Predicting the 2021 Oscars

What a year for movies it’s been. With movie theaters shut down for most of 2020 and major blockbusters and other highly anticipated movies delayed, the film industry certainly faced a reckoning. But through all that, some truly fantastic movies still debuted. And with so many movies being released through streaming services this year, I’ve seen more Oscar nominees than ever before.

With the Oscars coming up this weekend, I thought I’d make my final predictions for the biggest categories. Let me know what you think!

Best Picture

© 20th Century Studios

The Father
Judas and the Black Messiah
Mank
Minari
Nomadland
Promising Young Woman
Sound of Metal
The Trial of the Chicago 7

Who should win: The crop of Best Picture nominees this year includes some truly remarkable movies, even if most people haven’t seen a lot of them. Minari is my personal favorite and one that I’ll certainly revisit more than others on this list. Judas and the Black Messiah is based on a true story that feels more relevant today than ever before. The Father was probably the most surprising movie on this list that I loved a lot more than I thought I would. But Nomadland is an experience that’s hard to describe. It’s both sad and hopeful, small and vast, individualist and collective. It’s gotten a lot of love already this year, and I think that momentum will push it to Oscar glory.

Who will win: Nomadland


Best Director

© 20th Century Studios

Thomas Vinterberg – Another Round
David Fincher – Mank
Lee Isaac Chung – Minari
Chloé Zhao – Nomadland
Emerald Fennell – Promising Young Woman

Who should win: Lee Isaac Chung created a story so simple yet so universal and fully draws you into the heart of every character and every scene in Minari. Emerald Fennell on the other hand created a much sharper movie that challenges audience expectations and leans into the uncomfortable and unpleasant nature of its story. But Chloe Zhao makes Nomadland feel epic in scope, from its huge landscapes to the tender looks at the people living this life. 

Who will win: Chloe Zhao, Nomadland


Best Actor in a Leading Role

Riz Ahmed – Sound of Metal
Chadwick Boseman – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Anthony Hopkins – The Father
Gary Oldman – Mank
Steven Yeun – Minari

Who should win: This is really a strong category. Riz Ahmed gives his all as a heavy metal drummer who begins to lose his hearing, and his journey through frustration and anger is fully engaging. Anthony Hopkins is truly heartbreaking as a father battling with dementia, and you really feel the fear, confusion and anger that brings. Steven Yeun is so full of hope and optimism as he begins his new life with his family and always makes you feel like his dreams are possible. But Chadwick Boseman is absolutely electric in Ma Rainey. He commands your presence in every word, every line and every monologue he says. I already miss him so much.

Who will win: Chadwick Boseman


Best Actress in a Leading Role

Credit: Courtesy of Focus Features

Viola Davis – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Andra Day – The United States v. Billie Holiday
Vanessa Kirby – Pieces of a Woman
Frances McDormand – Nomadland
Carey Mulligan – Promising Young Woman

Who should win: This category includes two powerhouse actresses who have won Oscars for their performances in the past – Viola Davis and Frances McDormand – and three first-time nominees. Viola Davis is amazing in everything, and her performance as Ma Rainey really brings life to the story and elevates it beyond a filmed version of a play. Frances McDormand has such an interesting role in Nomadland – part traditional storytelling and part documentarian as she shares the screen with non-actors playing slightly fictionalized versions of themselves. Both Davis and McDormand have a strong case to win Best Actress, but I think Carey Mulligan’s powerful and haunting performance in Promising Young Woman will put her over the top.

Who will win: Carey Mulligan


Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Sacha Baron Cohen – The Trial of the Chicago 7
Daniel Kaluuya – Judas and the Black Messiah
Leslie Odom Jr. – One Night in Miami
Paul Raci – Sound of Metal
Lakeith Stanfield – Judas and the Black Messiah

Who should win: Another category full of memorable performances – Leslie Odom Jr. is fantastic as Sam Cooke and Paul Raci brings a naturalism and gravity to his role in Sound of Metal. Both Lakeith Stanfield and Daniel Kaluuya are outstanding in Judas and the Black Messiah – Stanfield so thoughtful and understated, Kaluuya both bombastic and sensitive. Daniel Kaluuya seems to have this one wrapped up this season.  

Who will win: Daniel Kaluuya


Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Maria Bakalova – Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Glenn Close – Hillbilly Elegy
Olivia Colman – The Father
Amanda Seyfried – Mank
Yuh-jung Youn – Minari

Who should win: This is an interesting category this year, and one of the few spots where we could see an upset. For a movie starring Sacha Baron Cohen in his iconic role as Borat, Maria Bakalova is a true scene-stealer in her role as Borat’s daughter. She brings a comedic innocence to the movie that helps balance some of the wilder aspects. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Olivia Coleman heartbreakingly portrays a daughter whose father is slowly succumbing to dementia. Coleman is great in everything (I’m enjoying her run as Queen Elizabeth in The Crown right now). And Amanda Seyfried is one of the true bright spots in Mank, a movie that otherwise is shockingly boring. But Yuh-jung Youn is incredible in Minari and is one of the heartbeats of the whole movie. I think she has an edge to win this award.

Who will win: Yuh-jung Youn


Best Animated Feature Film

Onward
Over the Moon
A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon
Soul
Wolfwalkers

Who should win: Soul is definitely the frontrunner here, and rightfully so. It’s another Pixar classic that works just as much for adults as it does for kids. Onward is another great Pixar entry, but certainly more standard in terms of the story it’s telling than Soul. Wolfwalkers was a personal favorite this year – the animation style is so unique and enchanting to look at and its story, while familiar, has a lot of heart and excitement.

Who will win: Soul


Best Adapted Screenplay

© 20th Century Studios

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
The Father
Nomadland
One Night in Miami
The White Tiger

Who should win: It seems like there were a lot of movies based on plays that came out last year – One Night in Miami, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and The Father included. I thought One Night in Miami and The Father both did a great job making their stories feel cinematic. Nomadland, though, weaves a story together through real experiences full of hope and opportunity.

Who will win: Nomadland


Best Original Screenplay

Credit: Courtesy of Focus Features

Judas and the Black Messiah
Minari
Promising Young Woman
Sound of Metal
The Trial of the Chicago 7

Who should win: What a year to tell the stories of The Trial of the Chicago 7 and Judas and the Black Messiah. The parallels from those events to the world today are often haunting. I think Judas tells a better story than the Chicago 7, but people love to love Aaron Sorkin. Sound of Metal is a great immersive story, and Minari is both beautiful and heartbreaking, a universal story everyone can empathize with. Promising Young Woman is more biting and showier than the other stories nominated here, and certainly makes a good use of dramatic twists while raising a lot of questions to consider once the movie ends.

Who will win: Promising Young Woman


Best Original Score

Da 5 Bloods – Terence Blanchard
Mank – Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross
Minari – Emile Mosseri
News of the World – James Newton Howard
Soul – Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Jon Batiste

Who should win: I’ve seen all the movies nominated in this category except News of the World – and honestly, only the scores for Soul and Minari made an impression on me. Minari’s score is absolutely gorgeous, but the way Soul creates two completely different sounds – from the jazz standards of the “real world” to the ethereal soundscapes of the soul world – is outstanding.

Who will win: Soul

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