Who will, should win every category at the 93rd Academy Awards

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Leave it to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to show the Golden Globes how it’s done. The nominees are a step up, but best of all, the Oscars are sweeping Zoom into the dustbin. The much-delayed 93rd Academy Awards convenes Sunday in pandemic style: the ceremony will be social-distanced and attendees will be maskless while on camera. The pandemic restrictions aren’t the only changes: Six years after the first #OscarsSoWhite tweet, the year’s pool is one of the most diverse in the show’s history — though the multiple “Da 5 Bloods” snubs prove that there is still work to do. Whether the winners celebrate the breadth of the past year’s cinema is a different matter. Here are our predictions.

Best Picture

  • “The Father”
  • “Judas and the Black Messiah”
  • “Mank”
  • “Minari”
  • “Nomadland”
  • “Promising Young Woman”
  • “Sound of Metal”
  • “The Trial of the Chicago 7”

If Academy Awards were doled out by a simple metric, “The Trial of the Chicago 7” checks every box: the celebrated writer-director Aaron Sorkin casts an all-star ensemble to revive a historic event that’s ripe with contemporary relevance about the importance of freedom and American ideals. Even though it’s the category’s frontrunner, “Chicago 7” is surrounded by better company with critical favorites, such as “Nomadland,” “Minari” and “The Father” — the last of which doesn’t crumble under its thematic heaviness and strikes a much more authentic, profound emotional chord than Sorkin’s constructed courtroom drama.

— Maya Thompson

Will Win: “The Trial of the Chicago 7”

Should Win: “The Father”

 

Best Director

  • Lee Isaac Chung, “Minari”
  • Emerald Fennell, “Promising Young Woman”
  • David Fincher, “Mank”
  • Chloé Zhao, “Nomadland”
  • Thomas Vinterberg, “Another Round”

“Mank” never quite came together. “Minari” is a masterclass in screenwriting elegance. Yet it doesn’t matter who’s left. Chloé Zhao reigns supreme for good reason. Her reverie-inducing “Nomadland” takes an expansive journey on a tight budget, building its delicacy with a cast of mostly non-actors. Zhao is the first woman of color nominated for Best Director, and if she wins, she would be only the second woman to do so.

— Dominic Marziali

Will win: Chloé Zhao, “Nomadland”

Should win: Chloé Zhao, “Nomadland”

 

Best Actor

  • Riz Ahmed, “Sound of Metal”
  • Chadwick Boseman, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
  • Anthony Hopkins, “The Father”
  • Gary Oldman, “Mank”
  • Steven Yeun, “Minari”

Anthony Hopkins might just be the Joe Biden of this category. After losing out to the late Chadwick Boseman (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”) in every race this season — primaries of a sort — Hopkins (“The Father”) upset at the BAFTAs in a crucial race. “The Father,” a French-British production, had the home field advantage across the pond, but Boseman’s momentum will shut the door Sunday. This race is one of narratives and Hopkins is the underdog that wouldn’t be any other year — but he’s got a legacy-making performance that might be enough to catch up to Boseman.

— Dominic Marziali

Will win: Chadwick Boseman, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”

Should win: Chadwick Boseman, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” or Anthony Hopkins, “The Father”

 

Best Actress

  • Viola Davis, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
  • Andra Day, “The United States vs. Billie Holiday”
  • Vanessa Kirby, “Pieces of a Woman”
  • Frances McDormand, “Nomadland”
  • Carey Mulligan, “Promising Young Woman”

It’s the tightest race of the night. Viola Davis is always in a league of her own, and her portrayal of Ma Rainey is transcendent, rising above the already high bar set by the actress’s past work. At the same time, this race could splinter in several directions: Carey Mulligan and Andra Day deliver performances that are, indeed, better than their respective movies; Frances McDormand, as well, is formidable and immersive in “Nomadland.” Day’s sublime incarnation of Billie Holiday in particular would be a well-deserved reward. Though this category is slick with competition, we’re betting Davis edges out her competition.

— Maya Thompson

Will Win: Viola Davis, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”

Should Win: Viola Davis, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” or Andra Day, “The United States vs. Billie Holiday”

 

Best Supporting Actor

  • 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”

He’s the favorite, but has the Academy split the vote? Daniel Kaluuya is up against co-star Lakeith Stanfield as the titular characters of “Judas and the Black Messiah” — both bafflingly classified as supporting actors. The actors’ nominations come on top of the fact that some voters may disqualify them both because of the mistake, leaving some daylight for Sacha Baron Cohen (“The Trial of the Chicago 7”). A Cohen win would be unfortunate, but not totally unmerited: the actor movingly inhabited the irritating and the jovial.

Dominic Marziali

Will win: Daniel Kaluuya, “Judas and the Black Messiah”

Should win: Daniel Kaluuya, “Judas and the Black Messiah”

 

Best Supporting Actress

  • Maria Bakalova, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan”
  • Glenn Close, “Hillbilly Elegy”
  • Olivia Colman, “The Father”
  • Amanda Seyfried, “Mank”
  • Yuh-Jung Youn, “Minari”

Maria Bakalova makes it look easy. In “Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm,” the Bulgarian actress stunned American audiences in her breakout role as Tudor, Borat’s “non-male son.” From “blood moon” period dancing to the infamous Rudy Giuliani interview, Bakalova showcased her strong, sharp comedic sensibilities. If the Oscars opts to honor dramatic chops, the famed Korean actress Yuh-Jung Youn is a shoe-in; still, we’re betting that even the Academy won’t be able to ignore Bakalova’s undeniable brilliance.

— Maya Thompson

Will Win: Maria Bakalova, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”

Should Win: Maria Bakalova, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”

 

Original Screenplay

  • “Judas and the Black Messiah,” Screenplay by Will Berson & Shaka King; Story by Will Berson & Shaka King and 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

The Academy dodged him for Best Director, but Aaron Sorkin’s mightiest weapon has always been his pen. His own cast has christened him as “the Shakespeare of our time,” and the Academy is primed to agree. Sorkin’s gilded writing in “Chicago 7” moves in big, choreographed strikes, but it is Lee Isaac Chung’s “Minari” that keeps the emotions turned on a delicate, simmering build. Chung’s film is marvelous in the way it nurtures intimacy, allowing the characters to plant roots and authentically grow on the audience.

— Maya Thompson

Will Win: “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” Aaron Sorkin

Should Win: “Minari,” Lee Isaac Chung

 

Adapted Screenplay

  • “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan,” 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

There’s a glaring oversight in “Nomadland”: Chloé Zhao leaves no room for practicality. Does Dave have health insurance? We know the guard who asks Fern to move scares her, but does the healthcare system scare her as well? Maybe Zhao avoided the topic because it’s politically fraught, but it’s still accessible in her film’s apolitical style. “The Father” deserves this one, but “Nomadland” is the darling of the season. Florian Zeller and Christopher Hampton swooped in for the BAFTA equivalent, but there’s little chance of an Oscars repeat.

Dominic Marziali

Will win: “Nomadland,” Chloé Zhao

Should Win: “The Father,” Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller

 

Animated Feature

  • “Onward”
  • “Over the Moon”
  • “A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon”
  • “Soul”
  • “Wolfwalkers”

The Disney/Pixar empire has long occupied the Oscars Animated Feature category, and with its widespread acclaim, “Soul” is a strong contender to uphold this reputation. Its strongest competition in the Academy arena is Cartoon Saloon’s “Wolfwalkers,” directed by Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart. Moore’s film revisits Irish folklore in a dazzling hand-drawn animation style. “Wolfwalkers” is a refreshing feat, and its selection will hopefully illuminate the unique possibilities of animated artistry into mainstream consciousness — if it beats the incumbent Disney, that’s just the cherry on top.

— Maya Thompson

Will Win: “Soul”

Should Win: “Wolfwalkers”

 

Documentary Feature

  • “Collective”
  • “Crip Camp”
  • “The Mole Agent”
  • “My Octopus Teacher”
  • “Time”

Truth was made abundantly evident as a flurry of documentaries came out this year; the Academy had to make difficult decisions as they notably snubbed A24’s “Boys State,” “Dick Johnson Is Dead,” and my personal favorite, “The Truffle Hunters.” The feature length documentaries take unique approaches to sharing stories, ranging from the sweet connection in “My Octopus Teacher” to the funny, poignant adventures in “The Mole Agent.” Amazon Studios’ “Time” is bound to come out on top as director Garrett Bradley establishes herself as a powerful storyteller. Her film ranks in the best of the bunch, followed closely by Romanian expose “Collective.”

— Maya Thompson

Will Win: “Time”

Should Win: “Time”

 

International Feature

  • “Another Round,” Denmark
  • “Better Days,” Hong Kong
  • “Collective,” Romania
  • “The Man Who Sold His Skin,” Tunisia
  • “Quo Vadis, Aida?” Bosnia and Herzegovina

Another round for “Another Round.” From Thomas Vinterberg, who also got a surprise director nomination, “Another Round” has held the international crown all season. “Quo Vadis, Aida?” made a sober effort to knock the drunken drama off its barstool, but there’s no doubting “Another Round” is leaving tipsy with delight. Still, the best pick would have us see “Collective” scooping up the statuette.

— Dominic Marziali

Will win: “Another Round”

Should win: “Collective”

 

Production Design

  • “The Father,” Production Design: Peter Francis; Set Decoration: Cathy Featherstone
  • “Mank,” Production Design: Donald Graham Burt; Set Decoration: Jan Pascale
  • “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” Production Design: Mark Ricker; Set Decoration: Karen O’Hara and Diana Stoughton
  • “News of the World,” Production Design: David Crank; Set Decoration: Elizabeth Keenan
  • “Tenet,” Production Design: Nathan Crowley; Set Decoration: Kathy Lucas

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No. It’s “The Father,” and it just flipped your world upside down with a chair. A devil to get right, the viewer must feel off-kilter, suspended in Anthony’s mind with only a few minute production adjustments. A win is nowhere near guaranteed: “The Father” has come off as more than its parts, thanks to its deceptively simple concept. “Mank” is definitely less than its parts, and voters will want to reward at least one of those parts in the craft categories — though most bits of “Mank” were nothing more than Oscars bait anyway.

— Dominic Marziali

Will win: “Mank,” Production Design: Donald Graham Burt; Set Decoration: Jan Pascale

Should win: “The Father,” Production Design: Peter Francis; Set Decoration: Cathy Featherstone

 

Costume Design

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

There are no low-rise jeans or Juicy Couture tracksuits to be found in this race. All of the nominated films depict a past era, celebrating the craft that goes into rebuilding a bygone world — the frilly empire dresses in “Emma,” the silver scaled armor in “Mulan,” the dazzling berry-red dress with a scalloped hem in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” It’s hard to deny Alexandra Byrne, whose eye-catching work in “Emma” elevates the movie’s mood and brilliantly reflects the character’s attitudes. Her costuming writes a historically accurate love letter to Regency England and Jane Austen’s original novel.

— Maya Thompson

Will Win: “Emma,” Alexandra Byrne

Should Win: “Emma,” Alexandra Byrne

 

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

Yeah, yeah, “Mank” went and shot in black and white. So what? It was a well-intentioned choice that flopped as grandiose — the film’s cinematography doesn’t accomplish what it set out to do. For satisfying soft tones, turn to the golden-hour beauty of “Nomadland.” Filming on a tight budget, “Nomadland” proves this category is quantity versus quality: “Mank” and its gargantuan show or “Nomadland” and its pared back sensibility. The choice is crystal clear.

— Dominic Marziali

Will win: “Nomadland,” Joshua James Richards

Should win: “Nomadland,” Joshua James Richards

 

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

Chloe Zhao is an ace on all cinematic frontiers: at the writer’s desk, behind the camera and in the editor’s room. Her editing in the acclaimed film “Nomadland” stitches together sensitive stories, striking a delicate balance between relishing the lush landscapes and returning to our steward, Fern (Frances McDormand). The other standout in this category is Yorgos Lamprinos, who delivers tremendous and heart-wrenching work in “The Father.” It’s wonderful to see Lamprinos on the board, but the rightful and unrelenting “Nomadland” buzz marks this category as Zhao’s terrain.

 

— Maya Thompson

Will Win: “Nomadland,” Chloé Zhao

Should Win: “Nomadland,” Chloé Zhao

 

Original Score

  • “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

 

Each of these original scores deserves a listen. Terence Blanchard embraces brassy, epic grandeur in his swelling score for Spike Lee’s war film “Da 5 Bloods.” Emile Mosseri plucks wonderful harmonies in tender, twinkling strings for “Minari.” But this race unquestionably belongs to Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, who are both acknowledged for their work in both “Mank” and “Soul.” Their two-fold nomination indicates they’ve got the Academy’s favor, and with this in mind, the race becomes a done deal. “Soul” is set to sweep, rising above its competitor by cleverly inflecting the story, flexing compositional complexity and evoking strong emotions.

— Maya Thompson

Will Win: “Soul,” Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Jon Batiste

Should Win: “Soul,” Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Jon Batiste

 

Original Song

  • “Husavik” from “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga”
  • “Fight for You” from “Judas and the Black Messiah”
  • “Lo Sì (Seen)” from “The Life Ahead”
  • “Speak Now” from “One Night in Miami”
  • “Hear My Voice” from “The Trial of the Chicago 7”

If “Mank” goes home a winner in anything and “One Night in Miami” an also-ran, the 93rd Academy Awards will border on travesty. Leslie Odom Jr., repping Regina King’s film, has a slight chance in the Supporting Actor race, but his real potential is here. Our money is on “Speak Now” edging out “Lo Sì” (“The Life Ahead”) and “Husavik” (“Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga”), which is showing late-game energy as the most narratively integrated song on the list.

Dominic Marziali

Will win: “Speak Now” (“One Night in Miami”)

Should win: “Speak Now” (“One Night in Miami”)

 

Animated Short

  • “Burrow”
  • “Genius Loci”
  • “If Anything Happens I Love You”
  • “Opera”
  • “Yes-People”

While its feature film counterpart attracts a family-friendly audience, the Oscar nominees for Best Animated Short take the road less traveled — an imaginative path shrouded in darkness and mature themes, such as grief, loneliness and the flickering embers of hope.

As schools consider the possibility of resuming in-person activity, Netflix’s “If Anything Happens I Love You” delivers a devastating reminder about the state of our country, and its emotional blows may be enough to secure the award. “Genius Loci” and “Opera,” however, are the more innovative, experimental works in the running, and they’re marvels to behold. It’s a good year for animated shorts, and regardless of which film wins the award, every viewer wins by carving out an hour to check them all out.

Maya Thompson

Will Win: “If Anything Happens I Love You”

Should Win: “Genius Loci” or “Opera”

 

Documentary Short

  • “Colette”
  • “A Concerto Is a Conversation”
  • “Do Not Split”
  • “Hunger Ward”
  • “A Love Song for Latasha”

 

Enter the documentary shorts, home to some of the year’s best and worst nominees. “A Concerto is a Conversation” and “A Love Song for Latasha” harness brevity where “Do Not Split” — still great, even provoking censure in China — nearly fumbles its through-line. On the other end, “Hunger Ward” and “Colette” border on exploitation with their stumbles to translate pain into a greater message. It’s hard to deny “A Concerto is a Conversation,” but “A Love Song for Latasha” wins fair on its personal style.

— Dominic Marziali

Will win: “A Love Song for Latasha”

Should win: “A Love Song for Latasha” or “A Concerto is a Conversation”

 

Best Live-Action Short 

  • “Feeling Through”
  • “The Letter Room”
  • “The Present”
  • “Two Distant Strangers”
  • “White Eye”

This year’s live-action shorts are a little trickier to predict as each film bears a unique, fair claim to take the prize. “White Eye” unfolds in a single 20-minute unbroken take — a technical feat that tends to impress audiences — and “The Letter Room” features movie star Oscar Isaac. Yet Doug Roland’s “Feeling Through” has swept the festival circuit, garnering several victories that empower this heartfelt film as the frontrunner in the Academy’s race.

— Maya Thompson

Will Win: “Feeling Through”

Should Win: “Feeling Through”

Maya Thompson and Dominic Marziali cover film. Contact Maya at [email protected] and Dominic at [email protected].