My 2021 Oscar Predictions

Table of Contents

The Tumultuous Oscars 2021 Race

No one said the road to the Oscars was going to be smooth this year, but no one expected it to be quite like this. Of course, the pandemic has thrown everything out of whack - not just the 2021 Oscars Race. All that nonsense aside, I am going to try to treat this like a normal year, although it's everything but. Proper theatrical releases have been thrown out the window, so the Academy has opened its doors to direct to streaming movies - which makes things interesting. But, it was a necessary evil this year, if one believes that to be evil. Smaller festival darlings now have a fair shot at the Oscars which could complicate races, or not change it at all depending on your view. Is it possible that the films that were always meant to be in contention will stand unimpeded or will the whole Oscar race be shaken up? I aim to answer that question as best I can.

Best Cinematography

I suppose I should preface this by saying that I haven't seen everything yet, but the Academy doesn't watch everything either so I don't feel as bad about it. I'm also not going in any particular order, so please bear with me. Best Cinematography is my favorite category - I love the cinematic experience as it relates to gorgeous looking films. As far as the candidates go for Best Cinematography, there are some obvious ones as is the case with every year, so I'll mention those but also try to shout out the not as obvious choices. Your mileage may vary on the frontrunners - it honestly depends on where you look for your prediction information. It's worthy to note, this race also depends on the cinematography-specific awards ceremonies that will precede the Oscars, so I'm also naming these predictions before I have the proper information to make a more informed prediction. I have included the clear frontrunners and omitted the other frontrunners I don't agree with, and maybe took some chances in the process.

  • Mank - Erik Messerschmidt
  • Nomadland - Joshua James Richards
  • Tenet - Hoyte Van Hoytema
  • Ma Rainey's Black Bottom - Tobias A. Schliessler
  • One Night in Miami - Tami Reiker

It's also worthy of noting that these are what I believe the Academy will choose for the nominations. I do feel there are better shot films this year that deserve recognition, but will miss out due to what the Academy's preferences are and what has the most to offer in terms of a campaign. I believe that films like First Cow, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, and Minari are more deserving of nominations, but will likely not garner them for the aforementioned reasons. It's also possible that the academy won't even watch some of those films as well, and will be wrongfully overlooked. The winner, I believe, will be Mank because of the gorgeous black and white cinematography, the nods to Citizen Kane, the lighting and shadow, the expert camera movements, and the wonderful framing of shots.

The Cinematography of Mank

Best Original Score

Music is always important in a film. It tells us how we should feel in a given scene. The score brings out stronger emotions in a scene - it can make us feel more anxious, get our adrenaline going, or even make us cry. This is another one of my favorite categories as I typically love film scores when done well. There are notable exceptions of films that are just as effective or even more so, without a score: Portrait of a Lady on Fire, No Country for Old Men. Without further ado, here are my Best Original Score predictions:

  • Tenet - Ludwig Goransson
  • Mank - Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross
  • Soul - Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross
  • Ma Rainey's Black Bottom - Brandon Marsalis
  • The Midnight Sky - Alexandre Desplat

Some of you may be surprised by the double nomination by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, but I feel they will earn it because of how much of a departure both works are from their normal scores. I believe Ma Rainey will earn a nomination since the film is musically inclined, those typically bode well. Additionally, I nominated Alexandre Desplat because the Academy loves his work. In the end, I believe (and hope) that Ludwig Goransson will win for Tenet because it is my favorite score of the year and it is so unique and effective. It is also one of my favorite scores of all time. I am not entirely confident that the Academy will choose it to win, but they do love Goransson's work as he won for Black Panther a couple years back.

Ludwig Goransson Sporting Two Grammys

Best Costume Design

This is a category that is fairly easy to predict from year to year. All you really have to do is pick out all the period dramas, and you're pretty much golden. This year, it didn't seem as though there were nearly as many as there usually are, but it still should be relatively simple regardless. Without further delay, here are my nomination predictions:

  • Emma. - Alexandra Byrne
  • Ma Rainey's Black Bottom - Ann Roth
  • Mank - Trish Summerville
  • The Personal History of David Copperfield - Suzie Harmon
  • The United States vs. Billie Holiday - Paolo Nieddu

I do believe this will be a close category, and there are plenty of other films that could come in and replace any one of these nominees. That is to say, there aren't a lot of films on the outside looking in. In any case, I think that Emma. will win for Best Costume Design this year. It is one of the only films that I've seen from the potential candidates, but I have seen stills from other films. And that's also why I said I firmly believe it will be a close race. That said, I think Emma. will come out on top. The costumes were exquisite and beautiful in that film and deserving of the golden statue.

You May Know Her Best From Playing Chess, But She Did Play Emma in Emma., You Know

Best Visual Effects

This would be an obvious year for a blockbuster to win this category, as they usually do. However, many blockbusters were shoved to 2021 with the hopes of a proper theatrical release that people will actually show up to see. This year, there were little to no blockbusters released for obvious reasons. There are a couple films that have hope now that the supposed front-runners have been moved to next year. All that said, here are my predictions:

  • Tenet
  • The Midnight Sky
  • Soul
  • The Invisible Man
  • Mank

Many believe this category will be between Tenet and The Midnight Sky. Having seen Tenet multiple times, it's plain to see that it's the front-runner with how stunning they are. I have not yet seen The Midnight Sky, but it is widely viewed as the other contender that could potentially bring Tenet down. Just watching the Soul trailer, I was dazzled by how amazing the animation and visuals are in it. The Invisible Man has some very impressive VFX work, especially considering its low budget. I'm sure some of you will be surprised to see I nominated Mank, but if you watch the film, you'll understand why it's in there. David Fincher is also very well known for his practical use of VFX in his films. All that being said, I believe Tenet will win the golden statue for VFX this year. Some amazing work was done on that film, and I urge you to see it if you haven't already.

Evidently, They Actually Blew Up A Real Plane...Can't Get Any More Practical Than That

Best Film Editing

This is a tricky one. There are many who say that you cannot have a Best Film Editing win without a best picture nomination. While this might typically be true, I think this year might be the exception to that rule. Also, you might be thinking: how does one win Best Film Editing? Is it for the most flashy editing? Is it for the obvious signs of edits? Is it for the smoothest, most effective editing? Normally, I'd be able to answer this question easily. But, with Bohemian Rhapsody winning Best Film Editing a couple years back, I simply just don't know anymore. Here are my predicted nominees:

  • Tenet - Jennifer Lame
  • Mank - Kirk Baxter
  • Nomadland - Chloe Zhao
  • The Trial of the Chicago 7 - Alan Baumgarten
  • Da 5 Bloods - Adam Gough

There is a mixture of editing styles in here. That's pretty much why I predicted how I did. Now, firstly: Mank is up there because it was edited just as films were edited in the days of Old Hollywood and the Golden Age of film. Some nostalgia there for the older Academy members there. Also, it's worthy of commendation. Nomadland is nominated because of the Best Picture reason. It's a lock for a nomination for BP, so it should also have the editing nomination. Also because I'm sure it's worthy, although I have not seen it yet. The Trial of the Chicago 7 has some of the most flashy edits. I think it will be noticed for that reason alone. Da 5 Bloods is also up there because of its transitions between the flashbacks and the present day scenes. Another worthy contender. But, I truly believe all will lose, and bow down to the editing of Jennifer Lame in Tenet. The editing work in Tenet simply has to be seen to be believed because it's unlike anything I've ever seen. The editing had to show people going forward and backward simultaneously. The action sequences had to be edited in a similar fashion and it's astounding. The amount of time and effort that had to be put into that film must have been staggering. It more than deserves recognition - it NEEDS to win this award.

I don't know if they actually blew this up - probably some clever editing

Best Sound Design

It's been said that the sound mixing and editing categories have now been combined into just one sound category. I do not know what all that entails, but I would imagine it's just for the sound design as a whole. This makes for an interesting category, because it was never fully understood what the differences were between mixing and editing by casual audiences. Sound Editing was for the actual sounds that were created. Sound Mixing is for how all the sounds, including music, were all meshed together to form a holistic and discernable sound mix of all of the created sounds together. Now, we don't have to worry because they are now all one. Here are my predictions for the Sound category:

  • Tenet
  • Sound of Metal
  • Mank
  • The Invisible Man 
  • Ma Rainey's Black Bottom 

Tenet has been criticized for its nearly inaudible sound mixing by theater goers and critics alike. I'm sure it's hard to imagine why it's nominated knowing that information, but the actual sounds themselves are still amazing enough for it to be recognized for achievement in sound design by the Academy. It's also my understanding the mix was changed and improved after the backlash. Mank is up here because it's widely agreed on that its sounds are unique in their presentation. As I mentioned before, the filmmaking style in Mank is that of Old Hollywood, and the sound is no exception. The Invisible Man has some very impressive sound work as the Sci-Fi elements that are brought to the fore also bring some unique and creative sound design. Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is another example of a music film that will likely be recognized for its achievement in sound design. I presume this will be no different. Finally, we come to what I think will win overall: Sound of Metal. The reason being is that it uniquely calls to attention the experience of one who is losing their hearing or has become deaf entirely. It was portrayed in a way that I had never seen or heard before. What is to be commended here is the sound design of a person trying to hear using ear implants. The sound design on display here is mesmerizing and I truly believe it will win for how well it gives you that same experience our protagonist is unfortunately living through.

Fun Fact: Riz Ahmed actually went deaf for his role in Sound of about method acting (jk)

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

This is another category in which period dramas and films about filmmaking or entertainment in general shine. It's easy to see where to look no further this year. And you're likely to recognize some of these nominees from earlier predictions. And there they are:

  • Promising Young Woman
  • Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
  • The United States vs. Billie Holiday
  • Hillbilly Elegy
  • Mank

Mank is pretty obvious as to why I'm predicting it. Ma Rainey, again, as I mentioned before, it's about performance and entertainment. But also, they really did impressive work on Viola Davis' transformation. The United States vs. Billie Holiday is for similar reasons as Ma Rainey. Promising Young Woman that department. And I believe Hillbilly Elegy should win for it's remarkable transformation of Glenn Close in that film. If for nothing else, it deserves to be recognized for at least that.

Credit to the Makeup and Hairstyling Team on Hillbilly Elegy for making Glenn Close look ugly as a mf

Best Production Design

Production Design is similar to that of costume design which are about the entertainment industry at large or tend to be period pieces. These usually have elaborate sets and production design to fit the time period and locations. Here they are:

  • Mank
  • One Night in Miami...
  • The Personal History of David Copperfield
  • The Midnight Sky
  • Emma. 

This one I'm not entirely certain about. It's another situation in which something could come out of the blue and upset one of these or snatch up a nomination from one of them. And I don't believe there to be a clear front-runner here. I've also not seen the middle three, only Mank and Emma. The production design is beautiful in Emma. But I am going to opt for Mank here because, again, not only is it worthy of recognition, it's also appealing to the nostalgic hearts of the Academy. I can only see that going one way.

No, Mank does not deserve an Oscar just for a fountain or a park bench - watch the garden scene and you'll know

Best Documentary Feature

I don't want to spend too much time on this because, to be honest, I focused mostly on narrative features this year than Documentary Features (as is the case with most years). I've only seen a handful of documentaries this year, and only one of which is a front-runner. Here are my predicted nominees:

  • Boys State
  • Time
  • Totally Under Control 
  • Dick Johnson is Dead
  • I Am Greta 

I named four front-runners and a longshot candidate here, just to be boring and one to be contrarian. Again, I have only seen one of these, so I am going to pick it: Time. It's a beautiful and poignant portrait of a family who had to live many years without their father and husband who was incarcerated. I believe it's well worth watching, although it's not really my style or structure of preference for a documentary. I do believe the Academy will likely pick another nominee, but I'm going with it since I saw it.

Bring some tissues for this one - you're really in for it. Trust me.

Best Original Song

This is another category I'm lacking on. Mainly because I haven't seen the majority of the films likely to be nominated as of yet. I believe this is another category in which musically inclined films thrive and Pixar films can also steal the show here. Musicals and music biopics reign superior here, but we don't have too many this year. Again, we have two Pixar films here that are likely to show up where nominees are concerned. Ma Rainey, The Prom, and The United States vs Billie Holiday are another few that will contend and could go home with the golden statue here as well. Here are my predictions:

  • "Speak Now" - One Night in Miami
  • "(If Only You Could) Save Me" - Mank
  • "Hear My Voice" - The Trial of the Chicago 7
  • "Just Sing" - Trolls: World Tour
  • "Carried Me With You" - Onward

It will be interesting to see what Netflix will put forward, as far as their best foot is concerned. I believe that Mank's original song could be, but also the song from The Prom is a strong contender and it's entirely possible they'll push that campaign harder. The One Night in Miami song is one of the primary front-runners and I look forward to hearing it when I inevitably watch the film. I believe the song from The Trial of the Chicago 7 could resonate with the Academy as well. And, of course, I had to throw a Pixar song in the hat. The Trolls: World Tour song has some big names attached to it so I felt that had to be included as well. When you boil it down, I think it will end up being a song I didn't nominate. But, if I had to choose, I will say "Speak Now" from One Night in Miami...

Reason being is because I've heard the film has timely themes in it and the song will likely strike a chord with the Academy this year.


I'll bet he's singing the song right here! This is it!

Best Animated Feature

Speaking of Pixar, this is a category in which Disney/Pixar typically dominates the competition. Now, this year is different - the pandemic notwithstanding. What I mean by this is that Disney/Pixar finally has some strong competition. Granted, it should be noted that two years ago Sony upset Pixar with Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse. Now, I don't believe we have a strong dark horse such as that this year. However, there has been talk of a new animated feature that could give Pixar a run for its money this year. Here are the nominees:

  • Soul (Pixar)
  • Wolfwalkers (Apple TV+/GKIDS)
  • Over The Moon (Netflix)
  • Earwig and the Witch (Studio Ghibli/GKIDS)
  • Demonslayer (Funimation)

I've heard the word on the street is that Wolfwalkers is an unlikely hit this year. A big dark horse candidate which could dethrone Pixar this year. I have yet to see any of these Animated Features, but I will watch them as soon as I'm able. That said, I am predicting Soul as of now, just because of the juggernaut that is Disney/Pixar. Although, I am not only picking this film for that reason alone. Mainly because the writer/director Pete Docter also made my favorite Animated Feature Film of all time: Inside Out. Also, come on. The trailer looks amazing.

You don't have a SOUL if you dislike this movie (I haven't seen it)

Best International Feature

This is one I am not as familiar with as I have been in previous years. I stayed on top of it in the past, but this year has been difficult, to say the least. One film I had been looking forward to, but was moved to next year was Blossoms: Shanghai by legendary filmmaker Wong Kar Wai. I would have looked out for that one to make some waves, but it was not meant to be this year, evidently. I will make predictions mostly based on what the experts have been saying, since I have not been fortunate enough to catch any international features yet this year. Here are my nominees:

  • Another Round - Dir. Thomas Vinterberg (Denmark)
  • Never Gonna Snow Again - Malgorzata Szumowska
  • The Man Standing Next - Woo Min-ho (South Korea)
  • The Auschwitz Report - Peter Bebjak (Slovakia)
  • True Mothers - Naomi Kawase (Japan)

I do need to point out that Funny Boy by Deepa Mahta for Canada is just on the precipice of making it in this category. It has a premise which would interest the Academy and I'm sure it will be nominated, but I could not fit it into my picks. But, do not surprised to see it have a chance this year just because I left it out.

Never Gonna Snow Again has some of the stronger early reviews coming out of festivals and I believe this will be recognized come Oscar season. The premise seems interesting and I believe a combination of good worth of mouth and positive momentum towards the ceremony will carry it to a nomination. The case for True Mothers by Naomi Kawase as Japan's submission to the Academy this year is that I believe this to be a strong contender as it was an official selection at Cannes 2020 and premiered at TIFF. Early reviews are high on it so far. The Man Standing Next by Woo Min-ho is South Korea's submission for International Feature this year at the Academy Awards. Coming off the high of Bong Joon Ho's wins for Parasite last year, South Korea is at the forefront of everyone's minds. The premise seems interesting and I believe the film will be a promising contender. The Auschwitz Report is Poland's submission this year and the premise seems strong. It's about two Slovak Jews who masterminded an escape of Auschwitz and helped others to do so. They then returned home to tell the truth of their harrowing experience. The Academy loves true stories like the one portrayed here and I believe it can make waves in this category. The strongest contender (and probably seen by the most people) is Another Round by Thomas Vinterberg. Denmark's submission to the Academy Awards stars Mads Mikkelsen who will be a familiar face to many. Very strong early reviews for it propel it ahead of the pack for me and many are praising Mikkelsen's lead performance. This is why I will be predicting Another Round by Thomas Vinterberg to win for Denmark in this category. You can find my full review of the film here.

Have another round, Mads!

Best Adapted Screenplay

Now, we're getting to the good stuff. Finally, a writing category! But, unfortunately, this won't be a very interesting or close one in my humble opinion. I believe there is a clear front-runner here and it should take home the award, barring an amazing upset. Here are my predictions:

  • Nomadland - Chloe Zhao
  • One Night in Miami... - Kemp Powers
  • The Father - Christopher Hampton, Florian Zeller
  • Ma Rainey's Black Bottom - Ruben Santiago-Hudson
  • First Cow - Kelly Reichardt

So, for this I chose four front-runners and one outside shot. First Cow is not likely to be nominated over News of the World, but I did it just to be fun and not a loser. Also, it's a wonderfully written film. In any case, it won't win. I have not seen the other four, as they have not been released as of yet. But, I have a strong feeling that Nomadland will win out as it's the clear front-runner and is likely to win some other categories to come. Chloe Zhao is a great writer and I feel that it shows through on-screen, but don't just take my word for it. It's pretty much unanimous across the board.

Couldn't find one of Chloe Zhao writing so this'll have to do.

Best Original Screenplay

Another one of my favorite categories! I'm sure this was obvious, but alas. Still felt I worth mentioning. Anyway, this is another category in which I feel there is a clear front-runner and should not be close. But, I have been wrong before and will surely be wrong again. My predictions are as follows:

  • The Trial of the Chicago 7 - Aaron Sorkin
  • Mank - Jack Fincher
  • Promising Young Woman - Emerald Fennell
  • Minari - Lee Isaac Chung
  • Judas and the Black Messiah - Will Berson and Shaka King (screenplay), Keith Lucas and Kenny Lucas (story by)

I pulled another sneaky on ya. I nominated three front-runners and a couple outside shots, but strong contenders nonetheless. I swapped out Pixar's Soul for Promising Young Woman, and Spike Lee's Da 5 Bloods for Judas and the Black Messiah, just to shake things up. But, I do not feel either will win. Minari has an outside shot, but will ultimately come up short. Really, this race is between The Trial of the Chicago 7 and Mank, and experts believe it's really close. But, personally, I feel that The Trial of the Chicago 7's screenplay is simply not on par with Mank. Even if the Academy loves Aaron Sorkin, and the fact that it's the front-runner at this point, I still feel that it's nowhere near as well-written as Mank. Written by David Fincher's late father, Jack Fincher, David Fincher will likely accept on his behalf and give the award-winning speech. I could be wrong, but expect to see that come April. And know that you heard (read) it here first.

Mank writing the screenplay that inspired this screenplay

Best Supporting Actress

Now to the acting categories! Personally, I feel the acting categories (save for one) will all be close. It will be a bunch of very interesting races, and in my eyes, I do not believe there to be a clear front-runner for any of them (save for one). And now for my predictions:

  • Olivia Colman - The Father
  • Amanda Seyfried - Mank
  • Glenn Close - Hillbilly Elegy 
  • Ellen Burstyn - Pieces of a Woman 
  • Yuh-Jung Youn - Minari 

The Academy loves Colman, Close, and Burstyn. Not only that, but I hear these performances are more than worthy. Also, I have seen Glenn Close and she is phenomenal. However, she will not win this year, sadly. I have not seen Minari yet, so I cannot say for certain with Youn's performance. This leaves us with Amanda Seyfried for Mank. If you read my review of Mank, you would know that I was very high on her performance. And I have to think that she will win. Although, from what I've read, it appears the race between she and Olivia Colman is supposed to be close. Anything could happen, but I stand by my prediction.

It's amazing how much Amanda Seyfried looks like Marion Davies!

Best Supporting Actor

Here is another race I am not 100% on. Early predictions state that The Trial of the Chicago 7 is set to dominate this category, with up to three nominations. That's huge! Now, to throw a wrench in the mix: I am going to replace a couple of the front-runners just to be contrarian, and maybe a little fun. Depending on your viewpoint. Here are my predictions:

  • Leslie Odom Jr. - One Night in Miami...
  • Sacha Baron Cohen - The Trial of the Chicago 7
  • Mark Rylance - The Trial of the Chicago 7
  • Paul Raci - Sound of Metal
  • Daniel Kaluuya - Judas and the Black Messiah 

I simply could not replace TWO of the Chicago 7 nominations, as the Academy loves Mark Rylance so much. But, I did, however, replace one and I replaced Stanley Tucci in Supernova. Apparently, his performance is great, but I haven't seen it, so it's going out. I put Paul Raci and Daniel Kaluuya in there. Here's why: Due to a recent development, Paul Raci has exploded onto the scene with his performance in Sound of Metal and critical reception has been high. Daniel Kaluuya simply put looks amazing in the trailer for Judas and the Black Messiah. There are my thought processes on those. Now, Baron Cohen and Rylance are predicted to lose ever so slightly to Leslie Odom Jr. I cannot speak to Odom Jr's performance as I haven't seen the film yet. I loved Baron Cohen in The Trial of the Chicago 7 and I felt Rylance was in fine form. However, I am going to go with the expert's prediction here as I did not feel that their performances were Oscar worthy. Leslie Odom Jr. for One Night in Miami should take this home. I cannot wait to see his performance in the film!


Leslie Odom Jr. as Sam Cooke in One Night in Miami...

Best Actor

This is an interesting one. Not because I feel a certain someone has this locked down, but because we THOUGHT someone had this all but locked down. Here is what I mean by this: Anthony Hopkins has been praised for his performance in The Father. Some hail it as the best of his career. I thought he was a shoo-in for a nomination and almost a lock for a win. But, someone has come along and has taken his lock for himself. Here are my nominees:

  • Anthony Hopkins - The Father
  • Chadwick Boseman - Ma Rainey's Black Bottom 
  • Delroy Lindo - Da 5 Bloods
  • Gary Oldman - Mank
  • Riz Ahmed - Sound of Metal 

Honestly, I have to say, this is absolutely STACKED. I love the performances I have seen: Oldman, Ahmed, Lindo. When I saw Da 5 Bloods clear back in June, I thought for sure Lindo would win. But, recent developments have changed that thought. Oldman is magnificent in Mank. Riz Ahmed shows that he truly is an actor worthy of awards consideration in Sound of Metal. I've loved him ever since The Night Of, one of my all-time favorite Limited Series. As I mentioned before, everyone, experts and critics alike, have stated that Hopkins gave it his all in The Father. But, Chadwick Boseman is truly a revelation in his final role in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. We have always known his awards potential was staggering, but if there was ever any doubt, it's all faded away now. You can read my more in-depth thoughts regarding his performance in my review of the film here. I can predict with damn near certainty that Chadwick Boseman will win the Oscar for his final role in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. This is not just because it will be a posthumous Oscar win, but because he is truly deserving of it and will double as a lifetime achievement award for his wonderful career as an actor and a truly wonderful person in the industry and beyond.

The Late, Great Chadwick Boseman. RIP. You will be missed.

Best Actress

This will be an intriguing race. This is one I believe there is no standout, nor obvious front-runner. I believe this will be a tight race to the bitter end. It could come down to the campaigns, but honestly I have no idea. It will be difficult to predict, but I will try my level best. Here are my predictions:

  • Viola Davis - Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
  • Frances McDormand - Nomadland
  • Vanessa Kirby - Pieces of a Woman 
  • Carey Mulligan - Promising Young Woman 
  • Andra Day - The United States vs. Billie Holiday 

I couldn't bring myself to replace any front-runners this time around. I do feel that the experts will have this one right and it will decidedly be these five. Here are the cases for each: Andra Day has a good shot because the Academy loves a good impersonation of a famous celebrity or important historical figure. Carey Mulligan has a great shot because she is Carey Fucking Mulligan. In all seriousness, her performance has been praised by the lucky few who have actually seen the film. She is also starring in a very important and timely film, as far as current issues and themes are concerned. Vanessa Kirby has been unanimously praised by critics and audiences who have had the privilege to see her strong and emotional performance. She also won Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival. Frances McDormand is loved by the Academy and has been honored in the past. Also, the performance in Nomadland has been widely loved as well. She is one of the premier and landmark actresses of our time. And finally, Viola Davis in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is a ridiculously crazy transformation. In this role, she has literally turned into another human once again and looks astonishing. She is truly a sight to behold and delivers another powerhouse performance in the way only Viola can. The Academy does love a good transformation such as that and the Academy has ALWAYS loved Viola Davis. She is another one of the greatest actresses we have to offer today.

My prediction is this, and a wild one: I predict Vanessa Kirby to win in an upset for Pieces of a Woman. I have no real reason for this, as I've only seen Viola Davis' exceptional, assured performance. But, I will say, she has been awarded at a major festival and her performance seems like the one that the Academy could choose. I could be wrong, as McDormand and Davis are ahead in the preliminary discussions. Again, they could just as easily give Viola another Oscar for her Ma Rainey performance. But one argument that could be made is that since she already has her Oscar, this is the Academy's way of awarding Vanessa since she does not yet have one. But, that is somewhat of a flimsy argument and could likely go the other way. This is to say, I'm going out on a helluva limb here. That has to be respected, right? Also, who doesn't love Vanessa Kirby? She's a gem and must be protected at all costs.

Hear me, hear ye, Academy: This is the face of an Oscar winner right here!

Best Director

This is a close one! I believe this race is between two people. And you will find out which in a moment. Also, I want to point out: there are 5 front-runners chosen by experts, critics, and other writers alike. But, I am going to replace a couple because one I do not believe deserves to be nominated, and the other just to be a prick. Here they are:

  • Chloe Zhao - Nomadland 
  • David Fincher - Mank
  • Regina King - One Night in Miami...
  • Lee Isaac Chung - Minari 
  • Spike Lee - Da 5 Bloods

Now, here's what I did: I replaced Aaron Sorkin with Lee Isaac Chung. I don't believe Aaron Sorkin is a strong director, let alone an Oscar-worthy one. Next, I replaced Paul Greengrass with Spike Lee. Here's the thing: the Academy loves Spike. I don't care how good the campaign is for Greengrass by Universal Pictures. Spike should be nominated. The Academy adores him and many feel he's earned his Oscar. But, not so. Regina King is a front-runner and will receive a nomination, but not a win. I firmly believe that the race is an incredibly tight one between David Fincher and Chloe Zhao. Zhao has a slight edge. I do need to see the film, and I very much want to, but I think that's months away. Honestly, it's such a toss-up. If I had to say who would win right now, it would probably be David Fincher for Mank. But, this could change when I finally have the chance to see Zhao's direction on display in Nomadland. I do strongly feel that there were many interesting directorial choices made by Fincher that vastly improve the film. Also, he's more than earned his due. He should have won in 2010 for The Social Network and this ought to be his make-up Oscar. But, if Zhao wins, I would be more than happy for her. She seems like a very nice lady and she's a talented filmmaker.

I still love you, Chloe Zhao. Please don't hurt me.

Best Picture

And now, the one you've all been waiting for: the ever-coveted Best Picture Oscar. This race is another close one, but one I feel is only between two films. You might have been able to guess what those might be, based on what I've said leading up to this point. You also might know that this category has the possibility of ten nominees. The Academy usually only does up to nine for some arbitrary reason. But, for our purposes, I am going to predict ten nominees. Without further delay, here they are:

  • Nomadland
  • Mank 
  • The Trial of the Chicago 7
  • Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
  • One Night in Miami...
  • The Father
  • Minari
  • Soul
  • Da 5 Bloods 
  • Judas and the Black Messiah 

Personally, I feel that there are better films out there right now that could take any of these films' spots. But, these are the ones the Academy is most likely to nominate. If you want to see films that I feel are more deserving, look at the Gotham Awards and the Film Independent Spirit Awards nominees. Since we are talking about the Oscars, we are going with these. That's not to say that I don't think some are deserving of Oscar recognition, particularly in this category, but there are some I would swap out. Anyway, moving on. A couple that are on the outside looking in are The United States vs. Billie Holiday, Promising Young Woman, Sound of Metal, and News of the World. I firmly believe any one of those films could sneak in there.

In any case, I will remove all of the films except Nomadland and Mank. I feel these are the only two that can win the top prize at the Oscars at this point. It's just an honor to be nominated, right? Anywho, here are my cases for both. Mank because it's an ode to Old Hollywood and a criticism of the favoritism, corruption, and overall bureaucracy and bullshit that goes on within the industry, even back then. The film is, of course, shot in black and white and has the filmmaking style from that era. Additionally, it's a film about films and filmmaking, and most importantly: the grand cinematic landmark that is Citizen Kane. The Academy is sure to love it enough to choose it to win.

Enter: Nomadland. This is the film that can bring down the supposed behemoth that is Mank. Nomadland is a timely portrait of the poor and homeless struggling to survive in America. The Academy loves films about the downtrodden and a good underdog. Why not, right? Most importantly, Nomadland has won both the Golden Lion at Venice and the People's Choice Award at TIFF. These are two of the biggest film festivals the industry has to offer. Not to mention, no film has EVER won both of these awards in cinematic history. For those reasons alone, it's hard to imagine this film losing to anything, come Oscar time.

It's entirely possible that Chloe Zhao wins Best Director and this also takes picture. But, it's also possible that the reverse could be true. Fincher and Mank take home both. Again, as I stated before, these are very close and are toss-ups because they are such tight races. It could come down to how they're campaigned. It could come down to what film has the most momentum going into the ceremony. With Mank being released first, then Nomadland being released closer to April, this could give it a slight edge. A film being at the forefront of the Academy's collective minds actually does make a bigger difference than one might think.

With all that taken under consideration, I predict Nomadland to take home the biggest Oscar of the night. I believe, for the aforementioned reasons, Zhao and Nomadland have the advantage. What they could do is give director to one and picture to the other. It's incredibly hard to predict a split like that, but anything could happen. Last year, Bong Joon Ho won Director and Parasite won Picture, which many believed would go to Sam Mendes and 1917. So, who the hell knows? And who am I to say? I'm just a lowly, unknown writer! But, even with all that being said, I am still fairly confident in my picks. And, as always, it will be very interesting to see what the real outcomes will be. And I'm excited for it.

See, Chloe! I told you I'd make up for it.

Chloe Zhao after her Oscar win, probably.

Now, Let's Review:

The Big Winners:

Mank: 5 wins

Tenet: 3 wins

Nomadland: 2 wins, including Best Picture

The Fincher family: 2 wins

Chloe Zhao: 2 wins, as both writer and producer

The Losers:

Ron Howard

The Trial of the Chicago 7

Aaron Sorkin

Paul Greengrass

Non-streaming service distributors

Movie Theaters


Who Deserved Better:

Kelly Reichardt

Emmy Adams

Glenn Close

Riz Ahmed

Proper Theatrical Releases

Cannes 2020

Honorable Mentions:

Eliza Hittman and Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Kitty Green and The Assistant

First Cow

Leigh Whannell

Cooper Raiff and Shithouse

Palm Springs

Drop a comment below or message me!

Well, how did I do? Was I completely off the mark? Or did I nail it?


Let me know in the comments, but don't come at my life.

Rob McNeil

My name is Rob McNeil. I was born and raised in Normal, Illinois and I am a 28 year-old award winning screenwriter. I am very passionate about film, so much that I watch far too many films on a daily basis. I have written fifteen feature screenplays, a spec pilot thriller series, and several short scripts. I aim to make filmmaking a career, but for now, I will write about it.

Rob McNeil

My name is Rob McNeil. I was born and raised in Normal, Illinois and I am a 28 year-old award winning screenwriter. I am very passionate about film, so much that I watch far too many films on a daily basis. I have written fifteen feature screenplays, a spec pilot thriller series, and several short scripts. I aim to make filmmaking a career, but for now, I will write about it.

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