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As the sun sets on 2016, we, here at Moviepass, turn our eyes to the fall and winter slate of films. In a season filled with an assortment of cinematic choices, we must admit that we’re a bit overwhelmed. With our Oscar Rulebook handy, here are ten guesses as to what will become a contender for the 2017 Academy Awards.

Barry Jenkins's MoonlightMOONLIGHT

Based on the play, In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, this three part narrative covers Kevin’s (played as an adult by Trevante Rhodes, as a teen by Ashton Sanders, and as a child by Alex Hibbert) survival in the rougher side of Miami, coming into his own as a gay man. Watch the trailer here.

What it would be up for: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director, Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor/Actress

Chances: Very high. The topic is extremely appealing dramatically and the film seems to avoid overused and quite frankly insulting clichés of the genre.

Why it might not win: The story is a niche market and might not connect with the voting audience, but the niche aspect of the story is a double edged sword and might also catapult it to a decent amount of nominations. Based on the power of positive word of mouth and stellar reviews, expect Moonlight to make an appearance at the awards show.


Demigod Maui (Dwayne Johnson) and Moana (Auli’i Cravalho) set sail towards a mythical island to help save Moana’s family. Watch the trailer here.

What it would be up for:  Best Animated Picture, Best Original Song

Chances: Ridiculously high for both categories. With songs composed by Lin-Manuel Miranda (behind both In the Heights and runaway success Hamilton) and stellar visuals by Walt Disney Animation (Frozen and Big Hero 6), it will definitely leave the audience and critics satisfied.

Why it might not win: Best Original Song is a very difficult category to judge, usually reserved for killer soundtrack songs. With a high profile musical coming out the same year, it might become a tossup. As far as Best Animated Picture goes, it would be nice if Laika took home the crown for the vastly underrated Kubo and the Two Strings, but Disney is one of the top frontrunners in animation for a reason. Moana might lose to the earlier released Zootopia for Best Animated, but either way, Disney is most likely taking home the gold.


Not hiding its status as a musical, La La Land is a love story between a jazz pianist (Ryan Gosling) and an aspiring actress (Emma Stone) as they struggle with life in modern Los Angeles.  Watch the trailer here.

What it would be up for:  Best Cinematography, Best Original Song, Best Director (Damien Chazelle), Best Costume Design, Best Picture

Chances: Moderately high, given the amount of buzz the film currently has and the star power. The cinematography is gorgeous and the atmosphere gives off the sensational vibes of Singin’ in the Rain’s infamous number “You Were Meant for Me”.

Why it might not win: The last time a movie musical won Best Picture was with Chicago in 2002, and before that is was Oliver! in 1968. A safer bet is Best Director for Damien Chazelle (Whiplash), but he might lose the category to a more seasoned or daring auteur. La La Land is likely a lock for a Best Original Song nomination, but has its most formidable competition in the fantastic Lin-Manuel Miranda’s work on Moana.

toni-erdmann-1TONI ERDMANN

A prankster father (Peter Simonischek) tries to reconnect with his very distant daughter (Sandra Hüller) by masquerading as her life coach. Watch the trailer here.

What it would be up for:  Best Foreign Film

Chances: Relatively high. Buzz around Toni Erdmann has been fantastic ever since Cannes and it’s Germany’s official entry for the Academy Awards. Since Cannes, it’s continued to hit huge film festivals like New York and Hamptons International. 

Why it might not win: The plot has been described as a twist on the screwball comedy, which might turn off some voters. However, considering the press at Cannes when it failed to secure the Palm D’or, it’s safe to say it will probably walk away with the prize.


Set the week before President Kennedy’s assassination, Jackie deals with Jackie Kennedy (Natalie Portman) in her own personal hell as she is forced into the role of the widow while the nation watches on.  See the trailer here.

What it would be up for: Best Actress, Best Director, Best Costume Design, Best Score

Chances: Very high for most of the categories. Early buzz says that this is one of Portman’s best roles and it balances the blend of an iconic figure from the past with a vulnerability not seen by the public. We also want justice for Mica Levi, her unconventional score for Under the Skin has stayed with audiences well past seeing the film and she’s at it again with Jackie.

Why it might not win: The Score category is usually dominated by a few very popular names such as Alexandre Desplat, John Williams, Jóhann Jóhannsson and Carter Burwell. Best Costume Design is a similar category in which the only things that ever get nominated are fantasy films, musicals and period pieces, so the fact that Jackie traffics heavily in accuracy might be its undoing. As far as Actress, it’s safe to guarantee a seat at the table for a portrayal of the quintessential American woman, but a spot for director Pablo Larraín (No, The Club) might be more difficult as his style is definitely different from the standard Oscar fare.


Just barely making its Oscar qualifying run, Silence stars Andrew Garfield (The Amazing Spider-Man) and Adam Driver (The Force Awakens) as Portuguese Jesuit priests who travel to Taiwan to find their mentor (Liam Neeson) after the Shimabara Rebellion. Watch the trailer here.

What it would be up for:  Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Picture, Best Director

Chances: Moderately high for a variety of reasons, mainly due to director Martin Scorsese. This passion project has been in the works for thirty years and the original novel has already been turned into a film. If Scorsese is passionate enough about a film, then the results are electric, so hopes are high for Silence.

Why it might not win: The under the wire release date and the rumors that the film’s original runtime was three hours (it currently stands at 2hrs 39min) gives the implication that the studio might have rushed this otherwise formidable contender out of the gates early. With a lack of strong competition this late in the game, Silence does stand a fair shot at the gold for at least Best Director. However the sudden influx of information is admittedly troubling. 

fireatsea_03FIRE AT SEA

Fire at Sea deals with the island of Lampedusa, which has become a safe haven for refugees from Africa, Asia and the Middle East. It deals with both, permanent island residents, as well as those who flee, even though sometimes it doesn’t have ideal results. Watch the trailer here.  

What it would be up for:  Best Documentary OR Best Foreign Language Film

Chances: Moderately high. This year has had some fantastic documentaries such as Do Not Resist, Tickled, Weiner, The 13th, and The Eagle Huntress. However it’s also Italy’s candidate for Best Foreign Language Film. So, it might get tossed between categories, but don’t expect a dual nomination despite the merits of the film.

Why it might not win: The documentary category is always a wild card and this year has top notch documentaries covering a range of topics. Fire at Sea is a fantastic film, but it’s competition are fiercely powerful films that speak more to the American sociopolitical scene than anything else. Either way, the documentaries this year are fierce and we’d recommend checking them all out.


Adam Driver plays a bus driver who rarely deviates from his daily routine, but explores worlds with his poetry. Watch the trailer here.

What it would be up for: Best Actor, Best Director

Chances: Moderate. The Jim Jarmusch film is built on Adam Driver’s shoulders and early reviews indicate that Jarmusch delivers one of his most poetic films.

Why it might not win: The best actor category is always a tough race. And a quieter film means that it might get drowned out when larger names, such as Tom Hanks, come out with inspirational character pieces like Sully. Adam Driver, coming off of Star Wars: the Force Awakens, is just a large enough name to collect interest from the Academy, but it’s unknown whether or not he’ll have stronger competition this year.

the-handmaiden-cannesTHE HANDMAIDEN

Pickpocket Sook-hee (Kim Tae-ri) is hired by a con man to become the maid of heiress, Lady Hideko (Kim min-hee) in 1930’s Korea. Watch the trailer here.

What it would be up for:  Best Cinematography

Chances: Average. Left out of the Best Foreign Film loop (South Korea went with The Age of Shadows), Park Chan-wook’s latest was one of the most talked about films at Cannes this year, which gives it prestige points. However, this may have more to do with content over filmmaking.

Why it might not win: Foreign films usually get looked over for Best Cinematography, with the last notable exception being The White Ribbon in 2009. Combine that with a director who generally makes films that collect accolades instead of awards, and the chances are slim. However, for the first time in three years, cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (Gravity, The Revenant) will not release a film due to delays with Terrence Malick’s Weightless, so there might be a slot for this gorgeous erotic thriller.

Andrew Garfield in Mel Gibson's Hacksaw RidgeHACKSAW RIDGE

Mel Gibson’s return to directing, is a film inspired by the true story of US Army medic, Desmond T. Doss (Andrew Garfield), a Seventh-day Adventist who refused to bear arms. Watch the trailer here.

What it would be up for:  Best Sound Editing

Chances: Moderate. With Gibson back in the director’s chair and a ten minute standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival, this war movie might get quite a bit of attention in the coming months.  

Why it might not win: Nobody is really sure what the Best Sound Editing award means. The legitimate definition is the creation of sound effects, such as foley work. Previous winners have been films, such as The Dark Knight and Mad Max: Fury Road, so there is some room to assume that Hacksaw Ridge has a chance at the Oscar. That ambiguity also means that it might not get nominated, so it’s a toss up.

Do you have any Oscar nod predictions of your own? Feel free to share them with us! 

7 thoughts on “10 Oscar Nod Predictions: Part I Leave a comment

    • Hey Ralph! Happy to hear that you enjoyed this article. We’ll be sure to keep you posted on more Oscar predictions and awards buzz. Also, let us know what else you’d like to read! Thanks! 🙂

  1. This is my first newsletter and I also love it, ESPECIALLY the awards predictions. Don’t forget “Nocturnal Animals” at awards time and its opening credits which are the MOST BIZARRE that I’ve EVER seen in my life!! (And I’ve seen almost 8000 movies IN THEATERS over the years!!

    • Thanks for the amazing positive feedback! We’ll also feature reviews for the Oscar contenders and perhaps, an in-depth discussion of Nocturnal Animals. So, stay tuned. And as always, let us know what you’d like to read!

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