-- In a special edition of “Popcorn with Peter Travers,” film critic Peter Travers looks at the major categories at the upcoming Oscars and offers his take on who will win. Travers has screened some 400 movies this year and he's narrowed down his top picks. Be sure to take notes!
Best Supporting Actress
Naomi Harris, “Moonlight”
Nicole Kidman, “Lion”
Octavia Spencer, “Hidden Figures”
Michelle Williams, “Manchester by the Sea”
“If Viola Davis manages to lose this, then something is rumbling wrong in the earth," said Travers. "You can see when you listen to Viola Davis, the passion for this project. It was a major deal to bring August Wilson to the screen. This was the first time any of his great plays have become a movie. And Viola represents and she does it really well."
Best Supporting Actor
Dev Patel, “Lion”
Jeff Bridges, “Hell or High Water”
Lucas Hedges, “Manchester by the Sea”
Michael Shannon, “Nocturnal Animals”
“Here we’re seeing something a little unique. As we went into awards season, Mahershala Ali was way up front. He was the guy that had to win the Oscar. As far as I’m concerned, he should be the guy that wins the Oscar," said Travers.
He added, “I think that if Mahershala Ali has any competition, it would come from Dev Patel in 'Lion' because what’s happening as we move toward the actual Oscar night, and the voting, people are seeing 'Lion' way more than anyone expected they would see it. And they’re falling in love with it. They have like an emotional connection to it. And Dev Patel is a person of color. Mahershala is a person of color. I am still saying those two performances are terrific. But what Mahershala Ali does in 'Moonlight' is extraordinary. My money is going with Mahershala Ali."
Emma Stone, “La La Land”…PREDICTED WINNER
Isabelle Huppert, “Elle”…POSSIBLE UPSET WINNER
Ruth Negga, “Loving”
Meryl Streep, “Florence Foster Jenkins”
“We have only a race between two people. The favorite is Emma Stone in 'La La Land.' Emma Stone hasn’t won an Oscar, though she was nominated for 'Birdman,'" Travers said. "And 'La La Land' is that movie that everybody has embraced."
He went on, "But out of nowhere comes a French actress, Isabelle Huppert. And in 'Elle' she plays a woman who has been raped who decides to have her own agenda in taking vengeance over what happens to her in that movie.This is one of those categories that can really result in an Oscar surprise. I say that if Emma Stone has a problem, it’s going to be with Isabelle Huppert."
Andrew Garfield, "Hacksaw Ridge"
Travers said, "In the weeks leading up to Oscars, this was Casey Affleck's to lose. Casey Affleck has more than just his subtlety and his brilliance in playing this tragic character to conjure with. He’s now got to conjure with Denzel Washington, who has two Oscars already. Casey has none."
Travers continued, "When you listen to Denzel's passion and you see what he does on screen in 'Fences,' you’re seeing a performance that’s really big. It’s the opposite of what Casey Affleck does. [Denzel Washington] is exceptional. And as we move towards those final votes, the Academy voters are loving what he’s doing. He’s gone out there."
Best Picture of the Year
La La Land…PREDICTED WINNER
Hell or High Water
"La La Land" is nominated for 14 Academy Awards. There are only two other movies in the 89 years of the Academy that have received 14 nominations. One was "All about Eve" in 1950. The other was "Titanic" in 1997.
"In the end to me, this comes down, despite nine nominees, to two movies," Travers said. "One of them of course is 'La La Land' with the 14 nominations and its young director Damien Chazelle. Chazelle, I think, is a shoo-in to win best director for this movie, because he’s new and Hollywood’s embracing him for basically reinventing the musical for a new century, for a new generation, which is what he’s done."
Travers added, "But I think the only movie that has a shot at beating him is 'Moonlight.' It’s written and directed by Barry Jenkins, a black man raised in Miami as the main character in his movie, who is also like Damien Chazelle, writing and creating from his own guts, and from what he believes in and from what turns him on the most. So there are two major contenders for best picture."
Mark your ballots and we’ll see who wins in the end.