Oscars 2021 - Nomination Predictions

Edit: this post has now been edited to reflect how many of my predictions were correct. As it turns out, they all were, but none of my unlikely bets got a single look in. In short, I know exactly what the Academy like and what they like is rarely what I like.

It's Oscar season already! It feels like it came around so quick this year but actually, the official ceremony has usually happened by this point of the year and our brains have just been rotted by prolonged exposure to both nothing and events so terrible they warp the mind! Anyway, films! One of the side effects of all the everything this year is that we're staring at a really unpredictable Oscar race, making it pretty exciting (at least at this point). I would love to explore the films that might be getting a look in but unfortunately, I haven't seen many of the films that are predicted to scoop loads of nominations. Partly that's because UK cinemas are closed and distributors are waiting even longer than usual to give us these major contenders, but it's also because I'm a final year Uni student and daily life is just keeping my head above water enough to get the grade I want. So, apologies, that's why this list is a bit sparser than last years list (which by the way, I did very well in my predictions for) but hey, something is better than nothing right? I'd love to promise there will be more detail in my final predictions but the Oscars themselves are happening in a week where I have over 10,000 words due, so no promises I'm afraid. Anyway, loose predictions now, let's predict one of the most unpredictable years the Oscars have ever seen!

Best Supporting Actor:

Likely Bets:

Sacha Baron Cohen for The Trial of the Chicago Seven

Daniel Kaluuya for Judas and the Black Messiah

Leslie Odom Jr. for One Night in Miami

Unlikely but Worthy:

David Thewlis for I'm Thinking of Ending Things

Prepare for this category to kind of set the bar for all my predictions today, as I've only actually seen one of the films I'm predicting will pick up a nomination. Still, we're gonna try our best! Sacha Baron Cohen is on this list because between Trial and Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, he has had a big year. There's an outside chance he could get some nominations for Borat, but it seems more likely that a serious turn for the comedic star in a political thriller will get him the nod. Speaking of politics, Daniel Kaluuya seems likely to scoop his second nomination for Judas. Again, haven't seen it, but I'm a big fan of the actors previous work and I have heard absolutely nothing but rave reviews about this film, so recognition seems likely. Finally, I did see One Night in Miami, actually! It's fine! However, Leslie Odom Jr is one of the best things about it and in a year when everyone watched Hamilton on Disney+, this is the only way the Academy can nominate him for something. As my choice though, it's got to be David Thewlis for I'm Thinking of Ending Things. I don't think this film will get a single nomination (not that it'll stop me hoping for it throughout these predictions), but I love the work Thewlis does. He is an incredible actor in everything, but this fluid slippage between time is very impressive and his scenes are truly some of the scariest in the film. In my Oscars, he would be nominated and win and then he would let me give him a big hug because I think he is fab.

Best Supporting Actress:

Likely Bets:

Amanda Seyfried for Mank

Olivia Colman for The Father

Glenn Close for Hillbilly Elegy

Unlikely but Worthy:

Toni Collette for I'm Thinking of Ending Things

This time I've seen two of the films, so we're talking new heights of insight here! One actress who has been scooping nominations at every ceremony is Amanda Seyfried for Mank. It's the kind of role the Academy love; an actress who hasn't been nominated before due to her usual roles in lighter fare, taking a dip into serious material and disappearing into a role that is that of a pre-existing person. It also helps that she's really good in Mank. Another fairly sure bet is Olivia Colman for The Father. I haven't seen it, but I've heard she's great and in one form or another, she's been invited to Oscar ceremonies every year since she won. Inviting her back this year seems an obvious play. One slightly out of the box prediction is Glenn Close for Hillbilly Elegy. The film was deservedly panned and was identified rightly as little but Oscar-bait, but Close is the best thing in the film. Her performance is just showy enough that she might get nominated, plus it would be a juicy reunion between her and Colman, who battled it out for the Oscar two years ago. As an outsiders hope though, we have Toni Collette for I'm Thinking of Ending Things. If her performance in Hereditary wasn't deemed good enough for a nomination then I doubt this will be, but she's terrific in everything and this is no exception. Like David Thewlis, she has to do so much, but does so with apparent ease. I wish her the best.

Best Actor:

Likely Bets:

Chadwick Boseman for Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

Gary Oldman for Mank

Anthony Hopkins for The Father

Unlikely but Worthy:

Mads Mikkelsen for Another Round

As far as front runners for Best Actor, it is surely touch to rival Chadwick Boseman. As I'm sure many of you know, Boseman suddenly passed away last year, but he filmed Ma Rainey's Black Bottom before that. Though I've heard mixed things about the film, there have been nothing but raves about Boseman's performance and a posthumous nomination would be a way for the Academy to recognise an actor who has had a large legacy in the past decade. His likely competitors are two giants in the acting field who already have Oscars to their name, first being Gary Oldman in Mank. He's the titular character, who is a figure of old Hollywood, a nomination is obvious. On the other end of the Oscar-bait spectrum, Anthony Hopkins plays a man who has Alzheimer's and a compelling performance of mental illness always gets people to pay attention. Speaking of attention though, some is deserved for Mads Mikkelsen for Another Round. Films in a foreign language rarely get acting nominations, but Mikkelsen is quite well known at this point and his pathos filled performance would be highly deserving. It's a slippery film, but he grounds it and makes it something that I could recommend to absolutely anyone. Shame he won't be nominated though! 

Best Actress:

Likely Bets:

Frances McDormand for Nomadland

Carey Mulligan for Promising Young Woman

Vanessa Kirby for Pieces of a Woman

Unlikely but Worthy:

Jessie Buckley for I'm Thinking of Ending Things

I have seen none of the films in this category. I am so sorry about that, but in my defence, my brain is soup and just existing is taking a lot right now. Anyway, women! Frances McDormand is a consistently wonderful actor, who I've never seen a bad performance from and Nomadland seems to work largely because of her work. Give this wonderful woman another nomination and I would expect few complaints. Carey Mulligan for Promising Young Woman would be interesting too, as her work in this film apparently goes heavily against type. Gone are the prim and proper roles in period dramas, here is a vicious attack that I am very excited to experience sometime soon (sort your UK release dates out Hollywood, please!). Finally, Vanessa Kirby should pick up something for Pieces of a Woman. She's an actress with a bunch of big roles behind her, she performs an intense and heightened grief throughout, this is a pretty likely shot. An unlikely shot though (get that bingo card ready everyone) would be Jessie Buckley for I'm Thinking of Ending Things. Ever since Beast, I have loved Buckley and here, she gets to flex her acting in ways I have never seen her do before. Her role is even more fluid and confusing than those of her co-stars, and yet from her genuine expressions of fear or adoration, the emotions feel completely true at every tantalising moment. She would be a massively unlikely but an incredibly deserved nod and I do believe that she'll one day be nominated for something more palatable.

Best Picture:

Likely Bets:


The Trial of the Chicago Seven


Promising Young Woman


Judas and the Black Messiah

Unlikely but Worthy:

I'm Thinking of Ending Things

Never Gonna Snow Again

And finally, the biggie! Again, huge apologies for having not seen most of what I'm going to talk about, hopefully some of these films will have come out before my final predictions. We'll start with the Netflix films, as that's a company who have been having increasing success at the Oscars. Mank I have seen and while I don't love it, it's an obvious pick. It's about Hollywood, it looks great and it's by David Fincher. What's not to love? Similarly, The Trial of the Chicago Seven seems like a shoe in because Aaron Sorkin dialogue always goes down well and with its tale of a riot gone wrong, Netflix can take the "this is a film that speaks to our current moment" approach with campaigning. Similar "this is the moment" films would be Judas and the Black Messiah and Nomadland. Both I hear are great, again, but there's a political angle that their distributors can play which will help. One is about figures of black power against white supremacy, the other is about a class of people who have been priced out of the American dream. It's not a stretch to work out how these can be spun, even less of a stretch to imagine that tactic working.

Minari has been a bit screwed over this awards season, being both an American film and a film largely in Korean, but if the Academy can get over the weird categorising, it might stand a chance at some recognition. I believe it's the one that's been the most positively received out of my predicted films, but even after the explosive success of Parasite, I couldn't call it a guarantee. Final of the sure picks (relatively speaking) is Promising Young Woman. There seems to be a vague kind of controversy/uncertainty around this film, but to me that only makes a film like this seem all the more interesting. I've tried not to look too much into it for fear of spoilers, so I'll keep you updated I suppose. Anyway, that's what the old white folks will go for, here's what this young white guy would like! As you may expect, I would love recognition for I'm Thinking of Ending Things. It is a film that is terrifying and hilarious and inventive and strange and oh so many more of the things I love about cinema. It doesn't stand a chance. Similarly, Never Gonna Snow Again is never gonna get nominated, but it's awesome! It's a polish comedy about a masseuse who might have special powers, which was the best thing I saw at London Film Festival last year. There is almost a zero percent chance that it will connect with a mainstream audience, but it connected with me like few things in the last 12 months have. It would be a brilliantly bizarre pick if it turned up, though alas, it not even making the longlist for "Best International Film" makes it a very long shot.

So there we have it! Predictions! Hopefully some will be right, though I like a surprise so I don't mind being a bit wrong. We'll find out on the 15th what the actual nominations are, at which point I'll (hopefully) update this and we can see where we're at. Like I said, I'll do my best to watch as many of the nominees as I can. Many of the prospective nominees genuinely interest me, meaning it won't be much of a chore, but I do have to balance it with a dissertation. Anyway, um, stay safe! Stay healthy! Good things are coming our way! Fuck the tories and love those who are around you to be loved!

Correct predictions: 18 out of 18


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