Last month, I did my first full slate of Oscar nomination predictions and I didn’t do too bad, nailing 77 out of 105 predictions (73% is good enough, as I used to tell my math teachers). But now I am here to predict the WINNERS, which is actually easier, I think, because the pool of options is smaller and it’s all about momentum and hype at this point. Especially this year, the year of the “Oddscars”, in which despite easier-than-ever public access to the films, it feels like no one has seen the crop of nominated films, including Academy voters. I’ve heard from several voters that they were plagued with the same buffering issues and forced logouts that I dealt with on the critics’ platforms. This means that Academy voters have probably seen even fewer of the eligible films than normal—it is a rare Academy member who watches ALL of the films—and so will be relying HEAVILY on who they know and what they’ve heard of. It already shows in the nominees, but it’s going to be especially true for the winners. Don’t think about what YOU would vote for, think about what a comfortable, known-quantity vote for an Academy member looks like. And, unlike my normal lists, this time there IS a method to the madness, as I am ranking the top three picks as: Favorite, Upset, and Dark Horse. 


Best Picture

As always, any wins for Aaron Sorkin should be considered retroactive for Molly’s Game. Hopefully, though, the gods will be kind and Nomadland will uphold its award season dominance, or maybe Minari will come through with the longshot win. Just not Chicago 7, please, not at Parasite’s Oscars. 

Favorite: Nomadland

Upset: The Trial of the Chicago 7

Dark Horse: Minari

The Rest:

Judas and the Black Messiah


Promising Young Woman

Sound of Metal

The Father

Best Director

The closest thing we have to a lock this year, outside of Best Actor. This is Chloe Zhao’s to lose.

Favorite: Chloe Zhao – Nomadland

Upset: Lee Isaac Chung – Minari

Dark Horse: Emerald Fennell – Promising Young Woman

The Rest:

David Fincher – Mank

Thomas Vinterberg – Another Round 

Best Actor

IF anyone has a chance of upsetting Chadwick Bosman’s posthumous win, it’s Sir Anthony Hopkins, even though I don’t think anyone has ever actually finished The Father. It’s too goddamned sad.

Favorite: Chadwick Boseman – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Upset: Anthony Hopkins – The Father

Dark Horse: There isn’t one

The Rest:

Gary Oldman – Mank 

Riz Ahmed – Sound of Metal

Steven Yeun – Minari

Best Actress

There’s really not an upset here, it’s just that I think this will break Viola Davis’s way SLIGHTLY more than I think it will break for Frances McDormand. At any rate, it’s not a year for ingenues. It’s all about iconic reputation now.

Favorite: Viola Davis – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Upset: Frances McDormand – Nomadland

Dark Horse: Carey Mulligan – Promising Young Woman

The Rest:

Andra Day – The United States vs. Billie Holiday

Vanessa Kirby – Pieces of a Woman

Best Supporting Actor

I fully believe the Academy is insisting on in-person attendance just so they don’t have a repeat of the Danial Kaluuya Golden Globes Muted Incident.

Favorite: Daniel Kaluuya – Judas and the Black Messiah

Upset: Sacha Baron Cohen – The Trial of the Chicago 7

Dark Horse: Paul Raci – Sound of Metal

The Rest:

LaKeith Stanfield – Judas and the Black Messiah

Leslie Odom, Jr. – One Night In Miami

Best Supporting Actress

Lainey should be thrilled with Youn Yuh-jung’s late surge to frontrunner status. She’s gonna be tough to beat in this category now.

Favorite: Youn Yuh-jung – Minari

Upset: Glenn Close – Hillbilly Elegy 101 Dalmatians

Dark Horse: Maria Bakalova – Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

The Rest:

Amanda Seyfried – Mank

Olivia Colman – The Father


Best Original Screenplay

This category is super competitive! Aaron Sorkin has the name recognition, but Emerald Fennell and Lee Isaac Chung have the hype. I’m going to give the edge to Fennell, because Promising Young Woman is flashy and topical, which the Academy loves. They like anything that LOOKS like work, and while PYW is tightly scripted, it is obviously working A LOT. Minari, on the other hand, is the kind of subtle the Academy usually overlooks.

Favorite: Emerald Fennell – Promising Young Woman

Upset: Aaron Sorkin – The Trial of the Chicago 7

Dark Horse: Lee Isaac Chung – Minari

The Rest:

Darius Marder & Abraham Marder; Story by Darius Marder & Derek Cianfrance – Sound of Metal

Will Berson & Shaka King; Story by Will Berson & Shaka King and Kenny Lucas & Keith Lucas – Judas and the Black Messiah

Best Adapted Screenplay

This isn’t quite as close as Original Screenplay, but it’s still pretty tight between the top two spots. I still don’t think anyone has actually finished The Father, though, so the edge goes to Nomadland.

Favorite: Chloe Zhao – Nomadland

Upset: Florian Zellner & Christopher Hampton – The Father

Dark Horse: Sacha Baron Cohen & Anthony Hines & Dan Swimer & Peter Baynham & Erica Rivinoja & Dan Mazer & Jena Friedman & Lee Kern – Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

The Rest:         

Kemp Powers – One Night In Miami

Ramin Bahrani – The White Tiger

Best Editing

Chicago 7 won the ACE Eddie Award for Best Edited Feature Film (Dramatic), and Sound of Metal won the BAFTA, so they have the momentum going into Oscar weekend. Now we ask ourselves what the most obvious choice the Academy could make is, and that means the winner will be…

Favorite: Alan Baumgarten – The Trial of the Chicago 7

Upset: Mikkel E.G. Nielsen – Sound of Metal

Dark Horse: Chloe Zhao – Nomadland

The Rest:

Frederic Thoraval – Promising Young Woman

Yorgos Lamprinos – The Father

Best Cinematography

Mank was a surprise winner at the ASC Awards, but Nomadland won the BAFTA. It’s coming down to period black-and-white recreation or sweeping, lonesome shots of the American West. I’m going to give this one to the American West because people love that sh-t, but I am not confident in this pick.

Favorite: Joshua James Richards – Nomadland

Upset: Erik Messerschmidt – Mank

Dark Horse: Dariusz Wolski – News of the World

The Rest:

Phedon Papamichael – The Trial of the Chicago 7

Sean Bobbitt – Judas and the Black Messiah

Best Score

If Jon Batiste wins an Oscar, will have to keep pretending he thinks Stephen Colbert is funny?

Favorite: Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross and Jon Batiste – Soul

Upset: Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross – Mank 

Dark Horse: Emile Mosseri – Minari 

The Rest:

James Newton Howard – News of the World

Terence Blanchard – Da 5 Bloods

Best Original Song

The real Husavik, Iceland’s Oscar campaign has been ADORABLE—and has me craving travel like HOW—but this is Leslie Odom’s Oscar to lose. This does, however, mean that Diane Warren will lose AGAIN (she’s currently 0/11).

Favorite: “Speak Now” – One Night In Miami

Upset: “Husavik” – Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

Dark Horse: “Io Si (Seen)” – The Life Ahead

The Rest:

“Fight For You” – Judas and the Black Messiah

“Hear My Voice” – The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Animated Feature Film

Even though Wolfwalkers is the best animated film of 2020 (streaming now on Apple TV+), Pixar’s Annual Oscar will go to Pixar.

Favorite: Soul

Upset: LOL

Dark Horse: No 

The Rest:


Over the Moon

Shaun the Sheep: Farmageddon


Best International Film

This is the most depressing batch of films nominated this year, which is why Another Round will win. At least it ends on an uplifting note (and a fun dance sequence). Also, don’t underrate the popularity of Mads Mikkelsen, who has worked for basically everyone, always does a good job, and causes no drama. He has the name recognition, and that’s what matters most this year.

Favorite: Another Round

Upset: Collective

Dark Horse: Quo Vadis, Aida?

The Rest:

Better Days

The Man Who Sold His Skin

Best Documentary Feature Film

My Octopus Teacher, in which a man harasses an octopus because he ran out of human women to harass, is the story of how there is too much garbage in the ocean. 

Favorite: My Octopus Teacher

Upset: Time

Dark Horse: Crip Camp

The Rest:


The Mole Agent

Best Visual Effects

Tenet didn’t save movie theaters but at least it will win an Oscar?

Favorite: Tenet

Upset: The Midnight Sky

Dark Horse: Mulan

The Rest:

Love and Monsters

The One and Only Ivan 

Best Sound

I really love that they’ve combined the sound categories into one, which acknowledges the lack of common understanding of what sound mixing and editing are, the way digital workflows are changing these jobs (editors and mixers are increasingly doing the same job), AND that things change, and the Oscars can and should be flexible and update categories accordingly. This downsizes the show by one category, which means now we can add one for either casting or stunts. A stunt Oscar would go a long way to achieving the goals intended by that “Popular Oscar” idea.

Favorite: Sound of Metal

Upset: Soul

Dark Horse: Greyhound

The Rest:


News of the World

Best Production Design

And now it is time for Mank to shine.

Favorite: Mank

Upset: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Dark Horse: News of the World

The Rest:


The Father

Best Costume Design

I might prefer Emma., the most eye-popping film of the year, but I think this will break for Ma Rainey, which is also an outstandingly good looking film. I really don’t mind any potential winner in this category, even Mank. The costumes are one of the best aspects of that film (Amanda Seyfried’s majorette costume!). 

Favorite: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Upset: Emma.

Dark Horse: Mank

The Rest:



Best Makeup and Hairstyling

This category has a bad habit of giving terrible movies Oscars, so while I’m putting my money on Ma Rainey, I can’t shake the suspicion they’re gonna fall for Hillbilly Elegy’s crap wigs. That would be so embarrassing for everyone involved.

Favorite: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Upset: Hillbilly Elegy

Dark Horse: Emma.

The Rest:




Best Animated Short Film

The shorts! Who knows! But really, these categories are pretty stacked this year, and the winners will depend on who actually saw what, because there haven’t been the usual industry events to flog certain narratives. Which is why I’m leaning on If Anything Happens I Love You, because it’s on Netflix. You don’t need the crappy Academy screening platform to watch it. Also, Laura Dern is an executive producer, so there’s a powerhouse pushing it behind the scenes. It’s depressing as hell—it’s about the aftermath of a school shooting—but it ticks a lot of boxes, from ease of access to a recognizable name on the credits list.

Favorite: If Anything Happens I Love You 

Upset: Opera 

Dark Horse: Burrow 

The Rest:

Genius Loci


Best Live Action Short Film

Speaking of name recognition, The Letter Room stars Oscar Isaac, who is also an executive producer, and it was directed by his wife, Elvira Lind. So, that’s pretty much it.

Favorite: The Letter Room 

Upset: Two Distant Strangers 

Dark Horse: Feeling Through 

The Rest:

The Present

White Eye

Best Documentary Short Film

This is a really tough call, because all the films are strong, but I’ll give the edge to a A Love Song for Latasha, which imagines the life of Latasha Harlins, a young Black girl who was murdered in 1991, one of the inciting incidents for the 1992 LA riots. It’s imaginative and side-steps exploitation by focusing on the mutability of memory and the possibility of a young life unrealized. It’s also on Netflix, so, again, it’s easily accessible. A Concerto is a Conversation, though, has Ava DuVernay behind it, so it does have the advantage of name recognition. This is a total dart throw on my part.

Favorite: A Love Song for Latasha

Upset: A Concerto Is a Conversation

Dark Horse: Colette

The Rest:

Do Not Split

Hunger Ward