This year, it is almost anybody’s guess in most categories.
Tonight, we finally get treated to the pandemic-delayed Academy Awards. The outbreak has not only caused a 2-month waiting time, but it also caused allowances to be made for release schedules for qualification, as well as for titles on digital and streaming platforms, a long-reviled outlet the Academy has resisted over the years.
Hot Tip: To properly avoid the awards ceremony, drop in on RedState tonight instead for the live-blog coverage of the show.
Other standards have shifted this year as well, as more minority names are seen in the categories, and women comprise one-third of the nominations, an all-time record amount. But this diversity of talent also brings a diversity of worthiness, as well as many lightly-seen films — as a result, predictions this year are extremely challenging. But bravely I forge forward, putting myself out there where many are not interested in going (based on the ratings erosion over the past handful of years.)
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So, with no further fanfare, here are my shaky predictions for tonight’s awards.
Small surprise: ”Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’’ was not included, as its scenes of 1920’s Chicago were lush, but much of the film was staged with interiors. ”The Trial of the Chicago 7’’ was properly immersive in the 1960’s era, as was ”Mank’’, where David Fincher’s black-and-white photography placed you right in the 1940s studio system.
PICK – ”Mank’’
Best Animated Feature
Pixar lands two choices: with the neglected ”Onward,’’ which was released on the cusp of the Covid shutdown, and ”Soul’’. Netflix garners a pair as well, with ”Farmageddon – A Shawn The Sheep movie,’’ and ”Over The Moon’’, while Apple lands with ”Wolfwalkers.’’
PICK – ”Soul’’
Best Adapted Screenplay
The mystery here — how is the ”Borat’’ sequel considered an adapted piece, and why is a largely improvised film considered for the screenplay? Two novels and two plays are also in the category here.
PICK – ”One Night In Miami’’
Best Original Screenplay
Curiously ”Mank’’ is up for many major categories, yet Fincher filming his late father’s work was not included. ”Judas And The Black Messiah’’ is a curiosity, as it is actually a melding of two different screenplays on the same topic. I’ll go with a safer bet of Aaron Sorkin here, whom Hollywood raves about lavishly.
PICK – ”The Trial Of The Chicago 7’’
Best Supporting Actress
Olivia Coleman has become an adored performer in town, but I am leaning towards the industry being swayed by the recent weeks of activism about anti-Asian American intolerance.
PICK – Yuh-jung Youn (“Minari”)
Best Supporting Actor
The two leads for ”Black Messiah’’ were divided into this category, and thus may split the vote. Paul Raci has been getting attention for ”Sound Of Metal,’’ after winning at the Screen Actors Guild awards.
PICK – Leslie Odom Jr. (“One Night in Miami”)
Best Lead Actress
The toughest category going. Just for the sake of looking for an edge, I’ll suggest the diversity movement might push Davis just ahead of anyone else.
PICK – Viola Davis (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”)
Best Lead Actor
Conversely, this category seems sewn up. The sudden passing of Chadwick Boseman automatically launched him to the top of this list, even before the nominations were announced. The closest we come to a bet-the-rent result is found here.
PICK – Chadwick Boseman (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”)
The shock was that Regina King did not get a nomination for ”One Night In Miami’’. Seriously torn between two picks here. My personal favorite is David Fincher, and he did masterful work on ”Mank,’’ but Zhao has both the Asian sympathy and Hollywood’s hunger to have a female director win out in this category. She would be the second woman ever to win the prize (after “The Hurt Locker” director, Kathryn Bigelow, won in 2010).
PICK – Chloé Zhao / (“Nomadland”)
Best Motion Picture
So many worthy titles also bring in so many influences to tilt the result. Will Hollywood take the movie about itself (a dependable favorite), the 60’s protest ensemble piece, the minority cast, the female empowerment film, or the black activist biography??? Stick them all on a dartboard, let’s see what happens.
PICK – “The Trial of the Chicago 7”
(These selections are made for entertainment purposes only; there is no intent or promise of success as a result of any wagering you might engage in as a result. Govern yourself accordingly.)