Oscars 2021 Predictions

oscars 2021 predictions nomadland mank promising young woman father oscar statue mask coronavirus soderbergh

Oscars! I’m okay-ish at predicting these, I think – last year I got 17, which was decent, and the year before that 12, which is slightly better than what you’d get guessing completely at random – but I’m hoping that this year I do marginally better. We’ll see, I suppose.

A word on the format: the nominees are listed below in order of predicted likelihood (so I expect Nomadland will win Best Picture, but if not The Trial of the Chicago 7 strikes me as the second most likely, so on). Three points for a correct first guess, two points for a correct second guess, one point for a correct third guess, you get the idea.

You can find the full list of nominees here (and I assume that page will be updated with the winners eventually), but otherwise, my predictions are as follows:

Best Picture:

Nomadland

The Trial of the Chicago 7

The Father

Best Director:

Chloe Zhao, Nomadland

Thomas Vinterberg, Another Round

David Fincher, Mank

Best Actor:

Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Anthony Hopkins, The Father

Gary Oldman, Mank

Best Actress:

Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Frances McDormand, Nomadland

Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman

Best Supporting Actor:

Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah

Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7

Paul Raci, Sound of Metal

Best Supporting Actress:

Youn Yuh-Jung, Minari

Olivia Colman, The Father

Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Best Original Screenplay:

Promising Young Woman

The Trial of the Chicago 7

Minari

Best Adapted Screenplay:

Nomadland

The Father

One Night in Miami

Best International Feature:

Another Round

Collective

The Man Who Sold His Skin

Best Documentary Feature:

My Octopus Teacher

Crip Camp

Time

Best Animated Feature:

Soul

Wolfwalkers

Onward

Best Film Editing:

Sound of Metal

The Trial of the Chicago 7

Nomadland

Best Original Song:

“Speak Now” from One Night in Miami

“Husavik” from Eurovision Song Contest

“Io Si (Seen)” from The Life Ahead

Best Original Score:

Soul

Mank

News of the World

Best Cinematography:

Nomadland

Mank

News of the World

Best Costume Design:

Mank

Emma

Mank

Best Makeup and Hairstyling:

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Emma

Mank

Best Production Design:

Mank

News of the World

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Best Sound:

Sound of Metal

Soul

Greyhound

Best Visual Effects:

Tenet

Love and Monsters

The Midnight Sky

Best Animated Short:

If Anything Happens I Love You

Genius Loci

Yes-People

Best Documentary Short:

Colette

A Love Song for Latasha

A Concerto is a Conversation

Best Live-Action Short:

Two Distant Strangers

The Letter Room

White Eye

I’ve not actually written about most of these films, or even had the chance to watch many of them, but you can find my round-up of all the films I saw across 2020 here, and my reviews of Another Round and One Night in Miami here.

You can find more of my writing about film here, and follow me on twitter @morelandwriter. If you enjoyed this piece – though I can’t think why you would, it’s just a list – perhaps consider leaving a tip on ko-fi?

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier doesn’t want to be a television show

falcon winter soldier anthony mackie sebastian stan malcolm spellman kari skogland captain america movies tv

There were plenty of criticisms to make of WandaVision, but there was also at least always the sense that showrunner Jac Shaeffer and director Matt Shakman wanted to make a television show, and on some level knew what they had to do to do that. There hasn’t been that same sense with The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, which – five episodes in and nearly finished – doesn’t seem to want to be a television show at all.

The contrast between the two is striking. Where WandaVision was consciously and deliberately episodic, each week evoking a different era of sitcom history, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is entirely serialised: episodes of the former felt distinct from one another in terms of style and aesthetic, while also having their own discrete plotlines too, but episodes of the latter have tended to blur together. The end of each episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier feels less like the conclusion of an individual, coherent whole that might stand on its own terms, and more like an act break in a particularly long movie. (Or, rather, that’s how it feels when it works – just as often they’ve felt much more arbitrary than that, a case of having reached the fifty-minute mark and not much else.)

At its best, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is built around a handful of big moments and individual ideas. Sometimes that works: the slow pan around John Walker, the new Captain America, his shield drenched in blood, onlookers filming him with their mobile phones, is one of the more striking images the Marvel Cinematic Universe has ever offered. But for the most part, though, the series struggles to take advantage of the strengths of its medium. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is built around those big moments, yes, but otherwise it’s formless – there’s an emphasis on plot but little momentum, always moving forward but rarely going anywhere. The middle stretch of the series is sluggish and lethargic, spinning its wheels to fill the runtime and little else; the fifth episode, the strongest of the show, is the one that most feels like an actual episode of television, rather than fifty-minutes of moving pieces around the chessboard to set up for next week. In fact, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier often feels like the rare show that’d be improved by binge-watching it, with the weekly release schedule imposing breaks where it’d almost be better to let one episode lead straight into the next.

falcon-winter-soldier-wyatt-russell-captain-america-john-walker-shield-murder-blood-cliffhanger-chris-evans

It’s meant to be that way, of course.

Anthony Mackie described the series as “instead of a two-hour movie, a six or eight-hour movie […] cut up into the show”. Meanwhile, director Kari Skogland made a similar comparison, saying they “made it like a six-hour movie” then “kind of sliced it up at the perfect moments”. Part of that is just marketing. (Much like, presumably, showrunner Malcolm Spellman’s distinction between “regular TV” and “top-shelf, Marvel” content.) These comments are a statement of intent as much as anything else – a way for the debut series to emphasise its similarity to its parent cinematic universe, differentiating itself from television almost as a mark of prestige. But they’re also revealing about a lot of the structural choices made by The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and explains why the series is struggling to make an impact – it’s caught between two mediums and not doing an especially good job of being either. That six-hour movie feeling isn’t a fault, it’s a feature.

In fairness, it’s also possible, as has been widely rumoured, that The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was heavily edited prior to broadcast to remove a storyline about a viral outbreak. That’s the sort of rewriting that could leave any show feeling formless, especially one already intended to be quite heavily serialised. Equally, there’s a sense that some of the structural choices the show made wouldn’t have helped much anyway: pandemic storyline or not, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier still left a lot of its character work to that fifth episode, with most of the series feeling like a preamble before getting to the story it seemingly promised. It’s the rythms and pacing of a film applied to the structure of a television show, without much thought devoted to how they’re different, and the distinct ways in which each medium works.

Eventually, there’s going to be a fan-edited version of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier that turns it back into a two-hour movie. More likely than not, it’ll rely quite heavily on the closing episodes, and condense down the opening three into something much sharper and more concise. That doesn’t speak to a television show that’s conscious of its medium, that takes advantage of what its medium can offer – both in terms of what longer-form storytelling can do, and what more distinct episodes can let the series do. Maybe the series would’ve benefitted from an episode more explicitly from the perspective of Karli Morgenthau, clarifying the Flag Smashers’ beliefs and motivations; maybe the series would’ve benefitted from a flashback episode about Isiah Bradley, akin to the HBO Watchmen episode This Extraordinary Being. Of course, it wouldn’t necessarily have to commit so wholeheartedly to that kind of discrete storytelling – but it would have been improved by taking advantage of what an episodic structure allows that a film doesn’t.

Ultimately, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier suffers for its structural choices. It’s never quite as entertaining as it could’ve been, it never feels quite as coherent or invested in its themes as it otherwise might’ve been. You get the sense that’s why the show hasn’t been a television phenomenon in the same way WandaVision was: week to week, it just doesn’t want to be a TV show.

Related:

WandaVision is an escapist fantasy, but there’s no escape from the Marvel machine

You can find more of my writing about television here, and follow me on twitter @morelandwriter. If you enjoyed this article – or if you didn’t – please consider leaving a tip on ko-fi.