The older I get, the more the Academy confounds me. When this has happened in the past, I’ve generally been pleased with most of the surprises that arose. This year, however, I was dumbstruck when the winners were announced in a few of the categories, and not necessarily in a good way. Perhaps it was due to the nature of how and when movies were distributed this year because of the pandemic. Perhaps it was due to wishful thinking clouding my judgment. In any event, with this year’s Oscars behind us, it’s time to take a look at how I did on my predictions for the winners in this annual competition, as first outlined in my previous blog.
So how did I do? Regrettably, this is my worst prediction performance since I began doing these blogs – three out of six correct calls. Here are the details:
I admit it – I went out on a limb, and I was wrong. As I noted in my predictions blog, even though I recognized that the smart money was on “Nomadland,” I was sensing a shift in the direction of “Minari.” I felt this intuitively, and maybe it was occurring but didn’t attain enough momentum in time. However, “Nomadland” maintained its mojo and managed to come out on top.
While I thought “Nomadland” was a capably made film, I didn’t feel it merited the top prize. That honor truly should have gone to “Minari,” a superb production that, unfortunately, underperformed throughout awards season and never captured the degree of attention it truly deserved. I also believed (and still do) that it has the message the country needs right now – one of hope, love, tolerance and healing, a far more endearing and inspiring than the one the victor sent.
I was shocked when Hopkins’s name was announced. While he certainly gave an excellent performance, and even though he pulled out what appeared to be a surprise win at the BAFTAs several weeks previously, I was convinced that the Academy would honor Boseman, not only based on the strength of his performance and his wins earlier in awards season, but also because this would be the last opportunity the Academy would have to recognize him. Voters dropped the ball.
The Academy’s failure to honor Boseman in the past – even with nominations – was a glaring oversight. But its failure to do so this time is inexcusable. Such slights weren’t allowed to pass, for example, when it came to the Oscar wins for Peter Finch for “Network” (1976) or Heath Ledger for “The Dark Knight” (2008), so how it was allowed to happen here – especially for such a gripping performance – is mind boggling. Shame on the Academy.
As with the lead actor category, I was shocked when McDormand’s name was called. Odds makers believed, as did I, that Mulligan had the best chance of taking home the award. While this category was essentially up for grabs given the results in prior awards season competitions, McDormand was widely regarded by prognosticators as the second least likely candidate to capture this prize, despite her recent win at the BAFTA Awards, a contest in which most of her competitors here weren’t even nominated. The skepticism about McDormand’s chances stemmed from her awards season track record thus far, her recent (and deserved) Oscar win for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” (2017), and the fact that this was one of her more underwhelming performances, not only compared to those of her fellow nominees, but also in her storied career.
This result baffles me. It was a weird category to call all season long. In all truthfulness, I believed the award should have gone to Andra Day, as evidenced by her win at the Golden Globe Awards, but I didn’t think it likely that she’d emerge as the winner (and handicappers concurred, placing her in the middle of the field). I’m glad to have predictions for this field behind me.
This was another category that was not difficult to predict, given that Youn’s momentum had been steadily building, winning in virtually every competition in which she was nominated leading up to the Oscars. Again, this is another example of the right performer winning for the right performance.
Again, no surprise here. Zhao has claimed the directorial award in every contest this year, despite the fact that Lee Isaac Chung was the more deserving candidate. Hollywood has been wanting to honor Zhao for some time, and now the Academy has followed through on it.
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