Oscar predictions 2017 throwdown: Scott Mantz vs. Kevin Polowy vs. Tom O’Neil [WATCH]

Among the 25 Oscar experts making predictions at Gold Derby, Scott Mantz (Access Hollywood) picks “La La Land” to win 11, which would tie the record held by “Titanic,” “Ben-Hur” and “Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.” However, Kevin Polowy (Yahoo) is more conservative, projecting “eight to nine,” he says in a video chat with Gold Derby editor Tom O’Neil. Watch above.

Both pundits predict “La La Land” will win Best Picture, but Polowy believes it may lose the directors’ laurels.

“I love that we’ve seen a few splits in recent years between Best Picture and Director, especially when there are two films that are a cut above the fray and that’s the case this year with “La La Land” and ‘Moonlight,'” he says. “Everyone knows that ‘La La Land’ will win Best Picture, so you give ‘Moonlight’ Best Director.”

According to Mantz, the matchup for Best Actor is “a close horse race between Denzel Washington and Casey Affleck.”

“Up until recently, it was all Casey Affleck, Casey Affleck, Casey Affleck,” Mantz says, noting how the “Manchester by the Sea” star swept through early kudos season. “He won everything. He was a revelation in that movie, but then he lost momentum” when Washington (“Fences”) prevailed at the SAG Awards. Now Mantz, Polowy and O’Neil all pick Washington to triumph.

Polowy calls the race for Best Actress “the acting category with the most possible winners,” citing Emma Stone (“La La Land”), Natalie Portman (“Jackie”), Meryl Streep (“Florence Foster Jenkins”) and Isabelle Huppert (“Elle”). However, he’s betting on Stone: “She’s the heart and soul of ‘La La Land.’ It’s not really a transformative performance that you see Natalie Portman give in ‘Jackie,’ but Emma’s role took on a lot of abilities, not just song and dance. There’s a huge dramatic arc there.”

Mantz adds, “Emma Stone will win the Oscar because of the range that she demonstrates. She goes through more emotion in one film than many actors or actresses in the course of their career.”

See how Mantz, Polowy and O’Neil rank Oscar nominees according to likelihood of winning all categories. Can you beat the Experts? Make your picks here.

BELOW: Audio podcast version of the experts’ discussion. Do a search for Gold Derby at iTunes to sign up for our regular podcast series.

Video produced by David Janove

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