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2017 Oscar predictions: Who will win?

By Karen Butler
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2017 Oscar predictions: Who will win?
Oscars statues are seen in a storage area as preparations are underway for the 89th annual Academy Awards in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles on February 24, 2017. The 2017 Academy Awards will take place this Sunday, February 25. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

The contemporary confection La La Land  dances into the 89th Academy Awards ceremony with a leading 14 nominations and -- after a triumphant season of collecting prizes from various guilds and critics' groups -- is expected to take home most of the Oscars for which it is nominated, including the top trophy for Best Picture.

Winners will be announced Sunday at a Los Angeles gala to be hosted on ABC by Jimmy Kimmel. It will be televised on ABC beginning at 7 p.m Eastern.

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Here are the nominees in the top categories and our predicted winners:

Best Picture
Arrival
Fences
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
Hidden Figures
La La Land -- Our predicted winner
Lion
Manchester by the Sea
Moonlight

The feel-good movie earned overwhelming praise from film reviewers for offering a fresh spin on classic, Hollywood musicals, and for the charming performances of its leads Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. The film has won the BAFTA and Golden Globe for Best Picture -- Musical. 

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Best Director
Denis Villeneuve Arrival
Mel Gibson Hacksaw Ridge
Damien Chazelle La La Land -- Our predicted winner
Kenneth Lonergan Manchester by the Sea
Barry Jenkins Moonlight

Whiplash wunderkind Damien Chazelle -- who is 32 years old -- has won the Directors Guild Award, BAFTA and Golden Globe for helming La La Land, suggesting he is likely to repeat the win at the Oscars.  

Best Actor
Casey Affleck Manchester by the Sea -- Our predicted winner
Andrew Garfield Hacksaw Ridge
Ryan Gosling La La Land
Viggo Mortensen Captain Fantastic
Denzel Washington Fences

Affleck won the BAFTA and Golden Globe for his quietly devastating performance of a grieving father haunted by the deaths of his three children and asked to care for his teen nephew after his brother dies. Although Affleck is the favorite to win the Oscar, his fellow nominee Washington is his toughest competition after earning the SAG Award for his towering portrayal of a bitter family man in 1950s Pittsburgh. 

Best Actress
Isabelle Huppert Elle
Ruth Negga Loving
Natalie Portman Jackie
Emma Stone La La Land -- Our predicted winner
Meryl Streep Florence Foster Jenkins

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Stone has scooped up the BAFTA, SAG and Golden Globe for her luminescent portrayal of a struggling actress and playwright who falls in love with a jazz musician.  

Best Supporting Actor
Mahershali Ali Moonlight -- Our predicted winner
Jeff Bridges Hell or High Water
Lucas Hedges Manchester by the Sea
Dev Patel Lion
Michael Shannon Nocturnal Animals

Ali is the front-runner after winning the SAG and NAACP Image Awards for his turn as the drug dealer, father figure of a bullied and neglected boy. It's been a great year for Ali, who also played a supporting role in Hidden Figures, making him a cast member in not one, but two, Best Picture nominees.

Best Supporting Actress
Viola Davis Fences -- Our predicted winner
Naomie Harris Moonlight
Nicole Kidman Lion
Octavia Spencer Hidden Figures
Michelle Williams Manchester by the Sea

Davis is the runaway favorite in this category after she broke the hearts of moviegoers everywhere as the long-suffering wife of a miserable man who feels cheated by life. She has won the BAFTA, SAG and Golden Globe awards for her work.

Best Original Screenplay
Hell or High Water
La La Land -- Our predicted winner
The Lobster
Manchester by the Sea
20th Century Women

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Damien Chazelle earned the Golden Globe for Best Original Screenplay for La La Land, with its witty banter, many movie references and meditation on the price of dreams, but lost the BAFTA to Manchester by the Sea scribe Kenneth Lonergan. The Writers Guild of America, which could shed more light on who might win the race here, has not handed out its honors yet. Given the La La Land love of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which nominates artists and films for the Oscars, the award for Best Original Screenplay is Chazelle's to lose.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Arrival
Fences
Hidden Figures
Lion
Moonlight -- Our predicted winner

Barry Jenkins' script for the coming-of-age story Moonlight has earned the NAACP Image Award for Best Adapted Screenplay and is up for the Writers Guild of America prize in the same category. The film won the Golden Globe for Best Picture Drama. Since the Oscars only offers one top film title -- instead of breaking the competition up into genres the way the Globes do -- and La La Land is expected to win Best Picture, this race will likely be where the academy recognizes the overall excellence of Moonlight.

Best Animated Movie
Kubo and the Two Strings
Moana
My Life as a Zucchini
The Red Turtle
Zootopia -- Our predicted winner

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The movie about a bunny police officer and the town she protects won the cartoon industry's prestigious Annie Award for Best Feature and the Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature.

Best Documentary Feature
13th -- Ava DuVernay, Spencer Averick and Howard Barish -- Our predicted winner
Fire at Sea -- Gianfranco Rosi and Donatella Palermo
I Am Not Your Negro -- Raoul Peck, Remi Grellety and Hebert Peck
Life, Animated -- Roger Ross Williams and Julie Goldman
O.J.: Made in America -- Ezra Edelman and Caroline Waterlow

Ava DuVernay's examination of race and the U.S. criminal-justice system earned universal, critical acclaim and the BAFTA for Best Documentary.

Best Original Song
"Audition (The Fools Who Dream)," La La Land -- Music by Justin Hurwitz; Lyric by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
"Can't Stop the Feeling," Trolls -- Music and Lyric by Justin Timberlake, Max Martin and Karl Johan Schuster
"City of Stars," La La Land -- Music by Justin Hurwitz; Lyric by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul -- Our predicted winner
"The Empty Chair," Jim: The James Foley Story -- Music and Lyric by J. Ralph and Sting
"How Far I'll Go," Moana -- Music and Lyric by Lin-Manuel Miranda

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If the La La Land juggernaut continues as predicted, the musical's "City of Stars" anthem will also garner Oscar gold. It previously won the Best Song category at the Critics' Choice and Golden Globe awards ceremonies.

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