By Bill Wine

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — And then there were nine.

Sunday evening at the internationally televised Oscar ceremony, nine of 2016’s best movies vie for the Academy Award for Best Picture.

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How is it likely to play out?

Six of the nominated films are admired, but not given much chance of being called to the podium to accept the most cherished of golden statuettes.

Director Theodore Melfi’s popular Hidden Figures, director Mel Gibson’s intense Hacksaw Ridge, David Mackenzie’s rugged Hell or High Water, Garth Davis’s moving Lion, Denis Villeneuve’s bracing Arrival, and Denzel Washington’s absorbing Fences comprise an impressive lineup of varied, glowing achievements by moviemakers gratified to be included in such august company.

Writer-director Kenneth Lonergan’s tragically sad Manchester by the Sea, with its six nominations, faces the longest odds of the three films with a fighting chance for the Best Picture Oscar, while writer-director Barry Jenkins’ thoroughly original Moonlight, with eight nominations, looks to be the runner-up in the climactic category.

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But look for this year’s biggest prize to go to Damien Chazelle’s musical, La La Land which, with its record-tying 14 nominations, just might be a runaway train on Oscar night. Yep, look for La La lots of Oscars, including The Big Enchilada – Best Picture – to go to La La Land.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will find a way to reward Lonergan and Jenkins in other categories, but Chazelle is likely to win the Best Director Oscar as well. And he and his film would get my theoretical votes as well.

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