Experts’ Oscars 2017 predictions: ‘Fences’ climbing fast after first screening

The Oscar Best Picture frontrunner “La La Land” has a new challenger. “Fences” screened for the first time on Saturday (Nov. 5) and immediately became a major threat in the top categories as per the updated predictions by our 25 Oscar experts derived from major media outlets. Denzel Washington, a two-time Oscar winner for acting [“Glory” (supporting, 1989) and “Training Day” (lead, 2001)], directs and stars in this prestige project.

“Fences” won the Tony Award for Best Play and Pulitzer Prize back in 1987 and Washington picked up a Tony in 2010 for headlining the first Broadway revival of this August Wilson domestic drama. He reprises his role as an ex-baseball player struggling to provide for his family as does his Broadway co-star Viola Davis, who won a Tony for her performance as a wife whose loyalty is tested. Washington is in second place in Best Actor (at 4/1 odds) behind Casey Affleck (“Manchester by the Sea”) who remains out front with 9/5 odds. One-time Best Actress frontrunner Davis, who had slipped to sixth in that race, is now tied for first in Best Supporting Actress with Affleck’s co-star Michelle Williams; each has odds of 5/2. And Wilson, who died in 2005, is a strong contender for his adapted screenplay.

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Nineteen of our Oscar experts derived from major media outlets continue to back Damien Chazelle‘s romance musical “La La Land.” Kenneth Longergan‘s domestic drama “Manchester by the Sea,” which led when we opened our predictions center in August, now has the votes of just five pundits. And Ang Lee‘s technically innovative war film “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” is backed by only one of our 25 Oscar prognosticators. However, watch for both “Fences” and Barry Jenkin‘s critically acclaimed character study “Moonlight” to start picking up votes in the coming weeks. “Moonlight” opened on Oct. 21 to some of the best reviews of the year and already is ranked high enough by individual experts to place third on our overall Oscar odds chart while “Fences” is now in fourth.

See how our experts rank Oscar contenders according to likelihood of winning in all top races. Use the drop-down menus at the top of each page to see other categories. And see individual experts’ Oscar predictions as well.

Find out what will win at the Oscars this year


1. “La La Land” (9/2 odds)
Thelma Adams (Gold Derby), Matt Atchity (Rotten Tomatoes), Edward Douglas (Weekend Warrior),  Joyce Eng (TV Guide), Matthew Jacobs (Huffington Post), Tariq Khan (Fox News), Scott Mantz (Access Hollywood), Tom O’Neil (Gold Derby), Kevin Polowy (Yahoo), Christopher Rosen (Entertainment Weekly), Paul Sheehan (Gold Derby), Keith Simanton (IMDB), Nicole Sperling (Entertainment Weekly), Sasha Stone (Awards Daily), Peter Travers (Rolling Stone), Brian Truitt (USA Today), Adnan Virk (ESPN), Glenn Whipp (Los Angeles Times) and Susan Wloszczyna (

2. “Manchester by the Sea” (6/1 odds)
Tim Gray (Variety), Jack Mathews (Gold Derby), Anne Thompson (Indiewire), Jeffrey Wells (Hollywood-Elsewhere)

3. “Moonlight” (9/1 odds)

4. “Fences” (10/1 odds)

5. “Loving” (11/1 odds)

6. “Lion” (14/1 odds)

7. “Silence” (16/1 odds)

8. “Jackie” (18/1 odds)

9. “Arrival” (25/1 odds)

10. “Sully” (28/1 odds)

11. “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” (40/1 odds)
Michael Musto (, 

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The pundits still give the edge to Chazelle over Lonergan for Best Director by a wide margin – 17 to five. Washington just picked up the vote of one expert while another is going with 2006 champ Martin Scorsese (“The Departed”) for his passion project “Silence” and a third still favors the chances of Lee (“Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk”) for his drama set against the backdrop of the Iraq war; he won for “Brokeback Mountain” (2005) and “Life of Pi” (2012). Rounding out the race is “Moonlight” writer/director Jenkins. Lonergan and Jenkins are locked in a battle for Original Screenplay.

While “La La Land” leading lady Emma Stone remains in first for Best Actress with odds of 23/10,  2010 Oscar champ Natalie Portman (“Black Swan”) is now in second as “Jackie” continues to screen well. Newcomer Ruth Negga (“Loving”) and her co-star, Joel Edgerton remain in third while Stone’s leading man Ryan Gosling moves up a notch to fourth as does Annette Bening (“20th Century Women”). Two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks (“Philadelphia,” “Forrest Gump”) breaks into the top five for “Sully” as does five-time Oscar also-ran Amy Adams (“Arrival”).

See complete rundown of odds in all top categories.

Predict the Oscar nominations now; change them till January 24

Be sure to make your Oscar predictions. How do you think “Fences” will fare with academy voters? Weigh in now with your picks so that Hollywood insiders can see how this film is faring in our Oscar odds. You can keep changing your predictions right up until just 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.

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