After an unprecedented year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, awards season is finally back. The 2021 Oscar nominations were announced by Hollywood power couple Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas. The best of the best are now competing for the ultimate prize: the coveted Oscar. Films like Nomadland, Sound of Metal, Promising Young Woman, and The Trial of the Chicago 7, scored several nods, with Mank leading the pack with 10 nominations this year.
Right away, there are clear frontrunners for nearly every category. There could be surprises on the day of the Oscars, which will air live on April 25 on ABC, but most of these favorites seem like sure-things. Take a look at our 2021 Oscar predictions for the major categories, including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Animated Feature, and more.
Oscar Predictions: Best Picture
There is no clear and present frontrunner for Best Picture, but the buzz is all on Nomadland at the moment. Nomadland is a tour de force in all aspects. Chloé Zhao directed the film that follows Frances McDormand’s Fern, who goes on a journey through the American West after losing everything in the Great Recession. Nomadland has already won Best Motion Picture — Drama at the 2021 Golden Globes, so it’s going to be pretty difficult for another film to sweep in and grab this win. Runner ups: Mank and The Trial of the Chicago 7.
Oscar Predictions: Best Director
Winner: Chloé Zhao for Nomadland
Chloé Zhao is on fire right now. She made history as the first Chinese woman to be nominated for Best Director and is one of two female directors nominated this year. With Nomadland the current favorite the win Best Picture, it would be hard to deny Chloé the Oscar for Best Director. She’s fairly new to the Hollywood scene, but her work speaks for itself. Nomadland is directing feat. If Chloé wins, she’ll only be the second female director to win Best Director after Kathryn Bigelow in 2008 for The Hurt Locker. However, David Fincher has yet to win a Best Directing Oscar after two previous nominations, so it’s a possibility he could walk away a winner this time. We’re still going with Chloé, though. Runner ups: David Fincher for Mank and Lee Isaac Chung for Minari.
Oscar Predictions: Best Actor
Winner: Chadwick Boseman for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
This one is a done deal. The late Chadwick Boseman will absolutely win for his stunning portrayal of Levee in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. The Netflix feature was his final film role before he died of cancer at the age of 43 in August 2020. His performance is a show-stopping masterpiece. Chadwick was one-of-a-kind, and his work will be rewarded with a posthumous Oscar. Runner ups: Anthony Hopkins for The Father and Gary Oldman for Mank.
Oscar Predictions: Best Actress
Winner: Frances McDormand for Nomadland
This one is a bit closer to call, but Nomadland’s Frances McDormand will likely edge out the competition. Frances continues to showcase her incredible talents in Nomadland and anchors this movie with her unshakable performance. Andra Day did surprise everyone at the Golden Globes by winning Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama over Frances, so she could be the big upset. However, the Academy loves Frances. She’s already one twice for Fargo and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Runner ups: Andra Day for The United States vs. Billie Holiday and Carey Mulligan for Promising Young Woman.
Oscar Predictions: Best Supporting Actor
Winner: Daniel Kaluuya for Judas and the Black Messiah
Daniel Kaluuya is the outright favorite to win Best Supporting Actor for his mesmerizing performance as Black Panther Party member Fred Hampton in Judas and the Black Messiah. Daniel completely transforms into the role and captivates you from the moment he steps onto the screen. You’re drawn to him, and his performance stays with you long after the film ends. Daniel has already been noticed by the Academy for his performance in the 2017 film Get Out, and it’s almost a sure thing he’s going to win this time. Runner ups: Sacha Baron Cohen for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm and Leslie Odom Jr. for One Night in Miami.
Oscar Predictions: Best Supporting Actress
Winner: Olivia Colman for The Father
It’s no secret that Olivia Colman is a powerhouse in both her TV and film roles. Olivia will likely nab her second Oscar for her moving performance in The Father. Olivia showcases yet another layer of her many talents as the daughter of Anthony Hopkins’ character, who is losing his memory. If anyone is going to beat her, it’s Glenn Close, who has yet to win an Oscar. Glenn’s been nominated a whopping 8 times over the course of her career. However, we have a feeling Olivia will likely beat her again, just like she did in 2019 for The Favourite. Runner ups: Glenn Close for Hillbilly Elegy and Maria Bakalova for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.
Oscar Predictions: Best Original Screenplay
Emerald Fennell wrote, directed, and produced Promising Young Woman, which is nominated for 5 Oscars. In her directorial debut, Emerald penned a razor-sharp script with searing relevancy about sexual assault and rape culture. She paints a brutal portrait of an emotionally tormented young woman who is determined to get revenge. Emerald’s provocative script keeps you on your toes throughout every second of the film, and the ending will leave you stunned. Runner ups: Aaron Sorkin for The Trial of the Chicago 7 and Lee Isaac Chung for Minari.
Oscar Predictions: Best Adapted Screenplay
Winner: Chloé Zhao for Nomadland
Nomadland is probably going to be the darling of the 2021 Oscars. With likely wins, for Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Actress, Nomadland’s win for Best Adapted Screenplay is pretty much a lock. Chloé Zhao brings Jessica Bruder’s 2017 book Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century to life in a breathtaking way. Nomadland is a triumph on all accounts and the film to beat in nearly every category. Runner ups: Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller for The Father and Kemp Powers for One Night In Miami.
Oscar Predictions: Best Animated Feature
Whenever there’s a Disney animated feature nominated for Best Animated Feature, it’s hard to beat. Both Soul and Onward are nominated, but Disney/Pixar’s Soul is the clear frontrunner to win Best Animated Feature. Soul is a deeply profound film about the afterlife and life before death. The film follows Joe Gardner, voiced by Jamie Foxx, a New jazz pianist who finds himself trapped in a strange land between Earth and the afterlife after getting his big break. The animated movie allows you to explore those existential questions we all wonder about when it comes to mortality and our purpose in life. Soul from top-to-bottom is an excellent piece of filmmaking — from the voice work to the soundtrack to the storytelling. Runner ups: Wolfwalkers and Onward.
Oscar Predictions: Best Original Song
Winner: “Speak Now” from One Night In Miami
“Speak Now” from One Night In Miami, co-written by Leslie Odom Jr. and Sam Ashworth, is a powerful and unforgettable song that Academy members are sure to love. This track inspires listeners to make the most of the time that you have and speak up to create change. Leslie may not win for Best Supporting Actor, but his song is the top contender for Best Original Song. Runner ups: “Io Si (Seen)” from The Life Ahead and “Husavik” from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga.