Jesse Collins, Stacey Sher, and Steven Soderbergh had an unenviable task in producing the 2021 Oscars. With the traditional templates for devising a ceremony out of commission, even down to the venue, they had to figure out a way to keep the show as glossy as possible while working within the circumstances. Soderbergh said that he wanted the ceremony to be like a movie, and as the evening began, it felt like we were getting just that, as presenter Regina King led us in a tracking shot through Los Angeles’s Union Station as an opening credits sequence rolled in the show’s cinematic aspect ratio (video above). In the ceremony’s main venue – the station’s former ticket lobby – attendees were seated at rows of tables, and presenters freely traversed the space, giving the show an intimate, improvisational, and yet elegant feel. In short, it was everything the Golden Globes wish they could be. The on-screen talent were poised and charismatic; the location was well-appointed. The show’s best moments arguably came when the close-up format allowed the nominees and winners more of a chance to shine. I don’t think a single speech was played off, which is good, because many of the speeches were insightful and worthwhile.
Though arriving later than usual, and after a year that defies simple description, it’s still time for the Oscars, and thus, time for me to predict what will get nominated in the major categories. With a few notable exceptions, it seems as if we’re currently in a position where we have a set of sturdy frontrunners in key races that could all become complete runaways if a couple more precursors go in the anticipated direction (and some are closer to that than others).
For each category, I will rank the contenders based on how likely I think each prospective nominee is to get in next week. I’ll also include one potential spoiler (or two for Best Picture). Next Monday, after the nominations are announced, I’ll come back and edit this post, scoring my predictions and offering some comments on how I did (those notes will be in blue).
UPDATE (March 15): I have added my reactions and tallied my scores.
Off we go into another awards season. It seems like many of the categories at this year’s Oscars are defined by a set of heavy frontrunners, followed by one or two wild card positions, where any one of many contenders could sneak their way in on Monday morning. This makes it both fun and challenging to predict, as we try to read both the tea leaves offered to us by guild precursors, and intuition about where Academy voters’ tastes might lie, to make (at least somewhat) informed predictions of what this year’s nominations will look like. There are ample opportunities for excitement and surprise.
As always, I will be offering my nomination predictions in some of the top categories. For each category, I will rank the top contenders based on my perceived likelihood of the nomination, with one potential spoiler (or two for Best Picture, since there can be up to twice as many nominees there as in other categories).
After the nominees are announced, I will go back and edit this column, tallying my scores and offering my thoughts. These additional notes will be listed in blue.
And with that, here we go.
UPDATE (January 13): My scores and reactions have now been added in blue.
Throughout the tumultuous sprawl of this Oscar season – specifically in conjunction with the actual production of the Oscar ceremony itself – I’ve had a lot of changes of heart with past opinion. My belief that the show should be as short as possible was challenged when the Academy tried to grotesquely edit the program’s schedule to make that happen. The kind of time-cutting measures I once thought I wanted turned out to feel disastrous and unbecoming of an evening intended to celebrate all aspects of film production. But as reliably as the Academy introduced bad ideas, they seemed pretty consistent at walking them back after they incurredtremendousbacklash. By the time Oscar Sunday rolled around, the only remaining question mark going in was the lack of a host. Countless jokes were made about the calamitous 1989 Oscars, the last to go without an emcee, and the embarrassing musical numbers used to fill up space that year. And as Sunday’s show began with an otherwise stirring performance by Queen and Adam Lambert – which ended up serving as an immediate reminder that Bohemian Rhapsody, an aggressively mediocre concert film directed by Bryan Singer, was nominated for five Academy Awards (and would go on to win four of them) – it felt like anything could happen.
Another year, another awards season. And this one has been particularly chaotic: from upset wins to wide arrays of controversies, it’s impossible to tell exactly who or what is in the lead for many of the big prizes in this year’s Oscar race. But tomorrow, the nominees will be announced and we’ll know who our finalists are. As with every year, I’ve compiled some predictions for the top categories. They’re ranked by my estimated likelihood of nomination. Listed are my predicted five (or ten for Best Picture), plus one possible contender that could upset (or two for Best Picture).
Despite eventually revealing an interior set that looked like if the live action Beauty and the Beast threw up on Norma Desmond’s deathbed hallucinations, there was surprisingly little bombast in Sunday night’s Oscar ceremony, even more astonishing when one remembers that it was the 90th anniversary show. Though the producers are certainly thankful that the evening went without a replication of last year’s infamous gaffe, they surely weren’t pleased to wake up this morning and discover that last night’s show is the lowest rated Oscarcast in recorded history. Many will inevitably argue that the decline in ratings is attributable to the “politicization” of acceptance speeches, but this is unlikely. Ebbs and flows in ratings are more directly correlated with the box office performance of the nominated films. The Academy should pray that Black Panther lands big with their members in Year 91.
When taken as a whole, this year’s race for Best Picture is as wide open as I can ever remember. This late stage gravitation to a handful of major contenders only occurred well after the start of televised precursors in January. The race appears so evenly matched that through the convoluted process of tabulating Best Picture votes (an instant runoff procedure), could we really be surprised if anything not named, say, Darkest Hour walked home with the prize?
More than any other year since I’ve started following the awards season race, there has been a lack of consensus. To put it in more common terms, the 2017 awards derby is a madhouse. Even as the nominations close in, frontrunners have been few and far between. Ask five different prognosticators what will win Best Picture, and you’ll get five different answers.
But we still must muddle through the chaos and produce our predictions. And here are mine, as educated a guess as anyone else’s. Not only are good picks based on the films themselves, but from following the precursor awards (guilds, groups, Globes, etc.), and having an ear on the ground in the industry (you must have friends in low places, so to speak, or at least, know where to find the relevant chatter). As always, let me reprint my annual awards season mantra:
“To predict the outcome of awards shows, you don’t need to have seen all of the nominees, you just need to have seen awards shows before.”
I’ll be repeating my approach to this column from last year: instead of running through an exhaustive list of all 24 categories, I’ll stick to predictions for a handful of major races, providing more in-depth commentary for each one. Each category’s predictions will be ranked in order of how likely it is that each title or individual will be nominated. Every category will also have one or two “biggest threats” – potential, less likely nominees which could still find themselves in the mix on Tuesday morning.
UPDATE (January 23): I have added a “reaction” section to each category now, detailing my accuracy score and my thoughts on what ended up getting nominated. These comments will be in blue.
Between this and the Super Bowl, 2017 is a confusing year for people who turn off their TVs early.
The circumstances surrounding Moonlightwinning Best Picture overpower the surprise that comes from the very notion of the film taking the trophy: this was, in any case, a tremendous upset. Every prognosticator, myself included, had predicted a victory for La La Land. Yet as the night went on, with the movie losing several categories seemingly tailor-made for it (sound awards and editing, etc.), a weakness emerged. But nobody could have foreseen how it all ended.