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(Credit: Alex Oliveira / ©A.M.P.A.S.)

Oscars 2021 Predictions: Who will win big at the 93rd Academy Awards?

In the most tumultuous year cinema has been through in recent memory, it’s remarkable that enough films have even been released to discuss ahead of the 93rd Academy Awards. Granted, the distribution of many of these films have been handled by streaming services, the new kids on the Hollywood scene who reaped the rewards of a housebound population during the coronavirus pandemic. Eliminating the middle-man of widescreen cinema, Netflix, Amazon and Disney+ were able to bring content straight to the doorstep of hungry film lovers, where traditional Hollywood distributors could only watch on in envy. 

Netflix’s The Trial of the Chicago 7, Amazon’s The Sound of Metal and Disney’s Soul are each involved in major categories, as streaming services’ stranglehold of the traditional moviemaking model continues. Though as the glittering best picture award remains to elude their grasp, old Hollywood moguls will persist on discrediting their success. Though cinema is an industry in flux, one ebbing away from old structures of goliath studios and untouchable movie stars, and toward a more progressive model, particularly when it comes to the Academy Awards.

The nominees of the 93rd Academy Awards highlights how far Hollywood has come in only the space of a decade, but also how much further it still must go to see equality across races, genders, and even genres. With this considered let’s take a look at who might take home the celebrated awards:

Academy Awards Predictions 2021: Who will win?

Best Picture

  • The Father – (Director: Florian Zeller)
  • Mank – (Director: David Fincher)
  • Sound of Metal – (Director: Darius Marder)
  • Promising Young Woman – (Director: Emerald Fennell)
  • Minari – (Director: Lee Isaac Chung)
  • Nomadland – (Director: Chloé Zhao)
  • The Trial of the Chicago 7 – (Director: Aaron Sorkin)
  • Judas and the Black Messiah – (Director: Shaka King)

Who Will Win? Nomadland.

For so long it seemed like Mank, David Fincher’s love/hate letter to early Hollywood would be a shoo-in for the Oscars’ most converted award, however, Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland has snuck in to lead the pack. A quiet, poetic character study on the forgotten wanderers of backend America, Zhao’s film well captures a country in flux both in sentiment and in its stunning cinematography.

Who Should Win? Sound of Metal.

This stunning piece of filmmaking from Darius Marder captures everything great about modern filmmaking. Utilising a largely deaf cast, Marder’s film breathes a refreshing authenticity, allowing audiences to experience the sensual deprivation of the central character, with thanks to Riz Ahmed’s fantastic central performance and the film’s bold use of sound design. 

Best Director

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

Who Will Win? Chloé Zhao.

As the first woman of colour to be nominated for the director’s award, Zhao could make history with a win, making her also only the second woman to ever win the award. With a careful deft touch, Zhao conducted Nomadland’s Fern across the Nevada wasteland and masterfully brought together the sound and cinematography to elevate her journey.

Who Should Win? Chloé Zhao.

It is particularly deserved to see Thomas Vinterberg up for nomination for his efforts for the gripping Another Round, though his mention is merely an honourable one. Emerald Fennell has an equally good opportunity to win for her stunning work on Promising Young Woman, though Zhao’s tight grip on her source material should see her winning this one.

Best Actor

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

Who Will Win? Chadwick Boseman.

A posthumous award for the great Chadwick Boseman is all but guaranteed come the night of the 93rd Academy Awards for his leading role in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. This should not take away from the performance itself, which is embraced by Boseman, embodying the passion of trumpeter Levee Green with a natural wit and charm. 

Who Should Win? Chadwick Boseman.

His role in recent cinema history cannot be understated, acting as a role model for so many young Marvel fans across the world. The quality of the rest of the list should also certainly be mentioned, however, with both Anthony Hopkins and Riz Ahmed giving career-best performances.

Best Actress

  • 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 Will Win? Carey Mulligan.

Mulligan’s leading role in Promising Young Woman is no easy role to fill, bringing razor-sharp wit and gusto to her performance as Cassandra, a woman seeking vengeance for a traumatic act of sexual assault. It’s a bold and brilliant role in a similarly provocative film from Emerald Fennell.

Who Should Win? Carey Mulligan.

This one isn’t clear cut by any means but Mulligan’s performance is the best of the lot. Her poll position is certainly being pressured by Oscar-darling Frances McDormand who is undoubtedly terrific as the impassioned Fern in Nomadland. Viola Davis isn’t too far behind for her role as the titular Ma Rainey, appearing alongside Chadwick Boseman, this one’s close to call. 

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)

Who Will Win? Daniel Kaluuya.

Another strange case of The Oscars miscategorising performances, Daniel Kaluuya’s dominating performance as Fred Hampton in Judas and the Black Messiah is far from a supporting performance. Nonetheless, his explosive, carefully nuanced portrayal of the civil rights activist leads and completes Shaka King’s incredible film.

Who Should Win? Daniel Kaluuya.

Kaluuya’s leading role here is too strong not to receive praise, but he is joined by some equally masterful performances in this category. His co-star Lakeith Stanfield arguably plays a more complex character than Kaluuya, and is totally absorbing as the film’s antihero, Paul Raci must also be mentioned for his breathtaking breakout performance in Sound of Metal.

Best Supporting Actress

  • Maria Bakalova (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm)
  • Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy)
  • Olivia Colman (The Father)
  • Amanda Seyfried (Mank)
  • Yuh-jung Youn (Minari)

Who Will Win? Yuh-Jung Youn.

Another acting category that isn’t quite as clear cut as normal, though Yuh-Jung Youn performance in Lee Isaac Chung’s Minari stands out as the strongest in the pack, and of the film itself. Calm, quiet and poetically reflective, Youn’s character seems to be the mouthpiece for all of Chung’s themes and ideas, she is the driving force of Minari. 

Who Should Win? Olivia Colman.

Whilst Yuh-Jung Youn is given practically the whole of Lee Isaac Chung’s script to work from, Olivia Colman extracts raw emotion and painful heartbreak from her role as Anne in The Father, particularly as she isn’t often in the film. Florian Zeller’s film is held together by its central father/daughter relationship, and at least one of Hopkins or Colman should be recognised.

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 Will Win? Nomadland.

The simple, naturalistic conversations of Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland will be too charming to resist for the academy, fueling the powerful central character on her journey around Nebraska. Frances McDormand’s dialogue is careful and precise, making each of her conversations essential listening. 

Who Should Win? The Father.

Adapting a stage play for the big screen is never easy, particularly when it’s one that is barely set outside of one location. Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller’s adapted screenplay perfectly stages the breakdown of its central character and subtly captures an internal world of disarray. 

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 Will Win? Promising Young Woman.

It should feel criminal to bet against Aaron Sorkin, but The Trial of the Chicago Seven was greater than the sum of its parts, with the screenplay being perhaps its weakest aspect. On the other hand, Emerald Fennell’s original screenplay for Promising Young Woman managed to sensitively deal with several tough subjects and even does so with flair and wit. It’s a tremendous achievement. 

Who Should Win? Sound of Metal.

Promising Young Woman may just capture the minds of the Academy, particularly due to its pertinent themes, but the superb screenplay from brothers Darius and Abraham Marder is truly spectacular. Taking us deep into the world of another person’s suffering, the screenplay does such a great job in transferring the characters inner emotions to make them universal.

Best Cinematography

  • 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 Will Win? Nomadland.

With vast epic landscapes of Nebraska, Nomadland is a dead-cert for a win in the best cinematography category. From Joshua James Richards, Fern is made to look like a mere product of her expansive environment, dwarfed by the country she inhabits. The photography is the film’s strongest aspect.

Who Should Win? Nomadland.

Joshua James Richards is certainly deserving of the cinematography win, with few to really challenge his bid. Sean Bobbitt’s depiction of 1960s Chicago in Judas and the Black Messiah is particularly powerful, namely for one shot at the film’s climax which is almost deserved of the award in and of itself. 

Best Animated Feature

  • Onward (Pixar)
  • Over the Moon (Netflix)
  • A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon (Netflix)
  • Soul (Pixar)
  • Wolfwalkers (Apple TV Plus/GKIDS)

Who Will Win? Soul.

Disney and Pixar near enough own the best animated feature category, having won it ten times in total, Soul may just be the most deserving of the bunch however. With an inspiring soundtrack, Soul shows an emphatic return to form from one of cinemas most celebrated animation companies, filled with originality and ambition that retains an emotional core of which Pixar are famous for. 

Who Should Win? Soul.

For Pixar’s greatest outing in recent memory, it’s hard to look past Soul’s success, but the category is certainly full of great filmmaking feats. From Song of the Sea directors, Wolfwalkers is an excellent, heartfelt addition to their impressive filmography, whilst A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon is just innately joyous. 

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 Will Win? ‘Speak Now’ – One Night in Miami

From Regina King’s One Night in Miami, Leslie Odom, Jr. soft, beautiful ‘Speak Now’, perfectly demonstrates the singer’s incredible vocal range and delicate tonal control. For a film which will likely not see too much success at this year’s Academy Awards, it will be just to see this frontrunner for best original song be likely rewarded. 

Who Should Win? ‘Hear My Voice’ – The Trial of the Chicago 7

Another film highly nominated which will likely not see much praise, The Trial of the Chicago 7 is full of artistic merit, especially when it comes to Celeste Waite’s rousing final song. For the pertinence of this song and the movement in which it stands for, ‘Hear My Voice’ deserves Oscar success, but it is certainly in highly regarded company.

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 Will Win? Soul.

The melodic score of Pixar’s Soul is the beating heart of the film itself, popping with breathtaking jazz improvisation throughout the film, whilst transitioning to experimental electronica as the story changes tone. Not only is the music the best part of the film, it may just be the best music of any Pixar film to date. 

Who Should Win? Soul.

There are few competitors that can really touch Soul’s sublime nature, especially when the film’s score is so central to the plot itself. Minari’s floating instrumentals may come close to snatching its crown, or maybe the staccato notes of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ Mank score, but success is unlikely. 

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 Elliott and David Parker
  • Sound of Metal – Nicolas Becker, Jaime Baksht, Michelle Couttolenc, Carlos Cortés and Phillip Bladh

Who Will Win: Sound of Metal.

Who Should Win: Sound of Metal.

Best Costume Design

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

Who Will Win: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Who Should Win: Mank

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 Will Win: If Anything Happens I Love You

Who Should Win: Genius Loci

Best Live Action Short Film

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

Who Will Win: The Letter Room

Who Should Win: White Eye

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

Who Will Win: Time

Who Should Win: Collective

Best Documentary Short

  • 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

Who Will Win: A Love Song for Latasha

Who Should Win: Hunger Ward

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 Will Win: Sound of Metal

Who Should Win: Sound of Metal

Best International Feature Film

  • Another Round (Denmark)
  • Better Days (Hong Kong)
  • Collective (Romania)
  • The Man Who Sold His Skin (Tunisia)
  • Quo Vadis, Aida? (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

Who Will Win: Another Round

Who Should Win: Collective 

Best Makeup and 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 Will Win: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Who Should Win: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

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 Will Win: Mank

Who Should Win: Tenet

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 Will Win: Tenet

Who Should Win: Tenet

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