2021 Oscars Predictions: Who Will Win, Top Best, Actor & Actress
|Oscars 2021, who will win? Photo: theweek|
It's certainly been an unusual year, as the pandemic wiped dozens of planned movies off the calendar. But a number of affecting and emotional films did make it into theaters while streaming services continued uninterrupted -- and indeed the film with the most nominations (Mank, up for 10 awards) is a Netflix production. Amazon Prime Video also has Borat, One Night in Miami, and Sound of Metal in the running. And Apple TV Plus has landed two Oscar nominations in its first year since launching.
The 93rd Academy Awards take place Sunday, April 25. With films like Nomadland, Minari, Borat 2, Mank, and Promising Young Woman in the running, the 2021 Oscars could be a close race. Here are my predictions for the major categories.
Best Original Screenplay
Judas and the Black Messiah
Promising Young Woman
Sound of Metal
The Trial of the Chicago 7
Who Will Win: Promising Young Woman. Part tragic black comedy, part vigilante revenge fantasy, Promising Young Woman has proven to be an auspicious and ceaselessly divisive coming out party for writer/director Emerald Fennell. That driving, engrossing, polarizing conversation perches it atop the buzz-metrics for Best Original Screenplay.
Who Should Win: Promising Young Woman. Minari and Sound of Metal are worthy candidates here, as are Judas and the Black Messiah. The Trial of the Chicago 7 feels a bit bland in a year of fresh contenders.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
One Night in Miami
The White Tiger
Who Will Win: Nomadland. Chloé Zhao penned the screenplay based on the book by Jessica Bruder. Both Zhao and Nomadland have become odds-on favorites for several key categories throughout the night.
Who Should Win: The Father. Nomadland is brought to life more by Zhao’s incredible direction and Frances McDormand’s powerful performance than the script. The Father, which also boasts impressive direction and acting, runs the risk of becoming too inaccessible without a meticulously constructed story bible from Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller.
Judas and the Black Messiah
Promising Young Woman
Sound of Metal
The Trial of the Chicago 7
Who will win: "Nomadland"
Chloé Zhao's touching look at a woman (Frances McDormand) who becomes a modern-day nomad after the death of her husband has been beloved by most of the other award shows pre-Oscars. That's not going to change on Oscar night.
Who should win: Out of all of these nominees, "Nomadland" is the most deserving.
Who could surprise us: Twist my arm, it's possible A24 pulls off another "Moonlight" upset and "Minari" gets the win. It would make for an amazing TV, but I think it's a very slim chance.
Best Sound (Editing/Mixing)
Greyhound – Warren Shaw, Michael Minkler, Beau Borders and David Wyman
Mank – Ren Klyce, Jeremy Molod, David Parker, Nathan Nance and Drew Kunin
News of the World – Oliver Tarney, Mike Prestwood Smith, William Miller and John Pritchett
Soul – Ren Klyce, Coya Elliott and David Parker
Sound of Metal – Nicolas Becker, Jaime Baksht, Michelle Couttolenc, Carlos Cortés and Phillip Bladh
Who will win: Sound of Metal
Who should win: Sound of Metal
The biggest no-brainer victor of the night. Sound of Metal, as the title implies, lives and dies based on its sound editing and mixing. It’s an element needed to accurately reflect the psychology of a man coming to terms with the sudden loss of his hearing. The team of Jaime Baksht, Nicolas Becker, Philip Bladh, Carlos Cortés, and Michelle Couttolenc pulled off this task beautifully, particularly in the different ways sound manifests throughout the film to reflect different parts of the protagonist journey of self-acceptance.
There are some commendable nominees in this field this year. The work done by the Greyhound team deserves particularly strong praise for how well their efforts inform that war movies' sense of tension. But this would be Sound of Metal’s category to lose no matter who it was going up against and it’s an incredible well-earned Oscar victory.
Best Makeup & Hairstyling
Emma – Marese Langan, Laura Allen, Claudia Stolze
Hillbilly Elegy – Eryn Krueger Mekash, Patricia Dehaney, Matthew Mungle
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – Sergio Lopez-Rivera, Mia Neal, Jamika Wilson
Mank – Kimberley Spiteri, Gigi Williams, Colleen LaBaff
Pinocchio – Mark Coulier, Dalia Colli, Francesco Pegoretti
Who will win: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Who should win: Emma.
Looking over this category, I realized that nominated title Mank might walk away from the 93rd Academy Awards empty-handed despite scoring 10 Oscar nominations. If it scores any kind of victory on Oscars night, it won’t be here. That honor will likely go to Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, a movie whose widely-acclaimed lead performances are heavily informed by their makeup & hairstyling.
Save for the occasional Suicide Squad, the Academy Awards has leaned towards handing this award off to heavily-praised dramas that are nominated throughout the rest of the ceremony in recent years. Ma Rainey should continue that trend, especially since Mank’s makeup work has garnered far less praise. However, Emma.’s makeup and hairstyling, which added so much to that film’s scrumptious visual style, really does deserve some love.
Best Documentary (Short Subject)
A Concerto Is a Conversation
Do Not Split
A Love Song for Latasha
Who will win: A Love Song for Latasha
Who should win: A Love Song for Latasha
Maybe the hardest Oscar category to predict simply due to the comparatively obscure nature of the nominees, this year’s Best Documentary Short Subject Oscar appears poised to go A Love Song for Latasha. A critically-acclaimed production that premiered at Sundance 2020 before garnering high-profile awards from festivals like AFI Fest, Latasha looks like it’ll continue its hot streak with an Oscar victory. A potential spoiler could come from A Concerto is a Conversation, which is directed by Emmy-winning composer Kris Bowers.
Emerald Fennell ("Promising Young Woman")
David Fincher ("Mank")
Lee Isaac Chung ("Minari")
Thomas Vinterberg ("Another Round")
Chloé Zhao ("Nomadland")
Who will win: Chloé Zhao ("Nomadland")
Like the best picture, the top directing honor will go to that film's director, Chloé Zhao. Weaving a story that's a mixture of McDormand's talents with real nomads is beautiful and authentic.
Who should win: It's hard not to say Zhao, but Emerald Fennell for "Promising Young Woman" is a powerful work that could grab the attention of Oscar voters.
Who could surprise us: If Lee Isaac Chung wins, then all bets are off when it comes to the best picture category.
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: Chadwick Boseman
Who will win: Chadwick Boseman
The surest sure thing at this year's Oscars is that Chadwick Boseman will win his first Oscar, and rightfully so: That the late actor will win posthumously gives the honor an extra poignancy, but don't let that cloud the fact that he deserves it, having acted the house down in Ma Rainey. With this final performance, Boseman left it all onscreen. He's won the Golden Globe, Critics Choice Award and SAG Award already, now he will complete his set with an Oscar.
Actress in a Leading Role
Viola Davis, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday
Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman
Frances McDormand, Nomadland
Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman
Who should win: Carey Mulligan
Who will win: Viola Davis or Carey Mulligan
I'm sorry, dear reader, to not give you one definitive pick here, but this race feels too close to call. Most years, a clear frontrunner will have emerged after pulling off consecutive wins at a number of precursor awards shows, but, this year, Viola Davis got the SAG Award, Andra Day won at the Golden Globes and Carey Mulligan took Critics Choice, while Vanessa Kirby and Frances McDormand were the only two to earn BAFTA nominations.
Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy
Olivia Colman, The Father
Amanda Seyfried, Mank
Yuh-Jung Youn, Minari
Who Will Win: Amanda Seyfried, Mank
Who Should Win: Yuh-Jung Youn, Minari
Minari works because of Yuh-Jung Youn. You know that performance that Hillbilly Elegy thought Glenn Close was going to have? Yuh-Jung Youn does that about ten-fold, owning the film with an effort that’s actually Oscar-worthy and not Oscar-baiting. The South Korean veteran’s sharp yet caring grandmother, who moves into her daughter’s Arkansas home alongside her family, is every bit as deep and detailed as the overall life that Minari paints. Her jabbing dialogue and whipcrack punchlines sting, but in that backhandedly loving way that only relatives and dear friends can get away with. That’s because her wide-ranging performance is part slapstick, part symbol, and part plot point—all of which are handled with elegance and engaging energy. Few actors could chug piss (it was a prank, ok?), then convincingly turn it into an endearing lesson between grandmother and grandson. Rapport with her castmates, particularly that grandson (Alan S. Kim), makes the hefty emotional beats stick—but more importantly, it allows the nuances filling out the character’s corners to feel real. She loves watching wrestling but hates to see them risk injury. Yuh-Jung Youn’s playful eyes and poised movements in these moments create a character far better than her foul-mouthed card playing…though her winning performance makes us feel lucky we get both.
Who Should Be Ashamed They Were Nominated: Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy
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: Daniel Kaluuya
Who will win: Daniel Kaluuya
It must be said, Paul Raci is the only nominee this year who is actually supporting. But some category fudging aside -- nothing new at the Oscars -- Daniel Kaluuya is the clear pick to win, having clinched the Golden Globe, Critics Choice Award and SAG Award. The movie is basically an acting showcase for Kaluuya, and playing Black Panther Party Chairman Fred Hampton, he expertly balances the showier monologues of Hampton the revolutionary with the more vulnerable moments of Hampton the man. (I wouldn't worry too much about the possibility of Kaluuya splitting votes with Judas co-star Lakeith Stanfield, since the latter's inclusion in the category remains a head-scratcher.)
Emma – Alexandra Byrne
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – Ann Roth
Mank – Trish Summerville
Mulan – Bina Daigeler
Pinocchio – Massimo Cantini Parrini
Who Will Win: Mank – Trish Summerville
Who Should Win: Emma – Alexandra Byrne
The Father – Production Design: Peter Francis; Set Decoration: Cathy Featherstone
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – Production Design: Mark Ricker; Set Decoration: Karen O’Hara and Diana Stoughton
Mank – Production Design: Donald Graham Burt; Set Decoration: Jan Pascale
News of the World – Production Design: David Crank; Set Decoration: Elizabeth Keenan
Tenet – Production Design: Nathan Crowley; Set Decoration: Kathy Lucas
Who Will Win: Mank – Production Design: Donald Graham Burt; Set Decoration: Jan Pascale
Who Should Win: The Father – Production Design: Peter Francis; Set Decoration: Cathy Featherstone
Judas and the Black Messiah
News of the World
The Trial of the Chicago 7
Who will win: "Nomadland"
Here's that movie again! The documentary feel of the movie, which also features lush vistas of the midwest, is pulled off perfectly by DP Joshua James Richards.
Who should win: It's hard to watch "Mank" and not appreciate the filming techniques used by Erik Messerschmidt, which both give a hat-tip to Orson Welles' "Citizen Kane" and thrust viewers back to 1940s Hollywood.
Who could surprise us: Sean Bobbitt getting it for "Judas and the Black Messiah" would certainly be a pleasant surprise. A few shots in that movie are some of the most beautiful I've seen from any movie all year.
The Father – Yorgos Lamprinos
Nomadland – Chloé Zhao
Promising Young Woman – Frédéric Thoraval
Sound of Metal – Mikkel E.G. Nielsen
The Trial of the Chicago 7 – Alan Baumgarten
Who Will Win: Nomadland – Chloé Zhao
Who Should Win: Sound of Metal – Mikkel E.G. Nielsen
Finding the rhythm of filmmaking’s visual language and making it work with spoken dialogue is one thing; blending the rhythms of camerawork, spoken language, sign language and musical performance is a magic trick. So many hyperspecific, understated performances in Sound of Metal would be undersold or underappreciated if not for the masterful editing holding all the different forms of communication together, melding them into conversations that are either meant to be understood or incomprehensible—all through the power of implication, juxtaposition and shot length. The film’s mastery in both sound and editing are intertwined to make it one of the year’s most technically impressive narratives.
Love and Monsters – Matt Sloan, Genevieve Camilleri, Matt Everitt and Brian Cox
The Midnight Sky – Matthew Kasmir, Christopher Lawrence, Max Solomon and David Watkins
Mulan – Sean Faden, Anders Langlands, Seth Maury and Steve Ingram
The One and Only Ivan – Nick Davis, Greg Fisher, Ben Jones and Santiago Colomo Martinez
Tenet – Andrew Jackson, David Lee, Andrew Lockley and Scott Fisher
Who Will Win: Mulan – Sean Faden, Anders Langlands, Seth Maury and Steve Ingram
Who Should Win: Tenet – Andrew Jackson, David Lee, Andrew Lockley and Scott Fisher
Yeah, yeah, Tenet has been a bit of a maximalist Christopher Nolan joke since its inception (haha), but a VFX nod might be the best way to appreciate its incredible choreography, stunt work and the effects—large and small—making it all stick. With a film that’s characters encourage you to not worry and simply watch, you better have a lot of confidence in your team’s ability to sell your gimmick. Nolan’s team sells it.
If Anything Happens I Love You
Who Will Win: Burrow
Who Should Win: Genius Loci
Over the Moon
A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon
Who will win: "Soul"
Oscar voters love Pixar movies, and since this one is done with a little more polish (and found more critical acclaim) than "Onward," it's best to put your money on this title.
Who should win: "Soul" is the worthy choice.
Who could surprise us: "Wolfwalkers" has been a critical darling the whole year and it may pull off a surprise win in this category.
The Man Who Sold His Skin
Quo Vadis, Aida?
Who Will Win: Another Round
C’mon, it got a director nomination alongside the fancy American films.
Who Should Win: Collective
But the Academy should put some respect on this doc’s name, seeing as it’s a stunning film that’ll likely get overtaken by the crushing Time.
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 Will Win: Mank – Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross
Who Should Win: Soul – Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Jon Batiste
Hey, as long as Reznor and Ross take one home this year, I’ll be happy—though this is the rare category where each nominee could pull out a win and be completely worthy. It would also be nice if Da 5 Bloods’ single nomination paid off, but don’t hold your breath. That’s a snub, snub, snub that won’t ever be fixed.
Thomas Vinterberg, Another Round
David Fincher, Mank
Lee Isaac Chung, Minari
Chloé Zhao, Nomadland
Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman
Who should win: Chloé Zhao
Who will win: Chloé Zhao
Best Picture and Best Director don't necessarily go hand-in-hand, but when the Picture winner is as much a filmmaker's film as Nomadland is, Chloé Zhao will surely collect a little gold man as its director ahead of taking the night's top honor. (She's swept the awards circuit thus far.) Zhao's film is exquisitely cinematic and deeply human, and she not only directs an Oscar-worthy turn from star Frances McDormand but equally touching performances from her cast of non-professional actors and real-world nomads. When she wins, she will become only the second female winner in Oscars history (after Kathryn Bigelow in 2010), and the first Asian woman to win Best Director.
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