Now that we've settled in with the Oscar nominations, it's time to break down who's going to win in each category. We'll be doing this week by week, going down into the technical categories as well, providing you picks to help win your Oscar pool — as well as sharing some of our own opinions, too.
We're starting with the acting races because they're the easiest to predict this time around. Unless some shock wins happen at the Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday, we'll see these four march onto the Oscar stage come Feb. 26.
The less time we spend in this category, the better. Precursors and Oscar voters came up with a limp category full of good performances but obvious non-winners (Viggo Mortensen in Captain Fantastic; Denzel Washington in Fences) and nominees riding their best picture contenders' coattails (Andrew Garfield in Hacksaw Ridge; Ryan Gosling in La La Land). Where was attention for Loving's Joel Edgerton, or Hell or High Water's Chris Pine?
Instead, this is an obvious Casey Affleck win for Manchester by the Sea, despite any rising tide of bad news coming at him. He gives the best performance in the category, by a good margin. Of course, awards aren't just about who's the best, but in this case, the clear best performance from a deeply unlikable actor will win out. It's a shame that it's not really a contest.
Will win: Affleck
Should win: Affleck
This is a bit of a bummer to talk about, because two top picks in the category — 20th Century Women's Annette Bening and Arrival's Amy Adams — didn't get nominated. Granted, the category is still pretty exceptional (Elle's Isabelle Huppert! Jackie's Natalie Portman!), but it's looking more and more like this is Emma Stone's to lose.
La La Land earned 14 nominations across the board, tying the record set by All About Eve and Titanic previously. The academy loves this movie musical. It is going to win a ton of awards, from best picture on down. It would be foolish to discount its charming star with a fantastic musical performance during the film's climax. Yes, Huppert also won a Golden Globe; yes, Portman won the Critics Choice. It doesn't matter; Stone is only gaining steam.
That said, this is the one category where the winner will beat out someone more deserving. For us, Ruth Negga's quiet, restrained work in Loving is the clear winner. For others, Huppert and Portman might be more worthy. But in the end, this belongs to Stone.
Will win: Stone
Should win: Negga
Best supporting actor
There was a moment where Moonlight's Mahershala Ali looked less like a sure thing. Nocturnal Animals' Aaron Taylor-Johnson beat Ali at the Golden Globes, a prize that the Moonlight actor should have picked up easily.
Luckily for Ali, Taylor-Johnson lost his slot in the Oscar nominations to his co-star, Michael Shannon. Now, with Moonlight's eight nominations across the board supporting him, Ali should easily pick up deserved gold come February.
Will win: Ali
Should win: Ali
Best supporting actress
After losing to Penélope Cruz for Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Meryl Streep for The Iron Lady, Davis' time has come. Her closest competition, Michelle Williams in Manchester by the Sea, has paltry screen time in her movie and hasn't won a major precursor award yet. Davis has the momentum, and will almost certainly add the SAG award to her Golden Globe and Critics Choice prizes come Sunday, sealing the race up early. Hollywood's highest honor is definitely hers.
Will win: Davis
Should win: Davis