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There is only one awards ceremony left this season, and all of the big dogs have come out to play. Our Film & TV gurus Tom Besley and Ella Kemp go head to head, as Epigram predicts what should win, and what ultimately will win come February 26th at the Academy Awards. 

Best Picture

Tom

Should win: La La Land
Will win: Moonlight

La La Land is a joyful, original masterpiece while Moonlight is the kind of terrific film that wins the Oscars every year. Both are great but with the #LaLaBacklash, Moonlight will be the one to take the top spot. Sorry, kids.

Ella

Should win: Moonlight

Will win: Moonlight (but don’t be surprised when La La Land does)

I love musicals. I love Damien Chazelle. I do love La La Land dearly. But if I could only use the word ‘beautiful’ one more time in my life, I would use it to describe Moonlight. It is a very special film that trumps any celebration or tribute of an existing treasure by creating a universe so special it’ll shake you to the core and leave you changed. Give Chazelle a pat on the back, but save the top spot for Moonlight.


Actor in a Leading Role

Tom

Should win: Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea (reluctantly)

Will win: Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea 

Casey Affleck’s personal life is an unpleasant mess but it doesn’t stop him from giving the best performance in this category. I don’t think the allegations against him will be enough to stop him taking this victory, although if he doesn’t, Denzel will be next in line.

Ella

Should win: Viggo Mortensen – Captain Fantastic 

Will win: Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea (but don’t be surprised when Gosling does)

In a Fassbender-Steve Jobs scenario, the category sees Mortensen proudly sit with the big dogs for his phenomenal role in (2016’s best film) Captain Fantastic. But, opposite underdog turned big shot Casey Affleck in an equally stunning and harrowing emotional display, it would be a huge shock to see anyone else take this one home.


Actress in a Leading Role

Tom

Should win: Isabelle Huppert – Elle

Will win: Natalie Portman – Jackie 

Isabelle Huppert’s vengeful empowering performance in Elle may be fantastic but the name on everyone’s lips for the last few months has been Natalie Portman. That said, Emma Stone could sneak in from left field and snatch it but I reckon it’s unlikely. Prove me wrong.

Congratulations to #JackieFilm’s #NataliePortman on her Academy Award nomination for Best Actress! #OscarNoms

A post shared by JackieFilm (@jackiefilm) on

Ella

Should win: Natalie Portman – Jackie

Will win: Natalie Portman – Jackie (but Emma Stone may go all Audition on us again)

It is so wonderful to see Portman back on top form, and a win would be the least the Academy could do to welcome her home. I don’t think I can stomach another Stone award. Not this one, please.


Actor in a Supporting Role

Tom

Should win: Mahershala Ali – Moonlight

Will win: Mahershala Ali – Moonlight

Mahershala Ali has slowly been rising to attention with a series of cracking film and TV roles, and this is his year. With the rest of the category a bit lame and lacking, he’s primed to deservedly take Supporting Actor.

Ella

Should win: Lucas Hedges – Manchester by the Sea

Will win: Mahershala Ali – Moonlight (but that’s kind of alright too)

When Miles Teller wasn’t nominated for Whiplash last year, my heart sank for the 20-somethings performing just as well as their older counterparts. It’s great to see Hedges (before this no more than a pop-up face in Moonrise Kingdom) stand tall and his performance needs no justification. However, Mahershala Ali sees an almost definite victory as he carries Moonlight to its deepest poignancy with a sturdy and tantalising performance.


Actress in a Supporting Role

Tom

Should win: Viola Davis – Fences

Will win: Viola Davis – Fences

The awards love Viola Davis. Having already picked up a Tony Award for this exact role in Fences, it stands to reason that she’ll do it again on screen. There are a few other contenders in this category, but I reckon none of them can compete with Davis’ record-breaking trajectory.

Ella

Should win: Naomie Harris – Moonlight

Will win: Michelle Williams – Manchester by the Sea (#sowhite) OR Viola Davis Fences (#notsowhite)

When you see Naomie Harris in Moonlight, you freeze as she engulfs the whole screen. She’s electrifying. But, the simple fact that Williams is given equal space on the poster of Manchester by the Sea already shows how far into the Academy’s pockets she is. A win for Viola Davis would also be unsurprising, but more encouraging.


Animated Feature Film

Tom

Should win: Zootopia

Will win: Zootopia

Now, this is a strong category. As terrific as all of these films are, Zootopia stole the show and viewers’ hearts when it was released last Easter, and is the best of a brilliant bunch. If only the Best Picture nominees stacked up as appetising and joyous as the animated.

Ella

Should win: Zootopia

Will win: Zootopia

I wish I could pick another one, as every feature is very special, ranging from independent french cinema to brand new Ghibli and Pixar. But Zootopia just gets it. Political, sly and good-hearted at the same time, it’s as if it made the winning checklist itself. Shakira definitely adds bonus points, too.


Cinematography

Tom

Should win: Silence

Will win: La La Land

Scorsese’s passion project may have been a critical failure but it is still the most visually breath-taking film in this category. La La Land is bound to walk this though as it sweeps through the technical categories.

Ella

Should win: Moonlight

Will win: (If there is any justice in the world) Moonlight

While Scorsese’s sole nomination is completely fair in this category, no one else should stand a chance next to Moonlight. Props to La La Land for excelling in its laborious and intricate long takes and dreamy palettes, and Arrival’s claustrophobic and ethereal creation. But there are images in Moonlight that I just can’t shake, which will hopefully stir up the Academy too.


Costume Design

Tom

Should win: La La Land

Will win: La La Land

As tempted as I was to put Fantastic Beasts out of love for that film, this is another one that La La Land is in line for.

Ella

Should win: Jackie

Will win: La La Land 

There is something incredibly haunting about Portman’s blood splattered physique in Jackie Kennedy’s pink dress suit. It’s a beautiful design and a chilling reminder of the iconographic power bestowed in that colour, executed intricately.

But then, La La Land did what La La Land keeps doing pretty well and sees Ryan Gosling in a well-fitting suit dancing through the stars. So don’t hold your breath.


Directing

Tom

Should win: Denis Villeneuve – Arrival

Will win: Barry Jenkins – Moonlight

Denis Villeneuve is one of the best working directors right now, period. His work on Arrival gave us some of this year’s most stunning sequences, even if the film was lacking in other departments. But the word of the moment is Moonlight and this award has got to be Jenkins’, although Chazelle could get a look in.

Ella

Should win: Barry Jenkins – Moonlight

Will win: Damien Chazelle – La La Land 

Both Jenkins and Chazelle have pretty great Cinderella stories to tell in their rise to the top, but if La La Land has to take one home, it’s this one. Moonlight has a lot to offer, but the underdog in love with jazz, golden age Hollywood and modern-day heroes seems to have it in the bag.


Documentary (Feature)

Tom

Should win: 13th

Will win: 13th

13th is one of the best films of last year even taken not as a documentary. It’s devastatingly important, widely available through Netflix, has an acclaimed director behind it, and above all is wonderfully made and executed. Watch it. Then watch it take Best Documentary.

Ella

Should win: 13th

Will win: 13th

What he said.


Music (Original Score)

Tom

Should win: La La Land (I mean, how can the others fairly compete)

Will win: La La Land

Lol.

Ella

Should win: La La Land (but how about some silver medals for Jackie and Moonlight?)

Will win: La La Land 

This category really needs to be ranked, as the competition is stiff here. Where I was convinced of La La Land‘s inevitable win a few weeks back, Jackie and Moonlight both create an incredible musical universe, both moving and disturbing. It’s a great shame neither will go recognised – but what a worthy opponent to lose to.


Music (Original Song)

Tom

Should win: ‘City of Stars’, La La Land 

Will win: ‘City of Stars’, La La Land

‘Audition’ is great and it would be fun if Lin-Manuel Miranda took it but it’s going to be ‘City of Stars’. There’s a reason the La La Land soundtrack triumphantly exclaims ‘Featuring the song “City of Stars”’. They know what they’re betting and so do I.

Ella

Should win: ‘Someone in the Crowd’, La La Land

Will win: ‘City of Stars’, La La Land 

I love the music in La La Land as much as the next person, but two nominations in a five-man category? Really? And ‘Audition’ as the film’s best offering? Jump through the many sections of ‘Someone in a Crowd’ and tell me Gosling’s whistling or Stone’s quaking is better. I dare you.


 Production Design

Tom

Should win: La La Land

Will win: La La Land

If I was only going to bet on La La Land winning one design Academy Award, it would be this one. The category has even been padded with a bunch of no-hopers (like Passengers) that can’t compete with the glitz and glamour of Los Angeles.

via GIPHY

Ella

Should win: La La Land 

Will win: La La Land

I’ve seen pictures everywhere. You’ve seen pictures everywhere. I can’t get the colours out of my head. I don’t want to. Give them the award already.


Visual Effects

Tom

Should win: Kubo and the Two Strings

Will win: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

“But Star Wars didn’t win this last year!” you cry, using your extensive knowledge of this category’s history to point out that Ex Machina was 2016’s unexpected but welcome winner. “I know, but maybe it will this year?” I unconvincingly blag, failing to conceal the fact I have no idea what they’re looking for. Kubo was beautiful though. Might well be Star Wars.

Ella

Should win: The Jungle Book 

Will win: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Although it had its flaws, the visual wonder of Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book is undeniable. It’s incredible to see the childhood characters brought to life, balancing the spark and mischief of Disney’s classic while displaying a real grasp of innovative film technologies.

But, Star Wars released a new film and didn’t win last year. And for all of its flaws, it did look alright.


Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

Tom

Should win: Love and Friendship (nominated or not)

Will win: Moonlight

I don’t care that it wasn’t nominated. Love and Friendship is one of the wittiest and most fun-filled scripts to grace the screen in the last few decades. In Oscartown, comedy rarely gets a decent chance, so it’ll once again likely be Moonlight.

Ella

Should win: Moonlight

Will win: Moonlight

A blistering tale of identity, maturity and insecurity, Moonlight carefully crafts a story that focuses on one man’s odyssey in an intricate display which toys with visual storytelling beautifully, which fully lends itself to the silver screen. It’s a no-brainer.


Writing (Original Screenplay)

Tom

Should win: The Lobster

Will win: Manchester by the Sea

Original Screenplay is normally a really interesting category, but sadly this year the only unusual and inventive entry is The Lobster. From the rest, only Manchester by the Sea is wordy and dramatic enough to attract the attention of voters.  

Ella

Should win: The Lobster

Will win: Manchester by the Sea

Although the story is a real treat, the wording leaves to be desired at times in La La Land. The Lobster is ingenious and wildly original, its story haunting and its humour sharp and unique. It’s a shame that its release harks back to 2016, making its victory highly unlikely.


Do you agree with our predictions? Join the discussion @EpigramFilm 

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