Oscars predictions: Last year’s contest winner reveals her secrets to getting a near-perfect score

Elizabeth Myers won our Oscar predictions contest last year, so we turned to her for advice on this year’s races, especially those categories that look too close to call. She readily admits that, along with the always troublesome trio of shorts, there are two races in the major categories that are giving her trouble. (Watch our complete conversation above.)

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Best Actor
After starting the season by winning nearly every award possible, Casey Affleck (“Manchester by the Sea” looked poised to take Best Actor without much competition. But following his loss at SAG to Denzel Washington (“Fences”), Affleck no longer seems like the safe bet. The SAG awards have been a reliable predictor for the Best Actor Oscar in the past; the winner of the SAG for Best Actor has gone on to win the Oscar every year since 2004.

While Affleck saw a rebound by winning the BAFTA, Washington wasn’t even nominated there, making it difficult to know if the SAG was an anomaly or a sign of a momentum swing. After the SAG awards, I had switched my prediction from Affleck to Washington, and this week I changed back to Affleck again.

My decision wasn’t based on much more than a feeling that there will be enough general support for him to pull out the win.  With that being said, I’m not confident I’ll make it to Sunday without changing at least one more time.

Oscar Best Picture Gallery: History of Every Academy Award-Winning Movie

Best Original Screenplay
The race between “La La Land” and “Manchester By The Sea” in Best Original Screenplay is another nail biter.  I think a strong case can be made for each film taking the prize. “Manchester By The Sea” has won numerous critics groups awards and recently won the BAFTA. “La La Land” tied with it for the win at the Critics Choice Awards, and also won the Golden Globe. That latter win was part of a landslide night of victory for “La La Land,” which won every category in which it was nominated.

With neither movie able to best “Moonlight” for the Original Screenplay win at the WGAs this past weekend, it’s hard to tell which film might have the edge with Oscar voters.

“La La Land”‘s momentum as the front runner may help carry it to victory here, which is why I currently have it as my choice to win. It’s been my pick since the predictions center opened, but I’m not ruling out a last minute switch to “Manchester.”

Will that strategy prove successful again this year? Myers, who makes predictions under the screen name Magic 8 Ball, had the magic touch when predicting last year’s Oscar winners. She scored 88% (21 out of 24 categories correct). While two other users had the same accuracy, Myers had the highest point total thanks to her smart betting, which put her at the very top of the leaderboard. See her predictions for this year’s winners here.

Predict the Oscar winners now; change them till February 26

Be sure to make your Oscar predictionsWeigh in now with your picks so that Hollywood insiders can see how their films are faring in our Oscar odds. You can keep changing your predictions right up until just before winners are announced on February 26 at 5:00 pm PT/8:00 pm ET. And join in the fierce debate over the Oscars taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our forums.

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