"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:
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.
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.
Best supporting actor
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.
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."