The Oscar races are heating up once again as we get into the fall and winter film season. Several of the films  and performances receiving high praise and buzz have yet to be seen by many audiences. Yet, we are still able to take a look at the front runners in each category and update them on a regular basis as momentum changes. In the Oscar race, momentum is everything and as the season progresses, my predictions will adjust accordingly. Here’s my take on the Best Picture race.

With films like Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, Loving and many more already bowing in theaters, the Best Picture race is beginning to take shape. Based on festival buzz, audience and critic reactions alike, we already seen several of our front runners.

Whiplash director Damien Chazelle’s musical La La Land has been receiving massive praise from critics since it’s Venice Film Festival debut. But will a musical connect with modern day audiences? It is an important question to ask even though most of the time, Academy members don’t typically care about what the audience likes. Box office takes certainly play a role. The film has two major stars attached to it that should draw in some audiences. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone look to be frontrunners in their respective acting categories but nothing is certain at this point.

Then there’s Manchester By The Sea. This looks to be the more traditional fare for Oscar voters. Heavy drama depicted in a small town setting seems ripe for Oscar buzz. The film is currently receiving much buzz ahead of its November 18 limited release. Casey Affleck looks to be in top form and this is a film I’m almost positive will have legs to get a top prize nomination come January.

Another film garnering much praise and has already seen theatrical release is Barry Jenkins’s Moonlight. The film is also considered among the top tier in contenders.

We’ve already seen some once thought contenders fall from grace with bad critical reviews. While it’s being lauded as a new leap forward in filmmaking technically speaking, Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk has hit a wall with critics.

And what of the unknowns? Paramount recently announced the Martin Scorsese helmed Silence will qualify for an Oscar run. Warner Bros. made a similar announcement for Ben Affleck’s next directorial effort Live By Night. Paramount made a similar move in giving The Big Short an Oscar friendly, late December release date that ended up pushing it to several nominations including Best Picture. Denzel Washington’s Fences also joins films like Passengers, The Founder and Patriots Day as films we haven’t heard anything about yet.

Here’s my best early stab at locking down some nominees.

*One thing of note here is that there can be anywhere from five to ten nominees depending on the complicated voting system employed by the Academy. For now, we will assume there will be ten nominees.

My Early Predicted 10:
20th Century Women
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land
Manchester By The Sea

Also In The Hunt:
Hell Or High Water
Live By Night
Nocturnal Animals
Patriot’s Day

Long Shots At This Point
The Founder
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk