For quite a few years now, those of us who follow the Oscars have concluded that the era of the big sweep is over; that, like so many other major cultural events in the last decade, things are too stratified and media coverage is too heavy and omnipresent to let one title run away as the undisputed champion. Everything Everywhere All at Once has firmly disabused us of that notion. On Sunday night, it walked away from the Dolby Theater with seven Oscars, more than any movie since 2008’s Slumdog Millionaire. It won Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Film Editing, and three of the four acting honors. Unlike many awards season frontrunners, which fall victim to a backlash which can sometimes topple them entirely, Everything Everywhere’s stature only grew the longer it led the pack. By the time that we arrived at the ceremony, it was simply untouchable.
In the final stretch before the Academy Award nominations are announced, I’m continuing a longstanding tradition on this website and predicting what I think will get nominated in the major categories. I will provide my predictions, one alternate (or two in Best Picture), and brief commentary explaining my picks. Each category is ranked, based on how likely I think it is for each contender to be nominated. After the nominations are announced, I will tally my score and share a brief reaction. Those comments will be added in blue text.
I know what you want me to talk about here, and sure, I’ll get to it, but first, let me say this:
It’s actually hard for me to write about this show in total. At first, I felt I just had nothing to say. I suppose this is in part because the decision to eliminate categories from the broadcast represented the strange economics that defined the entire evening. The Academy, producers Will Packer and Shayla Cowan, and ABC held firm to the decision to cut eight categories from the broadcast, despite a chorus of Oscar fans and industry professionals virtually unanimous in their condemnation. They swore it was part of an initiative to keep the show focused, streamlined, and under three hours (and include more comedy bits and musical performances). So they did it, worked clips of the speeches from the affected awards into the broadcast, and what happened? The broadcast was the longest since 2018, and in every one of them in between, all categories got their moment in the sun.
Bottom line: category-cutting was a failed experiment that should be swiftly written off as the bad idea it was. I say this not as a value judgment, but as a simple statement of fact. It did not meet its intended objective. It should not happen again.
With days remaining until this year’s Academy Award nominations, I’m continuing a tradition for the site and offering my predictions for what might get nominated in some major categories. After the nominations are announced on February 8, I’ll return to this post and tally up my scores with some additional comments, which will be marked in blue text.
The following predictions will be ranked by how likely I think each prospective nominee is to get in. I will also include one possible alternate for each category – except for the ten-candidate Best Picture race, where I will list two.
UPDATE (February 8): My reactions and scores follow in blue.
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).