With additional reporting by Yue Jie

This year’s Oscars will a battle of the heavyweights as musical La La Land’s 14 nominations – including Best Picture – go head-on with films Arrival and Moonlight, each garnering eight nominations respectively.

With predictions coming in fast ahead of the ceremony on February 26, here’s what we feel will make the cut come Oscars day across six popular categories:

Best Picture

Arrival
Fences
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
Hidden Figures
La La Land
Lion
Manchester by the Sea
Moonlight

PREDICTION: La La Land

With nine nominees in the Best Picture category this year, the race to the ultimate acclaim is neck-and-neck. However, La La Land’s heavyweight appearance this Oscars (14 nominations!) is just too much to shake off, despite critics calling the movie out for having too easy a waltz. Expect La La Land to tap away their dancing shoes into this category.

Of the 9 films in the running for the Best Picture prize, only 2 – Moonlight and Fences – will not be shown in cinemas before 26 February, while the other 7 films have been released between late last year and this week. This makes it one of the most nominated films ever, tying it with only two others in history – Titanic and All About Eve.

Directing

Denis Villeneuve, Arrival
Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge
Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

PREDICTION: Damien Chazelle, La La Land

For a director whose chops include the musical Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench (2009) and the Oscar-nominated Whiplash (2014), Damien Chazelle’s odds to win are pretty high on this one. Add his wins in the Director’s Guild and the Golden Globes, and Chazelle is pretty much a shoo-in.

Actor in a Leading Role

Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
Ryan Gosling, La La Land
Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic
Denzel Washington, Fences

PREDICTION: Casey Affleck, Manchester By The Sea

It’s a category with a ton of heavyweights (can we talk about Denzel Washington for a bit?) but although Denzel took a big win at the Screen Actors’ Guild, Casey Affleck’s masterful turn of grief in Manchester by the Sea has nabbed him most awards in the pre-Oscars run so far, including a Golden Globe and a BAFTA. Sorry, Denzel, it’s just not your year.

Actress in a Leading Role

Isabelle Huppert, Elle
Ruth Negga, Loving
Natalie Portman, Jackie
Emma Stone, La La Land
Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

PREDICTION: Emma Stone, La La Land

Ooooooh. This one is a tight race, with Isabelle Huppert’s surprise Golden Globes win derailing the tight competition between favourites Emma Stone, Natalie Portman and Meryl Streep. But something tells us that Emma Stone will nudge just a little above this one, given her recent wins at the Screen Actors Guild and the BAFTA.

Actress in a Supporting Role

Viola Davis, Fences
Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Nicole Kidman, Lion
Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures
Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea

PREDICTION: Viola Davis, Fences

Probably one of Hollywood’s greatest gems to have emerged from the woodwork, it may be a little late in Viola’s career to receive an Oscar but as they say, better late than never. Give her the Emmy, the Tony and the Oscar – she deserves it.

Actor in a Supporting Role

Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea
Dev Patel, Lion
Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals

PREDICTION: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Dev Patel’s win at the BAFTA may have been a bit of a boost for his chances in this category, but Mahershala Ali’s Screen Actors’ Guild and Critics’ Choice wins for his role in Moonlight are just too difficult to ignore. Expect Ali to sweep his first Oscars win here.

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