It’s Hollywood’s most glamorous, coveted and hard-fought-over night of the year tonight, and as the elite of Tinseltown begin preparing their acceptance speeches and practically every movie nominated that isn’t La La Land practices its brave commiseration face, I’m readying myself to stay up until the early (and probably not-so-early) hours of Monday morning to see who walks away with one of the coveted little gold men.

And, as is tradition, I bring to you my annual predictions for who will be winning big this year.

Can the behemoth that is La La Land be stopped, or will it match or even surpass the 11-win record set by Ben-Hur, Titanic and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King?

I take a look over every category below and cast my predictions to find out:


Will Win: La La Land

Could Win: Moonlight

La La Land is looking pretty unstoppable right now. Unless we’re on course for a mother of all upsets a la Crash beating Brokeback in 2006, I can’t see anything other than Damian Chapelle’s cultural hit taking the big prize. It helps tremendously that the film seems something of a postmodern love letter to LA and the movie industry themselves, something the Academy can rarely resist lapping up (see The Artist just a few years back).


Will Win: Damian Chazelle

Could Win: Barry Jenkins

Signed, sealed, delivered. Bar a very unlikely weaker-than-anticipated reception to La La Land, and a stronger swell of support than expecting for Jenkins’ work on Moonlight, Chazelle has this (deservedly) in the bag and will walk up to the oscar podium as the youngest ever recipient of the accolade.


Will Win: Denzel Washington

Could Win: Casey Affleck

This is an incredibly difficult one to call, but all signs seem to point out that it is here that La La Land will miss out - unless a big sweep or swell for the film carries Ryan Gosling along with it. It’s not impossible, but let’s not forget that even when Titanic scooped up 11 of it’s 14 nominations in 1998, it still left out Kate Winslet for Best Actress.

Realistically, this is a two-horse race between Denzel Washington picking up his third Best Actor trophy, and Casey Affleck taking home his first. Many would agree that Affleck is the deserving winner here, his work in Manchester by the Sea universally praised as one of the most affecting and convincing portrayals of grief ever put to film, but Washington picking up the SAG injures Affleck’s chances considerably.

It’s going to be one of the most tense and uncertain envelope openings of the night, but as much as I’d love for it to be Affleck, I can see the Academy going for Washington here.


Will Win: Emma Stone

Could Win: Isabelle Huppert / Natalie Portman

Portman looked like the strongest contender for most of the year, right up until La La Land was released and the awards circuit began. Since then, the likeable Emma Stone has had this category relatively sewn up. Again, a real shock would likely come for Huppert after her win at the Golden Globes, but this is one of La La Land’s surer bets this evening.


Will Win: Mahershala Ali

Could Win: Dev Patel

Some are beginning to voice murmurs that Michael Shannon could surprise in this category, and the fact that he beat Aaron-Taylor Johnson’s previously award-winning turn in the same film might show an unprecedented level of support here. But I think we’re simply in Mark Wahlberg / Jack Nicholson in The Departed territory - which didn’t, of course, translate to a Wahlberg win.

Ali is by far the strongest contender here, and the safest pick, though something in me says not to underestimate Dev Patel’s surge in support over the past couple of months. He also picked up the BAFTA in this category. It’s going to be another interesting one, but Mahershala Ali is definitely the one to beat.


Will Win: Viola Davis

Could Win: Michelle Williams

The always-dependable and usually-fantastic Viola Davis is one of the industries most overdue talents, and it’s great to see that she’s pretty much locked for her first Oscar after narrowly missing out for stunning turns in The Help and that eight minute tour-de-force in Doubt.

At a pip, Michelle Williams could ride in on a similar overdue status (she has more nominations to her name than Davis), but I think Affleck and Manchester would have had to have much stronger dominance to do so. It’s not completely impossible (we all remember Marisa Tomei’s shock win in this category) but it seems very unlikely at this stage.


Will Win: Manchester by the Sea

Could Win: La La Land

Original screenplay is one of those categories that is going to hinge entirely on how deep the La La Land love goes. The writing categories are some of Oscars biggest and most important, and they historically do not like giving out love here to musicals.

Gut instinct says that Manchester presents a far safer and more typical bet in this category - but if La La is getting a lot of down-the-line tickets on the ballots, it will likely scoop this one up as well.


Will Win: Moonlight

Could Win: Hidden Figures / Fences / Lion

You’ll note I’ve put practically every nominee except for Arrival here, and that is because this is arguably the most wide open category of the night. Moonlight is the strongest bet by dint of it being the biggest Best Picture & Director contender, but there are plenty of arguments to be made for the other three listed above.

Hidden Figures is hugely popular with audiences and precursors alike, and its peak in popularity came just in time for Academy members to be ticking off their boxes, so don’t underestimate it’s chances here. Likewise, a nod for Fences if it is picking up Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress as predicted would have the added narrative of a posthumous win for August Wilson 12 years after his death, who had always hoped his play would be adapted into film by a black director, as it now has been.


Will Win: Zootropolis

Could Win: Kubo and the Two Strings

A really strong line-up, particularly compared to some years, thanks in no small part to Laika’s beautiful Kubo and the Two Strings and a double whammy of brilliant offerings from Disney in the form of Moana and Zootropolis.

In the end, it’s difficult to see the might of Disney not prevailing here, and Zootropolis has been by far their most successful runner in the precursor awards so far, so it’s probably the safest bet. Kubo managed to nab itself a BAFTA though, so don’t underestimate it’s chances, particularly if the Disney vote splits. The rebel in me really wants to predict Moana here, but Zootropolis trailed very closely by Kubo makes more sense.


Will Win: La La Land

Could Win: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

I’ve rebelled with my prediction in this category in the past and found myself rewarded. La La Land is the safest bet once again, though my gut says not to underestimate the showy work in Hail, Caesar!, despite not a lot of people particularly liking the film itself.

Fantastic Beasts scooped up the BAFTA, but that’s not particularly surprising given the Brit influence, so flip the coin and we see La La Land likely taking the statue in Hollywood for similar reasons.


Will Win: La La Land

Could Win: Lion / Arrival

Again, another strong bet for La La Land, which is, in fairness, exquisitely shot. The creeping threat and odd precursor awards sent Lion’s way make it probably the most credible threat, though historically science-fiction films fare well here, so Arrival isn’t a complete impossibility, and some may feel this is the right place to reward the well-received film which will likely be shut out in the bigger awards.


Will Win: Jackie

Could Win: La La Land

Period usually wins out here, so again this is another award that hinges on the weight of La La love. Jackie has been the strongest contender in this award in the precursors, and as mentioned it has the added benefit of being more period over La La’s contemporary - if colourful - palette. Hidden Figures recent surge of support and costume designs wins nip at both film’s heels, though.


Will Win: La La Land

Could Win: Arrival / Hacksaw Ridge

This is tough. At one point in time, Editing seemed to be the ultimate indicator of Best Picture, but over the past decade in particular, it is a major category that has increasingly veered off from formula. In fact, films not even nominated for Best Picture have been scooping this up.

Instinct and logic says La La Land. Gut says this may be the best place for the Academy to throw love to Arrival or Hacksaw Ridge, the latter of which BAFTA went for.

It’s going to be a toss up!


Will Win: Star Trek Beyond

Could Win: Suicide Squad

Not enough people saw A Man Called Ove to really pose it as a credible threat, and given the generally negative response to Suicide Squad versus the warm reception to Star Trek, I think it’s safe that enough people will tick the box here for Beyond.


Will Win: La La Land

Could Win: Arrival

Musicals fare well in this category. That precedent, coupled with La La Land’s strong frontrunner status, means this should be a relatively easy win for it.

That being said, it isn’t uncommon for a tech sweep that goes against Best Picture (see: Hugo) to start the night off well by scooping up awards such as this, making Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge or even Rogue One potential spoilers. 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi was never really a contender anyway, but it’s quite literally out of the competition now after the Academy withdrew it’s nomination after breaching campaigning rules.


Will Win: La La Land

Could Win: Arrival / Hacksaw Ridge

Now I’m really going out on a limb here, primarily because a musical has never been nominated in this category before. As such, it makes La La Land’s inclusion particularly difficult to gauge. On one hand, with the film likely picking up sound mixing, one of two mentalities prevail - tick off both boxes to La La Land or give one to it and then award a strong contender such as Hacksaw Ridge or Arrival with the other.

La La Land’s historic inclusion in this category then quite literally throws both sound awards into a very difficult to predict quandary, but the safest bet is probably to go for down-the-line tickets for Hollywood’s new favourite musical.

I just know I will be regretting this decision, though. Expect Hacksaw Ridge if any to be the spoiler in either of the two Sound categories.


Will Win: The Jungle Book

Could Win: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Lovely to see Kubo and the Two Strings pulling a Nightmare Before Christmas and nabbing a nomination here, but in reality The Jungle Book is a fairly confident frontrunner here, and rightly so.

The might of Star Wars could see Rogue One pull it out from the under the paws of Book’s talking animals, but at the moment that’s looking unlikely, and for some Rogue's CG 'resurrectons' were not overly well received.


Will Win: La La Land

Could Win: Lion

La La Land has the musical categories pretty much in its court. Justin Hurwitz's music for the film has struck a chord and is such a beautiful and pivotal part of the movie that none of the other contenders can hope to make any sort of impact here.

It’s his.


Will Win: ‘City of Stars’ from La La Land

Could Win: ‘How Far I’ll Go’ from Moana

La La Land is again a pretty surefire bet here, and ‘City of Stars’ it’s strongest chance, but unlike others I don’t believe this is quite as sewn up as others presume.

The presence of Lin Manuel Miranda, who is loved in Hollywood and still in his Hamilton honeymoon period, coupled with the powerhouse of Disney should not be casually dismissed. Throw in a potential voting split by La La having two entries in this category, and it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see Miranda take this one and complete his coveted EGOT.


Will Win: OJ: Made in America

Could Win: 13th

Awarding Ava DuVarney her first Oscar lends 13th some mileage, but OJ seems to be the strongest bet here. Either is eminently possible, though.


Will Win: The Salesman

Could Win: Toni Erdmann


Will Win: Piper

Could Win: Pearl


Will Win: Joe’s Violin

Could Win: The White Helmets


Will Win: Ennemis Interieurs

Could Win: Sing / La Femme et le TGV

So there we go - the last few categories are, by their very nature, always incredibly difficult to predict, not least of all because their saturation to the voting body is always variable.

But if the evening were to go as I have predicted above, it would have La La Land sitting pretty on a very impressive 10 Oscars, which would mean it would tie with West Side Story and be just above another musical, Gigi, at 9, but just miss out on that record of 11 wins.

That seems a practical and realistic number, but as the Oscars have shown, particularly over the past few years with shake ups in the process for nominating and voting, anything is possible, and in all honesty an even better night for La La Land probably wouldn’t surprise anyone.

But with just under 10 hours left until it all kicks off and we begin to find out, I’d better go and get myself some sleep.

I’ll be back tomorrow to see how I fared!

In the meantime, feel free to leave your thoughts / disagreements / predictions in the comments below!