Oscar Best Original Screenplay battle: ‘Manchester By the Sea’ just ahead of ‘La La Land’

Manchester By the Sea,” the longtime Oscar frontrunner for Best Original Screenplay, is losing ground rapidly to “La La Land.” Of our 23 Oscar experts derived from major media outlets, 12 are still backing Kenneth Lonergan for his dark domestic drama while 11 now favor Damien Chazelle for his frothy musical fable. After the two men tied at the Critics’ Choice Awards, Chazelle pulled off an upset at the Golden Globes as his film won a record seven awards.

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“La La Land” earned a record-tying 14 Oscar nominations. According to our experts, it is far ahead in 10 races: picture, director, actress (Emma Stone), cinematography, costume design, film editing, production design, score, song and sound mixing. That haul would be one shy of the benchmark set by “Ben-Hur” and equalled by “Titanic” (1997) and “Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (2003).

“La La Land” also contends in Best Actor, where Ryan Gosling is ranked third behind Casey Affleck b(“Manchester by the Sea”) and Denzel Washington (“Fences”) and Best Sound Editing, where it is second to “Hacksaw Ridge.”

So, Original Screenplay is its best bet at snagging that elusive 11th Oscar.

See how our experts rank Oscar nominees 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.

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1. Kenneth Lonergan, “Manchester by the Sea,” (1/1 odds)
Thelma Adams (Gold Derby), Joyce Eng (TV Guide), Bonnie Fuller (Hollywood Life), Matthew Jacobs (Huffington Post), Tariq Khan (Fox News), Michael Musto (Out.com), Kevin Polowy (Yahoo!), Paul Sheehan (Gold Derby), Keith Simanton (IMDB),  Anne Thompson (Indiewire), Peter Travers (Rolling Stone), Adnan Virk (ESPN).

2. Damien Chazelle, “La La Land” (9/5 odds)
Matt Atchity (Rotten Tomatoes), Erik Davis (Fandango), Edward Douglas (Weekend Warrior), Tim Gray (Variety), Jack Mathews (Gold Derby), Tom O’Neil (Gold Derby), Christopher Rosen (Entertainment Weekly), Nicole Sperling (Entertainment Weekly), Sasha Stone (Awards Daily), Brian Truitt (USA Today), Susan Wloszczyna (RogetEbert.com).

3. Taylor Sheridan, “Hell or High Water” (50/1 odds)

4. Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthimis Filippou, “The Lobster” (80/1 odds)

5. Mike Mills, “2oth Century Women” (80/1 odds)

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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