The past year has been quite an interesting one for the film industry. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, movie theaters have only just opened, and streaming platforms have become more popular than ever. Despite the setbacks faced by the film industry in the past year, there were still some exceptional movies released. With the ceremony taking place on Sunday, April 25, now seems like a good time to set predictions for the Academy Awards. As a self-proclaimed movie buff with a decent amount of knowledge about film, I have my fair share of opinions on the movies that were nominated the past year. After watching and reviewing numerous movies of 2020-2021, here are my picks:
Best Actor in a Leading Role
Riz Ahmed – Sound of Metal
Chadwick Boseman – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Anthony Hopkins – The Father
Gary Oldman – Mank
Steven Yeun – Minari
All of these acting performances have proved noteworthy, and “Best Actor” is probably the closest race of this year’s Oscars. Steven Yeun is the first Asian-American to ever be nominated for a Best Actor Academy Award, so a win for him would be monumental. Chadwick Boseman’s last role before he died was nominated as well, reminiscent of when Heath Ledger was posthumously awarded Best Actor in a Supporting Role for The Dark Knight in 2009. Anthony Hopkins is the oldest actor in a leading role to get nominated, for his performance in The Father. However, Ahmed’s performance in the indie movie Sound of Metal, stands out from the others. Playing a metal rock drummer turning deaf, Ahmed perfectly portrays the emotional level of the character, Ruben, and represents him spiraling out of control through rage and drug use, as well as his process of rehabilitation. Throughout his career, in movies such as Nightcrawler, Ahmed has displayed his underrated acting ability, and a victory at the Oscars would be a huge boost to his acting career.
SNUBS: Delroy Lindo in Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods.
Best Actress in a Leading Role
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
Like most of this year’s categories, “Best Actress” is very close. Frances McDormand, one of the best actresses of all time, is receiving praise for starring in the hit Chloé Zhao film, Nomadland. Viola Davis landed a leading role in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, and received a nomination for her outstanding performance. Carey Mulligan is coming off a win at the Critics Choice Awards for Promising Young Woman. But I can only see Davis taking home the Best Actress Award for her role as the mother of blues, Ma Rainey. She perfectly captures the realism of the character and delivers an exceptional performance alongside legend Chadwick Boseman.
SNUBS: Jessie Buckley Netflix’s I’m Thinking of Ending Things, and Rosamund Pike in I Care A Lot, also from Netflix.
Best Actor in a Supporting Role
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
With Lakeith Stanfield and Paul Raci securing unexpected nominations for their performances, “Best Supporting Actor” was the most surprising category, with lots of talent up for this award. All actors in this category are receiving their first Oscar nomination. Though there are some great contenders, Sacha Baron Cohen’s performance in The Trial of the Chicago 7, a movie about the 1968 Chicago civil rights protest, deserves the win. Cohen is one of the more underrated actors of the decade; he demonstrates his flexibility in this comedic, but at times very serious performance of radical social activist Abbie Hoffman. As the actor said himself about the character on The Wrap TV, “In a way, there’s two Abbies… so there’s a balance between the clown and the intellect.”
SNUBS: Robert Pattinson in Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, and Chadwick Boseman in Da 5 Bloods.
Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Maria Bakalova – Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Glenn Close – Hillbilly Elegy
Olivia Colman – The Father
Amanda Seyfried – Mank
Yuh-Jung Youn – Minari
Maria Bakalova is coming off a win at the Critics Choice Awards, but Amanda Seyfried and Yuh-Jung Youn are the top contenders for “Best Supporting Actress” in my book. Seyfriend played Marion Davies, a shrewd movie star and friend of the protagonist, Mank, in the film of the same name. On the other hand, Yuh-Jung Youn delivered a realistic performance as Soonja, the grandma of the Yi family in Minari. However, I have to pick Amanda Seyfried, for her likable character and well-delivered performance of a Hollywood actress in the 1930s. Seyfried has always been a low key actor, delivering great performances but as mostly minor roles. With her larger, supporting role in Mank, she’ll gain more positive recognition, definitely advancing her career.
SNUBS: Toni Collete in I’m Thinking of Ending Things.
Thomas Vinterberg – Another Round
David Fincher – Mank
Lee Isaac Chung – Minari
Chloé Zhao – Nomadland
Emerald Fennell – Promising Young Woman
Out of the group, David Fincher stands out as the most popular director, with a filmography including classics like Se7en (1995), Fight Club (1999), and The Social Network (2010). But just like all the other nominees, Fincher still remains Oscar-less. Though Chloé Zhao is gaining hype for her work in Nomadland as the first woman of color to ever be nominated for best director, Fincher ultimately deserves the Oscar for Mank. In terms of enjoyability, the film is not the best, but is technically on another level than the other movies. Due to Fincher’s expertise, the artistic and dramatic aspects of each scene throughout the movie enhance the viewer’s experience. The directing is certainly the best aspect of the film.
SNUBS: Christopher Nolan for Tenet.
Judas and the Black Messiah – Sean Bobbitt
Mank – Erik Messerschmidt
News of the World – Dariusz Wolski
Nomadland – Joshua James Richards
The Trial of the Chicago 7 – Phedon Papamichael
All selections in this category take a different and unique stance on their cinematography. Mank recreated the golden age of Hollywood through a black-and-white filter. The Trial of the Chicago 7 used a large-grouped format to capture the courtroom and riots perfectly. But Nomadland’s cinematography stands out from the others, with its beautiful shots of the American West sunsets, monuments, and landscapes. The lighting in the roving shots places the cherry on the top, securing Joshua James Richards’ win.
SNUBS: A24’s First Cow, by cinematographer Christopher Blauvelt.
Judas and the Black Messiah
Promising Young Woman
Sound of Metal
The Trial of the Chicago 7
The “Best Picture” category is always the most anticipated. Last year, the Academy saw foreign film Parasite win, and another foreign-language movie has been nominated this year: Minari. So far, Nomadland has been receiving high ratings among critics, and seems to be the favorite to snatch the Oscar. However, Sound of Metal deserves the win; from its acting and directing, to its editing and cinematography, Sound of Metal is the overall better movie and proves to be the ideal choice. This unique movie is less popular than the others, but still received amazing audience and critic scores.
SNUBS: First Cow, and I’m Thinking of Ending Things
It’s clear that it has not been a great year for movies, but instead a very experimental one, with numerous indie and foreign movies securing nominations. Social justice seems to be the most popular topic among the nominees, from Judas and the Black Messiah to Trial of the Chicago 7 to One Night in Miami. Multiple movies were snubbed this year, unfortunately, as I’m Thinking of Ending Things, First Cow, Tenet, and The Devil All the Time received no primary nominations whatsoever. However, the 93rd Oscars will include a live attendance for the first time since the start of the COVID pandemic. I know I’ll be watching on Sunday at 8:00 p.m. EST to see if my (or your) predictions were right!