And the Oscar goes to …

This combination photo shows poster art for best picture Oscar nominees, top row from left, "The Father," "Judas and the Black Messiah," "Mank," "Minari," bottom row from left, "Nomadland," "Promising Young Woman," Sound of Metal," and The Trial of the Chicago 7." (Sony Pictures Classics/Warner Bros. Pictures, Netflix, A24, Searchlight Pictures, Focus Features, Amazon Studios, Netflix via AP)
This combination photo shows poster art for best picture Oscar nominees, top row from left, "The Father," "Judas and the Black Messiah," "Mank," "Minari," bottom row from left, "Nomadland," "Promising Young Woman," Sound of Metal," and The Trial of the Chicago 7." (Sony Pictures Classics/Warner Bros. Pictures, Netflix, A24, Searchlight Pictures, Focus Features, Amazon Studios, Netflix via AP)

Credit: Uncredited

Credit: Uncredited

All 4 acting categories on verge of being won by actors of color

Hollywood will honor the best films of 2020 and early 2021 at the 93rd annual Academy Awards on Sunday, April 25.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, streaming services enticed most moviegoers from the comfort of home, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t cause for celebration among the nominees. Although there were glaring omissions (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” and “One Night in Miami” snubbed for best picture), the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences openly embraced diversity and representation in multiple categories, a welcome sign of progress in its ongoing quest for better inclusivity. In fact, all four acting categories are on the verge of being won by actors of color for the first time.

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In a break from tradition primarily due to COVID protocols, much of this year’s festivities will be held at Union Station in Los Angeles, the spacious art deco location where “The Dark Knight Rises” and “Blade Runner” were filmed among others. Co-producer Steven Soderbergh, the Oscar-winning director of “Traffic,” reportedly promises to spice things up by including personal stories from nominees throughout the ceremony, which will have “the aesthetic of a film as opposed to a TV show.” We’ll see how that goes.

In the meanwhile, expect the unexpected. Bearing that in mind, here are my predictions in the top six categories.

Frances McDormand stars as Fern in "Nomadland."
Frances McDormand stars as Fern in "Nomadland."

Credit: CONT

Credit: CONT

BEST PICTURE

“The Father”

“Judas and the Black Messiah”

“Nomadland”

“Mank”

“Minari”

“Promising Young Woman”

“Sound of Metal”

“The Trial of the Chicago 7”

Will Win: “Nomadland”

Could Win: “Minari” or “The Trial of the Chicago 7”

The entire awards season has been dominated by “Nomadland,” a somber yet poignant meditation on loss, isolation and introspection. But feel-good family drama “Minari” (my personal favorite) or thought-provoking “Chicago 7” could have last-minute momentum, bringing suspense to the final envelope of the night.

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Chinese-American filmmaker Chloé Zhao produced, directed, wrote and edited "Nomadland."
Chinese-American filmmaker Chloé Zhao produced, directed, wrote and edited "Nomadland."

Credit: CONR

Credit: CONR

BEST DIRECTOR

Lee Isaac Chung, “Minari”

Emerald Fennell, “Promising Young Woman”

David Fincher, “Mank”

Thomas Vinterberg, “Another Round”

Chloé Zhao, “Nomadland”

Will Win: Zhao

Could Win: Fincher

Fincher’s black and white Tinseltown throwback, leading all films with 10 nominations, is an elegant masterwork. However, Zhao, illuminating an intimate finesse at crafting striking conversational moments across a wide expanse, is still on the fast track to become the first woman of color to win this category.

The late Chadwick Boseman as Levee in "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom."
The late Chadwick Boseman as Levee in "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom."

Credit: CONR

Credit: CONR

BEST ACTOR

Riz Ahmed, “Sound of Metal”

Chadwick Boseman, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”

Anthony Hopkins, “The Father”

Gary Oldman, “Mank”

Steven Yeun, “Minari”

Will Win: Boseman

Could Win: Hopkins

Hopkins expertly navigated the difficult journey of dementia, but the late Boseman’s revelatory, thrilling and touching work as an arrogant, disillusioned musician longing for greater heartbreakingly soared to the heavens.

Chadwick Boseman as Levee, Viola Davis as Ma Rainey and Colman Domingo as Cutler in "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom." DAVID LEE/NETFLIX
Chadwick Boseman as Levee, Viola Davis as Ma Rainey and Colman Domingo as Cutler in "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom." DAVID LEE/NETFLIX

Credit: David Lee/NETFLIX

Credit: David Lee/NETFLIX

BEST ACTRESS

Viola Davis, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”

Andra Day, “The United States vs. Billie Holiday”

Vanessa Kirby, “Pieces of a Woman”

Frances McDormand, “Nomadland”

Carey Mulligan, “Promising Young Woman”

Will Win: Davis

Could Win: Mulligan

This powerhouse category is the biggest nail-biter. Davis captured the Screen Actors Guild Award, Day won the Golden Globe, two-time Oscar champ McDormand won the BAFTA (British Oscars), Mulligan was the Critics’ Choice, and Kirby is a viable dark horse. In such an extremely tough, hotly contested race, Mulligan benefits from starring in a topical best picture contender bolstered by the notion some may feel her time to win an Oscar has finally come. Still, I give the edge to the dynamic Davis, whose attitude, grit and ferocity as the “Mother of the Blues” importantly struck a chord with SAG, suggesting her fellow actors within the Academy may have rallied behind her as well in the crucial homestretch.

Daniel Kaluuya as Fred Hampton in "Judas and the Black Messiah."
Daniel Kaluuya as Fred Hampton in "Judas and the Black Messiah."

Credit: CONT

Credit: CONT

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Sacha Baron Cohen, “The Trial of the Chicago 7”

Daniel Kaluuya, “Judas and the Black Messiah”

Leslie Odom Jr., “One Night in Miami”

Paul Raci, “Sound of Metal”

LaKeith Stanfield, “Judas and the Black Messiah”

Will Win: Kaluuya

Could Win: Stanfield

The Academy loved “Judas” so much they purposefully moved leading man Stanfield out of the overcrowded best actor field to be acknowledged here instead. I’m sure he appreciates the gesture, but I don’t suspect vote-splitting to sidetrack Kaluuya’s intense portrayal of Black Panther Party icon Fred Hampton.

Minari_prores_01_09_04_21.Still710
Yuh-jung Youn
Director Lee Isaac Chung
Credit: Courtesy of A24
Minari_prores_01_09_04_21.Still710 Yuh-jung Youn Director Lee Isaac Chung Credit: Courtesy of A24

Credit: Courtesy of A24

Credit: Courtesy of A24

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Maria Bakalova, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”

Glenn Close, “Hillbilly Elegy”

Olivia Coleman, “The Father”

Amanda Seyfried, “Mank”

Yuh-Jung Youn, “Minari”

Will Win: Youn

Could Win: Bakalova or Close

Explore‘Hillbilly Elegy’ is my family’s story. I’m happy it shared my Mamaw with the world.

Bakalova, a Bulgarian newcomer, turned heads in an impressive breakthrough comedic performance as Borat’s kooky daughter who memorably tempts an unsuspecting Rudy Giuliani. But there’s fiercer competition from the battle of the grandmas: eight-time (!) nominee Close as feisty, fiery Mamaw (a.k.a. Bonnie Vance, the grandmother of Middletown native and author J.D. Vance) and first-time nominee Youn as Soon-ja, the earthy, unconventional, fish-out-of-water matriarch lovingly assisting her close-knit clan in rural Arkansas. Considering the fact that comedy rarely triumphs at the Oscars and “Hillbilly Elegy” divided critics and audiences alike, Youn, who recently won the SAG and BAFTA precursors, has the edge for her marvelously heartwarming performance.

The 93rd annual Academy Awards will be held Sunday, April 25 at Union Station Los Angeles and the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood, and international locations via satellite. “Oscars: Into the Spotlight,” a pre-show event in which all five nominated original songs will be performed in their entirety, will air live on ABC at 6:30 p.m. The Oscars will be televised live on ABC at 8 p.m. “Oscars: After Dark,” a recap of the ceremony, will immediately follow the Oscars show.

FUN FACTS ABOUT THE 2021 OSCARS

  • $40 million+: Total cost of the Oscars ceremony
  • $10 million: Cost of the look for an A-list actress attending the Oscars
  • $2 million: Cost of a 30-second ad during the Oscars
  • $400: Estimated value of each 24-karat gold-plated Oscar statuette
  • $24.7K: Cost of the 50,000-square-foot Oscars red carpet
  • 225: Countries and territories in which the Oscars will be televised
  • 131 minutes: Longest best picture nominee (“Mank”)
  • 32 percent of this year’s Oscar nominees are women (highest percentage ever)
  • 70 women received a total of 76 nominations this year
  • 9 actors of color nominated this year, setting a record
  • 2 women are nominated for best director this year, for the first time in history
  • 11 of this year’s acting nominees are nominated for the first time
  • 4th time the Oscars telecast will not have a host
  • Leslie Odom Jr. is the fourth person and first man to receive acting and song nominations for the same film
  • Steven Yeun is the first Asian-American actor to ever be recognized in the best actor categor

SOURCE: WalletHub https://wallethub.com/blog/oscars-facts/1925

HOW TO WATCH

What: 93rd annual Academy Awards

When: 8 p.m. Sunday, April 25

Where: ABC

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