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And the Oscar goes to…

After seeing five films nominated for Best Picture as well as the other major nominees,* I hereby present my wish list for tonight’s awards. Even though I loved both Nomadland and Promising Young Woman, I have to say I’m really rooting for Nomadland because I would love to see it sweep and I think it is the better “Oscar” film. As always, mostly I’m just hoping for one or two surprises, and I think this year we are likely to get them. For once at least, the acting categories don’t seem to be set in stone.

With that said, and based on what I’ve seen, here is what or who the oddsmakers think will win tonight (as of last night), what or who I would like to see win, and, in some categories, those I feel should (or shouldn’t) have been nominated. As always, if I propose a “new” nomination, I take a current nominee off the list: This doesn’t necessarily mean the person or film is undeserving (though it can), but it’s easy to say that so-and-so should have been nominated when the reality is that there are only five slots to fill.

Best Picture
Will win: Nomadland
Should win: Nomadland
Should have been nominated: First Cow, La Nuit des rois (Night of the Kings)
Shouldn’t have been nominated: Mank

Barring an incredible upset, this is an easy one. Nomadland is heavily favored to win. As stated above, I’m hoping for a Nomadland sweep (for the most part). The fact that Mank has ten nominations is an abomination.

Directing
Will win: Chloé Zhao for Nomadland
Should win: Chloé Zhao for Nomadland
Should have been nominated: Kelly Reichardt for First Cow
Shouldn’t have been nominated: David Fincher for Mank

I could see an argument for replacing Thomas Vinterberg with a few other people, but since I haven’t yet seen Another Round, or any of his other films beyond Festen, I haven’t done so.

Adapted Screenplay
Will win: Nomadland
Should win: Nomadland
Should have been nominated: I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Shouldn’t have been nominated: One Night in Miami…

Adapted Screenplay is one of the closer categories where it really comes down to who has the momentum at the moment of voting. In the final days, Nomadland is on a downward trend with the oddsmakers and The Father on the uptick, but it is really anyone’s guess as to which one will come out on top. I think that enough people are strongly behind Nomadland as the Best Picture that it will prevail here. I can’t imagine I’m Thinking of Ending Things was an easy adaptation—in fact, I had assumed it was original—so I would have given that one the nod over One Night in Miami… since I always see adapting a play as easier somehow (whether that’s justified or not).

Original Screenplay
Will win: Promising Young Woman
Should win: Promising Young Woman
Should have been nominated: Palm Springs
Shouldn’t have been nominated: The Trial of the Chicago 7

Original Screenplay is less close, but The Trial of the Chicago 7 still has a small chance of pulling an upset here. I hope not because I think that the script of Promising Young Woman is impeccable. Another impeccable script, and one that really needed to be in order to make the film work, is Palm Springs. I’m happy to put it up for consideration in place of what I presume is Sorkin being Sorkin.

Actor in a Leading Role
Will win: Chadwick Boseman for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Should win: Anthony Hopkins for The Father

Even though Best Actor probably should go to Hopkins based on what I have heard, and I personally would have voted for Riz Ahmed in Sound of Metal, I can’t argue against the late Chadwick Boseman’s win here, despite the fact that I think it is mostly for sentimental reasons—it is a strong performance. In fact, even though I would have loved to see John Magaro or Orion Lee from First Cow on this list, or Delroy Lindo for Da 5 Bloods, I can’t really argue with any of the nominees, who all gave strong performances.

Actress in a Leading Role
Will win: Frances McDormand for Nomadland
Should win: Carey Mulligan for Promising Young Woman
Should have been nominated: Sidney Flanigan for Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Shouldn’t have been nominated: Vanessa Kirby for Pieces of a Woman

This category is probably the most up in the air of any of them. An argument could be made for four different winners. Oddsmakers give Mulligan and Viola Davis a slight edge over McDormand and Andra Day but I wouldn’t be surprised at any of the four winning. Still, I suspect McDormand will pull it out; however, this is one category I hope Nomadland won’t take since I think Carey Mulligan is long overdue for Oscar recognition and her turn in Promising Young Woman was fantastic. Nothing against Vanessa Kirby, but she’s obviously not in the running in any serious way and Sidney Flanigan’s powerful debut performance really deserved to be recognized.

Actor in a Supporting Role
Will win: Daniel Kaluuya for Judas and the Black Messiah
Should win: Paul Raci for Sound of Metal

Actress in a Supporting Role
Will win: Yuh-jung Youn for Minari
Should win: Yuh-jung Youn for Minari

I have to admit, I am completely uninvested in the supporting categories this year. I even don’t care about what I suspect is category fraud with Kaluuya, because he’s just so good in everything I see him in.

Film Editing
Will win: Sound of Metal
Should win: Nomadland or Promising Young Woman

I have no arguments with the likely winner, but I thought both Nomadland and Promising Young Woman were likely make or break in the editing room (for very different reasons) and so I would probably have given it to one of them myself.

Cinematography
Will win: Nomadland
Should win: Nomadland
Should have been nominated: First Cow, La Nuit des rois (Night of the Kings)
Shouldn’t have been nominated: Mank

Sorry, the black & white photography in Mank looked like trash (although I feel I should note here that it is second in the running with the oddsmakers). I haven’t seen The Trial of Chicago 7 but it is dead last in the running and I needed two slots for two films who really deserved to be in this category.

Original Song
Will win: “Speak Now” from One Night in Miami
Should win: “Husavik” from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
Should have been nominated: “Double Trouble,” “Jaja Ding Dong,” “Lion of Love,” and “Looking in the Mirror” from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
Shouldn’t have been nominated: Everything but “Husavik”

I mean, I think I’ve been pretty clear on this. “Husavik” is the only one of the nominated selections that is an integral part of the film and not just something played over the credits. In fact, I think I would rather nominate four other songs from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga rather than having any “credits” music in this category.

Production Design
Will win: Mank
Should win: Mank
Should have been nominated: Birds of Prey
Shouldn’t have been nominated: News of the World

As much as I hated Mank, I did think it had fantastic production design. In fact, that is one reason I particularly disliked the cinematography because, given the gorgeous sets and sweeping western landscapes involved, I thought black & white was an extremely poor choice. The set design of Birds of Prey was one of my favorite things about it, so I would have liked to see it on the list over News of the World.

Costume Design
Will win: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Should win: Emma.

Emma. is another film I didn’t particularly like, but I thought the costumes were brilliant—very thoughtful choices in terms of colors and designs that worked well within the directorial vision.

And with that, I think I’ve exhausted the categories I really care about, so I will just leave you with the odds-on favorites for the final categories:

International Feature: Another Round
Makeup and Hairstyling: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Original Score: Soul
Sound: Sound of Metal
Visual Effects: Tenet

Animated Feature: Soul
Animated Short Film: If Anything Happens I Love You
Live-Action Short Film: Two Distant Strangers
Documentary Feature: My Octopus Teacher
Documentary Short Subject: A Love Song for Latasha or A Concerto Is a Conversation

Oscar Statues

Who would you like to see take home one of these golden boys?


*Oscar-nominated features I’ve seen to date: Da 5 Bloods, Emma., Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, Greyhound, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Mank, Minari, News of the World, Nomadland, One Night in Miami…, Promising Young Woman, Sound of Metal


Other 2020 features that I considered for this post: Birds of Prey, First Cow, I’m Thinking of Ending Things, La Nuit des rois (Night of the Kings), Martin Eden, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Palm Springs, Shirley, The Old Guard, The Rhythm Section, WW 84. I also watched Blow the Man Down and Undine, two 2020 films that were not on the AMPAS “eligible” list.