The Oscar Awards Ceremony is tomorrow and it is time for my annual predictions of who will win in each of the major categories. I didn’t do so well last year, getting only eight of the 24 categories correct. (I did better the two previous years, but still guessing only a third isn’t all that great). Maybe this year will bring my average back up.
My predictions of who will win in each category is not the same thing as which movie I think is best. The academy voters aren’t necessarily like me (or the rest of us for that matter) and they have their own set of criteria for what makes or breaks a film, or a person, in each category. And, of course, I make my predictions long before I’ve even seen most of these films – this year I have only seen seven out of the 41 feature-length nominated films and none of the shorts. However, in some ways not seeing the film gives me an advantage in making the prediction because it largely eliminates my own personal preference from the equation. I base my prediction largely on what I have read about the reactions to the films, what the hype is all about, and what political pressures are acting on the voters (like the surging demands for more diversity in both Oscar nominations and ad awards). So with all those caveats, here we go:
The Shorts –
“If Anything Happens I Love You” – Animated Short
“Two Distant Strangers” – Live-Action Short
“A Concerta is a Conversation” – Documentary Short
The shorts are particularly difficult if you haven’t seen them simply because there isn’t a whole lot of information about them. I’ve made my guesses (and that’s definitely all they are, largely because of the title or the fact that they are available on Netflix. But if you like something else better, go for it.
Documentary Feature – “My Octopus Teacher”
I’ve written an entire documentary genre review where I discuss my reasons (this is the only category where I have seen all of the films), but basically I think the voters are going to go for something as politically neutral as possible – 2020 was already too full of stressful politics. It doesn’t hurt that the film is both beautiful and moving to watch.
International Feature – “Another Round”
I’ve seen Collective (Romania) and it is a powerful documentary. I have also heard that Quo Vadis, Aida? (Bosnia/Herzegovina) and Another Round (Denmark) have received rave reviews. Because of the same reason Collective doesn’t win the Documentary Oscar, I don’t think it will win here either. Between the other two it is a tough call, but I’m kind of thinking that the subject of drinking in Another Round might make it a strong contender.
Animated Feature – “Soul”
You don’t have to say more than that it is from Pixar/Disney and they almost always win when they have an entry. It also doesn’t hurt that it was nominated for Original Score and Sound meaning that it has found followers in other technical fields.
The ‘minor’ categories:
Sound – “Sound of Metal”
Films about making music often win in this category (which is a combination of previous categories of Sound Mixing and Sound Editing). Furthermore the story line of this movie (about a musician going deaf) makes the sound work particularly intriguing.
Original Score – “Minari”
I’ve been listening, off and on, to the five soundtracks for the movies nominated in this category and the most unique sound seems to be this one. It helps that this movie was also a Best Picture nominee. But Soul could also pose a surprise winner.
Original Song – “Speak Now” (“One Night in Miami”)
This is the one category that I think should be eliminated. It is a pet peeve of mine that most of the time (this year four out of the five) songs don’t even appear until the ending credits. I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that songs should really contribute to the construction of the film itself, not be an afterthought. So this is a tough one for me. I’m going with One Night in Miami only because it is sung by Leslie Odom, Jr. and he has also received an acting nomination.
Makeup/Hairstyling – “ Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
This one could be really competitive but I think it will come down to either “Ma Rainey…” or Mank. The former because of strong efforts to diversify the awards and the academy, the latter because it is a movie about Hollywood and the academy loves to recognize itself.
Costume Design – “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
Normally costume goes to a Victorian period film, in which case “Emma” would be favored. But I’m kind of thinking that with this year’s focus on diversity that maybe voters will reach out for something a little different.
Production Design – “Mank”
See the comments about Makeup/Hairstyling. This one could also go either way so I’m picking the other one just so we can have something else pick up an Oscar.
Visual Effects – “Tenet”
I’ve seen Mulan and really wasn’t all that impressed. The other three movies are relatively unknown, and weren’t nominated in any other category while Tenet was also nominated for Production Design. Tenet has also been highly promoted and that probably has some impact.
Film Editing – “Nomadland”
Watch this one closely because it is often correlated with wins in the ‘major’ categories. And it is a close race, according to Oscar buzz. I’ve only seen Promising Young Woman and that was well done. I think Nomadland has the edge, but it could also be The Father.
Cinematography – “Nomadland”
Everything I’ve read points to this movie winning if for nothing more than its stunning shots of impressive American landscapes.
The Major Categories:
Supporting Actress – Yuh-Jung Youn, “Minari”
This is always a tough category and it is a crying shame that Glenn Close might lose yet again (I believe it is her eighth loss), but I understand the Minari performance is terrific and she would be an important victory for diversity in the academy.
Supporting Actor – Daniel Kaluuya, “Judas and the Black Messiah”
The big question is whether Stanfield and Kaluuya (both in Judas and the Black Messiah) end up canceling each other out. If not, then I’m guessing Kaluuya will take it (although he probably belongs in the leading actor category). If they do cancel each other, then it just might go to Odom.
Leading Actor – Chadwick Boseman, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
This would be a posthumous award and everyone believes that he earned it with this performance.
Leading Actress – Viola Davis, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
Carey Mulligan was terrific in Promising Young Woman and Frances McDormand is always good, but I’m guessing that Viola Davis, propelled by all the buzz about the movie, will take the Oscar.
Adapted Screenplay – “Nomadland”
Not having seen the movies is a real problem in trying to evaluate the script, but the buzz is for either The Father or Nomadland. I think the momentum might be with the latter.
Original Screenplay – “Minari”
Promising Young Woman is exceptional, but this is Ferrell’s first attempt, so she has a long Oscar future ahead of her. Good things abound about the other three movies, but I’m thinking that the subject of “Minari” propels it to victory.
Director – “Nomadland”
Ditto about Ferrell from above. I think Chao has a strong advantage here because awarding a win to a woman of color is long overdue in the Oscars and I think the Academy is ready to make that leap. It doesn’t hurt that, the buzz is that she did an exceptional job steering this effort to a remarkable conclusion.
Best Picture – “Nomadland”
Let’s see here, if it wins for its direction, script, cinematography, and editing what’s the reason it isn’t the Best Picture?
So there you have it. I’ll write a brief wrap up after the Oscars to assess where I went wrong, but for now, these are my predictions.