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  • Tess Buckley

Predictions for this Year's Oscar Awards

To put it lightly, it's been a rough year for the film industry. There have been few theatrical releases since the pandemic began, and the top 10 highest grossing movies of 2020 were released in its first three months. However, many streaming services had buzzy releases and there are still plenty of phenomenal films to be celebrated at this year's Academy Awards.

The 93rd Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars, will take place on Sunday, April 25 from 8:00-11:00 pm EST. Films released in the United States between January 1 2020- February 28, 2021 were eligible for nominations. No host has been announced yet, and there will be no in person audience at the awards.

A few things about this year's awards may seem strange. First, if it seems that it's a bit late in the year for the Oscars, it's because it is. The awards usually occur in late February or early March, but they were pushed back to the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic also explains the extended window for nominations due to the low number of releases in 2020. As for the lack of a host, the Oscars have not had a host for the past two years, and it seems likely that they will be continuing this tradition.

The biggest contender this year is David Fincher’s Mank which earned 10 nominations. It is also the only best picture nominee without a nomination for its screenplay. The Father, Judas and the Black Messiah, Minari, Nomadland, Sound of Metal, and The Trial of the Chicago 7 follow, each having received six nominations.

This year's awards are full of notable firsts. Judas and the Black Messiah became the first Best Picture nominee to have all Black producers. This is the first instance of two women, Chloé Zhao (Nomadland) and Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman), being nominated for Best Director in the same year. Additionally, Zhao and Lee Isaac Chung (Minari) are the first two Asian-American directors to be nominated in the same year. Steven Yeun is the first Asian-American to be nominated for Best Actor for his performance in Minari, while Riz Ahmed is the first Muslim actor to be nominated in this catagry for his role in Sound of Metal.

This year's nominees list was not without typical Oscars drama. There was confusion surrounding the nominations of both Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield for Best Supporting Actor for Judas and the Black Messiah. Stanfield was a favorite for best actor, and Warner Bros. led his campaign in this category. It was a surprise to the public, the studio, and the actor himself when he was placed in Best Supporting instead. Surprising situations like this can occur because, unlike the Golden Globes where actors are only nominated for categories which they have been submitted to, the Academy can choose which acting category a performer belongs in regardless of what they campaigned for.

Additional drama surrounds the lack of nominations for Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, which only has two nominations (Best Visual Effects and Best Production) despite being the highest grossing movie of the year released after March 6, 2020. It came out on August 12, 2021. Additionally, Charlie Kaufman’s I'm Thinking of Ending Things (based on the novel of the same name by Ian Reid) received no nominations, not even in Best Adapted Screenplay. It received positive reviews from critics, especially for its cinematography.

Below is a list of all nominees. Each of my predictions is in bold and most feature a short bio. All Best Picture nominees also have a short synopsis. I have not made a prediction for Best Live-Action Short Film and Best Short Subject documentary categories because I have not seen any of the films, there is no clear consensus on the critical favorite. Additionally, please note that I have selected my award prediction which is not necessarily my personal favorite film in each category.

Best Picture

  • “The Father” (David Parfitt, Jean-Louis Livi and Philippe Carcassonne, producers)- A daughter cares for her aging father as his dementia progresses.

  • “Judas and the Black Messiah” (Shaka King, Charles D. King and Ryan Coogler, producers)- “Offered a plea deal by the FBI, William O'Neal infiltrates the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party to gather intelligence on Chairman Fred Hampton.”

  • “Mank” (Ceán Chaffin, Eric Roth and Douglas Urbanski, producers)- “1930s Hollywood is reevaluated through the eyes of scathing wit and alcoholic screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz as he races to finish “Citizen Kane.” (Netflix)

  • “Minari” (Christina Oh, producer)- “A Korean American family moves to an Arkansas farm in search of its own American dream.”

  • “Nomadland” (Frances McDormand, Peter Spears, Mollye Asher, Dan Janvey and Chloé Zhao, producers)- “A woman in her sixties who, after losing everything in the Great Recession, embarks on a journey through the American West, living as a van-dwelling modern-day nomad.” (Hulu) This is an incredibly beautiful movie and if you feel comfortable watching it in a theatre, the big screen really accentuates the beauty of the Western landscapes.

  • “Promising Young Woman” (Ben Browning, Ashley Fox, Emerald Fennell and Josey McNamara, producers)- “A woman haunted by tragedy in her past takes revenge on the men unlucky enough to cross her”

  • “Sound of Metal” (Bert Hamelinck and Sacha Ben Harroche, producers)- “A heavy-metal drummer's life is thrown into freefall when he begins to lose his hearing” (Amazon Prime)

  • “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Marc Platt and Stuart Besser, producers) (Netflix)

Best Director

  • Thomas Vinterberg (“Another Round”)

  • David Fincher (“Mank”)

  • Lee Isaac Chung (“Minari”)

  • Chloé Zhao (“Nomadland”)- “A woman in her sixties who, after losing everything in the Great Recession, embarks on a journey through the American West, living as a van-dwelling modern-day nomad.”

  • Emerald Fennell (“Promising Young Woman”)

Best Actor in a Leading Role

  • Riz Ahmed (“Sound of Metal”)

  • Chadwick Boseman (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”)

  • Anthony Hopkins (“The Father”)

  • Gary Oldman (“Mank”)

  • Steven Yeun (“Minari”)

Best Actress in a Leading Role

  • Viola Davis (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”)

  • Andra Day (“The United States v. Billie Holiday”)

  • Vanessa Kirby (“Pieces of a Woman”)

  • Frances McDormand (“Nomadland”)

  • Carey Mulligan (“Promising Young Woman”)- “A woman haunted by tragedy in her past takes revenge on the men unlucky enough to cross her”

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

  • 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”)

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

  • Maria Bakalova (‘Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”)

  • Glenn Close (“Hillbilly Elegy”)

  • Olivia Colman (“The Father”)

  • Amanda Seyfried (“Mank”) - “1930s Hollywood is reevaluated through the eyes of scathing wit and alcoholic screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz as he races to finish “Citizen Kane.” Seyfried plays an actress and mistress of a newspaper magnate.

  • Yuh-jung Youn (“Minari”)

Best Animated Feature Film

  • “Onward” (Pixar)

  • “Over the Moon” (Netflix)

  • “A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon” (Netflix)

  • “Soul” (Pixar)- "Soul" follows a failed jazz musician turned middle school band teacher as he tries to help another soul find their passion. I cannot recommend this film enough- it is both a funny and incredibly thoughtful meditation on what it means to be passionate.

  • “Wolfwalkers” (Apple TV Plus/GKIDS)

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.” Screenplay by Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Dan Swimer, Peter Baynham, Erica Rivinoja, Dan Mazer, Jena Friedman, Lee Kern; Story by Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Dan Swimer, Nina Pedrad

  • “The Father,” Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller

  • “Nomadland,” Chloé Zhao

  • “One Night in Miami,” Kemp Powers

  • “The White Tiger,” Ramin Bahrani

Best Original Screenplay

  • “Judas and the Black Messiah.” Screenplay by Will Berson, Shaka King; Story by Will Berson, Shaka King, Kenny Lucas, Keith Lucas

  • “Minari,” Lee Isaac Chung- “A Korean American family moves to an Arkansas farm in search of its own American dream.”

  • “Promising Young Woman,” Emerald Fennell

  • “Sound of Metal.” Screenplay by Darius Marder, Abraham Marder; Story by Darius Marder, Derek Cianfrance

  • “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” Aaron Sorkin

Best Original Song

  • “Fight for You,” (“Judas and the Black Messiah”). Music by H.E.R. and Dernst Emile II; Lyric by H.E.R. and Tiara Thomas

  • “Hear My Voice,” (“The Trial of the Chicago 7”). Music by Daniel Pemberton; Lyric by Daniel Pemberton and Celeste Waite

  • “Húsavík,” (“Eurovision Song Contest”). Music and Lyric by Savan Kotecha, Fat Max Gsus and Rickard Göransson

  • “Io Si (Seen),” (“The Life Ahead”). Music by Diane Warren; Lyric by Diane Warren and Laura Pausini

  • “Speak Now,” (“One Night in Miami”). Music and Lyric by Leslie Odom, Jr. and Sam Ashworth

Best Original Score

  • “Da 5 Bloods,” Terence Blanchard

  • “Mank,” Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross

  • “Minari,” Emile Mosseri

  • “News of the World,” James Newton Howard

  • “Soul,” Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Jon Batiste

Best Sound

  • “Greyhound,” Warren Shaw, Michael Minkler, Beau Borders and David Wyman

  • “Mank,” Ren Klyce, Jeremy Molod, David Parker, Nathan Nance and Drew Kunin

  • “News of the World,” Oliver Tarney, Mike Prestwood Smith, William Miller and John Pritchett

  • “Soul,” Ren Klyce, Coya Elliott and David Parker

  • “Sound of Metal,” Nicolas Becker, Jaime Baksht, Michelle Couttolenc, Carlos Cortés and Phillip Bladh- For a movie with the value of sound at its heart, you can imagine the incredible quality of it in this film.

Best Costume Design

  • “Emma,” Alexandra Byrne

  • “Mank,” Trish Summerville

  • “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” Ann Roth

  • “Mulan,” Bina Daigeler

  • “Pinocchio,” Massimo Cantini Parrini

Best Animated Short Film

  • “Burrow” (Disney Plus/Pixar)

  • “Genius Loci” (Kazak Productions)

  • “If Anything Happens I Love You” (Netflix)

  • “Opera” (Beasts and Natives Alike)

  • “Yes-People” (CAOZ hf. Hólamói)

Best Live-Action Short Film

  • “Feeling Through”

  • “The Letter Room”

  • “The Present”

  • “Two Distant Strangers”

  • “White Eye”

Best Cinematography

  • “Judas and the Black Messiah,” Sean Bobbitt

  • “Mank,” Erik Messerschmidt- “1930s Hollywood is reevaluated through the eyes of scathing wit and alcoholic screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz as he races to finish “Citizen Kane.” Fincher is known for his incredible cinematography, and based on critical reviews as well as the value of his name this is the likely winner.

  • “News of the World,” Dariusz Wolski

  • “Nomadland,” Joshua James Richards

  • “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” Phedon Papamichael

Best Documentary Feature

  • “Collective,” Alexander Nanau and Bianca Oana

  • “Crip Camp,” Nicole Newnham, Jim LeBrecht and Sara Bolder

  • “The Mole Agent,” Maite Alberdi and Marcela Santibáñez

  • “My Octopus Teacher,” Pippa Ehrlich, James Reed and Craig Foster

  • “Time,” Garrett Bradley, Lauren Domino and Kellen Quinn

Best Documentary Short Subject

  • “Colette,” Anthony Giacchino and Alice Doyard

  • “A Concerto Is a Conversation,” Ben Proudfoot and Kris Bowers

  • “Do Not Split,” Anders Hammer and Charlotte Cook

  • “Hunger Ward,” Skye Fitzgerald and Michael Scheuerman

  • “A Love Song for Latasha,” Sophia Nahli Allison and Janice Duncan

Best Film Editing

  • “The Father,” Yorgos Lamprinos

  • “Nomadland,” Chloé Zhao

  • “Promising Young Woman,” Frédéric Thoraval

  • “Sound of Metal,” Mikkel E.G. Nielsen

  • “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” Alan Baumgarten

Best International Feature Film

  • “Another Round” (Denmark)- Another Round follows four highschool teachers as they consume alcohol on a daily basis. Categorized as a drama/comedy, this film illustrates both the highs and lows of alcohol in a very thoughtful but captivating way.

  • “Better Days” (Hong Kong)

  • “Collective” (Romania)

  • “The Man Who Sold His Skin” (Tunisia)

  • “Quo Vadis, Aida?”(Bosnia and Herzegovina)

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

  • “Emma,” Marese Langan, Laura Allen, Claudia Stolze

  • “Hillbilly Elegy,” Eryn Krueger Mekash, Patricia Dehaney, Matthew Mungle

  • “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” Sergio Lopez-Rivera, Mia Neal, Jamika Wilson

  • “Mank,” Kimberley Spiteri, Gigi Williams, Colleen LaBaff

  • “Pinocchio,” Mark Coulier, Dalia Colli, Francesco Pegoretti

Best Production Design

  • “The Father.” Production Design: Peter Francis; Set Decoration: Cathy Featherstone

  • “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” Production Design: Mark Ricker; Set Decoration: Karen O’Hara and Diana Stoughton

  • “Mank.” Production Design: Donald Graham Burt; Set Decoration: Jan Pascale

  • “News of the World.” Production Design: David Crank; Set Decoration: Elizabeth Keenan

  • “Tenet.” Production Design: Nathan Crowley; Set Decoration: Kathy Lucas

Best Visual Effects

  • “Love and Monsters,” Matt Sloan, Genevieve Camilleri, Matt Everitt and Brian Cox

  • “The Midnight Sky,” Matthew Kasmir, Christopher Lawrence, Max Solomon and David Watkins

  • “Mulan,” Sean Faden, Anders Langlands, Seth Maury and Steve Ingram

  • “The One and Only Ivan,” Nick Davis, Greg Fisher, Ben Jones and Santiago Colomo Martinez

  • “Tenet,” Andrew Jackson, David Lee, Andrew Lockley and Scott Fisher- “A secret agent is given a single word as his weapon and sent to prevent the onset of World War III. He must travel through time and bend the laws of nature in order to be successful in his mission.”. Nolan is known for his incredible effects, and given that this was one of the highest grossing films of 2020 as well as the film on this list with the biggest budget and buzz, it is my prediction.

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