Essays · Movies

Recklessly Early 2021 Oscar Predictions

The 92nd Academy Awards just ended, but we’re already considering what the major contenders will be for the 93rd.
Anthony Hopkins In The Father
Sony Pictures Classics
By  · Published on February 13th, 2020

The last time we made way too early Oscar predictions was in the fall of 2018 anticipating the nominees and winners of the 2020 Academy Awards. It didn’t go so well, if only thanks to our hopes for The Goldfinch. And, uh, Cats. We also expected much bigger things for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, even before we’d seen it. And at that time, the Academy was still aiming to have a Most Popular Movie category. Thankfully, that didn’t actually happen.

Well, at least we had three of the Best Picture nominees, one Best Director nominee, three Best Actress nominees (though one of them was put in the Best Supporting Actress category), two Best Supporting Actress nominees (albeit both for the wrong movies), two Best Supporting Actor nominees (though one of them was placed in the Best Actor category), one Original Screenplay nominee, one Adapted Screenplay nominee, two Best Cinematography nominees (plus Roger Deakins but for the wrong movie), three Best Animated Feature nominees, and three VFX nominees.

We got none of our winners correct.

This year, we’ve waited until after the 2020 Oscars to kick off our predictions for next year’s awards. The contenders are a little easier to forecast at this time of year, but there are still many uncertainties, not just in terms of release dates but also in terms of quality. Dune could be amazing or another failed attempt to adapt Frank Herbert’s novels. On the Rocks could finally give Sofia Coppola another shot at Best Director, but who knows?

What is likely is that the Academy will still deny Netflix a Best Picture, as much as David Fincher‘s latest, the Herman J. Mankiewicz biopic Mank, should be right up their alley. We can also, based on pretty much the only positive Oscar buzz out of Sundance, count on a nod for Anthony Hopkins. The rest is just us wanting Fincher, Amy Adams, Glenn Close, and Bill Murray finally winning Oscars.

Also, we’re continuing to spotlight our love for True History of the Kelly Gang. We’ll see how all of this goes in about a year.

Best Picture

The French Dispatch
In the Heights
The Last Duel
On the Rocks
The Trial of the Chicago 7
True History of the Kelly Gang
West Side Story

Best Director

Sofia Coppola, On the Rocks
David Fincher, Mank
Ridley Scott, The Last Duel
Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7
Steven Spielberg, West Side Story

Best Actor

Tom Hanks, News of the World
Anthony Hopkins, The Father
Gary Oldman, Mank
George MacKay, True History of the Kelly Gang
Will Smith, King Richard

Best Actress

Amy Adams, Hillbilly Elegy
Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Jennifer Hudson, Respect
Kate Winslet, Ammonite

Best Supporting Actor

Timothée Chalamet, The French Dispatch
Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7
Russell Crowe, True History of the Kelly Gang
Willem Dafoe, Nightmare Alley
Bill Murray, On the Rocks


Best Supporting Actress

Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy
Essie Davis, True History of the Kelly Gang
Rita Moreno, West Side Story
Saoirse Ronan, Ammonite
Octavia Spencer, The Witches

Best Original Screenplay

The French Dispatch
I’m Thinking of Ending Things
On the Rocks

Best Adapted Screenplay

In the Heights
News of the World
The Trial of the Chicago 7

West Side Story

Best Cinematography

The Last Duel
Nightmare Alley
West Side Story

Best Documentary Feature

Boys State
Crip Camp
Dick Johnson is Dead
The Truffle Hunters
Welcome to Chechnya

Best Animated Feature

Bob’s Burgers: The Movie
Minions: The Rise of Gru
Raya and the Last Dragon

Best Visual Effects

Ghostbusters: Afterlife
Godzilla vs. Kong

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.