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Khushrenada's Annual Oscar Thread. 2021 Edition.

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I was asked or reminded if I was doing my usual Oscar thread this year by Mr. Bungle a little while ago. I had completely forgotten about doing that this year. Two big factors being that I haven't seen the movies nominated for Best Picture (in fact, the only movie I've seen that has any nominations in any categories is Emma) and the whole event and ceremony just seems lowkey and low energy that I almost forgot it was happening today. Still, I've been doing this for some time now so I might as well keep the tradition alive. Been a long time since there was an Oscar night in which I hadn't seen any of the movies nominated for Best Picture or such a low amount but that's 2020 for you and the fact that I'm not subscribed to any streaming services. Such a maverick!

I guess it will be an interesting experiment to see if not having any opinions or emotions to the movies being nominated makes a factor in better predicting the results or if it will be worse or the same. All I can really do is base the predictions off of other people's thoughts and other award ceremonies before this. So, let's just get to the nominations.

The Categories That Have The Most Consensus

Best Picture: Nomadland

If you've been following my past threads then you know that I seem to really suck at picking the actual big prize winner. Perhaps this will be the kiss of death for Nomadland. However, all the talk I've seen since checking in from time to time on best movies from last year seems to keep putting Nomadland as the top film. It's been winning every Best Picture award at other ceremonies leading up to the Oscars but so did 1917 last year and then it lost. Will this be another scenario? It's had to say but I think for once I'm alright with this prediction because of how weak this year's field sort of is. There's no other movie nominated that's been making big enough waves or gaining word of mouth as a better choice for Best Picture. With no major competition, I think it will finish its trajectory to get the win tonight at the Oscars.

Best Director: Chloé Zhao

Like the picture Nomadland, Chloe has been winning every directing award for the job she did with Nomadland including the Director's Guild Award for this film. The DGA winner has a high percentage of being the Oscar winner although exceptions can happen. (Sam Mendes won it last year for 1917 and then lost the Oscar to Boon for Parasite so nothing's ever certain.) While the Oscars have been splitting the winner of Best Director and Best Picture quite a bit over the last decade, there's been nothing to really indicate a reason for a split here or anyone else nominated that might be overdue for a win or being highly praised for their effort as well. The one thing that might give a person pause is Thomas Vinterberg who was nominated here. Although his movie isn't nominated for the Best Picture award it is in the running for the Best Internation Film so maybe he gets a Director's win here for it.

Best Supporting Actor: Daniel Kaluuya

It's possible there could be an upset here but as the stats go, no person in modern history has lost the Oscar after winning all the televised award shows. With Daniel winning all those previous awards leading up to this point, he's most likely to win here.

Animated Feature Film: Soul

While some pundits wonder whether Pixar could be defeated by the film Wolfwalkers, Soul has been getting all the love and awards up to this point and it seems like another solid Pixar effort to give them yet another win in this category.

Original Score: Soul

Likewise, Soul seems poised to win in the Original Score category as the music has been winning other awards up to the Oscars and is a movie with a focus on music which probably further helps make it stand out from the other nominations. Plus, Jon Batiste is on Colbert's Late Show and they've been talking about some of his other wins for Soul at times so perhaps that will give it further recognition for Academy voters.

Best International Film: Another Round

It has a recognizable international star in Mads Mikkelson as the lead and the director was nominated for a Best Director award which doesn't happen often for an International (Foreign) Film as the Oscars only have 5 slots to give out for nominations. It would seem this movie has some rooting interest with some Academy members and thus is highly likely to win this award.

Sound: Sound of Metal

The Oscars finally merged the Sound categories together after so much debate about them for so long. Usually, the two Sound categories made up a part of the Dreaded Six categories that were anyone's guess. Now, not only is there one less of the Dreaded Six still around, this year the newly combined Sound category is being called a lock for Sound of Metal to win it since the movies got a big focus on sound. So, who am I to disagree? (That said, Soul did get a nomination here as well and with its focus on music then it might gain some support here as well. However, Sound of Music has a Best Picture nomination among others but it doesn't seem likely to win the other categories it has nominations in making this the one place where it could get some love from the voters that liked it enough to make it a Best Picture nominee.)

Categories With A Catch

Now let's go through a bunch of awards that have a frontrunner but with a spoiler or two also in the mix.

Original Screenplay: Promising Young Woman

The chatter on this award is that it will go to Promising Young Woman as the writer Emerald Fennell  has won the Writer's Guild, BAFTA, and Critic's Choice awards for this screenplay already. Moreover, she was also nominated for Best Director and PMY is nominated for Best Picture. But with Chloé Zhao seemingly poised to take those other prizes then this may be the way the Academy can award Emerald for this film. However, the big caveat here is that all 5 screenplays nominated in this category are also nominated for Best Picture so it's possible it could go to another film especially if there's another film voters liked more and want to award here or if there is an upset in the Best Picture category.

Adapted Screenplay: Nomadland

It's rare that the Best Picture winner doesn't also win the Screenplay Award in the category it is nominated for as well but it isn't unusual. In the past 20 years, there have been 4 Best Picture winners that didn't win for their screenplay which gives Nomadland a 20% chance of not winning here also if it is indeed this year's Best Picture winner. The only other screenplay that has been getting some rumblings as a possible upset is The Father but I'm going to play the odds and stick with Nomadland here. (Although it would be something to see Borat Sequel triumph here.)

Best Actor: Chadwick Boseman

It's an odd category this year with two previous winners and three first time nominees. The overall consensus has been leaning towards Boseman for a way to honor his body of work and memory but Hopkins won at BAFTA and there is some crossover between that organization and the Academy. Moreover, if the voters are thinking about body of work like with Boseman then perhaps they'll be thinking the same with Hopkins and possibly giving him a second win. Hopkins performance is the main focus of The Father but I have no idea what it is like or how it compares to Boseman's although the movie he's nominated for seems a bit more of an ensemble piece. It seems this is a 50/50 shot but I think Boseman takes the award because it's really the only opportunity to do that and it may be kind of depressing to not award it in his honor and Hopkins takes a second. Going with the emotion behind this one and selecting Boseman although it's been debate in my mind between the two.

Best Supporting Actress: Yuh-Jung Youn

This was a bit of a mixed field with some people wondering if Glenn Close might win simply to give her an Oscar win already or if the Academy may give it to Maria Bakalova for the Borat Sequel as they will sometimes reward a comedy in the Supporting field. But Youn has picked up a few more acting awards and gained momentum for her role in Minari. As well, Minari is another picture that seems to have some fans and backers amongst the voters and this might be the best opportunity to honor that film with an Oscar win so going with Youn.

Cinematography: Nomadland

This is the one category where I feel watching the nominees likely helps the most in selecting the winner. The top pick for this award has been Nomadland for some time with only one slight hiccup. The ASC which is a guild for cinematographers did award Mank with the top prize. That said, there's no real major correlation between members of that guild and their winning picks having any bearing or influence on the Oscar winners of it. The thing about Mank is that it is based on the making of Citizen Kane. Citizen Kane was and still is a bit of technical marvel with it cinematography and use of light and shadow. Mank seems to borrow and use shots and moments from Kane for its cinematography so I could see why it might be a possible upset here. I guess the question is whether it does enough of its own originality and how striking some of that light and shadow play may be. Sticking with the frontrunner since I can't say on my own here.

Best Documentary Feature:  My Octopus Teacher

I haven't heard of this film or any of the others nominated but its swept almost all the guild awards its been nominated in and seems to have momentum to win here. The only other nominee I'm seeing being thrown out as a possible upset is Time because it has a relevant social message to it. Just sticking with the majority consensus here as well.

Production Design: Mank

This is the one category where Mank does seem to be the frontrunner. A big reason for that is replicating Hearst Castle which was the basis of Xanadu in Citizen Kane. The only other nominee being listed as a possible winner is The Father which how set design and production is full of changes and shifts to help illustrate the dementia being suffered by the main character. That said, I don't think subtly usually wins awards here so I'll go with the ornately designed sets.

Costume Design: Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

Another frontrunner with only Emma being cited as a possible winner from the other nominees. Ma Rainey's designer won the Costume Designer Guild award and BAFTA for the costumes in this movie. With Emma being the only movie I've seen, I did enjoy the colorful look of the film and detail in its production. But I could see the look and clothes from Ma Rainey as standing out more so I'll go with consensus here again.

Makeup And Hairstyling: Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

Most of the nominees in Costume Design carried over to this category as well. Likewise, Ma Rainey is considered the top choice with Emma and maybe Pinocchio as being somewhat competitive. Makeup is a weird category in that the quality of the film being nominated seems to have no influence on the voters so who knows? One thing that has been noted is that if Ma Rainey wins then it will be the first time the winners of the category were black so if enough voters know that stat then perhaps it will further cement it as the winner so that some more history can be made.

Visual Effects: Tenet

Tenet is one 2020 movie I do want to see and would have liked to see in theaters. Visual Effects is a bit of a low key affair this year with most blockbusters having been pushed back to this year or beyond but Tenet seems to be the frontrunner. However, the VFX guild did vote on The Midnight Sky as their winner. Still, Tenet has probably the best name recognition in this category and as much as some people complain about the story, everyone seems to agree it had very good effects.

This Year's Dreaded Six

That said, even though Sound may not be a part of this grouping this year, there are still six categories for which things are up in the air and no one is confident about who may actually win here. If anyone else is in an Oscar pool or looking to post their own picks here to compete with me then these are probably the categories that will probably be the place that makes or breaks your ballot.

Best Actress: Carey Mulligan

It's unusual that an acting category is wide open by the time the Oscars happen. Sometimes there might be a two person race but this year no one is really certain who may actually win here since most of the nominees have had a win at other award ceremonies during this years Awards season. Let's break it down a bit. Andra Day won at the Golden Globes but Globes are a small foreign press group that don't really have much mingling with the Academy voters. Day's film isn't nominated for anything else which isn't necessarily a problem. Julianne Moore won for Still Alice and that movie wasn't nominated in any other category. The difference is that Moore's win was sort of an overdue recognition of her body of work and seen as a way to give her a deserved Oscar. Day is kind of a newcomer in film and it's rare for the Best Actress award to go to a first time nominee with a scant filmography. Vanessa Kirby has been in the acting business a bit longer and in a few box office hits like Mission Impossible and Hobbs & Shaw. She's gotten more critical acclaim and notice for her role in The Crown. However, her film also is not nominated for anything else this year and the only award she's won for the role came from the Venice Film Festival when it showed there. I'd say she's also out of the running.

That makes it a three person race between Viola Davis, Francis McDormand and Carey Mulligan. Frances has won Best Actress twice. Will the Academy decide to make her a three time winner? She also is a producer for Nomadland and if that wins Best Picture then she'll already be getting another Oscar tonight. She could make history by being the first woman to win an acting award and producing award for the same film but I'm not sure if that history making potential would be enough to sway some voters who may want to spread the love around and vote for someone else to win the Best Actress Oscar. (Meryl Streep has the most acting nominations of anybody and she has two Best Actress and One Supporting Actress Oscars to show for it. Will voters give Francis three Best Actress awards when Meryl couldn't pull it off?) Frances did win at BAFTA but I'm not sure that will really translate into an Oscar win. After all, 1917 won a lot at the BAFTAs last year and then lost to Parasite at the Oscars a bunch instead. And yet, like Hopkins in The Father, McDormand's performance has a big role to play in carrying the movie as the one real main character. Obviously it was enough to help in making it the frontrunner Best Picture choice. I don't know. Maybe she gets rewarded with a third win but I'm going on the basis that more voters will select a different actress instead.

That leaves Mulligan and Davis. Davis won a few years ago in the Supporting Actress category but not for the main or Best Actress category. If Viola Davis wins here, then Ma Rainey's Black Bottom could potentially walk away with 4 Oscars which might be the same amount Nomadland wins despite the movie not being nominated in the Best Picture category which is kind of weird. Will the fact that it didn't get a Best Picture nomination cause people to vote for Mulligan instead if they are choosing amongst the two? Davis has become a big name in the past decade from her roles on TV and film. Although she does have the recent Supporting win there may be a lot of sentiment for her to get a Best Actress category win as well for all the work she's been doing up to this point since she has the most acting nominations for a Black Actress in Oscar history so far and won the SAG award which comes from other actors who make up a big portion of the Academy.

Yet, Mulligan hasn't won an Oscar yet but has had a previous nomination and has been a part of quite a few critically acclaimed films since that last nomination. She plays a role which requires her to play a character doing a lot of other acting towards other characters which may make her performance a bit more of a standout compared to Davis role. The film does take on the subject of how women are treated in society which has become a big issue in Hollywood especially since the MeToo movement. Perhaps that gives Mulligan the edge over Davis. If voters aren't voting Frances to give someone else a chance at winning then it may be they skip over Davis as well to give it to Mulligan. I'm just not sure if Mulligan is that well known or perhaps feels too distant to members of the Academy to win over Davis. After all, a lot of votes can come from those that want to vote for someone they consider a friend and Davis may have more appeal in that regard. I've decided to go with Mulligan here even if I feel I've reasoned myself more that Davis will win writing this up. I just think that she's got a role that seems very different from her previous work and is a bit more showy whereas I'm not sure Davis has done anything in Ma Rainey that might be seen that same way.

Film Editing: Sound of Metal

An interesting statistic I stumbled upon is that the winner of a Sound Mixing or Sound Editing award will usually win best Film Editing also. There are some exceptions where this differed but usually that was because the film that won Film Editing was nominated in either of the Sound categories when that difference occurred. But, on the whole, most films that won either or both of the sound awards then won Editing. The biggest exception is Hugo which won both Sound awards but lost Editing to The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo even though Tattoo lost against Hugo in the Sound awards. Right now, there seems to be a split in consensus of whether Sound of Metal or The Trial of the Chicago 7 will win here. Chicago 7 isn't nominated in the Sound category so it's within that statistic anomaly of defeating the Sound winner here because of that. As an added wrinkle, Chicago 7 did not get a Best Director nod whereas other nominees in the category of Nomadland and Promising Young Woman did. Does that mean voters think the editing carried the movie more than the directing? It's a conundrum for me but I'm going to stick with the more edits usually means a win philosophy and couple that with Sound of Metal likely winning the Sound category to make it my pick here. If Chicago 7 is going to get any Oscar this year then this could be the category it most likely does that in.

Best Original Song: Husavik from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

Some years, Best Song is easy with something like Shallow being nominated. Then some years are like this year's nominees. No real frontrunner and no major celebrity musician up for nomination that the Academy may want to give an Oscar too. Most of the songs basically come around the end into the credits which the Academy doesn't usually like to reward as they prefer the winner be something more central to a film or stand out in it. Husavik comes a bit closer in that regard as it is the big song for the climax of the movie. On the other hand, I think back to like 2015 when Selma and the Lego Movie competed against each other in Best Song and the serious Selma won over the goofy Everything is Awesome. A lot of people are choosing Speak Now from One Night in Miami as the winner here since Leslie Odom Jr. is nominated for in the Best Supporting Actor category as well as in the song category. But when looking at the past few years when this has happened, there's no major precedent that the academy will award Song to a person also nominated in Acting. Mary J Blige was nominated in Supporting and Song for Mudbound but lost in both categories. Cynthia Erivo was nominated last year for Song and Best Actress but lost both. Lady Gaga won Best Song for Shallow while losing in the Best Actress category but Shallow was pretty much a radio hit and high point of A Star Is Born so its win was on its own merits and not a consolation prize. Hence, I don't think Odom has an inside track just be having the acting nomination. One other thing that has been brought up is that Diane Warren has a song nominated here and it is her 11th nomination with no previous win. Perhaps voters become aware of this and break that streak but there's no guarantee there. Thomas Newman has been nominated 15 times for Best Score and lost them all even though some thought he might finally end that streak last year with his 1917 score. So, heck to it. I'll go with Husavik on the basis that it also has a bit of an appeal in that Husavik is a real place in Iceland and the citizens there have been talking about and promoting the song and the pride they've had from it in making their hometown known to the world. Perhaps that human interest story will give it the edge to win.

Best Animated Short: If Anything Happens I Love You

Oh god. The shorts. Who knows? Apparently this short has had some notice on Netflix and seen some popularity because of it. It deals with the tragedy of a school shooting so maybe it has a strong emotional effect on those who watch it. On the other hand, Burrow comes from Pixar and features animals and I always say the Academy voters seem to like animals when they vote for Animated Shorts. Maybe I will regret not sticking to that rule here.

Best Live Action Short: Two Distant Strangers

There's a short that has Oscar Isaac starring in it which is The Letter Room. Some people think that may help it get more attention to win. Yet, most people are selecting Two Distant Strangers which is a sort of Groundhog Day story involving a black man who keeps getting shot by the same police officer. With its relevant social message, it is what most people are predicting as the winner. Last year, I ignored the semi-majority for Skin which was another short of the subject of racism and was wrong so I'll see if I've learned from that mistake by going with the short on that subject this year.

Best Documentary Short: A Concerto Is A Conversation

This is even a more unknown category. One nominee, Colette, is about the holocaust and anything on the Holocaust seems to in in these short categories so people are saying select it and I can't really disagree with it. Yet, at some point, you'd think voters would feel they've done enough on the subject. Do Not Split is a nominee about the Hong Kong protests that some think could win. Yet, Hollywood wants money from the Chinese audience for their blockbusters so perhaps they will be like the NBA and avoid any potential controversary with the Chinese government on this subject. A Love Song For Latasha is about the life of Latasha Harlins, a Black Los Angeles girl shot and killed by a convenience store owner in 1991. It's getting picked as a possible winner by some. A Concerto Is A Conversation is about a Black pianist who digs up his family’s lineage back to the Jim Crow South. It has Ava DuVernay as an executive producer on it so that may help it get some recognition with voters. And there's Hunger Ward which is about Starvation in Yemen. I don't know what will win here. Just hoping to get lucky but I may later look back and regret not choosing Colette here.

And here's all my picks with no write-up in one concise spot:

Best Picture: Nomadland
Director: Chloé Zhao
Best Actor in a Leading Role: Chadwick Boseman
Best Actress in a Leading Role: Carey Mulligan
Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Daniel Kaluuya
Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Yuh-Jung Youn
Best International Feature: Another Round
Cinematography: Nomadland
Original Song: Husavik
Original Score: Soul
Makeup and Hairstyling: Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
Animated Feature: Soul
Costume Design: Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
Best Documentary Feature: My Octopus Teacher
Film Editing - Sound of Metal
Production Design: Mank
Original Screenplay: Promising Young Woman
Adapted Screenplay: Nomadland
Visual Effects: Tenet
Best Sound: Sound of Metal
Animated Short: If Anything Happens I Love You
Live Action Short: Two Distant Strangers
Documentary Short: A Concerto is a Conversation

So... you completely nailed it?


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