Whose speech will deliver a punch? Who will set or break a win streak? Will Lin-Manuel Miranda complete his EGOT? We can’t answer those burning queries, but here at The Seattle Times, we can make a few predictions.

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Sunday night is Oscar night, and as always, a few questions await their answers:

Which winner will deliver a speech so eloquent that everyone’s talking about it the next day? (My money’s on Mahershala Ali, whose Screen Actors Guild award acceptance speech inspired some tears, but we shall see. Viola Davis, also favored to win, is no slouch at speechmaking either.)

Who will wear the most memorable gown of the night? (I’m thinking it’ll be nominees Emma Stone or Ruth Negga, both of whom have been showing a welcome red-carpet playfulness this season.)


The 89th Academy Awards

Hosted by Jimmy Kimmel. Ceremony begins at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 26 on ABC; red-carpet coverage on that network begins at 4 p.m.

Which award will bring with it a bit of Oscar trivia for the history books? (One possibility: If Denzel Washington wins best actor, he will be only the third performer ever to direct himself to an acting Academy Award. The other two: Laurence Olivier for “Hamlet,” and Roberto Benigni for “Life Is Beautiful.”)

More on Oscars 2017

Watching the Oscars? Join our movie critic for a live Q&A on our Facebook page during the show.

Will Lin-Manuel Miranda achieve his EGOT — he’s already won Emmy, Grammy and Tony awards — this year, making him the 13th person in history to do so? (Probably not — I’m thinking one of the “La La Land” songs might win his category. But wouldn’t it be great to see him accept his award in rhyme?)

Will first-time host Jimmy Kimmel distinguish himself, at least enough so no one mistakes him for Jimmy Fallon? (The jury’s still out.)

How many times during the ceremony will the camera cut to a reaction shot of Meryl Streep? (Hey, I think I just invented a drinking game.)

And, who will win? My thoughts on the major categories, below …

Best picture

Love it or hate it (and I’ve heard from plenty of readers on both ends of the spectrum), “La La Land” looks likely to take the big prize this year: Not only did it take both the DGA and PGA awards, but it’s hard to imagine Hollywood missing the opportunity to award a movie about movies. (See “The Artist.”) If a surprise is possible here, I’d look to the crowd-pleasing “Hidden Figures.”

Prediction: “La La Land”

My vote: Strong lineup this year — but I have to go with “La La Land.”

Wish you were here: “Loving”

Best director

Damien Chazelle (“La La Land”) won the DGA award and has to be the favorite — but might this be the year for a director/picture split? If so, look to Barry Jenkins, for “Moonlight”; no one else looks likely. (Mel Gibson, for “Hacksaw Ridge”? Snowball in hell.)

Prediction: “La La Land”

My vote: I’d be happy to see it go to either Chazelle or Jenkins, two young filmmakers who did remarkable work this year

Wish you were here: Denzel Washington, “Fences”

Best actor

Casey Affleck looked to be cruising to a win here — his performance in “Manchester By the Sea” is a masterpiece of restrained heartbreak — but controversy, in the form of a history involving two settled lawsuits for sexual harassment, may be intervening. Denzel Washington, utterly electric in “Fences,” won the SAG award, generally a good predictor of the Oscar; I think he just might take home his third Oscar this year.

Prediction: Washington

My vote: Washington

Wish you were here: Tom Hanks, “Sully”

Best actress

Emma Stone has been sweeping up awards right and left for her wistful ingénue turn in “La La Land”; a tide that seems unlikely to turn. Natalie Portman, a previous winner whose work in “Jackie” was much admired, could surprise, but the real dark horse is Isabelle Huppert, indelible as a vengeful rape survivor in “Elle.” Don’t rule her out.

Prediction: Stone

My vote: Ruth Negga, “Loving”

Wish you were here: Annette Bening, “20th Century Women”; Rebecca Hall, “Christine”; Amy Adams, “Arrival”

Best supporting actor

This is Mahershala Ali’s year — he shone not only in “Moonlight,” but in a small role in “Hidden Figures.” Jeff Bridges (“hell or High Water”) is beloved by the Academy and could surprise, and I’ll confess to a real fondness for Michael Shannon’s oddball turn in “Nocturnal Animals,” but I think the story’s told.

Prediction: Ali

My vote: Ali

Wish you were here: Hugh Grant, “Florence Foster Jenkins”

Best supporting actress

This category seems a bit off-balance this year: Viola Davis’ role in “Fences” feels like a lead, particularly compared to, say, Michelle Williams’ few minutes on-screen in “Manchester By the Sea.” (The Academy doesn’t dictate categories; studios suggest categories in their pre-Oscar ad campaigns, and voters write in their choices.) Nonetheless, Davis should finally win the Oscar she’s long deserved — in a role for which she won a Tony Award in 2010. Competition? Williams and Naomie Harris (“Moonlight”) might have won in less competitive years, but not this time.

Prediction: Davis

My vote: Davis

Wish you were here: Lily Gladstone, “Certain Women”; Julianne Moore, “Maggie’s Plan”

Elsewhere, I’m thinking the writing awards might go to “Moonlight” (adapted screenplay) and “Manchester By the Sea” (original). And my favorite category — costume design — is a tricky one to call this year, but those ‘60s sheath dresses in “Jackie,” designed by Madeline Fontaine, might prevail. I’ll be online on Oscar night, posting (at seattletimes.com/movies) and tweeting (@moiraverse) — do join me!