One scenario among the Academy Awards soothsayers says that with 14 nominations, the bubbly musical “La La Land” is bound to win best picture, the pinnacle of a heap of awards.
But another theory claims that “La La Land” has lost some of its fizz, and the top prize is really a three-way race that also includes the coming-of age drama “Moonlight,” up for eight awards, and the wrenching “Manchester by the Sea,” up for six.
And then there are those who say the other nominees, though long shots, could sneak in and grab best picture. After all, the Big Three are all fiction, while Oscar of late has adored true stories — think “Spotlight,” “12 Years a Slave” and “Argo,” three of the last four best picture winners.
This year, the gripping real-life tales are the Space Age/civil rights struggle of “Hidden Figures,” the bloody World War II saga “Hacksaw Ridge” and the poignant little-boy-lost tale of “Lion.” And the desperate Texas brothers of “Hell or High Water” and the frustrated black garbage man of “Fences” might as well be real.
Meanwhile, unlike most of the nominees, the lyrical sci-fi drama “Arrival” was beloved by critics and audiences alike. But so was “Hidden Figures.” And, come to think of it, “La La Land” was, too.
A case could be made for each of the nine nominees to win best picture. All are worthy. So we asked our movie crew, and some other local experts, to each choose a contender and explain why it should win. Read the debate in the links below.
Where to watch
Jimmy Kimmel will host the 89th Academy Awards starting at 7:30 p.m. Sunday on ABC (livestream on abc.com). Red carpet coverage begins at 4:30 p.m. on E! and at 6 p.m. on ABC.