Nine films are nominated for the Best Picture Oscar this year. But only one will take it home.
We're inching closer to Hollywood's biggest night -- the 89th Academy Awards (Feb 26 at 7:00 p.m. ET / 4 p.m. PT on ABC) -- which means it's crunch time. Best take some time now to fill out your Oscars ballot and lock in your picks!
Moviefone's editors are checking off their choices for who will -- and should -- win in all the major categories. And the nominees for Best Picture are...
Here, we share which movie we think will -- and should -- take home the Academy's highest honor.
What Will Win: "La La Land." Don't get me wrong, "La La Land" is a good movie, and a hell of a good time, but the instant consensus that its Best Picture-worthy was a tad premature -- especially when you consider the other movies in this category. Stars Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are Academy darlings, as is director Damien Chazelle at this point, and the movie being about Los Angeles -- Hollywood, specifically -- makes it a front-runner with Oscar voters. The Academy loves a movie about itself, and given that "La La Land" is a love letter to the industry and the city it calls home, it's a shoo-in. Oh, and it's already nabbed Golden Globe, BAFTA, and a Critics Choice awards for being the best movie of 2016.
What Should Win: "Moonlight." Powerful. Moving. Original. Relevant. Those are just four words I would use to describe "Moonlight," a film deserving of a Best Picture win, not just for its achievement in filmmaking but for the publicity the honor would deliver. More people need to see "Moonlight." Especially now.
What Will Win: "La La Land." Since 2013, three of the last five films to win Best Picture were movies about Hollywood or Hollywood elements. Chances are good the Academy will continue to pat their backs with this trend and give the good (but very overrated in a "Crash" sort of way) "La La Land" the Oscar.
What Should Win: "Manchester by the Sea." The best compliment I can give this movie is that I wish I made it. When this gut-punch of a drama isn't taking you emotionally complicated and trying places, it makes you belly laugh. That's not an easy mix to pull off, and the filmmakers here do so effortlessly. In a few years from now, "Manchester" will join "Goodfellas" and "Pulp Fiction" in the prestigious club of films that should have won the Academy Award over the film that did.
What Will Win: Ugh, "La La Land." I don't mean to be such a member of the backlash, but the Oscar buzz around this movie makes me feel like I am taking crazy pills. It was a fine movie, and Hollywood loves a movie that celebrates them. But, in the world we live in today, excuse me if I can't get emotionally attached to this white guy's dream of opening a jazz bar. And what 20-something-year-old girl in Los Angeles isn't trying to become an actress? Folks like these are a dime a dozen, they just happen to succeed in this movie. Okay, back to being mad about things that actually matter!
What Should Win: "Hidden Figures." Controversial opinion alert! I think "Hidden Figures" should win this year, but I know that there isn't a chance in hell that it actually will. My biggest takeaway when I'm done watching a movie is how long I think about it after I leave the theater. Well, I saw "Hidden Figures" over a month ago and I've basically spent every day since thinking about how amazing it made me feel. "Manchester by the Sea" was great, but if I had a dollar for every white-man family struggle movie I've seen, let's just say I wouldn't have to work anymore. And don't even get me started on "La La Land."
What Will Win: "Moonlight." Despite "La La Land" getting much of the love early on, it may have burned a bit too bright -- allowing "Moonlight" to gain some ground. If Hollywood is ready to embrace diversity at the Oscars, this is the place to start.
What Should Win: "Moonlight." This film, which follows a young boy into adulthood as he struggles with a drug addict mother and his sexuality, is about as real is it gets in this year's Best Picture race. This indie darling stands out amongst this year's nominees with a marriage of great cinematography and heartfelt storytelling.
What Will Win: "La La Land." "La La Land" is a good movie. It will likely inspire hipster subculture for the next 30 years, which is fine with me if it means dudes will dress better when going out on dates. All the performances are excellent, the music is terrific, and director Damien Chazelle was able to romanticize Los Angeles without being totally blind to its more disreputable elements.
But the reason that "La La Land" will win Best Picture has more to do with the voters' love affair with themselves than the movie's merits. Hollywood tends to celebrate films that champion Hollywood, and, boy, does "La La Land" -- with its sunny optimism, perky starlets, and unwavering belief in the dream-making movie industry actually making those dreams come true. Whether it's good or not is almost beside the point. Thankfully, it is pretty good.
What Should Win: "Manchester by the Sea." Yes, "Manchester by the Sea" is sad. It's muted and lacks the kind of flashy pyrotechnics that made "La La Land" such a standout. It's a movie about grief and mourning and the inadequacies of fatherhood and stewardship. But it's also unbelievable. It's funny and real and features some of the greatest performances from this or any other year.
Yes, the movie can be overwhelmingly bleak at points, but there's a charming lightness to it, too, thanks largely to writer-director Kenneth Lonergan's effortless storytelling and the movie's brilliant, swaggering confidence. "Manchester by the Sea" being robbed of a Best Picture statue will be the real tragedy.