Film

My 2021 Oscar Predictions.

In a year where covid-19 closed almost all movie theatres around the world and all the big studios stalled and delayed movie releases, especially big budget block busters like for instance Denis Villeneuve’s Dune, we were left basically with scraps. No, that’s not true, Tenet was bravely released last year but you see my point, right? What happened next I suppose was that we had a chance to focus on films with heart where human stories shone through, touching a nerve or two, even tickling our soul.

Anyway, lets get down to the business of predicting this year’s winners with awards night on Sunday (April 25) just around the corner. Interestingly I went 13/20 in my first year at playing the Oscars game. (I abstained from predicting the two documentary categories, Live Action Short and Best Animated Short.) I’m glad I didn’t deviate from the script and stuck by the favourites in the acting categories. This year though I have all but thrown out the form guide and gone with my heart with many predictions. It might come back to bite me, but we’ll see.

To make it a little easier for you, I have highlighted in BLUE who I believe deserves to win followed by a short statement why. Please note, I have declined again to comment on the Best Documentary, Best Short Documentary, Live Action Short and Best Animated Short categories. I haven’t seen any of the nominees. Be sure to let me know if you agree or disagree with my choices. It’s always interesting to hear someone else’s perspective. Enjoy!

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Best Picture:

“The Father”
“Judas and the Black messiah”
“Mank”
“Minari”
“Nomadland”
“Promising Young Woman”
“Sound of Metal”
“The trial of the Chicago 7″

It’s difficult to assess what film is most deserving of Best Picture this year. But if we played by the Academy’s rules in my humble opinion there are really only two frontrunners this year. They are Nomadland and The Trial of the Chicago 7. While the Korean-English language film Minari is absolutely beautiful, which follows a Korean-American family that moves to an Arkansas farm in search of their own American Dream, it isn’t everyones cup of tea. The same could be said about Promising Young Woman, a film about a revengeful woman who seeks out men who prey upon vulnerable women with an eye to destroy them. And so, as I said we’re left with Nomadland and The Trial of the Chicago 7. The latter I really enjoyed especially Sacha Baron Cohen’s supporting role performance. But Nomadland is truly the favourite and for good reason. It is a movie that feels like the end of the world just happened and our protagonist (played by Frances McDormand) is on a road to nowhere. The stark reality of life for nomads is difficult and clouded, but this film offers a road trip view of it with enough hope and oodles of compassion to help us understand their plight. It will win. I hope.

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Best Director:

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

Chinese-born film-maker Chloe Zhao is a revelation. She came to our attention a few years ago with her debut feature Songs My Brother Taught Me (2015). She followed it up brilliantly with her acclaimed The Rider (2017)  and now she is wooing audiences with Nomadland. Zhao is a Hollywood outsider who some say is well on her way to reinventing Hollywood. That said, the accolades just keep on coming for Zhao and one can expect her to win Best Director for her devastating beautiful story about an American underclass many of us knew very little about. Honourable mention to David Fincher for Mank. He’s probably the only one capable of stealing it from Zhao.

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Best Actor:

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

The ageing veteran Anthony Hopkins (83) put in such a great late career performance for his portrayal of a man losing his mind that he arguably deserves an Oscar nod for it, but unfortunately all our money is on Chad Boseman to win a posthumous award as Best Actor, as an ambitious and talented trumpeter in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. In short, it’s a dream role in his last ever performance that truly sees him put some distance between himself and his breakout role as the Black Panther.

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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   

With Frances McDormand taking the BAFTA last weekend and Viola Davis winning Screen Actors’ award earlier this month, the race for Best Actress has really heated up in the last few weeks. That said, I believe Carey Mulligan who is fancied as an outsider to take the big prize will do so against all expectation and I’m going to wage a small bet that she does. When I wrote my Top 10 Best Actress of the 2010 list last year, I all but ignored the very talented British actress despite impressing me in films like Drive (2011) The Great Gatsby (2013) and Inside Llewyn Davis (2013). But her time has finally arrived to take home her first Oscar with a knock out performance as an ‘avenging angel’ in the highly divisive Promising Young Woman. By the way, honourable mention to Andra Day for her performance in United States vs. Billie Holiday. In all honesty she could still triumph all the wonderful nominees in this category. As a recent Golden Globe recipient for Best Actress anything is possible.

trial-chicago-7

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

Was Sacha Baron Cohen’s pedigree as an actor ever in doubt? I just love when comedic actors play against type and in Cohen’s case almost steal the show with a mesmerisingly amusing but intelligent performance in The Trial of the Chicago 7. Cohen who is renowned for ad lib funny enough sticks to the script, even arguably gives one of the most important courtroom speeches of the film. But to win in this category, Cohen is going to have to topple Daniel Kaluuya’s outstanding performance in Judas and the Black Messiah. Is it possible? Sure. I think he can win.

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Best Supporting Actress:

“Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
“Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy
“Olivia Colman, The Father
“Amanda Seyfried, Mank
“Youn Yuh-Jung, Minari

I think Glenn Close has a seriously good chance of winning this year after decades of being snubbed by the Academy. But while Minari’s Youn Yuh-Jung is presumably red hot favourite, I’m betting on Amanda Seyfried and her often underestimated talent as an actress to win Best Supporting Actress for Mank. She plays Marion Davies, a golden age of Hollywood starlet, to perfection having studied almost everything about her. Seyfriend’s striking physical similarities to Davies are uncanny too. In short, there is a wonderful carefree spirit to Seyfried’s performance that long after the film is over, it is simply her scene-stealing presence that I remember the most. It’s no wonder why director David Fincher lured Seyfried to play the role.

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Best Adapted Screenplay:

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
The Father
Nomadland
One Night in Miami
The White Tiger”

Florian Zeller’s The Father is likely to miss out on Best Picture and all the acting awards but it deservedly needs this award to salvage something from Oscars night. Based on his own prize-winning, 2012 French play of the same name, Zeller will I hope pull of a miracle here.

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Best Original Screenplay:

Judas and the Black Messiah
Minari
Promising Young Woman
Sound of Metal
The Trial of the Chicago 7

The Best Original Screenplay category is the hardest category this year to find a winner. While I am so utterly impressed by Emerald Fennell’s script for Promising Young Woman it unfortunately won’t win. Odds are that Aaron Sorkin and his insanely talkative script for The Trial of the Chicago 7 will win. 

nomadland.zhao_

Best Cinematography:

Judas and the Black Messiah
Mank
News of the World
Nomadland
The Trial of the Chicago 7

Nomadland is visually beautiful. Cinematographer Joshua James Richards has a real knack for making sure he captured the right amount of light and elements for the film. It is exactly the type of picture that will grab the attention of the Academy.

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Best Original Score:

Da 5 Bloods
Mank
Minari
News of the World
“Soul

Last year Holder Gudnadottir won for Joker. In my opinion her win was never in doubt. This year I’m not so sure as I struggle to predict a winner for this category.  So I’m going to go out on a limb and say Soul. It’s said that the music score for Soul almost feels like another character in the film. I definitely feel that, especially with all its jazz infused musical numbers.

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Best Original Song:

“Fight for You,” Judas and the Black Messiah
“Hear My Voice,” The Trial of the Chicago 7
“Io Si (Seen),” The Life Ahead
“Husavik,” Eurovision Song Contest
“Speak Now,” One Night in Miami

There can only be one winner. It just has to be “Husavik” for Eurovision Song Contest.

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Best Production Design:

“The Father” 
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
Mank”
“News of the World”
“Tenet”

Like last year’s winner Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, I believe Mank’s depiction of Tinseltown of the 1930s will score huge points with the Academy.

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Best International Film:

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

If the Academy turned voting into a drink game, I’m sure they would all vote for the Danish-led production Another Round. In truth I don’t know who is taking the piss out of who. But why not, I believe it will win too.

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Best Makeup & Hairstyling:

Emma” 
“Hillbilly Elegy”
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
“Mank”
“Pinocchio”

When it came to transforming Amanda Seyfriend into a 1930s screen goddess for Mank, hair stylist Collen La Baff and makeup artist Gigi Williams Williams stayed true to the period. They will win because Seyfried looks like a doll.

mank-netflix-008

Best Costume Design:

Emma” 
“Mank”
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
“Mulan”
“Pinocchio”

Period dramas always seem like odds-on favourites to win Best Costume Design. That is why I’m betting on Emma to win. No wait, I’ve changed by mind. You know who should win? Trish Summerville for Mank. If Mank was in colour like Emma I’m sure we would appreciate all of Summerville’s glamorous outfits for Amanda Seyfried even more. For the record the boys look absolutely dapper too.

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Best Sound:

“Greyhound” 
Mank”
“News of the World
“Soul”
“Sound of Metal”

So the good folks at the Academy apparently combined the Sound Mixing and Sound Editing categories this year, sparing me from having to make this article any longer than it should be. That said, Sound of Metal deserves the Oscar for Best Sound. Why? Its use of sound from low frequencies to loud contrasts is chaotically beautiful. As someone who suffers from profound earring loss in my right ear, I can totally sympathise with the film’s protagonist and his sudden and shocking hearing deterioration. By the way that ringing or buzzing noise we occasionally hear in the film is exactly the same sound I hear everyday. It’s called tinnitus. Even the eerily quiet moments of this film freak me out. 

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Best Film Editing:

“The Father” 
“Nomadland
“Promising Young Woman
“Sound of Metal”
“The Trial of the Chicago 7”

I’m told that this category generally goes hand in hand with Best Sound. Ford v Ferrari took out the double last year, so why wouldn’t Sound of Metal do the same here. I’ve locked it in. 

tenet-film-fight-scenes-inverted

Best Visual Effects:

“Love and Monsters” 
“The Midnight Sky
“Mulan
“The One and Only Ivan”
“Tenet”

There can only be one winner here. With a palindrome of complex visual effects, it’s Tenet!

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Best Animated Feature:

“Onward” 
“Over the Moon
“Shaun the Sheep Movie: Armageddon
“Soul”
“Wolfwalkers”

Like Billy Joel once sang, it’s all about Soul! This Disney and Pixar feature makes you realise the true meaning of life. In a weird sort of way this is It’s A Wonderful Life rejigged and reborn as a modern animated classic. Its existential nature makes this film a lot of fun. It should win.

Robert Horvat is a Melbourne based blogger. He believes that the world is round and that art is one of our most important treasures. He has seen far too many classic films and believes coffee runs through his veins. As a student of history, he favours ancient and medieval history. Music pretty much rules his life and inspires his moods. Favourite artists include The Beatles, Pearl Jam, Garbage and Lana Del Rey.

2 comments on “My 2021 Oscar Predictions.

  1. Sadly, I just don’t watch nearly as many films as I used to. That’s partly due to the fact theaters have been shuttered for more than a year, but also that I don’t seem to have as much interest in new films anymore. And I refuse to pay $10 or more to watch a movie on my TV, despite now having one with a 60-inch screen. Consequently, I’ve seen only two of the nominated films: “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”, which I sadly didn’t care for all that much, and “The Trial of the Chicago 7”, which I finally watched the other night, and liked a lot.

  2. And so another Oscars night bites the dust. Despite bad ratings and everyone finding something to pick it apart for, I have to say I quite enjoyed the easy-going, stage-managed covid protocols show. Harrison Ford was for me the highlight of the night when he shared his scathing notes about Blade Runner, which got a lot of laughs and went absolutely viral on the internet. I got 10/19 in the categories I looked at. The all important acting awards were given to Frances McDormand, Daniel Kaluuya, Youn Yuh-jung and Anthony Hopkins, who wasn’t able to give a winner’s speech, but in the morning after posted a video from Wales in recognition of his Oscars triumph. In truth I’m still kicking myself for choosing Chadwick Boseman over Anthony Hopkins considering I thought Hopkins deserved the Oscar. There is a lesson there somewhere. Well it’s less than a year before we do it all again. So until next time…

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