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.
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.
Upset: The Trial of the Chicago 7
Dark Horse: Minari
Judas and the Black Messiah
Promising Young Woman
Sound of Metal
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
David Fincher – Mank
Thomas Vinterberg – Another Round
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
Gary Oldman – Mank
Riz Ahmed – Sound of Metal
Steven Yeun – Minari
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
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
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
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
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
Kemp Powers – One Night In Miami
Ramin Bahrani – The White Tiger
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
Frederic Thoraval – Promising Young Woman
Yorgos Lamprinos – The Father
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
Phedon Papamichael – The Trial of the Chicago 7
Sean Bobbitt – Judas and the Black Messiah
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
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
“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.
Dark Horse: No
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
Dark Horse: Quo Vadis, Aida?
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
Dark Horse: Crip Camp
The Mole Agent
Best Visual Effects
Tenet didn’t save movie theaters but at least it will win an Oscar?
Upset: The Midnight Sky
Dark Horse: Mulan
Love and Monsters
The One and Only Ivan
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
Dark Horse: Greyhound
News of the World
Best Production Design
And now it is time for Mank to shine.
Upset: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Dark Horse: News of the World
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
Dark Horse: Mank
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.
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
Dark Horse: Burrow
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
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
Do Not Split