As always, we offer you an early peek at next year’s bona fide Oscar contenders. Last year, we correctly predicted Manchester by the Sea, but did not have La La Land or eventual winner Moonlight on our radar. In fact, we were only correct on one of the Best Picture nominees, an anomaly for us. We aim to do much better this year. And we will!

There are some big name directors coming out with big movies in 2017. At the top of the list has to be Steven Spielberg directing Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep in “The Papers,” about the Washington Post’s fight with the Nixon administration to publish the Pentagon Papers. It’s hard to think of a film that is more relevant than this right now. George Clooney is back, teaming with the Coen brothers on “Suburbicon,” a satirical drama about a home invasion gone wrong. Then, you have Christopher Nolan treading new waters with the World War II thriller “Dunkirk,” Darren Aronofsky directing Jennifer Lawrence in “Mother!” and PT Anderson with who else but his #1 horse Daniel Day-Lewis in “Phantom Thread,” a film set in the 1950s London fashion scene (as always with PT Anderson films there are scant details). And finally, acclaimed director Kathryn Bigelow is back with “Detroit,” a dramatization of the 1968 Motor City race riots.

In addition to the heavy hitters, you also have a slew of promising indie films that can make waves. If the trend of recent years continues, one of these films will be claiming the top prize next year. After all, five of the last six films to win Best Picture also won the Independent Spirit Award. That is amazing considering that prior to this period, only one ISA winner ever won the Oscar! Hot out of Sundance is “Mudbound,” about a family dealing with racism in rural Mississippi following World War II. Todd Haynes’ “Wonderstruck” wowed audiences at Cannes. It’s a movie about an unusual connection between two children who live in different states 50 years ago. “Call Me By Your Name,” a coming of age love story has a near perfect Metacritic score and will likely top critics’ lists, and definitely don’t count out “Lion” director Garth Davis directing Rooney Mara in “Mary Magdalene” or Joe Wright’s take on Winston Churchhill in “Darkest Hour.” And for the best title you’ll come across this fall, how about “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri?” How’s that for an Oscar nominee? Last but not least there’s “The Current War,” about the competition between titans Edison and Westinghouse to create a sustainable electricity system. You know The Weinstein Company will push that film hard.

All right, so here are our predictions for next year’s winners!

Best Picture: Mudbound

This is the closest call of all. The two most timely films are “The Papers” and “Detroit,” and it’s certainly hard to bet against Spielberg and Bigelow, but the Oscars have been spotlighting the smaller films recently. We think this pattern continues. “Mudbound” features a stellar cast of actors and actresses including Carey Mulligan, Garret Hedlund, Jason Clarke, and Mary J. Blige. Remember, actors rule the Academy now, and true ensemble efforts have been winning Best Picture in recent years. On a silly note, we also are giving some extra credit to the fact that the last three Best Picture winners were all one word titles. Hey, who knows? It could mean something.

Best Director: Steven Spielberg, “The Papers”

Face it. Spielberg should have won for “Lincoln.” He’s a two time Best Director winner, but the Academy loves him and if they don’t give “The Papers” the top prize, they’ll want to give it something. Also, Best Picture and Best Director no longer match up like they used to. This, of course, has a lot to do with the preferential ballot. So we can forsee “Mudbound” director Dee Rees missing out, because who knows who Dee Rees is after all?! Bigelow and PT Anderson will likely be nominated, although we somehow have a feeling “Phantom Thread” may flop. Count on Clooney to snag a nod too, though he’ll come up just a bit short to Steven, King of Hollywood.

Best Actor: Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour”

This is probably our most confident prediction. Historically, actors who play historical figures have done really well. Add in the fact that it’s beloved Gary Oldman and you almost have a no-brainer. Oldman will have a lot of competition though. In the historical realm, you have up and coming Chadwick Boseman playing Thurgood Marshall in “Marshall.” Of course, there’s Tom Hanks in “The Papers,” Daniel Day-Lewis in “Phantom Thread,” and Benedict Cumberbatch in “The Current War.” Will they really give Day-Lewis a fourth Academy Award though? You never know. A sleeper may be Joaquin Phoenix in “You Were Never Really There,” but he’s going to have a hard time competing alongside Winston Churchhill, Marshall, and Thomas Edison!

Best Actress: Rooney Mara, “Mary Magdalene”

Is the Academy going to keep going young? Recent winners Brie Larson, Jennifer Lawrence, and Emma Stone have changed the calculation in this race which used to go to veteran actresses. We’re going to stick with the trend once again and say this race comes down to Carey Mulligan and Rooney Mara. Mara gets the edge because she plays the historical figure while Mulligan is part of the ensemble. Mara is certainly deserving though. She stole the show in “Carol” and “The Social Network” and this may be the role of a lifetime for her. Expect Meryl Streep (“The Papers”), Jessica Chastain (“Molly’s Game”) and Rebecca Ferguson (“The Snowman”) to pick up nominations.

Best Supporting Actor: Woody Harrelson, “The Glass Castle”

How about some love for the Woody? He plays an alcoholic father in the dysfunctional family drama starring Brie Larson, an Oscar friendly role if we’ve ever seen one. Plus, Harrelson is also featured in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” That will help his chances. Competition includes Michael Shannon from “The Current War,” Steve Carrel in “Battle of the Sexes,” Garret Hedlund from “Mudbound,” and Oscar Isaac in “Suburbicon.” Don’t underestimate Carrel. He proved what a versatile actor he was in “Foxcatcher,” a film that deserved more recognition. Still, we give the edge to Woody, who Academy members are going to want to honor after a distinguished career.

Best Supporting Actress: Mary J. Blige, “Mudbound”

The smart money is on Michelle Williams. But then again, it’s on Michelle Williams every year! She’s just that good. This year she plays PT Barnum’s wife in “The Greatest Showman” starring Hugh Jackman. It’s conceivably a great part, but we think the movie may under perform a little (if we’re wrong though, Hugh could easily steal Best Actor). Our prognostication is Mary J. Blige in “Mudbound” because the eventual Best Picture winner usually wins something. Blige reportedly has a very showy part in the film too. Other nominees could include Julianne Moore for “Wonderstruck,” and Naomi Watts for “The Glass Castle.”

Predicted Best Pictures Nominees:

Call Me By Your Name


The Papers

Darkest Hour

The Current War


Phantom Thread

The Glass Castle