Notes on the 2021 Oscars

Best Picture

Last year, we got 9. The year before that, we had 8.

Now, we’re arbitrarily back to 8.

Can we just bring the number of Best Picture nominees back to 10, please? There are always obvious bubble picks that would fill things out nicely; this year it seems to be One Night in Miami… and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. The batch this year is generally strong, especially given how profoundly the pandemic affected the release calendar. Given how many awards it’s been scooping up all season, Nomadland will certainly be the one to beat and I doubt any of the other contenders will stir up the necessary momentum to do so. I always have personal favorites that are iced out of this category but The Assistant getting completely shut out is massively disappointing.

My Prediction: Nomadland
My Vote: Sound of Metal
Overlooked: The Assistant

Best Director

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

Zhao is just as much a frontrunner in the Director category as her film is in the Picture group. She and Fennell being nominated together marks the first time two female directors have been up for Director in the same year. Vinterberg is a bit of an outsider pick, although it further solidifies Another Round‘s odds for International Film. It’s a shame that Fincher scored a nod for the weakest film of his career but then again, he lost to the director of Cats the last time he was nominated so the Academy should probably atone any way they can.

My Prediction: Chloé Zhao
My Vote: Chloé Zhao
Overlooked: Kelly Reichardt – First Cow

Best Actor

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

A strong field this year but Boseman, who passed away last August at the age of 43, will be very difficult to beat. Indeed, the Black Panther actor saved his strongest performance for last and even if he was still alive, I’d like to think his work as boisterous trumpeter Levee Green would make him a frontrunner anyway. If he wins, he would be only the second posthumous winner in the category (Network star Peter Finch being the other). Ahmed and Yeun would be very close second and third picks from me but hopefully they’ll find enough roles in their respective careers to land them nominations in the future.

My Prediction: Chadwick Boseman
My Vote: Chadwick Boseman
Overlooked: Delroy Lindo – Da 5 Bloods

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

An especially competitive field this year and I could feasibly see any of these talented performers taking home the statue. McDormand and Mulligan are about neck-and-neck in terms of awards from other organizations but it’s impossible to count out Davis, who has won before and is simply one of the very best actresses working today. Kirby was indeed terrific in the underseen Pieces and the only major reason I’m considering seeing Holiday is the good word-of-mouth I’ve heard about Day’s work. It’s too bad that Elisabeth Moss, who turned in two strong performances last year, didn’t turn up here.

My Prediction: Carey Mulligan
My Vote: Frances McDormand
Overlooked: Han Ye-ri – Minari

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 Vote: Daniel Kaluuya
Overlooked: J.K. Simmons – Palm Springs

Best Supporting Actress

My Prediction: Amanda Seyfried
My Vote: Maria Bakalova
Overlooked: Olivia Cooke – Sound of Metal

The Supporting Actor field turned out to be an absolute powerhouse, thanks to Judas co-stars Kaluuya and Stanfield both turning up here due to their similar amount of screen time. I would be thrilled with either actor, two of the best young talents around, bringing home the gold. Odom Jr. was a real inspiration as Sam Cooke and if Judas hadn’t made the eligibility cutoff, he would probably be my favorite. I’m a bit surprised Cohen was nominated here instead of for Borat in the Actor category, given how well the Academy seemed to like it. He only get iAct Mini; everybody know it for girls!

Even more than Actress, the Supporting Actress category is especially a toss-up. Seyfried had buzz early but in the more recent weeks, Youn and Bakalova have garnered a good deal of support and The Father‘s strong showing in overall nominations could help Colman. Close has the rare distinction of being nominated for both an Oscar and a Razzie for the very same performance. Ultimately, I’m going to go with the Academy’s penchant for Old Hollywood and forecast a win for Seyfried. It’s like I have ESPN or something!

Best Original Screenplay

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

My Prediction: The Trial of the Chicago 7
My Vote: Judas and the Black Messiah
Overlooked: The Nest

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan – Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Dan Swimer, Peter Baynham, Erica Rivinoja, Dan Mazer, Jena Friedman and Lee Kern
  • The Father – Christopher Hampton & Florian Zeller
  • Nomadland – Chloé Zhao
  • One Night in Miami… – Kemp Powers
  • The White Tiger – Ramin Bahrani

My Prediction: Nomadland
My Vote: One Night in Miami…
Overlooked: I’m Thinking of Ending Things

Best Animated Feature Film

My Prediction: Soul
My Vote: Soul
Overlooked: Scoob!

Best International Feature Film

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

My Prediction: Another Round
My Vote: Another Round
Overlooked: Night of the Kings

Best Documentary – Feature

My Prediction: Time
My Vote: Time
Overlooked: Boys State

Best Documentary – Short Subject

  • Colette
  • A Concerto Is a Conversation
  • Do Not Split
  • Hunger Ward
  • A Love Song for Latasha

My Prediction: A Love Song for Latasha
My Vote: —
Overlooked: —

Best Live Action Short Film

  • Feeling Through
  • The Letter Room
  • The Present
  • Two Distant Strangers
  • White Eye

My Prediction: The Letter Room
My Vote: —
Overlooked: —

Best Animated Short Film

  • Burrow
  • Genius Loci
  • If Anything Happens I Love You
  • Opera
  • Yes-People

My Prediction: If Anything Happens I Love You
My Vote: —
Overlooked: —

Best Production Design

  • The Father – Peter Francis; Set Decoration: Cathy Featherstone
  • Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – Mark Ricker; Set Decoration: Karen O’Hara and Diana Sroughton
  • Mank – Donald Graham Burt; Set Decoration: Jan Pascale
  • News of the World – David Crank; Set Decoration: Elizabeth Keenan
  • Tenet – Nathan Crowley; Set Decoration: Kathy Lucas

My Prediction: Mank
My Vote: Tenet
Overlooked: Mulan

Best Cinematography

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

My Prediction: Nomadland
My Vote: Nomadland
Overlooked: Tenet

Best Costume Design

  • Emma – Alexandra Byrne
  • Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – Ann Roth
  • Mank – Trish Summerville
  • Mulan – Bina Daigeler
  • Pinocchio – Massimo Cantini Parrini

My Prediction: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
My Vote: Emma
Overlooked: Birds Of Prey

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

  • Emma – Marese Langan, Laura Allen, and Claudia Stolze
  • Hillbilly Elegy – Eryn Krueger Mekash, Patricia Dehaney, Matthew Mungle
  • Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – Matiki Anoff, Mia Neal, Larry M. Cherry
  • Mank – Kimberley Spiteri, Gigi Williams
  • Pinocchio – Dalia Colli, Mark Coulier, Francesco Pegoretti

My Prediction: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
My Vote: Emma
Overlooked: Bad Hair

Best Original Score

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

My Prediction: Soul
My Vote: Soul
Overlooked: The Vast of Night

Best Original Song

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

My Prediction: “Speak Now”
My Vote: “Fight for You”
Overlooked: “Jaja Ding Dong” from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

Best Sound

  • 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 Elliot and David Parker
  • Sound of Metal – Nicolas Becker, Jaime Baksht, Michelle Couttolenc, Carlos Cortes and Philip Bladh

My Prediction: Sound of Metal
My Vote: Sound of Metal
Overlooked: I’m Your Woman

Best Film Editing

  • 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

My Prediction: The Trial of the Chicago 7
My Vote: Nomadland
Overlooked: First Cow

Best Visual Effects

  • Love and Monsters – Matt Sloan, Genevieve Camailleri, Matt Everitt and Brian Cox
  • The Midnight Sky – Matthew Kasmir, Christopher Lawren, Max Solomon and David Watkins
  • Mulan  Sean Faden, Anders Langlands, Seth Maury and Steven 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

My Prediction: Tenet
My Vote: Tenet
Overlooked: Money Plane

Enjoy the show!