2021 Oscar Predictions

It’s that time of year again….FINALLY! The Oscars are here and as I do every year I’m making my predictions of who will and who I think SHOULD win the biggest awards in film. If you’ve read my blog before you know how this goes. I’ll be breaking down each category of the night picking who I think should and will win the honor and why. Sometimes I’ll agree with the experts, other times I’ll go against the grain but I’ll admit 2021 seems to have more than its fair share of predictable winners.

As you read below I will be signifying my picks in the list of nominees in italics while the nominee I think will win the honor will be in bold. If I agree with the experts then the pick will be both.

Let me know your winner picks in the comments whether you agree with me or not and look for my breakdown of the winners within 24 hours after the big show this Sunday, April 25 at 8:00 p.m. on ABC! Let’s get to it!

Best Picture
”The Father”
“Judas and the Black Messiah”
“Promising Young Woman”
“Sound of Metal”
“The Trial of the Chicago 7”

MY PICK/WILL WIN: Many of the experts feel this is a three-horse race including “Minari” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7” but most, including myself, feel that “Nomadland” will take the top honor of the night. It’s been one of the most hyped movies of the year and for good reason. It seems to ooze the artistic touch that Academy voters like to lean towards. However, I wouldn’t count out “Minari” or “Chicago 7” by any means, both of which would make for historical wins at the ceremony as “Minari” would be the second (consecutive and historically) primarily foreign language film to win the honor while “Chicago 7” would give Netflix its first ever Best Picture win. In my opinion though this is “Nomadland’s” award to lose.

Best Actress
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”

MY PICK: Going into this month I was sure Andra Day had this award in the bag, but now I’m not so sure. Even still, I personally think Day deserves the award the most in a very impressive class of nominees. Every one of these actresses stood out in their respective films in big ways, but what makes Day’s performance most impressive for me is just how much she stood out in “The United States vs. Billie Holiday” which for me was a boring, subpar biographical drama with Day as the only shining light in a pool of blandness. Maybe the reason she’s at risk of losing the award is because the lifelessness of everything around her made her look that much better so voters might second guess her performance, but for me she is who SHOULD win based on how much she successfully carried the movie on her own shoulders in her first major film persomance.

WILL WIN: While Day took the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Leading Role, all signs point to Carey Mulligan as her biggest competition who may have earned enough support and buzz in recent months to warrant her first Oscar win. Experts seem to believe that Mulligan has usurped Day as the favorite and it wouldn’t be surprising as, unlike many of the acting categories, the Best Actress award has been rather inconsistent between the two major American award ceremonies. A Globe doesn’t always guarantee an Oscar and if Mulligan does defeat Day it would be much deserved given her excellence in carrying the bulk of the dramatic subtext in “Promising Young Woman” on her own shoulders. Maybe it means more than Mulligan stood out in a GOOD movie whereas Day stood out in a much less polished film.

Best Actor
Riz Ahmed, “Sound of Metal”
Chadwick Boseman, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
Anthony Hopkins, “The Father”
Gary Oldman, “Mank”
Steven Yeun, “Minari”

MY PICK/WILL WIN: Back in 2009 the Academy awarded the Best Supporting Actor honor to a recently deceased Heath Ledger and in 2021 I think another beloved gone-too-soon actor will take the Best Actor award. Chadwick Boseman’s death in 2020 due to cancer shocked the world as the “Black Panther” and “42” actor was in his prime and spent a lot of time hiding his illness from the world. Fans are demanding he win a posthumous Oscar for his worthy contribution to “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” and the Golden Globe win he garnered for the role all but solidified his nomination and eventual victory. He’s not only my pick, but the most likely victor…HOWEVER I would be remiss if I didn’t give credit to Anthony Hopkins who in any other class would be the MUST WIN actor here as his performance in “The Father” is not only Oscar worthy but possibly one of the greatest performances in a career filled with iconic works. I almost considered him my pick, but my respect and hope for Boseman’s legacy to be solidified with an Oscar was just too much for me to root against him.

Best Director
Lee Isaac Chung, “Minari”
Emerald Fennell, “Promising Young Woman”
David Fincher, “Mank”
Chloe Zhao, “Nomadland”
Thomas Vinterberg, “Another Round”

Courtesy of Variety – Director/Writer Chloé Zhao and Frances McDormand on the set of NOMADLAND. Photo Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2020 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved

MY PICK/WILL WIN: This one feels extremely easy to predict. While “Nomadland” has some real competition in the Best Picture category, all signs are pointing to the film’s director Chloe Zhao winning the Best Director trophy as the second woman and first female Asian filmmaker to earn the honor. Even if she loses, I feel like an Asian filmmaker will walk away because “Minari” director Lee Isaac Chung is the distant runner-up in a lot of projections. Zhao deserves the honor the most seeing how involved she was in every aspect of her modern masterpiece. A cut and dry award that would be the shocker of the night if I’m wrong.

Best Supporting Actress
Maria Bakalova, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”
Glenn Close, “Hillbilly Elegy”
Olivia Colman, “The Father”
Amanda Seyfried, “Mank”
Youn Yuh-jung, “Minari”

MY PICK: This is one I’m prepared to be wrong on because my pick is actually at the bottom of almost every projection I’ve seen, but I would really like to see Amanda Seyfried walk away with the honor here. I think her work in “Mank”, while lacking screen time compared to other nominees, was some of her very best and giving credit where credit is due in a competitive field of candidates, Seyfried is the one established actor in this category who I felt set a new bar for her own career. She won’t win, but I think she would deserve it if she did.

WILL WIN: Youn Yuh-jung is a new name for most western audiences, myself included, but her role as the grandmother in “Minari” was incredible. She made quite a statement as the traditionalist trying to adapt to western society and when looking at her competition, the aforementioned Seyfried wasn’t a prominant in her film’s story, Olivia Coleman was good in “The Father” but not good enough to outshine the competition, Glenn Close is also nominated for a Razzie for the same performance, and Maria Bakalova similarly made her debut to western audiences but in a “Borat” movie with less complexity to her role. I think overall Youn left the best impression in many ways. If and when she wins she’ll be only the second Asian actress to win in this category after Miyoshi Umeki way back in 1957. Effectively, since she’s the first Korean actress ever nominated for an acting Oscar, she would also be the first Korean Actress to win an Oscar.

Best Supporting Actor
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”

MY PICK/WILL WIN: As you can see, there are a lot of categories where I’m in agreement with the experts this year and if there was any of the acting awards where things seemed most obvious it’s Best Supporting Actor. Daniel Kaluuya is the near unanimous pick in most expert analyses I’ve looked at and was my pick for the win as soon as he earned the Golden Globe. Only twice in the last decade, in 2015 and 2016, has the Globe winner not won the Oscar here and in 2016 the Globe winner wasn’t even nominated by the Academy so the odds are in Kaluuya’s favor. It’s not like he doesn’t deserve it as his powerhouse performance in “Judas and the Black Messiah” proved that the “Get Out” and “Black Panther” star has a massive range and can tackle seemingly any role handed to him, even a controversial real life activist.

Best Animated Feature Film
“Over the Moon”
“A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon”

MY PICK/WILL WIN: There’s no contest here. “Soul” was my pick for the best movie of 2020 and it’s a shame it didn’t get a Best Picture nomination. While this is a pretty good list of candidates there’s no movie that matches up to Pixar’s modern masterpiece. I’d say if there’s one that I think deserves to be a contender it’s “Wolfwalkers” which is a beautiful movie worth checking out, but I find it hard to bet against Pixar here. It should also be noted that usually the Golden Globe winner goes on to win the Oscar, however three times in the last decade that wasn’t the case, so surprises do happen. I don’t think 2021 will bring any surprises though…or at least it shouldn’t.

Best Cinematography
”Judas and the Black Messiah”
“News of the World”
“The Trial of the Chicago 7″

MY PICK: There are a lot of great options here but I’m going to separate myself from the majority and, for a second time, give “Mank” my pick despite the odds being against it. This black and white gem features some gorgeous work by cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt that combines simplicity and complexity in some pretty unique ways. It looks beautiful and if there’s one award I think “Mank” can truly steal from the much more hyped competition I think this will and should be the one.

WILL WIN: However, the simple but engaging cinematography of “Nomadland” seems to be the favorite and it’s hard to count out director Chloe Zhao who also did all the cinematography of her fantastic film on her own. Sometimes simplicity and stripped down realism is the best route and where “Mank” featured more Hollywood flair and artistry “Nomadland” catches the eye by presenting a documentary-like presentation that makes it not only believable but engrossing as well. Zhao could walk away with two big awards on the night and it would be well earned.

Best Production Design
”The Father”
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
“News of the World”

MY PICK/WILL WIN: This category is one of the hardest for me the grade every year but 2021 features probably the easiest choice so far in my years of predicting these awards. “Mank” is a beautiful movie, as I already implied in the previous category, but one of its best elements is its sets and production design which bring us back to a bygone era of Hollywood through backlots, movie sets, dinner parties and more. The overall aesthetic of this story is remarkable flashing us back to a legendary time in Hollywood history. There are some great options here but while films like “The Father” and “News of the World” used more readily available backdrops to transport us into their worlds and “Tenet” and “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” complimented the action with their design, “Mank’s” production design choices feels like characters all their own bringing us into a whole different era in both visual style and personality.

Best Sound
“News of the World”
“Sound of Metal”

MY PICK/WILL WIN: “I’m really happy they combined the “sound” categories for this year’s show and the winner is an obvious one. “Sound of Metal” might be taking a back seat to every other candidate in the Best Picture race for most of the other categories, but its entire premise revolves around sound, or the lack there of, and music which makes it a shoe-in for this category. I think “Greyhound” would be a good secondary choice although “Soul” is also deserving through its used of sound and music to complement its story, but this is “Sound of Metal’s” honor hands down.

Best Visual Effects
”Love and Monsters”
“The Midnight Sky”
“The One and Only Ivan”

MY PICK/WILL WIN: I swear I’m not avoiding thinking outside the box just to conform to the experts, but a lot of these secondary awards feel pretty easy to predict. Like “Sound of Metal” with the Sound Editing award, this one feels easily spoken for since “Tenet” is a visual masterpiece and is completely designed around its visual aesthetic. Its reversing time mechanic is eyepopping and by far the best element of its presentation. The other four films depend heavily on computer generated effects to get the job done and while “Tenet” isn’t free of CGI, many of its incredible stunts and visuals were actually done practically. That alone would make it criminal for the Academy to vote against it.

Best Film Editing
”The Father”
“Promising Young Woman”
“Sound of Metal”
“The Trial of the Chicago 7″

MY PICK: This category is all over the board in terms of expert opinions, but I’m going against the grain picking a movie none of the experts I’ve seen seems to think has a chance here. “The Father” is an amazingly edited feature presenting a man’s experience with Alzheimer’s by editing together scenes that may or may not be in his head, with specific moments sometimes happening multiple times. It’s an incredibly involving mind trip that wouldn’t be nearly as memorable if it weren’t for the carefully crafted use of disjointed storytelling to immerse viewers in the experience. It’s done so flawlessly that I found myself wondering how they made it happen, especially when it feels like it’s all shot in one take and yet everything feels exactly the same as when that scene was previously shown. Just see this movie and you’ll know why I think it’s the most deserving!

WILL WIN: As I said this category is all over the place and while the experts believe “Sound of Metal” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7” are frontrunners, quite a few also put “Nomadland” in the mix and I’m going to go out on a limb and agree with them. “Nomadland” is very well edited in a style that makes it look like a documentary of sorts, something I discussed in my prediction for Best Cinematography. This appears to be one of the most competitive and unpredictable categories but I’m going with the Dark Horse here even if “Sound of Metal” and “Chicago 7” might be the odds on favorites to snag the statuette.

Best Original Screenplay
”Judas and the Black Messiah”
“Promising Young Woman”
“Sound of Metal”
“The Trial of the Chicago 7″

MY PICK: I personally think “Minari” is the best option in this class even if it may not win the award. Director and writer Lee Isaac Chung put a lot of love into this tale of cultural assimilation using personal experience as his inspiration and the result was a delightfully personal story that is destined to be one of my favorite films of 2021. I’ve always had a soft spot for movies that have that personal touch, so to me “Minari” is the most deserving screenplay here.

WILL WIN: After “The Trial of the Chicago 7” won the Golden Globe I had it pegged as the favorite for this award when it was nominated, but not-so-surprisingly it’s very common for the Globe winner NOT to earn the Oscar. I don’t think “Chicago 7” will get an Oscar to match and instead I’m going to predict the odds-on favorite “Promising Young Woman” will earn the honor. Director and writer Emerald Fennell crafted a fine piece of cinema perfect for the “Me Too” movement that focuses on a character driven journey for revenge and is somehow effectively both subtle and aggressive in what it has to say. If it does win I think it will be a deserving honoree even if it’s not my personal pick.

Best Adapted Screenplay
”Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”
“The Father”
“One Night in Miami”
“The White Tiger”

My Pick: This is a category where I THINK my personal pick will win but it’s not the one I truly believe will take the honor. “The Father” is the movie I want to win. Based on a play by its director Florian Zeller, “The Father” is a perfectly adapted stage to screen piece that brings all the best elements of a captivating stage drama to film without ever feeling like an adaptation. The screenplay and story structure feel well crafted and inspired sending viewers on a journey like nothing I’ve ever seen in a dramatic narrative before. Hopefully it will take home the Oscar the way I think it deserved to take home the Golden Globe.

WILL WIN: While I truly believe “The Father” has a chance I feel “Nomadland”, an adaptation of a nonfiction book, has a very good shot and could probably win the award based on its hype alone. This is one pick where I hope I’m wrong but not because “Nomadland” would be underserving. On the contrary, it’s a very well adapted piece. I just think “The Father” is superior in terms of successfully adapting the complexity of its source material. I’m giving “Nomadland” the edge but I’m hoping this is one category where my personal preference is spot on.

Best Costume Design
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”

MY PICK: It’s been well over a year since the movie was even released but I remember sitting in the theater just before the pandemic saying that “Emma” was destined to be my favorite for the costume design Oscar. Here I am in April of 2021 and my feelings haven’t changed. The costumes in this adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel are absolutely beautiful and bring viewers right into the bygone era of its setting. I tend to love these traditional costumes and the colors (or lack thereof) and detail put into them so I’m hoping the Academy can appreciate it as much as I do.

WILL WIN: Many experts believe the Oscars will go with more subtle period clothing by honoring “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” this year and I can see that happening. The costumes in this film aren’t as flashy as “Emma’s” but they’re just as impressive in terms of capturing the style of the time as well as the personality of the characters. There’s a lot to be said about the more subtle yet still eye-catching style of this Netflix original but I still hope “Emma” will take home the trophy. I just personally liked those costumes more.

Best Hair and Makeup
“Hillbilly Elegy”
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”

MY PICK/WILL WIN: While I’m rooting against “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” for the Costume Design award I will agree with the experts in saying the film deserves and will win the Best Hair and Makeup honor. While I loved the work done in films like “Emma” and “Mank”, the costumes and production design for those movies were the most eye catching to me while the makeup and hairstyling felt like significant elements of the characters in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”. From Chadwick Boseman’s more cleaned up look reflecting his superiority complex to Viola Davis’s overdone makeup to emulate the image of the famed singer, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” definitely earned it’s spot as the favorite.

Best Original Score
”Da 5 Bloods”
“News of the World”

MY PICK/WILL WIN: There’s no way I can root against or bet against “Soul” here. Pixar’s masterpiece is probably the biggest competition against “Sound of Metal” for the Best Sound honor and it’s score and use of music in its storytelling is a big reason why. In this category it stands alone as the most notable, original and memorable score in the bunch especially since its unique music feels like a character all its own at times. There’s not much else I can say, and the experts agree, “Soul” will be the sixth animated movie (all Disney affiliated) and the first animated picture since 2009 to win this honor.

Best Original Song
”Husavik (My Hometown),” “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga”
“Fight for You,” “Judas and the Black Messiah”
“Io Se (Seen),” “The Life Ahead”
“Speak Now,” “One Night in Miami”
“Hear My Voice,” “The Trial of the Chicago 7”

MY PICK: Unlike in past years, I don’t really have a lot of investment in who wins this award so my pick goes to the song that to me was an absolute earworm in 2020, “Husavik”. It probably won’t win, although some experts have picked it as the potential victor, but I haven’t been able to stop listening to the ballad since “Eurovision Song Contest” was released and it made for an excellent showstopper that cut right to the heart of this comedic Netflix gem. This song, and the movie, inspired me to go back and explore the history of the real-life Eurovision Song Contest and I thank it for introducing me to a whole new world of musical greatness. I think it’s a dark horse pick, but I hope it can pull out the win because it’s truly a heartfelt standout in a movie filled with fun and memorable musical numbers.

WILL WIN: “Speak Now” from “One Night in Miami” seems to be the favorite here and I can understand why. It’s a good song sung by one of the film’s stars and has a relevant and timely message connected to the movie’s theme. It’s a safe but deserving pick for the Academy and in a category where I really don’t have much investment save for one nominee I don’t really have much of a reason to root against it. A solid if predictable pick especially for a time when songs like this need to be heard.

Best International Feature
”Another Round”
“Better Days”
“The Man Who Sold His Skin”
“Quo Vadis, Aida?”

MY PICK/WILL WIN: And finally another category there I don’t really have much investment in the 2021 class. I almost decided not to pick a favorite here, but I actually feel like the winner is obvious. “Another Round” is getting a LOT of attention going into the ceremony and director Thomas Vinterberg earned a Best Director nod for the piece so I feel if it loses this honor it would be a crime. I don’t have much else to say here other than “Another Round” will most definitely walk away with at least one Oscar to its credit and that “Minari” should have been included in this category and been the winner but was excluded due to the Oscar’s dumb limitations on the amount of English that can be spoken in the movie to be considered.

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