Final Oscar Predictions

We are less than 48 hours from the actual 2021 Oscar Nominations! It feels like it’s been a long season, but this is one of the shortest Oscar windows in history (March 1 – December 31). Before we hear the announcement tomorrow morning, let’s dive in to whom I feel will have their name called.

Best Supporting Actress

Locks: Ariana deBose, Kirsten Dunst, Aunjanue Ellis
Probably Safe: Caitriona Balfe
Maybe, Maybe Not: Ruth Negga

Those top four ladies all feel safely in. If the Belfast train left the station too long ago and it gets surprisingly little love, I still feel confident in including Balfe. That last spot feels like a race between Ruth Negga, Ann Dowd, and Marlee Matlin. As much as I would love Dowd to make it, Mass keeps missing at almost every precursor. Negga has been a precursor monster, but Passing hasn’t been lighting it up either. If the Academy really responds to CODA, Matlin could get her second nomination. As it stands, I’m going with Negga.

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Best Supporting Actor

Locks: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Troy Kotsur
Probably Safe: Bradley Cooper
Maybe, Maybe Not: Ciaran Hinds, Jared Leto

In the battle for the victory, it’s a two-horse race between McPhee and Kotsur. Cooper is feeling increasingly secure these days, since Licorice Pizza most likely won’t have any other contenders. Those last two spots have upwards of 10 viable candidates. If the backlash for Belfast is real, both could miss. Otherwise, Hinds and Jamie Dornan could both find themselves with nominations. If Power of the Dog is over-nominated, maybe Jesse Plemmons makes his way in. Does a Best Picture nomination for Tick, Tick…BOOM! bring along Robin de Jesus? Do the weird precursor misses mean anything for Mike Faist and West Side Story? Does Jon Bernthal have any momentum left with King Richard? I’m going to be boring and say the Academy won’t be able to resist the worst performance of the bunch and give Jared Leto his second nomination.

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Best Actress

Locks: Nicole Kidman, Olivia Colman
Probably Safe: Jessica Chastain, Lady Gaga, Kristen Stewart

It’s funny how three months ago this race is completely different, but with the exact same set of nominees. Stewart was the easiest win for the season and Kidman came in and just took it. I don’t know where the Spencer backlash came from, but it was definitely there. Colman was locked in as soon as her film premiered, while Chastain has been able to persevere better than Stewart, somehow. Gaga’s press tour has been a delight/disaster, but she is working for it and the Academy won’t resist. Jennifer Hudson and Alana Haim either came too early or too late. If anyone surprises, I would expect Rachel Zegler, but it would be very unexpected.

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Best Actor

Locks: Will Smith, Benedict Cumberbatch, Andrew Garfield
Probably Safe: Denzel Washington
Maybe, Maybe Not: Nicolas Cage

The top four men feel very secure, but this is a race for that fifth spot. I keep having this sneaking suspicion of Simon Rex, but that film is very underseen. Don’t Look Up could be a surprising nomination machine, and Leonardo DiCaprio could be a natural byproduct. Clifton Collins Jr. and Joaquin Phoenix should have been more in the conversation, but their films were also underseen. That leaves me with Nicolas Cage. He has been a staple on the media circuit and he has gotten some of his best reviews. Also, Pig hit streaming at the perfect time and it should be fresh in everyone’s minds. My money is on Cage.

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Best Director

Locks: Jane Campion
Probably Safe: Paul Thomas Anderson
Maybe, Maybe Not: Rysuke Hamaguchi, Denis Villeneuve, Steven Spielberg

This is the category I had the most trouble with. Campion is the only name I feel completely safe in predicting, while any of the other four could be passed over completely. Anderson is probably the closest to safe, much like Bradley Cooper in Supporting Actor. Everything else…mostly educated guesses. If Drive My Car gets a Best Picture nomination, I don’t see Hamaguchi being sidelined. Villeneuve has racked up the most precursor mentions outside of Campion, so I feel pretty safe with him. I’m worried about Spielberg and West Side Story in general. The Academy loves him, but how much true passion is there for this film? Speaking of passion, Kenneth Branagh missing the lineup is my big swing. He could be in there, just like former nominee Pedro Almodovar and former winner Joel Coen. The branch can take some wild swings, so something really out there could happen, like Julia Ducournau for Titane.

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Best Picture

Locks: Power of the Dog, Licorice Pizza, Dune, CODA, King Richard
Probably Safe: Belfast, Being the Ricardos
Maybe, Maybe Not: Drive My Car, The Tragedy of Macbeth, West Side Story

Those top seven feel pretty secure, while some have much more faith in West Side Story than I do. Drive My Car feels like a Best Picture nominee due to the overwhelming precursor support. Those films just on the outskirts of the Best Picture lineup concern me, specifically Tick, Tick…BOOM! and Don’t Look Up. I don’t know who gets knocked out, but it would probably be a significant surprise. Is it possible something very outside the radar gets in (like Passing or The Lost Daughter)? It’s always possible. I can’t say I’ve been having fun with this category as I’m only passionate about three of these films. But, it’s not about me, it’s about what the Academy will do.

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We get to find out Tuesday morning at 8:18 am Eastern. Happy Oscar Season!

All Oscar Predictions

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