The Oscars are this Sunday. It's the biggest night in movies, where film nerds like me go into a giant hissy fit when our favorite doesn't win. But who is going to win? You may think, let me turn to the experts, and by experts, I mean me, the college student who watches movies instead of doing his homework.


Disclaimer

These are my picks, and my opinions. Also, winners will be in bold.

Actor in a Leading Role

Riz Ahmed

Chadwick Boseman

Anthony Hopkins

Gary Oldman

Steven Yeun

This is a stacked category.

Sir Anthony Hopkins is one of the greatest actors to ever live, but frankly, picking him is boring at this point. Another Oscar for him means nothing to him and anybody else. This won't impact his legacy one way or another. He has the LeBron James paradox, where he's so good that he could win every year without issue, so you just pick someone else.

Gary Oldman did an amazing job with Mank, and it is a callback to Old Hollywood, which film academies have a soft spot for. But after its flop at the Golden Globes, I get the feeling the Academy won't bite either.

I'm thinking Steven Yeun picks up the win here. His performance in Minari holds up against anybody on this list, and then some. He's been an extremely prolific actor with amazing performance after amazing performance, and it's beyond time for him to get some real hardware to his name.

Actor in a Supporting Role

Sacha Baron Cohen

Daniel Kaluuya

Leslie Odom Jr

Paul Raci

LaKeith Stanfield

Daniel already got the Golden Globe, so it only seems fair, right?

Actress in a Leading Role

Viola Davis

Andra Day

Vanessa Kirby

Frances McDormand

Carey Mulligan

Honestly, I really don't know. I wouldn't be shocked or upset if any of these women won.

My personal pick is Andra Day, because she has the best story. That's really all I can pick for at this point, because I could make a very solid case for anyone here. She isn't even an actress, she's a singer, and not only did she step into this space for the first time ever on a major motion picture, and not only does she kill her performance, but she blows everyone out of the water. I love it. People would talk about it for years to come. So, my pick here is based solely on the fact that I think it would be cool. Because who knows?

Actress in a Supporting Role

Maria Bakalova

Glenn Close

Olivia Coleman

Amanda Seyfried

Yuh-Jung Youn

I know I just said that it's boring to give Oscars to one of the best actors alive, so why am I giving this one to one of the best actresses alive? I don't know. She deserves it, sue me.

Animated Feature Film

Onward

Over the Moon

Soul

Wolfwalkers

It's Wolfwalkers and it's not even close. No shade to any of the other films on this list, they were all amazing, but Wolfwalkers is probably the best animated movie I've seen since Spirited Away.

Maybe it's because I'm Irish, maybe it's because I have a soft spot for this production company's animating style, maybe it's both, it's definitely both. But look, my bias aside, they have a history with the Academy from Song of the Sea, and this time it feels like a home run.

Cinematography

Judas and the Black Messiah

Mank

News of the World

Nomadland

The Trial of the Chicago 7

It is a controversial pick for Mank to win anything at this point after its run through the Golden Globes. I don't think it's picking up anything major, but in terms of pure cinematography, it really is the best pick. The noir style is an amazing medium to play with shadow, and Erik Messershmidt did it as well as anyone can. Was it revolutionary? No, but was it masterful? You bet.

Costume Design

Emma

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

Mank

Mulan

Pinocchio

I actually don't see Ma Rainey doing as well as it deserves to this year, but for costume design, there's no better pick. The costumes were crucial to the success of this movie, even moreso than the rest of this list, and the way they absolutely nailed it at every turn was immaculate. 10/10.

Directing

Thomas Vinterberg

David Fincher

Lee Isaac Chung

Chloé Zhao

Emerald Fennell

Give it to Chloé. Give it to Chloé or I will riot. First of all, it is beyond time for a woman to win Best Director, and second of all, did you see Nomadland? Look, Chloé is going to be around, and be one of the best directors in the game for years to come. I guarantee that two decades from now you'll be saying her name in the same breath as some of the greatest directors to ever live.

Her approach to filmmaking is beyond unique, it connects deeply with audiences, and it deserves critical acclaim. And a big ol' trophy.

Documentary (Feature)

Collective

Crip Camp

The Mole Agent

My Octopus Teacher

Time

I'm going with Crip Camp here. It was a transcendental take on disability rights, with a non-demeaning and humanizing approach to awareness that frankly, as a neuro-divergent person is rare to see in Hollywood.

I don't know if it will win, but I really, really want it to. So often, too often, disabled persons are portrayed as victims, people who need the aid and heroism of the able bodied or intellectually "normal", and attempts at humanization come across as deeply tone deaf. Not this documentary. It makes the disabled look like god damn superheroes, because they are.

Documentary (Short Subject)

Colette

A Concerto is a Conversation

Do Not Split

Hunger Ward

A Love Song for Latasha

My pick here is Do Not Split, but frankly it's a toss up between that and A Love Song for Latasha. They both bring incredible stories to light that otherwise would have remained under wraps. They both have a short but impactful story to tell. They both tell a story of standing up to tyranny. They both deserve to win.

However, the reason I pick Do Not Split is because it tells a more unique story to the Academy's palate, and a story no one else has narrated in such a fashion, at least yet. The Hong Kong protests were a massive uprising that we didn't really get a good look at outside of this documentary.

Film Editing

The Father

Nomadland

Promising Young Woman

Sound of Metal

Trial of the Chicago 7

With editing, I prefer to go with originality over quality, although of course, originality has to go along with that quality. The issue here is the quality is great, across the board, meaning originality has to be the deciding factor.

The editing view cycles you between the view of Hopkins' mind and the real world, further emphasizing his derangement from reality.

It's not an easy thing to portray simply through edits, but they did it, and they did it very well.


International Feature Film

Another Round

Better Days

Collective

The Man Who Sold His Skin

Quo Vadis, Aida?

I, unfortunately, haven't had the chance to watch any of these movies with the exception of The Man Who Sold His Skin. However, a good indicator for the success of these films is their success in the festival circuit, and this movie killed it, both at Venice and Stockholm. So, I still have reasoning behind my choice.

This is also one of the more unique plots I've ever seen, from a country and continent with an undervalued cinematic impact.


Makeup and Hairstyling

Emma

Hillbilly Elegy

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

Mank

Pinocchio

Pinocchio, no doubt. Noooooo doubt. You wanna know why? Because that wooden boy face wasn't CGI, that was makeup. I rest my case.

Music (Original Score)

Da 5 Bloods

Minari

Mank

News of the World

Soul

I'm going with Soul here, because no one can mess with a Disney soundtrack. Plain and simple. But, minus points for not having Jamie Foxx sing.

But, really, I have to look at how important the score was to the overall development of the film, and I think Soul had the strongest support from their score out of all these films.

Music (Original Song)

Fight for You by H.E.R.

Hear my Voice

Husavik

Io Sì

Speak Now


This one is hard, and I mean hard. These are all great, even the ones you probably don't recognize.

In the end, I'm going with Leslie Odom Jr for Speak Now for a few reasons. One, it was performed in character, which I like. Two, the song itself was relevant to the plot very directly. And, three, I really want him to EGOT, because I know he can do it. Does Veep need a singing voice next season or something?

Best Picture

The Father

Judas and the Black Messiah

Mank

Nomadland

Promising Young Woman

The Trial of the Chicago 7

Sound of Metal

This one weirdly wasn't as hard for me as everything else. Nomadland is the best picture of the year. Period.

Nomadland tells a deeply unique story in a deeply unique way. It takes a part of this country we all think we know and opens our eyes to a world we never even knew existed, right under our nose. It was the perfect story for 2020. No matter what happens, or what struggle you endure, everyone can find their happiness in themselves. And we can. And Nomadland showed us that.

Production Design

The Father

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

Mank

News of the World

Tenet

I'm a sucker for set design on a period piece, but yeah, Ma Rainey is my winner here. Crafting a time and place accurately, especially one that isn't depicted much, is difficult, and the historical accuracy and mood created was impeccable. Definitely my winner.

Short Film (Animated)

Burrow

Genius Loci

If Anything Happens I Love You

Opera

Yes-People

This is the one everyone is picking, and there's a reason everyone is picking it. It's one of the most emotional and introspective pieces you'll ever watch. Incredible.

Short Film (Live Action)

Feeling Through

The Letter Room

The Present

Two Distant Strangers

White Eye

Honestly, the only one of these I saw was The Letter Room, so I picked it. But it's still the deeply favored pick for this spot, which is why I watched in the first place, and it lives up to that name. It's a really good movie starring a really good actor telling a very compelling, unique story. What else do you want?

Sound

Greyhound

Mank

News of the World

Soul

Sound of Metal

I feel like I've been a little disrespectful to Sound of Metal up until now. It was an amazing movie and an unforgettable performance from Riz Ahmed. The reason I picked it for sound is mimicking the effects of one losing their hearing is easy to do poorly, but hard to do well, and this film did it very well, in a very unique way.

Visual Effects

Love and Monsters

The Midnight Sky

Mulan

The One and Only Ivan

Tenet

The Midnight Sky didn't exactly do anything with CGI that's never been done before, but they did it very well. Netflix and friends spared no penny on making these effects look as real and as cool as possible.

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

The Father

Nomadland

One Night in Miami

The White Tiger


One Night in Miami pulled off something very difficult. They managed to balance the importance and gravity of five legendary Civil Rights figures played by five amazing actors for an entire movie. This should have been a train wreck. Because how do you even write something like this? Imagine what men of that caliber would say to each other?

Well, they did a pretty damn good job.

Writing (Original Screenplay)

Judas and the Black Messiah

Minari

Promising Young Woman

Sound of Metal

The Trial of the Chicago 7

My biggest surprise of writing this piece is how little love I showed to The Trial of the Chicago 7. It was genuinely one of my favorite films of this year, and I think the script was done perfectly. It got you the perfect amount of mad, furious enough to be completely on the side of the defendants while still maintaining enough composure to actually watch the movie.

Every single word and choice made in this movie was absolutely perfect, and the screenplay is a huge part of that.

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