Oscar Predictions 2021

By Andrew Italia

Andrew Italia is an attorney in Rockville, 2001 Quince Orchard High School graduate, and MoCo resident. When he was in college at the University of Maryland, he was the movie critic for The Maryland Diamondback.

During his time as the movie critic, he began making Oscar predictions for all 24 categories. His all-time record is 21 out of 24, but he usually falls in the 18-20 range.

For the second straight year he is providing The MoCoShow with his prediction and we are excited to share.

Is the glass half empty or half full?

For Team Half Empty, this year’s Oscar telecast arrives on the heels of a global pandemic that shuttered theaters and decimated the industry, after an agonizingly long season, and bearing a decidedly grim compendium of nominees.  While last year’s show basked in the grandeur of an Avengers swan song, this year’s frontrunner features Frances McDormand shitting in a bucket.  In a van.

You half fullers also have an argument as this year streamed films were eligible (Netflix claims the most nominees for the first time), the ceremony is produced by Steven Soderbergh (of Ocean’s 11 fame) in Union Station (of Blade Runner fame), and thankfully in person.  Given the glutton of Zoom award shows (…and Zoom family reunions, Zoom school, and even Zoom trials…), seeing actual, real life human beings is a refreshing rejoinder to a rough year.

So you have little to lose by tuning in.

Just don’t forget your bucket.



Will Win: Bet your first born on it (…but only if you’re at least semi-fond of your second born…)

Alternate: The most likely upset

Should Win: Who would win in Voltaire’s “best of all possible worlds”

Should’ve Been Nominated: Who the Academy snubbed entirely



Will Win: Nomadland

Alternate: The Trial of the Chicago 7

Should Win:  Promising Young Woman

Should’ve been Nominated: Tenet

Let’s lawyer the shit out of it.

Minari is the little film that could, but is ultimately peaking too late.  My personal favorite Promising Young Woman could spark a surprise win of Moonlight proportions, but is at best a pink hued dark horse.

The Trial of the Chicago 7 is perhaps the ‘Oscariest’ of the bunch, claimed the SAG ensemble award (a precursor it shares with last year’s winner Parasite), boasts a timely topic, and seems poised to deal a king killing karate chop to the frontrunner…

…which is Nomadland, the understated and underestimated indie darling that charts the aimlessness of modern American melancholy.  Already boasting a trophy case adorned with a Golden Globe, PGA (15 of the last 20 winners had one), DGA, and BAFTA, it coasts carefully on a tailwind to the winner’s circle.  While 1917 and La La Land both entered the race with identical pedigrees only to go Tango Uniform in the end, every other film in history with this track record has taken the gold.

A sure thing may not exist.

But if you’re looking for a safe bet, this is your huckleberry.



Will Win: Chloe Zhao for Nomadland

Alternate: Lee Isaac Chung for Minari 

Should Win: Emerald Fennell for Promising Young Woman

Should’ve been Nominated: Spike Lee for Da 5 Bloods

Zhao will almost certainly become the first woman of color to be named Best Director for her nuanced work in Nomadland, all before going to play in the MCU sandbox with this November’s The Eternals.  What are you doing with your 2021?



Will Win:  Chadwick Boseman for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Alternate: Anthony Hopkins for The Father

Should Win:  Chadwick Boseman for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Should’ve Been Nominated: Delroy Lindo for Da 5 Bloods

Anything could happen on Sunday. Hopkins, the proud owner of a newly adopted cat from Turks & Caicos, could win his second statue.  Riz Ahmed could repeat Adrien Brody’s 2003 insurgent trip to the podium (hopefully sans the accompanying assault on Halle Berry).  Hell, Kanye and Kim could live happily ever after.  But none of the above is likely.  Instead, the late and great Boseman will receive a career capping victory for his searing and unforgettable final big screen performance.



Will Win:  Carey Mulligan for Promising Young Woman

Alternate: Viola Davis for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Should Win:  Carey Mulligan for Promising Young Woman

Should’ve Been Nominated: Sarah Paulson for Run

The most competitive race of the night.  Andra Day took the Globe for The United States vs. Billie Holiday, Frances McDormand the BAFTA for Nomadland, and Davis the SAG.  Any of them could take the mount.  At the risk of watching through rose-colored glasses, I’m giving the advantage to Mulligan for her kinetic chainsaw of a performance in the year’s best film.



Will Win: Daniel Kaluuya for Judas and the Black Messiah

Alternate: Paul Raci for Sound of Metal

Should Win: Daniel Kaluuya for Judas and the Black Messiah

Should’ve been Nominated: Bill Murray for On the Rocks

Absent an Alan Arkin-esque upset, it’s Daniel’s without a doubt.



Will Win: Yuh-Jung Youn for Minari

Alternate: Maria Bakalova for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Should Win: Maria Bakalova for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Should’ve Been Nominated: Candice Bergen for Let Them All Talk

Both of the leads in this horse race are wholly deserving.  It would be fun to see Bakalova’s outlandish performance art celebrated, but you’d have to have a heart of stone not to fall under Youn’s saccharine spell.  Then again, Youn didn’t have to watch Rudy…well…”tuck in his shirt.”



Will Win: Nomadland

Alternate: The Father

Should Win: The White Tiger

Should’ve been Nominated: News of the World

Another nailbiter, but one that Nomadland will likely take faster than Ted Cruz hightailing to Cancun in a crisis.



Will Win: Promising Young Woman

Alternate: The Trial of the Chicago 7

Should Win: Promising Young Woman

Should’ve been Nominated: The King of Staten Island

I ordinarily consider it anathema to bet against Aaron Sorkin, but Emerald Fennell’s script is as sharp and savage as a machete and too ingenious to ignore.



Will Win: Soul 

Alternate: Wolfwalkers

Should Win: Soul

Should’ve been Nominated: The Willoughbys

Any other year I’d love to see the intoxicating Irish joint Wolfwalkers hurl a stone at the Pixar goliath.  However, Soulwasn’t just the best animated movie of the year, it was one of the best movies of the year period.



Will Win: Another Round (Denmark)

Alternate: Quo Vadis, Aida? (Bosnia)

Should Win: Another Round (Denmark)

Should’ve been Nominated: The Platform (Spain)

Ordinarily one of the murkiest of categories to call, Another Round appears on safe ground.



Will Win: My Octopus Teacher

Alternate: Time

Should Win: Time

Should’ve been Nominated: Boys State

A tough nut to crack.  The producers of last year’s winner American Factory, some up and comers named Michelle and Barack, roared back with the immensely enjoyable but no less important Crip Camp.  Time is a soul wrenching tragedy that performs the hat trick of ending with a glimmer of hope.  But the safest money is on the bizarre story of a man and his…octopus?  Really…?



Will Win: Tenet

Alternate: The Midnight Sky

Should Win: Tenet

Should’ve been Nominated: Extraction

Tenet will probably leave with the Prom Queen.  Though it sure would’ve been nice to have at least invited Extractionto the dance.



Will Win: “Speak Now” from One Night in Miami

Alternate: “Husavik” from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

Should Win: “Husavik” from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

Should’ve been Nominated: “Only the Young” from Taylor Swift: Miss Americana

Why not give it to Eurovision?  If this year’s collection of nominees represents a nadir in this category, its apexes include the 2000 nomination of South Park‘s “Blame Canada” and the underdog victory of Three 6 Mafia in 2006.  A Eurovision victory could restore such an airy trend.  PS Who in the literal fuck didn’t include Taylor?



Will Win: Soul by Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross

Alternate: Mank by Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross

Should Win: Soul by Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross

Should’ve been Nominated: Tenet by Ludwig Goransson

Reznor and Ross have been delivering some of the most dynamic cinematic scores ever since they threw down the gauntlet with The Social Network a decade ago.  Could a split between their two magnum opuses this year leave a lane for Minari?  Don’t bet on it.



Will Win: Nomadland

Alternate: Mank

Should Win: Mank

Should’ve been Nominated: The Vast of Night OR Promising Young Woman

While last minute buzz (and an ASC win) for Mank could carry the day, a Nomadland tsunami is likely to wash up on this beach too.



Will Win: Mank

Alternate: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Should Win: Mank

Should’ve been Nominated: Da 5 Bloods

It’s Mank‘s to lose.



Will Win: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom 

Alternate: Hillbilly Elegy

Should Win: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Should’ve been Nominated: Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey

With all due respect to Glenn Close’s Hillbilly swagger, I think Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom has this one sewn up tight.



Will Win: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Alternate: Emma

Should Win: Mulan

Should’ve been Nominated: Promising Young Woman

While the Viagra guzzling Academy notoriously goes ape shit for classical period catnip, Ma Rainey has the momentum.



Will Win: The Trial of the Chicago 7

Alternate: Sound of Metal

Should Win: Promising Young Woman

Should’ve been Nominated: Run

Chicago‘s ACE gives it the edge, but don’t be surprised if Sound of Metal shows up instead (as 13 of the last 20 films to win a sound award also won in editing).



Will Win:  Sound of Metal

Alternate: Mank

Should Win: Sound of Metal

Should’ve Been Nominated: Extraction

Let’s first take a moment to commend the combination of the two prior sound awards into this single category, as not even obsessed cinephiles like myself could really explain the difference between them (even if we claimed we could…).  The inaugural winner of said rechristened category will be the superb Sound of Metal.



Will Win: A Love Song for Latasha

Alternate: A Concerto is a Conversation



Will Win: If Anything Happens I Love You

Alternate: Burrow



Will Win: Two Distant Strangers

Alternate: The Letter Room


Your (Zoom) Office Pool Approved Shortlist:


Best Picture: Nomadland

Best Director: Chloe Zhao for Nomadland

Best Actor: Chadwick Boseman for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Best Actress: Carey Mulligan for Promising Young Woman

Best Supporting Actor: Daniel Kaluuya for Judas and the Black Messiah

Best Supporting Actress: Yuh-Jung Youn for Minari

Best Screenplay (Adapted): Nomadland

Best Screenplay (Original): Promising Young Woman

Best Animated Film: Soul

Best Foreign Film: Another Round (Denmark)

Best Documentary Feature: My Octopus Teacher

Best Visual Effects:  Tenet

Best Song: “Speak Now” from One Night in Miami

Best Score: Soul by Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross

Best Cinematography: Nomadland

Best Production Design: Mank

Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Best Costume Design: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Best Film Editing: The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Sound: Sound of Metal

Best Short Documentary: A Love Song for Latasha

Best Short Film (Animated): If Anything Happens I Love You

Best Short Film (Live Action): Two Distant Strangers


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