The Oscars have been in the business of spreading the wealth more than ever before, in stark contrast to the sweeps of yesteryear. Since the expansion of the Best Picture lineup, a majority of the nominated films have won at least one Oscar by the end of the night. Twice in fields of eight, every nominee took home a statuette: the 2014 and 2018 lineups, when “Birdman” and “Green Book” won Best Picture, respectively. Now, there is a chance that all eight of this year’s nominees will claim one or multiple Oscars by the end of April 25.
According to the latest Gold Derby odds, six of the eight Best Picture nominees will be Oscar winners: “Judas and the Black Messiah,” “Mank,” “Minari,” “Nomadland,” “Promising Young Woman” and “Sound of Metal.” That leaves “The Father” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7” as the films most likely to leave empty-handed, but both are still in contention in multiple categories. Let’s look at each Best Picture-nominated film’s strongest category heading into Oscar night.
“The Father” — Best Adapted Screenplay
“The Father” landed six nominations in all, a high total considering the film’s general weakness in the precursors. While Gold Derby odds suggest it will not win anything on Oscar night, its success at BAFTA could be an indicator that it has a better chance than we think. Its best shot is in Best Adapted Screenplay, where it beat frontrunner “Nomadland” at BAFTA. Based on the talky play of the same name, “The Father” is much more in line with past screenplay winners than the understated “Nomadland.” Meanwhile, star Anthony Hopkins won Best Actor at BAFTA, so he could very well upset Chadwick Boseman (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”) for the Oscar too.
“Judas and the Black Messiah” — Best Supporting Actor
If there is any virtual lock among the acting categories, it’s Best Supporting Actor for Daniel Kaluuya. The actor, already in the club as a previous nominee for “Get Out,” has completely swept award season, including the Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild Award, BAFTA and Critics Choice. It would be a major shock if he does not win the Oscar, though there is a small chance that the surprise inclusion of co-star Lakeith Stanfield could split the “Judas” vote enough to disrupt the race.
“Mank” — Best Production Design
“Mank” is the nomination leader of the year, at 10. This across-the-board performance would suggest broad support within the academy, but the biopic has really struggled with turning nominations into wins outside of production design. Its recreation of the Golden Age of Hollywood should at least net the film one victory, preventing it from going zero for 10 — a fate that befell last year’s Netflix historical drama, “The Irishman.”
“Minari” — Best Supporting Actress
The chaotic Best Supporting Actress category has settled over the past few weeks with Yuh-Jung Youn winning at both SAG and BAFTA. Because of the overlap with academy voters, there’s a good chance she will repeat at the Oscars and make history as the first Korean Oscar winner for acting.
“Nomadland” — Best Director
“Nomadland” has undeniably had the most awards success of the season, winning top honors at the Golden Globes, BAFTA, Critics Choice, the Producers Guild of America Awards and the Directors Guild of America Awards. It is very likely to win Best Picture, but the place it is basically locked for a win is Best Director for Chloe Zhao, who has utterly dominated the Best Director precursors. Zhao is set to make history as the first woman of color to win Best Director. In addition to these two awards, “Nomadland” has the best odds to win Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Cinematography.
“Promising Young Woman” — Best Original Screenplay
While Best Original Screenplay was initially shaping up to be a battle between Emerald Fennell (“Promising Young Woman”) and Aaron Sorkin (“The Trial of the Chicago 7”), Fennell’s victories at the Writers Guild of America Awards and BAFTA completely shifted the narrative in her favor. Oscar voters tend to prefer bolder films like “Promising Young Woman” in this category anyway, so it would be a semi-surprise if she loses the Oscar here. Carey Mulligan could also take home a win for the film in Best Actress, but that race is so all over the place that it would be foolish to declare anyone a likely winner.
“Sound of Metal” — Best Sound
Even beyond the surface-level observation that the film with “sound” in the title has the edge in Best Sound, the “Sound of Metal” team’s incredibly detailed work replicating hearing loss and deafness makes it the clear frontrunner. It is also heavily favored to win Best Film Editing, having won at BAFTA. Not bad for a film some were doubting would even make it into Best Picture earlier in the season.
“The Trial of the Chicago 7” — Best Film Editing
The early predictions that “The Trial of the Chicago 7” would win Best Picture or Best Original Screenplay have gradually faded over time, even if both are still possible. Now, its best chance of winning an Oscar is in Best Film Editing, where its propulsive energy may be preferred over “Sound of Metal’s” less visible editing. Still, lone editing wins are very rare — only “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (2011) has done it in the past 50 years. “Trial” would be doing what few films have ever done, but after the unusual year we just had, anything is possible.
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