Oscars 2021: Who will win – and who should?
Nicholas Barber: Chloé Zhao's Nomadland is a small, personal, year-in-the-life narrative, but it's also an epic road movie that boasts breath-taking desert scenery, and a state-of-the-nation treatise on growing old in the US today. What more could you, or the Academy, ask for? Most of the nominees are in with a chance, but it's easy to see why Nomadland has been the frontrunner ever since it won the Golden Lion at last year's Venice Film Festival.
Caryn James: Nomadland has been the frontrunner all season, and will win. All it has going against it at this point is inevitability. If voters want to shake things up, they could surprise us with Minari, the eloquent story of a Korean family, which should win, edging out the fiery political drama Judas and the Black Messiah in a terrific year.
CJ: Chadwick Boseman will win, as he should, and it will be more than a tribute to the actor who died in 2020. His aching performance in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, as a musician in 1927 with a tortured past, ranges from buoyant to deeply pained.
NB: Ideally, the Oscar would have gone to Delroy Lindo for Spike Lee's Da 5 Bloods. But as he wasn't nominated, it would be lovely to see Anthony Hopkins [nominated for his performance in The Father] win another Academy Award at the age of 83. Boseman deserves an Oscar for his livewire portrayal of an angry, ambitious jazz trumpeter in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom – and the Academy will want to honour the life of an inspirational actor who died of cancer last year.
NB: Vanessa Kirby deserves to win – the long, one-take home-birth scene near the start of Pieces of a Woman must be the most painfully accurate depiction of labour ever seen in a film, and every one of Kirby's moans and cries is authentic. A tour de force. But Carey Mulligan is likely to take the award. Some people (me included) may not have been convinced by Promising Young Woman, but even the doubters have applauded Mulligan's flashy central performance.
CJ: This may be the year's hardest category to predict. Frances McDormand is likely to win for her realistically detailed portrayal of a woman on the road in Nomadland. But Carey Mulligan has a chance and should win for her brash, sympathetic performance as the vengeful Cassie in Promising Young Woman.
Best supporting actor
CJ: Daniel Kaluuya will and should win as the passionate Black Panther leader in Judas and the Black Messiah. Let's be honest: he is the film's lead, but Oscars play so fast and loose with categories that there's a term for it: category fraud. Kaluuya deserves the Oscar anyway.
NB: This category makes no sense. If Daniel Kaluuya and LaKeith Stanfield are both supporting actors in Judas and the Black Messiah, then who exactly is the lead? Still, if Kaluuya is recognised for the searing charisma he brings to Chairman Fred Hampton of the Illinois Black Panthers, I won't complain. Kaluuya's presence is so commanding that he might as well be fixing you in his laser-beam glare and daring you not to vote for him.
Best supporting actress
NB: Maria Bakalova, a Bulgarian newcomer, proved that she could be as quick-witted and daring as Sacha Baron Cohen, despite having far less experience. The Borat sequel might not match its predecessor, but Bakalova's hotel scene with Rudy Giuliani will never be forgotten. Yet it's likely that Amanda Seyfried will win. Playing William Randolph Hearst's mistress, Marion Davies, Seyfried is the heart of David Fincher's Mank. I doubt that the film will turn many of its 10 nominations into wins, but the highly-praised Seyfried is its brightest hope.