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How’d I Do on This Year’s Oscars?

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:

Best Picture

The Field: “Judas and the Black Messiah,” “Mank,” “Minari,” “Nomadland,” “Promising Young Woman,” “Sound of Metal,” “The Father,” “The Trial of the Chicago 7”

Projected Winner:  “Minari”

Actual Winner:  “Nomadland”

Result:  Missed call

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.

Best Actor

The Field: Anthony Hopkins, “The Father”; Chadwick Boseman, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”; Gary Oldman, “Mank”; Riz Ahmed, “Sound of Metal”; Steven Yeun, “Minari”

Projected Winner:  Chadwick Boseman, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”

Actual Winner:  Anthony Hopkins, “The Father”

Result:  Missed call

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.

Best Actress

The Field:  Andra Day, “The United States vs. Billie Holiday”; Carey Mulligan, “Promising Young Woman”; Frances McDormand, “Nomadland”; Vanessa Kirby, “Pieces of a Woman”; Viola Davis, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”

Projected Winner:  Carey Mulligan, “Promising Young Woman”

Actual Winner:  Frances McDormand, “Nomadland”

Result:  Missed call

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.

Best Supporting Actor

The Field:  Daniel Kaluuya, “Judas and the Black Messiah”; LaKeith Stanfield, “Judas and the Black Messiah”; Leslie Odom Jr., “One Night in Miami…”; Paul Raci, “Sound of Metal”; Sacha Baron Cohen, “The Trial of the Chicago 7”

Projected Winner:  Daniel Kaluuya, “Judas and the Black Messiah”

Actual Winner:  Daniel Kaluuya, “Judas and the Black Messiah”

Result:  Correct call

Kaluuya was a clear-cut winner, having run the table in all of the season’s other awards competitions. No surprise here – a deserving victory for a fine performance.

Best Supporting Actress

The Field:  Amanda Seyfried, “Mank”; Glenn Close, “Hillbilly Elegy”; Maria Bakalova, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”; Olivia Colman, “The Father”; Youn Yuh-Jung, “Minari”

Projected Winner:  Youn Yuh-Jung, “Minari”

Actual Winner:  Youn Yuh-Jung, “Minari”

Result:  Correct call

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.

Best Director

The Field:  Chloé Zhao, “Nomadland”; David Fincher, “Mank”; Emerald Fennell, “Promising Young Woman”; Lee Isaac Chung, “Minari”; Thomas Vinterberg, “Another Round” (“Druk”)

Projected Winner:  Chloé Zhao, “Nomadland”

Actual Winner:  Chloé Zhao, “Nomadland”

Result:  Correct call

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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Copyright © 2021, by Brent Marchant. All rights reserved.

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