Oscars 2021 predictions

With the Oscars officially happening this Sunday, April 25, here are my predictions for most of the major categories, while picking direct winners for some others.

Although 2020 was a relatively uneventful year for cinema, I will say that there have been some hidden gems I enjoyed. As we all know, last year was a rough year due to the pandemic and as a fan, it was sad to see a number of highly anticipated films be delayed because of it. Regardless, most of us were able to see some films we enjoyed, and a handful of these movies have been nominated at the upcoming Oscars. This year feels different than most. In some ways, you have an idea of who will win, considering the competition isn’t as wide as other years. At the same time, however, it’s still incredibly unpredictable and many things could catch everyone by surprise.

I’ll be predicting most of the major categories, such as Best Picture, Best Actor, and so on. I’ll also try and look at the minor ones and see if I can accurately predict those as well. Let’s begin!

Best Picture

The nominees:

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

Potential surprises and upsets

The dark horses here are Minari and Judas and the Black Messiah. I think these two have more of a chance of pulling off an upset than any other film on the list, outside of the favorites. I think the other movies are great movies because of the performances in them, so these films are better suited for other categories. I can also talk about how One Night in Miami… was snubbed here, but I won’t.

Who could win: Judas and the Black Messiah

Judas and the Black Messiah was a riveting watch from start to finish. I can only imagine what it was like to live during that time and to see what the African American community suffered through. The film does an outstanding job telling this story, keeping you engaged from beginning to end. For that alone, it has a chance.

Who should win: Minari

Honestly, Minari is probably the only film on this list that may crack my top 10 for this year. Judas and the Black Messiah is also another contender. However, I really enjoyed Minari for reasons explained above and I think it should win.

Who will win: Nomadland

Nomadland is the clear favorite for a number of reasons, including a phenomenal performance from Frances McDormand, it’s touching story which embarks you on a journey, and its beautiful cinematography. It’ll walk away with Best Picture, more than likely.

Best Director

The nominees:

  • Thomas Vinterberg for Another Round
  • David Fincher for Mank
  • Lee Isaac Chung for Minari
  • Chloe Zhao for Nomadland
  • Emerald Fennell for Promising Young Woman

Potential surprises and upsets

The only directors on this list who has even the slightest of chances are Thomas Vinterberg and Lee Isaac Chung. I mean, Fincher is Fincher, but he’s not winning for Mank. Other than that, I’m not sure anyone else has a case to win the award. Again, Regina King was snubbed, but I rest my case.

Who could win: Thomas Vinterberg for Another Round

Vinterberg has been getting quite the buzz for Another Round. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if there’s an upset in the making here. However, I don’t think it happens.

Who should win: Lee Isaac Chung for Minari

As you can see, I’m a huge fan of Minari and what Chung was able to do with it. Unfortunately, I don’t think it has enough buzz behind it for Chung to win the award. Not that many people haven’t seen it and raved about it, but this is more about performances rather than how the film is constructed, which I think is pivotal when discussing directing.

Who will win: Chloe Zhao for Nomadland

Zhao is proving herself to be an incredible filmmaker. I’m excited to see what she has done with The Eternals. Getting back on topic, Nomadland seems to be the film everyone is talking about leading up to the show and with good reason. Zhao will more than likely get her first Oscar here.

Best Actor

The nominees:

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

Potential surprises and upsets

Honestly, I truly feel everyone on this list can pull off a win here. Obviously, there are some who are favored to win, but each of these performances are critically acclaimed. However, the biggest surprises would be Oldman or Yeun winning. The chances are pretty low, though. The big upset would be Ahmed, but it wouldn’t surprise me since he’s fantastic in Sound of Metal. It’s also worth noting Delroy Lindo’s shocking absence for his amazing turn in Da 5 Bloods.

Who could win: Anthony Hopkins in The Father

Hopkins has been receiving plenty of praise for his portrayal in The Father. Granted, he’s one of the best to ever do it, but this is arguably the best he’s been in a very long time. I wouldn’t be surprised if he wins.

Who should win: Chadwick Boseman in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

The late and great Chadwick Boseman deserves this award for so many reasons. He’s no longer with us, but not only would this be a phenomenal way to honor him in his passing, but it’s also because it’s one of the best performances of his career, if not the best. He’s the overwhelming favorite to take the award here and rightfully so.

Who will win: Chadwick Boseman in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

I’d be shocked if this goes another way.

Best Actress

The nominees:

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

Potential surprises and upsets

For me, the biggest surprise would be Vanessa Kirby walking away with the award. The chances are highly unlikely, of course, but it could happen since it is a career-defining performance for her. But, the film is a bit intense and I don’t think many people have seen it. There’s also the possibility of Andra Day winning since she did win the Golden Globe. However, we’ve seen in the past that it doesn’t always matter.

Who could win: Viola Davis in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Although I don’t think it’s her best role, she’s definitely transformative and it’s the kind of performance the Academy looks at. Plus, it is Viola Davis. If she’s nominated, then she’s always in the running.

Who should win: Carey Mulligan in Promising Young Woman

Mulligan’s performance is definitely the most unique out of the bunch and seeing her get nominated is actually a great thing. It’s the performance of her career and she’s been getting a lot of love lately for this film. She deserves it, in my opinion.

Who will win: Frances McDormand in Nomadland

Nomadland is the big favorite in almost all fronts, so seeing McDormand take the win is the most likely outcome. This would also be her third Best Actress win. Some think it may be too soon to give her another award, but I don’t think this is the the Academy’s thought process here.

Best Supporting Actor

The nominees:

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

Potential surprises and upsets

As unlikely as it is, I would love to see Leslie Odom Jr. win for his role as Sam Cooke. I thought he was incredible. But, I think he virtually has no shot, which is unfortunate. A surprising upset would definitely be Raci, though. His performance has sort of gone under the radar due to how good Ahmed is in Sound of Metal. However, seeing that he’s nominated goes to show he was noticed. Will he win though? Probably not. It’s also weird seeing Kaluuya and Stanfield be nominated for the supporting category since they should definitely be leads. Lastly, every other actor in One Night in Miami… who didn’t get nominated totally deserved it. Obviously, they all couldn’t get a nomination, but still.

Who could win: Sacha Baren Cohen in The Trial of the Chicago 7

Cohen was one of the standouts in The Trial of the Chicago 7, without a doubt. Some even say he was the highlight of the film, and I tend to agree. It wouldn’t surprise me all that much if he won, but it would be a huge upset.

Who should win: Daniel Kaluuya in Judas and the Black Messiah

It could be argued that Stanfield is equally as deserving as Kaluuya. In fact, there were certain aspects of his performance I enjoyed more than Kaluuya’s. However, ultimately, Kaluuya’s portrayal of Fred Hampton was more intense, impactful, and memorable. This is his award to lose.

Who will win: Daniel Kaluuya in Judas and the Black Messiah

As mentioned, he’ll probably win this award and it would be very surprising if he doesn’t. It’s a long time coming, considering many believe he also should’ve won it for Get Out.

Best Supporting Actress

The nominees:

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

Potential surprises and upsets

If I’m being honest, the only ones who should be in the running to win this are Coleman and Yuh-jung. Everyone else would honestly be a big surprise and also a huge upset. I mean, Glenn Close is a legend, so anything can happen. But, I stand by my statement.

Who could win: Olivia Coleman in The Father

If anything, The Father is an incredible acting showcase spearheaded by Anthony Hopkins. However, Coleman’s performance definitely shouldn’t be overlooked since she’s the one who’s interacting with his character through the majority of the movie, reacting to everything he does and says. She really does elevate the film to the next level because of this, which gives her a chance at taking this one home.

Who should win: Youn Yuh-jung in Minari

It’s a breakout role for Steven Yeun, for sure, but it’s Youn Yuh-jung’s performance as a funny, curious, and charismatic Grandma who steals the show in Minari. She’s such a joy to watch from beginning to end and if anyone else wins, then it would be a robbery, in my opinion.

Who will win: Youn Yuh-jung in Minari

As mentioned, it’s a robbery if she doesn’t win the Oscar.

Best Original Screenplay

The nominees:

  • Judas and the Black Messiah by Will Berson and Shaka King for
  • Minari by Lee Isaac Chung
  • Promising Young Woman by Emerald Fennell
  • Sound of Metal by Abraham Marder and Darius Marder
  • The Trial of the Chicago 7 by Aaron Sorkin

Potential surprises and upsets

The biggest surprise here would be Sound of Metal. I think its chances of winning are incredibly low, considering what it’s stacked up against. This film is a more of an acting showcase than anything, so I think it may have better luck in other categories. Judas and the Black Messiah would also be an upset, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it wins.

Who could win: The Trial of the Chicago 7 by Aaron Sorkin

I’m so glad Sorkin finally began directing movies rather than just writing the screenplays for them. Because of his track record in the industry and the kind of film this is, seeing it win wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest.

Who should win: Minari by Lee Isaac Chung

This is more personal bias for me. Minari is the family film many of us need after a rough 2020 and it really tackles a lot of themes and struggles many immigrant families go through when coming to America. It may not be for everyone based on how it’s structured, but it’s definitely necessary and should be considered.

Who will win: Promising Young Woman by Emerald Fennell

This is another movie that’s probably equally as deserving due to its originality and the buzz it has received. It did win the WGA, so Emerald Fennell is more than likely the favorite at this point.

Best Adapted Screenplay

The nominees:

  • Borat Subsequent Moviefilm by Sacha Baren Cohen, Peter Baynham, Jena Friedman, Anthony Hines, Lee Kern, Dan Mazer, Erica Rivinoja, and Dam Swimer
  • The Father by Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller
  • Nomadland by Chloe Zhao
  • One Night in Miami… by Kemp Powers
  • The White Tiger by Ramin Bahrani

Potential surprises and upsets

There are only two films on this list which are nominated for Best Picture, so they have to be the clear favorites. Every other film winning it would be both surprising and an upset. Personally, I’ll be professing my love for One Night in Miami… once again, but it’s unlikely. An even bigger surprise would be The White Tiger winning, but that’s also unlikely. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm is the kind of movie that can pull off the upset and nobody will be shocked by it either.

Who could win: The Father by Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller

Nominated for Best Picture, it’s the kind of movie that deeply impacted the audience because of the emotional journey it takes you on. I can see the Academy being moved by it and seeing it win the award is a possible outcome.

Who should win: One Night in Miami… by Kemp Powers

This is my personal favorite. Once again, it’s more bias than anything, but the way each of the four main characters is able to tell their story while being in a hotel room for the majority of the movie without it ever being boring and uninteresting really sets it apart for me. I don’t think it’ll win, but I think it should.

Who will win: Nomadland by Chloe Zhao

There’s a chance this is the one award Nomadland could not win. However, I think the support behind it is far too strong and this will be yet another one that it’ll walk away with.

Best Animated Feature Film

The nominees:

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

Potential surprises and upsets

I always feel the Best Animated category is up for grabs since there are so many quality animated films released every year. However, I think this one is a bit more obvious than the last couple of years. I think some big surprises would be Wolfwalkers and Onward winning. I don’t think Over the Moon has much of a chance and Shaun the Sheep is just flying under the radar. That would be the biggest surprise, for sure.

Who could win: Wolfwalkers

I think Wolfwalkers is a film that caught everyone by surprise in many ways. It premiered at TIFF in 2020 and then released on Apple TV+ shortly after, receiving nothing but praise for the epic adventure you embark on as a viewer, as well as its unique animation. I still think the chances are low, but there’s still a chance nonetheless.

Who should win: Soul

Soul was my favorite movie of 2020. I honestly think it’s the best film Pixar has released in years and it’s one I’ve re-watched a few times since its release in December. I don’t consider it a kids movie because of the many different themes and plot points it touches on. It should win, hands down.

Who will win: Soul

It has everything it needs to win Best Animated Feature Film. The animation is stellar, the story is engaging and emotional from the very start, the voice acting is top notch, and the musical score is incredibly memorable and catchy. If it doesn’t win, I’d be shocked.

Some other categories

Best Original Score

The nominees:

  • Terrence Blanchard for Da 5 Bloods
  • Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for Mank
  • Emile Mosseri for Minari
  • James Newton Howard for News of the World
  • Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, and Jon Batiste for Soul

Honestly, I think any nominee other than Soul winning would be a surprise or an upset. Soul is literally about music (jazz, to be more specific) and it does a fantastic job representing that genre. So, I don’t think there are any potential surprises or upsets here. Soul is the frontrunner and I don’t think it’s relatively close.

Best Cinematography

The nominees:

  • Sean Bobbitt for Judas and the Black Messiah
  • Erik Messerschmidt for Mank
  • Dariusz Wolski for News of the World
  • Joshua James Richards for Nomadland
  • Phedon Papamichael for The Trial of the Chicago 7

I think the key frontrunners here are News of the World and Nomadland due to how they’re shot. I’d have to give the edge to Nomadland, however, due to the love its been getting this whole time. News of the World did have some great shots, but Nomadland is arguably the overall better film, especially from a technical aspect.

Best Film Editing

The nominees:

  • Yorgos Lamprinos for The Father
  • Chloe Zhao for Nomadland
  • Frederic Thoraval for Promising Young Woman
  • Mikkel E.G. Nielsen for Sound of Metal
  • Alan Baumgarten for The Trial of the Chicago 7

There are a few films here that are worthy of receiving this honor. But, I think Sound of Metal does it the very best based on what it’s about and how the film is shot. Other than the performances, a big part that makes Sound of Metal work is the editing and how it’s shot in order to make the most out of each scene. Nomadland is still lingering there somewhere, but Sound of Metal should take it.

Best Visual Effects

The nominees:

  • Love and Monsters
  • The Midnight Sky
  • Mulan
  • The One and Only Ivan
  • Tenet

Say what you will about Christopher Nolan’s latest effort, Tenet, but from a technical and visual standpoint, it’s near second to none. I thoroughly enjoyed Love and Monsters, and Mulan was very pleasing to watch with its vibrant colors and set pieces. But, Tenet should be the overwhelming favorite here.

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