This has been an exceptionally grim year for movies because of you-know-what, but if you managed to see ANY of the nominees this year consider yourself not only lucky but, in some cases, fortunate to witness some outstanding acting, writing, and directing. Lord knows how the actual ceremony will be handled this year on Sunday, April 25th, but in the meantime, here are my annual picks.
You have a real race this year with some outstanding films, but first let’s eliminate Sound of Metal, Minari, and The Father, as they’re not quite in the running as the others. Mank, Promising Young Woman, and Nomadland are all excellent and have a real shot, with Nomadland being the dark horse favorite, but my money is on either Judas and the Black Messiah or The Trial of the Chicago 7, as they are both politically charged and damn good, and the Academy tends to swing for those type of movies.
This one is a no-brainer. After Chadwick Boseman’s (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) tragic and sudden passing in 2020, everyone expected his final acting job to be mediocre, but it turned out to be a fearless, emotional, powerhouse of a performance that was instant Oscar gold. So, sorry Anthony Hopkins (The Father), Gary Oldman (Mank), Steven Yeun (Minari), and Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal), you guys never stood a chance.
Following suit, Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) is just as much a force to be reckoned with as her castmate, Chadwick. Her scorching, seering, memorable turn as the irascible Ma Rainey is Viola’s best work to date. Have a seat, Andra Day (The United States vs. Billie Holiday), Vanessa Kirby (Pieces of a Woman), and Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman), you’ve got the night off. BUT don’t be surprised to see Frances McDormand (Nomadland) pull a hat trick and yank the statue away.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
You have two exceptional actors for the same film, Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield, both up for Judas and the Black Messiah, so my best guess will be it’s gonna be a neck & neck photo finish between these two. Leslie Odom, Jr. (One Night in Miami) and Paul Raci (Sound of Metal) don’t have a chance, but there IS a possibility that Sacha Baron Cohen (The Trial of the Chicago 7) might usurp everyone and take the gold for his remarkable performance as Abbie Hoffman.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
This one’s anybody’s guess as all the nominees are quite eclectic and totally random. . . but we can get rid of some. Maria Bakalova (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm) is unheard of and is a no-go, as is Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy) who actually got a Razzie Award this year for this role, so I doubt she’ll win! That leaves Olivia Colman (The Father), Amanda Seyfried (Mank) and Youn Yuh-jung (Minari). Of the three (which is a very tough call), the wind is blowing towards Youn Yuh-jung for the win.
This year is the year women are celebrated and revered in film, and so good-bye Thomas Vinterberg (Another Round), Lee Isaac Chung (Minari), and David Fincher (Mank). You’re all guys and don’t stand any chance. Sorry. That means it’s between Chloe Zhao (Nomadland) and Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman). Place your bets on Chloe to win this time around.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
If you know me, you already know my answer to this question. But, I’ll go over who’s nominated anyway. You got Will Berson, Shaka King, Keith Lucas, and Kenny Lucas for Judas and the Black Messiah, Lee Isaac Chung for Minari, Emerald Fennell who wrote Promising Young Woman, and Derek Cianfrance, Abraham Marder, Darius Marder for Sound of Metal. That leaves my hero, my mentor, one of the few great writers on the face of the planet that makes music with his words, Aaron Sorkin (The Trial of the Chicago 7). If he doesn’t win, I’ll hurt myself.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
I’ll go ahead and say it, forget Sacha Baron Cohen & co-writers (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm) because that was practically all ad-libbed and filmed like Candid Camera, and don’t expect Kemp Powers (One Night in Miami) or Ramin Bahrani (The White Tiger). The race will come down to Florian Zeller & Christopher Hampton (The Father) and Chloe Zhao (Nomadland). I’d like to see Zeller & Hampton get it, but I think Zhao might nab it this year.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, nothing, but nothing stops the Disney/Pixar juggernaut! And this year they have TWO nominees! Onward and Soul. Just forget about the others, Over the Moon, Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, and Wolfwalkers; you and I both know they never had a chance with the powerful Disney machine crushing them into the deepest darkest oblivion known to man. Anyway, choosing between a lively fairy adventure or an uplifting story about a Black man’s soul? Easy. It’ll be Soul.