Oscars: Best Picture Predictions 2021

This year’s Oscar race for best picture is unique and it’s exciting. The lack of blockbusters and the eligibility of all streaming titles have in a way opened the floodgates this Oscar season for a number of different types of films to enter the prize race. Main title from authors like Steven Spielberg and Wes Anderson were postponed to 2021 to make room for not only smaller but also more intimate stories told by aspiring filmmakers to be in the spotlight.

This is certainly reflected in this year’s eight nominees for the best picture, which are almost exclusively small, character-related pieces. The two “greatest” films from a purely budget perspective are Deficiency and The Chicago Trial 7and even then these are dramas and not spectacle films.

After the pandemic, some important things are different at the 2021 Oscars. For one, films released in 2020 were eligible regardless of whether or not they were released in theaters as the major theaters were closed for much of the year. In addition, the deadline for your film to be released and to participate in the Oscars has been extended from December 31 to February 28, 2021 Judas and the black messiah received a nomination despite being published in January.

Where are things now with all the nominees for the best picture? Who is our front runner, and is there a possibility of a competitor or a dark horse’s will? Nomad land let the table run? Before the Oscars on April 25th, let’s go through my full best picture predictions.

RELATED: ‘Nomadland’ Receives the Top PGA Award and Consolidates Its Status as the Best Image Leader

The nominees, ranked from most likely to least profitable

Nomadland Frances McDormand

Image via searchlight images

Nomad land

The Chicago Trial 7

Promising young woman

The father

Sound of metal


Judas and the black messiah


Searchlight Pictures is currently the front runner for best picture, as it did after it hit the Toronto International Film Festival last fall. Nomad land. director Chloe Zhao‘s deeply humanistic portrait of a woman (an Oscar-worthy Frances McDormand) Life on the street indulges in the little things and brings to people a remarkable empathy that society too often tosses aside or ignores altogether. It’s a stunning piece of naturalistic filmmaking, but it never snakes or loses its thematic thread. Given Searchlight’s success in this category over the past few years, Nomadland has a very good chance of going all the way.

Statistics are also on his side. The film received a total of six Oscar nominations, including “Best Director”, “Actress”, “Adapted Screenplay” and “Film Editing”. On top of that, Nomadland has just won the highest PGA award, which historically is a pretty good indicator of what will be recognized as best film at the Oscars.

In truth, the biggest surprise this year would be if Nomadland didn’t win the best picture. There is a sense of inevitability for his victory, but especially in such a strange year, it’s hard to tell if that consensus is real or something we’ve all just decided on.

The cast of The Trial of the Chicago 7

Image via Netflix

If for whatever reason Nomadland doesn’t win, the next contender in line seems to be Netflix’s Trial of the Chicago 7. Writer / director Aaron SorkinThe courtroom drama is about the power of protest and speaks to the world we are in right now. It’s also jam-packed with excellent performances and crackerjack dialogue courtesy of Sorkin, and it’s the kind of contender likely to speak directly to the older, more traditional voters within the academy (even if the film itself is quite progressive to be honest) .

In many ways, choosing between Nomadland and Trial of the Chicago 7 is a battle between two different sides of the Oscars. There are the Oscars that select films like Moonlight and parasite for the best picture – that’s Nomadland’s choice – and there’s the Oscars who vote The shape of the water or The king’s speechwho fall into more “traditional” traps of top picture winners for narrative construction and filmmaking. But right now the wind is blowing stronger in the direction of the indie spirit that makes Nomadland such an emotional viewing experience.

Outside of these two Promising young woman has developed very well in the last few months and received a nomination for Best Director for Emerald Fennell in addition to nods for actress, original screenplay, and film editing. That would be a surprise worth seeing and as out of the question Carey Mulligan has moved to the top of the Best Actress package in the past few weeks.

The father was a bit of a surprise for the Best Picture nominee as he didn’t get a PGA nomination, but the academy went very heavily in favor of the Sony Pictures Classics drama about a father (Anthony Hopkins) suffer from dementia. The film even received a nomination for best film editing, proving that it is widely used in different areas of the academy.


Image via Sony Pictures Classics

A24 Threatening is certainly one of the top rated films of the year and performed strongly at the Oscars overall with nominations for director, actor and original script, but his campaign is a little more subdued than others at the moment.

Amazon is an excellent indie Sound of metal is a solid contender but comes a long way to best picture victory. The same goes for Deficiencywhat seemed like a tough hitter at one point, however David FincherThe black and white drama has proven somewhat divisive, and the lack of nominations for the original script and film editing is telling.

And finally, there is Judas and the Black Messiah, Warner Bros. ‘The Late Entry into the Race, who won a Best Picture nomination over other potential competitors like Ma Rainey’s black bottom and One night in Miami. The Fred Hampton The story is boldly told and will likely win a Best Supporting Actor win, but that’s probably as far as it can go.

There is about a month left before the ceremony and there are many questions. Will anyone watch the show? Has the lack of a robust fall festival season affected our perception of the front runners? Will Nomadland just run the table? I’ll check back in here in a couple of weeks and get a clearer picture of what to expect when the DGA and SAG awards make their selections, but right now I don’t foresee the best picture race all going down moves so much in this last stretch.

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About the author

Adam Chitwood
(15694 articles published)

Adam Chitwood is the Managing Editor for Collider. He’s worked for Collider for over a decade, doing content management, crafting interviews, award reporting, and co-hosting the Collider podcast with Matt Goldberg (which has been running since 2012). He is the creator and writer of Collider’s “How the MCU Was Made” series and has interviewed Bill Hader on every single episode of Barry. He lives in Tulsa, OK, and enjoys pasta, 90s thrillers, and spends 95% of his time with his dog Luna.

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