As Oscar night draws near, predictions are running high as to who will walk away with golden baldies. I’ve made my predictions in what I consider the easy categories – Picture, Directing, Leading Actor, Leading Actress and Supporting Actress. Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role is trickier, as we have a varied bunch of nominees. Jeff Bridges in Hell or High Water is the only previous winner (for Best Actor in a Leading Role in Crazy Heart), he is the oldest of the nominees and he is a major star nominated for a Supporting Role. All of these factors work in his favour. However, Bridges has not won any awards for his performance, and AMPAS tends to follow the patterns of the Golden Globes, BAFTA and the various guilds. In this respect, Dev Patel’s victory for Lion at BAFTA, and Mahershala Ali’s win for Moonlight at the Screen Actors Guild, gives both of them an edge, not least because of the overlap between these institutions. As I’ve mentioned before, young actors are less likely to win, and Lucas Hedges in Manchester by the Sea will probably have future opportunities, although the same is true of Patel. Perhaps Patel’s victory at BAFTA was a moment of British pride in one of our own, and the same may be true of the American Ali come Oscar night. For my money, I would like Michael Shannon to win, because I really liked Nocturnal Animals and thought he was great in it (weirdly, Nocturnal Animals did win the Golden Globe for Supporting Actor, but the nominee in that case was Aaron Taylor-Johnson). Come the night though, because of the overlap with the SAG and the likely desire of the Academy members to reward Moonlight with something, I predict this award will go to Mahershala Ali.
Lion and Moonlight are also strong contenders for Best Adapted Screenplay and, after its BAFTA win, Lion seems a likely contender. Then again, Moonlight was the winner at the Writers Guild of America. Again due to the overlap between the Guild and the Academy, I see Moonlight as the likely winner of Adapted Screenplay, although my preference would be Arrival. For the Best Original Screenplay award, Manchester by the Sea looks like the strongest contender. Were Hell or High Water to win anything, this is the most likely. Both films feature ordinary Americans dealing with extraordinary but very human problems, but with Manchester by the Sea likely to lose out on Picture and Directing to La La Land, it seems far more likely to win in this category. La La Land could add to its collection here, but I predict Manchester by the Sea will be the winner come Oscar night.