The 2021 Academy Award (Should) Go To…

GOOD Morning Wilton‘s movie reviewer, Sebastian Hunt, is a senior at Wilton High School who loves film and television and hopes to become a filmmaker himself one day. He’s already gotten a jump start on that, producing his own screenplays and planning on submitting his work to film festivals. You can learn more about Sebastian on GMW‘s “Our Team” page. 

Whether you view the Oscars as an invaluable cultural fixture dedicated to honoring artistry or as a self-indulgent commercial exercise, there’s no question that this year has been… interesting for the Academy Awards. In addition to delays, the ceremony has expanded its eligibility requirements — films from the first two months of 2021 will compete against 2020 releases.

In any case, while the nominations perhaps aren’t as strong as they were the year prior, the 92nd Oscars looks to be an exciting event. I’ve made my predictions on what to expect from the six major categories, starting with…

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Nominees: Maria Bakalova (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm), Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy), Olivia Colman (The Father), Amanda Seyfried (Mank), Yuh-Jung Youn (Minari)

The Supporting Actress trophy really ought to go to Bakalova; she’s the biggest reason Borat Subsequent Moviefilm worked as well as it did. However, Youn’s surprise triumph at the SAG Awards renders her the likely favorite. It could honestly go either way, though.

Will Win: Yuh-Jung Youn, Minari
Should Win: Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Should’ve Been Nominated: Olivia Cooke, Sound of Metal

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Nominees: 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)

While it’s a bit odd that Judas and the Black Messiah’s dual leads, Kaluuya and Stanfield, are competing in the Supporting Actor category in the first place (if Kaluuya and Stanfield aren’t the stars of Judas, who is…?), the prize is essentially theirs to lose. However, I reckon that Kaluyya — who portrays the titular “black messiah” — has a stronger case to win.

Will Win: Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah
Should Win: Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah
Should’ve Been Nominated: David Strathairn, Nomadland

BEST ACTRESS

Nominees: Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), Andra Day (The United States v. Billie Holiday), Vanessa Kirby (Pieces of a Woman), Frances McDormand (Nomadland), Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman)

This truly is a wide-open race. Though Mulligan seemed for a time the shoo-in, Davis’ and Day’s victories at the SAG and Golden Globe Awards respectively have made them equally strong contenders. I hesitate to make a prediction at all, but my gut ever-so-slightly gravitates toward Davis (the SAG Awards tend to have the most overlap voter-wise with the Oscars).

Will Win: Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Should Win: Frances McDormand, Nomadland
Should’ve Been Nominated: Elizabeth Moss, The Invisible Man

BEST ACTOR

Nominees: Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal), Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), Anthony Hopkins (The Father), Gary Oldman (Mank), Steven Yeun (Minari)

Boseman — who tragically passed away last August — will probably pick up a posthumous Oscar, but I’d rather see Sound of Metal’s Ahmed take home the gold. Boseman certainly delivered a fine final performance, but Ahmed was utterly deafening in his mesmerizing brilliance.

Will Win: Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Should Win: Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal
Should’ve Been Nominated: Delroy Lindo, Da 5 Bloods

BEST DIRECTOR

Nominees: Lee Isaac Chung (Minari), Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman), David Fincher (Mank), Thomas Vinterberg (Another Round), Chloé Zhao (Nomadland)

Nomadland was one of the most affecting films of 2020, and a lot of that is owed to Zhao’s direction. Coupled with her triumphs at the Golden Globes, BAFTAs and DGA Awards, Zhao is easily the safest bet (though Fennell and Fincher have outside chances).

Will Win: Chloé Zhao, Nomadland
Should Win: Chloé Zhao, Nomadland
Should’ve Been Nominated: Josephine Decker, Shirley

BEST PICTURE

Nominees: The Father, Judas and the Black Messiah, Mank, Minari, Nomadland, Promising Young Woman, Sound of Metal, The Trial of the Chicago 7

In a perfect world, this would be a toss-up between Nomadland, Sound of Metal and Minari. In reality, it’s down to Nomadland and the Trial of the Chicago 7. While Nomadland has scored just about every major prerequisite award for a Best Picture winner (e.g., the Golden Globes, BAFTAs, etc.), the dreaded “front-runner curse” — when Academy voters suddenly sour on an awards-season favorite — could upset its chances and reward a safer, more Oscar bait-y film like Trial of the Chicago 7. Regardless, I’m going to maintain my prediction that Nomadland will win the ultimate prize. In addition to simply being a terrific film, Nomadland is exactly the sort of zeitgeist-capturing success story that makes the Academy swoon.

Will Win: Nomadland
Should Win: Nomadland
Should’ve Been Nominated: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

That’s my forecast, and I’ll see you on April 25!