Jason’s Predictions and Predilections for the 93rd Annual Academy Awards

93rd Annual Academy Awards

So, I try and screen every nominated film, as I attempt to do every year, but this was a different kind of a year. I have found it much harder to watch both due to my day job and how little I enjoy watching films on my TV. In spite of this, I have managed to see everything except a couple animated feature films that have no shot, a couple visual effects films that have no shot, and “Hillbilly Elegy” because, well, I have better things to do. And since there are only three or four awards totally up for grabs this year, it stands to reason I may have a couple/few wrong – I ain’t perfect (I can hear my friends laughing at even the thought). So…that disclosure (cop-out) out of the way, here are my predictions (what will win), my predilections (what I think deserves to win), and this year, what should or could have been nominated for the award.

Just want to mention that I have been saying for a few years now that the Oscars would be more diverse only after movies about and by women and/or POC were greenlit by studios or funded with larger budgets independently. Guess what…this is the year it finally happened and, as a result, we are presented with the most diverse group of nominees you’ve likely ever seen, and by extension, winners as well. It is well within the realm of possibility that all four acting categories will go to POC –  as well as many of the guild awards to women. ‘Bout time.

Finally, this is my first year since 2005 that I’m not working the Oscars. I am in Chicago and will be watching from my couch. and while I miss the excitement, the pressure and the interaction of those attending, what I will miss the most is working with the academy folks, my vendors and most dear of all, my Sequoia Productions family, who will be hurting most of all by the lack of a Governor’s Ball. Love you all. See you at the Emmys (fingers crossed).

Click here to download my pick and preferred cheat sheet for 2021  (pdf file)

Best Motion Picture of the Year

When it comes to Best Picture…how does the voting work? Well, every year I reprint a detailed article in GoldDerby.com , which you can read here, about the process. In short, members rank the nominees in preference from 1-8. Any picture that gets 50% of first-place votes wins. If none hit that threshold (which is likely), then the picture with the lowest number of first-place votes is eliminated, and it’s all tallied once again, until a film gets 50%, and thus, wins. One would think this task would be pretty straight forward, especially in a year when there seems to be only a couple of films on everyone’s mind as the best of the best.

But this was a year like no other. None of the giant star-driven films even came out and almost no one saw a film in a theater, nor did the voters get to see the films in the Academy screening rooms (the Taj Mahal of theaters), so it’s quite literally a case of which films made the most impact in living rooms…which I believe is one of the reasons (other than their quality) that the films that are adaptations of plays (Ma Rainey, The Father, One Night In Miami), or smaller in action (Minari, Nomadland) are on top of the heap. I am in no way saying they aren’t deserving. Rather, in past years they may not have received the critical attention they so richly deserved.

Nominees:Nomadland (2020) logo

“The Father”
“Judas and the Black Messiah”
“Promising Young Woman”
“Sound of Metal”
“The Trial of the Chicago 7”

Will win: “Nomadland”
Should win: “Minari”
Longshot: “The Trial of Chicago 7” or “Promising Young Woman”
Should be here: “One Night in Miami”

Achievement in Directing
Best director almost always goes to the Best Picture winner…and clearly Zhao has done something spectacular with something very, very small, a tiny budget and crew and about three professional actors. But following that formula, if I think “Minari” should be Best Picture, Chung should win here. But I certainly think Zhao is a worthy winner. And where is Shaka King? Not sure about Vinterberg’s inclusion here. I’d have preferred to see Shaka King in the group.


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

Will win: Chloé Zhao
Should win: Lee Isaan Chung
Long Shot: Thomas Vinterbourg
Should be here: Shaka King , “Judas and the Black Messiah”

Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Listen, I think Boseman was great. But I am also not alone in thinking Ahmed and Hopkins gave better performances this year. Regardless, Boseman will win and I am totally okay with that. What a tremendous way to recognize what he has already accomplished, but more importantly, what we are going to miss out from his passing.

Chadwick Boseman's Last Performance: A First Look at 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom' - The New York TimesNominees:

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

Will win: Chadwick Boseman
Should win: Anthony Hopkins/Riz Ahmed
Longest shot: Anthony Hopkins
Should be here: Tahar Rahim (“The Mauritanian”) or Andy Samberg (“Palm Springs”)

Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
So, here is your one up for grabs pick of the major six. Davis has a slight lead in both the predictions of experts and of those voters I’ve spoken to, but don’t count out Mulligan. Not long ago, McDormand was a shoo in so that could happen as well. Of course, I think Andra Day and Vanessa Kirby gave the best performances, but don’t hold your breath for either of them. I’ll predict Davis. But flip a coin. Just outside of this deserving five would be “Minari’s” Yeri Han and the deliciously over-the-top performance of Meryl Streep in “The Prom”


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”)

Will win: Viola Davis
Should win: Andra Day or Vanessa Kirby
Not So Long Shot: Carey Mulligan
Should be here: Yeri Han (“Minari”) or Meryl Streep (“The Prom”)

Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
This is a foregone conclusion and rightfully so. Kaluuya is simply too good in too major a role (could’ve been up for Best Actor). That said, I think Paul Raci and Leslie Odom were every bit his equal. More importantly, I think the vastly underutilized Jonathon Majors (who should have received a nomination for “Last Black Man In SF”) and Aldis Hodge (whose monologue in “One Night in Miami” is everything) could have also been recognized.


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”)

Will win: Daniel Kaluuya
Should win: Daniel Kaluuya or Paul Raci or Leslie Odom., Jr….
Long Shot: Sacha Baron Cohen
Should be here: Jonathon Majors (“Da 5 Bloods”) or Aldis Hodge (“One Night In Miami”)

Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Youn for the POC sweep! She’s masterful. Seyfried is getting a lot of love, too, but not enough. And, to sum up, I actually think Olivia Williams is the better Olivia in “The Father”.


Maria Bakalova (‘Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”)
Glenn Close (“Hillbilly Elegy”)
Olivia Colman (“The Father”)
Amanda Seyfried (“Mank”)
Yuh-jung Youn (“Minari”)

Will win: Yuh-jung Youn
Should win: Yuh-jung Youn
Long Shot: Amanda Seyfried
Should be here: Olivia Williams (“The Father”)

Original Screenplay
Not much to add here. other than Promising Young Woman looks like the odds-on winner. However, since Sorkin’s “Trial” isn’t likely to win anywhere else, it could get a substantial concession vote.


“Judas and the Black Messiah”
“Promising Young Woman”
“Sound of Metal”
“The Trial of the Chicago 7”

Will win: “Promising Young Woman”
Should Win: “Minari”
Not So Long Shot: “Trial of the Chicago 7″
Should be here: Jasmila Zbanic for the incredible “Quo Vadis, Aida” screenplay.

Best Adapted Screenplay

So not much chance anything unseats “Nomadland” here. For me, the very little seen “White Tiger” was the most impactful and complex screenplay of this bunch. And the transfer of “The Father” from stage to screen was masterful.

Nominees: nomadad

“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” a bunch of people (but basically Cohen)
“The Father,” Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller
Nomadland,Chloe Zhao
“One Night in Miami,” Kemp Powers
“The White Tiger,” Ramin Bahrani

Will win: “Nomadland”
Should Win: “The Father” or “The White Tiger”
Long Shot: “Borat”

Best Animated Feature Film

Okay. Disclaimer. I only saw all of two of these films, and about half of two others. I didn’t see any of “Farmageddon”. That said, “Wolf Walkers” was far and away the best animated film I saw this year with “Soul” not too far behind. And bringing up the rear was the shortlisted, but not nominated “My Favorite War”. Doesn’t matter. “Soul” will win here, but please watch “Wolf Walkers”. Gorgeous film.

The maker of Pixar's Up and Inside Out talks about Soul and life's big questionsNominees:

“Onward” (Pixar)
“Over the Moon” (Netflix)
“A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon” (Netflix)
“Soul” (Pixar)
Wolfwalkers” (Apple TV Plus/GKIDS) 

Will win: “Soul”
Should win: “Wolfwalkers”
Long Shot: “Wolfwalkers”
Should be here: “My Favorite War”

Best International Film
“Another Round” is the critical and festival darling. It’s really good. But “Quo Vadis, Aida”, of this bunch was the most impactful and important. I would have added the shortlisted, “Charlatan” & “A Sun”, and then, without question the entry from Latvia, “Blizzard of Souls”, my favorite foreign film of the year.


“Another Round” (Denmark)
“Better Days” (Hong Kong)
“Collective” (Romania)
“The Man Who Sold His Skin” (Tunisia)
“Quo Vadis, Aida?”(Bosnia and Herzegovina)

Will win: “Another Round”
Should win: “Another Round” or “Quo Vadis, Aida”
Long Shot: “Collective”,
Should be here: “Charlatan” (Czech Republic), “A Sun” (Taiwan) or “Blizzard of Souls” (Latvia)

Best Documentary Feature

These are all pretty great films (although there were several shortlisted films that didn’t make it that probably should have). “Octopus” is the favorite, but “Crip Camp” is gaining steam, so for your pool, I’d flip a coin. “Collective” is important and hard to watch. “Mole Agent” seems cute and then hits you over the head. “Octopus” is beautiful, if a bit sleepy. And “Crip Camp” is a fantastic history lesson in how to be empathetic. But, for me, “Time” is the best of the year. It takes the promise of “Hale County” and the family connection of “Strong Island” and, through its amazing use of time shifting and a family that is powerful in its love, wallops you. Doesn’t matter, won’t win. Not sure how “Dick Johnson Is Dead” or “Welcome To Chechnya” wasn’t nominated.

Nominees:My Octopus Teacher' Netflix Doc: Just How Horny Is It?

“Collective,” Alexander Nanau and Bianca Oana
“Crip Camp,” Nicole Newnham, Jim LeBrecht and Sara Bolder
“The Mole Agent,” Maite Alberdi and Marcela Santibáñez
“My Octopus Teacher,” Pippa Ehrlich, James Reed and Craig Foster
“Time,” Garrett Bradley, Lauren Domino and Kellen Quinn

Will win: “My Octopus Teacher”
Should win: “Crip Camp”
Long Shot: “The Mole Agent”
Should be here: “Dick Johnson Is Dead”

Best Documentary Short Subject

“Concerto” has been the leader, but “Latasha” might steal it on the day of..and is my pick to click. “Hunger Ward” too difficult for voters to sit through for 40 minutes, “Colette” is touching, thought strangely distancing. “Do Not Split” is so powerful and would be a worthy winner, but not likely. “Concerto” is lovely, smart and engaging. But “Latasha” is unique, heartbreaking and well made. Surprised “Hysterical Girl” didn’t make the cut. Fantastic.


“A Concerto Is a Conversation”
“Do Not Split”
“Hunger Ward”
“A Love Song for Latasha”

Will win: “A Love Song for Latasha”
Should win: “A Love Song for Latasha”
Not So Long shot: “A Concerto Is a Conversation”
Should be here: “Speed Cubers” or “Hysterical Girl”

Best Live-Action Short Film

No chance “Two Distant Strangers” loses. Big names, well made and a plot trick we’ve grown accustomed to. It’s also REALLY good and extremely timely. The others mostly fall under the “nice”, “touching”, and “clever” categories. “The Present” and “White Eye” are the runners up in my mind, but still not as impactful as “Strangers”.


“Feeling Through”
“The Letter Room”
“The Present”
“Two Distant Strangers”
“White Eye”

Will win: “Two Distant Strangers”
Should Win: “Two Distant Strangers”
Long Shot: “Feeling Through”
Should be here: “The Human Voice”

Best Animated Short Film
“If Anything Happens” is going to win…a smart telling of a uniquely American phenomenon/tragedy. That said, “Opera” might be the most incredible animated thing I’ve ever seen. I’ve watched it four times and still see DOZENS of things I’ve missed. Also, how on earth did “Out” not get in and “Burrow” did?!?! “Burrow” is neither clever nor cute. Just cloying. <eyeroll>


“Burrow” (Disney Plus/Pixar)
“Genius Loci” (Kazak Productions)
“If Anything Happens I Love You” (Netflix)
“Opera” (Beasts and Natives Alike)
“Yes-People” (CAOZ hf. Hólamói)

Will win: “If Anything Happens I Love You”
Should Win: “Opera”
Long Shot: “Opera”
Should be here: “Out”

Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original SCORE)
Desplat wuz robbed. His score for “Midnight Sky” is my favorite score of the year, followed closely by Lolita Ritmanis’ amazing score for Latvia’s “Blizzard of Souls”. But, whatever, “Soul” has won quite literally every single award it’s been up for and is a lock here. Of the nominees, I preferred the other Reznor-Ross effort, “Mank”.

Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - Soul (Original Motion Picture Score) [LP] - Amazon.com MusicNominees:

“Da 5 Bloods,” Terence Blanchard
“Mank,” Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross
“Minari,” Emile Mosseri
“News of the World,” James Newton Howard
“Soul,” Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Jon Batiste

Will win: “Soul”
Should Win: “Soul”
Long Shot: “Mank”
Should be here: “The Midnight Sky,” Alexandre Desplat

Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original SONG)
It is my long-held and firm belief that this award is utterly irrelevant. It exists only so there can be a semblance of performed entertainment during the show. But I’m not sure what that means for this Oscars, though I’d love to see Odom sing the terrific “Speak Now” or to see Will Ferrel sing “Husavik”. Anyhoo, looks like Odom will get the win…and should. That said, Abraham Marders song “Green” was the perfect accompaniment to “Sound of Metal”.


“Fight for You,” (“Judas and the Black Messiah”)
“Hear My Voice,” (“The Trial of the Chicago 7”)
Húsavík,” (“Eurovision Song Contest”)
“Io Si (Seen),” (“The Life Ahead”)
“Speak Now,” (“One Night in Miami”)

Will win: “Speak Now,” (“One Night in Miami”)
Should Win: “Speak Now,” (“One Night in Miami”)
Not So Long Shot: Húsavík,” (“Eurovision Song Contest”)
Should be here: “Green,” (“Sound of Metal”)

Achievement in Sound
The lock of all locks. “Sound of Metal” wins. Wouldn’t have minded seeing “Tenet” here, even if you can’t hear half the dialogue. LOL.


“News of the World”
“Sound of Metal”

Will win: “Sound of Metal”
Should Win: “Sound of Metal”
Long Shot: none
Should be here: “Tenet”

Achievement in Cinematography
Yeah…how do you make living in a van look as gorgeous as it does in “Nomadland”? Just ask Joshua James Richards. But “Midnight Sky” and “Blizzard of Souls” probably belonged in the conversation over ‘Trial” and “Judah”.


“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 

Will win: “Nomadland”
Should Win: “Nomadland”
Long Shot: “Mank”
Should be here: “Midnight Sky”

Achievement in Film Editing
“Sound of Metal” has this award sewn up with its only contender being “Trial”. Personally, I thought “The Father” had the best editing of the nominees. But seriously, Gabriel Rhodes editing in the Best Doc nominee, “Time” is the best of the year.


“The Father,” Yorgos Lamprinos
Nomadland,” Chloé Zhao
“Promising Young Woman,” Frédéric Thoraval
“Sound of Metal,” Mikkel E.G. Nielsen
“The Trial of the Chicago 7,” Alan Baumgarten

Will win: “Sound of Metal”
Should Win: “The Father”
Not So Long Shot: “Trial of the Chicago 7″
Should be here: “Time,” Gabriel Rhodes

Achievement in Visual Effects
Okay, disclaimer two: Did not see “Love and Monsters” or “One and Only Ivan”. No bother. “Tenet” will win.


“Love and Monsters”
“The Midnight Sky”
“The One and Only Ivan”

Will win: “Tenet”
Should Win: “Tenet”
Long Shot: “Mulan”

Achievement in Production Design

So “Mank is the favorite by a long shot, and of this bunch, is the most deserving. But I would have liked to see “The Prom”, “Blizzard of Souls” or even the Chicago-shot, “Working Man” (disclaimer: I was in it).

Nominees: mankprod

“The Father.” Peter Francis, Cathy Featherstone
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” Mark Ricker, Karen O’Hara, Diana Stoughton
“Mank.” Donald Graham Burt, Jan Pascale
“News of the World.” David Crank, Elizabeth Keenan
“Tenet.” Nathan Crowley, Kathy Lucas

Will win: “Mank”
Should Win: “Mank”
Not So Long Shot: “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
Should be here: “Working Man” (Sarah Sharp & Suzzanah Linnekin) or “The Prom” (Jamie Walker McCall & Gene Serdena)

Achievement in Costume Design
“Ma Rainey” is a lock. But..uh…”The Prom” wasn’t nominated? I mean…

Netflix movie review: Ma Rainey's Black Bottom – Chadwick Boseman, in his final role, lifts tale of race, sexuality and creativity | South China Morning PostNominees:

“Emma,” Alexandra Byrne
“Mank,” Trish Summerville
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” Ann Roth
“Mulan,” Bina Daigeler
“Pinocchio,” Massimo Cantini Parrini

Will win: “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” Ann Roth
Should win: “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” Ann Roth
Long Shot: There are none
Should be here: “The Prom,” Lou Eyrich

Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling
“Ma Rainey”. That is all.


“Hillbilly Elegy”
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”

Will win: “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
Should win: “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
Long Shot: None
Should be here: uh…

That’s all. Good luck in your pools and in your hopes! See you at the Oscars!

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