2021 Oscar Predictions

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While we all wait for everyone to get vaccinated and for herd immunity to kick in—experts are predicting summer of 2021—the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences released a statement assuring that there absolutely WILL be an in-person ceremony for the 93rd Oscars on April 25, 2021. How exactly that is going to work, especially since so many of the likely nominees are vulnerable to the virus due to their age, remains to be seen.

The eligibility window for qualifying films has also been extended, from December 31 of this year to February 28, 2021. Also, films also won’t be required to have a theatrical run, which means there’s plenty of time to watch the possible nominees in the safety of your home.  Fashion Reverie has compiled a list of films that might be taking home Oscar statuettes.

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“Nomadland” directed by Chloe Zhao

It’s interesting that this film is based on a non-fiction book that was published in 2017 because it perfectly encapsulates the living tragedy that was 2020. Frances McDormand plays Fern, a woman who has lost everything, travels across the American West in a van seeking work. At one point, a young girl asks, “You’re homeless right?” Fern firmly tells her “I’m not homeless, I’m houseless. Not the same is it?” With Oscar buzz already circling, McDormand could make Oscar history. If she simultaneously receives both a best actress and best picture nomination as a producer of the film, she would be the first woman to do so.

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“Minari” directed by Lee Isaac Chung
Comparisons to last year’s best picture “Parasite” are inevitable, but this brilliant film stands on its own. Minari is both a heartbreaking and inspiring tale of a Korean American family attempting to start a farm in Arkansas. A controversy arose when the Hollywood Foreign Press Association was deciding which category the film was eligible for—Best Picture or Best Foreign Language film. Many are demanding rules be changed. Don’t be distracted; this gentle film is a feast for the eyes as well as the heart as the film quietly dissects the American Dream.

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“Mank” directed by David Fincher
One major failing that seems to dog the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts is its tendency to celebrate films that, well, celebrate filmmaking. “The Artist,” “La La Land,” and “Boogie Nights” are a few examples. Director David Fincher—who also wrote and did the cinematography for the picture under pseudonyms—looks at 1930s Hollywood through the scathing wit of alcoholic screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz as he races to finish “Citizen Kane.” The film is a passion project as the original script “Mnk” was based on was written by Finchers’ late father, Jack Fincher, in the 1990s. Be warned, “Mank” is WILDLY historically inaccurate and Gary Oldman overacts like it’s about to made illegal. 

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“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” directed by George C. Wolfe

Based on August Wilson’s 1984 play of the same name, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” is a celebration of three real-life Black artists and legends. While critics are divided on how successful the film is, the acclaim for the late Chadwick Boseman is universal. Many are calling his work as a trumpet player Lavee the finest of his remarkable career. We’ll never know if Boseman knew this would be his swan song. Boseman never gave less than one hundred percent to his often-demanding roles. He will almost certainly be awarded a posthumous Oscar for Best Actor.

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“Promising Young Woman” written and directed by Emerald Fenell
Carey Mulligan plays Cassie, a young woman who dropped out of medical school due to severe trauma in this candy-colored black comedy revenge thriller for the #Metoo era. If that seems like a lot of adjectives, know this smart film has a lot of tonal shifts which makes sense considering what trauma can do to a brain. Many critics are saying this is a lock to get women nominated for writing and directing awards this year. If the name Emerald Fenell sounds familiar she played Camilla Parker-Bowles on season 4 of “The Crown.”

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“News of the World” directed by Paul Greengrass
Would it even be an awards season without Tom Hanks’ name being bandied about? Hanks reunites with his “Captain Phillips’” director for a sumptuous tale of an 18th century newsreader. This was a real profession at the time. Newspapers were difficult to acquire and not many people knew how to read. Newsreaders would travel around telling people the “news of the world.” Jefferson Kyle Kidd (Hanks) stumbles upon an abandoned child while traveling through Texas and is determined to find a home for the orphan.  From the score to the acting, directing, and cinematography, the entire film is an assembly of titans in the industry at the top of their game.

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“Tenet” directed by Christopher Nolan

While “Tenet” is definitely in the Oscar race, many are saying this might not be the year for Nolan. The film was definitely hurt by being screened at home rather than the original IMAX release that had been planned. The 200-million-dollar spectacular didn’t play so well on the small screen.  Audiences were utterly confused by the densely plotted film. Star Kenneth Branagh even admitted despite starring in the picture he wasn’t entirely sure if he was the villain or not.  Nolan will just have to wait and see.

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“Soul” directed by Peter Docter

Another entry from the always reliable Pixar veteran director Peter Docter, (“Up,” “Inside Out”) “Soul” is a gentle tale of the afterlife. Jazz Musician Joe (Jamie Foxx) had a wonderful day that sadly ends with him falling into an open manhole, going into a coma, and getting trapped between life and death. Despite the dark themes, the film is a brightly colorful tale, full of music and life. So far, no animated film has ever won best picture—only 4 have been nominated—but some are saying this could be Pixar’s year.

Possible Dark Horses

Every year there are a few films that have real potential to jam up the works by being unexpected nominees and winners, And, if there was any year for that to happen it will be this one.

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“The Invisible Man“ directed by Leigh Whannell 

“The Invisible Man” is one of the only films with some Oscar talk to enjoy an actual theatrical run. While it is incredibly rare for horror films to be nominated, there is a real buzz that Elisabeth Moss’s work in “The Invisible Man” as a woman desperately trying to survive a toxic relationship is strong enough to put her in the race.

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“Let Them All Talk” directed by Steven Soderbergh

Despite starring Meryl Streep, who holds the current world record of twenty-three acting nominations, buzz from this Steven Soderbergh-directed film is around Candice Bergen’s performance as Roberta, a woman who’s painfully dissatisfied with life and determined to take steps to find happiness while cruising with friends. Many critics are saying it’s their favorite performance of the year.

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“The Assistant” directed by Kitty Green
Julia Garner—no relation to Jennifer—already has two Emmys for her scene-stealing work on Netflix’s “Ozark” but may be looking at an Oscar nomination for her role as Jane in Kitty Green’s “The Assistant.”  Jane is an assistant to a Harvey Weinstein-like producer. (Full disclosure: writer Cameron Grey Rose worked with Harvey Weinstein during her time at The Hollywood Reporter.) The only stumbling block is how closely Harvey Weinstein worked with the Academy (he was stripped of his membership) contributing to a breath-taking 81 wins. This may hit a little too close to home.

—Cameron Rose

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