Every year for the past few years, I try to watch as many Oscar nominees as possible. For the past couple years I have also reviewed them here on this blog. This year was an ideal year for this exercise, given that the pandemic has forced most nominees onto streaming services that I could watch from home. I got through a whopping 34 nominees!
Here they all are, roughly in order from my personal favorite to my personal least favorite, and linking to the individual reviews. This order is VERY rough and could shuffle dramatically given my mood at any moment. (* denotes Best Picture nominees):
Great Movie / Loved It / Recommend
2. The Trial of the Chicago Seven*
4. The Father*
5. My Octopus Teacher
6. The Mole Agent
7. Quo Vadis, Aida?
8. The White Tiger
9. The Man Who Sold His Skin
11. Sound of Metal*
It’s Fine / Pros and Cons / No Major Complaints
15. Promising Young Woman*
16. Crip Camp
17. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
18. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
19. One Night in Miami
20. Hillbilly Elegy
22. Pieces of a Woman
23. Judas and the Black Messiah*
24. Over the Moon
26. Better Days
27. News of the World
28. Another Round
30. The United States vs Billie Holiday
31. The One and Only Ivan
33. The Midnight Sky
Films without Nominations that I Watched and Reviewed Before Nominee Announcements:
A Love Tale of Taylors
I Care a Lot
Nominated Films that I Did Not Watch:
Pinnochio (Hair&Makeup, Costumes)
Love and Monsters (Visual Effects)
Wolfwalkers (Animated Feature)
Da 5 Bloods (Score)
The Life Ahead (Song)
All non-feature-length nominees
Yesterday I did a post giving my general thoughts on the nominees, and awarding made-up accolades to various films. Today I’ll be giving my take on the actual awards. I’ll do so using the following format:
Category Name: Name of the nominee who I think should win
Likely winner: name of the winner I predict will win
Rando’s pick: Name of a winner as picked at random by Google’s random number generator. The numbers are assigned based on the order in which I hand-wrote these down a couple months ago when my printer was out of ink. Looks like that’s mostly alphabetical since I probably transcribed these from an alphabetical list, but there may be transcription errors. I’m stealing this idea from the epic sports blog Russian Machine Never Breaks, who always include their own brackets for the playoffs, as well as the bracket of a random coin they’ve named. Then after the ceremony I can compare the academy’s real picks with my own picks, my predictions, and a completely uninformed non-engaged party. Safe money says the Rando Pick will win.
List of remaining nominees
Any other commentary I may feel like including.
HERE WE GO!!!…
Best Picture: The Trial of the Chicago 7
Likely winner: Nomadland
Rando’s Pick: The Father
Judas and the Black Messiah, Mank, Minari, Promising Young Woman, Sound of Metal
Oddly enough, I think any of the 3 picks would be completely deserving and I’d be happy with the result. I wouldn’t be surprised if Minari or Mank took it, but I wouldn’t agree with the call. Judas and Promising Young Woman don’t stand a chance and I’d be shocked if they won (I’m surprised they’re even nominated, really). Sound of Metal is the wildcard here. No clue what the academy thinks about it, and frankly I’m not sure how I feel about it, either.
Best Director: Chloe Hzao (Nomadland)
Likely winner: David FIncher (Mank)
Rando’s Pick: David Fincher (Mank)
Thomas Vinterberg (Another Round), Lee Isaac Chung (Minari), Emeral Fennel (Promising Young Woman)
Part of me wants to call this for Vinterberg, who took a very, very stupid script and made his film watchable. That’s some serious skill. I’m guessing Fincher might take it for Mank because I’m under the impression there’s a lot going on with smart cuts that are going over my non-film-geek head. I don’t really understand what Chung or Fennel are doing up there. Fennel’s film is uneven, and Minari looks like like a million other films to me. Nomadland, though, has a very unique voice and execution. It feels like a documentary, an effect created by mixing real-life nomads with actors. The authenticity of these storytellers overlaid with fantastic landscapes tell a truly unique and beautiful story of America.
Best Actor in a Leading Role: Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom)
Likely winner: Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom)
Rando’s Pick: Steven Yeun (Minari)
Riz Ahmen (Sound of Steel), Anthony Hopkins (The Father), Gary Oldman (Mank)
This is a VERY tough field. I think either Ahmed or Hopkins are just as deserving. All three had absolutely stunning performances. I think Ahmed and his movie don’t have the same recognition as the other nominees, so he’s probably a bit less likely to win it. So it comes down to being a competition between the aging beloved star in a seriously impressive role who has one Oscar under his belt but is unlikely to have many more bites at the apple, or the recently-departed beloved star in a seriously impressive role who has no Oscars and no remaining chances to win again. I can’t think of a gentle way to say this, but I think people tend to like posthumous awards, especially when we love the star so much (think Heath Ledger as the Joker). Ma Rainey wasn’t a very popular film, but it saw astounding work by the Black Panther star whose passing saddened the world. So I think Boseman will eke out the win. Which is absolutely NOT to say that he does not deserve it! He absolutely does! He was crazy good in this film! It is not an easy role to pull off, and he did it. But it’s a tough call given the competition. I’ll be pissed if Oldman wins, and surprised if Yeun wins.
Best Actress in a Leading Role: Frances McDormand (Nomadland)
Likely winner: Andra Day (United States vs Billie Holiday)
Rando’s Pick: Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman)
This was a really tough one to call, and frankly this could go pretty much anywhere. I’m thoroughly non-confident in my picks here and keep changing my mind. Andra Day won the Golden Globe, hence I went with it for my likely winner. But I keep circulating between Day, McDormand, and Kirby for most deserving. They were all so damn good! I’m not going with Kirby because I think that, after the big crazy 30 minute opening was over, the rest of her film was just kinda meh and she didn’t really have to do much. Is one crazy good scene enough to win the top prize? I dunno. Day was the only good thing about her otherwise shitty movie, whereas McDormand was the center of a total powerhouse movie. Davis and Mulligan were both was great as always, but I just didn’t think their roles were as challenging as the other nominees’.
Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Leslie Odom Jr. (One Night in Miami)
Likely wick: Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah)
Rando’s Pick: Leslie Odom Jr.
Sacha Baron Cohen (Trial of the Chicago 7), Paul Raci (Sound of Metal), Lakeith Stanfield (Judas on the Black Messiah)
Okay, I am very, very, very confused here. I know that Kaluuya won the Golden Globe for best supporting actor. Then I saw the film, and thought ,”huh, yeah, I’d think that his character and Stanfield’s characters are both co-leads, but I could see this as Stanfield being the lead and Kaluuya being the supporting.” Then the Oscar list came out, and my head exploded a bit. If neither Judas nor The Black Messiah are considered the lead in the film Judas and the Black Messiah, then who the hell IS the lead? I tried to look up the distinction for what counts as supporting versus leading, and turns out it’s a very fuzzy situation. Studious present actors “for your consideration,” then people nominate them in whichever category feels more appropriate. If they win enough votes in both supporting and leading categories, then they are only officially nominated in whichever one got more nominations. I have to wonder if that’s what happened here. This is like the reverse of the “never hit on the hottest girl so that we can all share the second-tier hotness girls” theory from A Beautiful Mind. Did half the viewers see Judas as the protagonist and nominated The Black Messiah as the supporting role, but the other half of nominees saw The Black Messiah as the protagonist and thus nominated Judas as the supporting role? Who the hell knows. The lead actor category is so strong, though, that I guess both actors have a better shot at best supporting. Of the two, though, I found Stanfield’s performance more nuanced and impressive than Kaluuya’s. I’m again basing my guess on the Golden Globe wins. All that being said… I’m going for Odom as Sam Cooke. I thought he was crazy good. I was also really impressed by Raci so would be happy for him if he won. I cannot for the life of me understand why Baron Cohen is nominated here, since he basically just played himself.
Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Yuh-jung Youn (Minari)
Likely winner: Yuh-jung Youn (Minari)
Rando’s Pick: Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy)
Maria Bakalova (Borat), Olivia Colman (The Father), Amanda Seyfried (Mank)
This is another REALLY tough one. I would actually like to see Youn and Close tie for this one, as they were both mesmerizing in very similar roles (badass grandmas!). Bakalova pulled off a very impressive feat in Borat, and Colman is a longtime favorite of mine. Kudos all around. The only nominee I don’t really understand is Seyfried. She was fine I guess, but… she didn’t really have to do much. She was just kinda there.
Best Adapted Screenplay: The White Tiger
Likely winner: Nomadland
Rando’s Pick: The Father
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, One Night in Miami
For me this is a close call between The White Tiger and The Father. Both were great.
Oh no, guys… I am totally out of steam! Attention span fading! So sick of blogging! But so many categories to go! Maybe I’ll backfill some commentary on the rest of these later. But probably not. Here are some remaining picks. Note I don’t have anything for the shorts (didn’t watch them) or for music.
Best Original Screenplay: The Trial of the Chicago 7
Likely winner: The Trial of the Chicago 7
Rando’s Pick: Minari
Judas and the Black Messiah, Promising Young Woman, Sound of Metal
Best Cinematography: Nomadland
Likely winner: Nomadland
Rando’s Pick: News of the World
Judas and the Black Messiah, Mank, Trial of the Chicago 7
Film Editing: Sound of Metal
Likely winner: The Father
Rando’s Pick: Nomadland
Promising Young Woman, The Trial of the Chicago 7
Best Production Design: The Father
Likely winner: News of the World
Rando’s Pick: Tenet
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Mank
Best Visual Effects: The One and Only Ivan
Likely winner: Tenet
Rando’s Pick: The One and Only Ivan
Love and Monsters, The Midnight Sky, Mulan
Best Sound: Sound of Metal
Likely winner: Sound of Metal
Rando’s Pick: Mank
Greyhound, News of the World, Soul
Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Hillbilly Elegy
Likely winner: Hillbilly Elegy
Rando’s Pick: Emma
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Mank, Pinnochio
Best Costume Design: Emma
Likely winner: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Rando’s Pick: Mank
Best Animated Feature: Farmageddon
Likely winner: Soul
Rando’s Pick: Soul
Onward, Over the Moon, Wolfwalkers
Best Documentary Feature: Collective
Likely winner: Collective
Rando’s Pick: Collective
Crip Camp, The Mole Agent, My Octopus Teacher, Time
This is tied with International Feature for being the two strongest categories by far. Mole Agent and Octopus Teacher were both absolutely fantastic. Solid solid stuff here. The only one I didn’t like was Time, so watch it win now.
Best International Feature: Collective
Likely winner: Collective
Rando’s Pick: Another Round
Better Days, The Man Who Sold His Skin, Quo Vadis Aida?
This is tied with Documentary Feature for being the two strongest categories by far. Solid stuff here. The only one I didn’t like was Another Round, so watch it win now.
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