The Arcade’s rundown of Academy Award predictions

On Feb. 26, Jimmy Kimmel will host the 89th Oscars. Following the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, this year’s Academy Awards finds itself celebrating diversity in every major category. It is a close race, as each nominee is deserving of the gold statue, but who will take home the prize? “La La Land” is a favorite to sweep most categories, but opportunity abounds for other films to snag the win.

Of all the categories, the Best Picture race will be the closest. The Arcade’s favorite to win is the musical, “La La Land.” The nostalgia for old Hollywood and jazz, along with the presence of movie stars Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, makes this musical a favorite for the award. Coming-of-age drama “Moonlight” does pose some competition in the running for coveted Best Picture. Told in three distinct acts and featuring a few big name stars, this film captures the heart of the viewer and never lets it go.

Best Director will most likely go to Damien Chazelle for “La La Land.” The director’s vision of bringing classical Hollywood to life was done without fail. Again, “Moonlight” could be a spoiler for the musical in this category. Basing the film on his life, director Barry Jenkins beautifully captured the vulnerabilities and pain that came with his tough upbringing.

Breaking out from his older brother Ben’s shadow, Casey Affleck is the favorite to win the award for Best Actor. Affleck’s heartbreaking performance in “Manchester by the Sea” puts him on the top of the Academy’s list, though Denzel Washington’s performance in “Fences” may disrupt the favorite’s chances of holding the gold statue. Reprising his role as a domineering waste collector, Washington reminds us why he took home the Tony Award in 2010.

Fan favorite Emma Stone is expected to win the award for Best Actress. Though she plays a struggling actress, Stone herself is far from it. In this film, she has proven her worth as a movie star, and may earn the statue to prove it. Stone has some tough competition in the form of French actress Isabelle Huppert, which makes this an enticing race. Only once has an actor in a foreign film taken home a top acting award. If it were to happen again, Huppert would receive acclaim for her riveting role in “Elle.”

One category where “Moonlight” is the frontrunner to garner an award is for Best Supporting Actor. Mahershala Ali’s standout role as a drug dealer with a tender side puts him ahead of the competition. Following close behind is Dev Patel for his role in “Lion.” His powerful performance through a heart-rending story of love, loss and discovery makes him a potential Academy favorite.

There is only one possible winner for Best Supporting Actress, and that is Viola Davis. Her performance in “Fences” is so beautiful and effortless, at times it is impossible to tell she is acting. Davis is such a shoo-in, The Arcade does not even have a dark horse contender for this category.

Serving as writer-director, Kenneth Lonergan is the favorite to take home the award for Best Original Screenplay. The script’s strength is one of the many reasons why critics love “Manchester by the Sea.” Of course, it would be no surprise if “La La Land” snuck in another win, due to the effortless blend of words and music writer and director Damien Chazelle brought to this innovative film.

The move to the Adapted Screenplay category was surprising; nonetheless, the beautiful three-act structure of “Moonlight” is sure to resonate with the Academy. A possible spoiler may be “Hidden Figures,” as the unheralded story of three black women who helped NASA launch spaceships in the 1960s. The film has inspired audiences around the world, and may as well inspire the Academy.

The votes have been cast, and now the world waits.

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