This Sunday, the year’s best films will be showered with awards in what many call an over-indulgent self-congratulatory event. Yes, the Acadamy Awards are almost upon us.

All kidding aside, I love the Oscars. While the awards don’t necessarily mean much in the long run, they’re fun to speculate about and follow. So, as I did last year, here are my picks for the 2017 Acadamy Awards. Each category will include who I think will win and who I personally think should win. Just a head’s up, you’re going to see La La Land a lot.

Without further ado, let’s get started!

Best Cinematography


  • Arrival – Bradford Young
  • La La Land – Linus Sandgren
  • Lion – Greig Fraser
  • Moonlight – James Laxton
  • Silence – Rodrigo Prieto

There are a lot of strong contenders in this category this year. From the naturalistic yet beautiful palette of Arrival to the intimate nature of Moonlight, any of the nominated films could rightfully go home with this award. Ultimately, with its vibrantly colorful imagery harkening back to the days of ye olde Hollywood, I think La La Land ends up winning this one. I mean, it is gorgeous looking.

Who will win: La La Land

Who should win: La La Land

Best Original Song


  • “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” – La La Land
  • “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” – Trolls
  • “City of Stars” – La La Land
  • “The Empty Chair” – Jim: The James Foley Story
  • “How Far I’ll Go” – Moana

Both the continuous presence and thematic relevance of La La Land’s “City of Stars” give it a leg up on the competition in terms of instant memorability. While there is a chance that Moana’s “How Far I’ll Go” could end up winning this one, I highly doubt the Academy won’t give the premier musical the best song award.

Who will win: “City of Stars” – La La Land

Who should win: “City of Stars” – La La Land

Best Original Score

  • Jackie – Mica Levi
  • La La Land – Justin Hurwitz
  • Lion – Dustin O’Halloran and Hauschka
  • Moonlight – Nicholas Britell
  • Passengers – Thomas Newman

This one’s easy. Again, there’s no way the Academy isn’t going award best original score to La La Land. Of course, it helps that the score is absolutely fantastic. La La Land has got this one in the bag.

Who will win: La La Land

Who should win: La La Land

Best Visual Effects


  • Deepwater Horizon
  • Doctor Strange
  • The Jungle Book
  • Kubo and the Two Strings
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Alright, let’s take a break from the La La Land love fest for a moment. This one doesn’t need any explanation. No joke, The Jungle Book’s visual effects are hands down some of the best I have ever seen. The world that The Jungle Book crafted through its visual effects is nothing short of jaw-dropping, on par with what Avatar accomplished years ago. While a convincing argument could be made for the stop-motion nature of Kubo and the Two Strings, this award ultimately belongs to The Jungle Book.

As a side note, I don’t care what anyone says. Warcraft got snubbed of this category.

Who will win: The Jungle Book

Who should win: The Jungle Book

Best Original Screenplay


  • Hell or High Water – Taylor Sheridan
  • La La Land – Damien Chazelle
  • The Lobster – Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthimis Filippou
  • Manchester by the Sea – Kenneth Lonergan
  • 20th Century Women – Mike Mills

While I think that Manchester by the Sea’s somber depiction of grief is going to earn it a ton of love from the Academy, I think Hell or High Water’s smart and snappy dialogue, its pitch-perfect representation of West Texas, and its layered and rich characters make it the more deserving of the two.

Who will win: Manchester by the Sea

Who should win: Hell or High Water

Best Adapted Screenplay


  • Arrival – Eric Heisserer
  • Fences – August Wilson
  • Hidden Figures – Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi
  • Lion – Luke Davies
  • Moonlight – Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney

Moonlight and La La Land are the two front runners for many of this year’s categories, considering they’re two of the year’s best films. While I think the three-act play structure that Moonlight adapted works near flawlessly, Arrival is one of the few adaptations that improves and expands on its source material. Arrival’s script is absolutely brilliant at the tight balancing act of timelines that it employs, and I hope to see it recognized. Although, the same exact sentiment could be applied to Moonlight. They’re both more than worthy of this award.

Who will win: Moonlight

Who should win: Arrival

Best Animated Feature


  • Kubo and the Two Strings
  • Moana
  • My Life as a Zucchini
  • The Red Turtle
  • Zootopia

Oh man, this is most definitely the hardest category to determine this year. Almost all of the films nominated this year both justified in winning it and stand a chance to take it home. With the stunningly handcrafted animation style if Kubo and the Two Strings, the topical social relevance and resonance of Zootopia, the general excellence of Moana,  and the quiet and subtle beauty of The Red Turtle, it’s anyone’s game. If you were to put a gun to my head and demand an answer on who I think will win, I’d go with Zootopia. If you were to repeat that five minutes later, however, there’s a good chance that answer would change.

Who will win: Zootopia

Who should win: Honestly, they all deserve it

Best Supporting Actress


  • Viola Davis – Fences
  • Naomie Harris – Moonlight
  • Nicole Kidman – Lion
  • Octavia Spencer – Hidden Figures
  • Michelle Williams – Manchester by the Sea

There’s almost no chance of this award not going to Viola Davis. Davis’ performance in Fences has won nearly every single Best Supporting Actress in the award show rounds and there’s little doubt that the Oscars will be no different. However, Naomie Harris‘ outstanding performance in Moonlight is highly worthy of recognition, as the transformation that her character undergoes under three distinct time periods is something to behold.

Who will win: Viola Davis

Who should win: Naomie Harris

Best Supporting Actor


  • Mahershala Ali – Moonlight
  • Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water
  • Lucas Hedges – Manchester by the Sea
  • Dev Patel – Lion
  • Michael Shannon – Nocturnal Animals

Mahershala Ali, rightly so, has been showered with praise over his work in Moonlight. The standout actor of a film filled with terrific performers, Ali’s passionate and heartfelt performance as the kind-hearted yet severely troubled Juan I think will severely resonate with the voters at the Academy. Coupled with his truly touching and sentimental SAG speech, Ali is definitely the favorite to win here. It’d be a damn shame if he didn’t.

Who will win: Mahershala Ali

Who should win: Mahershala Ali

Best Actress


  • Isabelle Huppert – Elle
  • Ruth Negga – Loving
  • Natalie Portman – Jackie
  • Emma Stone – La La Land
  • Meryl Streep – Florence Foster Jenkins

Okay, let’s be real for a moment. Amy Adams should be the one winning this award. The fact that she wasn’t nominated is by far the biggest snub of the year, given that did the large majority of emotional heavy lifting in Arrival. Nevertheless, she wasn’t nominated, so someone else has to win. Emma Stone gave us a great performance in La La Land. Given the “sweeping” nature of the Oscars, it’s likely Stone will end up the winner here. But cmon, where’s Adams’ nomination?

Who will win: Emma Stone

Who should win: *cough*Amy Adams*cough*

Best Actor


  • Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea
  • Andrew Garfield – Hacksaw Ridge
  • Ryan Gosling – La La Land
  • Viggo Mortensen – Captain Fantastic
  • Denzel Washington – Fences

Casey Affleck’s performance in Manchester by the Sea was hands down the best performance of 2017. The subdued and subtle performance he gives as a man broken by grief was both heartbreaking and mesmerizing to watch. While Denzel Washington’s surprise win at the SAG awards may throw a monkey wrench in Affleck’s chances, I think Affleck will walk away as the winner at the end of the night. 

Who will win: Casey Affleck

Who should win: Casey Affleck

Best Director


  • Denis Villeneuve – Arrival
  • Mel Gibson – Hacksaw Ridge
  • Damien Chazelle – La La Land
  • Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester by the Sea
  • Barry Jenkins – Moonlight

With all the great things that have been said about La La Land, Damien Chazelle is the one who brought it all together. La La Land is Chazelle’s masterpiece and he warrants every bit of recognition he’s gotten. He’s already won the DGA Award for Best Director, and only once since 2002 has the winner of that award not won Best Director at the Oscars. If he does end up winning, he’ll be the youngest director to ever receive the award. And honestly, the dude’s earned it.

Who will win: Damien Chazelle

Who should win: Damien Chazelle

Best Picture

LLL d 29 _5194.NEF

  • Arrival
  • Fences
  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • Hell or High Water
  • Hidden Figures
  • La La Land
  • Lion
  • Manchester by the Sea
  • Moonlight

Unsurprisingly, La La Land is the far front runner for Best Picture winner. Considering it’s a shoo-in for many of the other categories, I think it’s inevitable landslide victories in other categories will lead to La La Land winning big this year. And I sure hope that happens. La La Land was far and away my favorite film of 2016 and I would love it see it walk away as the victor. While I think there is a chance that Moonlight ends up winning (which it more than deserves), this one is La La Land’s to lose.

Who will win: La La Land

Who should win: La La Land

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