Oscarland: My 2021 Academy Awards Predictions

Can the gentle indie 'Nomadland' really take home the gold?

At long last, the Oscars are coming this Sunday—and they’re apparently going to be unmasked and in person, which is…a choice. Also, for the second year in a row, the show is going host-less, which is a shame, because trashing the Oscar host is one of my favorite pastimes. (I kid, I kid…)

As I discussed in an earlier post, this is an Oscar season like none other, partly because this is a year like none other. Certainly, some small, indie films, including Minari and Sound of Metal, benefited from not being overpowered by splashy big screen openings. Also, the annual glad-handing and schmoozing that comes with the awards season has been reduced—which, technically, should lead to a fairer contest. Combine that with the Oscars’ wild unpredictability in recent years: Moonlight (great!), Green Book (not so great!), Parasite (great again!)—and it’s hard to totally guess how things will shake out. But I’ll take a shot.

Best Picture
The Father
Judas and the Black Messiah
Promising Young Woman
Sound of Metal
The Trial of the Chicago 7

My prediction: Nomadland
How confident am I (on a scale from 1-10)?: 9
Who could upset? The Trial of the Chicago 7? I guess? That wouldn’t quite be Green Book bad, but it sure wouldn’t be great.

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

My prediction: Chloé Zhao
How confident am I?: 10
Who could upset? I suppose David Fincher has an outside shot—his Mank somewhat inexplicably received the most nominations—but I don’t really see it.

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

My prediction: Chadwick Boseman
How confident am I?: 9
Who could upset?: Anthony Hopkins is absolutely devastating in The Father. And Oscar loves him. But Boseman’s untimely death, combined with his indelible work in Ma Rainey, should seal this for him.

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

My prediction: Viola Davis
How confident am I? 6
Who could upset?: Literally any of them, excluding Vanessa Kirby (sorry, Vanessa, you’re great!). In order, I’d say: Frances McDormand, Carey Mulligan, and Andra Day. But yeah, I’m sticking with Davis, even if I didn’t love her work in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. (I thought it was a bit over the top.) That said, Davis is one of our greatest living actors, so who am I to object?

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

My prediction: Yuh-Jung Youn
How confident am I?: 10
Who could upset? It’s a sign of how strong Yuh-Jung Youn’s chances are that I can’t really put my finger on a potential spoiler. But Glenn Close is SUPER overdue, so okay, her.

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

My prediction: Daniel Kaluuya
How confident am I?: 10
Who could upset?: Honestly, no one. Lock it in, baby.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
The Father
One Night in Miami
The White Tiger

My prediction: Nomadland
How confident am I? 7
Who could upset?: Either The Father or One Night in Miami have a puncher’s chance.

Best Original Screenplay
Judas and the Black Messiah
Promising Young Woman
Sound of Metal
The Trial of the Chicago 7

My prediction: Promising Young Woman
How confident am I? 8
Who could upset?: Oscar loves them some Aaron Sorkin, so The Trial of the Chicago 7 has a real shot. Also, the more people see Minari, the better its chances. It’s really such a special film.

Best Documentary Feature
Crip Camp
The Mole Agent
My Octopus Teacher

My prediction: My Octopus Teacher
How confident am I? 7
Who could upset? Crip Camp, produced by the Obamas, no less!

Best International Feature
Another Round
Better Days
The Man Who Sold His Skin
Quo Vadis, Aida?

My prediction: Another Round
How confident am I? 8
Who could upset? Another Round got a Best Director nod, which bodes well for its chances. But Quo Vadis, Aida, about a UN translator during the Bosnian-Serbian war, is gaining some buzz. International Feature is notoriously unpredictable.

Best Animated Feature
Over the Moon
Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon 

My prediction: Soul
How confident am I? 9
Who could upset? Wolfwalkers. Frankly, Soul is mid-tier Pixar. It would be great to see another animation studio win for a change. But I’m not counting on it.