Entrust me with your ballot and win your Oscar pool!

By: Steve Pulaski

Oscar season ordinarily starts early in the year, with the nominations announced in January and the ceremony occurring in February or early March. It usually comes relatively soon after Super Bowl Sunday, the second best Sunday of the year. With the COVID-19 pandemic sending the world into a tailspin, the 93rd Academy Awards were delayed until April 25th. Two good things came out of this. For one, the eligibility window for the year’s films was extended, allowing worthy films like Judas and the Black Messiah and One Night in Miami… to be in contention. And two, the 2021 NFL Draft comes the following Thursday, setting the stage for an uncommonly great week of must-see television.

I joke with friends when I say that Parasite winning Best Picture in February 2020 was the last good thing to happen in the world, but it’s been too long since I’ve felt such jubilation. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we need something to cheer about, be it with sports, movies, or what-have-you. Every year I look forward to the Oscars. I’m aware it’s another self-congratulatory awards show. One film’s win isn’t necessarily another film’s loss. It’s the time of the year when the public might consider why they found a certain movie great. It might be the only time they see words like “cinematography” or “production design” and give a thought to what they mean and how they contribute to the quality of a movie.

And every year, I provide you with a list of my predicted winners. Last year, I went 17-7, coming very close to besting my personal record of 19-5 with the 86th Academy Awards.

This year, we’re down a category, with Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing being merged into “Best Sound.” I’ve long dreamed of going 24-0, but this year, I’ll settle for 23-0, I suppose.

Without further adieu, here are my predictions for the 93rd Academy Awards!

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

I’ve been on an unprecedented losing streak with Best Picture for five years now. When I first started predicting the Oscars, I was untouchable, going 6-0 to start. Now, on the verge of being .500, I’m going against the grain.

Nomadland has all the momentum to win, but then again, so did 1917, Roma, The Post, La La Land, and The Revenant, so I thought. I’m going with Minari to pull off the upset. Not only is it the most deserving film in an elite class of nominees, its reflectiveness towards the human spirit and the resilience that comes with it is a testament to the last year of all of our lives. It would a beautifully symbolic winner, and the Best picture.

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

Zhao will more than likely take home the gold statue on April 25th for her lovely film Nomadland. She plunged deep into the life of contemporary American nomads and the result was a lived-in picture that reflected her commitment to the material. I’d love to see a Lee Isaac Chung upset here, but you won’t hear me griping if/when Zhao’s name is called.

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”)

I can’t recall a more stacked Best Actor category, at least in the last five years. Riz Ahmed devoted extensive time to learning how to play drums and learning ASL for Sound of Metal, and the results show in a tour-de-force performance. It feels redundant to say Anthony Hopkins gave a career performance, seeing as he’s had at least five or six in his seven decade career. But The Father shows him at his most vulnerable. Oldman took another role with no blueprint in Mank and made a coy character out of the alcoholic writer behind Citizen Kane. And finally, Steven Yeun is the rock who carries the bulk of Minari. He’d be my pick if the Oscars cared what I had to say.

That said, Chadwick Boseman is a shoe-in here. His performance as the hot-headed Levee feels so free for an actor who has often played stoic throughout his brief but extraordinary career. Similar to when Heath Ledger won for The Dark Knight after he tragically died, there is also an unavoidable element of legacy present. Nonetheless, Boseman saved his best for last with Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

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”)

Zendaya getting snubbed for her brilliant performance in Malcolm & Marie stings. That entire film being snubbed sucks too. Moreover, this is still a solid crop of nominees (haven’t seen Day’s work in The United States v. Billie Holiday, so I bite my tongue there). Even the experts are more split on this category versus any of the other major ones. Kirby’s visceral performance carries Pieces of a Woman through a couple odd tonal shifts. McDormand continues his career renaissance with another immaculate character drama. And Viola Davis commands the screen every time she’s on camera in the adaptation of August Wilson’s beloved play.

But Carey Mulligan has spent much of her career in the background as a supporting player. She took Promising Young Woman and ran with it, breathing anger and passion into a role where she wears every emotion convincingly. Of all the potential speeches to come on April 25th, Mulligan’s, should she win, is one I’m looking forward to the most.

Best Actor in a Supporting 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”)

Not only do I predict Kaluuya will take home the Best Supporting Actor Oscar this year, I also predict this will not be his only Oscar win. When all’s said and done, I could see him having four or five. Get Out was the tip of the iceberg. His commanding performance as Fred Hampton in Judas and the Black Messiah will be remembered for years to come.

But both Kaluuya and Stanfield nominated as supporting actors for the same film? Who the hell was the main actor in Judas and the Black Messiah? The city of Chicago?

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”)

I’m in Yuh-jung Youn’s corner here all the way. Having said that, I nearly picked Glenn Close, who I thought for sure had it in the bag after watching Hillbilly Elegy back in November. It’s true, it’s a deeply flawed film, but Close is the glue that keeps the overly mawkish life story of J.D. Vance from falling apart. Close has also been nominated an unbelievable eight times, yet has never won. Don’t be surprised if the Oscars give her the statue. The floodgates will open on Twitter and the like, but it doesn’t change the fact that Close was good enough to win.

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

The Academy has some kind of infatuation with Shaun the Sheep. Both films have been nominated for Best Animated Film.

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

Nomadland feels like the chalk here, but I’m going the “Risky Trubisky” route (a term I coined as a long-suffering Chicago Bears fan) with The Father. It’s such a masterfully told story, adapted from Florian Zeller’s play Le Père.

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

I’d be ecstatic to see Sound of Metal take this one, but Promising Young Woman ultimately has more going for it in the topical/urgency department.

Best Original 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

Give it to “Húsavík,” you cowards.

Best Original 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

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

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

Best Animated Short Film:
“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)

You can watch the 12-minute sort If Anything Happens I Love You on Netflix right now. I highly recommend you do. And try not to read anything about it before you do.

Best Live-Action Short Film:
“Feeling Through”
“The Letter Room”
“The Present”
“Two Distant Strangers”
“White Eye”

I’m going Two Distant Strangers, but like every year with this category, who the hell knows?

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

Joshua James Richard’s immaculate imagery elevated Nomadland to a drama that encouraged you to soak in the intoxicating badlands and rustic beauty in America that can easily go ignored. He should win handedly here with a comparably average batch of nominees.

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

Best Documentary Short Subject:
“Colette,” Anthony Giacchino and Alice Doyard
“A Concerto Is a Conversation,” Ben Proudfoot and Kris Bowers
“Do Not Split,” Anders Hammer and Charlotte Cook
“Hunger Ward,” Skye Fitzgerald and Michael Scheuerman
“A Love Song for Latasha,” Sophia Nahli Allison and Janice Duncan

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

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)

Pro-tip: any international film that merits a nomination (or multiple) outside the obligatory category is a shoe-in to win its primary category. Another Round is a solid film, but it’s middling enough to wonder why that was the film we collectively decided to make the standout foreign film of the year.

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

Best Production Design:
“The Father,” 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

I’m banking on the Academy recognizing the many logistical and locational subtleties embedded in The Father that made it the mental maze of a movie it is.

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