The 2021 Oscars Review: Predictions and Snubs

The 93rd Annual Academy Awards – Oscars 2021: Predictions and Snubs

Written By C. A. Ponch

Everything in 2020 was a little different than most years, and in celebrating the best of that year in film, the 93rd Annual Academy Awards are going to be a little different too. Although there will be a live in-person ceremony and guests will be encouraged to wear formal clothing; only the nominees and their significant others will be allowed to attend the event being held in several different locations. The academy was forced to nominate what was released, and in 2020, a little less than half of the movies of a typical year were released to the public. Coming out of that much smaller number were some really low budget dramatic films that all had art-house qualities to them.

2020 was supposed to be the “Year of the Indie”, and although some of this year’s nominees do fit that bill, a lot of the films nominated are typical Oscar bait that would have been considered for nomination in most years.  A majority of these films are quite polished in production, matching the excellence of the performances. At the end of December, I thought this was going to be a weaker year than most, but “Oscar season” was basically just pushed back. A lot the films that were eligible and supposedly released in 2020, were actually made available in the early part of 2021 to us through popular streaming services.

Netflix’s “Mank” leads all films with 10 nominations, although it’s probably one of the weaker films in the Best Picture category.  A lot of the other Best Picture nominees had six nominations apiece: “The Father,” “Judas and the Black Messiah (HBO MAX),”“Minari,” “Nomadland (HULU),” “Sound of Metal (AMAZON PRIME)” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7 (NETFLIX)”. “Promising Young Woman” received five nods. This is a very close Oscar race with several categories being almost impossible to predict including Best Picture. After “Parasite’s” historic and surprising win last year, anything can happen and I can’t wait for Oscar night!

THE BEST MOVIES OF 2020

BEST PICTURE

“The Father” (David Parfitt, Jean-Louis Livi and Philippe Carcassonne, producers)

“Judas and the Black Messiah” (Shaka King, Charles D. King and Ryan Coogler, producers)

“Mank” (Ceán Chaffin, Eric Roth and Douglas Urbanski, producers)

“Minari” (Christina Oh, producer)

“Nomadland” (Frances McDormand, Peter Spears, Mollye Asher, Dan Janvey and Chloé Zhao, producers)

“Promising Young Woman” (Ben Browning, Ashley Fox, Emerald Fennell and Josey McNamara, producers)

“Sound of Metal” (Bert Hamelinck and Sacha Ben Harroche, producers)

“The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Marc Platt and Stuart Besser, producers)

WHO WILL WIN: “Nomadland”

WHO SHOULD WIN: “Nomadland”

WHO GOT SNUBBED: “Never Rarely Sometimes Always”, “One Night in Miami”, “Ma Raineys Black Bottom”, “Soul”,

WHO SHOULDN’T HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: All of these were great films, I am little surprised “Mank” has as many nominations as it does, but it still belongs here. This was a better collection of nominated films than what the Golden Globes gave us a few months ago. I’m still shocked “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” was completely overlooked, it should have been nominated.

THE LOW DOWN: Although it has been said that this is a close Oscar race, to me there is a clear front runner and that is “Nomadland”. It should win Best Picture and take home a few more golden statues on Oscar night, even in a year with some strong competition. All the films nominated are deserving and worth watching, I personally loved “Nomadland”, “Sound of Metal” and “Judas and The Black Messiah” in that order.  All of the movies nominated have a chance to win Best Picture, but as great as they were, they all had slight flaws. “Nomadland’s” lack of true plot was a bit of commentary on the project’s subject itself, but it could still leave some viewers dissatisfied. “Minari’s” ending could have been less ambiguous, giving the viewer more resolution. “The Trail of the Chicago 7’s” superb dialogue and performances were crammed into a generally duller film than what it could have been. “Promising Young Woman” although very stylistic and dynamic, wasn’t weighty enough for the subject matter in parts, making me wonder what type of movie the creators were going for. With all of “Mank’s” technical perfection, it was an unemotional film, that needed a lot more heart. “The Father” is a slightly confusing film, bordering on monotonous, lifted to great heights by the cast. “Sound of Metal’s” characters lacked some depth and a definable backstory.  “Judas and the Black Messiah” needed to be more impactful, it fell flat in certain moments that if portrayed correctly, could have made it one of the best of all time. Even with those flaws, these were well crafted entertaining films and unlike years’ past, there isn’t a single film of the bunch undeserving of your time or the Best Picture nomination. In the end, I feel it will most likely be “Nomadland” or possibly “Minari” because of their uniqueness and timely commentary on America.

BEST DIRECTOR

Thomas Vinterberg (“Another Round”)

David Fincher (“Mank”)

Lee Isaac Chung (“Minari”)

Chloé Zhao (“Nomadland”)

Emerald Fennell (“Promising Young Woman”)

WHO WILL WIN: Chloé Zhao, (“Nomadland”)

WHO SHOULD WIN: Chloé Zhao, (“Nomadland”)

WHO GOT SNUBBED: “Aaron Sorkin, (“The Trial of the Chicago 7”), Eliza Hittman (“Never Rarely Sometimes Always”), Regina King, (“One Night in Miami”)

WHO SHOULD’T HAVE BEEN NOMINATED:  Thomas Vinterberg was fine, but there were better Directors that were snubbed.

THE LOW DOWN:  If the award is given to anyone but Zhao, the academy voters got it wrong. Outside of Frances McDormand and David Strathairn, Zhao essentially hired and was working with non-actors. The mix of professionals and non-professionals and the gorgeous picturesque shots, made “Nomadland’ at times feel like a documentary. The authenticity of each scene I credit to Zhao. Her work on this film is unparalleled. There is nothing like “Nomadland” that has ever come before because of the producers and Zhao’s risk taking brilliance. Vinterberg and Fennell didn’t get enough from their less than stellar supporting casts. They won’t pick Fincher over Zhao, considering the acting clay he had to work with was already pretty molded and how whiney the film was. Chung may be the only Director who has a chance against Zhao, for his vision and for bringing together a cast and crew who all did the best work of their careers, on the film. Hittman should have gotten nominated for the over looked and underappreciated “Never Rarely Sometimes Always”.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

“Onward” (Pixar, Walt Disney Pictures) 

“Over the Moon” (Netflix) 

“A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon” (Netflix) 

“Soul” (Pixar, Walt Disney Pictures)

“Wolfwalkers” (Apple TV Plus/GKIDS) 

WHO WILL WIN: “Soul” (Pixar, Walt Disney Pictures)

WHO SHOULD WIN: “Soul” (Pixar, Walt Disney Pictures)

WHO GOT SNUBBED: This was a weak year for this category, so they pretty much got it right.

WHO SHOULD’T HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: They got it right.

THE LOW DOWN: Sometimes the most popular and most obvious pick is the right one, and Disney-Pixar’s “Soul” deserves this award. It was brilliant and touching film for all ages, but in true Pixar fashion was as entertaining for adults as it was children. “Wolfwalkers” has a chance to pull the upset, the story was great, but the animation had a different type of kinetic energy to it.  I personally didn’t care for the look of the film, finding it visually very unpleasing. Although the creators behind “A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon” are consistent and funny, there isn’t anything new there that garners the award. The other two nominees don’t really have a chance to win.

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

“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

WHO WILL WIN: “My Octopus Teacher,” Pippa Ehrlich, James Reed and Craig Foster

Or “Time,” Garrett Bradley, Lauren Domino and Kellen Quinn

WHO SHOULD WIN: “My Octopus Teacher,” Pippa Ehrlich, James Reed

WHO GOT SNUBBED: “Athlete A”, “The Social Dilemma”, “Dick Johnson is Dead”, “On the Record”, “Beastie Boys Story”, “Boys State”, and more.

WHO SHOULD’T HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: “The Mole Agent”, “Time”

THE LOW DOWN: The academy has snubbed deserving nominees in the past and documentaries can be very hard to critique, but I have never seen the academy miss on so many great films in a single category before. There were so many superb documentaries that came out in 2020, that I am not sure whether the voters didn’t see a lot of them or they just have a different idea of what makes a great documentary.  (please see my article on the Top 20  Documentaries of last year:  2020 YEAR IN REVIEW: THE YEAR OF THE DOCUMENTARY.  Considering their subject matter, I’m shocked that “On the Record” and “Athlete A” were not nominated, and “Dick Johnson is Dead” was a special film in its innovative uniqueness. “Time” has received universal praise and could very easily win, but I have seen this movie several times now, just to make sure I wasn’t reviewing it harshly and I just don’t get it. It’s not well shot, it’s a slow bore of a film that honestly doesn’t move me as much as it should have considering the subject matter.  The ongoing persecution of Black Americans needs to be discussed, but I have seen this handled with more interesting and emotive takes with more impact in the past (See “The 13th).  Watch out for “Collective”, that was an extremely gripping film on political corruption that moved quickly, separating itself from all the other films on this list, which all had pacing issues. The only thing holding “Collective” back is that it wasn’t in English and was a non-American film. “My Octopus Teacher” was a gorgeous and heartfelt film, that was quite moving.  I think the three political films will split votes and “My Octopus Teacher” will win.

BEST INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM

“Another Round” (Denmark) 

“Better Days” (Hong Kong)

“Collective” (Romania) 

“The Man Who Sold His Skin” (Tunisia)

“Quo Vadis, Aida?”(Bosnia and Herzegovina) 

WHO WILL WIN: “Another Round” (Denmark)

WHO SHOULD WIN: “Another Round” (Denmark)

WHO GOT SNUBBED: “The Mole Agent” (Chile)

WHO SHOULD’T HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: This is the one category that I have yet to see all of the films nominated.

THE LOW DOWN: I have not seen “Quo Vadis, Aida?” (Bosnia and Herzegovina) or “The Man Who Sold His Skin” (Tunisia).  I can say that “Another Round” was a good film with a Best Director nomination and besides “Collective”, none of the other films are nominated for any other awards. I think the “Collective” could win but is unlikely they give it to a documentary. “Another Round” is no “Parasite”, but I think it pulls out the victory in this category. If you prefer English speaking films, none of these will interest you. I did enjoy “Another Round” and “Collective” on Hulu, but would have never paid to see any of these.

A BUNCH OF MASTER CLASS ACTS

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”)

WHO WILL WIN: Chadwick Boseman (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”)

WHO SHOULD WIN:  Riz Ahmed (“Sound of Metal”)

WHO GOT SNUBBED: Sacha Baron Cohen (“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”), Delroy Lindo (“Da Five Bloods”)

WHO SHOULD’T HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: No one really, they were all fantastic. This is a real competition and these men are all heavy weights this year.

THE LOW DOWN: The unfortunate passing of Chadwick Boseman changed the outcome of this category for every award show. When he passed away he became a much bigger figure than what he was in life, an icon. This man deserves all the accolades he has received for his work in “42”, “Marshall”, “Get on Up”, “Da Five Bloods”, and “Black Panther”. The world truly lost a generational talent and his performance in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” cemented his legacy. With that said, as good as Boseman was, I thought Riz Ahmed and Anthony Hopkins were both better. In a year in which he doesn’t pass away, I don’t think he wins but after basically sweeping the award circuit, he will definitely win the Oscar and his performance is Oscar worthy. Hopkins is the only one that has a chance to beat him, but even Hopkins wasn’t better than Ahmed. Not only did Ahmed act with an American English accent instead of his natural British one, but he learned both American Sign Language and how to play drums in only seven months, for the role. His performance was insanely impressive and was the best of the year of any actor in any film.  The academy still won’t deny Boseman, even though I feel he has had better performances in the past. Boseman’s legacy will live on and Ahmed will be back again collecting an Oscar sometime in the next couple of years.

BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

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”)

WHO WILL WIN: Carey Mulligan (“Promising Young Woman”) or Viola Davis (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”)

WHO SHOULD WIN: Carey Mulligan (“Promising Young Woman”)

WHO GOT SNUBBED: Rosamund Pike (“I Care a Lot”), Sidney Flanigan (“Never Rarely Sometimes Always”), Julia Garner (“The Assistant”)

WHO SHOULD’T HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: All of the actresses deserve to be here

THE LOW DOWN: I was so surprised that the HFPA gave the Globe to Andra Day, I watched the movie again and realized that she was superb in a less than entertaining, very average movie.The movie brought Day’s performance down for me, and it probably shouldn’t have on second watch. The SAG’s gave it to Viola Davis, and now I don’t have any idea what is going to happen.  I thought that McDormand and Mulligan were better than both those actresses. Davis is so great in everything that I wonder if I am taking her for granted or whether I just typically think of stage theatrical performances as out of place in film adaptions. It’s not like Kirby’s performance was worse than the others, she was equally as enthralling. It’s near impossible to select a winner in this category because these five wonderful actresses deserve it. I wouldn’t be shocked if any of them won, I wouldn’t even be shocked if this category ended in a tie. Mulligan’s performance was so believable and brilliant that I hope she gets it. She really carried the other actors in “Promising Young Woman” and her performance filled in huge gaps of a very uneven movie. Although, I could make that case for every actress in this category, especially McDormand, who was only one of two true actors in “Nomadland”, and the main reason why that movie was so compelling. If they choose Boseman for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”, I think they spread the awards around and give it to Mulligan, but all of these actresses are deserving. The strength of this category didn’t stop at the five actresses nominated. They could have expanded this category to eight with Pike, Flanigan and Garner and I would have still had a hard time choosing. All the movies mentioned are worth seeing just to witness these amazing actresses give timeless performances.

BEST ACTOR IN A SUPORTING 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”)

WHO WILL WIN: Daniel Kaluuya (“Judas and the Black Messiah”)

WHO SHOULD WIN: Daniel Kaluuya (“Judas and the Black Messiah”)

WHO GOT SNUBBED: Matthew Macfadyen (“The Assistant”), Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and a few other cast members (“Trial of the Chicago 7”)

WHO SHOULD’T HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: None really, all of them were great and Lakeith Stanfield deserved a nomination.  I am just shocked it was in this category and not for Best Actor, he was obviously the lead.

THE LOW DOWN: Daniel Kaluuya has swept the awards circuit, so the academy giving this award to anyone else would be quite a surprise. Stanfield’s selection as a supporting actor could open this wide open if he takes some of Kaluuya’s votes. If that’s the case, then you may see the award going to Cohen for his scene stealing work in “Trail of the Chicago 7”. I thought Paul Raci was brilliant in “Sound of Metal” and he would be deserving. The only way that Kaluuya doesn’t win, is if Stanfield’s presence on the ballot hurts him. There were so many great performances in the “Trail of the Chicago 7”, that it’s hard to choose whose was the best, but I took notice every time Abdul-Mateen gave a line, he stood out among a crowded room of great supporting actors.

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”) 

WHO WILL WIN: Yuh-jung Youn (“Minari”)  

WHO SHOULD WIN: Maria Bakalova (“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”)

WHO GOT SNUBBED: Jodie Foster (“The Mauritanian”), Talia Ryder (“Never Rarely Sometimes Always”)

WHO SHOULD’T HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Glenn Close (“Hillbilly Elegy”)

THE LOW DOWN: I have this bad feeling the academy is going to completely screw this one up, and give it to Close or another nominee less deserving. This award should go to Bakalova. I realize that “Borat” is a comedy. I realize it is ridiculous, but this unknown young actress stood toe to toe with the guy who created one of the most ridiculous persona’s in movie history. Cohen had years to develop and flesh out a character of his own mind’s creation, she had a few months.  Bakalova shared the screen with him without sounding like a parody or cheap female version of Borat. Bakalova’s performance was so good, she somehow fooled everyone, including Rudy Giuliani as she played a journalist while staying in character, which seems like it would be extremely hard to accomplish: playing a character with-in a ridiculous character, while duping someone into thinking that person was real.  During most of the movie I was in disbelief at the accuracy at which she was able to balance Cohen’s creation of the role, while adding her own distinct take. It would be a tragedy if she doesn’t win.  I thought “Hillbilly Elegy” was an awful movie, and I don’t even think Close (as good as what she is in everything), even deserves to be here. Oliva Colman has been great in all of her film and TV projects since her Oscar win in “The Favourite”, and her performance in “The Father” is no exception, however this was not her best performance and not even her best performance this year (See “The Crown”). Seyfried was the heart and light of “Mank”, and without her performance, the film would have been extremely dull.  I just don’t think she had a true stand out moment in the film, that will resonate. This is a two-woman race between two unknowns: Youn and Bakalova. The majority of the academy most likely didn’t recognize Youn before her star-turn in “Minari”, I had never heard of the actress before either, but she is a veteran actor and brought a lot of that experience to the role. That mix of experience, yet freshness to viewers, discovering her for the first time, is going to really entice academy voters. If Youn wins, it would be less of disappointment than if one of the three other veteran actors win the award, but I hope that this goes to Bakalova. 

WRITING AND EDITING AT ITS BEST

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.” Screenplay by Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Dan Swimer, Peter Baynham, Erica Rivinoja, Dan Mazer, Jena Friedman, Lee Kern; Story by Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Dan Swimer, Nina Pedrad

“The Father,” Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller

“Nomadland,” Chloé Zhao

“One Night in Miami,” Kemp Powers

“The White Tiger,” Ramin Bahrani

WHO WILL WIN: “Nomadland,” Chloé Zhao

WHO SHOULD WIN: “The Father,” Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller or “One Night in Miami,” Kemp Powers

WHO GOT SNUBBED: “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”, Ruben Santiago-Hudson

WHO SHOULD’T HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: All of the movies nominated deserve to be here. I was perplexed by why “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” was nominated here. For anyone else wondering; sequels are always adapted screenplays, which is why “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” is not considered an original screenplay.

THE LOW DOWN:  What I love about the Oscars this year is how there aren’t any clear cut favorites in most categories because of the flaws in every film, and Best Adapted Screenplay may be the hardest to predict of any category. Any of these films could win. “The White Tiger”, was very well written, but it probably has the worst chance of winning. Do not be surprised if they reward “Borat” even if it seems odd to be in this category and I really loved the room Regina King and Powers gave the actors to work with in “One Night in Miami”, I truly believed that night went down similar to how it was portrayed. I just think this is going to be “Nomadland,” and specifically Chloé Zhao’s night. She will win, unless they decide to spread it around and if that is the case, I feel this is the spot the academy will reward “The Father” for its interesting POV take on dementia and Alzheimer’s.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

“Judas and the Black Messiah.” Screenplay by Will Berson, Shaka King; Story by Will Berson, Shaka King, Kenny Lucas, Keith Lucas

“Minari,” Lee Isaac Chung

“Promising Young Woman,” Emerald Fennell

“Sound of Metal.” Screenplay by Darius Marder, Abraham Marder; Story by Darius Marder, Derek Cianfrance

“The Trial of the Chicago 7,” Aaron Sorkin

WHO WILL WIN: “Promising Young Woman,” Emerald Fennell

WHO SHOULD WIN: “The Trial of the Chicago 7”, Aaron Sorkin or “Promising Young Woman,” Emerald Fennell

WHO GOT SNUBBED: “Palm Springs”, Andy Siara

WHO SHOULD’T HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: They got it right.

THE LOW DOWN:  Once again, there is no clear cut winner here, there is a three-headed monster of “Promising Young Woman”, “Minari” and “The Trial of The Chicago 7”. Aaron Sorkin is such a brilliant writer, and the dialogue in “The Trail of the Chicago 7” blew me away. He has the most recognizable name after previously winning for “The Social Network”. Chung’s semi-autobiographical story about his own childhood is very earnest and sincere, tugging at all your heart strings. Both are deserving, but Fennell’s story felt so fresh and modern. There isn’t a more relevant story in the group and the Oscars need more scripts like this. Although, Sorkin’s writing was sharper, Fennell has already won the WAG and I think she pulls off the win here as well.

BEST FILM EDITING

“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 

WHO WILL WIN: “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” Alan Baumgarten or “Sound of Metal,” Mikkel E.G. Nielsen

WHO SHOULD WIN: “Sound of Metal,” Mikkel E.G. Nielsen or “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” Alan Baumgarten

WHO GOT SNUBBED: “Tenet”

WHO SHOULD’T HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: They all had their own style and accomplishments.

THE LOW DOWN:  The way that Nielsen was able to match the bold sound editing was incredible. The editing in “The Sound of Metal” was pretty fearless in the fact that it could have really turned off viewers instead of bringing them in, but Neilsen really forced the viewer inside of Riz Ahmed’s character Reuben’s head by having us experience hearing loss the same way he did and then took it a step further by portraying the awkwardness of social situations, after the changes in his life. It’s really the mix of this film editing pairing with the sound editing of “The Sound of Metal” that make it such a compelling movie. I don’t think they will give this to Chloé Zhao for editing her own film but the Zhao lovefest could continue. The winner here is going to be Alan Baumgarten, who successfully balanced the aspects of the riots and courtroom drama in “The Trial of the Chicago 7”, giving us a very unique perspective of the events while Sorkin jumped around in time and setting. From the beginning introduction of all the main characters, to the intimate arguments between Eddie Redmayne’s Tom Hayden and Sacha Baron Cohen’s Abbie Hoffman, Baumgarten delivered and deserves the Oscar. One of these two film editors will win, it’s too close to call.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

“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 

WHO WILL WIN: “Nomadland,” Joshua James Richards

WHO SHOULD WIN: “Mank,” Erik Messerschmidt 

WHO GOT SNUBBED: “Tenet”,“The Vast of Night”

WHO SHOULD’T HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: “Judas and the Black Messiah,” Sean Bobbitt

THE LOW DOWN: “Nomadland” was shot beautifully. As the cameras followed Frances McDormand throughout the American West, Richards captured the beauty of the landscape of the Western states from dusk till dawn into the late evening in different lighting. It’s highly unlikely that Richards doesn’t win the Oscar. The only other nominee who has a chance is Messerschmidt. With 10 nominations “Mank” has to win a few and both here and in production design, are where the film has the best chance of winning. Messerschmidt shot the whole movie in black-and-white, making the movie look like it was set in the late 1930’s to early 1940’s like “Citizen Kane” yet the whole movie was in digital giving it a very modern feel. Quite possibly the best sequence of any movie this year was Oldman and Seyfried’s moonlight stroll, along with the well-lit shots of Mank in bed, giving “Mank” a real chance to win this one.  The other cinematographers in the category weren’t nearly as creative as Richards and Messershmidt. There was something magical about how the very low budget “The Vast of Night” was shot, making it seem like a bigger budget film, and I wish it would have been rewarded with a nomination.

THE TRUE CREATIVES 

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

“Love and Monsters,” Matt Sloan, Genevieve Camilleri, Matt Everitt and Brian Cox 

“The Midnight Sky,” Matthew Kasmir, Christopher Lawrence, Max Solomon and David Watkins

“Mulan,” Sean Faden, Anders Langlands, Seth Maury and Steve Ingram

“The One and Only Ivan,” Nick Davis, Greg Fisher, Ben Jones and Santiago Colomo Martinez

“Tenet,” Andrew Jackson, David Lee, Andrew Lockley and Scott Fisher

WHO WILL WIN: “Tenet,” Andrew Jackson, David Lee, Andrew Lockley and Scott Fisher

WHO SHOULD WIN: “Tenet,” Andrew Jackson, David Lee, Andrew Lockley and Scott Fisher

WHO GOT SNUBBED: Maybe “Bloodshot”, but that movie has no right winning an Oscar.

WHO SHOULD’T HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: They pretty much got it right in a very weak year, that didn’t include any Marvel, Star Wars films or other huge budget franchises that consistently win in this category.

THE LOW DOWN: I love great visual effects, but I may not be the best judge of the intricacies of this category. “The Midnight Sky” is the front runner after winning the VES award. The facial recognition was great and the scene where the blood is floating around the space tunnel like a lava lamp, is some of the most impressive visual effects this year.  However, I personal think it’s the BAFTA VFX winner “Tenet” that will take home the trophy. This was highly experimental and inventive work they accomplished in the fight scenes and car chases. I can’t even explain how they inverted a car crash or a building exploding while other aspects of the scenes stayed in forward motion. “Tenet” should win this and I am not educated enough in the technical aspects of the category to understand why it wouldn’t run away with it.

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

“Emma,” Alexandra Byrne 

“Mank,” Trish Summerville 

“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” Ann Roth 

“Mulan,” Bina Daigeler 

“Pinocchio,” Massimo Cantini Parrini

WHO WILL WIN: “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” Ann Roth

WHO SHOULD WIN: “Emma,” Alexandra Byrne

WHO GOT SNUBBED: “Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey”

WHO SHOULD’T HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: All of the costumes looked great and very unique to me.

THE LOW DOWN: This category is once again dominated by period pieces like it is almost every year, and almost every year a period piece wins.“Emma” was a boring film to sit through, but I think the beautiful and bright costumes added to the whimsical feel of the movie. The look of the characters added to the lighter tone of the atmosphere of the film. Byrne must have loved designing and dressing Anya Taylor-Joy, because her enthusiasm looked like it came out in the film. With that said, I am not sure anyone is going to upset Ann Roth, who at 89 years old, dressed Viola Davis and the rest of the cast of “Ma Rainey” in beautiful clothing really capturing the 1920’s blues era. Roth used bold reds, blues and golds for Davis’ velvet dresses and I couldn’t help but notice every aspect including the shoes the men wore in the move. Also, it helps that “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” is just a better film than the other nominees, most likely giving it a slight edge.

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

“Emma,” Marese Langan, Laura Allen, Claudia Stolze

“Hillbilly Elegy,” Eryn Krueger Mekash, Patricia Dehaney, Matthew Mungle 

“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” Sergio Lopez-Rivera, Mia Neal, Jamika Wilson

“Mank,” Kimberley Spiteri, Gigi Williams, Colleen LaBaff

“Pinocchio,” Mark Coulier, Dalia Colli, Francesco Pegoretti

WHO WILL WIN: “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” Sergio Lopez-Rivera, Mia Neal, Jamika Wilson

WHO SHOULD WIN: “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” Sergio Lopez-Rivera, Mia Neal, Jamika Wilson or “Pinocchio,” Mark Coulier, Dalia Colli, Francesco Pegoretti

WHO GOT SNUBBED: “Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey”

WHO SHOULD’T HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: I wouldn’t say I am expert in this category, outside of what I think looks great, so I would say they got it right.

THE LOW DOWN: “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” will win one of these two creative categories, and if it doesn’t win Best Costume Design, it will be a lock to win Best Makeup and Hairstyling. I mean from the actual horsehair wigs, to the dark charcoal makeup and Ma’s gold teeth, stylists: Sergio Lopez-Rivera, Mia Neal, and Jamika Wilson nailed the look of the 1920’s blues singer. I think it was a lot harder to judge Spiteri, Williams, and  LaBaff work in “Mank” because it was in black-in-white. I have expressed my distain for everything that is “Hillbilly Elegy”, even if they did make the beautiful Glenn Close look horrid. “Pinocchio” is really the wild card here, I personally did not see the movie in its entirety but between the trailer and other scenes online I was able to get a good look at the costume, hair and makeup. Everything they did in the movie is a very dark version of “Pinocchio”, with a very grotesquely gothic look with wood, fur and feather prosthetics. I have no interest in seeing this creepy movie fully, but Coulier and team must have done something right for me to be this repulsed. The last three Oscars in this category went to the stylists who transformed real life people, giving the edge to Lopez-Rivera, Neal and Wilson.

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

“The Father.” Production Design: Peter Francis; Set Decoration: Cathy Featherstone

“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” Production Design: Mark Ricker; Set Decoration: Karen O’Hara and Diana Stoughton

“Mank.” Production Design: Donald Graham Burt; Set Decoration: Jan Pascale

“News of the World.” Production Design: David Crank; Set Decoration: Elizabeth Keenan

“Tenet.” Production Design: Nathan Crowley; Set Decoration: Kathy Lucas

WHO WILL WIN: “Mank.” Production Design: Donald Graham Burt; Set Decoration: Jan Pascale

WHO SHOULD WIN: “News of the World.” Production Design: David Crank; Set Decoration: Elizabeth or Keenan “Mank.” Production Design: Donald Graham Burt; Set Decoration: Jan Pascale

WHO GOT SNUBBED: “Emma”

WHO SHOULD’T HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: They pretty much got it right.

THE LOW DOWN: “Mank” is the favorite as Burt and Pascale captured late 1930’s to early 1940’s Hollywood in black-and-white. The pure skill of matching the set colors to make “Mank” look like a film from that time period, takes extreme talent and good eyes. This is also another category I think the academy hands over to the technically superior “Mank” with its 10 nominations. “The News of the World”, is set in Texas five years after the Civil War, and as the main character’s travel from town to town, you can see differences with every new stop, Crank and Keenan tried giving those areas their own unique identity and atmosphere. “The Father” has been praised for its smooth transition between different rooms, but I have to been honest, I barely noticed. Too many tight shots on Hopkins and the rest of the cast too even notice the production. I think this will go to the frontrunner, “Mank”.

WHAT ARE YOU HEARING?

BEST SOUND

“Greyhound,” Warren Shaw, Michael Minkler, Beau Borders and David Wyman

“Mank,” Ren Klyce, Jeremy Molod, David Parker, Nathan Nance and Drew Kunin

“News of the World,” Oliver Tarney, Mike Prestwood Smith, William Miller and John Pritchett

“Soul,” Ren Klyce, Coya Elliott and David Parker

“Sound of Metal,” Nicolas Becker, Jaime Baksht, Michelle Couttolenc, Carlos Cortés and Phillip Bladh

WHO WILL WIN: “Sound of Metal,” Nicolas Becker, Jaime Baksht, Michelle Couttolenc, Carlos Cortés and Phillip Bladh

WHO SHOULD WIN: “Sound of Metal,” Nicolas Becker, Jaime Baksht, Michelle Couttolenc, Carlos Cortés and Phillip Bladh

*Although the sound in “Greyhound” was pretty incredible for that type of film, but this is a no-brainer and should go to “Sound of Metal”

WHO GOT SNUBBED: “The Invisible Man,” Will Files and Phillip Hooker

WHO SHOULD’T HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: “News of the World,” Oliver Tarney, Mike Prestwood Smith, William Miller and John Pritchett

THE LOW DOWN: The Oscars did make a change this year and combined both sound categories of mixing and editing.  As incredible as the sound mixing and editing was in ‘Greyhound” for a war film, this is easily going to “Sound of Metal”.  “Sound of Metal’s” complex use of sound, bringing the viewer into Riz Ahmed character Rueben’s world as he is losing his hearing is amazing and compliments the film editors’ cuts perfectly. The ending cut from metallic type noise to silence tells the whole story. The superb use of sound enhanced this film and it should win easy.

BEST ORIGNAL SONG

“Fight for You,” (“Judas and the Black Messiah”). Music by H.E.R. and Dernst Emile II; Lyric by H.E.R. and Tiara Thomas

“Hear My Voice,” (“The Trial of the Chicago 7”). Music by Daniel Pemberton; Lyric by Daniel Pemberton and Celeste Waite

“Húsavík,” (“Eurovision Song Contest”). Music and Lyric by Savan Kotecha, Fat Max Gsus and Rickard Göransson

“Io Si (Seen),” (“The Life Ahead”). Music by Diane Warren; Lyric by Diane Warren and Laura Pausini

“Speak Now,” (“One Night in Miami”). Music and Lyric by Leslie Odom, Jr. and Sam Ashworth

WHO WILL WIN: “Speak Now,” (“One Night in Miami”). Music and Lyric by Leslie Odom, Jr. and Sam Ashworth

WHO SHOULD WIN: “Fight for You,” (“Judas and the Black Messiah”). Music by H.E.R. and Dernst Emile II; Lyric by H.E.R. and Tiara Thomas

WHO GOT SNUBBED: “See What You’ve Done” from “Belly of the Beast” Music by Mary J. Blige 

WHO SHOULD’T HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: This was a really weak year in Original songs. 

THE LOW DOWN: “Fight for You” is my favorite of the songs selected. “Speak Now” or “Io Si (Seen),” (“The Life Ahead”) will win. “I think they may give it to Odom if they do not reward him for his acting duties, but this is a pretty weak category this year. I don’t think I really like any of the songs and one of the front runners: “Húsavík,” (“Eurovision Song Contest”) I thought was a joke song. I hope they at least give it to a song with some depth.

BEST ORIGNAL SCORE

“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 

WHO WILL WIN: “Soul,” Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Jon Batiste

WHO SHOULD WIN: “Soul,” Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Jon Batiste

WHO GOT SNUBBED: “The Midnight Sky,” Alexandre Desplat, “Tenet,” Ludwig Göransson

WHO SHOULD’T HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: “Da 5 Bloods,” Terence Blanchard – Not that this was bad but “Tenet’s” score was superb, and “The Midnight Sky” was better than this as well. “News of the World,” was worse than a few too.

THE LOW DOWN: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross will win for one of the two films they scored last year unless they cancel each other out. The music was such a huge part of telling the story of “Soul” that I think it takes it here, just like Reznor, Ross and Batiste did at the Globes.

The 2021 Academy Awards will broadcast on live at 8PM EST (5PM PST) on ABC from the Dolby Theater in Hollywood and Union Station in Los Angeles on Sunday April, 25th.  You can stream the Oscars if you pay for these streaming services live on AT&T TV, Hulu + Live TV, or YouTube TV. You could also check out ABC.com for any live updates.

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