Too Early for This: Oscar Picks — 15 August 2016

Armie Hammer, Nate Parker and Jayson Werner Smith in The Birth of a Nation
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
The Birth of a Nation
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea
Patriots Day

The skinny: A total shot in the dark, since exactly zero of these movies have opened yet, and only a handful have played at festivals. But it’s your usual mix: war movies, compelling dramas, true-life stories and the oddball choice. As usual, there are a few questions of timing (LBJ and Silence are finished but not scheduled, and Patriots Day is still filming), but this early The Birth of a Nation seems like the one to beat.

Nate Parker, director of The Birth of a Nation
Robert Zemeckis, Allied
Ang Lee, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
Nate Parker, The Birth of a Nation
Jeff Nichols, Loving
Martin Scorsese, Silence

The skinny: Just like above, it depends on how it all shakes out, considering many of these only have a trailer to go off. But Nate Parker’s labor of love has the most momentum up front.

Woody Harrelson in LBJ
Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Joel Edgerton, Loving
Michael Fassbender, The Light Between Oceans
Nate Parker, The Birth of a Nation
Woody Harrelson, LBJ

The skinny: Not a winner among the group, but several also-rans. Woody Harrelson seems due, but if his LBJ is more quirks than honest-to-God performance, he may not get nominated. (Plus, he may be overshadowed by Bryan Cranston’s performance in HBO’s All the Way.)

Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton in Loving
Emily Blunt, The Girl on the Train
Viola Davis, Fences
Rebecca Hall, Christine
Ruth Negga, Loving
Alicia Vikander, The Light Between Oceans

The skinny: Viola Davis is beyond due for this, but we’ll see if Fences gets lost in the shuffle. There seems to be an even bigger glut of heart-wrenching dramas premiering in late December. But if any race seems locked up, it’s probably Ruth Negga in this category. (Though don’t be surprised if they push her to supporting for no real reason.)

Joe Alwyn and Steve Martin in Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
Warren Beatty, Rules Don’t Apply
Bill Camp, Loving
Aaron Eckhart, Bleed for This
Steve Martin, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
J.K. Simmons, Patriots Day

The skinny: I could see Eckhart being swapped out for Robert De Niro in the very similar Hands of Stone. Nothing would make me happier than Steve Martin finally getting a nomination. But it would be nice to see some people of color in this all-white category.

Michelle Williams in Manchester by the Sea
Jennifer Jason Leigh, LBJ
Helen Mirren, Collateral Beauty
Kristen Stewart, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
Rachel Weisz, The Light Between Oceans
Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea

The skinny: Will Jennifer Jason Leigh or Michelle Williams avenge their losses? Will Kristen Stewart finally get nominated after a string of terrific performances (possibly as penance for Twilight)? As always, the toughest category to pick and the toughest to predict.

Colin Farrell in The Lobster
The Birth of a Nation
The Lobster
Manchester by the Sea

The skinny: All potential Best Picture nominees, but I think The Lobster has the best chance to sneak in and maybe win. Unconventional love stories like Her and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind have a good track record in this category.

Logan Lerman and Sarah Gadon in Indignation
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
The Light Between Oceans

The skinny: More Best Picture nominees, though if The Light Between Oceans’ tender romance is well-received, it might be an honest-to-God romance (not based on a true story) nominated for the first time in forever. Indignation seems the most likely to benefit from the “good script, but the movie didn’t have enough juice to pick up any major nods” boost.

Marlin and Dory in Finding Dory
Finding Dory
Kubo and the Two Strings
The Little Prince

The skinny: Well, this was too easy. The Little Prince might not make it given Netflix’s struggle to get traction outside the Documentary Feature category. Even if three Disney movies feels overstuffed, I don’t see the likes of Trolls, Storks or Sing making it in.

Random Sure Things
Visual Effects: The Jungle Book
Make-Up & Hair: Star Trek Beyond
Sound Editing: Rogue One
Film Editing: Jason Bourne
Sound Mixing: La La Land

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