Oscars 2021 – Will and Should Win

Over the lockdown period, we have gotten into films in a big way. We splashed out on a big TV, and set up some streaming services, and started watching away. Since the start of this year, we have watched sixty-five films, and have made some serious headway into achieving something that has been an ambition of mine for a while – to watch every single film nominated for an Oscar in one year. There are forty-one films nominated this year (not including shorts) and we have seen twenty-two of them. That’s not a bad percentage, but if you take out the films only nominated in the Best International Feature and Best Documentary categories, then it is a more impressive 21 out of 33. We have been lucky enough to see most of the big hitters – The Father starring Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman being a frustrating gap, as it will be released in cinemas later this year – and I thought before the ceremony tonight I would do a run down of who I think will win each category and who I think will win. I’ll also put the ones we have seen in bold to allow for the fact that we aren’t at full capacity yet.

Best Picture

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

Who Will Win: Nomadland
Who Should Win: Promising Young Woman

There are some great films here, and I am going to pick out off the bat a few that you should certainly see. Promising Young Woman is an incredible film about a woman who gets revenge on men who take advantage of drunk women in clubs. Sound of Metal tells the touching story of a heavy metal drummer who loses his hearing. Judas and the Black Messiah is a stunning biopic of the Black Panther’s leader Fred Hampton. These three battle it out for my favourite with Emerald Fennel’s feature debut just taking it, but in honesty, all of these films are excellent and worth a look. Nomadland has momentum behind it and is absolutely beautiful, so I cannot see anything else stealing it tonight.

Best Director

Thomas Vinterberg – Another Round
David Fincher – Mank
Lee Isaac Chung – Minari
Chloe Zhao – Nomadland
Emerald Fennell – Promising Young Woman

Who Will Win: Chloe Zhao – Nomadland
Who Should Win: Chloe Zhao – Nomadland

Another strong category (many of them are, and the strongest one is yet to come…) but Chloe Zhao, who is the same age as me, has done something really special with the sparse filming of Nomadland, and with a cast of predominantly non-actors. She is directing the upcoming Marvel film The Eternals, and I think she is going to prove herself as a truly great director over the next few years with some real variety. Special shout out to Emerald Fennell (you will know her as Camilla in The Crown) for being the first British woman to be nominated in this field, and to David Fincher, who spent decades trying to get Mank, written by his late father, off the ground, but his momentum has totally stopped recently.

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 – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Who Should Win: Riz Ahmed – Sound of Metal

This one is wrapped up I think. Bar a possible upset by Anthony Hopkins, Chadwick Boseman has this in the bag. It is an amazing performance by an incredible actor who was taken from us before he could have the kind of career he deserved, and this will go as a nod to his incredible talent – and quite rightly so. It is a pity that it does mean less of a look in for some excellent performances elsewhere, top amongst them in my eyes being Riz Ahmed’s spellbinding turn in Sound of Metal. It is one of the most real performances I have seen in a long time, and will remain with me for a long time.

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

Who Will Win: Carey Mulligan – Promising Young Woman
Who Should Win: Carey Mulligan – Promising Young Woman

This is it – the hardest category to call. These are five incredible performances, and Kirby aside, have all shared the gongs from the other major awards ceremonies this year. Viola Davis is amazing as the title character in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, and shows layer upon layer of character. She is so deserving of the award, and might pip Carey Mulligan, but it is the latter’s driving performance in Promising Young Woman that does it for me. McDormand is excellent, but this is not her most arresting personal performance compared to, say, Three Billboards. Andra Day is phenomenal in The United States vs Billie Holliday, but the film is unfortunately a bit of a mess in every other way, and poor Vanessa Kirby deserves a lot of love for a deeply moving performance in Pieces of a Woman, a film that can’t quite make its way up to ‘great’ status, but whose acting is first rate (Shia LeBeouf, troublesome as he is as a person, was fully deserving of a best supporting actor nod himself). I would not be surprised to see any of these names called come this evening though.

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 – Judas and the Black Messiah
Who Should Win: Daniel Kaluuya – Judas and the Black Messiah

One of the most sewn up categories I think, the only real issue with Kaluuya winning this award is that he is arguably the lead. Seeing as how Lakeith Stanfield is in this category too, it begs the question as who is supposed to be anchoring this film. I guess there is a chance that they split votes and someone such as Paul Raci, who is great in one of the more traditional ‘supporting’ style roles as a deaf councilor in Sound of Metal, could sneak in, I don’t see anyone toppling this excellent portrayal of an important civil rights figure. It is a performance that makes the film, and deserves credit. This category does bring in to question whether maybe an ensemble cast award might make sense at the Oscars though, as both The Trial of the Chicago 7 and One Night in Miami… don’t really fit the lead/supporting model.

Best Supporting Actress

Maria Bakalova – Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Glenn Close – Hillbilly Elegy

Olivia Colman – The Father
Amanda Seyfried – Mank
Youn Yuh-jung – Minari

Who Will Win: Maria Bakalova – Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Who Should Win: Youn Yuh-jung – Minari

Unlike its sister categories of Best Actress or Best Supporting Actor, I am not sure this is one of the strongest categories this year. Amanda Seyfried is very good in Mank, but it would probably be a disappointing win as it doesn’t stand out much. Glenn Close is one of the most nominated actors without a win of all time, but a strong performance in the quite frankly dreadful Hillbilly Elegy is not what she should finally win for. The Father is one of the few big hitters we have not yet seen frustratingly, but I am sure that Colman would be a great winner here. This leaves Maria Bakalova – amongst the acting nominees, the sole representative for a straight comedy – and Youn Yuh-jung – a legend in her native South Korea, but with little profile in Hollywood. I think that it will go to a gutsy performance from Bakalova, but I am hoping for an upset from Youn Yuh-jong as in this charming film, she is the easy highlight.

Best Original Screenplay

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

Who Will Win – Promising Young Woman
Who Should Win – Promising Young Woman

All of these are in with a shout I think – and keep an eye out for The Trial of the Chicago 7 here as Aaron Sorkin is Hollywood writing royalty – but I think that Emerald Fennell, writer/director and brief cameo in Promising Young Woman, deserves this. I absolutely loved this film and found it smart and surprising throughout. It would be criminal if this film left with nothing later on, so I hope it comes up trumps here.

Best Adapted Screenplay

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

Who Will Win: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Who Should Win: The White Tiger

The White Tiger is a funny and moving look at the caste system in India. It is by no means a perfect film, but it has not received as much love this awards season as it deserves. Its fast-paced and clever script is one of its finest elements however, so I’d love to see it come away with the Best Adapted Screenplay award. I think that, despite it not being a patch on its first instalment, it will be Borat that wins it – clever and funny, although not a script in the most traditional of senses, it would still be good to see a comedy with the win. Nomadland is receiving a lot of love, so I would be unsurprised to see it win here possibly, but for me that was not the strongest element.

Best Animated Feature Film

Onward
Over The Moon

A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon
Soul
Wolfwalkers

Who Will Win: Soul
Who Should Win: Onward

Soul will win this by a mile. It is a Pixar, which by the way voting at the Academy works is a huge help (in many categories, you can only vote if you are a member of the Academy for that field. Animated film, along with Best Picture, is one of the few that anyone can vote in, meaning it sometimes lets the more famous films win), but also it is a beautiful, warm film that I loved immensely. It was also a shoe in for me, until this weekend when I saw Onward which I absolutely adored. A coming of age film about elves in a modern world, with heavy D&D nods, I found it really funny and moving. It doesn’t stand a chance against Soul though, even if the reviews for Wolfwalkers are amazing. As an aside, Over The Moon is dreadful – don’t waste your time on it.

Best International Feature Film

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

Who Will Win: Another Round
Who Should Win: I don’t know

So this is the only one that we have not managed to see any of the nominees for as of yet. It looks like Another Round will take it – it is rare for a film in this category to get nominated for Best Director without also winning Best International Film – but Quo Vadis, Aida? has some great reviews so could sneak in here.

Best Documentary Feature

Collective
Crip Camp
The Mole Agent
My Octopus Teacher
Time

Who Will Win: My Octopus Teacher
Who Should Win: I don’t know

Another that we are not so well informed on – Alex is a big documentary fan, but it’s not usually my cup of tea. We watched My Octopus Teacher and it is beautiful and incredibly well made, but I can’t help but feel that the subject matter of some of the others – Collective, looking at corruption in Romania, and Time, about a fight for justice, both jump out at me – but I think My Octopus Teacher will take it as it is just so beautifully filmed. Crip Camp is produced by the Obamas so might just about sneak in the win however.

Best Original Score

Da 5 Bloods
Mank
Minari
News of the World
Soul

Who Will Win: Soul
Who Should Win: Mank

It still feels weird to me that the band Nine Inch Nails are up for an Oscar, let alone two – incidentally, the two I have mentioned here. Soul will take this, and fairly so as it is a lively and quirky jazz score that makes the film come to life, but I found the music in Mank to be one of its best traits, utilising the sound of the forties to put together a great homage to a great film.

Best Original Song

“Fight for You” from Judas and the Black Messiah
“Hear My Voice” from The Trial of the Chicago 7
“Husavik” from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

“Io si (Seen)” from The Life Ahead
“Speak Now” from One Night in Miami…

Who Will Win: “Speak Now” from One Night in Miami…
Who Should Win: “Husavik” from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

If you wanted to play along tonight but haven’t got time to watch forty one films (spoiler – you don’t) then this is the category that you can still join in with by having a listen on Spotify. Several of the songs are instantly forgettable, but I am still holding out hope for the Eurovision film to pick up a win tonight with this song – for what it is worth, the only one specifically tied into the fabric of the film. I would be happy to see Leslie Odom Jr – of Hamilton fame – pick up the win though even if it isn’t the best song around.

Best Sound

Greyhound
Mank
News of the World
Soul
Sound of Metal

Who Will Win: Sound of Metal
Who Should Win: Sound of Metal

I don’t feel hugely qualified to be able to comment on the sound design of a film in huge detail, but it is really noticeable when the sound is such an integral part of the film as it is with Sound of Metal. Putting us in the shoes of Riz Ahmed’s drummer as he goes deaf is no mean feat, and makes this one of my more confident predictions.

Best Production Design

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

Tenet

Who Will Win: Mank
Who Should Win: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

A lot of beautiful films this year, and I think it might be a straight fight between these two twentieth century sets. Mank has to win something this year – it is a film about films and Hollywood loves that – that for my money, the beauty of the sets in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom make the film come to life, and that is before you even look at the more abstract elements of the production design, and I would give it the Oscar here.

Best Cinematography

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

Who Will Win: Nomadland
Who Should Win: Nomadland

Cinematography is another one that I cannot say I am an ace with, but the sweeping plains captured so beautifully in Nomadland seem to scream out a definition of the word cinematography. If I am wrong on this prediction, then it is because I don’t know what cinematography is as well as I believe I do.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Emma.
Hillbilly Elegy
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Mank

Pinocchio

Who Will Win: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Who Should Win: Hillbilly Elegy

The Ma Rainey make up is sublime, but in Hillbilly Elegy the characters are made to look so much like those that they are based on that it is difficult to tell who is who when you see photos of the real life stimuli. Truthfully, this might be a test as to whether a bad film can still win for one of the few things it does right. Suicide Squad being an Oscar winner suggests it is possible, so this could go either way.

Best Costume Design

Emma.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Mank

Mulan
Pinocchio

Who Will Win: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Who Should Win: Emma.

With some lovely character designs, this could be an easy pick. Mank does a great job, particularly with Amanda Seyfried’s character, and Mulan looks lovely from what I have seen, but I think that Ma Rainey might have it in the bad. I loved Emma., even though it is exactly the kind of film I usually hate, so I want to see it take something home, but I think it might be beyond it, unfortunately.

Best Film Editing

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

Who Will Win: The Trial of the Chicago 7
Who Should Win: Sound of Metal

I am starting to really understand the important role that editors play in making a film work well. Not just the smoothness, but also the impact. It is notable how often the Editing category correlates with the Best Picture category. Unfortunately, I am not fully up to speed yet, so I might be miles out here, but I will try and do better next year.

Best Visual Effects

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

Who Will Win: Tenet
Who Should Win: I don’t know

Ah Visual Effects, adding plenty more films to the overall count of nominees this year. It is rare for a Christopher Nolan film to come away with little love so it might just take the statue for this category, but I have heard that it is also the one redeeming feature of Disney’s The One And Only Ivan, so there is a chance in that film as well.

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