After a long awards season of campaigning, the finish line is now in sight with the Oscars just days away. The drawback to this parade of precursor award shows like the Critics' Choice and Golden Globes is obsessive awards junkies (like yours truly) have a pretty good sense of who will be giving speeches come Sunday night and who'll be showing off their "dignified loser" face. While there's always plenty of chances for upsets, we wanted to give you a quick rundown of how the top categories will likely play out.
La La Land is the star of the night
The question of the evening isn't so much whether Damien Chazelle's musical love letter to cinema will take home Best Picture, but how much hardware it'll take with it? Chazelle and Emma Stone seem to be near locks for Best Director and Best Actress respectively, while it's many strong technical elements should net them awards for Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, and Best Editing among others. Given both it's critical acclaim and box office success; expect it to get the most attention on the broadcast as well as be the big winner.
Moonlight may be eclipsed
While Barry Jenkin's stunning film was a serious early threat to take down La La Land, it's poor showing at many of the most recent award shows including the BAFTA's has left some doubt as to how much love it'll receive from Oscar. It's best shots to win will likely be Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor for Mahershala Ali, but Lion and its star Dev Patel could be a threat to steal both those awards. While it's still highly likely Moonlight will claim those awards, be on the lookout early cause if they miss those awards, it'll be a long night for them.
Fences takes home the acting prizes
On the list of "surest things" in this year's awards crop, near the top must be Viola Davis taking Best Supporting Actress (due in no small part to effectively being a lead performance strategically positioned in a weaker category). Perhaps the most highly contested award will be Best Actor between Denzel Washington and Manchester by The Sea's Casey Affleck. Affleck claimed much of the early awards, but Washington came on strong late claiming the SAG award and also has the added boost of being a beloved icon while Affleck's personal life has found controversy. Expect Washington to emerge victorious and enter the very select club of performers with three acting Oscars.
Lin-Manuel Miranda pulls a surprise EGOT
If there's one category La La should be on alert for, it's Best Song where it has two songs up for the prize "City of Stars" and "Audition (The Fools Who Dream)". And despite being a favorite, there are two things going against them, one is the potential vote split that might occur with supporters unsure of which song to honor, leaving the door open for another song to emerge. The second is that Miranda is still coming off a meteoric rise in the aftermath of his success with Hamilton and voters may want to give him the last piece of his EGOT in honor of all the different ways he is just killing it right now. Because of that be on alert for "How Far I'll Go" from Moana to pull the surprise upset.
The best of the rest
Expect Manchester by the Sea to narrowly beat La La Land for Best Original Screenplay as its lone award of the night. Zootopia should claim Best Animated Film over fellow Disney film Moana, and the nearly 8 hour miniseries OJ: Made in America will likely claim Best Documentary. On the technical side look for The Jungle Book to win Best Visual Effects while Star Trek Beyond nets Best Makeup.