2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Best Picture Race

I’m closing out my deep dives of the major Oscar races with the granddaddy of them all – Best Picture. If you missed my posts covering Best Director and the four acting categories, you can find them here:

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Best Director Race

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Best Actress Race

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Best Actor Race

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Supporting Actress Race

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Supporting Actor Race

Unlike the previous several years where the Picture nominees could fluctuate between 5-10 (though 8 and 9 were the magic numbers), 2021 brings fluidity with a set 10 films being honored (I’d like to thank the Academy for that).

As I’ve done with the others, let’s take a look back at how I was performing in the early November time frame from 2019 and 2020. Two years ago, I had 8 of the eventual 9 movies pegged: winner Parasite, 1917, Ford v Ferrari, The Irishman, Jojo Rabbit, Little Women, Marriage Story, and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. The other – Joker – was mentioned in Other Possibilities.

2020 was trickier at this stage, but I identified 5 of the 8 hopefuls: winner Nomadland along with The Father, Mank, Minari, and The Trial of the Chicago 7. Judas and the Black Messiah was named as a possibility while I didn’t have Promising Young Woman or Sound of Metal yet in the 15 selections.

For 2021 – I feel confident that four already screened entries will make the dance. We begin with Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast, the 1960s set coming-of-age drama that could be looked at as the soft frontrunner. It’s been listed at #1 in my estimates for several weeks.

Belfast displaced The Power of the Dog from Jane Campion in that spot, but I still see the Netflix title having no trouble securing its placement among the contenders.

King Richard should find its way as the inspirational sports flick that will have audiences on its side. Furthermore, Will Smith appears in position to possibly win Best Actor. You have to go back to Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart) twelve years ago where the Oscar winning actor didn’t see his movie recognized in Picture.

Then there’s Dune. The sci-fi epic from Denis Villeneuve got the box office and critical kudos it needed to storm the competition. The filmmaker could make a victory play for his direction while the picture itself seems destined for a nod here and tech wins elsewhere.

In past years, the bulk of nominees in Picture were screened at festivals. In 2021, that dynamic could shift as there’s a slew of unscreened material that seems like Oscar bait. That list includes Guillermo del Toro’s Nightmare Alley, Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza, Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story, Ridley Scott’s House of Gucci, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tick, Tick… Boom!, and Adam McKay’s Don’t Look Up. 

The first four of the six are ones I’ve had in my ten for a bit and I’m not changing it today. That said, this could be altered quickly once their official reviews are up (and that will be soon). Some prognosticators are more confident with Don’t Look Up. I’ll believe it when I see it.

With the pics that have been seen, Pablo Larrain’s Spencer is sure looking like it will garner Kristen Stewart her first ever nod with a solid chance at a victory. I do believe the Princess Diana tale will manage to make the cut, but it could go either way.

This also holds true for Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth, which should also manage some tech recognition and for its lead Denzel Washington and maybe Frances McDormand.

I will admit that it seems strange to leave off any titles that screened early at Sundance. After all, last year there were 3 pics from the fest (The Father, Minari, Promising Young Woman) that got in. There’s a trio that could do the same in 2021 and they’re all listed in Other Possibilities: CODA, Flee, and Mass. Of that group, Flee (which I do have predicted in Animated Feature, Documentary Feature, and International Feature Film) may have the strongest chance.

Foreign flicks could factor in and they include A Hero, The Hand of God, Parallel Mothers, and The Worst Person in the World. I wouldn’t completely discount Netflix hopefuls such as The Lost Daughter and Passing. 

Then there’s high profile fare where the luster has been lost either to mixed reviews or poor box office. That list includes Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch, Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel, and certainly Chloe Zhao’s Eternals. 

The bottom line is this – in 2021, with two months left to go in the calendar, there’s a lot yet to be determined. Here’s my take for now:

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. Belfast (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. The Power of the Dog (PR: 2)

3. King Richard (PR: 3)

4. Dune (PR: 4)

5. Licorice Pizza (PR: 6)

6. Nightmare Alley (PR: 5)

7. West Side Story (PR: 7)

8. House of Gucci (PR: 8)

9. Spencer (PR: 9)

10. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 10)

Other Possibilities:

11. Flee (PR: 13)

12. Don’t Look Up (PR: 11)

13. Mass (PR: 12)

14. Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 15)

15. CODA (PR: 14)

And that wraps the detailed looks, folks! Next weekend I’ll be back with updated estimates…

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Best Director Race

After four posts focusing on the acting races at the 2021 Oscars, it’s time to turn to Best Director. If you missed those entries on the lead and supporting performer derbies, you can find them here:

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Best Actress Race

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Best Actor Race

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Supporting Actress Race

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Supporting Actor Race

With the directing category, I do believe there’s three filmmakers that have likely punched their ticket to a nomination. Before we get there, let’s take a look at how my projections panned out at the same early November time frame in 2019 and 2020.

Two years back, I correctly identified four of the five contenders: winner Bong Joon-ho (Parasite) as well as Sam Mendes (1917), Martin Scorsese (The Irishman), and Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood). Todd Phillips (Joker) was mentioned in Other Possibilities. 2020 was more unpredictable with two months left to go and that resulted in only two directors being accurately named: Chloe Zhao (Nomadland), who took the gold, and David Fincher (Mank). Lee Isaac Chung (Minari) was in Other Possibilities while neither Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman) or surprise nominee Thomas Vinterberg (Another Round) were yet listed in my top ten.

Back to 2021 and the three individuals who I believe stand probable shots at making the cut. They are Jane Campion (The Power of the Dog), Kenneth Branagh (Belfast), and Denis Villeneuve (Dune).

It was 28 years ago that Campion was nominated for The Piano. If it hadn’t been for Oscar juggernaut Schindler’s List, she likely would’ve been making a speech. Upon its premiere in Venice, Campion took the Silver Lion (equivalent to this competition) for Dog. I don’t see her being left off the ballot.

Belfast is the current frontrunner for Best Picture and it’s hard to envision  writer/director Branagh not making it in. If so, it would be his first nod in directing since Henry V some 32 years back.

Dune is being heralded for its technical wizardry and it should pick up numerous down the line wins and nominations. Five years after his behind the camera work was recognized for Arrival, Villeneuve should be a factor again.

Interestingly, I don’t feel there’s a clear favorite to win. There are plausible scenarios for any member of this trio to emerge victorious. Campion, Branagh, and Villeneuve constitute my top 3 (in that order), but it’s more of a 1a, 1b, and 1c at press time.

As for the other two slots, there’s a few contenders stemming from unseen product. There’s big names in that bunch: Guillermo del Toro (Nightmare Alley, who won four years ago for The Shape of Water), Paul Thomas Anderson (Licorice Pizza, a two-time nominee for There Will Be Blood and Phantom Thread), Ridley Scott (for House of Gucci and not The Last Duel), Adam McKay (Don’t Look Up, previously nominated for The Big Short), Lin-Manuel Miranda (Tick, Tick… Boom!), and Steven Spielberg (West Side Story,  a two-time winner for Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan).

Any of these gentlemen could bubble up to the surface once their pictures are screened. I’m sticking with the two I’ve had in my five recently: del Toro and Anderson.

King Richard has a chance to win Best Picture, but I’m skeptical its maker Reinaldo Marcus Green makes it here. The sports drama seems destined to be recognized more for its performances, but if the Academy really falls for it, Green could be theoretically be swept in. That holds true for Joel Coen (The Tragedy of Macbeth) and Pablo Larrain (Spencer) as well.

Lastly, Thomas Vinterberg’s nod in 2020 for Another Round came out of nowhere. While it was pegged to take International Feature Film (which it did), Round was not nominated in Best Picture. There’s a slew of directors who could fill the “surprise” slot this time around (many from foreign features): Pedro Almodovar (Parallel Mothers), Julia Ducournau (Titane), Asghar Farhari (A Hero), Paolo Sorrentino (The Hand of God), Joachim Trier (The Worst Person in the World). I wouldn’t completely count out Rebecca Hall for Passing. Yet none of these upset selections are in my top ten.

The one that is: Jonas Poher Rasmussen for festival darling Flee. While I don’t have it nabbing a Best Pic nom at the moment, I do foresee the Danish doc contending in Animated Feature, Documentary Feature, and International Feature Film. That kind of attention could cause the voters to include him.

Here’s how those rankings look at the start of November:

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. Kenneth Branagh, Belfast (PR: 2)

3. Denis Villeneuve, Dune (PR: 3)

4. Guillermo del Toro, Nightmare Alley (PR: 4)

5. Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Pablo Larrain, Spencer (PR: 6)

7. Steven Spielberg, West Side Story (PR: 7)

8. Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Flee (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Reinaldo Marcus Green, King Richard (PR: 9)

10. Ridley Scott, House of Gucci (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Joel Coen, The Tragedy of Macbeth

Julia Ducournau, Titane

Best Picture is next!

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Best Actress Race

The Oscar race for Best Actress takes center stage in my latest rundown of where the major competitions stand in early November. If you missed my posts covering lead actor and the supporting categories, they can accessed right here:

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Best Actor Race

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Supporting Actress Race

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Supporting Actor Race

As I have with the others, let’s start with my track record during the same time period from 2019 and 2020. Two years ago, I somehow had all five nominated actresses forecasted correctly with two months to go: winner Renee Zellweger as Judy in addition to Cynthia Erivo (Harriet), Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story), Saoirse Ronan (Little Women), and Charlize Theron (Bombshell). For 2020, it was three: gold recipient Frances McDormand for Nomadland and Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) and Vanessa Kirby (Pieces of a Woman). Both Andra Day (The United States vs. Billie Holiday) and Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman) were listed in Other Possibilities.

In 2021, we already have a strong frontrunner and that’s Kristin Stewart in Spencer. Playing the high profile role of Princess Diana, Ms. Stewart is practically guaranteed to nab her first nod after plenty of critically appreciated post Twilight turns. She’s a serious threat to win and Stewart has been atop my chart ever since the picture screened back in September at the Venice Film Festival.

Her biggest competition could come from an as yet unseen performance – Lady Gaga in House of Gucci. Judging from the trailers alone, her part seems like the kind of bait that would cause Academy voters to bite. If so, the pop superstar would receive her second nomination three years after her breakout cinematic role with A Star Is Born. 

After that, there’s a lengthy list of hopefuls for the three remaining slots. When The Eyes of Tammy Faye premiered on the festival circuit, it was a given that Jessica Chastain would make the cut. I still think she will, but the pic’s barely existent box office numbers are reason for some uncertainty.

Screenings were also kind to Olivia Colman in The Lost Daughter and that momentum could result in her third inclusion in the last four years after a 2018 Actress victory for The Favourite and a supporting nod for last year’s The Father. 

Colman isn’t the only actress from a Netflix offering eyeing the prize. There’s Tessa Thompson in Passing, Jennifer Lawrence in Don’t Look Up, Sandra Bullock for The Unforgivable, and Halle Berry with Bruised. All could factor in. Other than Thompson (her costar Ruth Negga stands a greater chance in supporting), the three others have yet to be unveiled. The streamer may have to pick and choose whose campaigns they go all in with.

There’s other possibilities in the unseen column where the buzz will shortly materialize: Cate Blanchett for Nightmare Alley, Alana Haim in Licorice Pizza, Nicole Kidman as Lucille Ball with Being the Ricardos, and Rachel Zegler (West Side Story). At press time, I only have Kidman in the top ten but that could change as soon as reviews start posting.

As for pictures that have been available for awhile, I feel Marlee Matlin and Troy Kotsur’s supporting parts in CODA are more likely to be recognized than lead Emilia Jones. Renate Reinsve will have her share of supporters for The Worst Person in the World, but its best chance lies with an International Feature Film nomination. Bad financial returns could negatively impact Jodie Comer for The Last Duel, though I will note that a number of prognosticators have her in.

For the fifth spot, I currently see three performances with roughly equal chances. Frances McDormand took the prize last year and that might make the Academy think twice about putting her up again for The Tragedy of Macbeth. Penelope Cruz is just on the outside looking in for Parallel Mothers. That leaves me with Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin in Respect. Even though the film received mixed reviews and so-so box office, praise for the Supporting Actress winner in 2006’s Dreamgirls was universal. Voters may have to think all the way back to summer to include her but I do believe it’s feasible.

And with that, here’s my standings:

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Kristen Stewart, Spencer (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. Lady Gaga, House of Gucci (PR: 3)

3. Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 2)

4. Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter (PR: 4)

5. Jennifer Hudson, Respect (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Penelope Cruz, Parallel Mothers (PR: 7)

7. Frances McDormand, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 6)

8. Jodie Comer, The Last Duel (PR: 8)

9. Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos (PR: 10)

10. Tessa Thompson, Passing (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Rachel Zegler, West Side Story

Now that the acting derbies are wrapped, I’ll have Best Director up next!

2021 Oscar Predictions: July 29th Edition

I can’t help myself. I keep doing my Oscar predictions earlier and earlier each year. Today marks the first edition of my ranked forecasts in the 8 biggest races: Picture, Director, the four acting competitions, and the two screenplay contests.

It probably stands to reason that the sooner you do projections – the more inaccurate they might be. Oh but it’s so very fun to speculate! I do like to put my initial rankings up before the Toronto, Venice, and Telluride Film Festivals make the picture more clear and we are only about a month from that. Those events will bring us early buzz on The Power of the Dog, Dune, Spencer, The Last Duel, The Humans, Parallel Mothers, Belfast, Dear Evan Hansen, The Eyes of Tammy Faye, Last Night in Soho, and more.

This post comes about three weeks ahead of when I did this in 2020. That year, to say the least, was hard to figure out. In fact, many of the pictures and performers I had in my 2020 inaugural rankings were moved back to 2021 due to COVID delays. Think Dune, The French Dispatch, West Side Story, Respect, C’Mon C’Mon, Annette, and The Eyes of Tammy Faye.

So how did my first ranked predictions from 2020 pan out? My Best Picture guesstimates yielded three of the eventual nominees: winner Nomadland, Mank, and The Trial of the Chicago 7. Nomadland started out of the gate at #2 (behind Mank). Three other contenders were listed under Other Possibilities – The Father, Judas and the Black Messiah, and Minari. Promising Young Woman and Sound of Metal were not mentioned.

2 of the 5 director nominees were correctly identified: winner Chloe Zhao (Nomadland) and David Fincher (Mank). None of the other hopefuls (Lee Isaac Chung for Minari, Emerald Fennell for Promising Young Woman, or Another Round‘s Thomas Vinterberg) were even in Other Possibilities.

In Best Actress, I initially identified 2 – winner Frances McDormand (Nomadland) and Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom). Andra Day (The United States vs. Billie Holiday) and Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman) were Other Possibilities while Vanessa Kirby in Pieces of a Woman didn’t score a listing.

As for Actor, winner Anthony Hopkins (The Father) and Gary Oldman (Mank) made my first cut. I incorrectly had Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah) projected here instead of Supporting Actor (which he won). **This is a good time to remind you all that some of the acting contenders thought to be in lead right now will switch to supporting and vice versa. As further evidence, I had Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey) predicted in supporting, but he contended here. I did not yet have Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal) or Steven Yeun (Minari) on my radar.

Two Supporting Actress players were correctly called: Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy) and Olivia Colman (The Father) with Amanda Seyfried (Mank) in Other Possibilities. No mention for the winner Youn Yun-jung in Minari or Maria Bakalova for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.

Per above, Daniel Kaluuya’s work in Judas was slotted in lead, but he emerged victorious here. My Supporting Actor picks did get 2 of 5: Lakeith Stanfield in Judas and Sacha Baron Cohen for Chicago 7. The two others (Leslie Odom Jr. in One Night in Miami and Paul Raci in Sound of Metal) went unnoticed at the early stage.

Just one nominee in Original Screenplay got the initial mention – Chicago 7. I did have 3 others (winner Promising Young Woman, Judas, Minari) down for Other Possibilities while Sound of Metal wasn’t mentioned. And in Adapted Screenplay, I only rightly projected Nomadland. Winner The Father, One Night in Miami, and The White Tiger were other possibilities with no mention for Borat.

Whew. OK. I’m not going through all for 2019. However, I will say my results were better two years ago with my first picks (evidence of the uncertainty of last year). The quick rundown: I got 6 of the 9 nominees in Best Picture and identified the remaining three in other possibilities. In Director, it was 4 out of 5. For Actress – 4 for 5 with the other nominee listed sixth. Actor – 3 for 5 with the two others as possibilities. The weak spot was Supporting Actress – just 1 out of 5 with 2 others as possibilities. 2 for 5 in Supporting Actor with 2 others as possibilities. 3 for 5 initially in both screenplay races.

And now we come to 2021. Will I look back next year and be happy with the accuracy or shake my head? Hopefully a mix (that’s probably the best case scenario). In about two months, I will start predictions for all categories covering feature films and whittle BP from 25 to 15 hopefuls with all others going from a projected 15 to 10.

There already was some news from when I penned my early and unranked predictions last week. David O. Russell’s Canterbury Glass, with an all star cast led by Christian Bale and Margot Robbie, has reportedly moved to 2022. It was mentioned in numerous categories (Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor – John David Washington) and it now waits its turn until next year. Same story for Taika Waititi’s Next Goal Wins and Blonde from Andrew Dominik.

Let’s get to it!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. House of Gucci

2. The Power of the Dog

3. The Tragedy of Macbeth

4. Nightmare Alley

5. Dune

6. Soggy Bottom

7. Mass

8. West Side Story

9. Belfast

10. Don’t Look Up

Other Possibilities:

11. A Hero

12. CODA

13. Flee

14. The French Dispatch

15. Spencer

16. Tick Tick… Boom!

17. Cyrano

18. The Humans

19. Blue Bayou

20. King Richard

21. The Last Duel

22. Dear Evan Hansen

23. In the Heights

24. Last Night in Soho

25. Annette

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ridley Scott, House of Gucci

2. Denis Villeneuve, Dune

3. Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog

4. Guillermo del Toro, Nightmare Alley

5. Joel Coen, The Tragedy of Macbeth

Other Possibilities:

6. Paul Thomas Anderson, Soggy Bottom

7. Asghar Farhadi, A Hero

8. Kenneth Branagh, Belfast

9. Steven Spielberg, West Side Story

10. Adam McKay, Don’t Look Up

11. Fran Kranz, Mass

12. Sian Heder, CODA

13. Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Flee

14. Wes Anderson, The French Dispatch

15. Pablo Larrain, Spencer

Best Actress

1. Lady Gaga, House of Gucci

2. Frances McDormand, The Tragedy of Macbeth

3. Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog

4. Jennifer Hudson, Respect 

5. Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Other Possibilities:

6. Penelope Cruz, Parallel Mothers

7. Kristen Stewart, Spencer

8. Emilia Jones, CODA

9. Rachel Zegler, West Side Story

10. Cate Blanchett, Nightmare Alley

11. Renate Reinsve, The Worst Person in the World

12. Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos

13. Jodie Comer, The Last Duel

14. Jennifer Lawrence, Don’t Look Up

15. Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth

2. Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog

3. Will Smith, King Richard

4. Adam Driver, House of Gucci

5. Amir Jadidi, A Hero

Other Possibilities:

6. Andrew Garfield, Tick Tick… Boom!

7. Clifton Collins, Jr., Jockey

8. Peter Dinklage, Cyrano

9. Bradley Cooper, Nightmare Alley

10. Leonardo DiCaprio, Don’t Look Up

11. Joaquin Phoenix, C’Mon C’Mon

12. Cooper Hoffman, Soggy Bottom

13. Adam Driver, Annette

14. Javier Bardem, Being the Ricardos

15. Nicolas Cage, Pig

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ann Dowd, Mass

2. Ariana DeBose, West Side Story

3. Martha Plimpton, Mass

4. Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans

5. Marlee Matlin, CODA

Other Possibilities:

6. Ruth Negga, Passing

7. Olga Merediz, In the Heights

8. Regina King, The Harder They Fall

9. Thomasin McKenzie, The Power of the Dog

10. Toni Collette, Nightmare Alley

11. Judi Dench, Belfast

12. Anya Taylor-Joy, Last Night in Soho

13. Meryl Streep, Don’t Look Up

14. Audra McDonald, Respect

15. Sally Hawkins, Spencer

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Bradley Cooper, Soggy Bottom

2. Jesse Plemons, The Power of the Dog

3. Jason Isaacs, Mass

4. Richard Jenkins, The Humans

5. Idris Elba, The Harder They Fall

Other Possibilities:

6. Corey Hawkins, The Tragedy of Macbeth

7. Richard E. Grant, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie

8. Jared Leto, House of Gucci

9. Reed Birney, Mass

10. Ben Mendelsohn, Cyrano

11. Jamie Dornan, Belfast

12. Adam Driver, The Last Duel

13. Al Pacino, House of Gucci

14. Brendan Gleeson, The Tragedy of Macbeth

15. David Alvarez, West Side Story

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mass

2. Soggy Bottom

3. Don’t Look Up

4. The French Dispatch

5. Blue Bayou

Other Possibilities:

6. Belfast

7. Spencer

8. C’Mon C’Mon

9. Last Night in Soho

10. Being the Ricardos

11. Annette

12. The Harder They Fall

13. After Yang

14. Nine Days

15. Red Rocket

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. House of Gucci

2. The Power of the Dog

3. The Tragedy of Macbeth

4. Nightmare Alley

5. Dune

Other Possibilities:

6. CODA

7. The Humans

8. West Side Story

9. Cyrano

10. Tick Tick… Boom!

11. Dear Evan Hansen

12. The Last Duel

13. The Lost Daughter

14. King Richard

15. A Journal for Jordan

Back at it next week, ladies and gents!

Early 2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Picture

And now we arrive at the big one in my early Oscar predictions for this 2021 season: Best Picture. If you missed my previous posts covering Best Director and the acting derbies, they can accessed here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/07/22/early-2021-oscar-predictions-best-director/

Early 2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Actress

Early 2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Actor

Early 2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Supporting Actress

Early 2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Supporting Actor

In the highly fluent and unpredictable field that encompassed 2020, there were 8 eventual nominees for Picture. As you may recall, for the past 12 ceremonies, the BP contenders can fluctuate anywhere from 5-10 titles (the magic number has been 8 or 9). Starting with 2021, the number is set at 10 (thank you Academy).

Last year, my earliest predictions for this race yielded 3 of the 8 hopefuls – winner Nomadland, Mank, and The Trial of the Chicago 7. Three others (The Father, Judas and the Black Messiah, Minari) were mentioned as Other Possibilities. Two (Promising Young Woman and Sound of Metal) were not initially mentioned at all.

So let’s get to it! Here are my first picks for the 10 nominees with 15 Other Possibilities.

EARLY OSCAR PREDICTIONS: BEST PICTURE

Belfast

Dune

A Hero

House of Gucci

Mass

Nightmare Alley

The Power of the Dog

Soggy Bottom

The Tragedy of Macbeth

West Side Story

Other Possibilities:

Annette

Blue Bayou

Canterbury Glass

C’Mon C’Mon

CODA

Cyrano

Don’t Look Up

Flee

The French Dispatch

The Humans

In the Heights

Last Night in Soho

Next Goals Wins

Parallel Mothers

Spencer

Beginning late this week, I will kick off my weekly predictions in these six biggest derbies (as well as both Screenplay races) where the contenders will be ranked. Stay tuned!

Early 2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Director

The blog’s early look at the 2021 Oscar contenders arrives at Best Director. If you didn’t see the posts outlining my initial picks for the acting derbies, take a look here:

Early 2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Actress

Early 2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Actor

Early 2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Supporting Actress

Early 2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Supporting Actor

In 2020, my first estimates in the directorial field yielded 2 eventual nominees: winner Chloe Zhao (Nomadland) and David Fincher (Mank). The three others were not even mentioned: Lee Isaac Chung (Minari), Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman), and surprise contender Thomas Vinterberg (Another Round).

Here’s the players as I see it at this July juncture:

EARLY OSCAR PREDICTIONS: BEST DIRECTOR

Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog

Joel Coen, The Tragedy of Macbeth

Guillermo del Toro, Nightmare Alley

Asghar Farhadi, A Hero

Denis Villeneuve, Dune

Other Contenders:

Pedro Almodovar, Parallel Mothers

Paul Thomas Anderson, Soggy Bottom

Wes Anderson, The French Dispatch

Kenneth Branagh, Belfast

Leos Carax, Annette

Fran Kranz, Mass

Adam McKay, Don’t Look Up

David O. Russell, Canterbury Glass

Ridley Scott, House of Gucci

Steven Spielberg, West Side Story

That leaves only Best Picture and it will be posted in short order!

Early 2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Actress

Last year’s Best Actress race was one of the most unpredictable and competitive in ages. Five different performers took the Oscar, Golden Globes (since they split between Drama and Musical/Comedy), SAG, and Critics Choice Award.

And, while it’s very early, 2021 appears that it could be a humdinger of a contest yet again. This is the final acting derby I am doing projections on in these initial forecasts. By far, Best Actress was the hardest one to whittle down and there were even potential contenders beyond the 15 listed that I believe could easily get into the mix.

Speaking of those earlier posts, you can peruse them here if you didn’t catch  them:

Early 2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Actor

Early 2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Supporting Actress

Early 2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Supporting Actor

When I did my inaugural 2020 posts in Actress, I correctly identified 2 of the 5 eventual nominees: winner Frances McDormand (Nomadland) and Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom). Carey Mulligan was named in Other Possibilities while I did not yet call out Andra Day (The United States vs. Billie Holiday) or Vanessa Kirby (Pieces of a Woman).

Let’s get to the hopefuls for 2021!

EARLY OSCAR PREDICTIONS: BEST ACTRESS

Penelope Cruz, Parallel Mothers

Ana de Armas, Blonde

Lady Gaga, House of Gucci

Jennifer Hudson, Respect

Frances McDormand, The Tragedy of Macbeth

Other Possibilities:

Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Emilia Jones, CODA

Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos

Jennifer Lawrence, Don’t Look Up

Thomasin McKenzie, Last Night in Soho

Renate Reinsve, The Worst Person in the World

Margot Robbie, Canterbury Glass

Kristen Stewart, Spencer

Alicia Vikander, Blue Bayou

Rachel Zegler, West Side Story

Best Director is next up!

2021 Oscars: A Mid-Year Report

We have somehow reached the midpoint of 2021 and that means it is time to take stock in the Oscar contenders that have been released or screened so far. In short, we are talking about fairly slim pickings.

That is not rare. The bulk of the Best Picture nominees are typically unveiled between September-December of a given year (or in the case of 2020 – January or February of 2021 as well). For the previous Academy Awards, not one of the 8 BP contenders were distributed in the first half of the year. However, 3 of them (The Father, Sound of Metal, Promising Young Woman) premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2020. Another (Sound of Metal) was screened all the way back in September 2019 during Toronto’s festival.

As a reminder, Oscar rules were altered moving forward starting with next year’s ceremony. There will be a fixed number of 10 BP nominees (thank goodness). As I see it, the 2021 Sundance Fest gave us three potential hopefuls in the big race: Sian Heder’s Coda, Rebecca Hall’s Passing, and Fran Kranz’s Mass. 

Coda and Mass, in particular, seem like real possibilities. The former, in addition to a Picture nod, could see itself as a contender for Emilia Jones in Actress and Marlee Matlin in Supporting Actress. The latter sports a quarter of performers (Jason Isaacs, Martha Plimpton, Ann Dowd, Reed Birney) that could find themselves in the mix. Passing, while more of a long shot for BP, features Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga and they will likely be campaigning.

How about movies that didn’t go the Sundance route? The obvious one is In the Heights from Jon M. Chu. The musical garnered glowing reviews when it premiered in theaters and on HBO Max last month. However, its surprisingly lackluster box office grosses may hinder its chances. Time will tell.

There are already three released animated features that could make the final five: The Mitchells vs. the Machines, Luca, and Raya and the Last Dragon. I think the first two have strong chances while Raya is more of a question mark. Flee, which screened at Sundance, was critically hailed and it could find itself competing here and in Documentary Feature.

As for other docs, keep an eye out for Summer of Saul (which actually releases tomorrow) and Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain.

And when we look at below the line categories, there’s Cruella. Costume Design and Makeup and Hairstyling are two derbies where it could not only be nominated, but prevail. I also wouldn’t completely count out Coming 2 America for the same categories. The Sound race is open for A Quiet Place Part II. Godzilla vs. Kong is a hopeful in Visual Effects.

Bottom line: expect nearly all of 2021’s Best Picture players to see their release dates in the next six months. At least two could come from Sundance with Heights hoping its box office fall doesn’t sink its chances.

2020 Oscars Reaction

For a while, it didn’t look like this would be the case… but there were surprises to be had at the 93rd Annual Academy Awards and it wasn’t just about the winners. I didn’t expect Glenn Close to shake her groove thang to the late 1980s classic “Da Butt” by E.U., but it happened and it was pretty darn funny. I certainly didn’t expect Best Picture not to be the last category announced, but it happened in what turned out to be a poor decision. Memo to the Academy: make the biggest race of all the final one. It’s not that complicated.

There were also some unexpected twists in the categories themselves. Let’s get this out of the way: I went 13/20 in my picks. You won’t hear me bragging about that statistic. Until the final few minutes of the program (which did manage to run just a tad long), it started to seem like Nomadland might not be the big winner of the evening. It got there with expected wins in Picture and Chloe Zhao in Director (becoming the second woman to ever nab that prize). The surprise victory was Frances McDormand in Actress. By doing so, she became only the second performer to take that race three times (Katherine Hepburn did it on four occasions). McDormand won over my prediction of Carey Mulligan in Promising Young Woman. Most prognosticators who didn’t pick Mulligan went with Viola Davis in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. 

Nomadland led all films with 3 wins. We had six others with two: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom in Costume Design and Makeup and Hairstyling (correctly picked), Soul for Animated Feature and Score (got that right), Sound of Metal in Sound (yes) and Editing (where I incorrectly had The Trial of the Chicago 7), Mank in Production Design (bingo) and Cinematography (where I had Nomadland), Judas and the Black Messiah with Daniel Kaluuya in Supporting Actor (a no-brainer) and Song (where “Fight for You” was an upset victor and where I had “Speak Now” from One Night in Miami).

And then there’s The Father. Of the 8 Best Picture nominees, it was the only one that I had leaving empty-handed. Instead it took Adapted Screenplay over Nomadland. And then the late speculation of an Anthony Hopkins win over Rainey‘s Chadwick Boseman came to fruition. This really wasn’t a big shocker as Hopkins had just nabbed the BAFTA and this seemed like a genuine possibility. The decision of the producers to save Best Actor for last as opposed to Best Picture seems like they wanted to end on a dramatic note with Boseman getting the posthumous award. That backfired as Hopkins was named and he wasn’t even on video to accept. P.S. – it was Trial of the Chicago 7 that turned out as the lone BP nominee that left with zero hardware.

In other races, Promising Young Woman took Original Screenplay and Another Round won International Feature Film as expected. Same with Tenet in Visual Effects. In one of the better acceptance speeches of the night, Yuh-jung Youn emerged as Supporting Actress in Minari. I picked Time as somewhat of a spoiler choice in Documentary over My Octopus Teacher, but Octopus stood tall.

The team behind this year’s ceremony obviously had their work cut out for them. I appreciate that they mostly met the time limit. Beyond Yuh-jung, Another Round filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg and Chloe Zhao gave standout acceptance remarks. This ceremony itself won’t be too well remembered despite some best efforts… perhaps other than (and I didn’t think the post would end like this) Glenn Close and her surprise dance moves.

Breakdown of wins are as follows:

3 Wins

Nomadland

2 Wins

The Father, Judas and the Black Messiah, Mank, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Soul, Sound of Metal

1 Win

Another Round, Minari, My Octopus Teacher, Promising Young Woman, Tenet

That’s all for now and thank you for following me all along the way in these many months of 2020 Oscar speculation!

2020 Final Oscar Predictions

Blogger’s Note (04/23): After ever more careful consideration, I have decided to change my Best Actress prediction again. I am not reverting back to Carey Mulligan instead of Viola Davis. Did I mention this is a tough category??

Blogger’s Note (04/21): After careful consideration, I have decided to change my Best Actress prediction from my original Monday (04/19) post. Carey Mulligan is out in favor of Viola Davis… no other predictions have changed.

And here we go! After 8 months of lots and lots of speculation, it’s time to make my final picks in the races covering feature length films. I have finished up my 33 posts covering the nominees in Best Picture, Director and the four acting races.

The 93rd Academy Awards airs this Sunday evening. A couple of quick note before delving into the forecasts on the 20 categories. There are surefire frontrunners in a lot of competitions this year and that includes Picture, Director, Supporting Actor, and Supporting Actress (as well as most technical races). The real drama lies in the two leading acting competitions, especially Best Actress.

For each race, I will name my predicted winner and what I believe to be the runner-up. Without further adieu, let’s get to it!

Best Picture

Nominees: The Father, Judas and the Black Messiah, Mank, Minari, Nomadland, Promising Young Woman, Sound of Metal, The Trial of the Chicago 7

Analysis: Nomadland has taken all the precursors it needs to: Globes, SAG, Critics Choice, BAFTA. I would say that in most recent years, there’s been some drama in Best Picture. Not this year. If there’s any chance of an upset, it could be Minari or Promising Young Woman. For a Green Book type of upset, that could be The Trial of the Chicago 7 and that’s what I’m picking as my #2. Yet let me be clear: anything not named Nomadland taking the biggest prize would be a huge upset at this point.

Predicted Winner: Nomadland

Runner-Up: The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Director

Nominees: Lee Isaac Chung (Minari), Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman), David Fincher (Mank), Thomas Vinterberg (Another Round), Chloe Zhao (Nomadland)

Analysis: For reasons expressed above, it’s hard to imagine anyone other than Chloe Zhao getting the gold. She’s won all the precursors and it’s difficult to even name a runner-up (I’ll go Fincher I suppose).

Predicted Winner: Chloe Zhao, Nomadland

Runner-Up: David Fincher, Mank

Best Actress

Nominees: Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), Andra Day (The United States vs. Billie Holiday), Vanessa Kirby (Pieces of a Woman), Frances McDormand (Nomadland), Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman)

Analysis: Ugh. This is literally the most head scratching race of all. There is no favorite as the major precursors have split. Andra Day, in an upset, took the Globe. Carey Mulligan won Critics Choice. Viola Davis is the SAG recipient. Frances Mcdormand is the BAFTA victor. All of those precursors have a good or very good record of predicting the eventual Academy winner. Confused yet? Me too.

Vanessa Kirby is the least likely to take this and it’s not out of the question that she could. Day’s omission from SAG makes it tough for me to predict her. So we are left with Davis, McDormand, and Mulligan and they all could certainly be making a podium trip. With Nomadland almost surely taking Pic and Director and McDormand’s BAFTA win, it’s tempting to pick her. However, she’s won twice already and the last time was just three years ago. Promising Young Woman did very well in grabbing 5 nominations. Mulligan is a highly respected actress who’s only been nominated once before and this is a showy role that got a lot of attention. Davis’s SAG victory makes me lean toward her, but the Academy not giving Rainey a Best Picture nod gives me some pause.

So… my final decision is Mulligan… with zero degree of confidence. There’s great narratives for McDormand, Mulligan, and Davis so roll the dice with your pick and see what happens!

Predicted Winner: Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman

Runner-Up: Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Best Actor

Nominees: Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal), Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), Anthony Hopkins (The Father), Gary Oldman (Mank), Steven Yeun (Minari)

Analysis: For the duration of the precursor season, the late Chadwick Boseman appeared on a glide path to Oscar coronation. That’s until Anthony Hopkins took the BAFTA and made this race considerably more interesting. I will also say that Riz Ahmed has his supporters, but this is a two person race. I do truly believe Hopkins has a very good shot, but I ultimately just can’t pick against Boseman.

Predicted Winner: Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Runner-Up: Anthony Hopkins, The Father

Best Supporting Actress

Nominees: Maria Bakalova (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm), Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy), Olivia Colman (The Father), Amanda Seyfried (Mank), Yuh-jung Youn (Minari)

Analysis: This was a wide open category for a while, but Yuh-jung Youn’s recent victories at SAG and BAFTA came at the right time. There is upset potential from both Maria Bakalova and the eight times nominated and never won Glenn Close, but Youn is the safest pick.

Predicted Winner: Yuh-jung Youn, Minari

Runner-Up: Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Best Supporting Actor

Nominees: 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)

Analysis: Daniel Kaluuya has steamrolled through precursors and this is definitely the easiest pick of the acting derbies. I’m not even the least bit worried about his costar Lakeith Stanfield splitting votes.

Predicted Winner: Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah

Runner-Up: Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (I guess)

Best Original Screenplay

Nominees: Judas and the Black Messiah, Minari, Promising Young Woman, Sound of Metal, The Trial of the Chicago 7

Analysis: If Mulligan doesn’t win Best Actress (which is quite possible), Promising should still walk away with a win here. Minari and Trial are threats, but feeling pretty confident with this one.

Predicted Winner: Promising Young Woman

Runner-Up: The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Adapted Screenplay

Nominees: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, The Father, Nomadland, One Night in Miami, The White Tiger

Analysis: While Nomadland looks like a shoo-in in Picture, I could see The Father threatening it in this race. I’m really tempted to go with it, but I’m sticking with Nomadland. Don’t be surprised if The Father takes this though.

Predicted Winner: Nomadland

Runner-Up: The Father

Best Animated Feature

Nominees: Onward, Over the Moon, A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, Soul, Wolfwalkers

Analysis: Not wasting much word count here. Pixar is dominant in this category. Soul has dominated the other shows.

Predicted Winner: Soul

Runner-Up: Wolfwalkers

Best Documentary Feature

Nominees: Collective, Crip Camp, The Mole Agent, My Octopus Teacher, Time

Analysis: My Octopus Teacher has surprisingly emerged as the favorite due to precursor wins. There’s certainly a narrative for its win as the other more serious selections could split votes. That said, while Octopus is the safe pick, I’m going for a bit of an upset with the acclaimed Time. For those filling out ballots for work and friend pools, Octopus might be the way to go.

Predicted Winner: Time

Runner-Up: My Octopus Teacher

Best International Feature Film

Nominees: Another Round, Better Days, Collective, The Man Who Sold His Skin, Quo Vadis, Aida?

Analysis: It’s going to be Another Round. It’s wrapped up the precursors it needs and it would be foolish to pick against it.

Predicted Winner: Another Round

Runner-Up: Quo Vadis, Aida?

Best Cinematography

Nominees: Judas and the Black Messiah, Mank, News of the World, Nomadland, The Trial of the Chicago 7

Analysis: Mank could be and should be a trendy upset choice, but Nomadland is most likely to grab this.

Predicted Winner: Nomadland

Runner-Up: Mank

Best Costume Design

Nominees: Emma, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Mank, Mulan, Pinocchio

Analysis: Another sturdy frontrunner here with Ma Rainey.

Predicted Winner: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Runner-Up: Emma

Best Film Editing

Nominees: The Father, Nomadland, Promising Young Woman, Sound of Metal, The Trial of the Chicago 7

Analysis: For some time, it looked like this might be the one award Trial would receive. And then Sound of Metal started winning the big precursors. Sound is probably a little ahead by most standards, but I’m still leaning Trial for its flashier editing. This is essentially a coin flip in my view.

Predicted Winner: The Trial of the Chicago 7

Runner-Up: Sound of Metal

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Nominees: Emma, Hillbilly Elegy, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Mank, Pinocchio

Analysis: Another tech race where Rainey seems way out in front.

Predicted Winner: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Runner-Up: Pinocchio

Best Original Score

Nominees: Da 5 Bloods, Mank, Minari, News of the World, Soul

Analysis: Like in Animated Feature, Soul has killed it in the precursors. This is not a tough choice.

Predicted Winner: Soul

Runner-Up: Minari

Best Original Song

Nominees: “Fight for You” from Judas and the Black Messiah, “Hear My Voice” from The Trial of the Chicago 7, “Husavik” from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, “lo si (Seen)” from The Life Ahead, “Speak Now” from One Night in Miami

Analysis: This is a tough choice. I’ve had this nagging feeling that if “Husavik” got in, it could definitely win and I still feel that way. Then there’s Diane Warren who’s behind “lo si”. She’s been nominated 12 times without a win and the overdue factor is real. “Speak Now” is probably the safe choice. I really believe that we could see a surprise here, but I’ll reluctantly stick with Leslie Odom Jr. getting an Oscar for the One Night in Miami track.

Predicted Winner: “Speak Now” from One Night in Miami

Runner-Up: “lo si (Seen)” from The Life Ahead

Best Production Design

Nominees: The Father, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Mank, News of the World, Tenet

Analysis: This is absolutely where Mank should win and that means I think it goes 1/10.

Predicted Winner: Mank

Runner-Up: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Best Sound

Nominees: Greyhound, Mank, News of the World, Soul, Sound of Metal

Analysis: Sound of Metal has had this wrapped up for some time. Plain and simple.

Predicted Winner: Sound of Metal

Runner-Up: Soul

Best Visual Effects

Nominees: Love and Monsters, The Midnight Sky, Mulan, The One and Only Ivan, Tenet

Analysis: This appears to be a two picture battle between The Midnight Sky and Tenet, but the latter seems to have moved fairly comfortably in front.

Predicted Winner: Tenet

Runner-Up: The Midnight Sky

That means I believe the following pictures will walk away with these numbers in terms of victories:

4 Wins

Nomadland

3 Wins

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

2 Wins

Promising Young Woman, Soul

1 Win

Another Round, Judas and the Black Messiah, Mank, Minari, One Night in Miami, Sound of Metal, Tenet, Time, The Trial of the Chicago 7

For the 8 Best Picture hopefuls, I’m projecting that only The Father will go home completely empty-handed (though it could certainly happen to Trial as well).

I will, of course, have a recap up with my thoughts on the show and how I did shortly after Sunday’s ceremony. Stay tuned!