After an insane year filled with films being delayed or pushed from theaters to streaming services, we are only a few days away from the event that ultimately means everything and nothing: the Oscars.
With the nominations now public knowledge we now know who is in the running to bring home the gold this year. I’ve done my best to see everything I could, but have admittedly missed a few notable films. Nonetheless, using my pop culture knowledge and my deep understanding of the Academy and all of their biases, I am going to attempt to predict the winners of each category. I’ll actually have two answers: who I want to win, and who I think will win (two very different things).
With that in mind, be sure to let me know who you’d like to see walk away with the gold statue, and once the event is over, feel free to come back and ridicule me for my guaranteed many wrong answers.
“The Father” (Sony Pictures Classics)
“Judas and the Black Messiah” (Warner Bros.)
“Nomadland” (Searchlight Pictures)
“Promising Young Woman” (Focus Features)
“Sound of Metal” (Amazon Studios)
“The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Netflix)
Who I WANT to win: The Father
All of the films this year are pretty damn great in their own way, but perhaps there is no greater emotional rollercoaster to come out this year than The Father. The story of an elderly man slowly losing his grip on time and his surroundings is both heartbreaking and anxiety induced to watch, due in part to fantastic performances from Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Coleman. It’s unlike anything else to come out this year, as it prays on a very real fear we as humans come to grow more aware of as we get older. Fantastic from top to bottom, it’s by far my favorite of the Oscar bunch this year.
Who I THINK will: Nomadland
Nomadland is emotional, earnest and thought provoking. Masked in an unassuming simplicity, the film offers a glimpse into a world of people without houses or many materialistic things holding them back from experiencing the beauty of the world. With a cast of largely non-actors letting us into their world, a patient pace and a wonderfully bittersweet soundtrack, Nomadland would be a strong contender in any other year. Yet, in a year that drove most of us to reflect on the lives we’d be living once a brighter day came around, Nomadland was the movie for many this year. Already walking away with multiple awards from other festivals and shows, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this win the big one.
Thomas Vinterberg (“Another Round”)
David Fincher (“Mank”)
Lee Isaac Chung (“Minari”)
Chloé Zhao (“Nomadland”)
Emerald Fennell (“Promising Young Woman”)
Who I WANT to win: Chloe Zhao
Anyone who can pull out fantastic performances out of people with no experience deserves recognition. It’s the most “Director” thing a director can do. Zhao’s directing is top notch in how it gets you to connect with these people without being manipulative or stereotypical. She gave us a film unlike anything else I’ve seen this year, and she deserves the recognition.
Who I THINK will win: Chloe Zhao
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 I WANT to win: Riz Ahmed
I can’t vote for Hugh Jackman, so I’ll just have to vote for my second favorite performance of the year. Ahmed’s take on a drummer slowly becoming deaf is done in such an honest, gut wrenching way. Unable to accept his condition, he fights against nature, clinging onto an unsure shred of hope that his life can go back to normal. His journey is touching, sentimental and reserved in all the best ways. Anthony Hopkins is my runner-up for his heartbreaking performance, but the energy and frustration of Ahmed’s performance has stuck with me since seeing Sound of Metal, and I’d be ecstatic to see him win.
Who I THINK will win: Chadwick Boseman
Granted, I haven’t seen Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and can’t speak to Boseman’s performance, though I bet it’s great. But, come on…this one is a no brainer. Though each man gave an incredible performance in different ways, this past year was the year of Boseman in admittedly the worst possible way. The actor’s passing sent shockwaves through the world, as one of the most influential actors of our time was suddenly gone seemingly out of nowhere. A win for Boseman seems likely, as it will honor his final performance and his inspiring, noble career.
Best Actress in a Leading Role
Viola Davis (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”)
Andra Day (“The United States v. Billie Holiday”)
Vanessa Kirby (“Pieces of a Woman”)
Frances McDormand (“Nomadland”)
Carey Mulligan (“Promising Young Woman”)
Who I WANT to win: Carey Mulligan
Mulligan knocked it out of the park with her performance as a vengeful force against rape culture. Wearied from past trauma yet retaining a noticeable dark wit, Mulligan does anti-hero right when other films struggle to balance the good/bad dynamic while still making you root for the protagonist. Equally depressing and entertaining, Mulligan has been my pick for a long time, and I’d love to see her get the gold for such an intense character.
Who I THINK will win: Andra Day
This is mainly me predicting the future based on what happened in the past. Last year in this category, Renée Zellweger won Best Actress for a movie I hadn’t seen involving a famous singer. Likewise, The United States v. Billie Holiday is the only film at the time of this writing that I have not seen. I may be crazy, but I for some reason see history repeating itself again this year. I’ve heard nothing but great things about Day’s performance, so hopefully I can back up this prediction with actual opinions in the future.
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 I WANT to win: Paul Raci
Admittedly I was a bit surprised to see Sound of Metal get a 2nd actor nomination, but damn is it well deserved. Raci’s performance is reflective of the film itself; quite, reserved and brimming with pride despite an unfortunate ailment. The way he desperately tries to get Ahmed to adapt to his newfound way of life rather than run from it is genuinely moving, showing that even though life hands you a bad set of cards it doesn’t mean you need to feel ashamed.
Who I THINK will win: Lakeith Stanfield/Daniel Kaluuya
Honestly it’s a toss up. Both men gave tremendous performances playing drastically different characters, yet are connected through the themes of revolution. Both men believe in it deep down, but their commitment to change varies drastically. Though I personally think Stanfield gave the best performance, I could see the Oscars handing the award to either one.
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 I WANT to win: Yuh-jung Youn
While I can’t comment on Bakalova or Coleman’s performances as I have yet to see their movies, Youn’s performance stood out to me the most because of her humor, compassion and her desire to be integrated into her grandson’s life. Brimming with old fashioned bluntness and a greater understanding of the struggles of childhood, Youn‘s performance is as touching as it is funny, making it unlike anything running against her.
Who I THINK will win: Olivia Coleman
Last time she won an Oscar, she told us “this will never happen again”. Yet, Coleman’s emotional and moving performance as a daughter trying to do what’s best for her ailing father and her own personal happiness. She’s our anchor to reality in this confusing trip through a deteriorating mind, struggling under the heavy truth of what’s happening that we never see straight on. Needless to say, I can see the Academy proving her wrong and handing her another statue.
Best Animated Feature Film
“Over the Moon” (Netflix)
“A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon” (Netflix)
“Wolfwalkers” (Apple TV Plus/GKIDS)
Who I WANT to win: Soul
A surprisingly deep and reflective film that has a little something for old and young viewers. With beautiful, stylish animation, a dreamy and vibrant soundtrack, and a story that is just about universal, Soul is by far Pixar’s best film of the year and their best in quite a while. Wolfwalkers was great, but Soul is the undisputed king this year.
Who I THINK will win: Soul
I mean, it’s Pixar. They’ve had some competition in the past few years, but this year it’s practically a no brainer.
Best Adapted Screenplay
“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.” Screenplay by Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Dan Swimer, Peter Baynham, Erica Rivinoja, Dan Mazer, Jena Friedman, Lee Kern; Story by Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Dan Swimer, Nina Pedrad
“The Father,” Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller
“Nomadland,” Chloé Zhao
“One Night in Miami,” Kemp Powers
“The White Tiger,” Ramin Bahrani
Who I WANT to win: One Night in Miami
If there was a movie this year that absolutely relied on its writing to make its premise as good as it could be, it’s this film. A dramatic hypothetical meeting of some of history’s most prominent black identities where all they do is hang around and talk? It takes a measured but talented hand to produce something of this caliber, and fortunately this film has some of the best writing of the year. It’s political aura is sure to catch the eye of the Academy, who seems to be making an attempt at being more universally inclusive.
Who I THINK will win: One Night in Miami
See above. Prove me right, Academy.
Best Original Screenplay
“Judas and the Black Messiah.” Screenplay by Will Berson, Shaka King; Story by Will Berson, Shaka King, Kenny Lucas, Keith Lucas
“Minari,” Lee Isaac Chung
“Promising Young Woman,” Emerald Fennell
“Sound of Metal.” Screenplay by Darius Marder, Abraham Marder; Story by Darius Marder, Derek Cianfrance
“The Trial of the Chicago 7,” Aaron Sorkin
Who I WANT to win: Judas and the Black Messiah
While occasionally feeling a bit “paint by numbers” as far as historical no-fiction goes, there’s no denying the power of this film’s story. Shedding light on a historic individual perhaps not as well know as his contemporaries makes the film as important as it is engaging. The insanity of the true story behind the screenplay is expertly transcribed, showing the evils that men do when desperate and how a revolution can spark anywhere with anyone. Having a handful of touching and terrifying moments that stuck with me long after the film ends, Judas and the Black Messiah is one of the strongest contenders for this award.
Who I THINK will win: The Trial of the Chicago 7
No stranger to awards and admiration, Aaron Sorkin is regarded as one of the best screenwriters working today. With dialogue like music and rhythmic pacing, it’s hard to argue that Sorkin deserves the award. The Trial of the Chicago 7 has some of the best dialogue that can be found this year, and while I found some of Sorkin’s writing to be a cliched this time around, his story has been getting monumental praise since release. He’s done it before, and there’s a high chance he’ll add yet another Oscar to his collection at this year’s awards.
Best Original Song
“Fight for You,” (“Judas and the Black Messiah”). Music by H.E.R. and Dernst Emile II; Lyric by H.E.R. and Tiara Thomas
“Hear My Voice,” (“The Trial of the Chicago 7”). Music by Daniel Pemberton; Lyric by Daniel Pemberton and Celeste Waite
“Húsavík,” (“Eurovision Song Contest”). Music and Lyric by Savan Kotecha, Fat Max Gsus and Rickard Göransson
“Io Si (Seen),” (“The Life Ahead”). Music by Diane Warren; Lyric by Diane Warren and Laura Pausini
“Speak Now,” (“One Night in Miami”). Music and Lyric by Leslie Odom, Jr. and Sam Ashworth
Who I WANT to win: “Speak Now”, (One Night in Miami)
Powerful in its verses and vital to the character arc of one of the leads, “Speak Now” fits so well with the film’s story and themes. To top it off, it’s a great song on it’s own, but because its both memorable and integral to the story itself, I’m hoping it walks away with the victory.
Who I THINK will win: “Speak Now”, (One Night in Miami)
I think the Academy and I will be on the same page for this one. Even if they have the inability to nominate Regina King for Best Director, they have to understand the importance of the song to not only the film, but the current age as well.
Best Original Score
“Da 5 Bloods,” Terence Blanchard
“Mank,” Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross
“Minari,” Emile Mosseri
“News of the World,” James Newton Howard
“Soul,” Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Jon Batiste
Who I WANT to win: Soul
I’m a bit impartial because I’ve always been a big fan of Trent Reznor’s work, but Soul‘s soundtrack is just so whimsical, trippy and groovy all at the same time. Switching between Reznor’s synth laden afterlife music and Jon Batiste’s energetic jazz accompaniment, Soul pulls off this two differing styles to great effect, something I don’t believe the other films in this category did. It’s unique, clean and incredibly memorable, making it the best film score I’ve heard all year.
Who I THINK will win: Soul
It’s a film more or less about music, so I think the Academy has already ticked their boxes on this one.
“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 Elliott and David Parker
“Sound of Metal,” Nicolas Becker, Jaime Baksht, Michelle Couttolenc, Carlos Cortés and Phillip Bladh
Who I WANT to win: Sound of Metal
Just noticed they combined the two sound related awards into one this year. Maybe now people won’t be so confused.
Anyway, a huge portion of what makes Sound of Metal great is how it simulates deafness and living with a hearing impairment. It’s jarring and uncomfortable because that’s how it really is. On the flip side, it illustrates the peace of silence those who learn to live with their impairment can achieve. There is perhaps no movie this year that relies on its sound design as much as this one, and I hope its recognized.
Who I THINK will win: Soul
Music. Sound. What’s the difference to the Academy? If they’re not going to vote for the loudest movie (which i guess is Greyhound) maybe they’ll vote for the most sound-y film. I think that’s Sound of Metal, and while I can only hope we’re on the same page, I could also see this going to Soul.
Best Costume Design
“Emma,” Alexandra Byrne
“Mank,” Trish Summerville
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” Ann Roth
“Mulan,” Bina Daigeler
“Pinocchio,” Massimo Cantini Parrini
Who I WANT to win: Mank
Mainly voting for this because it’s the only film of the bunch I’ve seen, but that shouldn’t deter from the fact that the costuming in this film is top notch. The styles of 1940s Hollywood are authentically recreated, reminding us of a time when pinstripes and fedoras weren’t common targets of ridicule.
Who I THINK will win: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Period pieces are usually the heavy favorite to walk away with the costume award, and this year we have three strong contenders. From what I’ve seen, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom‘s stylish wardrobes are eccentric and eye-catching, so I assume it will be the prime target for the ceremony.
Best Animated Short Film
“Burrow” (Disney Plus/Pixar)
“Genius Loci” (Kazak Productions)
“If Anything Happens I Love You” (Netflix)
“Opera” (Beasts and Natives Alike)
“Yes-People” (CAOZ hf. Hólamói)
Who I WANT to win: Opera
Essentially an eye-puzzle in motion, Opera is a striking, haunting interpretation of how a flawed economic system affects, or barely affects, the differing societal classes. There’s so much to analyze and discover in the short, though it does give your eyes time to wander and attempt to connect all the moving parts together. While not exactly offering any new insight into what can be done about these issues, the short still remains a piece of artistic dystopian beauty.
Who I THINK will win: If Anything Happens I Love You
Burrow is simplistically cute, Genius Loci is artistically impressive but narratively vague, and Yes-People is hysterically bare-bones. While Opera speaks on issues that can be found all over the world, If Anything Happens I Love You is depressingly unique with the fact that the social issues it touches upon can really only be found in America. Following a couple swallowed by grief after their daughter is killed in a school shooting, this is by far the most emotional of the nominated short films. While the film doesn’t exactly offer much insight into these string of tragedies, it does remind us that our lives go on and the grief we carry won’t exactly go away. We wear it close to our chest and learn to get by with the memory of what once was. Its sure to strike a chord with the very American crowd that the Academy is made up of, seeming like a shoe-in for this award.
Best Live-Action Short Film
“The Letter Room”
“Two Distant Strangers”
Who I WANT to win: Feeling Through
I’m not sure if this was intentional, but all but one of the nominated live-action short films this year revolves around law enforcement in one way or another. While the films use this focus to shed lights on various different stories and world-views, it’s actually that lone short that decides to focus on the kindness of a young man and a blind and deaf nighttime voyager instead of police that’s earned my vote. Feeling Through simply shows the human desire to help one another in action. A young man is put in a situation with little to gain, but for his unlikely partner this is his whole world. Without being able to see or hear, he is forced to put all of his faith into goodwill of a complete stranger, one who could easily take advantage of him if he wanted to. This unlikely friendship shines a little bit of hope on an otherwise bleak pool of nominees, and I hope it touches the Academy as it has touched me.
Who I THINK will win: Two Distant Strangers
Okay, this is probably the only nominee this year that I DON’T want to win that has a very good chance. On paper it sounds like a film that would be quickly gobbled up by the people. A young black man finds himself in a Groundhog Day-like time loop where he is murdered every morning by the same white cop. Being tortured over and over again with a police-related death is an obvious allegory for the rampant death in black Americans at the hands of those that have sworn to protect. Sounds shocking and reverent, but here’s my issues with the film. I’m not entirely sure who the film was made for. Was it made for the BLM/ACAB crowd, and if so, why does it just tell you things you already know without any real nuance? The film ends in a way like its trying to shock you with the amount of unwarranted deaths by police that happen in America, but if you’re already on this side of the fence, this film gives you nothing new to think about. If this film was made for the other side, those that don’t believe there’s an issue of race or mishandling in law enforcement, why would you attempt to win them over by making the antagonist, someone who most likely harbors a lot of the same views as this audience, an overtly cartoonish caricature? By doing so, the films points are easy to disregard because of how black and white this film is with its delicate subject matter. It’s a huge misstep in the fight against this rampant problem, and I worry the Academy won’t think to deeply about it and this film the victory simply because of the subject matter.
“Judas and the Black Messiah,” Sean Bobbitt
“Mank,” Erik Messerschmidt
“News of the World,” Dariusz Wolski
“Nomadland,” Joshua James Richards
“The Trial of the Chicago 7,” Phedon Papamichael
Who I WANT will win: Nomadland
Nomadland has the lucky caveat that most of the film’s locations take place in some of the most beautiful pieces of wilderness the US has to offer. I’d be completely fine with this film walking away with the gold, as everything from the sweltering desert to the tranquil coast looks absolutely beautiful here.
Who I THINK to win: Mank
Beautiful black and white photography is on display in Mank, which is most likely its strongest element. Fincher has always been smart about his camerawork, and this film is no exception. While I would’ve liked the dreamy cinematography of Minari to get this nod, it’s hard to ignore what Mank gets so right.
Best Documentary Feature
“Collective,” Alexander Nanau and Bianca Oana
“Crip Camp,” Nicole Newnham, Jim LeBrecht and Sara Bolder
“The Mole Agent,” Maite Alberdi and Marcela Santibáñez
“My Octopus Teacher,” Pippa Ehrlich, James Reed and Craig Foster
“Time,” Garrett Bradley, Lauren Domino and Kellen Quinn
No Boys Camp? No Feels Good Man? Well, I haven’t seen any of these so uuuuuuh…Time will probably win?
Best Documentary Short Subject
“Colette,” Anthony Giacchino and Alice Doyard
“A Concerto Is a Conversation,” Ben Proudfoot and Kris Bowers
“Do Not Split,” Anders Hammer and Charlotte Cook
“Hunger Ward,” Skye Fitzgerald and Michael Scheuerman
“A Love Song for Latasha,” Sophia Nahli Allison and Janice Duncan
Haven’t seen any of these so I have no clue honestly. Have you seen any of these? Let me know your recommendations!
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
Who I WANT to win: The Father
The film’s theme of forgetting your surroundings and the people you love is brilliantly (and confusingly) painted through the film’s use of clever editing techniques that really put you in the shoes of our main character has he struggles with memory loss. It really produces genuine anxiety as you begin to question your own memory, making it one of the most effective uses of film editing I’ve seen this year.
Who I THINK will win: The Father
Same as above.
Best International Feature Film
“Another Round” (Denmark)
“Better Days” (Hong Kong)
“The Man Who Sold His Skin” (Tunisia)
“Quo Vadis, Aida?”(Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Who I WANT to win: Another Round
Ah, another case of me only seeing one film from this category. Yet, this shouldn’t undermine how fantastic of a film Another Round is. Following a group of teachers that decide to experiment with coming to work slightly intoxicated, the film paints an honest picture and the highs and lows of alcohol consumption. For every drunken night of debauchery with the boys, there’s also instances of refusing to believe your drinking has become a problem. Cautiously heartfelt with its message, the film comes to a close in a big, beautiful display of emotion that remains one of my favorite film endings of the year. I’m looking forward to talking about this movie more in the future.
Who I THINK will win: Another Round
This coincidentally also happens to be the only nominated international film others have seen, and I’m betting the Academy is the same way.
Best Makeup & Hairstyling
“Emma,” Marese Langan, Laura Allen, Claudia Stolze
“Hillbilly Elegy,” Eryn Krueger Mekash, Patricia Dehaney, Matthew Mungle
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” Sergio Lopez-Rivera, Mia Neal, Jamika Wilson
“Mank,” Kimberley Spiteri, Gigi Williams, Colleen LaBaff
“Pinocchio,” Mark Coulier, Dalia Colli, Francesco Pegoretti
Who I WANT to win: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Just by looking at stills I can see how much work and effort went into the character designs for this film. Viola Davis is completely changed thanks to the talented men and women in HMU, and I’d be fairly happy if this is our winner.
Who I THINK will win: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Although I half expect the Academy to throw this at either A) Hillbilly Elegy to appease Ron Howard or B) Pinocchio because of its standout titular puppet boy, yet I think I have faith in the Academy’s eye for talented HMU (I think).
Best Production Design
“The Father.” Production Design: Peter Francis; Set Decoration: Cathy Featherstone
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” Production Design: Mark Ricker; Set Decoration: Karen O’Hara and Diana Stoughton
“Mank.” Production Design: Donald Graham Burt; Set Decoration: Jan Pascale
“News of the World.” Production Design: David Crank; Set Decoration: Elizabeth Keenan
“Tenet.” Production Design: Nathan Crowley; Set Decoration: Kathy Lucas
Who I WANT to win: The Father
I briefly spoke on this in the Best Editing category, but the production design of The Father is so subtle yet so significant in the progression of the story. The titular dad’s environment is constantly changing around him, sometimes in obvious ways and sometimes in “blink and you’ll miss it” instances. The production design is so smartly developed that I hope it snags a win here.
Who I THINK will win: Mank
Hollywood loves Hollywood, yadda yadda yadda.
Best Visual Effects
“Love and Monsters,” Matt Sloan, Genevieve Camilleri, Matt Everitt and Brian Cox
“The Midnight Sky,” Matthew Kasmir, Christopher Lawrence, Max Solomon and David Watkins
“Mulan,” Sean Faden, Anders Langlands, Seth Maury and Steve 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
Who I WANT to win: Tenet
I found Tenet to be pretty toothless in its characters and story, but if it had to win for one thing and one thing only, this would be it. I can’t deny that the use of special effects here is both visually stunning and surprisingly clever. Time running forward and backwards parallel to one another sounds like a headache, but the film made it work through its impressive effects.
Who I THINK will win: Tenet
Just give it to Tenet to appease the Nolan fanboys and let’s move on.
Phew. That was a lot but I’m glad I got to touch on some films I haven’t yet talked about here. What are your picks for this years Oscars? Any film that got absolutely snubbed this year? I know I have a few. Be sure to let me know your thoughts on this award season in the comments!