Year after year, Oscar voters never fail to surprise us with a few of their nominations, from their disappointing snubs to some jaw-dropping selections. Our 28 Experts have made their predictions, so let’s take a look at some unexpected inclusions that might occur Tuesday morning throughout the major categories.
Best Supporting Actress
Our experts are predicting Viola Davis (“Fences”), Naomie Harris (“Moonlight”), Nicole Kidman (“Lion”), Octavia Spencer (“Hidden Figures”), and Michelle Williams (“Manchester by the Sea”) to fill out the five slots in this category. That’s who SAG and the Golden Globes went with, so it’s hard to imagine any of them missing. Yet the Critics’ Choices Awards, which have spotted Oscar surprises in the past, nominated Greta Gerwig (“20th Century Women”) and Janelle Monae (“Hidden Figures”), who could both break in despite failing to show up anywhere else. Likewise, Indie Spirit contenders Molly Shannon (“Other People”) and Lily Gladstone (“Certain Women”) could sneak in, provided enough voters have seen their movies. Finally, Haley Squires (“I, Daniel Blake”) hopes her BAFTA citation will translate across the Atlantic.
Best Supporting Actor
SAG nominated Mahershala Ali (“Moonlight”), Jeff Bridges (“Hell or High Water”), Hugh Grant (“Florence Foster Jenkins”), Lucas Hedges (“Manchester by the Sea”), and Dev Patel (“Lion”), and that’s who our experts are sticking with. Yet a Golden Globe win and BAFTA mention for Aaron Taylor-Johnson (“Nocturnal Animals”) threw a wrench in everyone’s spokes, and he could certainly surprise on Oscar morning. Ditto his costar Michael Shannon, who competed at Critics’ Choice. Another BFCA nominee, Ben Foster, could knock out his veteran, Oscar-winning “Hell or High Water” co-star the way Mark Wahlberg stepped over Jack Nicholson for “The Departed” (2006). Simon Helberg (“Florence Foster Jenkins”) could do the same thing to Grant, especially following that Globe nom. And Kevin Costner, who won Oscars for producing and directing “Dances with Wolves” (1990), could ride a wave of “Hidden Figures” popularity to his first acting nomination since his Best Actor bid for “Wolves.” But if you’re looking for the most out-of-left-field surprise, look no further than “Silence” stand-out Issei Ogata.
Given this is the most competitive Best Actress race in years, the category is ripe for upset. Right now, our experts are predicting Amy Adams (“Arrival”), Isabelle Huppert (“Elle”), Natalie Portman (“Jackie”), Emma Stone (“La La Land”), and Meryl Streep (“Florence Foster Jenkins”) to round out the five. For a while, Annette Bening looked poised to win her first Oscar for “20th Century Women,” and she could still sneak in following SAG and BAFTA snubs. Those organizations went for Emily Blunt, who could reap her career-first nomination for “The Girl on the Train.” Golden Globe contender Ruth Negga, meanwhile, hopes there are still enough voters in love with “Loving,” and another Globe nominee, Jessica Chastain, prays they’ve seen “Miss Sloane.” And given the recent success of “Hidden Figures,” Taraji P. Henson could certainly show up out of nowhere.
Our experts are predicting the SAG five — Casey Affleck (“Manchester by the Sea”), Andrew Garfield (“Hacksaw Ridge”), Ryan Gosling (“La La Land”), Viggo Mortensen (“Captain Fantastic”), and Denzel Washington (“Fences”) — to repeat at the Oscars. Given how early “Loving” screeners were sent to voters, Golden Globe nominee Joel Edgerton could be lurking in the wings (his DGA nomination last year for “The Gift” shows growing industry support). Tom Hanks, meanwhile, might sneak in for “Sully,” pulling a complete 180 from when he received BAFTA, SAG, and Globe noms but missed at the Academy with “Captain Phillips” (2013). The same may happen to Jake Gyllenhaal, who looked like a sure thing for “Nightcrawler” (2014) but could find Oscar redemption following a surprise BAFTA bid for “Nocturnal Animals.” Michael Keaton, as well, could turn his “Spotlight” snub into a bid for “The Founder.” Most surprising of all would be Ryan Reynolds, who competed at the Golden Globes for the unlikely Oscar-contender “Deadpool.”
The Directors Guild, as good a crystal ball as any we can hope for, nominated Damien Chazelle (“La La Land”), Garth Davis (“Lion”), Barry Jenkins (“Moonlight”), Kenneth Lonergan (“Manchester by the Sea”), and Denis Villeneuve (“Arrival”). Should these five repeat at the Oscars, it would be the first time since 1997 (James Cameron [“Titanic”], Peter Cattaneo [“The Full Monty”], Atom Egoyan [“The Sweet Hereafter”], Curtis Hanson [“L.A. Confidential”], and Gus Van Sant [“Good Will Hunting”]) that the category was comprised entirely of first-time directing contenders (Chazelle and Lonergan both had writing nominations). Yet the DGA rarely matches up with the directors branch picks, and our experts are predicting Oscar-favorite Martin Scorsese (“Silence”) to replace Davis. The branch has recognized actors-turned-filmmakers before, and Mel Gibson (“Hacksaw Ridge”) looked like a sure thing following a Golden Globe mention, but stumbled after his DGA snub. Ditto Denzel Washington for “Fences.” Given their love of international filmmakers, you can’t count out Critics’ Choice nominee David Mackenzie (“Hell or High Water”) or Paul Verhoeven (“Elle”). And let’s not forget Tom Ford, who surprised everyone with BAFTA and Globe citations for “Nocturnal Animals.”
Our experts are predicting “Arrival,” “Fences,” “Hacksaw Ridge,” “Hell or High Water,” “Hidden Figures,” “La La Land,” “Lion,” “Manchester by the Sea,” “Moonlight,” and “Silence.” The PGA, an excellent bellwether for Oscar predictors, replaced Scorsese’s film with the superhero flick “Deadpool.” Is it a Best Picture contender, or will it be replaced by more Academy-friendly fare like “Sully” or “Florence Foster Jenkins?” Both “Loving” and “Jackie” looked like surefire contenders for a while, but have failed to find their footing throughout the season. “Captain Fantastic” surprised everyone with a SAG Ensemble nom, and “Patriots Day” has opened strong and could appeal to enough of the steak-eaters to pull an “American Sniper.” Lurking like a cougar ready to pounce, meanwhile, is “Nocturnal Animals,” which received a staggering nine BAFTA nominations.
HURRY! Be sure to make your final Oscar predictions before nominations are announced on January 24 at 5:00 am PT/8:00 am ET. Be sure to read our contest rules. And join in the fierce debate over the Oscars taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our forums.