The Oscars Crystal Ball: Here's Who Will Take Home an Award This Year

Plus, who actually deserves to win.

Joint, Line, Organ, Peach, Symmetry, Human anatomy, Kitchen utensil,
(Image credit: Design by Betsy Farrell)

Awards season 2017 is coming to a close and that means the Oscars are nigh. You may have heard that this is La La Land's year (the modern-day musical does boast a record-tying 14 nominations), but don't expect the Emma Stone/Ryan Gosling love story to sweep every category. Here are our predictions for who will take home gold statues this year, and who actually deserves to.

Best Picture



Hacksaw Ridge

Hell or High Water

Hidden Figures

La La Land


Manchester by the Sea


Will win: La La Land

Should win: Moonlight

In conclusion: La La Land is as close to a shoe-in as you get with the Oscars, but there are many who believe that Moonlight—which tells an important story—should win. While La La Land provided viewers with some much-desired escapism and a win in the Best Picture category isn't totally undeserved, the category is still very debatable.

Best Director

Denis Villeneuve, Arrival

Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge

Damien Chazelle, La La Land

Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea

Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

Will win: Damien Chazelle

Should win: Split between Damien Chazelle and Barry Jenkins

In conclusion: Chazelle created a beautiful, appealing heightened reality in La La Land, and his vision will likely be rewarded with an Oscar. But Moonlight director Barry Jenkins summoned intensity and depth from his actors, and is equally-deserving of the award.

Best Actor in a Leading Role

Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge

Ryan GoslingLa La Land

Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic

Denzel Washington, Fences

Will win: Casey Affleck

Should win: Denzel Washington

In conclusion: Affleck is still considered the frontrunner in this category, although he lost some steam recently (thanks in large part to persistent sexual harassment allegations). Meanwhile, Washington scored a big coup with his win at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, which may signal the tide turning in his favor for the Oscars. His performance in Fences is nuanced and moving, but the win would be his third—an Oscars rarity.

Best Actress in a Leading Role

Isabelle Huppert, Elle

Ruth Negga, Loving

Natalie Portman, Jackie

Emma StoneLa La Land

Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

Will win: Emma Stone

Should win: Isabelle Huppert

In conclusion: Huppert gave a fantastic performance as a sexual assault survivor, but foreign language performances rarely win in the acting categories, so she's faced an uphill battle from the start. The Academy will likely give the award to Stone for her turn as a young ingenue because, let's face it, Hollywood loves movies about Hollywood.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water

Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea

Dev Patel, Lion

Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals

Will win: Mahershala Ali

Should win: Mahershala Ali

In conclusion: It would be a huge upset and a pretty much unanimously agreed upon tragedy if Mahershala Ali didn't win the Supporting Actor trophy this year.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Viola Davis, Fences

Naomie Harris, Moonlight

Nicole Kidman, Lion

Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures

Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea

Will win: Viola Davis

Should win: Viola Davis

In conclusion: The only opposition Viola Davis has is from people who think she was submitted in the wrong category and should be winning an Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role. This is Davis' third nomination, and she should finally get the recognition she deserves.

Best Original Screenplay

Damien Chazelle, La La Land

Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthimis Filipou, The Lobster

Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester By the Sea

Mike Mills, 20th Century Women

Taylor Sheridan, Hell or High Water

Will win: It's a toss-up between La La Land and Manchester by the Sea.

Should win: Manchester by the Sea

In conclusion: Damien Chazelle might pick up the award for orchestrating the world of La La Land from start to finish, but early predictions leaned in favor of Manchester by the Sea scribe (and screenwriting veteran) Kenneth Lonergan.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Luke Davies, Lion

Eric Heisserer, Arrival

Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi, Hidden Figures

August Wilson, Fences

Will Win: Moonlight

Should win: Moonlight

In conclusion: Moonlight will likely be snubbed in other categories that it deserves to win, but the Academy will view Best Adapted Screenplay as a chance to award Barry Jenkins for the incredible film.

Best Animated Feature

Kubo and the Two Strings


My Life as a Zucchini

The Red Turtle


Will win: Zootopia

Should win: Zootopia

In conclusion: Disney and Pixar tend to dominate this category, and this year Disney's critical and box office smash Zootopia will take home the prize.

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

Will win: "City of Stars," La La Land

Should win: "City of Stars," La La Land

In conclusion: Even musical powerhouses like Justin Timberlake and Lin-Manuel Miranda won't be able to derail La La Land's success train. The musical has two songs nominated in this category, which could lead to some cannibalizing of votes, but "City of Stars" will probably still emerge victorious.

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Kayleigh Roberts
Weekend Editor

Kayleigh Roberts is a freelance writer and editor with more than 10 years of professional experience. Her byline has appeared in Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, The Atlantic, Allure, Entertainment Weekly, MTV, Bustle, Refinery29, Girls’ Life Magazine, Just Jared, and Tiger Beat, among other publications. She's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.