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  • Writer's pictureStefanos Yoo-Min Florakis

Oscars 2021: Predictions and Winners for the Biggest Awards in Hollywood?

Over a year ago, Parasite made history when it won Best Picture at the Oscars, becoming the first film in a foreign language to win the prestigious award, beating heavyweights like 1917, and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. A triumphant win for the Korean author Bong Joon-Ho, who had limitless potential for the following award season, but little did we know how different it was going to be.

Since that night, the world came to an unexpected crisis, with the pandemic affecting every sector of the industry, changing theatrical releases, postponing productions, and causing a rethink to film exhibition as a whole.

All that brought to the inevitable alteration to awards season. Film festivals went virtual, as the award association tried to make ceremonies through zoom calls. On top of that films on streaming that were at one time, ineligible, were now open to consideration (something that the Academy has been trying to avoid since Netflix started acquiring projects).

Big contenders that many of us were expecting to be the frontrunners for many categories this year were pushed away from 2020, and after February of 2021 (the new deadline for films to be eligible for award season). Films such as Wes Anderson's The French Dispatch, Denis Villeneuve's Dune, Leos Carax's Sparks musical Annette with Ada Driver and Marion Cotillard, and even No Time to Die's tune by Billie Eilish was seen as the frontrunner for Original Song.

Though many films have been taken out of slots, there are still a number of great works to be celebrated. This year's Oscar nominations was heralded as the most diverse in the Academy's history. Nine out of the 20 acting nominees are people of colour, and the director's category finally had two female directors (the first time to ever happen). The nomination of Judas and the Black Messiah for Best Picture makes it the first time a team of black producers have had that honour.

While these achievements are something to hail, the Academy (especially after last year's #OscarsSoWhite) is still is a long way to go before achieving pure inclusivity, and it took 92 years to finally break those barriers. Also, I find the BAFTA nominees far more progressive, and it might be something that the Academy should be considering.

As of now, we are getting ready for the big night (even if it is going to be a show filled with webcams and celebrities in their living rooms/offices), I am going to share my thoughts on the nominees and predictions in the big categories for this years Oscars.

Best Supporting Actor


Sacha Baron Cohen - The Trial of the Chicago 7

Prediction - Daniel Kaluuya - Judas and the Black Messiah - WINNER

Leslie Odom Jr. - One Night in Miami

Paul Raci - Sound of Metal

LaKeith Stanfield - Judas and the Black Messiah

Arguably, the strongest category of the year. Each one of these actors stood out in their respective films, a huge achievement as they were part of some of the best acting ensembles of last year.

Leslie Odom Jr. is the clear favourite for the amazing quartet of actors in One Night in Miami. His portrayal of Sam Cooke is one of the main emotional heartbeats in the film, and the Tony-winning actor truly does the role justice, but I expect him to win Original Song for the same film, so the Academy will be able to give the acting award to someone else (which is fine as Speak Now is a very deserving protest anthem).

Sacha Baron Cohen has a great season, as not only has he been nominated for his work as activist Abbie Hoffman, but also he got a nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay for the Borat sequel (the first-ever person to achieve a double nomination for both acting and writing categories). Although this seems to be his year to win an Oscar, unfortunately, he faces some steep competition, and I believe that out of the outstanding cast from The Trial of the Chicago 7, Cohen seems to be a safe choice, considering Yayah Abdul-Mattin II, Mark Rylance, or Frank Langella would have been better choices.

Sound of Metal's Paul Raci has been a big hope for a lot of film fans, due to his brilliant performance as the sign language mentor (something that he is fluent with as his parents were deaf). He is very settled, and has one of the most emotional moments in the film, meaning any other year I would have him as the frontrunner. If only if he wasn't going against a certain actor...

Ever since the first trailer for Judas and the Black Messiah last September, we knew that Daniel Kaluuya would be a serious contender, and weren't wrong.

His portrayal as Black Panther Chairman Fred Hampton is explosive, tender, and as remarkably timely as I hoped for. So far this has given him a win at the Golden Globes, Critics Choice, Screen Actors Guild, and BAFTAs, making him the only actor to win in every televised ceremony. Although, there was one surprise nominee in that category, none other than Kaluuya's co-star - LaKeith Stanfield, for his work as FBI informant Bill O'Neal.

Stanfield wasn't even campaigned for the category, as the film team was pushing him for Leading Actor instead. It is not the first time the Academy has done this kind of switcheroo, as they did the same thing with Kate Winslet for The Reader back in 2009 (which she ended up winning). This indicates they love the film and the performances so much that a big number of members chose to put him with his Get Out alum. Although now the possibilities of an upset are higher than before with Stanfield (as some experts believe there could be a split vote between the two leads and could end up being one of the other nominees),

But Kaluuya is still the favourite and I expect him to come out victorious.

Best Supporting Actress


Maria Bakalova - Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Glenn Close - Hillbilly Elegy

Olivia Coleman - The Father

Amanda Seyfried - Mank

Predicted - Youn Yuh-Jung - Minari - WINNER

Possibly the most unpredictable category thus far in the season. Through the span of three months, award experts were in question as to how would this list would look, as each award association were either having different nominees or having some major omissions. In some cases, the award win was even given to someone that was not even in the conversation e.g. Jodie Foster winning the Golden Globe for The Mauritanian.

But after seeing the reactions for each of their represented films, and the overall buzz for each actress, I might have a clear idea.

Before the release of Hillbilly Elegy, Glen Close was believed to finally win an Oscar, as the Academy does have a sickness for such transforming performances based on real-life people (look no further than Gary Oldman in Darkest Hour, or Rami Malik in Bohemian Rhapsody). The trailer for the film was specially tailored to highlight Close's dramatic moments for the Academy, making it all clear Oscar bait. But then the film was released, and it was met with overwhelmingly negative reviews from critics.

All of a sudden that possible win seemed to be fainting away, even to the extent that she wouldn't even get a nomination. Out of all the odds she still managed to get a nomination at the Golden Globes and SAG, but this seems to be far more of a legacy nomination than actually giving ger recognition for the performance (which also got a nomination for Worst Supporting Actress at the Razzies, making Close the third ever person to be nominated for both an Oscar and a Razzie for the same film).

After the damning reviews for Hillbilly Elegy, all the attention went to Mank's Amanda Seyfried, as at that time the film was well regarded and her performance was one of the better qualities in the film. But just like the sanity of Orson Welles' character in Citizen Kane, the winning prospects for her faded away, as the film seemed to be dropping its regard from voters and fans.

Olivia Coleman then seemed the safer choice for her emotional and challenging performance in The Father, but the film seemed to lose traction after the film was still not widely released. With the film's surprising six nominations, including Best Picture, there is still a possibility for her to win her second Oscar (which would be ironic as Coleman's first win for The Favourite was on the year Close was the frontrunner to win for The Wife).

But, there is one unknown young actress that seems to have taken a storm only recently. That is Maria Bakalova or alternatively known as Tutar Sagdiyev, the daughter of Borate Sagdiyen in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (I am not going to type the whole official title). Bakalova not only managed to steal the spotlight from Sacha Baron Cohen in his own film but also become a serious threat for all these now veteran actors. She is the only nominee to get a nomination from the Golden Globes, Critics Choice Association, SAG, and BAFTA, which for any other candidate would definitely make her the frontrunner.

But, unfortunately, there is one setback that might keep her away from that win, and it's the fact that Borat is a comedy, and the Academy has a bad record of awarding actors on fully comedic roles (the last one being Kevin Kline in A Fish Called Wanda in 1989). Although it would be extracting for Bakalova to win, I am afraid that Academy members are not going to go all the way by supporting her with their vote.

Therefore, my prediction is Minari's Youn Yuh-Jung, or else known as the Korean Meryl Streep. Yuh-Jung is not only a legend in Korean cinema, but also she is the first Korean actor to be nominated for an Oscar. Her performance as the lovable grandma in Minari has been at the center of conversations for the film since its premiere at last year's Sundance Film Festival. She also gained traction after she won the SAG and BAFTA against Bakalova, making her the first Asian to win the category (and any film category of the guild's awards) making her the frontrunner for the golden statue.

Best Leading Actor


Riz Ahmed - Sound of Metal

Predicted - Chadwick Boseman - Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

Anthony Hopkins - The Father - WINNER

Gary Oldman - Mank

Steven Yeun - Minari

I would like to start by saying that the omission of Delroy Lindo for his performance in Da 5 Bloods, not just from the Academy, but from the majority of the awards associations and circles is a huge offence and they should be ashamed. Now moving on...

The winner was clear even before the campaigns started. The late Chadwick Boseman is the seventh actor to have a posthumous nomination and will be the third to win (after Peter Finch in Network, and Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight). Although it seems like a sentimental win instead of an accolade of his acting work in the film, it's far from the truth as it is the rawest and most complex performance Boseman has ever given. Awarding him with the Oscar is the best way for both honoring his acting abilities on Ma Rainey's Balck Bottom, and celebrating his legacy.

As for any possible upsets, I could see Riz Ahmed or Steven Yeun winning, not only for their historic nominations (Ahmed is the first Muslim actor and Yeun being the first Asian-American) but also their respective films gained six nominations each, including Best Picture, a category that Ma Rainey was left out of.

Gary Oldman seems to be the least likely to win as he doesn't even feel deserving of the nomination (although he is one of my favourite actors) considering there were so many other best leading performances (Lindo, Mad Mikkelsen in Another Round, and Tahar Rahim in The Mauritanian).

As for Sir Anthony Hopkins, he did end up winning the BAFTA over Boseman, it was expected as the British Academy tends to award their local talent over other nationals, especially their more renowned artists. There could be a possible upset similar to Coleman's Oscar victory for The Favourite two year ago, as Glenn Close was the frontrunner for her performance in The Wife (similarly to Boseman, Close had won each televised ceremony except the BAFTA, which went to Close), and in my opinion, Hopkins' work in The Father is the best one in this already stacked category.

But I don't see the Academy not awarding this to Boseman, especially considering Black Panther was previously nominated for Best Picture. It will be a tribute to his legacy and of course award one of the strongest performances of last year, meaning we'll all have to get ready for an emotional and passionate speech from his wife, Taylor Simone Ledward.

Best Leading 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 - WINNER

Predicted - Carey Mulligan - Promising Young Woman

The next most unpredictable category of the season is for Leading Actress, largely because all of these performances are some of the strongest we've had in a long time. The winner could end up being any of them.

These five performances have been the most recurring contenders during the season, with the three main names to have had substantial victories being Andra Day, Frances McDormand, and Carey Mulligan.

Day, who is the latest portrayal of Billie Holiday in Lee Daniels' biopic had a surprising win for Best Actress in a Drama at the Golden Globes (which had the same five actresses). Even though that may make things very promising for her, Day might lose it due to the mixed reactions to the film and lack of nominations for the film in any other category.

McDormand on the other hand has been a beloved presence to most of the critics' circles for her work on Nomadland, and the film itself is a favourite for a lot of journalists. I do doubt she'll win a third acting Oscar here due to the subtle and unconventional performance she provides.

I cannot think of a specific clip of her work that could work on the ceremony montage, as she blends so much into a real person as opposed to playing a big role.

As of now, Mulligan is my prediction to win, mainly due to the traction Promising Young Woman has gained since January, and because of her role being something rare to see on film. Some fans even compared her work in the film in a similar fashion to what Joaquin Phoenix did in Joker. The timelessness of the subject matter would make her win an even bigger victory for brave films about women, by women, that have been ignored for way too long. But her ambition from the BAFTAs (in which the acting categories were voted by juries and small committees, instead of the full acting branch of the British Academy) could have decreased her momentum for a possible Oscar win.

As for the other two nominees, they could still come out victorious. In the case for Viola Davis, even though she has been a potential frontrunner ever since the production was announced (mainly because the film is an August Wilson play adaptation, which got Davis her first Oscar for Wilson's Fences), she started losing traction mainly due to her role feeling more suitable for the Supporting category, especially as Boseman was taking more of the screentime (something very accurate of the original play).

Vanessa Kirby and her difficult and brave performance in Pieces of a Woman is something to be impressed by, especially during the opening birth scene, which is still one of the most excruciating sequences from last year (even more than the US elections), but once again she is the sole nomination the film, which was already getting mixed reactions from critics and viewers. Even though Kirby is the only one in the category with no win from any other ceremony, due to some potential unpredictability, and this year's focus on films relegated to streaming, she could be the winner.

This category is the wildest horse in this year's award season, as we might not have a clear winner until the night of the ceremony itself, and might even have a different winner in each ceremony. But I still believe that the popularity of Promising Young Woman will lead to Mulligan's first Oscar win (although if the SAG winners get repeated, then it would be the first time in Oscar history that all four acting categories were won by people of colour, which I for one will celebrate).

Best Director


Lee Isaac Chung - Minari

Emerald Fennell - Promising Young Woman

David Fincher - Mank

Thomas Vinterberg - Another Round

Prediction - Chloé Zhao - Nomadland - WINNER

Even more than Kaluuya and Boseman being sure victors is the inevitable win for Best Director to Chloé Zhao. As of now, Zhao has won 44 awards for her directing work on Nomadland, the most wins any director has ever had for a single film (not counting the other 56 wins as a writer, editor, and one of the producers of the film), leading to her inclusion in the Directors Guild of America. Her win would make her the second woman to win the award, but also she'd be the first woman of colour to do so too.

That being said the category isn't a done deal, it is a very impressive showcase of talent the Academy has chosen for the category. Not only do we have two female directors nominated (Zhao and Emerald Fennell) but we also have two Asian directors with Zhao and Lee Issac Chung, a first for both occasions. Also, the nomination of Fennell and Chung proves that their films, Minari and Promising Young Woman respectively, are widely acclaimed, boosting their chances in the rest of their nominations, even if this category shines towards Zhao.

As for David Fincher, this is just another nomination that will fail to achieve a win (even he should have won for The Social Network), as Mank has lost steam since the award season started. Unfortunately, he seems to be the one to take the typical conservative nomination, the one that I call the "good enough for a nomination, but nothing special" pick. Maybe he'll be lucky next time, though if Fincher fails with a literal Oscar-bait film, then I don't know what else he has to do.

But if Fincher's nomination was the one most expected (and kinda boring, sorry Finch), then surely Thomas Vinterberg was the most delightful surprise (it certainly was for me), as it makes Another Round the latest international film to be nominated in this category.

For the last couple of years, I have realized that the directors' branch of the Academy has started to look more kindly to European/Foreign authors of foreign language films. Last year we had Bong Joon-Ho for Parasite (which he won), and the year before we had nominations for Alfonso Cuarón for Roma, and Pawel Pawlikowski for Cold War (which Cuarón won). With Vintebergs and Chungs' nominations, their films join that niche group of films.

Even with Zhao's sure win, this category is still one of my favourites, as it symbolises a starting point for the Academy to include more diverse filmmakers.

Best Picture


The Father

Judas and the Black Messiah



Predicted - Nomadland - WINNER

Promising Young Woman

Sound of Metal

The Trial of the Chicago 7

So for the big award of the night, I predict Nomadland... Besides the fact I believe it is the best film in the category, it is also the fact that it has won the Critics Choice Award, Golden Globe, BAFTA and the Producers Guild Award (which out of the last ten films to win Best Picture, seven of them won this award). The Golden Globe win made the win more definitive as the Foreign Press Association is infamous for going for the crowd-pleasing film on their top awards, and not for the small arthouse pieces. So when they didn't announce a typical choice like The Trial of Chicago 7 or Mank, and instead went for Nomadland, it showed how special the film is.

Does that mean that there is no chance of losing? No. But it is unlikely as the film has had a strong hike to the top ever since its premiere at the Venice Film Festival (which it won the top prize). Also, it's a film that grows stronger and stronger the more time that passes. It's like a painting that needs time to be fully appreciated, to stare at it in order to properly understand it, and most importantly - feel it. Surprisingly, the long delay of the Oscars to April might have helped it to actually win. But then again, it has proven before that time doesn't always help frontrunners.

Prime and recent examples are Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, La La Land, and The Revenant, all of which were collecting top trophies with most award circles and associations, but then ended up losing to The Shape of Water, Moonlight, and Spotlight respectively (personally I much preferred those picks). Even so, Nomadland looks like it has a stronger case, but who do I think has the better chance for an upset?

If you had asked me back in November, I would have said The Trial of the Chicago 7 was a sure frontrunner due to its political identity and timeliness to the current political climate. But I think the film itself might not be something that the Academy is aiming for at the moment, as there is a lack of diversity in the film, both front and behind the scenes, especially considering the subject matter of the story. Look at Yayah Abdul-Mattin II's Bobby Seale, who only has 20 minutes of screentime, and he was the only main cast member of colour. Also, Aaron Sorkin's snub for Best Director doesn't bode well for him or the film.

As for the other Oscar-bait (and probably the most out of the eight films) Mank, I am very certain that if the Oscars were earlier as originally scheduled it would have done much better in regards to nominations. Of course, ending up with ten nominations (the most of the year) isn't any sort of a disappointment, but the main issue for the film's chances to win Best Picture is the omission of its screenplay and editing not getting nominated, which usually are the two main categories that a film needs to get nominations for the top prize (since 2016, each Best Picture winner has had a nomination on both editing and a writing category).

With all that in mind, the best possible upsets that could happen for Best Picture is between Promising Young Woman, The Father, and Sound of Metal, as all three films do have the necessary nominations and have gained more praise as the season has gone along. I wouldn't leave out Judas and the Balck Messiah, as it has overperformed from what was expected from it, and a lot of critics have said that the film is more timely and effective than Chicago 7 (and I have to agree).

But for me, Nomadland remains at the top of my ballot, one, because Frances McDormand is one of the producers, so they could still honour her, despite not winning best actress (alas winning her third Oscar), and two, it seems the best choice for its diversity, timeliness, and buzz.

If it doesn't go to Nomadland, I just hope they go for something unique and unconventional...

The remaining categories

To wrap up my predictions here is my list for the other categories, and make sure to check back tomorrow, so which wins I got right...

Best Adapted Screenplay: Nomadland - LOST TO - The Father

Best Original Screenplay: Promising Young Woman - WINNER

Best Cinematography: Nomadland - LOST TO - Mank

Best Costume Design: Ma Rainey's Black Bottom - WINNER

Best Editing: Sound of Metal - WINNER

Best Production Design: Mank - WINNER

Best Make-up and Hairstyling: Ma Rainey's Black Bottom - WINNER

Best Sound: Sound of Metal - WINNER

Best Visual Effects: Tenet - WINNER

Best Original Score: Soul - WINNER

Best Original Song: One Night in Miami - LOST TO - Fight For You

Best Animated Feature: Soul - WINNER

Best Animated Short: If Anything Happens I Love You - WINNER

Best Documentary Feature: My Octopus Teacher - WINNER

Best Documentary Short: A Love Song for Latasha - Colette

Best International Feature: Another Round - WINNER

Best Live Action Short Film: The Letter Room - LOST TO - Two Distant Strangers

What are your predictions? Tell us in the comments down below.


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