What a strange year (actually 14 months for the Academy Awards, since the broadcast was delayed by 2 months) it has been for the movies. The pandemic that doesn’t seem to end had put a stop to most movie releases, so the majority of nominees this year have been titles that either launched on streaming services or saw very limited exposure at the cinemas. It begs the question of whether anyone would actually care much about the Oscars this year, given that far fewer people have actually seen anything that’s been nominated. Still, the show must go on, and from what I have read, Steven Soderbergh has pulled out all the stops to make this not a “Zoom with friends” awards ceremony like every awards ceremony since the pandemic, so here’s hoping.
Now, on to the predictions:
Best Motion Picture of the Year
Should win: Nomadland
Nomadland is a beautifully shot movie that resonated during the pandemic because it focuses on the need for human connection. The timeliness of its release and the fact that it has won basically every major award so far means it will stand the best chance for this category, even though there are several potential dark horses like Promising Young Woman and Minari.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Should win: Anthony Hopkins, The Father
Prediction: Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Anthony Hopkins turns in an astonishing performance in The Father and in other years would have probably clinched the award with ease. However, it’s hard to imagine the Academy voters not awarding it posthumously to Chadwick Boseman, especially since Hopkins has already won before.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Should win: Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman
Prediction: Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
This could be the most hotly contested category of the night, and could really go any of a few ways. I suspect the Academy is not going to give McDormand her third statuette so soon, so it would likely go to a very promising young woman with a very memorable role, or more likely, Viola Davis because of the physical transformation that took place in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – the Academy seems to love these roles more than anything else.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Should win: Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah
Prediction: Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah
It’s unlikely the award would go to anyone else but Kaluuya, and his SAG, BAFTA and Globes wins practically seals the deal. It’s unlikely that the presence of Lakeith Stanfield in the same category would split the votes too much.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Should win: Yuh-Jung Youn, Minari
Prediction: Yun-Jung Youn, Minari
It was quite an open category but the deal was sealed with her SAG win and the memorable acceptance speech during her BAFTA win.
Best Achievement in Directing
Should win: Chloe Zhao, Nomadland
Prediction: Chloe Zhao, Nomadland
One of the most locked categories of the night in my point of view, and deservedly so.
Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen
Should win: Promising Young Woman
Prediction: Promising Young Woman
A very captivating screenplay that somewhat fizzled out near the end, but still it will be the consolation prize for Promising Young Woman as it has much lower chances of winning anywhere else.
Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published
Should win: The Father
Prediction: The Father
While Nomadland would be a safe bet here, I believe The Father’s late resurgence will lead to it at least getting the consolation screenplay prize here.
Best Achievement in Cinematography
Should Win: Nomadland
By far the most beautiful film I’ve seen this awards year, and I would be surprised if anyone else manages to win, despite this being Joshua James Richards’ first nomination.
Best Achievement in Editing
Should Win: The Trial of the Chicago 7
Prediction: The Trial of the Chicago 7
The Trial of the Chicago 7 has the most visible editing touches amongst those nominated. While Sound of Metal won at the BAFTA I don’t think the feat would repeat itself at the Oscars.
Best Achievement in Production Design
While I wasn’t a fan of the movie, it’s easy to see Mank eke out a win in this category given it’s essentially a love letter to a golden age in Hollywood.
Best Achievement in Costume Design
Prediction: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Given that the film has won multiple awards in this category, plus a chance to make history by having Ann Roth be the oldest woman to win an Oscar, the choice seems quite clear to me. It’s not period in the strictest sense (that would be fellow nominee Emma), which usually wins this award, but the odds are still in Ma Rainey’s favour.
Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling
Prediction: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Viola Davis’ transformation would not have been possible without the magicians in hair and makeup, and I don’t think any other film would be able to steal the win.
Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score
That Soul has built up an incredible amount of word of mouth and goodwill, plus it being a story about musicians, gives it a clear edge over the other nominees in the category.
Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song
Prediction: Speak Now, One Night in Miami
I would love for Husavik to win this category but it seems safer to stick with best supporting actor nominee Leslie Odom Jr’s performance in One Night in Miami (since it’s clear he will not be able to win in the acting category).
Best Achievement in Sound
Prediction: Sound of Metal
The Academy had collapsed two categories back into one (it was the norm for the same movie to win both awards anyway), and a film dealing with a musician’s loss of hearing and relationship with sound seems like a shoo-in for the category.
Best Achievement in Visual Effects
It’s the nominee with the flashiest visuals, and given that it’s really one of very few blockbusters to actually make it to the cinemas this awards year, feels like the clear frontrunner in the race.
Best Animated Feature Film
Given the strong word of mouth and resonance it had, this award is Soul’s to lose.
Best International Feature Film
Prediction: Another Round (Denmark)
It was a well-liked film featuring a known actor (Mads Mikkelsen), making it front runner for the award.
Best Documentary Feature
Prediction: My Octopus Teacher
Best Documentary Short Subject
Best Animated Short Film
Prediction: If Anything Happens I Love You
Best Live Action Short Film
Prediction: Two Distant Strangers