Oscar Nominations 2017: Predicting the Nominees

PHOTO: Emma Stone in Beverly Hills, California, Jan. 8, 2017; Mahershala Ali in Palm Springs, California, Jan. 2, 2017. PlayPaul Drinkwater/NBC Universal, via Getty Images; Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP Photo
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It's hard to imagine a comedy making the list for best picture when the nominees for the 89th Academy Awards are announced Tuesday.

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"It's a pileup of sad on the front burner," Thelma Adams, a longtime film critic and contributor to The New York Observer, told ABC News about this year's front-runners. "Never has it been harder for a comedy to wade through."

Adams is referring to the content, not the quality, of the three top pictures in this year's Oscar race. In "Manchester by the Sea," "Moonlight" and even "La La Land," grief and loss are prominent themes.

Also on Tuesday, she expects to see several nods for black actors.

"What you're seeing is a certain amount of reaction to #OscarsSoWhite," she said, referring to the popular hashtag that cropped up last year when not a single person of color received a nomination in the four acting categories.

Nominations will be announced Tuesday at 5:18 a.m. PT/8:18 a.m. ET via a live stream on the Academy's official website and will also be carried live by ABC's "Good Morning America" as well as local broadcasters and satellite feed.

Here's what to expect when Jennifer Hudson, Brie Larson, Emmanuel Lubezki, Jason Reitman, Ken Watanabe and Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs make the announcements Tuesday:

Best picture

There are up to 10 slots in this category, but Adams expects only eight films will receive nominations. In addition to the front-runners "Manchester by the Sea," "Moonlight" and "La La Land," she said, "Arrival," "Lion" and "Hidden Figures" have strong chances at scoring nods.

She called "Hidden Figures," a "movie for our time" and said that, like previous best picture winner "Crash," "it may be that it comes in at the end and finishes strong."

"To Hell or High Water" and "Hacksaw Ridge" are also in the running, she said. She's not sure that "Loving," which she also called a movie for our time, will make the cut. "People said from the beginning, it's too small, too quiet, but that's exactly why I love it, because you have to lean in and listen," she said. "But it hasn't come out stronger in the end."

Similarly, "Sully," which was a box office hit, hasn't had a strong showing on the awards circuit thus far, but Adams said it might still make the cut.

Best actor

Adams puts Casey Affleck ("Manchester by the Sea") at the top of this list, adding that the only person capable of upsetting him right now is Denzel Washington ("Fences"), who she believes will score his fifth best actor nomination.

She also expects Ryan Gosling ("La La Land") to score a nod, as well as Andrew Garfield, who had strong performances in both "Hacksaw Ridge" and "Silence." The fifth slot, Adams said, will likely go to Viggo Mortensen for his performance in "Captain Fantastic."

Best actress

Adams is excited by all the strong female roles this year, which will make this category a competitive one. She called Emma Stone ("La La Land") the "safe choice" and French actress Isabelle Huppert ("Elle") "the upset for the win." Surprisingly, Huppert, who is considered an actor's actress, has never been nominated for an Academy Award.

Adams also expects that Natalie Portman will get a nomination, even if her film "Jackie" doesn't have the buzz, and that Amy Adams will score a spot for her role in "Arrival."

As for the fifth slot, Adams sees a number of possibilities: Annette Bening, who "couldn't be better" in "20th Century Women," Meryl Streep ("Florence Foster Jenkins ") after her Golden Globes speech and Taraji P. Henson for the popular "Hidden Figures."

Best supporting actor

Mahershala Ali ("Moonlight") seems to be everywhere these days, and Adams thinks he'll not only score a nod but also win this category. Others she expects to make the list are Jeff Bridges ("Hell or High Water"), Dev Patel ("Lion") and Lucas Hedges ("Manchester by the Sea"). The fifth spot could go to Hugh Grant ("Florence Foster Jenkins"), she said, or more likely one of the stars of "Nocturnal Animals," with Aaron Taylor-Johnson having an edge after his Golden Globe win.

Best supporting actress

Topping this list is Viola Davis, who Adams said will likely win for her performance in "Fences." That means she will push aside the other sure nominee, Michelle Williams ("Manchester by the Sea"). Adams also expects to see Naomie Harris ("Moonlight") and Nicole Kidman ("Lion") score nods, and she said Octavia Spencer ("Hidden Figures") will likely grab the fifth spot.

Best director

Looking at all the relatively new directors likely to be nominated, Adams called this category the greenest. She puts Damien Chazelle at the top of the list for his third film, "La La Land," followed by Barry Jenkins for his second film, "Moonlight." Designer Tom Ford could also score a nod for his second film, "Nocturnal Animals," as well as indie director Jeff Nichols for "Loving."

Other possibilities, Adams said, include Kenneth Lonergan for "Manchester by the Sea" and Denzel Washington for "Fences." As for previous Oscar winner Mel Gibson ("Hacksaw Ridge"), Adams said, "I don't think he will get nominated. There's still a little more time needed to heal the wound."

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