Which 2021 Oscar Nominees Deserve to Win? Take the Poll!

by Nick Kush
Promising Young Woman

The polls below will close at 12 p.m. EST on the day of the Academy Awards, April 25th, 2021. Be sure to get your votes in by then!


For so many reasons — some more obvious than others — this year’s Oscars ceremony will be a memorable one. Arguably the first non-COVID headline surrounding the event is the diversity among the nominees. A nice change from the norm, even if they’re still marred by curious snubs for One Night in Miami and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Steven Soderbergh is taking the festivities to Union Station in Los Angeles; hopefully, he can tinker with the format and make it worthwhile as he has with so many of his late-period, idiosyncratic films. There’s also the pain point of the Academy Awards coming in the aftermath of one of the worst financial years for the industry on record.

Yet, I do feel some sense of hope. Strangely, I like the Best Picture slate a lot more than in previous years. With so many high-profile movies punting to next year’s Oscar eligibility window, maybe we got a slight reprieve from the uninspired movies the Academy tends to recognize. This year’s group collectively tells smaller stories (for obvious reasons), but are personally far more resonant.

And with awards season shifting around, who knows if the odds-on favorites will end up sealing the deal. In the 31 days between announcing the nominees and crowning the winners, could there be a few unforeseen surprises? In an uncertain year for the Academy, there’s a good chance they could go chalk, but there’s an equal chance things could get weird.

As is becoming a tradition at MovieBabble, we’re offering you a chance to make your voice heard! Vote for each nominee you think is the most deserving to win the coveted trophy in all 23 categories. Throughout, I’ll provide my informed(?) opinions, picking which nominee I believe is most deserving and which the Academy will choose on Oscar night.

Actor in a Supporting Role

Daniel Kaluuya.

 

…but also shout out to Paul Raci for his terrific performance.

My Pick: Daniel Kaluuya

Projected Academy Pick: Daniel Kaluuya

Which Nominee Deserves to Win for Best Supporting Actor?

Animated Feature Film

One of the weirdest twists of the awards season was Soul‘s Best Picture bid going absolutely nowhere. You would think in a year where movies were struggling, one of the movies that was seen by the most people would find a way to slip into one of the last few Best Picture slots.

Regardless, it’s a mighty good — and lovably strange — film. Certainly an upper-echelon entrant into Pixar canon, and my pick here.

Wolfwalkers also deserves some praise. It’s really terrific, and the film most likely to play spoiler in this category.

My Pick: Soul

Projected Academy Pick: Soul

Which Nominee Deserves to Win for Best Animated Feature Film?

Animated Short Film

For all the junk Netflix pushes on us every week, I do appreciate their willingness to dabble in short films — they have a nominee in all three short categories this year.

If Anything Happens I Love You is the most noteworthy release, for both its reach to the general public and its harrowing subject matter. It’s a big favorite to win, and I have no problem with that whatsoever.

My Pick: If Anything Happens I Love You

Projected Academy Pick: If Anything Happens I Love You

Which Nominee Deserves to Win for Best Animated Short?

Original Screenplay

Both Original and Adapted Screenplay have become the “Consolation Trophy for the Super Sexy Films that Have Little Chance to Win Best Picture But We Want to Acknowledge Them Elsewhere” categories. It doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but the name does have merit.

Notable Original Screenplay winners from the last decade: Django Unchained, Her, Spotlight, Manchester By the Sea, Get Out, and Parasite. All are sprawling works in their own ways — either in emotion or in scope — and rarely play it safe. The big outlier here is Green Book, but when you’re making a point, it’s best to leave the worst examples out of the group. (That’s how logic works, right?) And the less said about Green Book the better.

Promising Young Woman appears primed for a win here. It’s noisy and daring, the kind of script writers really appreciate and generally like to reward. You can sense all of Fennell’s rage in the script, and she somehow managed to keep it in check and tell a nuanced, tone-leaping revenge tale.

My Pick: Promising Young Woman

Projected Academy Pick: Promising Young Woman

Which Nominee Deserves to Win for Best Original Screenplay?

Adapted Screenplay

Similar to the Original Screenplay category, here are the last four Adapted Screenplay winners: Moonlight, Call Me by Your Name, BlacKkKlansman, and Jojo Rabbit. All fairly inventive or daring.

Nomadland seems to be the favorite here (and it’s well-deserved), but my pick is The Father, which is a very impressive, Kaufman-esque view of the inescapability of a mind succumbing to dementia. The moments of clarity are fleeting, and mostly still deceptive. There were quite a few Oscar hopefuls this year that were adapted from a play, but The Father is the one that actually feels cinematic.

My Pick: The Father

Projected Academy Pick: Nomadland

Which Nominee Deserves to Win for Best Adapted Screenplay?

Live Action Short Film

A good rule of thumb for the short film categories: if a short involves recognizable talent, the Academy normally rewards it. Enter Oscar Isaac and The Letter Room.

And I stan Oscar Isaac, so that’s where my allegiance lies as well.

My Pick: The Letter Room

Projected Academy Pick: The Letter Room

Which Nominee Deserves to Win for Best Live Action Short Film?

Production Design

Undeniably, Mank has impressive production design. You’d expect as much from a period piece directed by a man who may or may not share the same creepily exacting tendencies as the killers in some of his other movies. But I fell in love with the subtlety of the production design in The Father. The slight changes to the flat to heighten Hopkins’ confusion — sometimes noticed by his character and sometimes not — are important pieces of why The Father works so well as a kaleidoscopic exploration of the mind. It’s the kind of understated craftsmanship I wish the Academy would recognize more often, but it’ll probably have to settle for being the winner of this poll, if anything at all.

My Pick: The Father

Projected Academy Pick: Mank

Which Nominee Deserves to Win for Best Production Design?

Costume Design

The flowing, proper attire does a lot for the comedic effect in Emma., which routinely juxtaposes the aristocracy with lovable hijinks. That said, Ma Rainey’s outfit is also vital to her character, so I wouldn’t complain if the Academy went that route instead.

My Pick: Emma.

Projected Academy Pick: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Which Nominee Deserves to Win for Best Costume Design?

Documentary Feature

Collective is one of the few films I’ve missed that I hope to see before the awards ceremony. Until that day, Time is my pick. It’s also one of my favorite movies from last year.

My Pick: Time

Projected Academy Pick: Collective

Which Nominee Deserves to Win for Best Documentary Feature?

Documentary Short Subject

A Love Song for Latasha is the big favorite here, and I have yet to familiarize myself with the rest of this category. For now, A Love Song for Latasha is my pick, but I’ve put in a pin in it for later.

My Pick: A Love Song for Latasha

Projected Academy Pick: A Love Song for Latasha

Which Nominee Deserves to Win for Best Documentary Short Subject?

Actress in a Supporting Role

Supporting Actress might be the strangest category this year. I wouldn’t be shocked if ANY of the nominees won. But let’s be real: we all love Glenn Close, but she shouldn’t win for her also-Razzie-nominated performance. Her winning would be one of the saddest career achievement Oscar wins of all time.

Immediately after Mank dropped on Netflix, Amanda Seyfried seemed like a shoo-in to win the award, but her campaign never totally picked up speed. Maria Bakalova’s campaign seemed to start with a heaping dose of irony, then quickly became earnest.

Yuh-Jung Youn took home the SAG award, which appears to make her the favorite for now, but I have a strange feeling the Academy might get a little kooky.

My Pick: Yuh-Jung Youn

Projected Academy Pick: Maria Bakalova

Which Nominee Deserves to Win for Best Supporting Actress?

Sound

Sound of Metal. Easy.

My Pick: Sound of Metal

Projected Academy Pick: Sound of Metal

Which Nominee Deserves to Win for Best Sound?

Cinematography

Indulge me for a second: why is The Trial of the Chicago 7 nominated here? Phedon Papamichael has done a lot of great work in his career, but I don’t get this one. Trial at times looks like a TV movie; cinematography isn’t about making painting-like scene as many of the One Perfect Shot Twitter accounts would have you believe, but I don’t really see the vision in this movie. A lot of it might stem from me being lukewarm on Aaron Sorkin as a director.

Nevertheless, gimme Nomadland.

My Pick: Nomadland

Projected Academy Pick: Nomadland

Which Nominee Deserves to Win for Best Cinematography?

Film Editing

In another universe, there’s a version of The Father that plays up its reveals, zooming in on Anthony Hopkins’ face to show his anguish or unpacking each reveal as a major “gotcha” moment. Thankfully, the version in this universe is perfectly unfussy and highly austere. The edits can remove all shreds of logic that came before in an instant, and seem to imprison the characters within a confusing web.

So yeah, my pick is the The Father.

My Pick: The Father

Projected Academy Pick: Sound of Metal

Which Nominee Deserves to Win for Best Film Editing?

Visual Effects

For as much fun as I’ve had making jokes at the expense of Christopher Nolan and Nolan Bros™ everywhere, Tenet is an undeniable technical achievement. Nolan may treat his absurd plots with the same self-seriousness that Florian Zeller employs in The Father, but he has a knack for blowing you away with his sense of worldbuilding that feels timeless and grand.

In some ways, Tenet might age poorly, but not as a feast for the eyes.

My Pick: Tenet

Projected Academy Pick: Tenet

Which Nominee Deserves to Win for Best Visual Effects?

Makeup and Hairstyling

No Hillbilly Elegy, please.

My Pick: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Projected Academy Pick: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Which Nominee Deserves to Win for Best Makeup and Hairstyling?

International Feature Film

I’ve watched the ending of Another Round approximately twenty times now and I have absolutely zero regrets.

My Pick: Another Round

Projected Academy Pick: Another Round

Which Nominee Deserves to Win for Best International Feature Film?

Original Score

Justice for Ludwig Göransson!

Are Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross the best composers working right now? I kind of think they are — a 40% of winning this category seems to say as much. The best part of Soul‘s score, however, is John Batiste’s jazz accompaniment. It’s what makes Soul‘s score instantly iconic.

My Pick: Soul

Projected Academy Pick: Soul

Which Nominee Deserves to Win for Best Original Score?

Original Song

I would love for the Chaos Reigns Fox from Antichrist to break free and cause “Husavik” to win, but “Speak Now” seems close to a lock.

My Pick: “Speak Now”

Projected Academy Pick: “Speak Now”

Which Nominee Deserves to Win for Best Original Song?

Directing

I immediately fell in love with Minari after seeing it at Sundance last year. A lot of that has to do with Lee Isaac Chung’s gentle, yet powerful direction. Late in the awards race, I’ve noticed Minari begin to get docked as “simple” — I don’t see it.

Elsewhere, it would be great to see Chloé Zhao become the second woman to win Best Director — she deserves it too. As one of the most important humanist filmmakers working today, Nomadland is yet another example of her greatness.

My Pick: Lee Isaac Chung

Projected Academy Pick: Chloé Zhao

Which Nominee Deserves to Win for Best Director?

Actor in a Leading Role

Man, I really miss Chadwick. As a person, seemed like the quintessential professional and role model As a performer, you get the sense his best work had yet to come.

As far as last performances go, Boseman’s work as Levee Green is up there. This might be one of the stronger Best Actor fields of the last few years, but a posthumous Oscar for Boseman — in one of his best — feels right.

My Pick: Chadwick Boseman

Projected Academy Pick: Chadwick Boseman

Which Nominee Deserves to Win for Best Actor?

Actress in a Leading Role

It’s about time we recognize Carey Mulligan as one of the best actresses working today. Her work in Promising Young Woman is jaw-dropping, magnetic, and beguiling. I’d love to see her come away with a win, but she’s probably sitting third in many Oscar ballots behind Frances McDormand and Viola Davis.

Frances McDormand has been the front-runner in this category, but it never quite felt set in stone. After Viola Davis’ SAG win, she might be inching toward a victory.

My Pick: Carey Mulligan

Projected Academy Pick: Viola Davis

Which Nominee Deserves to Win for Best Actress?

Best Picture

Just not The Trial of the Chicago 7. Please.

My Pick: Minari

Projected Academy Pick: Nomadland

Which Nominee Deserves to Win for Best Picture?

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3 comments

tackettandtackettentertainment April 7, 2021 - 12:13 am

Promising Young Woman.

Reply
Nick Kush April 7, 2021 - 12:34 am

I think we can all agree that Promising Young Woman

Reply
Nick Kush April 6, 2021 - 7:23 pm

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