Denzel Washington, Casey Affleck or Ryan Gosling? The 2017 Oscar Predictions for Acting

Usually we have a pretty good idea who will win the Academy Award for the four acting categories.  But more often than not there is a slight surprise in one of the categories or at least a tight battle between two of the contenders.  Last year, Mark Rylance in BRIDGE OF SPIES caught many by surprise for beating out Sylvester Stallone in CREED in the supporting actor category.  The acting categories should go mostly as planned at the 2017 Oscars but that doesn’t mean there won’t be a couple of potential spoilers in the mix. The Best Actor and Best Actress categories in particular have an opportunity to go a couple of different ways. Here are my 2017 Oscar Predictions for Best Acting.

Mahershala Ali in Moonlight

Best Supporting Actor
Mahershala Ali – “Moonlight”
Jeff Bridges – “Hell or High Water”
Lucas Hedges – “Manchester by the Sea”
Dev Patel – “Lion”
Michael Shannon – “Nocturnal Animals”

My favorite supporting performance mostly went unrecognized through award season.  So I was thrilled to see Michael Shannon for NOCTURNAL ANIMALS show up when the nominations were announced.  I know he’ll never win but I’m fine with that.  This is a solid group of performances from five of my favorite films.  As the unexpected heart of the film, Ali’s character is the only support for a troubled struggling bullied boy.  Dev Patel might be the second choice, but he is a distant second choice. This is a fairly easy choice.

Winner: Mahershala Ali – MOONLIGHT

Viola Davis in Fences

Best Supporting Actress
Viola Davis – “Fences”
Naomie Harris – “Moonlight”
Nicole Kidman – “Lion”
Octavia Spencer – “Hidden Figures”
Michelle Williams – “Manchester by the Sea

Michelle Williams has only a few scenes on screen in MANCHESTER BY THE SEA, but they are absolutely heart wrenching.  Unfortunately for her, she’s up against the Viola Davis, who with her third nomination is the most nominated black actress of the Academy Awards.  I predict she will have many more.  Her character and performance is one to grab hold of in FENCES.  It’s a shame that clip they show will undoubtedly be the snot fueled screaming moment, when it’s all the subtlety that makes her better than everyone else. Viola could have won for lead actress if she had chosen to enter that category.

Winner: Viola Davis – FENCES

Denzel Washington in Fences

Best Actor
Casey Affleck – “Manchester by the Sea”
Andrew Garfield – “Hacksaw Ridge”
Ryan Gosling – “La La Land
Viggo Mortensen – “Captain Fantastic”
Denzel Washington – “Fences”

Casey Affleck had the role of a life time and knocked it out of the park.  While he has been winning most of the awards, he finally lost come SAG time.  And since the Screen Actors Guild make up the majority of the Academy, I think it’s safe to say Affleck will not be getting an Oscar.  I don’t think Denzel gets enough good roles anymore but his talent will continue to keep him as a contender. Denzel has had four nominations and two wins.  I think he has directed himself into a third win.  Even though Affleck’s performance was my personal favorite, Denzel was my early guess back before either film was even released.  While some are splitting their votes between those two, look out for Ryan Gosling to sneak away with it from Academy members who just can’t say no to anything about LA LA LAND.

Winner – Denzel Washington – FENCES

Emma Stone in La La Land

Best Actress
Isabelle Huppert – “Elle”
Ruth Negga – “Loving”
Natalie Portman – “Jackie”
Emma Stone – “La La Land”
Meryl Streep – “Florence Foster Jenkins”

This is the category with perhaps the most wiggle room.  If there is going to be a surprise, this is the place.  Isabelle Huppert’s performance in ELLE is unconventional, brave and strong, but probably mostly unseen as a foreign film.  Ruth Negga is quietly moving.  Portman is amazing as Jackie Kennedy but some see it as more of an impersonation rather than a performance.  Streep is always good but the film is fair at best and if you ask me her spot should have been replaced by a handful of other contenders.  Stone has proven to be an adorable, funny, smart and charismatic leading lady in everything she does.  Furthermore, there is only one actress who happens to also be in a Best Picture nominee.

Winner: Emma Stone – LA LA LAND

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