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Fearless 2021 Oscar Predictions

Hope Madden Hope Madden Fearless 2021 Oscar PredictionsClockwise from top left: Promising Young Woman, Nomadland, Sound of Metal, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom - Photos via IMDb
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by Hope Madden and George Wolf

There are few certainties going into this Sunday’s Oscar broadcast. One is that not that many people are going to be mad about the results because not that many people have seen these movies. The second is that Sound of Metal may not take home any of the big-ticket prizes, but it will be rewarded for its inspired sound design, thankfully.

Also, Soul. If you don’t predict that Pixar’s Soul will win Best Animated Feature, you engage in risk-taking behaviors. (But Wolfwalkers is great too, and you should definitely watch it.)

The point is, we have seen them all and, on the whole, we’re pleased with the films and performers the Academy deemed award-worthy this year. In case you want to cheat off our ballot, here you go:

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

This may be the toughest call in the acting group. We give the edge to Viola Davis in a commanding performance. Vegas likes Mulligan but doesn’t count out Davis or McDormand. Our money’s on Davis because 1) she’s Viola F. Davis, and 2) the Screen Actors Guild—which boasts a remarkable number of Academy voters—awarded Davis.

Best Actor

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

In what may be the surest lock of the night, Chadwick Boseman will be honored posthumously for what was certainly his most assured performance in his most demanding role. August Wilson wrote complex, powerful characters and Boseman burnt bright as a talent on the verge.

Best Supporting Actor

  • Sacha Baron Cohen: 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

These are all great performances (though Stanfield should be in the lead category), but Daniel Kaluuya was a force that nearly burned a hole in the screen. He wins.

Best Supporting Actress

  • Maria Bakalova: Borat Subsequent movie Film
  • Glenn Close: Hillbilly Elegy
  • Olivia Colman: The Father
  • Amanda Seyfried: Mank
  • Yuh-Jung Youn: Minari

Smart money’s on veteran actress and international charmer Yuh-Jung Youn, whose wonderful role as the offbeat grandmother in Minari gave her every opportunity to impress – and she took them. Bakalova could pull a surprise upset, but we’re going with Grandma.

Best Original Screenplay

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

The Writers’ Guild gave their top prize to Emerald Fennell for her brilliantly twisty, darkly comic and equally devastating riff on the rape/revenge story. She has real competition from every screenplay on the list – the race here is extremely tight and we wouldn’t be surprised to see Minari or The Trial of the Chicago 7 win. (We might give the prize to Judas and the Black Messiah, ourselves.) But on our ballot, we’re going with Fennell.

Best Adapted Screenplay

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

As weird as it may sound, Borat has all the momentum going into this night because of its Writers Guild award (one of the few awards running up to Oscar that contains an overlapping voting pool). That’s quite a surprise since it’s almost hard to figure out what the screenplay for this moviefilm would even look like. Vegas gives the edge to Nomadland. Neither film is the kind the Academy usually recognizes in this category, which is a win in itself. This is our riskiest bet, by far, but we’re putting Borat on our ballot.

Best Director

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

Chloe Zhao. This will happen.

Best Film

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

Nomadland will probably take this one home, but because the Academy votes on Best Picture differently than it does any of the other categories, the guesswork becomes more complicated. Voters cast their ballot for their favorite, but then they cast their vote again, once the low vote-getters are removed. And then this can happen again. What that means is that those whose very favorite films wind up getting cut vote for their second, or sometimes even third favorite. This dilutes the pool. We end up not with the film the highest number of people felt most passionate about, but the film that was least polarizing. Nomadland may be somewhat polarizing. Minari is not. We still think Nomadland will win Best Picture, but if there is a Spotlight this year, it could be Minari.

The 93rd Academy Awards air Sunday on ABC.

Follow Hope and George on Twitter @maddwolf and listen to their weekly movie review podcast, THE SCREENING ROOM.

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