2021 Oscars: Predictions and Picks

They are finally happening.

The 93rd Oscars take place this Sunday night. There is no doubt in my mind that they will be the weirdest Oscars of my lifetime. My expectations for the show are mixed following the strange and brutal year in film we just went through. Overall, I’m just hoping for a fun ceremony that properly celebrates the film world after the entire industry was upended by the COVID-19 pandemic. But, given that this is still the Academy we’re talking about, I’m prepared for absolutely anything.

Many of this year’s categories feel incredibly predictable. It feels like there have been clear frontrunners in most of the major awards for months now. Still, I’m certain there will be at least a few surprises throughout the night. I’m just hoping they are the types of surprises that leave us cheering, like Parasite‘s win did over 14 months ago at this point, and not the types of surprises that leave us shaking our heads at the screen.

For this blog, I’m going to give both my predictions for each award, and share what I personally would pick as the winner as well. I’m going to include predictions and picks for every award except the three short film awards. And, as I have less to say about some of the smaller awards, I’m going to get those out of the way quickly to start, before I delve deeper into some of the main awards.

Achievement In Sound:

  • Greyhound
  • Mank
  • News of the World
  • Soul
  • Sound of Metal

My Prediction: Sound of MetalMy Pick: Sound of Metal.

First off, I think it was a very smart decision for the Academy to combine sound editing and sound mixing into one award. I just wanted to mention that because the Academy is an organization that I very rarely get to say positive things about. This award feels like a lock though. Sound of Metal had the most effective and creative use of sound in any film from 2020.

Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling:

  • Emma
  • Hillbilly Elegy
  • Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
  • Mank
  • Pinocchio

My Prediction: Ma Rainey’s Black BottomMy Pick: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

This is another category in which there is a clear frontrunner that I happen to agree with. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is the heavy betting favorite in this category and I think it is well deserved. The makeup and hairstyling work on Viola Davis alone is incredible in this film.

Achievement in Costume Design:

  • Emma
  • Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
  • Mank
  • Mulan
  • Pinocchio

My Prediction: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. My Pick: Mank.

I actually think Emma has a somewhat decent chance of sneaking in and winning this award, but Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is the favorite. Personally, I would award this category to Mank, because I feel the costume work in that film is a little bit more grand and expansive than any of the other nominees.

Achievement in Cinematography:

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

My Prediction: Joshua James Richards. My Pick: Joshua James Richards.

This feels like a two person race between Joshua James Richards from Nomadland and Erik Messerschmidt from Mank, with Richards being the slight favorite. Even though I like Mank as a film more than Nomadland, I can’t deny the stunning nature of how that film looks and how it was shot. The Academy does like things that remind them of old Hollywood though, so I wouldn’t be shocked if Messerschmidt won here.

Achievement in Production Design:

  • The Father
  • Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
  • Mank
  • News of the World
  • Tenet

My Prediction: Mank. My Pick: Mank.

Even though it is nominated in ten categories, this could potentially be Mank‘s only win of the night. The production design in Mank is pretty outstanding though, and it reminds me of last year’s winner in this category, Once Upon A Time… in Hollywood, because both films were able to accurately recreate a time from the past.

Achievement in Film Editing:

  • The Father
  • Nomadland
  • Promising Young Woman
  • Sound of Metal
  • The Trial of the Chicago 7

My Prediction: The Trial of the Chicago 7My Pick: The Father.

This is the first category I’ve predicted so far without a clear favorite. Sound of Metal and The Trial of the Chicago 7 are neck and neck here. I could easily see either one of them winning. Ultimately, I decided to go with Trial because I can see myself getting nervous when it wins this award early in the night that it will start to pick up momentum and win more in the bigger categories later on. Personally, I do not see how The Father isn’t the frontrunner in this category. The editing in that film is more well done and more vital to the story than either of the favorites.

Achievement in Visual Effects:

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

My Prediction: Tenet. My Pick: Tenet.

The only film that could potentially steal this award from Tenet is The Midnight Sky. I’m really hoping that does not happen simply because The Midnight Sky is not very good, and I would really enjoy seeing Tenet become an Oscar winning film.

Best Original Song:

  • “Fight For You,” Judas and the Black Messiah
  • “Hear My Voice,” The Trial of the Chicago 7
  • “Husavik,” Eurovision Song Contest
  • “Io Sì (Seen),” The Life Ahead
  • “Speak Now,” One Night in Miami…

My Prediction: “Speak Now.” My Pick: “Speak Now.”

This is a frequently strange category at the Oscars, and this year’s list of nominees feels extra underwhelming. I don’t love any of these songs, but “Speak Now” does feel like the favorite at this point. I wouldn’t be surprised to see “Io Sì” win here though. I’ve even seen a couple of people predict “Husavik” from Eurovision, which isn’t the worst idea in the world because the Academy does like to do weird shit in this category sometimes.

Best Original Score:

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

My Prediction: Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross & Jon Batiste. My Pick: Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross (Mank).

This is one of the biggest locks of the night so I won’t spend much time on it. Soul has been the clear frontrunner for this award since the beginning of Oscars season—and even though I prefer Reznor and Ross’ work on Mank—they did incredible work on Soul as well and I would have no problem with that score winning.

Best Animated Feature:

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

My Prediction: SoulMy Pick: Soul.

Here we have another massive lock. I don’t see any way that any film other than Soul can win this award on Sunday night. Historically, Pixar has dominated this category and that is certainly not going to change this year. I thought Soul could have received a Best Picture nomination if I’m being honest.

Best International Feature Film:

  • Another Round
  • Better Days
  • Collective
  • The Man Who Sold His Skin
  • Quo Vadis, Aida?

My Prediction: Another Round. My Pick: Another Round.

And the streak of massive locks continues, as Another Round is almost certainly going to win in this category. Again, I would have no problem with the favorite winning here, given that Another Round was in my top ten movies of the year list.

Best Documentary Feature:

  • Collective
  • Crip Camp
  • The Mole Agent
  • My Octopus Teacher
  • Time

My Prediction: The Octopus Teacher. My Pick: Time.

This will most likely be the first award of the night that truly makes me upset. Films like Time and Collective have legitimate cases to be considered amongst the best films of the year, not just documentaries. On the other hand, The Octopus Teacher is probably the worst film amongst the five nominees. I hope I’m wrong about this one, but somehow The Octopus Teacher has established itself as a decently heavy favorite in this category.

Best Adapted Screenplay:

  • Sacha Baron Cohen & Anthony Hines & Dan Swimer & Peter Baynham & Erica Rivinoja & Dan Mazer & Jena Friedman & Lee Kern & Nina Pedrad, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
  • Christopher Hampton & Florian Zeller, The Father
  • Chloé Zhao, Nomadland
  • Kemp Powers, One Night in Miami…
  • Ramin Bahrani, The White Tiger

My Prediction: Chloé Zhao. My Pick: Kemp Powers.

This is another one of those categories that feels like a two film race. I would be pretty shocked to see anything other than Nomadland or The Father take home the win here. Ultimately, I decided to go with Chloé Zhao/Nomadland as my prediction here because I just think that film is going to do very well on Sunday night. I wouldn’t say I absolutely love any of the five screenplays nominated in this category. I chose Kemp Powers and his script for One Night in Miami… as my personal pick because I think that was a fairly impressive and difficult-to-pull-off screenplay. I also think that film is going to be overlooked on Sunday night for the most part, so I wanted to give it a brief shoutout here.

Best Original Screenplay:

  • Will Berson & Shaka King & Kenny Lucas & Keith Lucas, Judas and the Black Messiah
  • Lee Isaac Chung, Minari
  • Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman
  • Darius Marder & Abraham Marder & Derek Cianfrance, Sound of Metal
  • Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7

My Prediction: Emerald Fennell. My Pick: Lee Isaac Chung.

This is a difficult category to predict because, historically, the Academy really does love Aaron Sorkin. He seems to be running in second place behind Emerald Fennell and her screenplay for Promising Young Woman though. So, I don’t feel super confident in my prediction here but I’m comforted by the fact that Promising Young Woman does feel like the type of film that the Academy likes rewarding in this category. Personally, I think Lee Isaac Chung’s screenplay for Minari is the best and most effective script amongst the five nominees.

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 Prediction: Daniel Kaluuya. My Pick: Daniel Kaluuya.

Three out of four of the acting categories feel like pretty decent locks, and this is one of them. I do still believe Daniel Kaluuya AND LaKeith Stanfield are the leads of their film and should have been included in Best Actor instead of this category (they’re literally playing the Judas and the black messiah characters in a film called Judas and the Black Messiah). However, Kaluuya is the clear favorite in this category and is definitely going to win. He deserves it too, his performance in that film is nothing short of mesmerizing.

Best Supporting Actress:

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

My Prediction: Yuh-Jung Youn. My Pick: Amanda Seyfried.

Yuh-Jung Youn from Minari has established herself as the favorite in this category over the last month or so, and I don’t see an upset coming on Sunday night. At 73 years old, this would be an incredibly impressive win for her. Even though I do admire her performance in Minari, I still think that Amanda Seyfried gave the best performance by a supporting actress in 2020. This is a case where I wouldn’t be disappointed at all if the favorite wins out over my pick though, because I do love both of those performances. I do think it is important to point out that even though some people think Minari has a chance to pull off the upset and win Best Picture, there is a pretty strong chance that this is the only award that it, or someone who worked on it, will win. That feels odd given that this film has seemingly been gaining a little bit of momentum heading into the ceremony Sunday night.

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 Prediction: Chadwick Boseman. My Pick: Chadwick Boseman.

Chadwick Boseman and his incredible performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom has long been considered the favorite in this category. Obviously, this would be a posthumous award for Boseman, and I’m really hoping it happens. This would be a nice way to celebrate the unbelievable career of a man that the world lost way too soon. Anthony Hopkins is the only other person who seemingly has a chance in this category, but truthfully, it would just feel strange if anyone else’s name was announced on Sunday night besides Boseman’s. Please Academy, just do the right thing here.

Best Actress:

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

My Prediction: Frances McDormand. My Pick: Viola Davis.

And here it is, the one acting category without a clear favorite. Undoubtably, this category will be one of the most exciting moments of the night because I really don’t think anyone knows what’s going to happen. If Frances McDormand is able to pull out the win here, it would be a historic one. She would join Walter Brennan, Daniel Day-Lewis, Ingrid Bergman, Jack Nicholson, Meryl Streep, and Katharine Hepburn as the only people with three or more wins in the acting categories. Moreover, she would join only Hepburn and Day-Lewis as the only ones with three or more wins in the lead acting categories (McDromand has previously won Best Actress for her work in Fargo and Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri). That being said, a historic moment is no guarantee because Carey Mulligan and Viola Davis both have a very good chance of winning this award on Sunday night. Honestly, I wouldn’t even be that shocked to see Andra Day pull of the win here. Personally, I though Davis had the most impressive performance out of the five nominees, but I know the Academy loves McDormand and I’m pretty sure they love Nomadland as well. We’ll see.

Best Director:

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

My Prediction: Chloé Zhao. My Pick: David Fincher.

Well, Chloé Zhao is the strong favorite in this category and I’m certainly not bold enough to predict an upset here. For many months now, people have been predicting a big night for Nomadland at the Oscars, and come Sunday, I think they are going to be proven right. Unfortunately, that may remove a lot of the drama and the intrigue from the actual telecast tomorrow night, but it is what it is. For my own personal pick in this category, I went with David Fincher because I really admire his work on Mank. But truthfully, I would have no problem with Zhao winning this award because Nomadland is an incredibly well made and well directed film. I would also really enjoy seeing Lee Isaac Chung or Thomas Vinterbeg win in this category, but there is almost no chance of that happening. Perhaps we will get an upset, but ultimately I think this will turn out to be a night owned by Zhao and Nomadland.

Best Picture:

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

My Prediction: NomadlandMy Pick: MankMy Pick From The Films That Actually Have A Chance: Minari.

As I said in the previous category, I think Nomadland is going to be the big winner of Sunday night. This has been the chalk pick for the entirety of awards season, and once again I am just not bold enough to predict an upset. By no means will I be mad if Nomadland wins, but I won’t be overjoyed either. I do genuinely like this film, but I think my reaction to it winning Best Picture will basically be indifference. I think a lot of that has to do with the elongated nature of this year’s Oscars season, and the fact that this win has been talked about and predicted for literally about five months now. If an upset does somehow take place, it would be either The Trial of the Chicago 7 or Minari taking home the award. I really don’t think any of the other nominees have a chance. Out of the three films that could win, I would be most disappointed by a The Trial of the Chicago 7 win and most delighted by a Minari win. I’m genuinely hoping for an enjoyable and exciting show on Sunday night, but I don’t think we’re going to get any shocks or surprising moments in the Best Picture or Best Director categories. Who knows though, I could very well be wrong. I guess we’re just going to have to wait and see.

My Best Picture Ballot:

  1. Mank
  2. Judas and the Black Messiah
  3. Minari
  4. Nomadland
  5. Sound of Metal
  6. Promising Young Woman
  7. The Father
  8. The Trial of the Chicago 7

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