NAACP Image Awards: Will they preview Oscars after two years of #OscarsSoWhite?

In less than one day the 48th NAACP Image Awards will announce their winners. On the film side, “The Birth of the Nation” leads the pack with six nominations followed by “Loving” and “Moonlight” with five.

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Interestingly enough, after two years of #OscarsSoWhite, this year’s Image Awards feature several films and performances that earned Academy Awards nominations. Image nominees for Best Picture include “Fences,” “Hidden Figures” and “Moonlight” are also nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars; Image lead-acting nominees Denzel Washington (“Fences”) and Ruth Negga (“Loving”) are nominated at the Oscars too.

“Moonlight” director Barry Jenkins continues to receive double the love with nominations for Best Director and Best Writing. Jenkins also received noms for both categories at the Oscars (Note: Tarell Alvin McCraney is credited with Jenkins in the Adapted Screenplay category at the Oscars).

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Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress Oscar frontrunners Mahershala Ali (“Moonlight”) and Viola Davis (“Fences”) each earned corresponding nominations from the Image Awards as well. Davis’s fellow Supporting Actress Oscar nominee Octavia Spencer also joins her in that Image category for her performance in “Hidden Figures.”

Other Oscar-nominated projects earning Image Award bids include Ava DuVernay’s Netflix documentary “13th” and Raoul Peck’s James Baldwin doc, “I Am Not Your Negro.”

Denzel Washington’s 7 Oscar Acting Nominations

Perhaps surprisingly, some Oscar-nominated people of color did not receive a Image Award nominations. Dev Patel (“Lion”), Oscar nominee for Best Supporting Actor; Naomie Harris (“Moonlight”), Oscar nominee for Best Supporting Actress; and August Wilson (“Fences”), Oscar nominee in Best Adapted Screenplay, were notably absent.

Will these Oscar-nominated films and performances bypass the competition and win in their respective categories? Below are my predictions in each of the top film categories.

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Best Picture

NOMINEES: “The Birth of a Nation,” “Fences,” “Hidden Figures,” “Loving,” “Moonlight”

WHO WILL WIN: “Hidden Figures” — The film has been a hit with both critics and audiences. It’s one of the few films featuring black leads to cross the $100 million mark at the domestic box office. Another plus is that it’s an uplifting story that aligns with the NAACP mission of inclusion and achievement. Also worth noting is its surprise win at this year’s SAG Awards, which shows that the industry is also crazy about the film.

SPOILER: “Fences” — Denzel Washington is a huge favorite at the Image Awards. In fact, of the films that he starred in, six took home the Image Award for Best Picture (“A Soldier’s Story,” “Glory,” “Malcolm X,” “Remember the Titans,” “Antwone Fisher” and “The Great Debaters”).

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Best Actor

NOMINEES: Don Cheadle (“Miles Ahead”), Stephan James (“Race”), Nate Parker (“The Birth of a Nation”), Will Smith (“Collateral Beauty”), Denzel Washington (“Fences”)

WHO WILL WIN: Denzel Washington (“Fences”) — As mentioned earlier, Denzel is the Meryl Streep of the Image Awards. If Denzel wins this year it would be his 13th victory out of 19 nominations!


Oscar Best Actor Gallery: Every Winner in Academy Award History

Best Actress

NOMINEES: Angela Bassett (“London Has Fallen”), Taraji P. Henson (“Hidden Figures”), Ruth Negga (“Loving”), Madina Nalwanga (“Queen of Katwe”), Tika Sumpter (“Southside With You”)

WHO WILL WIN: Taraji P. Henson (“Hidden Figures”) — Henson has been on a hot streak with the Image Awards. Since her first nomination in 2005 for “Hustle & Flow,” Henson has gone on to win six Image Awards including the coveted Entertainer of the Year (2015). What also works in Henson’s favor is that her film is a box-office hit.

SPOILER: Ruth Negga (“Loving”) — Although Negga edged out Henson at the Oscars, Henson will be the victor in this category. Often times the performer with the corresponding Oscar nomination has gone to win in this category (i.e. Whoopi Goldberg in “The Color Purple,” Viola Davis in “The Help” and Gabourey Sidibe in “Precious”). However, sometimes the bigger-name actress triumph over the Oscar nominee, as was the case in 2013 when Best Actress nominee Quvenzhane Wallis (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”) lost to Viola Davis for “Won’t Back Down.”

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Best Supporting Actor

NOMINEES: Mahershala Ali (“Moonlight”), Chadwick Boseman (“Captain America: Civil War”), Alano Miller (“Loving”), David Oyelowo (“Queen of Katwe”), Trevante Rhodes (“Moonlight”)

WHO WILL WIN: Mahershala Ali (Moonlight) — Ali’s performance in “Moonlight” has received notices from several film critics associations as well as wins at the Critics’ Choice and SAG Awards. Another plus for Ali is his appearance in several Image Award nominated projects like “Hidden Figures” and “Luke Cage.”

SPOILER: Trevante Rhodes (“Moonlight”) — In recent years this category has recognized up-and-coming talent like Denzel Whitaker (“The Great Debaters,” 2008) Columbus Short (“Cadillac Records,” 2009), David Oyelowo (“Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” 2014) and most recently O’Shea Jackson Jr. (“Straight Outta Compton,” 2016).

Oscar Best Actress Gallery: Every Winner in Academy Award History

Best Supporting Actress

NOMINEES: Viola Davis (“Fences”), Aja Naomi King (“The Birth of a Nation”), Mo’Nique (“Almost Christmas”), Lupita Nyong’o (“Queen of Katwe”), Octavia Spencer (“Hidden Figures”)

WHO WILL WIN: Viola Davis (“Fences”) — Davis has steamrolled her competition at the Critics’ Choice, Golden Globe and SAG Awardss. She looks to continue her domination here as well.

SPOILER: Octavia Spencer (“Hidden Figures”) — Spencer is a previous winner in this category for her performance in “The Help.” Due to the huge success of “Hidden Figures,” Spencer could upset.

Oscars 2017: All 20 acting nominees

Best Director

NOMINEES: Garth Davis (“Lion”), Barry Jenkins (“Moonlight”), Mira Nair (“Queen of Katwe”), Nate Parker (“The Birth of a Nation”), Anthony Russo and Joe Russo (“Captain America: Civil War”).

WHO WILL WIN: Barry Jenkins (“Moonlight”) — Jenkins directed the most critically acclaimed film of 2016, he’s received nominations for Best Director at the Golden Globe, DGA, and Critics’ Choice Awards, just to name a few. Plus, past Best Director Oscar nominees Lee Daniels (“Precious,” 2010) and Steve McQueen (“12 Years a Slave,” 2014) have won in this category.

SPOILER: Nate Parker (“The Birth of the Nation”) — Last January Parker’s film was poised to be an Oscar contender. However, those dreams were shattered after Parker’s past rape allegations caught fire throughout Hollywood. “The Birth of the Nation” has been mostly absent this awards season except for a few notices from the Black Reel Awards and a DGA First-Time Director nomination for Parker. But this could be a moment for the Image Awards to give Parker and his film some love.

Predict the Oscar winners now; change them till February 26

Be sure to make your Oscar predictions. Weigh 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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