In Depth

Oscars predictions 2021: who will win the top awards?

Nomadland tipped to dominate this year’s Academy Awards

The clock is ticking down to Hollywood’s biggest night of the year: the Academy Awards.

The ceremony has been pushed back by two months because of the Covid pandemic, and with cinemas closed, the rules have been tweaked to allow the inclusion of films that had to premiere on streaming services.

The action kicks off at 1am BST on 26 April from Union Station and Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, with footage also beaming in from a number of European “hubs” to include stars unable to travel.

Here are the nominations in the major categories.

Best Picture

The film to beat this year is Nomadland, starring Frances McDormand as a widow on a road trip through the American West. The Independent’s Adam White is throwing his support behind the Chloe Zhao-directed movie, which he describes as “a snapshot of modern America, its aches and traumas, and the individuals trying to make the most out of the bill of goods they’ve been sold”.

A win for Nomadland is by no means a done deal, however. The Trial of the Chicago 7 “has long been considered one of the potential spoilers” to the front-runner’s Oscars hopes, says Variety’s Clayton Davis. The legal drama follows a group of anti-Vietnam war protesters charged with trying to incite a riot in the 1960s.

Meanwhile, Esquire wonders whether Minari - about a Korean family starting a farm in 1980s Arkansas - can follow in the footsteps of last year’s Best Picture Parasite, which was “heralded as a landmark moment for foreign-language cinema”.

  • The Father
  • Judas and the Black Messiah
  • Mank
  • Minari
  • Nomadland
  • Promising Young Woman
  • Sound of Metal
  • The Trial of the Chicago 7
Actor in a Leading Role

The Los Angeles Times is predicting that the leading actor award will go to the late Chadwick Boseman, who died from cancer last August, for his role as a Jazz Age trumpeter in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. “He’s deserving, and it’s the last chance his peers have to honour him for a career marked by warmth, generosity and purpose,” says the newspaper’s entertainment columnist Glenn Whipp. The New Yorker agrees that his death “has cast a tragic pall over this year’s Best Actor race, while also rendering the competition all but moot”.

  • Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal
  • Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
  • Anthony Hopkins, The Father
  • Gary Oldman, Mank
  • Steven Yeun, Minari
Actress in a Leading Role

If the leading actor category seems to have a foregone conclusion, the leading actress award is the opposite. “Who’s in front in the Oscars’ Best Actress race? Who knows!” says Vulture. This year’s award season so far has seen Carey Mulligan picking up the Critics’ Choice Award for Promising Young Woman, Andra Day winning the Golden Globe for The United States vs. Billie Holiday, and Viola Davis taking home the SAG. As Vulture says, “the preliminary results have given us only chaos”.

  • 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
Actor in a Supporting Role

British actor Daniel Kaluuya - aka Black Panther activist Fred Hampton in Judas and the Black Messiah - “has everything going for him this year”, says the New York Post’s Johnny Oleksinski. “Not only does he give a thunderous performance as the impassioned orator, his film was also the last of the eight Best Picture nominees to debut, so it’s fresh in voters’ minds.” But, Oleksinski adds, “you can’t totally count out” Sacha Baron Cohen, who plays “Flower Power” activist Abbie Hoffman in The Trial of the Chicago 7.

  • 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
Actress in a Supporting Role

Back in 2019, Olivia Colman pipped front-runner Glenn Close to the post for Best Actress - and the two stars are now going head to head again in the supporting actress category. Despite eight nominations, Close “remains the great un-Oscared actress of our time”, as The Telegraph’s Robbie Collin noted after her defeat two years ago. But 2021 might not be her year either. Yuh-Jung Youn is a favourite among critics to win after becoming the first South Korean actress to be nominated in an acting category at the Academy Awards.

  • Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
  • Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy
  • Olivia Colman, The Father
  • Amanda Seyfried, Mank
  • Yuh-Jung Youn, Minari
Directing

For the first time ever, more than one female director has been nominated. London-born Emerald Fennell has been named for Promising Young Woman, starring Mulligan as a woman trying to get revenge after her best friend is raped. But Associated Press film writer Lindsey Bahr says: “The directing category is Chloe Zhao’s to lose and I think she both will win and should win for the transcendent Nomadland.”

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

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