2021 Oscar Winner Predictions: FINAL

And now it’s time for our final Oscar predictions. Knowing what we know now and having seen how all of the crucial guilds have worked themselves out, it’s time to reveal to you our thoughts on what will win this year’s Academy Awards.

Introductions

Wesley Lovell: It’s almost over and what seemed to be building to a grand finished seems to be petering out to a mediocre conclusion. It’s 2005 and 2018 all over again where the acclaimed frontrunner goes down to a late-gaining film much to the chagrin of many people involved. There are a few changes here that manifested after the Rundown series began, but I’ve tried to keep them updated in my Hopefuls list, so they shouldn’t come as too much of a shock.
Peter J. Patrick: I’m resigned to the likelihood that there will be no surprises in the acting categories, but I refuse to believe that CODA will overtake The Power of the Dog for Best Picture. Other than that, most of my predictions remain intact from those I came up with after the nominations came out.
Tripp Burton: (Tripp was unable to provide updated final predictions at time of posting. We will update this post as soon as that information comes in)
Thomas LaTourette: The Academy Awards are Sunday, and we are pulling out our hair trying to determine the winners. I have managed to see every film but two of the documentary features and one that is only up for best song. It has been a decent though not exceptional year for movies. Dune looks to be the most honored film at the end of the night. Probably only it, CODA, The Eyes of Tammy Faye, and possibly Encanto will earn more than one Oscar. The Power of the Dog had entered the race with 12 nominations and seemed ready to bring many of those home, though momentum definitely has shifted against it. Jane Campion will assuredly win for directing it, and that might prove to be its only win of the evening. CODA with only three nominations had originally looked like it would win none and now looks poised to take all three, including an unprecedented best picture Oscar. It would be the first film since 1932’s Grand Hotel to take the top award without either a directing or editing nomination. Until a month ago when it won the Screen Actors Guild award for best cast, it was looked at as a likeable film that was lucky to get any nominations at all. Boy things changed in a hurry. Some categories like actor, supporting actress, animated and documentary features, sound, and score have stayed stable, but many others have had quantum shifts only very recently coming to consensus opinions. It will be interesting to see how it plays out. There are still likely to be upsets on Oscar night, but that is part of the fun of this whole process.


KEY:

Appears on Four Lists
Appears on Three Lists
Appears on Two Lists

Wesley Lovell Peter Patrick Tripp Burton Thomas LaTourrette
[New] = New Prediction
[Return] = Prior Prediction Returning
(O) = Original Prediction
(R) = Rundown Series
(F) = Final Winner Predictions

Best Picture

Winner Predictions

  • Belfast
  • CODA (WL R) (TL R)
  • Don’t Look Up
  • Drive My Car
  • Dune
  • King Richard
  • Licorice Pizza
  • Nightmare Alley
  • The Power of the Dog (PP O) (TB O)
  • West Side Story

Runner-Up Predictions

  • Belfast (PP O)
  • CODA (TB R)
  • The Power of the Dog (WL R) (TL R)

Wesley Lovell: Please read today’s other post to read Wesley’s thoughts on each of the categories.
Thomas La Tourrette: The Power of the Dog ended up with over half the precursors, most notably BAFTA and the Critics Choice Awards, as well as the most Oscar nominations, usually a good sign for winning here. Then CODA started gaining ground, first with a surprising win for best cast from the Screen Actors Guild, then the Producers Guild award too. It would be strange for a film to win best picture with only three nominations, especially when one of which is not for director, but it is looking more likely that it will. The Power of the Dog might still win, but I think that the feel-good CODA will instead.

Best Animated Feature

Winner Predictions

  • Encanto (WL O) (PP O) (TB O) (TL O)
  • Flee
  • Luca
  • The Mitchells vs. the Machines
  • Raya and the Last Dragon

Runner-Up Predictions

  • The Mitchells vs. the Machines (WL O) (PP F) [New] (TB O) (TL O)

Wesley Lovell: Please read today’s other post to read Wesley’s thoughts on each of the categories.
Thomas La Tourrette: Encanto has felt like it has been in the driver’s seat all season long, even though The Mitchells vs. the Machines has won by far the most precursors. Encanto has just seemed likely to win. There was a bit of a hiccup for it with the top prize from the animators guild and then the Critics Choice both going for Mitchells, but I still think Encanto will win.

Best Directing

Winner Predictions

  • Belfast – Kenneth Branagh
  • Drive My Car – Ryusuke Hamaguchi
  • Licorice Pizza – Paul Thomas Anderson
  • The Power of the Dog – Jane Campion (WL O) (PP O) (TB O) (TL O)
  • West Side Story – Steven Spielberg

Runner-Up Predictions

  • Belfast – Kenneth Branagh (WL O) (PP F) [New] (TL O)
  • West Side Story – Steven Spielberg (TB R)

Wesley Lovell: Please read today’s other post to read Wesley’s thoughts on each of the categories.
Thomas La Tourrette: This is probably the most set award of the evening. She is the first woman to receive two nominations in this category and will be the third woman to win, and the second in a row. Jane Campion easily wins.

Best Actor

Winner Predictions

  • Javier Bardem – Being the Ricardos
  • Benedict Cumberbatch – The Power of the Dog
  • Andrew Garfield – tick, tick…BOOM!
  • Will Smith – King Richard (WL F) [New] (PP F) [New] (TB O) (TL O)
  • Denzel Washington – The Tragedy of Macbeth

Runner-Up Predictions

  • Benedict Cumberbatch – The Power of the Dog (WL F) [New] (PP F) [New] (TB O)
  • Andrew Garfield – tick, tick…BOOM! (TL R)

Wesley Lovell: Please read today’s other post to read Wesley’s thoughts on each of the categories.
Thomas La Tourrette: Will Smith has been the front runner all season long, though he always seemed a weak one for his work in King Richard. He is good in the role, but it feels more like he is winning because he has not before rather than excitement over this role. Andrew Garfield probably deserved it most, but Will Smith seems destined to become an Oscar winner.

Best Actress

Winner Predictions

  • Jessica Chastain – The Eyes of Tammy Faye (WL R) (PP R) (TL R)
  • Olivia Colman – The Lost Daughter
  • Penelope Cruz – Parallel Mothers (TB O)
  • Nicole Kidman – Being the Ricardos
  • Kristen Stewart – Spencer

Runner-Up Predictions

  • Olivia Colman – The Lost Daughter (PP R)
  • Penelope Cruz – Parallel Mothers (WL F) [New]
  • Nicole Kidman – Being the Ricardos (TB O)
  • Kristen Stewart – Spencer (TL O)

Wesley Lovell: Please read today’s other post to read Wesley’s thoughts on each of the categories.
Thomas La Tourrette: This category is so up in the air that the Oscar really could go to any of the nominees. With her wins at SAG and Critics Choice, Jessica Chastain has become the one to beat. She did a great job with the role, keeping it from being a caricature. Penelope Cruz probably gave the best performance of the group but seems to have the least chance of winning. Kristin Stewart had been the perceived frontrunner before her snubs from SAG and BAFTA. Could she sneak in for a win without those nominations? Possible but doubtful. So, who will win? Probably Jessica Chastain.

Best Supporting Actor

Winner Predictions

  • Ciaran Hinds – Belfast
  • Troy Kotsur – CODA (WL R) (PP F) [New] (TB R) (TL R)
  • Jesse Plemons – The Power of the Dog
  • J.K. Simmons – Being the Ricardos
  • Kodi Smit-McPhee – The Power of the Dog

Runner-Up Predictions

  • Kodi Smit-McPhee – The Power of the Dog (WL F) [New] (PP F) [New] (TB R) (TL R)

Wesley Lovell: Please read today’s other post to read Wesley’s thoughts on each of the categories.
Thomas La Tourrette: When the SAG award went to Troy Kotsur for CODA, he went from a strong second choice to the one most likely to collect the Oscar. This is a close race between Kotsur and Kodi Smit-McPhee and could go either way, but I am pretty sure that Kotsur will be the winner.

Best Supporting Actress

Winner Predictions

  • Jessie Buckley – The Lost Daughter
  • Ariana DeBose – West Side Story (WL O) (PP F) [New] (TB O) (TL O)
  • Judi Dench – Belfast
  • Kirsten Dunst – The Power of the Dog
  • Aunjanue Ellis – King Richard

Runner-Up Predictions

  • Judi Dench – Belfast (PP O)
  • Kirsten Dunst – The Power of the Dog (WL O) (TB R) (TL O)

Wesley Lovell: Please read today’s other post to read Wesley’s thoughts on each of the categories.
Thomas La Tourrette: Even though she has not truly dominated the precursors, Ariana DeBose of West Side Story has the most wins and has been the front runner the entire time. Wins from the Golden Globes, BAFTA, and especially SAG have cemented her spot. So, 60 years after Rita Moreno won for playing Anita, DeBose will win for her Anita. Ariana DeBose easily wins.

Best Original Screenplay

Winner Predictions

  • Belfast (WL O) (PP O) (TB O) (TL R)
  • Don’t Look Up
  • King Richard
  • Licorice Pizza
  • The Worst Person in the World

Runner-Up Predictions

  • Licorice Pizza (WL O) (TB R) (TL R)
  • The Worst Person in the World (PP F) [New]

Wesley Lovell: Please read today’s other post to read Wesley’s thoughts on each of the categories.
Thomas La Tourrette: This has been a perplexing category, and probably comes down to Belfast or Licorice Pizza. However, I do wonder if the Academy will finally see fit to award Kenneth Branagh with an Oscar. This is probably his best chance to win in the three categories he is up for this year. It may well go to Licorice Pizza, but I am rooting for Kenneth Branagh and Belfast to win the award.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Winner Predictions

  • CODA (WL R) (TB R) (TL R)
  • Drive My Car
  • Dune
  • The Lost Daughter
  • The Power of the Dog (PP O)

Runner-Up Predictions

  • The Lost Daughter (PP F) [New]
  • The Power of the Dog (WL R) (TB O) (TL R) [New]

Wesley Lovell: Please read today’s other post to read Wesley’s thoughts on each of the categories.
Thomas La Tourrette: For a long time, it looked like The Power of the Dog would easily win this award. It had won by far the most precursor awards and was on pace to win the Oscar. Then all the momentum turned to CODA, especially when it won the BAFTA for adapted screenplay. It has gone from being a longshot to the marginal favorite very quickly. It would still not surprise me if The Power of the Dog wins, but I thoroughly expect CODA to be named when they open the envelope.

Best Original Score

Winner Predictions

  • Don’t Look Up
  • Dune (WL O) (TB O) (TL O)
  • Encanto
  • Parallel Mothrs
  • The Power of the Dog (PP F) [New]

Runner-Up Predictions

  • Dune (PP F) [New]
  • The Power of the Dog (WL O) (TB O) (TL O)

Wesley Lovell: Please read today’s other post to read Wesley’s thoughts on each of the categories.
Thomas La Tourrette: Hans Zimmer had looked poised to finally earn his second Oscar for his score of Dune. He has been a prolific and well-respected composer for over 30 years, racking up 12 nominations and one win which was 27 years ago. The Power of the Dog boasts a simple and melodic score, but I think Dune will scrape by with the win in a squeaker of a race.

Best Original Song

Winner Predictions

  • Be Alive – King Richard
  • Dos Oruguitas – Encanto (TB O)
  • Down to Joy – Belfast
  • No Time to Die – No Time to Die (WL F) [New] (PP O) (TL O)
  • Somehow You Do – Four Good Days

Runner-Up Predictions

  • Dos Oruguitas – Encanto (WL F) [New] (PP R) (TL O)
  • No Time to Die – No Time to Die (TB O)

Wesley Lovell: Please read today’s other post to read Wesley’s thoughts on each of the categories.
Thomas La Tourrette: Songs from James Bond films seem to do very well in this category, especially lately. “No Time to Die” from the same-named movie should prove no exception and will probably win. Its main competition is “Dos Oruguitas” from the Disney film Encanto. Songs form the movie are huge and it would make the popular Lin-Manuel Miranda an EGOT winner. “No Time to Die” wins, though it would not be a huge surprise if “Dos Oruguitas” does pull off the upset.

Best Film Editing

Winner Predictions

  • Don’t Look Up
  • Dune (WL O) (TB R) (TL O)
  • King Richard
  • The Power of the Dog (PP O)
  • tick, tick…BOOM!

Runner-Up Predictions

  • Dune (PP O)
  • King Richard (WL F) [New] (TL R)
  • tick, tick…BOOM! (TB R)

Wesley Lovell: Please read today’s other post to read Wesley’s thoughts on each of the categories.
Thomas La Tourrette: This has turned into a perplexing category. The pundits all decreed that Dune was the heavy favorite, and nothing really could stand in its way. Then the guild went with King Richard in the drama category and tick, tick…Boom! in the comedy/musical one. I will stay with Dune to win but will move King Richard into the runner up spot, though this category feels ripe for an upset.

Best Cinematography

Winner Predictions

  • Dune (WL O) (TB O) (TL O)
  • Nightmare Alley
  • The Power of the Dog (PP O)
  • The Tragedy of Macbeth
  • West Side Story

Runner-Up Predictions

  • Dune (PP O)
  • The Power of the Dog (WL O) (TB O) (TL F) [New]

Wesley Lovell: Please read today’s other post to read Wesley’s thoughts on each of the categories.
Thomas La Tourrette: This is a strong category, and all five nominees deserve to be here. Cases could be made for any of them winning. The Power of the Dog has the second most precursors and boasts sweeping vistas and it did recently win the Critics Choice Award. It might seem a likely winner except that it is up against Dune, which does have more precursors and won both the BAFTA and the guild awards. I think it will be close, but Dune should eke out the win.

Best Production Design

Winner Predictions

  • Dune (WL F) [New] (TB O)
  • Nightmare Alley (PP O) (TL R)
  • The Power of the Dog
  • The Tragedy of Macbeth
  • The West Side Story

Runner-Up Predictions

  • Dune (PP O) (TL R)
  • Nightmare Alley (WL F) [New] (TB O)

Wesley Lovell: Please read today’s other post to read Wesley’s thoughts on each of the categories.
Thomas La Tourrette: This also was long assumed to be Dune’s to lose, though now I wonder if that might happen. Probably any of the films could win and that would be fine, but I think it comes down to a race between Dune and Nightmare Alley. Each won a guild award, and they are basically even when it comes to precursors, but right now I think the edge goes to Nightmare Alley in a very close race.

Best Costume Design

Winner Predictions

  • Cruella (WL O) (PP O) (TB R) (TL R)
  • Cyrano
  • Dune
  • Nightmare Alley
  • West Side Story

Runner-Up Predictions

  • Cyrano (PP F) [New]
  • Dune (TL R)
  • West Side Story (WL R) (TB R)

Wesley Lovell: Please read today’s other post to read Wesley’s thoughts on each of the categories.
Thomas La Tourrette: Cruella has become the film to beat, and it looks to be the winner. Dune has an outside chance, but Cruella should easily win.

Best Makeup & Hairstyling

Winner Predictions

  • Coming 2 America
  • Cruella
  • Dune
  • The Eyes of Tammy Faye (WL F) [New] (PP O) (TB R) (TL O)
  • House of Gucci

Runner-Up Predictions

  • Coming 2 America (TB R)
  • Cruella (WL F) [New] (TL O)
  • House of Gucci (PP F) [New]

Wesley Lovell: Please read today’s other post to read Wesley’s thoughts on each of the categories.
Thomas La Tourrette: I had assumed that Dune would be the easy winner in this category, until the guild blanked it. It does have a best picture nom, but that does not guarantee a win here anymore. I would give the edge to The Eyes of Tammy Faye because it has noticeable work. Tammy Faye now has the best actress favorite and having an acting nom has often helped a film win here. I will stick with Tammy Faye, though could see Dune sneaking in for a win.

Best Sound

Winner Predictions

  • Belfast
  • Dune (WL O) (PP O) (TB O) (TL O)
  • No Time to Die
  • The Power of the Dog
  • West Side Story

Runner-Up Predictions

  • West Side Story (WL O) (PP O) (TB O) (TL O)

Wesley Lovell: Please read today’s other post to read Wesley’s thoughts on each of the categories.
Thomas La Tourrette: Dune has won awards from both sound guilds and looks to be the easy winner here. Its only main competition is West Side Story, and while musicals can often dominate, that just does not seem likely this year unless Dune completely underperforms. West Side Story could pull an upset but look for Dune to win.

Best Visual Effects

Winner Predictions

  • Dune (WL O) (PP O) (TB O) (TL O)
  • Free Guy
  • No Time to Die
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
  • Spider-Man: No Way Home

Runner-Up Predictions

  • Spider-Man: No Way Home (WL R) (PP O) (TB R) (TL O)

Wesley Lovell: Please read today’s other post to read Wesley’s thoughts on each of the categories.
Thomas La Tourrette: Dune has long been expected to win this, and it still is the movie most likely to win. It recently won the guild award which should cement its spot as the expected winner. Its main competition probably comes from the mirror dimension of Spider-Man: No Way Home. But as spectacular as that was, it probably cannot compete with Dune.

Best International Feature

Winner Predictions

  • Drive My Car (WL O) (PP O) (TB O) (TL O)
  • Flee
  • The Hand of God
  • Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom
  • The Worst Person in the World

Runner-Up Predictions

  • Flee (WL F) [New] (TL O)
  • Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom (TB R)
  • Worst Person in the World (PP F) [New]

Wesley Lovell: Please read today’s other post to read Wesley’s thoughts on each of the categories.
Thomas La Tourrette: Japan’s Drive My Car has been the critical darling of the year and should easily win. It has by far won most of the precursors and I just do not see anything keeping it from winning here. Picking up three other nominations, especially one for best picture, should cement it as the one to beat. Either Flee or The Worst Person in the World would be a better choice in my mind, but I thoroughly expect Drive My Car to win.

Best Documentary Feature

Winner Predictions

  • Ascension
  • Attica
  • Flee
  • Summer of Soul (WL O) (WL R) (TB O) (TL O)
  • Writing with Fire

Runner-Up Predictions

  • Flee (WL O) (PP R) (WL R) (TL O)

Wesley Lovell: Please read today’s other post to read Wesley’s thoughts on each of the categories.
Thomas La Tourrette: Summer of Soul has been the frontrunner for some time and is now the prohibitive favorite. I would vote for Flee but expect Summer of Soul to win.

Best Documentary Short Subject

Winner Predictions

  • Audible (WL R) (TL R)
  • Lead Me Home
  • The Queen of Basketball (PP F) (TB O)
  • Three Songs for Benazir
  • When We Were Bullies

Runner-Up Predictions

  • Audible (TB O)
  • The Queen of Basketball (WL F) [New] (TL O)
  • When We Were Bullies (PP F) [New]

Wesley Lovell: Please read today’s other post to read Wesley’s thoughts on each of the categories.
Thomas La Tourrette: The Queen of Basketball told the story of a woman who none of us know and is mostly told in her own words. It might well win because it is a feel-good story. Audible was probably the most memorable following a deaf high school football team. I think one of them will win, and it could go either way, though I am guessing that Audible will be the winner.

Best Animated Short Film

Winner Predictions

  • Affairs of the Art
  • Bestia
  • Boxballet
  • Robin Robin (WL R) (PP R) (TB R)
  • The Windshield Wiper (TL O)

Runner-Up Predictions

  • Bestia (WL R)
  • Boxballet (TB O)
  • Robin Robin (TL O)
  • The Windshield Wiper (PP F) [New]

Wesley Lovell: Please read today’s other post to read Wesley’s thoughts on each of the categories.
Thomas La Tourrette: It was a weak year for the animated shorts. Robin Robin has been the perceived frontrunner, though it was one I admired more than liked. The Oscar has often gone to the longest short, and it was twice the length of any of the others. Bestia succeeded in being disturbing and could win if the Academy wants to make a statement about the horrors of the Pinochet era in Chile. The Windshield Wiper boasted some gorgeous computer-generated animation, but its varied short vignettes on “What is love?” left me unfulfilled. Still, it is the film that stays with me most. I will go with Windshield Wiper over Robin Robin.

Best Live Action Short Film

Winner Predictions

  • Ala Kachuu – Take and Run (WL F) [New]
  • The Dress
  • The Long Goodbye (PP F) [New] (TB O) (TL O)
  • On My Mind
  • Please Hold

Runner-Up Predictions

  • Ala Kachuu – Take and Run (TL R)
  • The Long Goodbye (WL F) [New]
  • On My Mind (TB O)
  • Please Hold (PP O)

Wesley Lovell: Please read today’s other post to read Wesley’s thoughts on each of the categories.
Thomas La Tourrette: The Long Goodbye seems to be the predicted winner. For me, the one with the most emotional impact was On My Mind, a Danish film about a man desperate to sing a song for his wife, and I would love to see it win. Ala Kachuu was a mostly despairing look at life in Kyrgyzstan but riveting. It was long and did not feel like it. It was a strong year for the live action shorts, and any could win, though it probably will go to The Long Goodbye.

KEY:

Appears on Four Lists
Appears on Three Lists
Appears on Two Lists

Wesley Lovell Peter Patrick Tripp Burton Thomas LaTourrette
[New] = New Prediction
[Return] = Prior Prediction Returning
(O) = Original Prediction
(R) = Rundown Series
(F) = Final Winner Predictions

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