Will La La Land win everything? Screen staff make their final predictions for the 2017 Oscars.

Read more:
Oscars: Full list of nominations
Seven talking points ahead of the Oscars

Best picture

La La Land

Matt Mueller, editor

Will Win: La La Land
In the (slightly altered) words of Starship from their ‘80s No. 1: Nothing’s Gonna Stop It Now.

Should Win: Moonlight
Far from being a La La Land detractor, I adored Damien Chazelle’s feather-light, song-and-dance confection. But Moonlight is the film that will stick with me for a very long time.

Fionnuala Halligan, reviews editor and chief film critic

Will Win: La La Land has that sweepy feeling.

Should Win: It would – will? - be difficult to watch West Side Story’s record ten Oscars (for a musical) fall to the lovely but lightweight La La Land, and there has been a recent backlash. But a Best Picture winner needs to appeal to the wider Academy, and the textured, resonant Moonlight  - my pick of the year - or Kenneth Lonergan’s flawed masterpiece Manchester By The Sea seem unlikely to get the numbers right now.

Jeremy Kay, US editor

Will win: La La Land
An ostensibly happy movie about romance and Hollywood would be a strong bet any year, even more so in the early days of Trump.

Should win: Manchester By The Sea
An outstanding American-made drama the likes of which seldom comes along these days. Hats off to Amazon Studios for getting behind it.  

Tim Grierson, senior US critic

Will Win: La La Land
The front-runner six months ago looks just as strong today as it did when it premiered in Venice. Hollywood will be only too happy to celebrate a movie that salutes artists and the old-school musical.

Should Win: Moonlight
The year’s best film incorporated a daring narrative structure to deliver a moving examination of race, community and sexual identity. 

Best director

Damien Chazelle

Matt Mueller

Will Win: Damien Chazelle, La La Land
The last thirtysomething to win best director was Tom Hooper in 2011 for The King’s Speech (he was 38 at the time). Before that it was Steven Soderbergh in 2001 and Sam Mendes in 2000. At 32, Chazelle is the youngest of the bunch but winning at his age, for only his third feature, shouldn’t spoil him judging by the post-Oscar careers of this talent-rich trio.

Should Win: Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
…and Jenkins is only 37 so a whippersnapper himself in Hollywood director terms (and Moonlight is his second feature). The maturity he displays in all aspects of his film, from craftsmanship to storytelling to emotional impact, is breathtaking and, for me, tips him past his younger rival in this particular contest.

Fionnuala Halligan

Will Win: Damien Chazelle, La La Land

Should Win: Hard to call. Damien Chazelle executed something magnificent, but it very clearly has been done before. Barry Jenkins (Moonlight) went for the unique and the daring, which should be recognised. Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester) took out one of his big, stretched canvas and pushed the edges even further. While we’ll never know the numbers, I hope it was a close fight.

Jeremy Kay 

Will win: Damien Chazelle
A young force too talented to ignore, Chazelle’s vision and execution have wowed voters at the right time thanks to a clever campaign by Lionsgate.  

Should win: Kenneth Lonergan
What he did on Manchester By The Sea was extraordinary. A filmmaker to be cherished who earns extra points for bouncing back after the dispiriting backstory of his previous film, Margaret.

Tim Grierson 

Will Win: Damien Chazelle for La La Land
The wunderkind filmmaker—he only turned 32 last month—will cement his meteoric rise with some Oscar hardware.

Should Win: Barry Jenkins for Moonlight
Equally indebted to Richard Linklater and Wong Kar Wai, Barry Jenkins had to wait eight years to follow-up his impressive debut, Medicine For Melancholy. Moonlight is a stunning evolution, demonstrating his skill with actors and his eye for the indelible dramatic detail.

Best actor

Manchester By The Sea

Matt Mueller

Will Win: Casey Affleck, Manchester By The Sea
Affleck losing here would be like the UK voting for Brexit or the US voting for a President Trump. Inconceivable. Oh, wait.

Should Win: Casey Affleck, Manchester By The Sea
I’m nowhere near as gaga as many over Affleck’s performance but it’s a weak category this year and I’d still opt for him over the other four.

Fionnuala Halligan

Will Win: Casey Affleck, you would have thought, but Denzel Washington’s performance in Fences has been gathering momentum.

Should win: Affleck, for his devastating portrayal of a man crippled by grief and shame.

Jeremy Kay 
Will win:
Casey Affleck, Manchester By The Sea

It’s hard to articulate the power of Affleck’s performance: you just know it is utterly brilliant. He was the frontrunner the moment the lights went up after the world premiere of Manchester By The Sea in Sundance 2016 – and nobody came close to him all year.

Should win: Casey Affleck

Tim Grierson

Will Win: Denzel Washington for Fences
It’s a tight race between Casey Affleck and Denzel Washington, but I think pure star power will make the difference among Academy voters.

Should Win: Denzel Washington for Fences
Washington has already earned a Tony for the role of Troy Maxson, and the two-time Oscar-winner renders the character as a captivating, gregarious, deeply tragic and foolish patriarch who looms large over the proceedings — even after he’s gone.

Best actress

Emma Stone

Matt Mueller

Will Win: Emma Stone, La La Land
Isabelle Huppert has a nice tailwind going, but I don’t see her overtaking Emma Stone’s appealing La La Land turn. Some will argue that Stone has plenty of time to win a statuette but I don’t think Oscar voters think that way anymore given recent Best Actress selections like Jennifer Lawrence and Brie Larson.

Should Win: Isabelle Huppert, Elle
Both for her phenomenal career and for the unforgettable female acting turn of the year.

Fionnuala Halligan

Will win: Allons la France! Feels like it’s Isabelle Huppert’s year, and she’s worked hard for it.

Should win: Huppert: to claim she’s delivered a career-best in Elle is really saying something, but it’s true, even if only by a sliver. If, by chance, the Academy is feeling contrary, then Ruth Negga’s quietly commanding portrayal of Mildred Loving would be a perfect – if surprise - winner as well.

Jeremy Kay 

Will win: Emma Stone, La La Land
Each year there is one performance where the star seems destined for glory and this is it. Not the best piece of acting in what has been a highly competitive category this year, but Stone’s all-round vigour and those soulful eyes have won hearts and minds in the Academy.

Should win: Isabelle Huppert, Elle
The grande dame of dread was unforgettable – yet again – in Paul Verhoeven’s almost revenge tale and deserves it all for her guts and lack of pretension.

Tim Grierson

Will Win: Emma Stone for La La Land
From the moment she sang the final notes of “Audition (The Fools Who Dream),” Stone clinched the Oscar.

Should Win: Isabelle Huppert for Elle
One of those tour de force performances that’s equally audacious and darkly hilarious, Huppert as the sexually-assaulted Michèle knocks you sideways. Here’s an actress who keeps taking risks and yet continually astounds us.

Foreign-language film

Toni Erdmann

Matt Mueller

Will Win: The Salesman
Trump’s Muslim ban seals the victory for Iran and director Asghar Farhadi.

Should Win: Toni Erdmann
Farhadi for me is one of the finest filmmakers working today, but this year belongs to Maren Ade’s Toni Erdmann and so should this category. 

Fionnuala Halligan

Will Win: The Academy has never properly managed the voting procedure for this section and the 2017 nominees are a clear result of that. Toni Erdmann should win, but this section has been erratic in the past and is getting more so. The Trumpian travel ban may prompt a swing towards The Salesman’s Asghar Farhadi, who has said he will not attend the ceremony.

Should Win: Toni Erdmann, hands down. (Although Elle should have been in here).

Jeremy Kay 

Will win: Toni Erdmann
It is tempting to think The Salesman will capitalise on politics this year but it is not Asghar Farhadi’s best and fades in comparison to Maren Ade’s German selection.

Should win: Toni Erdmann

Tim Grierson

Will Win: The Salesman
Toni Erdmann
looked like the front-runner, but the Academy will vote for The Salesman in part to stand in unity with filmmaker Asghar Farhadi in opposition to President Trump’s Muslim ban.


OJ: Made In America

Matt Mueller

Will Win: 13th
More open than other categories but I give the slight edge to Ava DuVernay’s superbly told, eye-opening breakdown of US race relations in relation to the country’s profit-driven prison system.

Should Win: OJ: Made In America
An outstanding category this year, full of worthy contenders, but this is an epic achievement: eight hours long and I could have happily watched eight hours more.

Fionnuala Halligan

Will Win: This is actually the most exciting section of the Oscars this year, with a lineup of ferociously brilliant, politically challenging films duking it out.  The epic OJ: Made In America may take it on the night, by a nose

Should Win: OJ. Or the utterly devastating 13th. Or Fire At Sea. Or I Am Not Your Negro. What a line-up: any of these could have been – perhaps we’ll look back and say should have been – awarded Best Picture.

Jeremy Kay 

Will win: 13th
Ava DuVernay is a Hollywood insider – exactly what is needed to highlight the plight of outsiders and voters will not miss this opportunity to show solidarity with the racially oppressed, even if privately many of them have been driven to distraction by the #oscarssowhite movement.

Should win: O.J.: Made In America
Ezra Edelman’s masterpiece deserves the highest accolades and should become required viewing for all young Americans. But it is more than seven hours long and how many voting members will have actually watched it all the way through?

Tim Grierson

Will Win: O.J.: Made In America
The movie’s almost eight hours long, but when the subject matter is this engrossing, Oscar voters won’t mind.

Should Win: O.J.: Made In America
A towering portrait of the rise and fall of one of the most fascinating sports figures of the last 50 years, O.J. has dramatic grandeur and epic scope.