SBox Soapbox: My Uneducated Oscar Predictions 2017


This weekend marks probably the most important dates on the movie buff calendar: The Academy Awards. We’ve been talking about it for months now, but the day has finally come for us to see which films, actors, directors, and musicians will receive the highest honor in Hollywood (you know, other than money). By now, many should have your bets placed and your predictions set as Sunday night draws closer and closer. Some may be wondering my own predictions for the awards, and boy do I have them…They may not be well founded predictions in the world, but they’re predictions nonetheless.

I have a confession to make before we continue. It was my intention to watch all the Oscar nominated films before the event so that I could have a very accurate prediction for you guys. More specifically I wanted to see all the films nominated for Best Picture. Unfortunately, I let time pass me by and have only seen 3 of the whopping 9 movies up for the award. How do I find myself in this spot every year—aiming to see them all only to see a third of the list? Then again this never stopped me from having predictions before. Why should it now?

So, using nothing but pure guesswork and the general buzz of all the films in each category, I’ve prepared a list of my uneducated Oscar predictions. Let’s be real, though. Many of you are probably doing the same, and that’s fine. I’ll go category by category giving my brief reasoning as we go along. Some of those reasons will be decent. Other will be very stupid. But sometimes you just gotta go with your gut when you gamble.

Best Picture


This year has a grand total of 9 movies up for Best Picture. I have to admit that this is a great thing to see. To me, the more movies being recognized for the category the better, as it leaves little room for snubs. I hope we’ll eventually reach the point where all 10 slots are routinely filled in this category, but for now I’ll gladly applaud 9.

As I said, I was only able to see 3 of the films in this category: Hacksaw Ridge, Hidden Figures, and Lion. I do intend on seeing at least 1 other movie (Maybe Fences or La La Land) before Sunday night, but I digress. Given the measly 3 films I’ve seen, I’m personally rooting for Lion to get the award. Hidden Figures was a great movie. It’s a well acted, well realized, humorous, heartfelt movie and probably the most entertaining film of the bunch. Hacksaw Ridge was intense, eye-catching, emotional, and exciting. However, Lion was simply a better movie; more emotional, more heartfelt, more intense.

However, I think this award comes down to one of 4 films: La La Land, Fences, Manchester by the Sea, and Lion. This is mostly based on general buzz except for Lion, which I think could be a surprise win similar to what Spotlight was last year. Though my gut is definitely going with La La Land. Not only has it been sweeping most of the neighboring award shows, it’s the most well-known in this particular group.

  • My Pick: Lion
  • Final Prediction: La La Land

Best Director

Again, I regret to inform you that I’ve only seen 1 of the 5 nominees’ films in this category: Hacksaw Ridge. To that end, I would definitely say Mel Gibson deserves the nomination 100%. That was an excellently directed movie, especially in depicting the tragedy in the World War II battlefield. I would honestly give the award over to him, and his winning honestly wouldn’t surprise me. This category is actually pretty difficult to pin down, because there’s no one person more likely to win than the others. But if you had a gun to my head and forced me to choose, there’s a good chance that either Barry Jenkins for Moonlight. Though, Damien Chazelle is incredibly likely to win for La La Land.

  • My Pick: Mel Gibson (Hacksaw Ridge)
  • Final Prediction: Barry Jenkins (Moonlight)

Best Actor (Leading)

Very packed and tight category going on on the 4 acting categories. Even if you haven’t seen any of the films mentioned, these are fantastic actors who all deserve the award hands-down. Once again, I have to give shine to my champion in this race: Hacksaw Ridge. I thought I would be too distracted by Andrew Garfield’s presence in the film, but that went out the window very quickly. He literally transformed into Desmond Doss and gave an instantly likable performance. He could easily win, but my gut is telling me tis one goes to Denzel Washington for Fences. Let’s put this way. I didn’t see the movie, but I did see the trailer. It’s honestly one of my favorite trailers ever, because it tells you everything you need to know about what Troy Maxson was all about. That’s a truly seething performance that sticks with you…Man I should’ve seen this movie. (I just had to pick Rogue One). Another likely winner would be Casey Affleck for Manchester by the Sea.

  • My Pick: Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge)
  • Final Prediction: Denzel Washington (Fences)

Best Actress (Leading)

And now we come to a category I have a 100% disadvantage in. I haven’t seen any of these movies minus a few scattered moments of Jackie. That’s not nearly enough to judge Natalie Portman’s performance, but I still commend her. Each passing glance at the film had me pretty invested and she really sold those emotional scenes. Other than that, tis will be a total shot in the dark. My absolute best guess is with Emma Stone, because when in doubt, bet on La La Land.

  • My Pick: Natalie Portman (Jackie)
  • Final Prediction Emma Stone (La La Land)

Best Actress (Supporting)

Switching it up as we come to the Supporting Act categories, let’s cover Best Actress in a Supporting Role. I have seen 2 of these performances fully: Octavia Spencer in Hidden Figures and Nicole Kidman in Lion. I’m actually glad Spencer is getting some recognition in this category. She was definitely very good, serving as the emotional anchor to the trio and representing a great coming of age character. She had a lot to work with, and she definitely delivered. Then there’s Nicole Kidman, who I had no clue was in this movie until after I saw it. Not only was she great, but she slipped into the role so seamlessly that I didn’t even recignize her. She simply was the character, and I have to commend her for that. However, I don’t believe either one is going to win. I’m fairly certain that this is Viola Davis’ category due to word of mouth and the trailer alone.

  • My Pick: Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures)
  • Final Prediction: Viola Davis (Fences)

Best Actor (Supporting)

There’s only 1 film in this category that applies to me, and that’s Dev Patel in Lion. I have to admit, the fact that he’s even in this category is a bit unfair. I get the reason he’s not in the Leading Actor category but still. It’s like comparing adult Simba with him as a kid; somthing about it just doesn’t seem right. That alone makes me pretty certain he’s going to take the award. If not him, then Mahershala Ali in Moonlight is good bet as well.

  • My Pick: Dev Patel (Lion)
  • Final Prediction: Dev Patel (Lion)

Best Animated Film

Finally, a category I can talk about somewhat accurately. I have seen 2 of the 5 films on this list: Moana and Zootopia. Both of those films are equally likely to win for different reasons. Moana for its heart and charm has a good chance of winning, but Zootopia also has satire on its side. It’s a strange back and forth as far as which film I’d personally pick, but my favorite of the two is certainly Moana. I’m pretty certain this will get the award. Strangely, this isn’t movie I’m rooting for in this category. The one I actually want to see win this award is Kubo in the Two Strings. Look, Disney and Pixar take this award hand over fist every year. I think this deserves to win on account of its originality. Plus, it winning would lessen the guilt I felt for missing this film when it came out.

  • My Pick: Kubo and the Two Strings
  • Final Prediction: Moana

Cinematography/Film Editing

There are a lot of categories in the Oscars, so allow me to just combine similar categories for time sake. In the Cinematography category I of course want Lion to win, as it likely deserves to. The way that film was hot, edited and handled was absolutely brilliant whether it was in the slums of India or the Australian city. However, I believe Arrival could have Lion beat in this category. As for Film Editing, my heart automatically goes to Hacksaw Ridge, but my gut is with La La Land. Musicals typically utilize heavy editing to begin with, so I think it has an advantage here.

  • My Picks: Lion & Hacksaw Ridge
  • Final Predictions: Arrival & La La Land

Costume Design/Makeup & Hairstyling

I’ll admit that Costume Design is actually pretty competitive this year. Last year it was mostly between Mad Max and Cinderella., but this year I feel it’s between La La Land, Florence Foster Jenkins, and Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them. I know La La Land has been my default answer for almost every category so far, but come on. The other movie costumes are just suits and period dresses. At least La La Land added vibrant colors to their suits and period dresses. I wouldn’t mind Fantastic Beasts winning either.

Hair and Makeup has 3 nominees, and I’ve seen 2 of them. How’s that for a change of pace? I actually had to look up A Man Called Ove for this category, and I can see how it got nominated. Suicide Squad was a surprising nomination, but I’m not at all mad about it.  If it got anything right, it’s hair and makeup. However, both pale in comparison to Star Trek Beyond, which I think will get the award.

  • My Picks: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them & Star Trek Beyond
  • Final Predictions: La La Land & Star Trek Beyond

Music (Original Score/Song)

The best part about this category is that you don’t have to see the films to have an opinion on these categories. For this category, I simply looked up the songs and sections of the score on YouTube.

Allow me to dismiss two Original Score nominees off the bat. Passengers’ score was fine but not great, and I’m honestly not that fond of Jackie’s score. You know that part in Age of Ultron when Vision sees his reflection for the first time. Jackie’s score was that on a loop. Not my thing, though I can see how it could win for its distinctiveness. I remember Lion having mostly somber pieces for its score, which, while pleasant, is a bit forgettable. Which leaves us with Moonlight and La La Land. As far as which one stands out the most my ear automatically goes to La La Land, which seems to have a very triumphant and bombastic sound. I do like Moonlight’s understated sound, though.

Then we have the Original Song category, featuring Justin Timberlake in a strange turn of events. I doubt it’ll win, but it’s cool to see it included. I’m of course predicting a La La Land song will win this easily; most likely “Audition”. My personal preference is “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana followed closely by “The Empty Chair” from Jim: The James Foley Story.

  • My Picks: La La Land & “How Far I’ll Go” (Moana)
  • Final Predictions: La La Land & “Audition” (La La Land)

Sound (Editing/Mixing)

While we’re on the topic of music, let’s discuss sound. To give a brief overview for those who don’t know the difference between these two: sound editing involves creating new sounds (e.g. light saber sounds) while sound mixing is about tweaking the already existing sounds (e.g. footsteps, dialogue, background noise). With that said, I believe this will be between Hacksaw Ridge or Arrival with Hacksaw Ridge ultimately winning out for Sound Editing. However, I kinda hope Sully gets this one. Not because I’ve seen it (I didn’t), but because it’s the odd one out. As for Sound Mixing, any of those films could win and I’ll be happy. I’d simply be most happy if Rogue One wins (or 13 Hours). The one that’s going to win will probably be Arrival.

  • My Picks: Sully & Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
  • Final Predictions: Hacksaw Ridge & Arrival

Writing (Adapted/Original)

Now for one of my personal favorite categories: the Screenplays. We begin with Adapted Screenplay, since it’s 2017 and Lord knows everything is based on something these days. (Not that I mind). This is a tough category because not a single film is like the others. Your predictions may be based squarely on what you prefer: intense sci-fi, down-beat urban, uplifting biographical, emotional drama, or high-stake introspection. Of the 2 films I’ve seen in this category, I have to go with Lion due to its clever way of showing the turmoil in Saroo’s mind (both young and old). My personal bet would is Moonlight, but I really think Lion can take this, too.

For Original Screenplay, I haven’t seen any of these films. I know what you’re thinking, though. When in doubt, vote La La Land, and it may very well deserve it. However, I’m going to break tradition and bet on Manchester by the Sea. If La La Land isn’t the darling of this year’s Oscars I’m predicting, Manchester by the Sea may take its place.

  • My Picks: Lion & La La Land
  • Final Predictions: Moonlight & Manchester by the Sea

Visual Effects/Production Design

Is it safe to say The Jungle Book is going to win for Best Visual Effects? Look I love all the movies in this category dearly, but Jungle Book is a game changer in CG animation. There’s still a part of me that thinks Disney was just lying in order to avoid some child-endangerment lawsuit due to throwing a kid in front of snakes and tigers. Alas, it was all green screen. The only film I’d accept to win in Jungle Book’s place is Deepwater Horizon, a film I haven’t seen but looks impressive as hell.

Now, I’ve seen 2 of the films up for Best Production Design. Neither of them will win, though, because it’s Passengers and Fantastic Beasts. Passengers looked impressive, but the ship doesn’t come across to me as anything that new. That’s why I’d give the award to Fantastic Beasts, despite it being more worthy of a Visual Effects award than anything. Still, the 1920’s setting is very nice to look at and highly authentic. Hail, Ceasar! deserves its nod as well, while Arrival seems okay (going solely on stills and trailers). I’m pretty sure this one is another win for La La Land.

  • My Picks: The Jungle Book & Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
  • Final Predictions: The Jungle Book & La La Land

Short Film (Animated/Live Action)

Originally I planned to just jest my way through the last three categories, since I haven’t seen a single one of these films or shorts. Then I felt kinda crumby doing that, so I decided to do some searching to see as many of these shorts as possible. I wasn’t able to see all of them, but I did find a couple. The ones that I couldn’t find I saw their trailers to get a small idea of what each short entails.

In the Animated Short section, I’m tempted to believe Piper would easily take this category. It’s the one that was seen by the most people and it’s Pixar. Pixar is great at making great (often heartbreaking) shorts. Though, the one I personally want to win is Pearl: an animation made in 360 mobile vision and was thoroughly entertaining to watch. the Live Action section is a bit more challenging as I could only find each film’s trailers. Of what I saw and what I know, the one I’m most interested in is Ennemis Intérieurs, but the winner will most likely be Silent Nights.

  • My Picks: Pearl  & Ennemis Intérieurs
  • Final Predictions: Piper & Silent Nights

Foreign Language Film

Similar to the Short Films, I decided to do some digging. I haven’t seen any of these movies, but I did see their trailers to get a general idea about each film. Based solely on that, and keeping in mind that each trailer isn’t the entire movie, I’m willing to say A Man Called Ove is going to win. With its tongue-in-cheek comedic style and the instantaneous likability of the main character, Ove, I can see this one drawing the most people in. I’m actually glad I saw these trailers, though, because I find each of them very interesting. For example, the most interesting one to me is Land of Mine.

  • My Pick: Land of Mine
  • Final Prediction: A Man Called Ove

Documentary (Feature/Short)

Finally comes the least popular category of the Oscars by far: Best Documentaries. I’ll admit, I’m kinda drawing a blank on how I’m gonna approach this. Not only have I not seen any of them, but I wouldn’t know what makes for an Oscar worthy Doc in the first place. Guess I’ll just go off of major events of the past year and see which ones would connect to an audience more. If I were an Academy member, which doc would I have seen, and which would permeate more to me?

For Feature Documentaries, I’d imagine that recent events (Trump’s travel ban) would lead most Academy members to vote for Fire at Sea. The again, identity politics and racial issues have been at an all-time high in 2016-17, which relates to 3 of the nominees. I’m gonna say 13th will get the win, for it’s intriguing look at the criminal justice system as it relates to African Americans. My personal pick, though, is a bit biased. I’d love to see Life, Animated win as the subject of growing up with autism hits home for me. The Short Docs have a similar pattern going on, with 3 of them covering the migrant crisis and/or civil unrest in Syria. I believe that will place the win on Watani: My Homeland, which I don’t oppose at all.

  • My Picks: Life, Animated & Watani: My Homeland
  • Final Predictions: 13th & Watani: My Homeland

All in all, my prediction is that, similar to the Golden Globes, La La Land will be the big winner of the night. I find that heavily ironic that I’m predicting the near-unanimous victory of a movie I haven’t seen, but that’s how it goes. Hopefully next year I’ll be more prepared come Predictions season. At least this way allows for more surprises come the actual event tomorrow.

Let me know you’re Oscar predictions (educated or not) in the comments below!

I’m SBox180. Thanks for reading!

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