So most of the pre-Oscar awards have been handed out already, making my prediction job a smidge easier. The simple joys in life, right?

Tech awards are the heart and soul of the Oscars, in my opinion. They reward all of the things that make movies look and sound and feel magical. Without editing, without cinematography, or scoring, or art direction we’d just be watching a bunch of scratchy, cell phone shot Youtube videos. To be fair, they might have the best actors in the world, but can you imagine Mad Max: Fury Road without its visual effects? Its camerawork? Its costumes? Exactly.

So what of this year’s film crop? La La Land is the frontrunner with 14 nominations, 9 of which are for the technical and creative categories. Arrival and Moonlight were also significantly recognized for the creativity and design involved with their productions. Now, La La Land looks poised to pick up a slew of awards because Hollywood just adores movies about itself, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see either of the other two, or even Hacksaw Ridge grab something. No film has ever won more than 11 Oscars, and even with Hollywood’s self-congratulations I’m just not totally convinced that La La Land will break that record. It’s a tough call.

Best Cinematography – La La Land, Arrival, Moonlight, Lion, Silence

Just getting this out of the way, but Roger Deakins wasn’t nominated this year. His only work was Hail, Ceasar! which, while whimsical, wasn’t nominated. Someday, my man. Someday an Oscar shall be yours…

Anyway. La La Land was beautifully shot, saturated in light and color and playing a perfect homage to the jubilant musicals of yesteryear. That said, the other films are just as deserving, evoking senses of place that are foreign, foreboding, and deeply tragic. Lion, in particular, is noteworthy, showing viewers the world through the eyes of a terrified child, and juxtaposing it with his vastly different adult experience.

Will Win: La La Land

Should Win: Lion

Total Longshot: Silence

Best Costume Design – La La Land, Jackie, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Allied, Florence Foster Jenkins


This is, yet again, a category that La La Land could easily win. The costumes folded into the greater technicolor inspired palate of the piece, despite being predominantly contemporary in style. I’d personally like to see something more interesting take this- be it Jackie’s exceptional period work, or Fantastic Beasts, whimsical stylings.

Will Win: Probably La La Land

Should Win: Jackie or Fantastic Beasts

Total Longshot: Allied

Best Editing – Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, La La Land, Moonlight

This one is tough. Really, really rough. All of these films are deserving and then some. Arrival is my favorite of the bunch. It was tense, mysterious, and an altogether unique experience thanks to impeccable editing, but don’t be shocked at another La La Land win. Hell or High Water is my long shot, not because it wasn’t well pieced together, but because I’m not sure it’s “different” enough to stand out.

Will Win: La La Land or Hacksaw Ridge

Should Win: Arrival

Total Longshot: Hell or High Water

Best Makeup and Hairstyling – Suicide Squad, Star Trek Beyond, A Man Called Ove

Anything but the total garbage fire that was Suicide Squad. Seriously. Also, why does this category never seem to garner more than three nominations? The last time it had 4 was in 1999. Are there not enough submissions? What the hell Jackie? Or Fantastic Beasts? There are any number of films that could be in this and we’re going to reward one of the worst films of the year? Cool. Let’s go Star Trek, I guess?

Will Win & Should Win: Anything but that David Ayer trainwreck.

Best Production Design – Arrival, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Hail, Ceasar! La La Land, Passengers

I just can’t see anyone but La La Land winning this. I don’t even want to look up the odds but I’m sure they are stacked to high heaven.

Will Win & Should Win: La La Land

Total Longshot: Passengers

Best Score – Jackie, La La Land, Lion, Moonlight, Passengers

While Moonlight and Jackie had scores that perfectly set the tone for their respective films, not score has wheedled its way into my brain the way that La La Land‘s has. Everything from the recurring patterns of “Another Day of Sun” to the melancholy piano notes of “Mia and Sebastian’s Theme.” It’s there, just taunting me. Forever. Stinks to be a well-scored film going up against a powerhouse musical. Any other year I’d say Moonlight hands down.

Will Win & Should Win: La La Land

Would Win if La La Land became randomly disqualified: Moonlight

Total Longshot: Passengers

Best Song – La La Land (x2), Moana, Trolls, Jim: The James Foley Story

You know I love my boy Lin Manuel Miranda. I want to be his best friend forever of all time. That said, I just don’t think EGOT is going to happen for him this year. His song from Moana is great, don’t get me wrong, but he’s getting screwed on this the same way that Moonlight is for score. In a year without La La Land, “How Far I’ll Go” would be the obvious choice. I mean, looks at so many of the previous winners in this category. That snore fest Sam Smith song last year?

Will Win & Should Win: La La Land

Would Win if La La Land became randomly disqualified: Moana

Total Longshot: Jim: The James Foley Story

Best Sound Editing – Arrival, Deepwater Horizon, Hacksaw Ridge, La La Land, Sully

A category I don’t think La La Land will win! Hacksaw Ridge and Arrival both had incredible sound editing, which is the creation of the sounds used within the film. Films with guns or explosions tend to do well in this category. In fact, Hugo is the only winner in the last ten years to not feature either. The Academy loves their bullets.

Will Win: Hacksaw Ridge

Should Win: Hacksaw Ridge or Arrival

Total Longshot: Sully

Best Sound Mixing – Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, La La Land, Rogue One, 13 Hours

Sound mixing is the application of sound effects, music, and dialog to a film. That said, La La Land might have a better chance with this particular sound award. A successful musical requires the balance of those elements to be impeccable, and La La Land excels. While the Academy adores war films for the Editing award, they have a strong history of recognizing musically-based movies for Mixing. ChicagoRayDreamgirls, and La La Land director Damien Chazelle’s previous movie, Whiplash, all won this award.

Will Win: La La Land

Should Win: La La Land  or Arrival

Total Longshot: 13 Hours

Best Visual Effects – Deepwater Horizon, Doctor Strange, The Jungle Book, Kubo and the Two Strings, Rogue One


A category free from La La Land! What is this wizardry? All of these movies have incredible effects, but all in very different ways. Deepwater Horizon is realistic, Doctor Strange is trippy, Jungle Book creates an animal kingdom out of thin airKubo is a masterpiece of animationand Rogue One is gritty sci-fi action at it’s best. This truly is a tough call, but I’m going to go with Rogue One on this. Kubo deserves it for originality, but I’m not sure it has enough exposure.

Will Win: Rogue One

Should Win: Kubo and the Two Strings

Total Longshot: Deepwater Horizon