And here we are, three days from the 93rd Academy Awards. All of the articles, podcasts, and speculation have finally led to this. You have seen my previous two articles discussing the crafts and half of the above-the-line categories. Now, I’m here to deliver the remainder of my final Oscar predictions in the categories of Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, and Best Picture. It’s been a long road, so let’s get down to it.
Click below to see my final predictions in these categories. If you’d like to listen to my predictions, you can check out our latest episode of the Next Best Picture Podcast, where we discussed our final Oscar predictions at great length.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
This is one of the easiest calls of the night. Best Supporting Actor has been a fun race to watch all season as it felt incredibly wide-open early on; however, once the much-buzzed-about final contender of the season finally emerged, it was game-over for everyone else. Here are the nominees for this year’s Best Supporting Actor Oscar…
You can’t bet against Kaluuya. You just cannot. No nominee that has won the Critics Choice, Golden Globe, BAFTA, and SAG has ever gone on to the Oscar. Some say that LaKeith Stanfield’s presence could pull votes away from Kaluuya, but I think even then, Kaluuya is so far out ahead it won’t make a difference. He not only delivered one of the best performances of the year but still has enough goodwill amongst Academy members who remember his Lead nominated turn in “Get Out” that the versatile British actor will be taking home his first Oscar.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Like Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress was also a very wide-open race and continued to be so well after Best Supporting Actor settled on Kaluuya. But once the SAG and BAFTAs chimed in, this race ended up where many (including myself) predicted it would go all of this time. Here are the nominees this year for Best Supporting Actress…
As mentioned before, when Jodie Foster won the Golden Globe for “The Mauritanian” but then missed out on an Oscar nomination, more doubt was cast over this category than previously. Maria Bakalova went on to win the Critics Choice and was the Oscar only nominee who managed to score nominations at every major voting body all season (CCA, GG, BAFTA, SAG). However, with a SAG/BAFTA win combo and starring a Best Picture nomination, it’s hard to go against Youn Yuh-jung for her lovable turn in “Minari.” Known as the Meryl Streep of South Korea, she made the most of her speeches at SAG and BAFTA, endearing herself enough to voters and giving them a way to honor one of the Best Picture nominees. I believe she’s got this.
All year long, we thought it was one actor because his main competition was rumored to be in Supporting. Then, there was a category move and he became the default winner of this category. Now, people are having second thoughts and reverting back to the previously believed predicted winner of this category. It’s one of the best Best Actor lineups we’ve had in years and no matter who comes out on top, I’m sure we can at least all take comfort in that. Here are the nominees this year for Best Actor…
As soon as Netflix announced that Chadwick Boseman was the lead in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” our default choice since Sundance 2020, Anthony Hopkins in “The Father” moved down to the number two slot, and that is where this category has stayed for me all the way up until these final few days of voting. There was always a sense that Hopkins could win the Globe or BAFTA, and he eventually took the BAFTA, right when the love for “The Father” had truly peaked, and it couldn’t have come at a better time as Academy members had ballots in their hands a few days later.
The stats still favor Chadwick Boseman, who has won the Critics Choice, Golden Globe, and the SAG. While he is not the lone nominee for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” there are many who have compared this race to Glenn Close vs. Olivia Colman in 2018, where they had a similar precursor split (Difference being Colman won Globe – Comedy/Musical and Close was the lone nominee for her film). I can understand the push for Hopkins. He’s my preference for the category. Both he and Chadwick are delivering career-best work, and we will be lucky to have either of them win after the past decade of winners we had in this category. There’s even a world where Riz Ahmed comes up the middle just as Adrian Brody did in 2002 but let’s not get too ahead of ourselves here.
The reality is, Chadwick was and still is an icon to many here in the states. I fully expect to see his legacy cemented as such with an Oscar win. He was taken from us too soon, and he indeed would’ve still been heavily in contention to win if he were still alive. I won’t be shocked if the love for “The Father” translates into a win for Hopkins. But in a world where Hopkins won BAFTA and Ahmed won the Indie Spirit, now it’s Chadwick’s turn to complete the circle with a storybook ending to this exciting Best Actor race.
Deep breath. Here we go. The year’s most exciting race is easily Best Actress. I’ve never seen anything like it in all my years of studying awards season (Best Supporting Actress 2007 comes the closest). Whoever wins, don’t let anyone ever tell you they knew for sure what would happen here. It’s the crapshoot to end all crapshoots. Here are the nominees for this year’s Best Actress Oscar category…
As everyone knows and has discussed at length Andra Day first won the Golden Globe, then Carey Mulligan won the Critics Choice Award, then Viola Davis won the SAG, and finally, Frances McDormand won the BAFTA. Poor Vanessa Kirby. She deserved to win a prize somewhere, and I’m even some people being cute and saying she could win the Oscar; this way, all of the nominees get a prize this year. Yeah, that’s not happening. So we can eliminate her first.
Next up, if we’re going by process of elimination, I have to take out Andra Day for “The United States vs. Billie Holiday.” Being the lone nominee for her film and not being a steamroller, you’d have to go back to Jessica Lange’s win in 1994 to find a time this happened before. What really holds me back from Day, though, is that her film is not well-liked. Not by critics. Not by audiences. And based on the fact that it only received a single nomination for her, not by the Academy either. Had it managed to get a single other nomination, I would weigh her more heavily in this race. But if that wasn’t enough, we also have to consider this is her debut acting performance. While that may be impressive, considering she manages to elevate the film on the strength of her performance, she lacks the industry familiarity and goodwill the other nominees have. So, for me, she’s next to go.
The next three are where things get incredibly difficult. I’ve spoken to pundits and voters, and I feel it’s between these three. Frances McDormand is aided by the fact that she is in the Best Picture frontrunner. However, she just won again very recently (2017), and chances are, many voters will remember that and want to spread the wealth a bit which will take away some votes from her (every vote matters here). The performance is also very quiet, internal, and not the type that voters traditionally go for in this category. I have no doubt that she still might prevail, but my own gut instinct says to eliminate her next.
This brings us down to Mulligan and Viola Davis. While many of my colleagues are going with SAG winner Viola Davis, I’m going to be loyal and stick with Carey Mulligan until the bitter end. It’s not being done out of hope, though (well, maybe a little bit) because I do have “some” reasoning behind it. To me, there are pluses and minuses on both sides here, and all that matters is how much you weigh each. Some people do it differently, but here’s how I’m going to do it.
I look at the fact that Viola Davis has won six SAG Awards and is already an Oscar winner (for “Fences” in 2016), and I think, well, of course, it made sense for her to win at SAG. Actors worship her, and rightfully so. She is the standard by which other actresses should strive for. It’s also historically much easier to win an Oscar in Supporting, then make the jump to a Lead win later than it is winning another Lead Oscar. However, there are some who STILL, after all of this time, feel that Davis’s role is too small and she should be in the Supporting category (this is what voters are telling me) and that she’s already been rewarded recently with an Oscar win. Mulligan is delivering arguably the best performance of her career in a film that is nominated for Best Picture, while once again, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” is not.
There’s a wrinkle in this that I’ve brought up before too. No film since “The Matrix” in 1994 has won four Oscars without a Best Picture nomination, and all of those awards were crafts. In fact, many other films that won even three after that without Best Picture nominations were all craft wins (“King Kong, “The Bourne Ultimatum” & “Pan’s Labyrinth”). I see many predicting “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” to get four of its five Oscar nominations, but for a film that’s missing Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Film Editing, I have to ask how?! Especially when two of those are the lead acting categories, something that has NEVER happened in Oscar history. An argument can be made for three (which is what I’m predicting, but I don’t feel good about it), and two is a great bet while one is assured. I see people saying stats don’t matter this year, and with possibly the lowest voter turnout in Oscar history (we’ll never know for sure), they may be right, but I’m sorry, that’s a bridge too far for me. If “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” was going to win this big, it would’ve gotten some of those key nominations. But it didn’t. Do you know what did, though? “Promising Young Woman.”
It managed to get in Best Picture, acting for Mulligan, Original Screenplay, Film Editing, and a historic nomination for Emerald Fennell in Best Director. I’m sorry in advance, but yes, I’m going to come right out and say it: if Mulligan had been nominated for the BAFTA at large by the entire voting body, the same voting body that has overlap with the Academy, I believe she would’ve won. You can disagree, argue and tell me how irrelevant that is all you want, and that’s ok; I would then turn around and tell you not to use that same logic to advocate for McDormand when she couldn’t win at Critics Choice, Golden Globe or SAG. To be fair, maybe they would’ve gone with Viola at BAFTA if she had been nominated. They certainly loved her enough to reward her for “Fences” and be the only voting body to nominate her for “Widows” in 2018. But with an Original Screenplay win and an Outstanding British Film win over “The Father,” which won Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Actor at BAFTA, something tells me that would’ve tipped the scales in favor of Mulligan, thus giving her CCA/BAFTA against Day’s lone Globe win and Davis’ lone SAG win, both without Best Picture nominations.
It’s been no secret that “Promising Young Woman” is my favorite film of the year, and I really want to see Mulligan win her first as much as I want to see Viola Davis win her second, becoming only the second Black woman to win in this category in 93 years. If anyone deserves to, it’s her. I’ll be fine with any of these women winning. However, in a year like this, where the margins are so tight, no one has an advantage, stats can be used to argue for any contender, and we genuinely have no idea what the hell is going to happen, I’m just willing to go down with the ship at this point. I’ll be happy if I’m right, and I’ll be satisfied if I’m wrong. The most important thing is that every race should be like this: a race. Knowing who’s going to win before the envelope is opened is never as fun as this, and I hope it happens more often in the future despite how much it’s driving us Oscar pundits crazy! This will be the nail-biter of the night but in a good way. Let’s enjoy the suspense while it lasts.
After the journey I just went on with Best Actress, it brings me great comfort to say this one of the biggest locks of the night and not much needs to be said that hasn’t already been said. Here are the nominees this year for Best Director…
Chloé Zhao is going to win this. We’ve seen frontrunners lose in this category when they have a 3 to 1 lead. We’ve even seen frontrunners lose when they have a 4 to 1 lead in the event of a tie (thank you, Critics Choice, for being the only place other than the Oscars to recognize Bong Joon-ho last year). But we’ve never seen someone win Critics Choice, Golden Globe, BAFTA, and DGA and then go on to lose the Oscar. Hasn’t happened. Not going to happen. Chloé Zhao will make history as only the second woman to win this award and the first woman of color to do so. Richly deserved. Now, Marvel can get to work on that “Eternals” trailer so it can say “Academy Award Winner Chloé Zhao.”
And now, it all comes down to this. Best Picture. We should’ve had nine nominees this year. Next year, we’ll finally be going back to a straight ten. We’ve had one dominant frontrunner all season long with a formidable number two doing its absolute best to position itself as a challenger, while everyone else is happy to be nominated. It’s all been building up to this. Without further adieu, here are the eight nominees for Best Picture…
I’ve thought about this a lot. Anyone who listens to the podcast knows that the Best Picture race in 2015 broke me. “Spotlight’s” win proved that you could win Best Picture in this day and age with only one other win and nothing else. The last time that happened was with Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rebecca” in 1940, and now, many are saying it could happen again this year with “The Trial Of The Chicago 7” winning Best Picture with only Best Film Editing. There are some who are even predicting it to possibly upset in Best Original Screenplay, but as I said the other day, the likelihood of that happening is less than the scenario I just proposed before. So, while it’s easy for me to sit here and say “Nomadland” has won the Golden Lion, the TIFF Audience Award, the Critics Choice, Golden Globe, BAFTA, PGA, DGA, and thus, is going to win Best Picture, I’d rather instead explore what the path is for “The Trial Of The Chicago 7.”
In order to paint a convincing narrative for “The Trial Of The Chicago 7,” we need to look at some of the biggest upsets in recent history for Best Picture: 2005, 2016 & 2019.
In 2005, “Crash” won the ACE Eddie (same as “The Trial Of The Chicago 7“), the SAG Ensemble award (same as “The Trial Of The Chicago 7“) and the WGA Award (which “The Trial Of The Chicago 7” did not win).
In 2016, “Moonlight” won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Drama (which “The Trial Of The Chicago 7” lost to “Nomadland”), the WGA Award (which “The Trial Of The Chicago 7” did not win) and for the most part, that was it. However, one could factor in it won an individual SAG Award for Mahershala Ali and was a critical darling, something that “The Trial Of The Chicago 7” is not compared to “Nomadland.”
In 2019, “Parasite” won the ADG Award (which “The Trial Of The Chicago 7” did not win), the ACE Eddie (same as “The Trial Of The Chicago 7“), the SAG Ensemble award (same as “The Trial Of The Chicago 7“) but once again, it won the WGA Award, which”The Trial Of The Chicago 7” did not win.
So, the common thread here is “The Trial Of The Chicago 7” would be in a much better position had it won the WGA Award for Best Original Screenplay. It has the Golden Globe Award, and we’ve seen movies like “Green Book” go on to win the Oscar for Screenplay and, thus, Best Picture after losing the WGA previously. The difference, though, is “Green Book” lost the WGA to a film that wasn’t nominated at the Oscars. “The Trial Of The Chicago 7” lost to its main rival (“Promising Young Woman“) in direct competition at the WGA. No film has directly lost to its competition at the WGA and then gone on to win the Oscar in over 20 years.
“The Trial Of The Chicago 7” is, no doubt, a timely movie that may resonate with voters in ways that we’re not expecting. We expected voters to turn on “Green Book” due to its racial optics, and they never did. Why? Because the alternative (“Roma“) was a film that was deemed “slow,” “boring,” with “not much going on.” The same thing happened with “Boyhood” and “Birdman.” And the same could happen here where voters may not love “Nomadland” as much as we all think. “The Trial Of The Chicago 7” may be standard entertainment and not necessarily what one might call “high art,” but it’s accessible, and that’s something that should not go unnoticed when discussing what a broad group of 9000 voters might do. “Moonlight” received a surge when President Trump was elected as President and changed the mood of the entire country. Now that he’s out of office (thankfully) and we have a new administration in place does such a shift in the country’s mood favor “The Trial Of The Chicago 7?” Maybe. I’m not betting on it (literally and figuratively), but it’s something worth considering. One thing is for sure, though; if “The Trial Of The Chicago 7” does squeak out a win over “Nomadland” in the end, it will be with one of the worst stats runs for a Best Picture nominee ever and will probably be because of a combination of factors which I said above. Regardless, I’m going with the stats, and the stats say it will be “Nomadland.”
FINAL OSCAR PREDICTIONS
Best Picture: Nomadland
Best Director: Chloé Zhao – Nomadland
Best Actress: Carey Mulligan – Promising Young Woman
Best Actor: Chadwick Boseman – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Best Supporting Actress: Youn Yuh-jung – Minari
Best Supporting Actor: Daniel Kaluuya – Judas And The Black Messiah
Best Adapted Screenplay: The Father
Best Original Screenplay: Promising Young Woman
Best Cinematography: Nomadland
Best Costume Design: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Best Film Editing: The Trial Of The Chicago 7
Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Best Production Design: Mank
Best Original Score: Soul
Best Original Song: The Life Ahead – “Io is (Seen)”
Best Sound: Sound Of Metal
Best Visual Effects: Tenet
Best Animated Feature: Soul
Best Documentary Feature: My Octopus Teacher
Best International Feature Film: Another Round
Best Animated Short: If Anything Happens I Love You
Best Documentary Short: A Concerto Is A Conversation
Best Live Action Short: Two Distant Strangers
What do you all think of my final Oscar predictions? Be sure to let me know in the comments section below or on my Twitter account. Also check out the Next Best Picture team’s updated Oscar predictions here along with our podcast discussing our predictions in great detail here.
You can follow Matt and hear more of his thoughts on the Oscars and Film on Twitter at @NextBestPicture