And the Academy Award Goes To: Our 2021 Oscars Predictions


Another year, another group of Oscar nominees! The most prestigious awards in film will be handed out on April 25, and it’s time for every film nerd’s favorite game: predicting which films will go home with the coveted Oscar trophies. Our writers Julia and Jules decided to break down each category and pick who they each think will win on Oscar night. Will they be proven correct? And where do they disagree? Read on to find out our picks for Academy Awards glory.


Best Picture
The Father
Judas and the Black Messiah
Promising Young Woman
Sound of Metal
The Trial of the Chicago 7

Julia’s Pick: Nomadland has been absolutely dominating this awards season, and it only makes sense that it will continue its reign and take home the night’s big award.

Jules’ Pick: There is no stopping the Nomadland train.

Best Directing
Thomas Vinterberg, Another Round
David Fincher, Mank
Lee Isaac Chung, Minari
Chloé Zhao, Nomadland
Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman

Julia’s Pick: Chloé Zhao has rightfully earned the nomination, and she will rightfully earn the win. She beautifully brought Nomadland‘s story to the screen and deserves continued recognition.

Jules’ Pick: This award belongs to Chloé Zhao, who has won every major award for Best Director this season for her work on Nomadland. It would take a shocking upset to unseat her at this point, and it’s a well deserved honor. This category is notable for including two women this year for the first time in Oscar history.

Best Actress in a Leading Role
Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Andra Day, United States vs. Billie Holiday
Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman
Frances McDormand, Nomadland
Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman

Julia’s Pick: I keep coming back to Viola Davis’ performance in Ma Rainey’s, so she’s my pick to win. She brought an electrifying and captivating Mother of the Blues to the screen and has easily earned the recognition for the role.

Jules’ Pick: While Frances McDormand has been dominating awards season so far in this category, my pick for the win is Carey Mulligan. Her performance in Promising Young Woman is a biting departure from her previous work and showcases her tremendous talent well. Andra Day could also get a surprise win after winning the Golden Globe, but I’m hoping Mulligan walks away with this one.


Best Actor in a Leading Role
Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal
Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Anthony Hopkins, The Father
Gary Oldman, Mank
Steven Yeun, Minari

Julia’s Pick: Chadwick Boseman, hands down. With every single role, Boseman has proven time and time again his dedication and skill, and his last role as Levee in Ma Rainey’s is no exception. He puts his all into Levee, lighting up the screen and crafting a character and performance that is sure to be remembered.

Jules’ Pick: Chadwick Boseman deserves to be honored not just for his performance in Ma Rainey’s but for his body of work as a whole. Judging from how he has received every major award he was nominated for this year, voters within the various guilds agree.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy
Olivia Colman, The Father
Amanda Seyfried, Mank
Yuh-Jung Youn, Minari

Julia’s Pick: I think Yuh-Jung Youn has this category locked down going forward. She gave an equally delightful and heartbreaking performance in Minari and deserves every ounce of recognition she’s earning.

Jules’ Pick: In a perfect world, Maria Bakalova would take this one. Her performance is brilliant, and her improvisational skills match those of her legendary costar Sacha Baron Cohen. But the Oscars are reluctant to recognize comedic performances, and the nomination itself is a win for her in light of this history (see Melissa McCarthy’s nomination for Bridesmaids). Minari star Yuh-Jung Youn has the momentum going into Oscar voting with major wins at the BAFTAs and SAG Awards, and I’d like to see her win on Oscar night.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role
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

Julia’s Pick: Since the start of the season, Daniel Kaluuya has earned awards left and right for his portrayal of Fred Hampton, and he fully deserves the win here, as well. He did his homework and put his all into the role, and it shows.

Jules’ Pick: This is one of the toughest categories to call, but Daniel Kaluuya has the most wins in the category this season. I loved Paul Raci’s quiet yet powerful character in Sound of Metal, and it would be interesting to see if he can stage an upset, but Kaluuya is the likely winner here.

Focus Features.

Best Original Screenplay
Judas and the Black Messiah
Promising Young Woman
Sound of Metal
The Trial of the Chicago 7

Julia’s Pick: This one is tough to call for me, but I think the night will go to Promising Young Woman. Fennell’s script was timely, quite shocking at times, and just an all-around solid screenplay.

Jules’ Pick: Emerald Fennell’s brilliant script for Promising Young Woman deserves recognition, especially since it will likely be the only competitive category for the film on Oscar night. I would also accept a Sound of Metal win, and since both films have won awards for their screenplays this season it could go either way.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
The Father
One Night in Miami
The White Tiger

Julia’s Pick: This category is one that can go to any of the nominees. But again, with the momentum of Nomadland, it stands out as a front runner.

Jules’ Pick: I believe Nomadland will once again prevail, but this category is wide open. Golden Globes champ The Trial of the Chicago 7 was nominated in the Original Screenplay category instead, clearing the way for a different winner. I’m still shocked Borat was nominated in this category considering how much of the film was improvised. However, the Writers Guild of America handed this honor to Borat, and the WGAs tend to predict the eventually winner at the Oscars, so Borat could potentially get the win.


Best Cinematography
Judas and the Black Messiah
News of the World
The Trial of the Chicago 7

Julia’s Pick: While Nomadland is a force to be reckoned with this season, my pick goes to Mank. Erik Messerschmidt just beautifully captures the look of classic Hollywood films and really brings viewers into it.

Jules’ Pick: Again, a tough category to call with many deserving nominees. But based on the frontrunner status Nomadland has, I have to go with it taking the win for this award. The visuals in the film are stunning, and I don’t see how it could possibly win Best Director and not Best Cinematography (or vice versa). If I had to pick a potential upset here, it’s Mank, which was shot in black and white and also won the American Society of Cinematographer’s Feature Film award this year.

Best Film Editing
The Father
Promising Young Woman
Sound of Metal
The Trial of the Chicago 7

Julia’s Pick: While I think this is another category that could easily go any of these films, The Trial of the Chicago 7 is the standout. The editing seamlessly connects the trial and the events leading up to it, as well as play on emotions with quick cuts that are skillfully executed.

Jules’ Pick: The Trial of the Chicago 7 will likely win this one, but I’ll be interested to see if Sound of Metal nabs the win. The pattern thus far with the film is to recognize it in technical categories like sound and editing, and the other nominees could potentially split the vote its way.


Best Animated Feature Film
Over the Moon
A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon

Julia’s Pick: Since its release, Soul has garnered ever-growing acclaim with casual viewers and critics alike. It’s earned several nominations and received wins for Best Animated Feature for the BAFTAs and the Golden Globes, and I think it will continue with that momentum.

Jules’ Pick: Soul is going to continue to dominate in this category and will almost definitely win.

Best Animated Short Film
Genius Loci
If Anything Happens I Love You

Julia’s Pick: If Anything Happens I Love You was a heart-wrenching and, unfortunately, topical piece that examined grief but also joy in memories as a means of coping. It’s one that will stick with me, and no doubt others.

Jules’ Pick: If Anything Happens I Love You is sobering and heartbreaking, but my heart is hoping Burrow gets the win. Yes, I am a sucker for emotional Pixar moments, and no, I will not apologize for it.

Best Live-Action Short Film
Feeling Through
The Letter Room
The Present
Two Distant Strangers
White Eye

Julia’s Pick: Two Distant Strangers presents itself as the obvious choice. It’s painful and intensely harrowing, but it’s also the most relevant piece that demands to be remembered.

Jules’ Pick: Two Distant Strangers is unfortunately very timely with its honest and brutal depiction of police violence, and with Oscar voting having closed on April 15 it’s a good bet that it was fresh in the minds of Oscar voters. I think it gets the win here.

Samuel Goldwyn Films

Best International Feature Film
Another Round
Better Days
The Man Who Sold His Skin
Quo Vadis, Aida?

Julia’s Pick: This one belongs to Another Round. Much of the appeal of this film lies in the unfettered joy the main group of friends finds in their experiment. But with happiness also comes heartache, and Another Round expertly balances the two.

Jules’ Pick: Another Round is a great film, and with its other nomination in the Best Director category it’s the frontrunner for this award.

Best Documentary Feature
Crip Camp
The Mole Agent
My Octopus Teacher

Julia’s Pick: My first choice is My Octopus Teacher; I never thought I’d see the day where I’d be crying over an octopus, but here we are. The way the film makes you care about this creature is incredible. Crip Camp is also a strong contender, and I’d be happy to see either doc bring home the win.

Jules’ Pick: I have never cared about anything more than I cared about the wellbeing of an octopus for the two hours it took to watch My Octopus Teacher. Crip Camp is also essential viewing, but I’m rooting for that smart little octopus to take the Oscar home.

Best Documentary Short Subject
A Concerto Is a Conversation
Do Not Split
Hunger Ward
A Love Song for Latasha

Julia’s Pick: Each of these nominees brings a unique focus to the table, but Hunger Ward carries a different intimacy that makes it stand out above the rest.

Jules’ Pick: Hunger Ward left me shell-shocked in its brutal honesty. As a nurse myself, I could feel the frustration and hopelessness of the nurses fighting to save children from the effects of hunger in Yemen. All these documentaries cover topics that make them essential viewing and all are excellent, but Hunger Ward is my pick.

Best Original Score
Da 5 Bloods
News of the World

Julia’s Pick: Soul will keep riding its momentum through the finish line.

Jules’ Pick: Music is essential to Soul, and I would be very surprised if it didn’t win.

Best Original Song
“Fight For You,” Judas and the Black Messiah
“Hear My Voice,” The Trial of the Chicago 7
“Husavik,” Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
“Io Sì (Seen),” The Life Ahead
“Speak Now,” One Night in Miami

Julia’s Pick: “Io Sì (Seen)” is the obvious choice for me. It’s a beautiful song with an equally beautiful message fueling it.

Jules’ Pick: I am just so tickled that “Husavik” is here, and I want it to win just so the words “Academy Award winning” can be placed in front of Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga. But my pick goes to “Speak Now,” which could be honored here as a way to give Leslie Odom Jr. a trophy for his performance if he doesn’t win in the Supporting Actor category.

Amazon Studios.

Best Sound
News of the World
Sound of Metal

Julia’s Pick: Sound of Metal is a shoo-in for this category. Viewers are pulled into Ruben’s world via sound, getting just a small taste of how Ruben hears (or rather doesn’t hear) the world around him. It was truly an experience.

Jules’ Pick: There is no contest here. Sound of Metal‘s sound design is revolutionary, and it’s the rare time I advocate for watching with headphones rather than in a theater. The nuances to the sound are so subtle but do so much to immerse the viewer into Ruben’s world.

Best Costume Design
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Julia’s Pick: The costumes for Ma Rainey’s I think really encapsulated not only the time period but also the characters, and that marks it as the obvious choice for me.

Jules’ Pick: The period costumes in Emma and Ma Rainey’s were both beautiful, and I think it’s going to come down to those two choices. Ann Roth is a legend, and to me that will put Ma Rainey’s over the edge.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Hillbilly Elegy
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Julia’s Pick: Pinocchio will get the win for its incredible use of practical makeup without the use of CGI.

Jules’ Pick: Pinocchio should win here for its groundbreaking transformation of live actors into marionettes. While the film has not had a wide release in the U.S. due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the sheer talent and dedication involved in creating the makeup for this film needs to be recognized.

Best Production Design
The Father
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
News of the World

Julia’s Pick: Like its cinematography, Mank is able to bring viewers back to classic Hollywood through its production design, and that reminder of the days of old gives it an edge.

Jules’ Pick: Three of the five nominees are period pieces, with Mank and Ma Rainey’s as the frontrunners. Recognizing Mank in this category would be a way for the Academy to pay tribute to old Hollywood, so I’ll go with Mank as my pick.

Warner Brothers

Best Visual Effects
Love and Monsters
The Midnight Sky
The One and Only Ivan

Julia’s Pick: Tenet is an ambitious film with visuals to match, and it’s definitely the frontrunner here.

Jules’ Pick: Of the five nominees, Tenet is the only traditional blockbuster as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic. That gives it an edge, and it should take home the Oscar.

The Academy Awards will be announced on Sunday March 25 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. Disagree with our picks? Let us know in the comments!

I am a nurse and dedicated nerd from Boston, MA. When I'm not at work, I'm rewatching old favorites like Supernatural or discovering my new obsessions (too many to count!). When not fangirling, I can be found reading, writing, or listening to a true crime podcast. You can find me on Twitter @juleswritesblog for more nerdy nonsense.

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