courtesy of Vulture
The Oscars have changed a lot over the span of just a few months. Last year, there was a definite strategy to the game of predictions; regular folks might see one or two movies beforehand and pretend to have predicted “Parasite” would take home best picture. The first month of my three-month preparation period was spent watching all the movies (“Joker” should have beaten “Parasite” for Best Picture), the next was spent listening to podcasts while shoveling the driveway, and the final was spent constructing the Oscars ballot gambling game. On a lucky year there would be four players—my sister, me, our mom, and whichever one of my sister’s friends she convinced to come over—culminating in a startling total of $20 in the gambling pool.
This year, though, the most exciting part about The Golden Globes was Twitter speculating whether Jason Sudeikis was stoned during his speech, and the Oscars were pushed back from the usual February slot to the end of April, a delay that left even true fanatics weary. Luckily, the Oscars has finally arrived for the big show this Sunday and there will undoubtedly be talk of the results in the halls of Edina High School. So, without further adieu, here is my list of predictions for the 93rd Academy Awards.
Best Motion Picture— “Nomadland”
Absolutely no one will be shocked when “Nomadland” wins Best Picture—and this victory will be well-deserved. For the movie that’s already won the Producers Guild, the Golden Globes, and BAFTA top prize, it’ll be a long shot for another film to take its place. But, as everyone is obligated to acknowledge, “1917” won all three of these awards last year right before the famous Parasite steal.
From a content standpoint, “Nomadland” is the clear victor in this scenario. The movie stars Frances McDormand as Fern, a nomad who lives in her van and travels across trailer parks in America after the Great Recession decimates her small town, and tells an important story that has gotten little coverage in film in recent years. The movie manages to convey sadness in a subtle and hopeful light. With the exception of McDormand, most of the people in the film are non-actors telling authentic stories of grief and longing for unbridled freedom. Even people who can’t find comfort in the movie’s emotional cues—though, I’d be hard-pressed to find someone who fits that description—will undoubtedly appreciate the beautiful cinematography of desert landscapes and travel park communities throughout.
Over the past years, though, specifically since the shocking win of “Moonlight” over “La La Land,” it has seemed like the giant overlords that vote on the Academy Awards have been trying to switch up the usual routine. Looking for potential insurgents, “Minari” seems like a good bet. Not only because it has been overlooked and would come as a good shock, but because it covers a very pertinent issue in today’s society. Besides that, it has all the ingredients that go into an Oscars Best Picture. Led by an all-American cast, “Minari” tells the heart-warming story of a Korean-American family chasing the American dream. In the end, though, another “Parasite” seems a long shot away— in fact, I’d be willing to bet all $20 dollars that “Nomadland” will pick up the Best Picture win.
Best Director—Chloe Zhao: “Nomadland”
Even more so than Best Picture, Best Director is the safest category of the night.Chloe Zhao will definitely win for her work in “Nomadland” which has already picked up every major award for directing this year. What’s more, Zhao would be the second woman, the first being Kathryn Bigelow for “The Hurt Locker,” and first woman of color to win the award.
Best Actor—Chadwick Boseman “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
Critics have shown some reserve over who will take home the prize for Best Actor. Anthony Hopkins has received praise across the board for his portrayal as a father with dementia in the movie “The Father.” Hopkins also won the award for the BAFTA. The problem is, Chadwick Boseman is in the category for the last performance before his untimely death. And as a general rule of thumb, you should never nominate a dead person for an award unless they are going to win. Along with that, Hopkins already has an Oscar, and I find it hard to believe that the Oscars would pass up the opportunity to shine praise on Boseman. With that said, Boseman is the frontrunner in this category.
Best Actress—Carey Mulligan, “Promising Young Woman”
Unlike the previous categories, Best Actress is really anyone’s game at this point. It’s hard to imagine McDormand winning her third Oscar when other nominees haven’t yet won, even though her performance is clearly the best. In terms of who can be ruled out, Andra Day is a good bet. Day’s performance in “The United States vs. Billie Holiday” took a wild card win at The Golden Globes but wasn’t nominated at SAG. Critics seem to be thinking that Viola Davis will win, coming fresh off a win at the Screen Actors Guild for her performance in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” This would be her second award, and Davis seems to have everything in the bag in order to win. “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” features about 25 breakdown scenes, centers around a historical figure, and stars in a transformative role. That being said, the possibility of “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” winning both lead actress and actor for a movie that wasn’t even nominated for Best Picture is just too unlikely. In the end, I believe Mulligan will be the upset in this category for her subtle portrayal of grief and a captivating descent into madness.
Best Supporting Actor—Daniel Kaluuya, “Judas and the Black Messiah”
The second easiest category to predict is Best Supporting Actor, which will certainly go to Daniel Kaluuya for his role in “Judas and the Black Messiah.” Kaluuya has already won The Golden Globe, SAG and BAFTA for his impassioned portrayal of revolutionary socialist Black Panther chairman Fred Hampton. “Judas and the Black Messiah” tells an extremely relevant story in the wake of the Derek Chauvin verdict, and there’s no doubt that Kaluuya’s performance will take home the prize.
Best Supporting Actress-Yuh-Jung Youn, “Minari”
Yug-Jung Youn recently won the SAG Award for her portrayal of the spirited grandma in “Minari.” Youn has also won the BAFTA for the category in a viral speech in which she called British people snobby. Then again, Glenn Close has been nominated for the category eight times, and lost every time. However, I don’t think this stands in the way of Youn’s win—sympathy only goes so far for Close.
Original Screenplay—“Promising Young Woman”
Aaron Sorkin has been nominated four times for original screenplay and won the award once. But a lot of people are predicting that he’ll be the victor a second time for his work in “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” which won The Golden Globes and is seen as a potential insurgent for Best Picture. However, Emerald Fennell’s witty and captivating screenplay for “Promising Young Woman” has won the Writer’s Guild Awards for what’s undoubtedly a more unique piece, making her the clear frontrunner.
Adapted Screenplay—“The Father”
Historically, the winner of Best Picture also wins the award for Adapted Screenplay. And in this case, judging on past awards, many critics are betting it will happen again. However, I predict an upset in this category for “The Father.” “The Father” manages to artfully place the audience in the perspective of an old father with dementia in a clear testament to the writers’ prowess. “Nomadland,” on the other hand, has a highly uncommon style of writing. Most of the film was improvised conversations with people on the road, making its editing the real screenplay in this case. “The Father” is also beloved by cinephiles and critics alike, and it’s likely the Academy won’t want to miss a shot to reward it at the Oscars.
“Soul.” Enough said.
In yet another easy category, “Mank” will win for Production Design. Not only is it a period film, but it’s artistic in the most pretentious sense of the word and a Best Picture nominee. The astounding attention to detail in black-and-white Old Hollywood story is bold enough to win the award in a landslide.
Costume Design—“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” has surprisingly picked up all the awards this season over “Emma,” which in any other year would be a sure win with its dazzling collection of 17th century gowns. However, the odds lie in the favor of “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” with its flashy 1920s outfits. If it takes home the Oscar for Costume Design, Ann Roth will become the oldest person ever to win.
Cinematography—Joshua James Richards, “Nomadland”
This is another award that historically goes to the Best Picture winner, and “Nomadland” has a clear path to victory. While it may seem like “Nomadland” has too many predicted wins at this point to take another, its cinematography shouldn’t go understated. Out of all the films, it’s the best looking one, capturing the beauty of a side of the American West that is often overlooked. Any individual frame from the film could make a gorgeous dream-like painting, making it the clear frontrunner to win the award.
Editing—“The Trial of Chicago 7”
Editing is somewhat of a toss up yet again. In this case, it comes down to whether the Oscars will prefer a more flashy or subtle nominee. “The Trial of Chicago 7” is obviously the latter, with its fast pace and cutting edge. However, the “Sound of Metal” won the BAFTA for a far more reserved form of editing. In the end, I think “The Trial of Chicago 7” should be the safest bet. But don’t be surprised by a “Sound of Metal” upset.
Makeup and Hairstyling—“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
“Hillbilly Elegy” might seem like it could win just purely based on how old Glenn Close looks. But don’t let age fool you, because “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” has won all the words in the category this year, and it’s highly likely that it will win another. Viola Davis’ complete transformation in the role is another factor in the movie’s favor.
Sound—“Sound of Metal”
How can a movie with the word “sound” in the title not win? All jokes aside, “Sound of Metal” is all about sound—the subject of the movie is a heavy metal drumming experiencing the grief of gradual hearing loss, and the movie puts you directly in his perspective. I would sell my left foot if any other movie won in this category.
“Tenet” was nominated for surprisingly few awards than one might initially think, as it was one of the only blockbuster movies this year to show in theatres. However, it certainly earned the title of blockbuster. Cristopher Nolan’s action scenes, like always, are visually captivating on every level.
Once again, “Soul” is another obvious winner in the category of Score. It has already taken every other award and the movie itself centers around a musician.
Song—“Speak Now” (“One Night in Miami”)
In the past few years, wins for Lady Gaga and Elton John have set up the Best Song category for high expectations, making this year’s crowd much more niche; four of the nominees don’t play until the end of the film. However, “Speak Now” has won the Critic’s Choice Award and seems to be the winner in this category. Another upset could be “Io Sì (Seen).”
Documentary Feature—“My Octopus Teacher”
“My Octopus Teacher” is a movie that has picked up a substantial following on Netflix, as well as in the awards season. The nature documentary isn’t the most well-reviewed movie of the bunch, but it has won the BAFTA and PGA, and it’s unlikely that the streak will stop there.
International Feature—“Another Round,” Denmark
“Another Round” is yet another clear winner for International Feature. As the only movie of the nominees also nominated for Best Director, it has a strong edge over its competitors.
Live-Action Short—“Two Distant Strangers”
This category is a two-way race between “The Letter Room,” which has more prestige with Oscar Isaac as the star, and “Two Distant Strangers.” “Two Distant Strangers” is a Netflix short about a Black man reliving his murder at the hands of a white cop over and over again. In my opinion, “Two Distant Strangers” isn’t a good live-action short at all. Its theme is incredibly heavy handed and the script will definitely make you cringe. However, the subject matter alone—along with the fact it was the only live-action short I could find on a streaming platform— places it as the clear frontrunner for me.
Animated Short—“If Anything Happens I Love You”
“If Anything Happens I Love You” has the most emotional depth of the nominees in this category, telling the story of two parents grieving the loss of their child who died in a school shooting. Given the fact that I haven’t seen any of the other animated shorts and I have heard the most buzz about “If Anything Happens I Love You,” I’m sure that it will pick up the award.
Documentary Short—“A Love Song for Latasha”
At long last, the final category! In another highly contested race, nearly any nominee could win. “A Concerto Is a Conversation,” is a heartwarming short about the relationship between composer Kris Bowers and his grandfather which premiered in the New York Times. “A Love Song for Latasha,” on the other hand, is about the death of a Black teenager shortly before the Los Angeles riots. The documentary is heartfelt and sad in all the right moments, and given its relevance to today’s society it’s sure to pick up the award.