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Potential upsets to consider for Oscar night


Happy Valentine’s Day! As we move toward the Academy Awards ceremony like a speeding freight train, one thing to contemplate a bit are what kind of big surprises we might ultimately see. You never really can truly predict an upset, by their very nature, but you can begin to see if there’s any writing on the wall. Be it due to a precursor or just the feel of the season, some races do occasionally seem more up in the air than many believe them to be. Below you will see five such races that I think could be subject to some level of an upset. Most won’t happen, and it’s pure speculation, but just keep them in mind. If nothing else, this is a little fun to think about, and leads to potential bragging rights, etc. After all, anything can happen on the big night, as we all know by now…

Here are five possible Oscar night upsets to consider, to differing degrees:

Hidden Figures upsets La La Land in Best Picture – This is probably not happening, but enough people are talking about it that it bears mentioning. If La La Land somehow loses the big prize, it might just be to Hidden Figures instead of Moonlight. Again, it’s a long shot, but this is the high profile upset some are buzzing about. Take it with a grain of salt, but just remember that I mentioned it in case it happens. In all likelihood, La La Land still wins in a walk.

Dev Patel upsets Mahershala Ali in Best Supporting Actor – If not for BAFTA, this wouldn’t be one to consider at all. Sure, Mahershali Ali is kind of a weak frontrunner, losing more than most eventual winners do, but he still seems likely to be the Oscar night victor. If it’s not him though, watch out for Dev Patel. This would be a place for Lion to win something, perhaps at the expense of Moonlight. This certainly could happen, but I won’t be predicting it…just yet.

Hell or High Water upsets La La Land/Manchester by the Sea in Best Original Screenplay – I might just be overvaluing Hell or High Water a bit, but as Manchester by the Sea seems to be in play to beat back La La Land in Original Screenplay, perhaps a shock is in store? Any of those three could win or be placed in whatever order you feel like. The Writers Guild of America prize might clear this one up, so stay tuned for a bit more there!

Lion upsets Moonlight in Best Adapted Screenplay – Again, BAFTA influences this. Arrival seems like Moonlight’s main Adapted Screenplay competition, but maybe Lion sneaks in up the middle? One could potentially make the same case for Hidden Figures, but BAFTA looms large for me. I’m not ready to move Lion that far up, but Luke Davies could be peaking at just the right time. To be fair, Eric Heisserer and especially Barry Jenkins are more likely, but anything is possible, right?

The Salesman upsets Toni Erdmann in Best Foreign Language Feature – Politics makes this one more likely than it otherwise would be. Seeing how the since beaten back travel ban by President (ugh) Donald Trump barred The Salesman filmmaker Asghar Farhadi from attending the ceremony, that had many speculating that sympathy votes could be going his way. Toni Erdmann is just as likely a winner, but now it’s basically a toss up. This one will be a category to anticipate on Oscar night, that’s for sure…


Stay tuned to see if any of these potential upsets come to pass during the Academy Awards!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He also contributes to several other film-related websites.

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