My Oscar Picks for 2020 (in 2021)

It’s been a long time coming but the Oscar Awards are finally upon us, two months later than usual thanks to the pandemic.  This year’s event, the 93rd, will take place on Sunday evening, April 25, which is Monday morning Hong Kong time.  This year, both China and Hong Kong have decided to ban the broadcast.  For China, the unspoken reason comes down to two issues: Chloé Zhou is expected to win for NOMADLAND and the government doesn’t want to risk having its population hear her bash her country of birth, which she might just do.  Even more risky though, is that the Norwegian film about the 2019 protests in Hong Kong, DO NOT SPLIT, is up for the Short Documentary award and the filmmaker, Anders Hammer, most certainly will be critical of the government here in his acceptance speech should he win.  Here in Hong Kong, where we used to be freer with our speech than we can safely be today, the local TV station said they dropped the broadcast out of “commercial considerations”.  Um, yeah, sure.  We definitely believe that.

MANK leads the field this year with ten nominations but I’ll be surprised if it comes away with more than one trophy when the show ends.  THE FATHER, JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH, MINARI, NOMADLAND, SOUND OF METAL and THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7 each have six nominations, and MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM and PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN each have five.  I doubt there will be a clear-cut winner this year but, if there will be one, NOMADLAND appears to have a slight edge over the others.

And now, here are my predictions…

Actress in a Supporting Role

The nominees are:
Maria Bakalova for BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM
Glenn Close for HILLBILLY ELEGY
Olivia Colman for THE FATHER
Amanda Seyfried for MANK
Youn Yuh-jung for MINARI

As deserving as Glenn Close is for her total body of work, not to mention that this is her eighth Oscar nomination with nothing to show for it (a record she shares with Peter O’Toole), the story of HILLBILLY ELEGY smacks of White Privilege.  It was also written by an avid Trump supporter, which won’t be forgotten by the voters.  She’s out of the running for this one.  Olivia Colman was good in THE FATHER but that was really Anthony Hopkins’ film.  In any case, she won an Oscar a few years ago (for THE FAVOURITE).  Maria Bakalova was excellent in the BORAT sequel, her first Hollywood movie, but I don’t think the Oscar voters are going to be that generous.  Amanda Seyfried was the best thing about MANK and she has a good shot at winning here but my virtual vote is going to Korean actress Youn Yuh-jung, who recently won a BAFTA from the “very snobbish” Brits.  She, too, was the best thing about her film, MINARI.

Actor in a Supporting Role

The nominees are:
Sacha Baron Cohen for THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7
Daniel Kaluuya for JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH
Leslie Odom Jr. for ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI
Paul Raci for SOUND OF METAL
Lakeith Stanfield for JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH

Will SBC prove his critics wrong and win an Oscar for a serious role?  Will Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield split the JUDAS voting, leaving Leslie Odom Jr. to take home the award?  (Paul Raci is a huge longshot and isn’t considered to be serious contender.)  No, I’m for Daniel all the way on this one.  He was mesmerizing in this role.

Animated Feature

The nominees are:
ONWARD
OVER THE MOON
A SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE: FARMAGEDDON
SOUL
WOLFWALKERS

As much as I love WOLFWALKERS and want to see it win here, SOUL will probably take this category because life and who or what wins Oscars are not fair.

Original Screenplay

The nominees are:
JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH
MINARI
PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN
SOUND OF METAL
THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7

Aaron Sorkin may not have received any love from the Brits who vote for the BAFTAs but I think he’ll get plenty of love and more from the AMPAS voters. These are all excellent films and all well deserving of the Oscar but I think CHICAGO 7 is going to take home this one.

Adapted Screenplay

The nominees are:
BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM
THE FATHER
NOMADLAND
ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI
THE WHITE TIGER

This category is a bit tougher to pick a winner.  ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI was good but it never lost its stagey trappings. THE FATHER did, however, and that’s why I’m going to choose it over NOMADLAND.

Production Design

The nominees are:
THE FATHER
MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM
MANK
NEWS OF THE WORLD
TENET

While this category sees TENET in competition for one of its two Oscar nominations, my vote is going to go to MANK.

Costume Design

The nominees are:
EMMA – Alexandra Byrne
MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM – Ann Roth
MANK – Trish Summerville
MULAN – Bina Daigeler
PINOCCHIO – Massimo Cantini Parrini

I was upset last year that Oscar winner Ruth E. Carter was overlooked for her work on DOLEMITE IS MY NAME.  She recently worked on Eddie Murphy’s COMING 2 AMERICA but that film was released after the February 28th deadline and, therefore, wasn’t eligible for this year’s awards.  This year my virtual vote is going to Ann Roth who last won an Oscar in 1997 for THE ENGLISH PATIENT.  (We also share a birthday though she’s much older than me!)

Visual Effects

The nominees are:
TENET
THE MIDNIGHT SKY
THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN
LOVE AND MONSTERS
MULAN

If TENET is going to win an Oscar, it’s going to be here.  To be honest, I had never even heard of LOVE AND MONSTERS until a few days ago. Paramount recently sold it to Netflix and it’s being released to the world this week.

Sound

The nominees are:
GREYHOUND
MANK
NEWS OF THE WORLD
SOUL
SOUND OF METAL

What’s old is new again.  This category had been split into two – sound editing and sound mixing – for a number of years but now it’s back as one.  The Academy’s Board of Directors felt that with the state of the art as it currently is, editing and mixing often overlaps.  That being said, if SOUND OF METAL doesn’t win this category, I’m going to be disappointed.  The other films competing here don’t even come close.

Cinematography

The nominees are:
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

This category seems a bit of a no brainer.  NOMADLAND, for sure.

Makeup and Hairstyling

The nominees are:
EMMA – Laura Allen, Marese Langan and Claudia Stolze
HILLBILLY ELEGY – Patricia Dehaney, Eryn Krueger Mekash and Matthew W. Mungle
MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM – Sergio Lopez-Rivera, Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson
MANK – Colleen LaBaff, Kimberley Spiteri and Gigi Williams
PINOCCHIO – Dalia Colli, Mark Coulier and Francesco Pegoretti

I see this category coming down to a choice between MA RAINEY and MANK, either of which would be a worthy winner.  My virtual vote, though, is going to MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM for the masterful transformation of Viola Davis.

International Feature Film

The nominees are:
ANOTHER ROUND (Denmark)
BETTER DAYS (Hong Kong)
COLLECTIVE (Romania)
THE MAN WHO SOLD HIS SKIN (Tunisia)
QUO VADIS, AIDA? (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

In other years, I would have already seen a few of the films competing in this category.  This year, however, I’ve only seen ANOTHER ROUND.  I haven’t even seen the hometown entry, BETTER DAYS!  It played in our cinemas almost a year and a half ago but I don’t recall hearing people rave about it.  In any case, Vinterberg is probably the sentimental favourite and he certainly has the most name recognition, so I’ll have ANOTHER ROUND here.

Original Score

The nominees are:
DA 5 BLOODS – Terence Blanchard
MANK – Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
MINARI – Emile Mosseri
NEWS OF THE WORLD – James Newton Howard
SOUL – Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Jon Batiste

Last year we had the battle of the Newman cousins (Randy and Thomas) in this category and both lost to an Icelander, as I had predicted.  This year we have Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross competing against themselves.  With the odds of winning this category in their favour, who am I to disagree?  The question then becomes, “For which film?”  Easy. SOUL.

Original Song

The nominees are:
“Fight for You” from JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH – Music by D’Mile and H.E.R.; lyric by H.E.R. and Tiara Thomas
“Hear My Voice” from THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7 – Music by Daniel Pemberton; lyric by Celeste and Daniel Pemberton
“Husavik” from EUROVISION SONG CONTEST: THE STORY OF FIRE SAGA – Music and lyric by Rickard Göransson, Fat Max Gsus and Savan Kotecha
“Io si (Seen)” from THE LIFE AHEAD – Music by Diane Warren; lyric by Laura Pausini and Diane Warren
“Speak Now” from ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI – Music and lyric by Sam Ashworth and Leslie Odom Jr.

This is another tough category this year with five very worthy songs competing.  For Diane Warren, this is her 12th Oscar nomination and she still has never won one.  Unfortunately for her, I don’t think this will be her time either.  I’m happy to see “Husavik” here, which would probably win a real Eurovision contest, but I don’t think it will take home an Oscar.  No, I think the statuettes are going to go to Sam Ashworth and Leslie Odom Jr. for “Speak Now”.

Directing

The nominees are:
Lee Isaac Chung – MINARI
Emerald Fennell – PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN
David Fincher – MANK
Thomas Vinterberg – ANOTHER ROUND
Chloé Zhao – NOMADLAND

Oscar history is going to be made here.  Zhao, who has already won the Golden Globe, the BAFTA and, most importantly, the DGA Award, will no doubt become the first woman of colour to win in this category.  I just hope that she speaks truth to power in her acceptance speech so that it will have been worth China and its Quislings here in Hong Kong banning the broadcast.

Actress in a Leading Role

The nominees are:
Viola Davis for MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM
Andra Day for THE UNITED STATES VS. BILLIE HOLIDAY
Vanessa Kirby for PIECES OF A WOMAN
Frances McDormand for NOMADLAND
Carey Mulligan for PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN

This is another tough category to predict this year as all the nominees have won a major award for their performances. For Davis, it was the Screen Actors Guild Award.  For Day, it was the Golden Globe.  For Kirby, it was Venice.  For McDormand, it was the BAFTA.  And for Mulligan, it was the National Board of Review.  I’m going to go with Viola and not be sad if Carey wins.

Actor in a Leading Role

The nominees are:
Riz Ahmed for SOUND OF METAL
Chadwick Boseman for MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM
Anthony Hopkins for THE FATHER
Gary Oldman for MANK
Steven Yeun for MINARI

The BAFTA voters surprised everyone when they chose Anthony Hopkins over the late Chadwick Boseman in this category.  In any other year, I would have chosen Hopkins too for his brilliant performance in THE FATHER but Boseman is the sentimental favourite, not just because he died so young but also because his performance was riveting.

Best Picture

The nominees are:
THE FATHER
JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH
MANK
MINARI
NOMADLAND
PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN
SOUND OF METAL
THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7

How many times have Oscar voters chosen the wrong film in this category?  Just two years ago, ROMA lost out to GREEN BOOK.  In 2012, ZERO DARK THIRTY lost to ARGO.  In 2005, BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN lost to CRASH.  In 1998, SAVING PRIVATE RYAN lost to SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE.  And the list goes on.  I have a feeling that NOMADLAND will win but what should win is PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN.  To be honest, with the exception of MANK, which is self-indulgent Hollywood navel-gazing, they’re all good films and deserving of the award.

As I mentioned above, the awards show will not broadcast here in Hong Kong this year. We Hongkongers are nothing if not resourceful though, and we’ll figure out a way to watch it live.

Enjoy the show and let me know your predictions.

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