2021 Oscars Predictions (Some of Them, Sorry)

My Bad…

You know what? It probably wasn’t a good idea to attempt to watch all the films nominated for each of the categories of the Oscars and Razzies in one month. It also wasn’t a good idea to complete the Razzies predictions before the Oscars predictions, especially since there were far more Oscar nominees than Razzie nominees.

With that being said, and with the ceremony’s being less than a week away from publishing this blog post, I decided to go ahead and share my predictions for the major (and a few of the minor) categories for this year’s Oscars . I’m doing this because I did not, and will not be able to, watch all of the nominated films in time for Sunday, so my apologies if you were looking for a comprehensive list of predictions.

This also means I didn’t complete the tier list for all the 2021 nominees, but let me at least share with you what I managed to watch and evaluate:

Tier List (INCOMPLETE)

(Not a ranking; these films are not listed in any particular order; bolded films are Best Picture nominees; feature-length narrative films only)

A+ (EXCEPTIONAL): Minari, Nomadland, Promising Young Woman, Soul, Wolfwalkers, The Father, Da 5 Bloods

A/A- (EXCELLENT): Judas and the Black Messiah, Sound of Metal, Another Round, One Night in Miami, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Tenet

B+/B (SOLID): The White Tiger, The Trial of the Chicago 7, A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, News of the World, Over the Moon, Mank, Pieces of a Woman, Onward, Emma, Pinocchio

B-/C+ (FAIRLY DECENT): The Midnight Sky, Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

C/C- (MEDIOCRE): The United States vs. Billie Holiday, Hillbilly Elegy

D+/D (PRETTY BAD): Mulan


Golden Statuette Night

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, according to its Wikipedia page, “is a professional honorary organization with the stated goal of advancing the arts and sciences of motion pictures.”  Membership of this American organization is by invitation only for people in the film industry.  Since 1929, the Academy has been presenting an annual awards ceremony for recognizing cinematic achievements, which are assessed by voting members of the organization.

The Academy Awards, better known as the Oscars, is probably the most prestigious awards ceremony for cinema worldwide.  Winning, or even being nominated for, one of these awards can help boost and solidify the careers of actors, filmmakers, and crew members, and they can also cement the legacy of certain films.  This, of course, is not without controversy.

For decades, the Academy has garnered controversy for lack of diversity, the abundance of “Oscar Bait” films (i.e. – overrepresentation of war pieces and period dramas), lack of recognition of international (particularly non-English language) films, bias against streaming media films (i.e. – Roma’s Best Picture loss in 2018), and other issues.  I am not the most familiar with the intricacies of Hollywood and global cinema, but I will say this: at the end of the day, the Oscars is fundamentally designed for the upper echelon of the film industry to recognize…the upper echelon of the film industry (largely, at least).  With that in mind, I believe these issues with the Oscars are reflective of, or at least can be tied back to, problems within the film industry itself (i.e. – global dominance of Hollywood, ramifications of technological innovations in entertainment media, the interlocking nature of the “-isms” and “-phobias” within the industry, etc.; also, I am not here to provide solutions to these issues, as that would take a lot of research on my end that I don’t really want to do).

With that being said, though, do the Oscars even matter?  Is it truly an accurate assessment of the best films of each year?  While my answer to the first question is a resounding “it depends,” the answer the second question is a confidently certain “no.”

Like the Grammys with music or the Emmys with television, the Oscars is obviously not a fair evaluation of the objective “best” in cinema; rather, the selection of nominees and winners are ultimately reflections of thoughts, trends, and biases the people within the film industry.  Of course, Academy members can be influenced by public opinion and critical reviews when casting their votes, but that’s really where it stops for us outside of the Academy – potential influence.

In fact, For Your Consideration campaigns seem to play a much larger role in how films are selected for Oscar nominations.  These campaigns consist of major film studios’ spending millions of dollars in advertising and other means of persuading Academy members to vote for their films. 

A great example of the significance of these campaigns is the snub of 2018’s Sorry to Bother You.  I recall reading that this film would have been a strong contender for Best Original Screenplay at the 2019 Oscars, but when it received no nominations, Boots Riley, the writer and director of the film, attributed this snub to not running a For Your Consideration campaign.

Okay, so if we know that the Oscars is far from being “unbiased,” would we rather, then, want to see an awards show that is directly influenced by other factors such as popularity or critical acclaim?  Well, if that’s what you want to see, then, lucky for you, they already exist!  The People’s Choice Awards, for example, are voted by the public; however, as you can imagine, the nominees and winners tend to be commercially successful blockbusters (i.e. – 2020’s equivalent of Best Picture was Bad Boys for Life).  At the same time, the Critics’ Choice Awards are voted by a committee of film critics, and…hmm…*looks at Wikipedia page* there’s a lot of overlap between their choices and those of the Oscars…uhh…okay.

Oh, and one more thing before I move on!  Regarding the new diversity requirements for the Best Picture category, which won’t be enforced until 2025, I don’t think these rules, will make much of an impact, as most films that have recently competed for and won Best Picture Oscars (the ONLY category affected by this rule) would have already satisfied the requirements.  These rules, in my opinion, are too loose, in and of themselves, to directly resolve the diversity-related issues with the Oscars, but at the same time, I’m not advocating for them to be stronger.  I think there are far worse issues facing the film industry than an awards ceremony, so I don’t really know what more the Academy could do if the film industry is still the way it is.  I will say, though, that Standard C, which focuses on providing paid apprenticeship, internship, and training opportunities to underrepresented groups in the film industry, is probably the most admirable of these new requirements, but regarding their overall impact on the future of the Oscars, “we’ll just have to wait and see.” At best, I think we’ll just end up with fewer period drama “Oscar Bait” films, and I am fine with that.


My March April Madness

Like most people, as I imagine, my opinion of a film is not based on its accolades.  There have been some incredible films that have never won any Oscars, and there have also been some less-than-stellar films that have won the Best Picture Oscar (i.e. – Crash and Green Book).  I’m bringing this up because I do enjoy sorting through piles of films and finding gems and…uh…not gems, and for this post, today’s pile is the 2021 Oscar nominees, full of gems and…not gems.

For a couple of years now, I’ve tried to make an effort to watch as many Oscar-nominated films as possible with the hope of finding an amazing, thought-provoking piece of art, and I can say that I found quite a few of them this year.  In fact, I’ll say that each of the Best Picture nominees, were exactly what I was looking for (okay, maybe not Mank).  Aside from the Best Picture category, I also got to check out some incredible technical achievements, strong storytelling, and emotionally moving acting performances, some of which saving otherwise mediocre-to-bad movies.

Before I talk about the Best Picture nominations, I’d like to share a few overall thoughts about this year’s nominees:

  • Da 5 Bloods was snubbed several nominations (Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Production Design, Best Editing), but at least its score got a well-deserved nomination.
  • Best Actor: As you’ll see below, I’m predicting Chadwick Boseman will win, but I had a really hard time choosing among him, Anthony Hopkins, and Riz Ahmed.
  • Best Actress: Each of these actresses gave incredible performances, and it was really hard to choose who I think should and will win this year.  I would like to at least point out that Andra Day’s performance carried The United States vs. Billie Holiday, an otherwise messy film (the same goes for Glenn Close in Hillbilly Elegy). Similarly, Pieces of a Woman isn’t as good as Vanessa Kirby’s performance, but that’s just because her acting was excellent while the movie was just “good.”
  • Best Supporting Actress: I had a hard time choosing between Youn Yuh-jung and Maria Bakalova.  That’s all.
  • Best International Film: I only got to see Another Round, and I really hope it wins, which I think is likely given its Best Director nomination.
  • Best Original Score: I’m really confident that Soul will win this one, but you should also check out the scores for Da 5 Bloods, Mank, and especially Minari.
  • Best Visual Effects: Just give it to Tenet.

The Best Picture Nominees

The Father

Image via Lionsgate, Sony Pictures Classics

Thoughts: Has anyone ever seen the Bojack Horseman episode “Time’s Arrow”?  If not, please watch that (and the rest of the show), but if you have seen that episode, then you really need to see this movie.  Anthony Hopkins was phenomenal, and with his acting and the editing of the film, we get a very chilling and immersive portrayal of dementia.  If Chadwick Boseman does not win Best Actor, then it absolutely must go to Hopkins.

My Grade: A+

Judas and the Black Messiah

Image via Warner Bros. Pictures

Thoughts: Seeing a movie like this makes it quite clear that mainstream Hollywood (America, even) is more comfortable with seeing mid-to-late 20th Century Black American struggle that goes beyond the Civil Rights Movement.  At its core, this is an emotionally charged picture of betrayal, led by powerful performances from Lakeith Stanfield and especially Daniel Kaluuya.  Judas and the Black Messiah, a film that truly lives up to its title.

My Grade: A

Mank

Image via Netflix

Thoughts: This film had a bit of a complicated production history (i.e. – it was written by director David Fincher’s late father in the 1990s but was not in production until 2019), but what we eventually got was a great-looking and well-acted behind-the-scenes look at the making of the legendary Citizen Kane.  This movie reminds me of 2011’s The Artist, another black-and-white film about Hollywood, except that the 2012 Best Picture winner was much more immersive.  Mank, on the other hand, is a well-designed (and amazingly scored), yet somewhat by-the-numbers, biopic, and it is easily the most “Oscar Bait” film in this category.

My Grade: B

Minari

Image via A24

Thoughts: As a child of immigrants myself, this film resonated with me in quite a few ways, especially in how it deconstructs what we call the “American Dream.”  By this, I am talking about how the pursuit of “making it” in America is far from a simple matter of hard work and perseverance.  In fact, Minari poses several questions about such an assumption: What does it mean to “make it”?  Is it worth it to give up so much of my identity and complicate the relationships with my loved ones for the possibly of individual financial success?  Who even gets to “make it” to begin with?

There are clearly more questions and conversations that can be had by watching this movie, and it, of course, helps that the acting and soundtrack are brilliant.

My Grade: A+

Nomadland

Image via Searchlight Pictures, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Thoughts: While avoiding overt sociopolitical commentary, Nomadland, nonetheless, effectively gives light into the plight of a group of working-class Americans.  This film is an intimate and moving picture of a modern-day nomad that, at many times, made me quite sad, and I think that sadness comes from the fact that everything in this movie is so realistic and upfront.  

My Grade: A+

Promising Young Woman

Image via Focus Features

Thoughts: This sharply written, carefully casted film boldly deconstructs Nice GuysTM and #NotAllMen, giving powerful commentary on rape culture. Carey Mulligan, in particular, gives a chilling, meticulously executed lead performance that is definitely worthy of an Oscar, and the fact that this is only the debut film for writer-director Emerald Fennell makes me really excited to see what she might do next.  This is easily one of the most underrated films among the nominees.

My Grade: A+

Sound of Metal

Image via Amazon Studios

Thoughts: Sound of Metal is an immersive, emotionally charged look into a man’s experience with going deaf, and that largely has to do with the sound design and the performances of Riz Ahmed and Paul Raci. 

My Grade: A

The Trial of the Chicago 7

Image via Netflix

Thoughts: This is a well-written and well-acted portrayal of the real-life legal drama surrounding the resistance to the Vietnam War.  (Sorry, I don’t have much else to say.)

My Grade: B+


May the Oscar Go to…

Best Picture

Image via Searchlight Pictures, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Should Win: Nomadland

Second Choice: Minari

Will Win: Nomadland

Second Guess: Mank

Also Nominated: The Father, Judas and the Black Messiah, Promising Young Woman, Sound of Metal, The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Director

Should Win: Chloé Zhao (Nomadland)

Second Choice: Thomas Vinterberg (Another Round)

Will Win: Chloé Zhao

Second Guess: David Fincher (Mank)

Also Nominated: Lee Isaac Chung (Minari), Emerald Fennel (Promising Young Woman)

Best Actor

Image via Netflix

Should Win: Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom as Levee Green; posthumous nomination)

Second Choice: Anthony Hopkins (The Father as Anthony)

Will Win: Chadwick Boseman

Second Guess: Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal as Ruben Stone)

Also Nominated: Gary Oldman (Mank as Herman J. Mankiewicz), Steven Yeun (Minari as Jacob Yi)

Best Actress

L: Image via Focus Features; R: Image via Netflix

Should Win: Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman as Cassandra “Cassie” Thomas)

Second Choice: Andra Day (The United States vs. Billie Holiday as Billie Holiday)

Will Win: Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom as Ma Rainey)

Second Guess: Frances McDormand (Nomadland as Fern)

Also Nominated: Vanessa Kirby (Pieces of a Woman as Martha Weiss)

Best Supporting Actor

Image via Warner Bros. Pictures

Should Win: Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah as Fred Hampton)

Second Choice: Paul Raci (Sound of Metal as Joe)

Will Win: Daniel Kaluuya

Second Guess: Paul Raci

Also Nominated: Leslie Odom Jr. (One Night in Miami… as Sam Cooke), Sacha Baron Cohen (The Trial of the Chicago 7 as Abbie Hoffman), Lakeith Stanfield (Judas and the Black Messiah as William “Bill” O’Neal)

Best Supporting Actress

Image via A24

Should Win: Youn Yuh-jung (Minari as Soon-ja)

Second Choice: Maria Bakalova (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm as Tutar Sagdiyev)

Will Win: Youn Yuh-jung

Second Guess: Olivia Colman (The Father as Anne)

Also Nominated: Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy as Bonnie “Mamaw” Vance), Amanda Seyfried (Mank as Marion Davies)

Best Original Screenplay

Should Win: Promising Young Woman (Emerald Fennell)

Second Choice: Sound of Metal (Abraham Marder and Darius Marder, Screenplay; Derek Cianfrance and Darius Marder, Story)

Will Win: Promising Young Woman

Second Guess: The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Aaron Sorkin)

Also Nominated: Judas and the Black Messiah (Will Berson and Shaka King, Screenplay; Berson, King, Keith Lucas, and Kenny Lucas, Story) Minari (Lee Isaac Chung)

Best Adapted Screenplay

Should Win: Nomadland (Chloé Zhao, based on the book by Jessica Bruder)

Second Choice: One Night in Miami (Kemp Powers, based on his play)

Will Win: Nomadland

Second Guess: The Father (Chrisopher Hampton and Florian Zeller, based on the play by Zeller)

Also Nominated: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (Sacha Baron Cohen, Peter Baynham, Jena Friedman, Anthony Hines, Lee Kern, Dan Mazer, Erica Rivinoja, and Dan Swimer, Screenplay; Baron Cohen, Hines, Nina Pedrad, and Swimer, Story; based on the character by Baron Cohen), The White Tiger (Ramin Bahrani, based on the novel by Aravind Adiga)

Best Animated Feature Film

Image via Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Should Win: Soul (Pete Docter and Dana Murray)

Second Choice: Wolfwalkers (Tomm Moore, Stéphan Roelants, Ross Stewart, and Paul Young)

Will Win: Soul

Second Guess: Wolfwalkers

Also Nominated: Onward (Kori Rae and Dan Scanlon), Over the Moon (Peilin Chou, Glen Keane, and Gennie Rin) A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon (Will Becher, Paul Kewley, and Richard Phelan)

Best Original Score

Image via Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Should Win: Soul (Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, and Jon Batiste)

Second Choice: Minari (Emile Mosseri)

Will Win: Soul

Second Guess: Mank (Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross)

Also Nominated: Da 5 Bloods (Terence Blanchard), News of the World (James Newton Howard)

Best Sound

Image via Amazon Studios

Should Win: Sound of Metal (Jaime Baksht, Nicolas Becker, Philip Bladh, Carlos Cortés, and Michelle Couttolenc)

Second Choice: Mank (Ren Klyce, Drew Kunin, Jeremy Molod, Nathan Nance and David Parker)

Will Win: Sound of Metal

Second Guess: Mank

Also Nominated: Greyhound (Beau Borders, Michael Minkler, Warren Shaw, and David Wyman), News of the World (William Miller, John Pritchett, Mike Prestwood Smith, and Oliver Tarney), Soul (Coya Elliot, Ren Klyce, and David Parker)

Best Production Design

Image via Netflix

Should Win: Mank (Production Design: Donald Graham Burt; Set Decoration: Jan Pascale)

Second Choice: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Production Design: Mark Ricker; Set Decoration: Karen O’Hara and Diana Sroughton)

Will Win: Mank

Second Guess: Tenet (Production Design: Nathan Crowley; Set Decoration: Kathy Lucas)

Also Nominated: The Father (Production Design: Peter Francis; Set Decoration: Cathy Featherstone), News of the World (Production Design: David Crank; Set Decoration: Elizabeth Keenan)

Best Cinematography

L: Image via Netflix; R: Image via Searchlight Pictures, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Should Win: Mank (Erik Messerschmidt)

Second Choice: Nomadland (Joshua James Richards)

Will Win: Nomadland

Second Guess: Mank

Also Nominated: Judas and the Black Messiah (Sean Bobbitt), News of the World (Dariusz Wolski), The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Phedon Papamichael)

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Image via Netflix

Should Win: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Sergio Lopez-Rivera, Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson)

Second Choice: Mank (Colleen LaBaff, Kimberley Spiteri and Gigi Williams)

Will Win: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Second Guess: Mank

Also Nominated: Emma. (Laura Allen, Marese Langan and Claudia Stolze), Hillbilly Elegy (Patricia Dehaney, Eryn Krueger Mekash and Matthew W. Mungle), Pinocchio (Dalia Colli, Mark Coulier and Francesco Pegoretti)

Best Costume Design

Image via Netflix

Should Win: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Ann Roth)

Second Choice: Mank (Trish Summerville)

Will Win: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Second Guess: Mank

Also Nominated: Emma. (Alexandra Byrne), Mulan (Bina Daigeler), Pinocchio (Massimo Cantini Parrini)

Best Film Editing

Image via Amazon Studios

Should Win: Sound of Metal (Mikkel E. G. Nielson)

Second Choice: The Father (Yorgos Lamprinos)

Will Win: Sound of Metal

Second Guess: Nomadland (Chloé Zhao)

Also Nominated: Promising Young Woman (Frédéric Thoraval), The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Alan Baumgarten)


After the ceremony, I’m probably going to finish watching all the movies and then re-publish this page as a retrospective (i.e. – replacing “Should/Will Win” with “Should Have Won/Did Win”). If I do this, then I’ll also do the same for the Razzies post.

Published by Miles Ndukwe

Some guy with glasses.

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