Alright, the longest Oscar race in history is about to breath its long last gasp. For a community that is mostly used to slotting movies and performances in their lanes and riding it out until the end this has been unsettling for everyone involved, if they were paying attention to everything that happened this year.
The Oscars and Hollywood will shuffle on through. The blogs and writers and publicists and studios who make their bread and butter with this race will likely continue to shuffle on through, rolling with the punches come what may.
My own experience with the Oscars was kind of like if you took two parts Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolfe, added a shot of Twilight Zone’s The Good Life, added just a flutter of Orwell’s 1984, and then the picture emerges of what happened to the film community this past year.
As for the race itself, well, it’s suddenly become UNPREDICTABLE where it felt predictable a few weeks ago. That’s because we expected Sound of Metal to win the ACE. We expected Chadwick Boseman to win the BAFTA. We expected Nomadland to win the ASC. Last night’s Best Actress win showed you that Carey Mulligan beat both Viola Davis and Frances McDormand with roughly the same type of voters who handed her the win at the Critics Choice. Polls and consensus vote predictions only succeed if you understand the people who are being polled. Who they are, what their objectives are. The Spirits, like the Critics Choice, are similar to “Film Twitter” or Rotten Tomatoes. It is not surprising that Mulligan won there but it is yet another thing that makes the Best Actress win at the Oscars still up in the air. Oscar voters already voted, for instance, so Mulligan’s win can’t snowball.
It took me a while to settle on the unpredictable categories. Like Mark Johnson did I’ll go from seemingly easy to the most difficult.
My overall question about this year’s Oscars is this: will they follow the pattern set by almost every other awards body that came before them, save for BAFTA, and prioritize people of color and women? If they do, it’s likely we’ll finally break the Halle Berry record of only one Black Actress winning in 93 years of Oscar history. That will either be Viola Davis or Andra Day. Tough call. Most are predicting it will go to Frances McDormand or Carey Mulligan.
Since this year is unprecedented, I would imagine the wins to be surprising and unpredictable. I do not think I will end up doing well this year. But let’s go through them.
The Easy Calls (for me anyway)
Best Picture – Nomadland – while it’s tempting to predict something unpredictable, other than a few jokes by Bill Maher, I have not felt the dampening of feeling much for Nomadland. I think it is not necessarily about the movie itself, though there will be quite a few who vote for it on that reason, but it’s more about wanting Chloe Zhao to do really well. I am basing my predictions on this assumption. I may turn out to be wrong.
Best Director – Chloe Zhao, Nomadland – if there ever was a total lock, this is it.
Best Supporting Actor – Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah
Best Supporting Actress – Youn Juh-Jung, Minari
Original Screenplay – Promising Young Woman
Potential upset – Minari or Chicago 7
Animated Feature – Soul
Score – Soul
Costumes and Makeup – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Potential upset: Mank for either
International Feature – Another Round
Animated Short – If Anything Happens I Love You
Sound – Sound of Metal
Production Design – Mank
Potential spoiler could be The Father if it picks up last minute steam, or anything really. Remember, actors vote on all of these.
Here are the less predictable categories but not complete wildcards:
Editing – The Trial of the Chicago 7
Consensus says: Sound of Metal
Cinematography – Mank
Consensus says: Nomadland
Best Actor – Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Potential spoiler – Anthony Hopkins, The Father
Adapted Screenplay – this is a tough one. My thinking is that if The Father wins here, as many are predicting, it should also win for Anthony Hopkins. But it could win anyway. My theory is that they want to award Chloe Zhao for her enormous achievement this year. Nomadland won the Scripter and I imagine it would be an easy call for it to win at the WGA.
Many are predicting: The Father
Documentary – My Octopus Teacher
Potential spoiler – any of the other four
Documentary Short – A Concerto is a Conversation
This is the toughest category to call as they are all equally hard hitting and equally magnificent. I went with this one because I enjoyed it the most.
Visual Effects – Tenet
This is one of those consensus picks that people just seem to decide on so we don’t know if it will turn out this way.
Song – Speak Now from One Night in Miami…
Another one we all just sort of went with, but many are predicting Husavik from Eurovision Song
Potential surprise winner could be: Fight For You from Judas and the Black Messiah
Now we get to the really tough calls:
Best Actress – this is by far the hardest category to call. I fully expect to get this wrong but I can’t deviate from the knowledge that Andra Day’s performance stands apart from the rest. It is a fully realized performance that has her singing and becoming sick and close to death, dealing with a serious drug addiction. She commands the screen with her presence. I would find it tough myself to vote for anyone else. But Carey Mulligan could pull an Adrien Brody in that she’s starring in a popular Best Picture contender.
I do think it’s possible, as everyone else does, that Day and Davis split the vote. But so will Mulligan and McDormand. In the end you’re looking for the one with that extra something to push them over the edge.
Prediction: Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday
General Consensus is split between Mulligan and Viola Davis for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Live Action Short
This was another extremely tough category. In the end I picked one of the movies I loved most this year no matter the format and that was Feeling Through which I thought was so so good. As usual, all five are great this year. The Letter Room is great, The Present and White Eye are just fantastic. The one that will probably win, the consensus favorite, is Two Distant Strangers which is incredibly timely in that it is about the many shootings of black citizens in recent history. The only reason I am not picking that movie is simply that I love Feeling Through more. This is just an irrational thing to do and probably means I will not a great score this year but sometimes you just have to follow your heart.
Prediction: Feeling Through
General Consensus says: Two Distant Strangers
Because I am stepping outside the general consensus on several different categories, I might not be the best guide if you’re looking to win your Oscar pool. The problem with going with the consensus, though, is that sometimes it turns out to be wrong.
I guess we shall see in two days and then bid this long, long Oscar season goodbye.
“Well that’s how it goes and Joe,
I know your gettin’ pretty anxious to close
So, thanks for the cheer, I hope you didn’t mind my bendin’ your ear
This torch that I found must be drowned or it soon might explode
So, make it one for my baby and one more for the road
That long, long road” – Frankie Baby