Oscars: Predicting the 2021 Academy Awards winners

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Due to the pandemic, this year has marked a sharp shift toward streaming-service films, and most of the nominated movies were shown only briefly in theaters.

https://www.jpost.com-By HANNAH BROWN

cover – Oscars 2020(photo credit: Courtesy)

2020 was the year that almost wasn’t in terms of movies. The vast majority of theaters were shuttered due to the pandemic, and 2021 hasn’t gotten much better yet in most of the world, so this year’s delayed Oscars, which will take place April 25 (April 26 at 3 a.m. in Israel), will be different. The current plan is to hold them outdoors and without masks.

The ceremony will be broadcast on Yes Drama Movies Channel and StingTV live, and the red-carpet live coverage (it will be a very small carpet, but it will take place) will start at 11:30 p.m. on April 25. If you don’t feel like pulling an all-nighter, an edited version of the ceremony will be broadcast on the Yes Drama Movies Channel and StingTV on April 27 at 9 p.m. with Hebrew titles, presumably with the boring production numbers cut out. The Yes Drama Movies Channel is featuring Oscar-winning films all week, including last year’s surprise winner, the Korean-language Parasite, Jojo Rabbit, 1917 and many more.

Due to the pandemic, this year has marked a sharp shift toward streaming-service films, and most of the nominated movies were shown only briefly in theaters. But movies still exist, even if the future of theaters is in question. There were a few gems this year and for the first time in years, an Israeli film, Tomer Shushan’s White Eye, is nominated in the Best Live Action Short category, which should make the awards more interesting.

BEST PICTURE

After the Korean film Parasite won Best Picture in 2020, all bets are off, but there are a few trends in this category. A few of these eight contenders are more worthy than entertaining, a long-simmering development. Mank, David Fincher’s loving portrait of alcoholic, brilliant Citizen Kane screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz led the nominations, but it won’t win many awards. The Trial of the Chicago 7, arguably the most entertaining movie of the bunch, did not receive an Oscar nomination for its director, Aaron Sorkin, which does not bode well for its chances of winning Best Picture.

Nor did the directors of The Father, Judas and the Black Messiah and The Sound of Metal get Best Director nominations. That leaves Lee Isaac Chung’s Korean family drama Minari; Emerald Fennell’s dark, offbeat sexual harassment revenge thriller Promising Young Woman; and Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland, a highly cinematic look at an aging woman who takes off on a trek across the US after her finances are wiped out. Nomadland is in touch with the American tragedy of older, marginalized workers and tells its story very poetically.

WINNER: NOMADLAND

 

BEST DIRECTOR

Chloe Zhao of Nomadland has won most of the critics’ awards this year and should win the Oscar as well.

WINNER: CHLOE ZHAO

BEST ACTOR

This is the easiest category to predict this year. The award will go to Chadwick Boseman, an actor who died last year of cancer, for his acclaimed performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. There is a tradition of posthumous wins for actors, including Peter Finch for Network and Heath Ledger for The Dark Knight and, sadly, Boseman, who was just 43 when he died, will join it.

WINNER: CHADWICK BOSEMAN

BEST ACTRESS

Frances McDormand would have had a shot for Nomadland, if she hadn’t already won twice. Vanessa Kirby was certainly good in Pieces of a Woman but the movie was too depressing for Oscar voters. What is left is a repeat of the 1973 Oscar contest, which was the last time two African-American actresses faced off against each other, Cicely Tyson for Sounder and Diana Ross for playing Billie Holiday in Lady Sings the Blues, since there are two African-American this year, Viola Davis for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and Andra Day, ironically, for another Billie Holiday biopic, The United States vs. Billie Holiday.

In 1973, the Oscar went to Liza Minnelli for her performance in Cabaret, because it was just impossible to imagine another actress carrying off that role, and the same is true for Carey Mulligan in Promising Young Woman. Mulligan is a more-than-promising young actress who has never won an Oscar. Her only real competition is Davis, who won the Screen Actors Guild Award (SAG), which is considered predictive of the Oscars because actors are the largest branch of the Academy.

WINNER: CAREY MULLIGAN

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Daniel Kaluuya, who played Fred Hampton in Judas and the Black Messiah, a drama about the Black Panther movement in the US, is the favorite in this category. Kaluuya starred in the Jordan Peele politically tinged horror film, Get Out.

WINNER: DANIEL KALUUYA

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Yuh-Jung Youn is a real scene-stealer as the grandmother in Minari, a film about Korean immigrants to the US that is nominated in six categories, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay. It won’t win in most categories, but Youn has a real shot at joining the handful of performers who have won Oscars for performances not in English, among them Sophia Loren, Benicio del Toro, Roberto Benigni and Robert De Niro.

WINNER: YUH-JUNG YOUN

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

As usual, this is a tight race. But Aaron Sorkin, the distinctive and well-liked writer of The Trial of the Chicago 7, has the edge. This is one of the movies people enjoyed most this year and his screenplay is the main reason why, although the terrific acting didn’t hurt.

WINNER: AARON SORKIN

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Even though there is a lot of silence in Nomadland, Chloe Zhao is likely to win for the screenplay, which was adapted from a novel by Jessica Bruder.

WINNER: CHLOE ZHAO

BEST INTERNATIONAL FEATURE

Israel isn’t in the running this year in this category, which used to be called Best Foreign Language Film. The movies nominated are an interesting group, but the standout and heavy favorite is Thomas Vinterberg’s Another Round, an offbeat film about a group of high-school teachers who decide that being slightly buzzed from drinking all the time is the best way to live (I don’t know about you, but I think my high-school teachers figured that out decades ago). Vinterberg, from Denmark, is one of the most acclaimed filmmakers working today and he scored a Best Director nod for this film, which is unusual for a feature not in English, and shows how much the Academy members liked this film.

WINNER: ANOTHER ROUND

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM

Tomer Shushan’s White Eye, shot in one take, has won awards all over the world and tells the story of a young Israeli man whose bike is stolen and who is quick to accuse a foreign worker of the theft. There is a Palestinian film nominated in this category as well, Farah Nabulsi’s The Present starring Saleh Bakri, and these two films may split the vote of Academy members interested in the Middle East. But things being what they are in the US this year, Travon Free’s irreverent film about an African-American cartoonist living a Groundhog Day-type nightmare where he faces constant police harassment is the likely winner.

WINNER: TWO DISTANT STRANGERS

 

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