming adoration of La La Land, don’t be too surprised if it takes home both sound awards. However, the slight edge in the sound editing category goes to Hacksaw Ridge.
Not only is Hacksaw Ridge the most acclaimed war movie of 2016, it’s also legitimately one of the best sounding movies of the year. There are few precursors that can help people predict this award. BAFTA gave the award to Arrival, but their track record for the sound category is hit-or-miss. Instead, this prediction comes as a result of the Academy’s love for movies with loud guns and explosions.
Best Sound Mixing: La La Land
La La Land is bound to take home one of the sound categories, and this is the most obvious choice. Given the Academy’s undeniable love for the movie, it will surely leave with plenty of technical victories.
In regards to the technical categories, this seems like one of the safest choices for a La La Land win. It’s a musical, it has a record number of nominations, and the use of sound mixing legitimately results in a dazzling musical experience. Hacksaw Ridge could pull through, but don’t count on it.
Best Visual Effects: The Jungle Book
If Ex Machina’s victory has taught us anything, it’s that voters don’t always go for the most extravagant visual display. It’s because of last year that a bold statement must be said. Kubo & the Two Strings could very well take home the Oscar on Sunday night. It’s not the frontrunner, but it’s a dark horse for sure.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about the actual frontrunner. That movie is Disney’s The Jungle Book. The world created by Favreau and crew, including the photorealistic digital animals, are a sight to behold. Even with its fairly early release date, people have not forgotten about the gorgeous visual effects on display.
Best Animated Feature: Zootopia
Kubo recently picked up the BAFTA award, but don’t expect it to earn the Oscar. Disney has been on a role lately with its animated movies, and Zootopia is one of the most critically acclaimed of the bunch. With Pixar failing to make the cut this year, it should be an easy victory for Zootopia this year.
Further helping the movie’s chances is the not-so-subtle social commentary. The commentary doesn’t have to be smart in order to be clever or insightful. Zootopia has a lot to teach the youngins, and it might just leave the adults contemplating a few things as well. Who knew that a movie about animal cops would be so much more popular than the traditional Disney princess story?
Best Documentary Feature: OJ: Made in America
People were weirdly obsessed with OJ Simpson in 2016. Ryan Murphy’s The People v. OJ Simpson won just about every TV award it could, and OJ: Made in America sneakily got to double dip in movie and TV awards thanks to its limited theatrical release. The renewed interest in the former football player should help this movie win the award. It’s also helpful that the eight-hour runtime is never wasted.
The filmmakers make sure to connect every loose end and keep you enthralled for the whole “movie.” OJ: Made in America is an important and relevant documentary, and while that can be said about quite a few of the movies in this category, they don’t have the added bonuses.
Best Foreign Language Film: Toni Erdmann
It’s odd that this category almost always has a pretty clear frontrunner. Unfortunately, that’s not the case this year. A few months ago, people had Toni Erdmann pegged as a lock, but due to the expansion of The Salesman as well as a few award wins, things aren’t looking as obvious. Considering the acclaim earned by both of these movies, it’s not hard to figure out why it’s such a tough decision for pundits. Luckily Elle didn’t get nominated, or this category would be even harder to predict.
With all of that out of the way, Toni Erdmann is still the best reviewed foreign movie of 2016. The Salesman is probably a more approachable movie, and it’ll also earn some protest votes. However, Toni Erdmann’s charming hilarity and surprising depth has been noted by most major critics. It should be spotted by the voters as well.
Best Animated Short: Piper
The hardest awards to predict are the short film awards. There are no reliable precursors that honor short films, and major critics tend to avoid reviewing these bite-sized movies. The only way to predict these awards is to look for patterns. What kind of movies do the Oscars tend to enjoy the most? That’s the big question.
Best Animated Short is always easier to predict when there’s a Disney short film in the mix. They don’t always win, but they usually have some sort of advantage. Piper has managed to earn even more acclaim than recent Disney shorts, and with an Annie victory under its belt, it should be smooth sailing for this tiny short film.
Best Documentary Short: Extremis
Based on numbers alone, Extremis might have some trouble. History has proven that voters tend to go for the longer documentary shorts. Extremis isn’t doesn’t fit into the dreaded “under twenty minute category,” but it’s dangerously close. If you choose to believe that Extremis can’t win due to its length, than White Helmets might be a safer choice thanks to the 41 minute runtime.
This writer is sticking with his gut. Extremis may be short, but it’s powerful. Once again, it’s hard to predict the short categories because there are few other precursors that honor short movies. So when you’re not guessing based on arbitrary Oscar statistics, you have to guess based on your own personal opinion. Extremis is an emotionally impactful movie with enough universal appeal to earn the majority of the votes. The competition is stiff in this category, but let’s give this Netflix original the benefit of the doubt.
Best Live Action Short: Timecode
Timecode is the quirky little indie movie that deserves to win, even if it’s not guaranteed to do so. This category is too wide open to predict accurately.
Silent Nights is directed by a guy who has already earned this award twice before, Ennemis Intérieurs has the period setting and grit working in its favor, La femme et le TGV has a killer cast, and Sing has earned a surprising amount of nominations outside of the Oscars. They all have something going for them, but Timecode feels the most unique and the most important. Assuming the Oscar’s are feeling a bit daring, this will be the night’s winner.
Author Bio: Justin is a paraprofessional teaching assistant and full-time film enthusiast with a degree in English. When he’s not writing about films, he’s probably watching them in his spare time.