2021 Oscar Talk and Predictions

After a full year of studios releasing legitimately no new movies to theaters due to the widespread Coronavirus pandemic (save for TENET, which did NOT save movie theaters), 2020 was filled with a bunch of mostly mediocre to serviceable films that were direct-to-streaming. Cinema, as we used to know it, has probably died forever and the only movies we’ll ever see in a movie theater ever again (in a post-vaccine world) will be something from a franchise, an existing IP, or something that comes from the evil monopolistic corporate line of Disney. Still, it’s Hollywood’s big night and some film has to be crowned the winner of all these Oscars, so let’s talk about the nominees and who SHOULD win and who WILL win a few of the major categories. It’s time for the 93rd Academy Awards!

The Oscars might be a little stupid and not even slightly matter (how much credence should we lend to an institution that seriously awarded Rami Malek a Best Lead Actor Oscar for lip synching as Freddie Mercury???), but because of my love of film, I can never quite shake them. I just keep coming back for more and I’m here in 2021 to do so again, so let’s have some fun. Let’s first briefly take a look at the eight major films that will be nominated for Best Picture, and, by virtue, most of the other awards, this year and then examine the specific awards!

The nominees for Best Picture (and most of the films we’ll be covering today):

THE FATHER dir. Florian Zeller

JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH dir. Shaka King

MANK dir. David Fincher

MINARI dir. Lee Isaac Chung

NOMADLAND dir. Chloe Zhao

PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN dir. Emerald Fennell

SOUND OF METAL dir. Darius Marder

THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7 dir. Aaron Sorkin

THE FATHER dir. Florian Zeller

Olivia Colman (left) and Anthony Hopkins (right)

This film is 90 minutes of Anthony Hopkins just acting his ass off. Granted, it’s always been said that it’s easier for people playing characters with ailments/illnesses to truly capture their character and “wow” Academy voters, which Hopkins has here, playing a father who is badly losing his mind to dementia, but I digress. This isn’t a pleasant movie, which is okay, because movies don’t NEED to be pleasant, but I suppose the issue I have with it is that it isn’t something I probably ever need to watch again. I don’t think that makes it a bad movie, but it certainly is something I can’t ignore. Oliva Colman plays Hopkins’ daughter here, the woman responsible for taking care of him. She’s one of the best actresses alive and has been for some time and she shows us why with her performance here. Imogen Poots also makes the most of her brief screen time with a really empathetic performance. Honestly, this is one of the better Best Picture nominees this year, but I also can’t help feeling like in a decade, if somebody asks me about THE FATHER, I, ironically, may not remember it all that well.

JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH dir. Shaka King

Dan Kaluuya in the performance of his career

This is probably the best acted film top-to-bottom from last year. Dan Kaluuya, LaKeith Stanfield, and Jesse Plemons all do some of the finest work of their careers in this one. This is a frustrating film because while it looks and feels like a prestige movie that has quite a bit to say, it lacks any real thoughts or opinions about its subject matter. That isn’t to say it isn’t good, because it is good, but it’s somewhat disappointing because it could’ve been really special. The performances are to die for and easy to marvel at, but perhaps the film would feel vastly more important if it didn’t feel like it lacked any bite. It’s not at all good enough at condemning the FBI and the government for plotting the execution of Fred Hampton, nor is it adept enough at showing us just how young and easily manipulated Bill O’Neal was when he was forced by the FBI to help carry out Hampton’s assassination. It also doesn’t do a decent enough job of making us care about the Panther’s or their ideology (outside of throwing around a few buzzwords like “Socialism” and “the proletariat”) or even Hampton and O’Neal’s friendship. The acting is good enough that it propels this into being one of the best of the Best Picture nominees, but I can’t help but feel like it’s just missing a little something.

MANK dir. David Fincher

Amanda Seyfried, who is easily the best part of this movie!

David Fincher has been one of the best director’s alive since 1995, totally excelling at making crime procedurals and thrillers. He’s made some of the finest films of the last 25 years, such as ZODIAC (2007), THE SOCIAL NETWORK (2010), and SE7EN (1995). While MANK is an earnest film, totally feeling like something Fincher is deeply passionate about, it fails to really elevate beyond decent, outside of one of the strongest and most underrated performances of the year from Amanda Seyfried. It tells the “true” story behind the creation of the screenplay for CITIZEN KANE (1941) from the perspective of Herman Mankiewicz, with Gary Oldman playing the titular character. Oldman is fine. He’s a gifted actor, obviously, but he already recently won an Oscar for playing an old curmudgeon, so it’s somewhat tiring to see him revisiting what feels like essentially the same character so soon after. The movie absolutely dazzles whenever Seyfried is on the screen. She’s a breath of legitimate life whenever she appears in the movie and she legitimately helps lift the movie to higher heights. Another film that’s good, but could’ve been special! Perhaps it’s neat that Fincher’s finally answered the question as to whether or not he has a heart with a resounding “Yes!”, but I would’ve been more impressed if he just made a more interesting movie, even if it would’ve been a bit colder.

MINARI dir. Lee Isaac Chung

Film of the year! Let’s all be honest with ourselves!

In 2019, this might not have been one of the five best films of the year (which honestly just speaks to how spoiled we were that year with the movies that came out); however, in 2020, this was the finest film of the year. It probably won’t win anything at all this year because the academy has a way of completely disregarding the films that they nominate that are actually good, but I digress. MINARI tells the story of Korean immigrants who move to America in the 1980s with hopes and dreams of owning a successful farm. It’s a movie that overflows with love and compassion and is brilliantly acted by Steven Yeun, Han Ye-ri (who has not gotten enough buzz for her work in the film), Alan Kim, Noel Kate Cho, and the brilliant and incomparable Yuh-Jung Youn. It’s as funny as it is moving, particularly because of the tremendous work from both the very young Alan Kim and Yuh-Jung Youn, who really are the heartbeat and epicenter of the movie. The final act of the movie is as good as any cinema was this last year. If there was one movie I could recommend from the Best Picture list, it would be this one and I wouldn’t think twice.

NOMADLAND dir. Chloe Zhao

Frances McDormand, going for her third Oscar in NOMADLAND

The further away I get from my initial watch of this movie, the tougher I find it to be to grapple with. NOMADLAND takes place in 2011 and follows Fern (Frances McDormand), a recent widow who finds herself jobless and decides to sell all of her belongings so she can live out of a van and be a nomad in Nevada. There is lots to praise here. Chloe Zhao puts her all into the movie, directing, editing, producing, and writing it. Her passion for the story she’s telling is easily felt. The way in which the film is shot is absolutely breathtaking, too. It’s stunning to look at. McDormand, one of the greatest actresses to ever live, also delivers a very solid performance that has rightfully earned her heaps of praise. The issues with this movie come from the movie’s politics and it’s use of real nomads all throughout the movie, save for McDormand, who is obviously an uber-wealthy star actress. There is an element of poverty cosplaying here that feels shortsighted at best and insidious at worst. Also… the film is not nearly harsh enough towards Amazon, almost going as far as to having an Amazon ad at the start of the movie?? Very bizarre and nasty stuff right there. This is a difficult film to reckon with, personally, because the filmmaking is absolutely lush and wonderful. It’s a quiet, intimate film that on the surface oozes with compassion, but the politics of the film make it perhaps far too problematic, and it doesn’t help its case that the academy, stuffed with mostly all rich, white men are all eating it up.

PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN dir. Emerald Fennell

Carey Mulligan starring in a travesty!

Girlbossing rape culture might not be the most effective way to make a movie, Ms. Fennell! This movie is an albatross of a viewing experience. Billed as a “rape-revenge film”, Carey Mulligan stars as Cassandra, a girl who pretends to get drunk in nightclubs so that men can start to sexually abuse her and take advantage of her so that she can sternly wag her finger at them and tell them they’re bad (which gives the audience legitimately no catharsis). I simply cannot fathom that there is anybody alive who enjoyed this movie. Outside of the movie’s politics, which are downright disgusting, the movie is an embarrassing, incoherent mess. Mulligan, an actress who I adore, is perfectly average here, but not nearly good enough to make this viewing experience any less nasty. This is a movie that possesses the subtlety of a hammer smashing a nail into a piece of wood. Also, it’s never really funny at any moment, either! Unfortunately, in this “feminist” work (it’s actually the most reductive movie I’ve ever watched in my life), the person giving the most commendable performance in the film is Bo fucking Burnham as Cassandra’s “nice guy” boyfriend, so there’s that. This is the perfect movie for fake woke people to gobble up and think they’re “doing the work” but really, they’re just watching a terrible, clunky movie that has nothing of any substance to say. It’ll probably win a bunch of awards so the academy can feel as if they’re absolved of the Weinstein debacle, but boy, this one is a nightmare.

SOUND OF METAL dir. Darius Marder

Riz Ahmed in SOUND OF METAL

If I had to pick a runner-up to MINARI for strongest entry in the Best Picture category, SOUND OF METAL would be my pick. Riz Ahmed stars as Ruben Stone, a metal drummer suffering badly from tinnitus as he experiences total loss of hearing. It’s a grueling and nightmarish scenario to watch unfold, but Ahmed gives the performance of his life and he’s aided by stellar supporting work from both Olivia Cooke and especially Paul Raci. Movies can be as technically proficient as they want (and to this film’s credit, it is!): they can have the best editing, the best directing, the best cinematography, whatever… But if a film doesn’t have great acting, it usually can’t work. This film works because, even though it’s technically brilliant, it is absurdly human performances at the core of the film to ground it and make it essential viewing. Ahmed does heartbreaking work as he deals with his newfound disability, but it never manages to veer into the category of, say, Eddie Redmayne in THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING (2014), where it starts to feel less grounded and more like it’s capital A “Acting”. It’s all very truthful and that’s where the best acting comes from. Another viewing experience from 2020 that wasn’t all that fun to watch, but SOUND OF METAL is one of the most moving and well-made films of the category for sure.

THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7 dir. Aaron Sorkin

Sacha Baron Cohen (left) and Jeremy Strong (right) having fun!

Aaron Sorkin-Let-Other-People-Direct-Your-Screenplays-Challenge! This is a neoliberal wet dream of a movie. It’s totally fine. It’s innocuous enough, and gets a couple of fun performances out of some good character actors (I’m looking at you, Jeremy Strong and Sacha Baron Cohen), but it also is so preachy and thinks it’s so smart that it can’t help but feel grating. There is a smugness that radiates throughout the film that’s palpable and inescapable, to the point that it’s hard to even focus sometimes. And honestly, it’s not even well-directed! Sorkin can write a good screenplay now and again (see: THE SOCIAL NETWORK (2010)), even if all of his characters are way too witty and annoying for their own good, but he’s simply not a strong director and the material almost feels wasted at times because of the staleness in which he frames his shots. I don’t know. It’s a fine movie. Totally middle of the pack. I saw a lot worse this year and I saw a lot better. It’s a perfect film for the Academy to eat up because it’s safe as hell, but I guess it’s whatever. Horrifically embarrassing ending, though, to the point that I was yelling at my TV and scream laughing and rolling my eyes.

Anyway, those are the major films that will be up for almost all of the awards at this year’s Oscars. Let’s take a deeper dive into a few of the major categories!


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: Yuh-Jung Youn, MINARI

Who will win: Yuh-Jung Youn, MINARI


Honestly, I would be okay with just about any woman from this category, save for Glenn Close, who is truly awful in the offensive and inadequate HILLBILLY ELEGY and doesn’t deserve to win her first Oscar for a career lowlight. I wish wish wish so bad that I could say Maria Bakalova’s incredible work in BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM could be honored this year, especially given how difficult it is to get nominated and win acting categories at the Oscars for comedy, but it isn’t her year. As excellent as Amanda Seyfried was in MANK (and she truly was stunning and would probably be my choice if I had a vote), it’s not going to be her. Yuh-Jung Youn is the central core to the best film of the year and she will rightfully win herself an Oscar.

Yuh-Jung Youn with a brilliant performance

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: Daniel Kaluuya, JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH

Who will win: Daniel Kaluuya, JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH

This one is a lock. You could bet your house on it. Kaluuya is going to win what will probably be the first of many Oscars in his career. I’m tempted to argue for Paul Raci, who’s work in SOUND OF METAL was absolutely lovely and understated, but Kaluuya’s talent is undeniable and the performance he gives in JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH are a strong part of why the film works as it does.

Kaluuya captures Fred Hampton’s vocal cadences wonderfully, despite the stark difference in age!

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM

THE FATHER

NOMADLAND

ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI…

THE WHITE TIGER

What should win: THE FATHER

What will win: NOMADLAND

Either THE FATHER or BORAT SUBEQUENT MOVIEFILM should be taking home this trophy, as their screenplays are far superior to the sparse and quiet screenplay of NOMADLAND but they will not. Eight of the last ten Best Picture winners have taken home a screenplay award and since NOMADLAND looks to have very good odds at winning the most coveted award of the night, I expect NOMADLAND will take home the trophy for Adapted Screenplay, despite the fact that the crowning accomplishment of the movie is the way in which it’s shot, not what’s said.

There are stronger screenplays, but I expect this one to win.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH

MINARI

PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN

SOUND OF METAL

THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7

What should win: MINARI

What will win: PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN

It makes me sick to say that PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN is going to win any Oscars, but I feel most certain that it’s going to win the Best Original Screenplay one for its embarrassing, cringeworthy, and reductive script about the importance of making good use of the police in situations where sexual assault has taken place (everybody knows how reliable the cops are when it comes to helping out women in abusive situations!). Anyway, that script sucks really bad and this one should easily be going to MINARI, which is both heartfelt and genuinely funny and feels lived in, but it won’t. Sometimes the academy really gets it wrong!

; )

BEST SOUND

GREYHOUND

MANK

NEWS OF THE WORLD

SOUL

SOUND OF METAL

What should win: SOUND OF METAL

What will win: SOUND OF METAL

The only potential for an upset here is SOUL, and I would bet my right arm that that doesn’t happen. It would be rather shameful if a film with “Sound” in the title didn’t walk away with the Best Sound Oscar, especially given how literally every aspect of this movie has to do with Riz Ahmed’s Ruben is slowly losing his ability to hear. In terms of the category, this is one of the strongest entries in Oscar history and it will win.

Sound is in the title! It’s going to win for sure!

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

EMMA

MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM

MANK

MULAN

PINOCCHIO

What should win: EMMA

What will win: MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM


EMMA should win, what with its stunningly elegant and flashy period costumes. It probably won’t win, though. It came out right before the Pandemic began, which literally feels like a decade ago, and though EMMA was a cute and good movie, it was not remarkable enough to leave much of an impression on any of the Academy voters. I still give EMMA a pretty decent shot to upset, but I expect MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM will win for costumes (they’re good, for what it’s worth), despite the fact that it should be easily EMMA taking home the trophy.

Good costumes, but they aren’t better than EMMA’s!

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

EMMA

HILLBILLY ELEGY

MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM

MANK

PINNOCHIO

What should win: POSSESSOR, but it wasn’t nominated, so, MANK

What will win: MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM

POSSESSOR, the little-seen movie from David Cronenberg’s son, Brandon Cronenberg featured incredible make-up where people’s faces were legitimately melted off! Unfortunately, nobody in the world saw that movie, so it wasn’t even nominated. Of the nominees, MANK has the makeup design that feels strongest, but this one will pretty easily go to MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM, despite the fact that some of the makeup feels very… theatre-y. Viola Davis gets really aged up and the academy loves that sort of thing, so that’s how they’ll vote.

Since POSSESSOR didn’t get a nomination, this will easily win!

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

THE FATHER

MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM

MANK

NEWS OF THE WORLD

TENET

What should win: MANK

What will win: MANK

THE FATHER has an awfully admirable production design, as does MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM, but the two that really stand out to me here are TENET and MANK. TENET has absolutely no chance of winning, but it has a smart and effective production design that helps the action soar and thrive. MANK will win (and it probably should) because it’s a good enough production design that truly elicits the old-timey feeling it’s going for and because Hollywood also loves to give itself love and praise and what better way than giving MANK an Oscar for recreating 1940s Hollywood?

MANK has a smart enough production design to warrant the win!

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

LOVE AND MONSTERS

THE MIDNIGHT SKY

MULAN

THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN

TENET

What should win: TENET

What will win: TENET

This is another lock of the night. TENET will win this one with ease and it should. It runs every other nominated movie in this category off the floor, in terms of the visual effects. In a movie that received somewhat lukewarm reviews and did in fact NOT manage to save cinema, TENET has absolutely superb visual effects and should comfortably win this one.

This is one of the easiest locks of the net! TENET’s visual effects kick ass!

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

ONWARD

OVER THE MOON

A SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE: FARMAGEDDON

SOUL

WOLFWALKERS

What should win: SOUL

What will win: SOUL

This is another one not to overthink. Pixar will walk away with what will feel like their millionth victory in this category. SOUL is a very good and deserving film and it’ll appropriately take home the gold when this category is called, despite the fact that WOLFWALKERS probably could’ve won this in a different year.

This one has truly wonderful animation!

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

DA 5 BLOODS

MANK

MINARI

NEWS OF THE WORLD

SOUL

What should win: MANK

What will win: SOUL

Either MANK or SOUL winning is more than acceptable. SOUL is an animated movie about a jazz musician, so it obviously HAS to have a strong score for the movie to work. MANK’s score is a bit more my flavor and is a bit more what I expect out of a typical winner in this category so I wouldn’t at all be shocked if it were to win, but SOUL has been gaining a lot of steam as of late and I expect that will be enough for it to earn it this Oscar. Either way, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (the composers behind both SOUL and MANK’s score) will head home with an Oscar, one way or another!

It’s a movie about jazz music! It should win!

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

“Fight For You,” JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH

“Hear My Voice,” THE TRIAL OF THE CHIAGO 7

“Husavik,” EUROVISION SONG CONTEST

“Lo Si (Seen),” THE LIFE AHEAD (LA VITA DAVANTI A SE)

“Speak Now,” ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI…

What should win: “Speak Now,” ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI…

What will win: “Speak Now,” ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI…

This year features the weakest this category has been in recent memory (to be fair, that can probably be said about ALL of the categories, but it is especially true here), but Leslie Odom Jr.’s strong “Speak Now” from ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI… should pretty comfortably win this award. An upset could be seen from “Husavik”, the only other really worthy contender in this category, but Leslie Odom has enough esteem within the community that this one will probably be his.

A fairly lackluster category this year, but Leslie Odom Jr.’s song should win this one!

BEST FILM EDITING

THE FATHER

NOMADLAND

PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN

SOUND OF METAL

THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7

What should win: I’M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS, but it wasn’t nominated, so, THE FATHER

What will win: SOUND OF METAL

It’s absolutely bewildering to me that Charlie Kaufman’s I’M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS wasn’t nominated in this category, honestly. That’s a movie where the editing was legitimately integral to the film working and being effective and the editing was vital to creating the atmosphere and mood of the film, but whatever. LOVER’S ROCK, the finest of Steve McQueen’s SMALL AXE series, also would’ve been a worthy winner in this category, too, but that was also snubbed. Of these THE FATHER’s editing is the most impressive and vital to the success of the film, but I’m confident it will not win. This will come down to SOUND OF METAL, which has good editing, and THE TRIAL OF THE CHIAGO 7, which has completely adequate yet forgettable editing. I think SOUND OF METAL will narrowly take it, but will not at all be shocked if it ends up going to THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7. Also, how the hell did PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN get nominated for this category? It has embarrassing editing!

Riz Ahmed starring in a film with some great editing!

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH

MANK

NEWS OF THE WORLD

NOMADLAND

THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7

What should win: LOVERS ROCK, but it wasn’t nominated, so, NOMADLAND

What will win: NOMADLAND

LOVERS ROCK has absolutely exquisite cinematography. It’s the best thing Steve McQueen has ever shot, which says a lot, given he’s somebody known for his brilliant framing and camerawork. The movie’s cinematography expertly captures the way a party can progress and alter through the course of one night, from being full of joy and romance and possibility to very quickly becoming stressful and dangerous or even downright bizarre and it was snubbed for something like… THE TRIAL OF THE CHIAGO 7, which was shot downright terribly. Unbelievable. Anyways, NOMADLAND’s crowning achievement as a film is the way in which it is shot, which is downright stunning to look at. It’s a completely beautiful looking film and NOMADLAND will deservedly win this one.

This is a beautiful movie to just look at!

BEST DIRECTING

Thomas Vinterberg, ANOTHER ROUND

David Fincher, MANK

Lee Isaac Chung, MINARI

Chloe Zhao, NOMADLAND

Emerald Fennell, PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN

Who should win: Kelly Reichardt for FIRST COW, but she wasn’t nominated, so, Lee Isaac Chung for MINARI

Who will win: Chloe Zhao for NOMADLAND

This is another one of those slam-dunk categories. There is really no world in which Zhao won’t win. She’s already won just about every other directing award leading up to the Oscars and she’s been wonderfully charming in the process, she’ll get to be the second woman to ever win the award, which the Academy will like, and the Academy will get to recognize an Asian person in a time when there is an uptick in Asian hate crimes and an increased awareness for social justice for the Asian community, so the Academy will be able to feel good about themselves by doing the right thing and selecting an Asian person to win. It won’t be totally undeserving, either. Zhao’s directing is quite excellent and again, one of the strongest parts of NOMADLAND. However, of the nominees, this should go to Lee Isaac Chung, whose personal and autobiographical story is directed with excellence and care. The performances he was able to get out of very young and unseasoned children are quite remarkable, too. It’s insane that Emerald Fennell was nominated for her offensive and awful film over Kelly Reichardt for FIRST COW (the woman who truly should be taking home the gold for directing), but I guess I shouldn’t get disappointed when the Oscars disappoint me any longer.

Chloe Zhao (left) directing Frances McDormand (right) in NOMADLAND

BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

Viola Davis, MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM

Audra Day, THE UNITED STATES VS. BILLIE HOLIDAY

Vanessa Kirby, PIECES OF A WOMAN

Frances McDormand, NOMADLAND

Carey Mulligan, PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN

Who should win: Aubrey Plaza, BLACK BEAR, but she wasn’t nominated, so Frances McDormand, NOMADLAND

Who will win: Carey Mulligan, PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN

Aubrey Plaza blows every actress in this category away with her performance from BLACK BEAR and it’s not even close. Of course, she wasn’t nominated because nobody watched her movie and nobody was interested in actually highlighting performances that were so locomotive train-like that they elevated their movies to absurdly high heights, so instead we have a very solid yet unremarkable collection of performances in this category. It’s a three-way race between Mulligan, McDormand, and Davis. Davis is fine here, but certainly the weaker lead performance in her movie (Chadwick Boseman makes one of the greatest actresses ever look very small in the context of the movie), so I think she’s out. That leaves McDormand and Mulligan. McDormand would join elite company with her third win, but Mulligan has been a consistently solid and respected actress for the last decade and this role is the type that older academy voters would love to reward as a means to make them look better after the scandal with Weinstein, so I think Mulligan will narrowly edge McDormand out and take home the Oscar, despite the fact that she’s merely fine in her movie and it’s also a terrible and offensive film.

She’s probably going to win and I’m going to be a little upset, to be honest.

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: Delroy Lindo, DA 5 BLOODS, but he wasn’t nominated, so Riz Ahmed, SOUND OF METAL

Who will win: Chadwick Boseman, MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM

Chadwick gives the performance of his life in MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM, which is disappointing because it’s a very average and forgettable movie. Stage adaptations rarely work as well when they’re brought to screen and oftentimes, the movie too heavily feels the constraints of the script weighing down on it. Chadwick would’ve gotten a nomination, regardless of whether or not he had tragically passed away at 42 from colon cancer last summer. I think him being such a surefire win here has to do more with the fact that he passed away and the Academy recognizing they will never be able to honor him again than it is the fact that he gave a performance that audiences will never forget, but that’s just me. I have no problem with him winning the award out of sentimentality for how gifted Chadwick is and how sad it is that we will never see him acting again, but of the nominees, I’m far more partial to Riz Ahmed’s performance in SOUND OF METAL. Really, I’m distraught over the fact that Delroy Lindo wasn’t nominated for his dazzling and brilliant performance in Spike Lee’s DA 5 BLOODS. For my money, that performance was the best across any movie I watched this year, regardless of gender, and for him to not even be nominated is a little disappointing. It seems like Anthony Hopkins is picking up steam and has a very, very narrow chance of an upset, but I mostly expect that Chadwick’s family will take this award home and only add to the legacy of Boseman.

Chadwick Boseman will be the first posthumous Oscar winner since Heath Ledger won for THE DARK KNIGHT

BEST PICTURE

THE FATHER

JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH

MANK

MINARI

NOMADLAND

PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN

SOUND OF METAL

THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7

What should win: MINARI

What will win: NOMADLAND

MINARI is far and away the best picture listed here, with SOUND OF METAL being a close second. MINARI doesn’t seem to have that great of a chance at winning (Vegas has it as the fourth-most likely to win the award) and SOUND OF METAL essentially has no shot, which is unfortunate. The three most likely winners right now seem like NOMADLAND, THE TRAIL OF THE CHICAGO 7, and… PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN. If PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN wins, I’ll be beside myself because that movie was a horrific nightmare, but I don’t really expect it to win the big prize. Since early on in the awards race, NOMADLAND has seemed like the surefire bet to win Best Picture and I expect, despite any of the issues I may have with the politics and messaging of the movie, that it will win.

A shot from NOMADLAND, which will likely be the BEST PICTURE winner

ADDITIONAL CATEGORY PREDICTIONS

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

What should win: TIME

What will win: MY OCTOPUS TEACHER

BEST INTERNATUONAL FILM

What should win: ANOTHER ROUND

What will win: ANOTHER ROUND

BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM

What should win: IF ANYTHING HAPPENS I LOVE YOU

What will win: IF ANYTHING HAPPENS I LOVE YOU

BEST LIVE-ACTION SHORT FILM

What should win: THE LETTER ROOM

What will win: TWO DISTANT STRANGERS

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT-SUBJECT

What should win: A CONCERTO IS A CONVERSATION

What will win: A CONCERTO IS A CONVERSATION

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