2021 Academy Award Nomination Predictions Or, Who Really Knows Anything Anymore
We finally made it, you guys. There were parts of me that didn’t think we would make it here, but we did. Today is Oscar Sunday.
Think about where we were a year ago (the ceremony is taking place later than it has before, at least in my lifetime)- the pandemic had taken hold, movie theaters had shut down, and gatherings similar to this were severely in doubt. But after 13 long months, we have a slate of nominees, and things are scheduled to proceed as planned Sunday night in Hollywood.
I want to give a couple shoutouts before I carry on with my predictions:
Shoutout to the streaming services I watched this year- Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, HBO Max, Disney+, etc. You guys are the real MVPs for keeping us entertained and for making things accessible to us this year.
Shoutout to the city of Stamford, Connecticut, for having your movie theaters open so I could see a few of them in person. Your city and your cinemas are cuuuuuuute.
And finally, shoutout to the Academy for being smart enough to push this ceremony off as late as you could without being egregious. Should it probably be virtual? Probably. But we’re at a point now where many, many people are vaccinated. I’m sure it’s going to be done as safely as it can.
Or maybe I’m just completely blinded by the fact that we actually have the Oscars and I’m just recklessly excited for the event.
In any event, here's what we've seen from the rest of awards season since I last saw you.
Gay Oldman (center) in "Mank."
Netflix's Mank leads the way with 10 nominations, including those for its leading actor (Gary Oldman), its supporting actress (Amanda Seyfried), and its director (David Fincher). Now, again, I didn't really like Mank, but 10 nominations is nothing to scoff at. There is a good chance that it could sneak in and grab a couple of these awards, including some of the technical awards, as it is the only black-and-white film nominated this year. We'll see how the Academy chooses to honor it (or not).
Chadwick Boseman is in the conversation for leading actor, but not for Da 5 Bloods as previously predicted. No, he's nominated for his role in another Netflix film, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.
Chadwick Boseman (center) has garnered a Golden Globe for Best Actor for his role in the Netflix film "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom"
Boseman is the favorite for the award, but he faces some strong competition, including Gary Oldman, as well as a strong performance from Riz Ahmed in Sound of Metal, and a dark horse of the race, Anthony Hopkins, who plays an elderly British man suffering from dementia in The Father. Best Actor will be the most interesting award of the night.
Frances McDormand in "Nomadland."
But all eyes are on Nomadland, which has many of the Best Picture Awards so far, including the Golden Globes and the BAFTAs, the two biggest indicators of the Academy Award for Best Picture. While Frances McDormand has started to fall away from the front of the Best Actress race (I'll get to that in a minute), Chloe Zhao seems poised to become only the second woman to win Best Director. In my humble opinion, I think Nomadland stands a real chance of being upset, just because I feel like more films have gained some momentum during the latter half of Oscar season.
But who am I to judge? I just write the blog. And I haven't been to a movie theatre in four months.
In any case, please enjoy my predictions for the proceedings at the 93rd Academy Awards.
Lee Isaac Chung's "Minari," from A24.
The Father (Sony Pictures Classics)
Judas and the Black Messiah (Warner Bros.)
Nomadland (Fox Searchlight)
Promising Young Woman (Focus)
Sound of Metal (Amazon)
The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Netflix)
Without any waiting- I’m picking Nomadland to win Best Picture. I think (in addition to being a relatively safe choice) it’s the one film that has the most subtle artistry in it- more than any other film. It's imperfect and raw, and there's something truly beautiful in that. The only other films I could name that come close to matching Nomadland for subtlety are Minari and The Father- and even they have catastrophic events that happen in them.
And while I would love to see the Academy pick a film that’s a bit more in your face in the way that Judas and the Black Messiah, or Sound of Metal, or even The Trial of the Chicago 7 (to an extent) are, I just can’t see it happening. It’s one thing to pick a film that’s timely, but there’s picking it just because it’s timely and then there’s picking it because it’s timely and good. I believe they got it right last year by picking the best film of the year (Parasite, you remember, it was the best thing to ever happen), and I’m putting it out in the universe that we won’t have any more safe BS for a while. I’m still upset about Green Book, can you tell?
That said- my favorite film of this year was Promising Young Woman, and if I had to pick a reason for it to win, I would say it’s because the film feels fresh. It’s A) a film that people need to see right now; it tells a story from the perspective of someone that deserves to be heard, and B) it tells its story in such a unique way that no other film can hold a candle to (call it bubblegum-revenge-core if you want). It’s got so many layers to it even Shrek is quaking.
Here are my choices in order of preference for Best Picture, just so there’s no confusion:
Promising Young Women
The Trial of the Chicago 7
Sound of Metal
Judas and the Black Messiah
But this is about me being right, not about my heart wanting what it wants. So there ya go. Nomadland wins Best Picture, but I’m putting Promising Young Woman out there so the universe can hear me.
Just, please, for the love of God, not Mank.
Will win:Nomadland Should win: Promising Young Woman Could win: Mank or The Trial of the Chicago 7 Should have been here:Soul
Chloe Zhao (right) directs Frances McDormand (left) in "Nomadland."
Thomas Vinterberg, Another Round
David Fincher, Mank
Lee Isaac Chung, Minari
Chloe Zhao, Nomadland
Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman
Only one other woman has ever won Best Director- until this year, most likely. With each passing day it’s becoming increasingly obvious that Chloe Zhao is going to win Best Director. In such a weird year, it’s really become tough for any of the films this year to keep up their momentum- but Nomadland seems to keep hanging around despite other films winning awards leading up to the Oscars.
Still, despite some NAMES in this category, I think Chloe Zhao has the best shot at winning in this category. Props to the Academy for giving us a very diverse field this year- we love to see names like Emerald Fennell and Lee Isaac Chung in the Best Director field.
Will win: Chloe Zhao, Nomadland Should win: Chloe Zhao, Nomadland Could win: David Fincher, Mank Should have been here: Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7
Riz Ahmed stars as a drummer losing his hearing in "Sound of Metal."
Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal
Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Anthony Hopkins, The Father
Gary Oldman, Mank
Steven Yeun, Minari
I’m conflicted here. I totally understand the want to give the award to Chadwick Boseman. It would honor his entire career by bestowing upon him the most prestigious individual award in American film. He also gives a heck of a performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. I’ve seen a number of people do that monologue of his and he’s the only one who’s ever really gotten it right. If he wins, it’ll be a well-received move by the Academy.
At the same time- how can you discount some of these other performances? Riz Ahmed deserves some recognition for his brilliant work in Sound of Metal, and Anthony Hopkins in The Father is nothing short of a masterstroke. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Ma Rainey, and so I wonder how much of the award that would potentially go to Chadwick is a career achievement award over an award for his performance in this particular movie. You see my dilemma here.
I’m picking Chadwick to win, but I think I’ve stated my case for both Riz Ahmed and Anthony Hopkins... or at least the case against the Ma Rainey actor's Oscar campaign.
Will win: Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom Should win: Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal Could win: Anthony Hopkins, The Father Should have been here: Tom Hanks hasn’t seen a nomination in a while, so let’s throw him in here for News of the World.
Carey Mulligan received acclaim for her performance in "Promising Young Woman."
Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday
Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman
Frances McDormand, Nomadland
Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman
What used to be Frances McDormand’s race has been replaced by the tour de force performance of one Carey Mulligan. In Promising Young Woman, Mulligan plays Cassie, a young woman traumatized by a tragic event in her past, who seeks revenge against those who crossed her path. Mulligan gives an ice-cold performance, killing it in every scene she’s in. She’s like the world's best "villain that you absolutely love to root for".
Frances McDormand is definitely still in the running for Nomadland, but her field just got a lot more crowded, especially when you factor in Andra Day, who won a Golden Globe for playing Billie Holiday in The United States vs. Billie Holiday, not to mention the likes of Vanessa Kirby, who’s been nominated for this award at both the BAFTAs and Golden Globes; and Viola Davis, who has a strong turn as Ma Rainey in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
But seriously, if they don’t give this to Carey Mulligan, heads will roll.
Will win: Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman Should win: Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman Could win: Frances McDormand, Nomadland or Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday
Best Supporting Actor
Daniel Kaluuya won a Golden Globe for "Judas and the Black Messiah." He's now competing with castmate Lakeith Stanfield for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar.
Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7
Daniel Kaluuya, Judas & the Black Messiah
Leslie Odom, Jr., One Night in Miami…
Paul Raci, Sound of Metal
Lakeith Stanfield, Judas and the Black Messiah
Either Daniel Kaluuya or Lakeith Stanfield would be the correct choice for Best Supporting Actor. I think the edge goes to Daniel Kaluuya thanks to that Golden Globe he won at the beginning of awards season, but Lakeith Stanfield’s performances as Bill O’Neal has you skittering and shivering right along with him as his character eventually works his way up to betraying Kaluuya’s Fred Hampton.
Elsewhere, Sacha Baron Cohen didn’t get nominated for playing Borat, but he did get a nod for playing Abbie Hoffman in Chicago 7, so, good for him. Additionally, Paul Raci deserved this Oscar nomination for his kind and reserved performance as Paul in Sound of Metal. This is still a two-horse race, but it’s nice to see some people get nods who clearly deserve them.
Will win: Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah Should win: Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah Could win: Lakeith Stanfield, Judas and the Black Messiah Won’t win but happy he’s here: Paul Raci, Sound of Metal
Best Supporting Actress
Maria Bakalova interviews Rudy Giuliani in "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm"
Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy
Olivia Colman, The Father
Amanda Seyfried, Mank
Youn Yuh-jung, Minari
So I ate my words. Glenn Close got nominated for Hillbilly Elegy, setting up another showdown between her and Olivia Colman. But the spotlight is on Maria Bakalova and her brilliant turn in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm. Bakalova has been the favorite to win, thanks in no small part to her scene with Rudy Giuliani (putting new meaning to the term “Oscar package”).
Recently though, things have shifted towards Youn Yuh-jung and her performance as the feisty Soon-ja in Minari. She’s the betting favorite, and I’m going to stick with my gut and pick her to win as well.
Will win: Youn Yuh-jung, Minari Should win: Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm Could win: Olivia Colman, The Father
Best Original Screenplay
Judas and the Black Messiah- Will Berson & Shaka King
Minari- Lee Isaac Chung
Promising Young Woman- Emerald Fennell
Sound of Metal- Abraham Marder and Darius Marder
The Trial of the Chicago 7- Aaron Sorkin
While it’s surprising that Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial of the Chicago 7 wasn’t nominated for Best Director, it’s not at all surprising that Sorkin’s film was nominated for its screenplay. Minari’s unique approach on the American dream, a semi-biographical take from director Lee Isaac Chung’s childhood, is simple in its appearance, but will sneak up on you and break your heart. Sound of Metal has one of the more unique storylines nominated this year, but I think its success is due more in part to its use of sound than it is from its writing. Judas and the Black Messiah deals a lot of emotional weight and plenty of tension, but I think it drags in places, making it feel like longer than a two-hour film.
My predicted winner is Emerald Fennell’s Promising Young Woman, which feels fresh at every turn, and whose moments of revenge feel earned. If the film wins anything this evening, it should be this one.
Will win: Promising Young Woman - Emerald Fennell Should win: Promising Young Woman- Emerald Fennell Could win: Sound of Metal - Abraham Marder and Darius Marder Should have been here: Soul (Pete Docter, Mike Jones and Kemp Powers) or Palm Springs (Andy Siara)
Best Adapted Screenplay
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm- Sacha Baron Cohen & others (based on the previous film)
The Father- Florian Zeller (based on his play)
Nomadland- Chloe Zhao (based on the book by Jessica Bruder)
One Night in Miami…- Kemp Powers (based on his play)
The White Tiger- Ramin Bahrani (based on the novel by Aravind Adiga)
I hate to be this guy- but if you don’t think Nomadland doesn’t really have a screenplay because it’s a) mostly visual shots and b) a lot of what appears to be improvisation, then you should watch the movie (man I hate using that phrase, I’m sorry). Chloe Zhao’s subtle and poignant script ultimately comes to the conclusion that, no matter who you come into contact with on the highway of life, you’ll eventually see them again “somewhere down the road.” It’s simple but very beautiful.
However, I think The Father’s bending and winding script, adapted by director Florian Zeller from his play of the same name, deserves some recognition. I am flabbergasted by the sheer number of words Anthony Hopkins has to speak in that film. The script is the centerpiece of it all, leaving us just as confused as Hopkins’ character until the very last moments of the film.
Will win: Nomadland - Chloe Zhao Should win: The Father - Florian Zeller Could win: One Night in Miami…- Kemp Powers Should have been here: First Cow (Julia Reichardt and Jonathan Raymond) or I’m Thinking of Ending Things (Charlie Kaufman)
Best International Feature Film
Mads Mikkelson in Thomas Vinterberg's film "Another Round."
Another Round (Denmark)
Better Days (Hong Kong)
The Man Who Sold His Skin (Tunisia)
Quo Vadis, Aida? (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
There is Another Round, and then there is everyone else. Thomas Vinterberg’s thrilling and painful approach to the idea of keeping an elevated blood alcohol level bends into the absurd, but pulls the rug out from under you, nearly drowning you in your sorrow for the poor characters (Mads Mikkelson included) that embark on the journey. I’m also going to throw Collective in here, for no other reason than it’s a documentary that has achieved some widespread acclaim, at least enough to get it into the Best International Feature Film category.
Will win: Another Round (Denmark) Should win: Another Round (Denmark) Could win: Collective (Romania)
Best Animated Feature Film
Over the Moon (Netflix)
A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon (StudioCanal)
Wolfwalkers (Apple TV)
We know it’s Soul’s award to lose here. Pixar’s existential masterpiece faces some competition from the beautifully animated Wolfwalkers, as well as Netflix’s musical fantasy Over the Moon, but I think Soul, for its animation, voice acting, score, and message, has this one firmly locked up. Make some room in the Disney cabinet.
Will win: Soul Should win: Soul Could win: Onward or Wolfwalkers
Best Documentary Feature Film
Netflix's documentary, "My Octopus Teacher."
Collective - Alexander Nanau and Bianca Oana
Crip Camp: a Disability Revolution - Sara Bolder, Jim LeBrecht and Nicole Newnham
The Mole Agent- Maite Alberdi and Marcela Santibáñez
My Octopus Teacher - Pippa Ehrlich, Craig Foster and James Reed
Time - Garrett Bradley, Lauren Domino and Kellen Quinn
On one hand, Collective is also nominated for Best International Feature Film, and you don’t see documentaries nominated for other prizes honoring best films. On the other hand, both Crip Camp and My Octopus Teacher have received critical acclaim, not to mention their Independent Spirit and BAFTA Awards for Best Documentary, respectively. Collective, a film about uncovering corruption in Romania, could either be an incredible film or taking an advantage of a weak International Feature film category. My guess is that My Octopus Teacher takes home the prize. Does Hollywood love to preach about saving the environment? You bet your sweet bippy they do.
Will win: My Octopus Teacher Should win: My Octopus Teacher Could win: Collective
Best Documentary Short Subject
The group of umbrellas is an image found throughout Field of Vision's documentary about the protests in Hong Kong, "Do Not Split."
Collette - Alice Doyard and Anthony Giacchino
A Concerto is a Conversation - Kris Bowers and Ben Proudfoot
Do Not Split - Charlotte Cook and Anders Hammer
Hunger Ward - Skye Fitzgerald and Michael Shueuerman
A Love Song For Latasha - Sophia Nahali Allison and Janice Duncan
Two films stood out to me in the Documentary- Short Subject category: A Love Song For Latasha, which recounts the shooting of a fifteen year old Los Angeles girl in a convenience store, and Field of Vision’s thrilling and chilling Do Not Split, which gives us a first-hand look into the Hong Kong protests of the past year. Other nominees include Collette, which sees a 74-year old French resistance fighter visit the concentration camp where her brother was killed, Hunger Ward, a bleak look at the famine and its effects on two hospitals in Yemen, and A Concerto is a Conversation; a New York Times op-doc about Green Book composer Kris Bowers, and his grandfather, and the trials he faced as a black man growing up in Los Angeles. While I preferred Do Not Split, and its astounding scope and pulse-pounding action, I think the Academy will shift its focus to A Love Song for Latasha, for its unique presentation style echoing that of a VHS tape, as well as its unflinching look at the harsh realities of the African-American experience.
Will win: A Love Song For Latasha Should win: Do Not Split Could win: A Concerto is a Conversation
Best Live Action Short Film
Steven Prescod (left) and Robert Tarango (right) in Doug Roland's "Feeling Through."
Feeling Through - Doug Roland and Susan Ruzenski
The Letter Room - Elvira Linda and Sofia Sondervan
The Present - Ossama Bawardi and Farah Nabulsi
Two Distant Strangers - Travon Free and Martin Desmond Roe
White Eye - Shira Hochman and Tomer Shushan
The main theme through all five of the live action shorts nominated this year is communication. There’s The Letter Room, which features Oscar Isaac and Alia Shawkat (a rarity, two well-known actors in a nominated short film), about a prison guard tasked with screening mail to inmates; Two Distant Strangers, which (in the second half, at least) features a conversation between a young black man stuck in a time loop and the police officer who keeps killing him; and two films, one from Palestine, the other from Israel, which offer unique looks at peoples from conflicting countries. Finally, there is my personal favorite, Feeling Through, which centers around a young man in need in New York and his encounter with a deaf and blind man named Artie. Feeling Through is equal parts hilarious and humbling, and this unconventional pair forces us to have a look at life through a different lens. Everybody has a story, and no matter what it is, “you’ll be okay,” according to Artie as he leaves Tareek for the last time in the film. If Feeling Through has any competition, my gut says it’s from White Eye, but I don’t think there’s any stopping this one.
Will win: Feeling Through Should win: Feeling Through Could win: White Eye
Best Animated Short Film
Netflix's "If Anything Happens I Love You."
Burrow - Michael Capbarat and Madeline Sharafian
Genius Loci - Adrien Mérigeau and Amaury Ovise
If Anything Happens I Love You - Michael Govier and Will McCormack
Opera - Erick Oh
Yes-People - Arnar Gunnarsson and Gísli Darri Halldórsson
Without a true Pixar nominee, the Animated Short Film category is the most up in the air of all the short film categories; there is no one film that stands out head and shoulders above the rest. Each one has a distinctly unique animation style, and the stories in the films range from the quirky and comedic to the absurd and thought-provoking. My money is on Netflix’s If Anything Happens I Love You, a devastating thirteen-minute short about two parents who lose their daughter in a school shooting.
Will win: If Anything Happens I Love You Should win: If Anything Happens I Love You Could win: Burrow or Genius Loci
Judas and the Black Messiah - Sean Bobbit
Mank- Erik Messerschmidt
Nomadland- Joshua James Richards
News of the World- Dariusz Wolski
The Trial of the Chicago 7- Phedon Papamichael
Do you like sweeping, contemplative, panoramic shots of the American southwest? Then Nomadland is the film for you. Phedon Papamichael (who was robbed of a nomination last year for Ford v. Ferrari) will eventually get his, but I think this award belongs to Joshua James Richards for Nomadland.
Will win: Nomadland - Joshua James Richards Should win: Nomadland - Joshua Janes Richards Could win: The Trial of the Chicago 7 - Phedon Papamichael
Best Costume Design
Emma. - Alexandra Byrne
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom - Ann Roth
Mank - Trish Summerville
Mulan - Bina Daigeler
Pinocchio - Massimo Cantino Parrini
Victorian England, or ancient Disney-fied China? Depression-era Hollywood or Depression-era Chicago? Or… fantasy Italy?
I have no idea on this one. This list isn’t exactly populated with films I enjoyed, so I can’t even choose the one I liked. I’m going with Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, for no other reason than they’re the betting favorite. So mark it off in your Oscar pools, folks. Andrew’s brought the stone cold locks for this category.
Will win: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom Should win: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom Could win: Mank or Emma.
Best Film Editing
The Father - Yorgos Lamprinos
Nomadland - Chloe Zhao
Promising Young Woman - Frédéric Thoraval
Sound of Metal - Mikkel E.G. Nielsen
The Trial of the Chicago 7 - Alan Baumgarten
Nomadland winning Film Editing early in the evening sets the tone for later in the night when it wins Best Picture. I still think another movie like Promising Young Woman should win it, but when award politics get involved, I’m not going to stick my neck out too far. Will win: Nomadland - Chloe Zhao Should win: Promising Young Woman - Frédéric Thoraval Could win: The Father - Yorgos Lamprimos
Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
How those actors kept it together under all that makeup (and under all that sweat), I’ll never know. Ma Rainey has a strong chance to take home this one. It’s stiffest competition is from Mank, but I think that film’s chances at technical awards outside cinematography and editing are hindered by it being in black and white. Also, there’s no chance in hell Hillbilly Elegy or Pinocchio are winning anything at these awards.
Will win: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom Should win: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom Could win: Mank or Emma.
Best Original Song
“Fight For You,” from Judas and the Black Messiah- H.E.R., Dernst Emile II, Tiara Thomas
“Hear My Voice,” from The Trial of the Chicago 7 - Daniel Pemberton, Celeste
“Husavik” from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga- Savan Kotecha, Rickard Goransson, Fat Max Gsus
“Io Si (Seen)” from The Life Ahead- Diane Warren
“Speak Now” from One Night in Miami…- Leslie Odom Jr. and Sam Ashworth
We all take Eurovision Song Contest seriously now, right? In my humble opinion, “Husavik” (meaning “My Hometown” in Icelandic), is the only true original song nominee, as all of these other songs take place during the credits of their respective films. “Husavik” should win this award. It won’t, but it should.
In a vacuum, you can make the case for “Fight For You,” which is a brilliant mix of soul and hip hop, brought to you from the musical genius of H.E.R. If the Academy doesn’t want to award brilliant songwriting which gives Eurovision’s climax its gratifying payoff, “Fight For You” would be the next best option, as the other three not mentioned (“Hear My Voice,” “Io Is,” and “Speak Now”) sort of fade into the background.
Will win: “Fight For You,” from Judas and the Black Messiah Should win: “Husavik,” from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga Could win: “Speak Now,” from One Night in Miami…
Best Original Score
Da 5 Bloods- Terence Blanchard
Mank- Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
Minari- Emile Mosseri
News of the World - James Newton Howard
Soul- Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross and Jon Baptiste
There are a number of ways to get a grasp on the Original Score nominees. If you’re overwhelmed by everything else that goes on in a film, how does listening to the score on its own help you do work doing the day? The one that makes you feel the most productive- that’s probably your winner. I like to take these scores out of their films and do something like that. The one that transports me back to the world of its respective film the best is the one I prefer. For me, that means Soul. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross are nominated twice in this category, once for Mank, and another for doing what they do best- electronic-based film scoring- for Soul. Pair it with Jon Baptiste’s brilliant jazz arrangements, and it’s like you’re listening to two films in one.
News of the World’s rousing western adventure score and Minari’s understated but emotional music are two of my other favorites in this category.
Will win: Soul- Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Jon Baptiste Should win: Soul- Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross and Jon Baptiste Could win: News of the World - James Newton Howard or Minari - Emile Mosseri
Best Production Design
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
News of the World
I will give Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom a concession on its impeccable production design, as it hits all the right notes to give off a cramped, tension filled afternoon in depression-era Chicago. Mank, News of the World, The Father and Tenet are right up there, but I don’t think any set design is more of a character in those films like it is in Ma Rainey.
Will win: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom Should win: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom Could win: Mank or News of the World
Best Sound Design
News of the World
Sound of Metal
Never has silence sounded so beautiful to me. The things that the sound editors of Sound of Metal are able to capture the experience of Ruben (Riz Ahmed) as he struggles with his newfound deafness, from the loud, overwhelming sound of metal music, to amplifying the sounds of the world outside of what Ruben can hear, to the heartbreaking sounds of a cochlear implant that doesn’t quite work- it’s stellar sound editing from the Sound of Metal team.
It’s also literally called Sound of Metal. Give this film some love, because it’s likely going to be swallowed up for most of the night.
Will win: Sound of Metal Should win: Sound of Metal Could win: Greyhound. War films typically do pretty well with sound design, right?
Best Visual Effects
Love and Monsters
The Midnight Sky
The One and Only Ivan
You’re saying they film stuff forwards and backwards in Tenet? Sign me up! I love CGI animals as much as the next guy, but this one has to be on Christopher Nolan and his god remote control, right?
Will win: Tenet Should win: Tenet Could win: The Midnight Sky
What are your picks for Oscar glory?
The 93rd Academy Awards will be held on April 25th, 2021, at 8pm, on ABC.