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Picking the 2021 Oscars::rating::0::rating::0

Although it was a COVID-wracked year, 2020 saw an eclectic, brilliant slate of movies. Sure, we’re still waiting on Black Widow and No Time to Die, but many audacious indie films found a nice niche on various streaming services. And unlike many years, this race is wide open.  I could honestly see several movies winning the top prize.  

Last year, I picked 1917 to win Best Picture, and, well…I was wrong.  Hey, Parasite was a very worthy winner:  It was a dark comedy/thriller, loaded with shocking twists.  I love being surprised by movies, and that one was a humdinger.  I just didn’t think it would win.  

And I would love it if the Oscars were this unpredictable every year. I would get into the ceremony again, the way I did as a kid.  (Yes, I was a young goober who watched the Oscars with a scorecard, like I was in the stands at Yankee Stadium with a baseball glove.)  

Anyway, here’s who I think will win, and who should win, in the top six categories.  Click on the links to read my reviews!

Best Picture Nominees:

Nomadland

Promising Young Woman

Mank

Judas and the Black Messiah

The Father 

Sound of Metal

Minari

The Trial of the Chicago 7

No way around it:  This is a strong field.  There’s no Jokerwhich I thought was outrageously overrated.  Nomadland has been the favorite, and it will probably win.  The dark horse here is Minari, a moving semi-autobiographical tale of Korean immigrants living in Arkansas.  It says more about the American experience than most American movies do.  The Trial of the Chicago 7  has a very outside shot, as it’s still relevant to America’s socio-political scars.  On the subject of relevance, Promising Young Woman deploys dark comedy to examine the #MeToo movement.  Still, comedies–even stark, compelling comedies like this one–rarely win Best Picture.  Woman would be a worthy win, but my hunch says Nomadland takes it. 

Best Director Nominees:

Thomas Vinterberg (Another Round)

David Fincher (Mank)

Lee Isaac Chung (Minari)

Chloé Zhao (Nomadland)

Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman)

Another solid group, although omitting Regina King’s fine work in One Night in Miami... is a definite snub.  If Nomadland brings home Best Picture, there’s a good chance Zhao wins Best Director, as well.  And it’ll be well-earned:  In its marrow, Nomad is a lean, hyperrealistic character study, but Zhao’s gorgeous eye for the American frontier supplies the film with a stunning visual poetry.  Chung is a wild card, so don’t be surprised if the voters pull an upset and put him at the podium.  That could go for Fennell as well, although I’ll be legit surprised if she wins.

Best Actor

Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal)

Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom)

Anthony Hopkins (The Father)

Gary Oldman (Mank)

Steven Yeun (Minari)

Again, the Academy nails it.  These are heavyweight performances, and I won’t complain if any of them win it.  That said, I’m thinking this award belongs to the late, great Boseman.  His work in Ma Rainey burns white hot, and it serves as a testament to how much he’ll be missed.  In any other year, Ahmed would likely win it, as his full-on commitment (learning to sign and play drums) is the kinda stuff Academy voters lourve.  And damned if Hopkins isn’t better than ever, as an old man lost in the fog of dementia.  

Best Actress:

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)

The Oscars sometimes suffer the same conundrum as the Heisman awards:  Do we give the statue to the best player in the best movie, or is it just about the best individual performance, period?  If it’s the former, McDormand would probably win.  The latter might go to Day’s jaw-dropping work in the flawed Billie Holiday.  But, I’m gonna throw y’all a curveball.  I say this will go to Mulligan, for her sardonic turn in Promising Young Woman.  

Best Supporting Actor:

Sacha Baron Cohen (The Trial of the Chicago 7)

Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah)

Leslie Odom, Jr. (One Night in Miami)

Paul Raci (Sound of Metal)

Lakeith Stanfield (Judas and the Black Messiah)

Call this vote 1 and 1a:  Kaluuya was mind-blowing as Fred Hampton, and it’ll probably be too good for the Academy to pass up.  At the same time, Odom brought the soul to Sam Cooke.  And he sings smoother than satin.  I want them to tie, but that ain’t gonna happen.  Cohen’s Abby Hoffman channeled Aaron Sorkin’s smart-ass sense of humor to perfection, but I’ll be surprised if he wins.  Raci was heartwarming in Metal, but…ditto.  And Stanfield, wait–what the hell is he doing in the Supporting Actor category?  Wasn’t he the lead character?  He was great and all, but the Academy clearly has him in the wrong field.  

Best Supporting Actress:

Maria Bakalova (Borat 2)

Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy)

Olivia Colman (The Father)

Amanda Seyfried (Mank)

Yuh-Jung Youn (Minari)

Actors will often tell you that comedy is harder to pull of than drama, but the hijinks in Borat 2 (I ain’t typing the rest of that shit) are on another level.  Her performance is absolutely incredible, especially in the cringe-inducing coup de grace when she entices Rudy Giuliani to play with his ding-a-ling.  I’m predicting she’ll win.  If Close wins for that cockamamie garbage in Hillbilly Elegy, I’m gonna go Elvis Presley and put a bullet hole in my TV.  Minari might pull off some crazy sweep, and I’d also love to see Yuh-Jung  take the stage.  

Well, those are my best guesses.  This is a diverse field of nominees, and I hope the winners reflect that, as well.  Who do you think will win?

(And no joke, if Glenn Close wins, I’m going to bury my TV in the backyard.)

The Oscars will air on April 25th, 8pm EST. on ABC.  

 

 

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