Falling off: Live by Night, Loving, Sully
Rising star: Hell or High Water
The skinny: With the precursors out of the way, the window is narrowing for a lot of movies. The only reason Silence is still on here is that Scorsese has been nominated for five of his last six movies. It hasn’t gotten any preliminary awards, outside of a few stray notices from critics’ groups. It may have just entered the game too late. The others seem like safe bets, with Hidden Figures jumping into the pack thanks to its SAG ensemble nomination. The only remaining films that could surge late are Hell or High Water and Hacksaw Ridge.
Falling off: Jeff Nichols
Rising star: Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge
The skinny: With Loving being all but forgotten (except by the Golden Globes, who aren’t always a reliable analog), Jeff Nichols slips, giving Kenneth Lonergan the edge. But if Hacksaw Ridge becomes a Best Picture nominee, and especially if Silence doesn’t, Mel Gibson could easily take Scorsese’s spot.
Falling off: Joel Edgerton, Tom Hanks
Rising star: Robert De Niro, The Comedian
The skinny: With that SAG nomination (and a surprise ensemble nod to boot), Viggo is officially in this conversation. SAG has far more members than the Academy, but its largest voting bloc is by far actors. And if enough of them have gushed for it to get nominated for SAG, it’s got extreme popularity. That’s not always enough to get an Oscar nomination, even if your movie is popular (just ask Diane Kruger), but in a surprisingly weak year for lead actors, it should be enough to get in.
Falling off: Annette Bening, Ruth Negga
Rising star: Emily Blunt, The Girl on the Train
The skinny: This is going to be an extremely tough category. It breaks my heart to bump Annette Bening, so magnificent in 20th Century Women. But Meryl Streep is too powerful, and with a guaranteed Golden Globe nomination (and less guaranteed but somewhat expected SAG nod), as well as her immeasurable popularity, she’s going to be one of the nominees. I still think Huppert makes her way in, bumping other fine actresses out of the way.
Falling off: Liam Neeson
Rising star: Dev Patel, Lion
The skinny: Maybe it’s personal bias keeping me from moving him up, but Dev Patel’s performance, like much of Lion, didn’t exactly move me. So I think he’ll end up on the outside looking in. But again, if Silence doesn’t get enough support by the time nominations are due, he could take a spot from the surging Issey Ogata.
Falling off: Lupita Nyong’o
Rising star: Greta Gerwig, 20th Century Women
The skinny: I don’t see much budging from this slate, which carries a bit of disappointment, as Lupita Nyong’o and Greta Gerwig are both terrific.
Falling off: Loving, The Lobster
Rising star: 20th Century Women
The skinny: Would still love to see something weird like The Lobster take the place of something like, say, Jackie. But I don’t think that’s going to happen anymore.
Falling off: Live by Night
Rising star: Hacksaw Ridge
The skinny: Even if four of these five miss Best Picture nominations, adapted screenplay nominations aren’t out of the realm of possibility.
Falling off: Finding Dory
Rising star: Your Name.
The skinny: This is going to be a very interesting category, with the most oddball and foreign nominees since 2011’s slate. Kubo, Moana and Zootopia are locks. But the other two slots could go to any of the following: The Little Prince, Miss Hokusai, My Life as a Zucchini, The Red Turtle, or the out-there Your Name. And don’t count out Pixar yet. As the year’s biggest animated film, Finding Dory could come roaring back.