It’s been a movie year like no other, but even with the COVID pandemic scuttling many cinema releases, the Oscars have nominated a slate of exciting, deserving and beautifully crafted films.
It’s the most diverse crop of nominees with smaller, independent films given the room to breathe without big budget blockbusters taking up all the space. What’s been allowed to surface are different stories of different life experiences, made by talented filmmakers and performers.
Who will win on the night? Here are our predictions – including in the one crazy-making race that is wide open.
Promising Young Woman
Sound of Metal
In a competitive field of eight, Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland, a ruminative film about Americans on the road chasing itinerant work from place to place is the current frontrunner, having won most of the precursor awards. The most important of these is the Producers Guild Award, which has picked two out of three Oscar winners for 31 years.
But there may be a spoiler in The Trial of the Chicago 7, with its starry ensemble cast which won the main award at SAGs while the soulful Minari, an immigrant family story, would be a surprising but well-deserving winner.
Could win:The Trial of the Chicago 7
Deserves to win:Nomadland
Lee Isaac Chung, Minari
Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman
David Fincher, Mank
Thomas Vinterberg, Another Round
A historic year with two women nominated in a category that has only ever recognised five women previously in its 93-year history, Chinese director Chloe Zhao looks to become the second woman to win for Nomadland.
If anyone is going to spoil her party, it may be director Lee Isaac Chung, who made the deeply personal and affecting Minari, a story about a Korean-American immigrant family in the 1980s.
Should win: Chloe Zhao, Nomadland
Could win: Lee Isaac Chung, Minari
Deserves to win: Chloe Zhao, Nomadland
Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal
Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Anthony Hopkins, The Father
Gary Oldman, Mank
Steven Yeun, Minari
This category has been the late Chadwick Boseman’s to lose, having picked up almost every accolade for his role as the fiery Levee in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. It would be a fitting capper to an illustrious career cut too short.
The only surprise would be if Anthony Hopkins manages to come from behind after his BAFTAs win for The Father, a movie that seems to breaking late in the awards campaign. Hopkins has previously won an Oscar for The Silence of the Lambs.
Should win: Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Could win: Anthony Hopkins, The Father
Deserves to win: Steven Yeun, Minari
Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Andra Day, The United States vs Billie Holiday
Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman
Frances McDormand, Nomadland
This is the category that’s driving everyone wild. It’s been years since the race has been so open with each contender having won an honour in the lead-up – Carey Mulligan won the National Board of Review, Frances McDormand the BAFTA, Andra Day the Golden Globe, Viola Davis the SAG and Vanessa Kirby at Venice Film Festival.
So, it’s really anyone’s game. Carey Mulligan had a lot of momentum going into the season for her incendiary performance in Promising Young Woman but it hasn’t converted to a lot of wins.
Should win: Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman
Could win: Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Deserves to win: Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
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
Judas and the Black Messiah’s Daniel Kaluuya looked like a lock, sweeping the awards circuit for his performance as Chairman Fred Hampton. Some argue that Kaluuya’s role is more a lead than a supporting one, but that really speaks to the power of his performance, a careful balance between the quiet thoughtful character whose public persona inspired thousands.
But then his co-star Lakeith Stanfield was nominated in the same category (which hasn’t happened in any other awards race) which could split the vote, leaving the door open for Sacha Baron Cohen to sneak in.
Should win: Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah
Could win: Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7
Deserves to win: Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Film
Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy
Olivia Colman, The Father
Amanda Seyfried, Mank
Yuh-jung Youn, Minari
This category seemed uncertain for a long time with momentum oscillating between newcomer Maria Bakalova for her bold and vulnerable comedic performance in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm while there’s always love for Glenn Close who’s now onto her eighth nomination and no win, but her film Hillbilly Elegy was dreadful.
However, after the most recent round of lead-up awards including SAGs and BAFTAs, support seems to be converging for South Korean actor Yuh-Jung Youn as the loving and quirky grandma in Minari.
Should win: Yuh-jung Youn, Minari
Could win: Olivia Colman, The Father
Deserves to win: Yuh-jung Youn, Minari
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Judas and the Black Messiah
Promising Young Woman
Sound of Metal
The Trial of the Chicago 7
This is a two-horse race between Hollywood screenwriting powerhouse Aaron Sorkin for The Trial of the Chicago 7 and Emerald Fennell for the provocative Promising Young Woman.
Sorkin has previously won for writing The Social Network and Fennell looks good to win here if Best Actress doesn’t go to Carey Mulligan because voters will want to award Promising Young Woman something.
Should win: Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman
Could win: Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7
Deserved to win: Lee Isaac Chung, Minari
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
One Night in Miami
Chloe Zhao adapted Nomadland from a nonfiction book that explored van-lifers across the American heartland, an almost anthropological look at those left behind by capitalism or chose to step out of it. It’s a hard task melding those nonfictional elements which included real-life nomads who played themselves on screen with characters created for the film, but Zhao’s script is seamless.
The most likely challenger looks to be One Night in Miami, which Kemp Powers adapted from his own stage play, injecting a dynamism to something that could’ve come off as staid. Also, don’t discount Florian Zeller and Christopher Hampton’s script for The Father.
Will win: Chloe Zhao, Nomadland
Could win: Kemp Powers, One Night in Miami
Deserves to win: Chloe Zhao, Nomadland
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon
Pixar has dominated this category since its inception 20 years ago and this year is no different. There are two Pixar movies nominated – Soul and Onward – but the award is widely expected to go to Soul, with speculation the Jamie Foxx-voiced film was close to cracking the Best Picture category.
Deserves to win:Soul
BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM
Another Round, Denmark
Better Days, Hong Kong
The Man Who Sold His Skin, Tunisia
Quo Vadis, Aida?, Bosnia and Herzegovina
A deserving crop of movies to be sure, and the nomination of one of them (Better Days from Hong Kong) has led to China issuing a diktat that the Oscars ceremony cannot be broadcast live within the mainland.
But the favourite here is Another Round from Denmark, which enjoys wide support among Oscar voters given that its director Thomas Vinterberg snuck into the Best Director race.
Should win:Another Round
Deserves to win:Quo Vadis, Aida?
Best Editing:The Father deserves to win for how the editing shaped Anthony Hopkins’ character’s confusion, but will probably go to The Trial of the Chicago 7’s manic protest scenes.
Best Cinematography: Toss-up between Nomadland’s soft American heartland aesthetic and Mank’s black-and-white recreation of the Golden Age of Hollywood.
Best Production Design: Would be great to see The Father take this as one of only two contemporary films nominated in this category in the past two decades, and the shifting space of the apartment was central to the story. But Mank looks like the favourite here.
Best Original Score: Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor are nominated twice here but they’ll likely prevail for the Soul score, which they collaborated on with musician Jon Batiste.
Best Original Song: The sentimental favourite here is Eurovision’s “Husavik”, a song that was integral to the story and character arc but Leslie Odom Jr’s “Speak Now” for One Night in Miami is the actual favourite.
Best Sound: Look for Sound of Metal to prevail, a movie that’s hinged on the experience of sound (or lack of) in its story about a drummer who rapidly loses his hearing.
Best Make-up Design and Hairstyling:Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom has this in the bag, especially for Viola Davis’ striking jazz age look.
Best Costume Design: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is the favourite but don’t discount Emma’s lush, candy-coloured threads.
Best Documentary Feature: Collective, a Romanian movie about journalists uncovering corruption, and Time, a doco about a woman fighting for her husband’s freedom are the frontrunners, but the populist My Octopus Teacher may surprise.
Best Documentary Short Subject:A Love Song for Latasha is the favourite here.
Best Live Action Short Film:If Anything Happens to You is hoping to prevail over Pixar’s Burrow.
The Oscars will be broadcast on Channel 7 on Monday, April 26 at 10am AEST. Before, that, Tune into E! on Foxtel from 7am to watch all the red carpet action. Follow the live coverage on news.com.au
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