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Oscars 2021: The Final Predictions

by Diego Andaluz
A collage of Promising Young Woman, director Chloé Zhao, and Minari, all in our final predictions for the 2021 Oscars.

It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for. The 93rd annual Academy Awards take place this Sunday, marking the final ceremony of the 2021 awards season (in film). Commonly known as the Oscars, various chaotic races seem to have been defined this year, while others have arguably become the most unpredictable in well over a decade. Fret not, Awards Editor Diego Andaluz is here to guide the way one last time and give you a leg up for the final ceremony. With these final predictions for the 2021 Oscars, will the previously mentioned frontrunners still lead the way? Let’s find out!

The number 1 slots are reserved for who we firmly believe will be striking gold on Sunday, April 25th. The films under our predicted winners in bold are runner-ups ranked in how likely they are to cause an upset. Read along to see all the categories with more analysis as to how events will unfold the 2021 Oscars! You can also find the final winners for the 2021 Golden Globes, Critics Choice Awards, SAG Awards, and BAFTAs on DiscussingFilm.

Best Picture

Frontrunners:  
1. Nomadland – WINNER 
2. The Trial of the Chicago 7 

Next In Line: 
3. Promising Young Woman
4. Minari
5. Judas and The Black Messiah 
6. The Father 

Other Nominees:
7. Mank 
8. Sound of Metal 

What was once an up-in-the air race has fully solidified itself in the past few months. Before the major industry precursors, many experts (including myself) were doubtful about whether or not Nomadland could fully translate its critical success to awards gold. Yet by now, Nomadland has won at virtually every precursor (bar SAG, which went to The Trial Of The Chicago 7), consolidating its status as an awards juggernaut.

However, while near-sweep races haven’t always ended well for the frontrunner (look at La La Land and 1917), the films that upset them were indie breakout hits. While Trial’s SAG victory and award-friendly nature could possibly squeak it a la Green Book over Roma, Green Book had a PGA award under its belt. In this case, with Nomadland being both the industry-favored juggernaut and an outstanding critical hit, it’s by far the most likely to emerge victorious on Oscar Night.

Best Actor

Frontrunners: 
1. Anthony Hopkins (The Father) – WINNER
2. Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) – NEXT IN LINE

Next In Line: 
3. Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal)

Other Nominees: 
4. Steven Yeun (Minari)
5. Gary Oldman (Mank)

Once again a two horse race, in the past weeks this category has become complex once more. On one side, Chadwick Boseman’s heartbreaking final performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom had been gaining important precursor steam. Nabbing the Golden Globe, SAG, and Critic’s Choice for the category, his powerful narrative has taken many by storm. However, along with the fact that Boseman’s performance is in a film without a Best Picture nomination (no actor has won this category without a Picture Nomination since Jeff Bridges in 2009), there’s a few other factors that could result in Anthony Hopkins taking the crown.

Nabbing a BAFTA win that has helped set the stage for narrative upsets in recent years (such as Olivia Colman’s win in 2019), Hopkin’s performance has already built overwhelming audience praise due to its recent wide release. Additionally, we’ve heard of some Academy members foregoing Boseman’s narrative to pick Hopkins. Despite the small sampling size, it must be noted that this does show a base for industry passion that could flip the results in Hopkins’ favor. Banking on Ma Rainey‘s lack of passion in the overall nominations, Hopkins could most likely be having his name called on Oscar night. 

Best Actress

Frontrunners: 
1. Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman) – WINNER
2. Andra Day (The United States vs Billie Holliday)
3. Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom)

Next In Line:
4. Frances McDormand (Nomadland)

Other Nominees: 
5. Vanessa Kirby (Pieces of A Woman)

Perhaps the toughest race of the entire season, each of the top four contenders all have a competitive chance of bringing home Oscar gold. Andra Day’s Golden Globe win is a great bellwheter, along with the Academy’s affinity for young ingenues, if not for her other crucial precursor misses. Frances McDormand’s BAFTA win as the on-screen face of the likely Best Picture winner works in her favor, but her previous two Oscar wins have many reluctant to give her a third.

Meanwhile, Viola Davis’s emotional SAG win could go far, yet the lack of passion for the film along with a focus on Boseman could hurt her chances overall. Carey Mulligan’s critical favoritism, along with the outstanding BAFTA passion, has resulted in her becoming the face of a film with much industry love that the Academy could award here, despite losses at the Globes and SAG. While it’s anyone’s to nab, Mulligan will likely emerge victorious with the Academy’s track record of finding ways to award the films they love but can’t make room for in Best Picture.

Best Supporting Actress

Frontrunners:
1. Yuh Jung-Youn (Minari) – WINNER

Next In Line: 
2. Maria Bakalova (Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm)
3. Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy)
4. Olivia Colman (The Father)

Other Nominees: 
5. Amanda Seyfried (Mank)

Viewed as the toughest race of the season for a lengthy period of time, the recent SAG and BAFTA awards seem to have cleared the waters for one name: Yuh Jung-Youn. Picking up both titles with a sense of lovable charm akin to the character she plays, her recent surge in support serves as a way for the Academy to honor a film that will most likely be shut out everywhere else. While Maria Bakalova (CCA winner), Glenn Close (8-time nominee with an overdue narrative), and Olivia Colman (previous winner in a film that is peaking at the right time) all still have a chance, this category is Yuh’s to lose.

Best Supporting Actor

Frontrunners: 
1. Daniel Kaluuya (Judas And The Black Messiah) – WINNER

Next In Line:
2. Sacha Baron Cohen (The Trial of The Chicago 7)
3. Leslie Odom Jr. (One Night In Miami)
4. Paul Raci (The Sound of Metal)

Other Nominees:
5. Lakeith Stanfield – Judas And The Black Messiah

The only acting nominee to have had a clean sweep from start to finish, Daniel Kaluuya is positioned to win the Best Supporting Actor race in yet another clearly defined category of the night. While it’s possible that LaKeith Stanfield’s surprise presence could result in vote splitting for Sacha Baron Cohen, Lesli Odom Jr, or Paul Raci to prevail, that outcome is one that is highly unlikely to happen, so expect to see Kaluuya’s name called here. 

Best Director

Frontrunner:
1. Chloe Zhao (Nomadland) – WINNER

Next In Line:
2. Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman)
3. David Fincher (Mank)

Other Nominees:
4. Lee Isaac Chung (Minari)
5. Thomas Vinterberg (Another Round)

Another clearly defined race, Chloe Zhao’s powerhouse direction has not missed a single beat when it comes to award wins. Setting a record for the most-awarded individual in a single race (50), her direction has won her the top prize at the Golden Globes, Critics Choice, and more. While a Hooper-like upset from David Fincher was in the cards for a bit, Zhao’s DGA win all but eliminated any chance of that happening. 

OTHER CATEGORIES: 

Original Screenplay

1. Promising Young Woman – WINNER
2. The Trial of the Chicago 7 – NEXT IN LINE
3. Minari
4. Judas and the Black Messiah
5. Sound of Metal

Adapted Screenplay

1. The Father – WINNER
2. Nomadland – NEXT IN LINE
3. Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm
4. One Night in Miami
5. The White Tiger

Animated Feature

1. Soul – WINNER
2. Wolfwalkers – NEXT IN LINE
3. Over The Moon
4. Onward
5. A Shaun The Sheep Movie: Farmageddon

Documentary Feature

1. My Octopus Teacher – WINNER
2. Time
3. Crip Camp
4. The Mole Agent
5. Collective

International Feature

1. Another Round – WINNER
2. Quo Vadis Aida? 
3. Better Days
4. Collective
5. The Man Who Sold His Skin 

Editing

1. The Trial of the Chicago 7 – WINNER
2. Sound of Metal
3. The Father
4. Nomadland
5. Promising Young Woman

Cinematography

1. Nomadland – WINNER
2. Mank
3. News of The World
4. Judas and The Black Messiah
5. The Trial of The Chicago 7

Original Score

1. Soul – WINNER
2. Minari
3. Mank
4. News of the World
5. Da 5 Bloods

Production Design

1. Mank – WINNER
2. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
3. The Father
4. News of the World
5. Tenet

Costume Design

1. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – WINNER
2. Emma
3. Mank
4. Mulan
5. Pinocchio

VFX

1. Tenet – WINNER
2. The Midnight Sky
3. Love and Monsters
4. The One And Only Ivan 
5. Mulan

Sound

1. Sound of Metal – WINNER
2. Greyhound
3. Mank
4. Soul
5. News of The World 

Makeup and Hairstyling

1. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – WINNER
2. Pinocchio
3. Hillbilly Elegy
4. Emma
5. Mank

Original Song

1. Speak Now – One Night In Miami – WINNER
2. Io Sì (Seen) – The Life Ahead – NEXT IN LINE
3. Fight For You – Judas and The Black Messiah
4. Hear My Voice – The Trial Of The Chicago 7
5. Husavik – Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

Live-Action Short

1. Two Distant Strangers – WINNER
2. The Letter Room
3. Feeling Through
4. The Present
5. White Eye

Documentary Short

1. Colette – WINNER
2. A Love Song for Latasha
3. A Concerto Is A Conversation
4. Hunger Ward
5. Do Not Split

Animated Short

1. If Anything Happens I Love You – WINNER
2. Burrow
3. Genius Loci
4. Opera
5. Yes-People

The Final Award Winners of 2021:

Follow Awards Editor Diego Andaluz on Twitter: @thediegoandaluz

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