Oscar 2021: who will win?

Online or offbeat releases, virtual events, postponed ceremonies … yes, the 2020 cinema year has certainly brought its share of challenges and strangeness. Yet in such a chaotic year, the need for benchmarks and milestones is probably even greater. Among them, the Oscar night (Sunday, April 25) is a barometer. So let’s play, despite everything, the big game of predictions for a few categories.

Director Chloé Zhao speaks via video conference during the BAFTA ceremony. Photo: BAFTA / Reuters

For best film, are nominated :

  • The Father, by Florian Zeller
  • Judas and the Black Messiah, by Shaka King
  • Mank, by David Fincher
  • Minari, by Lee Isaac Chung
  • Nomadland, by Chloé Zhao
  • Promising Young Woman, from Emerald Fennell
  • Sound of Metal, by Darius Marder
  • The Trial of the Chicago 7, by Aaron Sorkin

Two thousand and twenty marked the triumph of the marvelous Parasite, by Bong Joon Ho. And to continue this new event tradition, nothing better than to crown Chloé Zhao and her Nomadland. It would be a first (what, a woman can make the best film of the year?), But above all, a logical crowning after a year of winning everything (Venice, Toronto, Golden Globes …) and a feat for this young director, the first in history to collect four nominations in the same year.

Actress Frances McDormand in Nomadland.
Nomadland, the latest film from director Chloé Zhao. Photo: Searchlight Pictures

For the best achievement, are nominated :

  • Thomas Vinterberg for Another Round (Breathalyzer)
  • David Fincher for Mank
  • Lee Isaac Chung for Minari
  • Chloé Zhao for Nomadland
  • Emerald Fennell for Promising Young Woman

The surprise presence of Thomas Vinterberg should not change the situation too much, and here again, we can imagine the Oscars making history by rewarding Chloé Zhao, who would only be the second woman to win (after Kathryn Bigelow) and the first of Asian origin.

A woman talks to a man who is sitting in an armchair.
Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman in a scene from the movie “The Father” Photo: Trademark Films, Cine @, AG Studios NYC, Embankment Films, F Comme Film, Film4 and Viewfinder

For best actor, are nominated :

  • Riz Ahmed in Sound of Metal
  • Chadwick Boseman in My Rainey’s Black Bottom
  • Anthony Hopkins in The Father
  • Gary Oldman in Mank
  • Steven Yeun in Minari

Of course, the death of Chadwick Boseman at age 42 last August has grabbed somebody’s mind, and the Academy might want to mark the occasion (he’s the seventh in history to get a posthumous nomination). Nevertheless, to all credit, and even if this victory did not reflect the real diversity of the nominations, Anthony Hopkins, overwhelming as an old man with Alzheimer’s, should win. It would be his second, after the one obtained for his terrifying Dr. Lecter!

A woman (Andra Day) with a huge white flower in her hair, in front of a microphone.
The United States Vs Billie Holiday, by Lee Daniels Photo: Seville films

For best actress, are nominated :

  • Viola Davis in My Rainey’s Black Bottom
  • Andra Day in The United States vs. Billie Holiday
  • Vanessa Kirby in Pieces of a Woman
  • Frances McDormand in Nomadland
  • Carey Mulligan in Promising Young Woman

This is THE race to follow this year. Each of the named could easily win; So it will be a choice of the heart: Andra Dray, who has already had the Golden Globes and who is overwhelming, feverish and charismatic in Billie Holiday (in addition to singing superbly), in a film not quite up to her performance .

Nomadland movie poster
TIFF will present Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland, starring Frances McDormand – a film premiered simultaneously by TIFF, the Venice Film Festival and the New York Film Festival.
Photo: Courtesy

For the best adapted screenplay, are nominated :

  • Sacha Baron Cohen and his co-scriptwriters for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
  • Florian Zeller and Christopher Hampton for The Father
  • Chloé Zhao for Nomadland
  • Kemp Powers for One Night in Miami
  • Ramin Bahrani for The White Tiger

And why not the treble! Even if Florian Zeller can create a surprise, the talent of Chloé Zhao which is bursting in everyone’s eyes this year should ensure that she succeeds in the feat: best film, best director and best adapted screenplay!

Actress Carey Mulligan in the movie Promising Young Woman.
Actress Carey Mulligan stars in the film Promising Young Woman directed by Emerald Fennell. Photo: Focus Features

For Best Original Screenplay, are nominated :

  • Will Berson, Shaka King, Keith Lucas and Kenny Lucas for Judas and the Black Messiah
  • Lee Isaac Chung for Minari
  • Emerald Fennell for Promising Young Woman
  • Derek Cianfrance, Abraham Marder, Darius Marder for Sound of Metal
  • Aaron Sorkin for The Trial of the Chicago 7

The soothing Minari, the claimant Promising Young Woman or history The Trial of Chicago 7? The choice is difficult, and if the heart chooses more spontaneously Emerald Fennell (if only for his acuteness in capturing the zeitgeist), the Academy is likely to find its slippers by rewarding the star screenwriter Aaron Sorkin. (for his worst film…).

A cartoon character, wearing a hat and glasses.
Soul, by Pete Docter Photo: Disney

For the best animated film, are nominated :

  • Onward, by Dan Scanlon
  • Over the moon, by Glen Keane
  • Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, by Will Becher and Richard Phelan
  • Drunk, by Pete Docter
  • Wolfwalkers, by Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart

Wolfwalkers, original and moving, was a nice surprise. But we’ll eat our hats if the reward escapes Drunk, the latest musical and philosophical creation of Pete Docter (already twice laureate for Up there and Upside down)

Gary Oldman in the movie
Gary Oldman in the movie “Mank” Photo: Netflix

For the best photo direction, are nominated :

  • Sean Bobbitt for Judas and the Black Messiah
  • Erik Messerschmidt for Mank
  • Dariusz Wolski for News of the World
  • Joshua James Richards for Nomadland
  • Phedon Papamichael for The Trial of the Chicago 7

Refined black and white, abundant stylistic effects, textural effects, careful compositions and angles… the work of Erik Messerchmidt, a tribute as much as a gratuitous imitation to the work of the immense cinematographers of great Hollywood, should logically be rewarded.

The Oscar ceremony will take place on Sunday April 25.

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Oscar 2021: who will win?

Hank Gilbert