Oscars 2021: Karen Peterson’s Predictions in All Categories

Here are Karen Peterson’s predicted nominees for the 93rd Academy Awards. (Updated Wednesday, March 3.)

Even with the negative press and controversy leading up to the ceremony Sunday night, this year’s Golden Globe awards were as vital as ever for shaping the Academy Award nominations. The televised ceremonies give winners (and gracious losers) the chance to shine in front of an audience of voters. With the Globes handing out trophies Sunday night, this will be an important week for the dust to settle before Oscar voters begin turning in their nomination ballots this Friday.

With some surprises over the weekend, there is some definite movement in key categories as certain favorites made way for new competitors. Let’s take a look at the race before the nominations open on March 5.


Frances McDormand stars in NOMADLAND — Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures

Netflix certainly had the numbers to take home their first Best Picture statuette. And it’s still well within reach. But Chloé Zhao had a very big night Sunday when she took home two Golden Globes and moved Nomadland firmly into the frontrunner position. One of the most widely praised films among critics, casual moviegoers, and industry professionals, Nomadland is a film that perfectly captures the mood of the moment with the universality that makes great art timeless. This does not mean the end of the road for any of the other contenders, but it is going to be a tough film to beat.

Predicted Nominees:

  1. “Nomadland” (Searchlight)
  2. “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Netflix)
  3. “Minari” (A24)
  4. “One Night in Miami” (Amazon Studios)
  5. “Da 5 Bloods” (Netflix)
  6. “Mank” (Netflix)
  7. “Judas and the Black Messiah” (Warner Bros.)
  8. “Promising Young Woman” (Focus Features)
  9. “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (Netflix)
  10. “News of the World” (Universal)

Runner-Up Predictions:

11. “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” (Amazon Studios)
12. “Sound of Metal” (Amazon Studios)
13. “The Father” (Sony Pictures Classics)
14. “The United States vs. Billie Holiday” (Paramount)
15. “Soul” (Disney/Pixar)
16. “Palm Springs” (Hulu)
17. “Pieces of a Woman” (Netflix)
18. “First Cow” (A24)
19. “On the Rocks” (Apple TV+/A24)
20. “French Exit” (Sony Pictures Classics)


Chloé Zhao directs NOMADLAND — Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures

Given the eruption of praise for Zhao after her win at the Golden Globes, and the ensuing articles about her being only the second woman to win the Directing prize in its 78-year history, it seems almost impossible now for her not to repeat that same fate as the second woman to win Best Director in the Academy’s 93-year history. She has long been favored to win the category, and her path to the Oscar just got much clearer.

Predicted Nominees:

  1. Chloé Zhao, “Nomadland” (Searchlight Pictures)
  2. Aaron Sorkin, “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Netflix)
  3. Lee Isaac Chung, “Minari” (A24)
  4. Regina King, “One Night in Miami” (Amazon Studios)
  5. David Fincher, “Mank” (Netflix)

Runner-Up Predictions:

6. Spike Lee, “Da 5 Bloods” (Netflix)
7. Emerald Fennell, “Promising Young Woman” (Focus Features)
8. Shaka King, “Judas and the Black Messiah” (Warner Bros.)
9. Paul Greengrass, “News of the World” (Universal)
10. Florian Zeller, “The Father” (Sony Pictures Classics)


Chadwick Boseman stars as “Levee” in MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM — Courtesy of Netflix

We don’t use the word “lock” around here, but you may as well go ahead and mark your Oscar ballot in Sharpie for Chadwick Boseman. The best performance of the year is also the best performance of his all-too-short career and makes him the closest to unbeatable anyone can be. The real question in the Lead Actor category is not who will win, but who else will make the line-up. Hopkins feels like the safest second place and his Globe loss shouldn’t be taken to mean anything since he is now 0-8 at the Golden Globes. As Minari continues to win over the industry, Steven Yeun is also in a good place. Will Gary Oldman nab another Oscar nomination for Mank? He’s gotten the precursor nods he needs, which helps but doesn’t guarantee anything. Riz Ahmed has also made his way into the necessary precursors where Delroy Lindo hasn’t, so this week, while it gives me no pleasure to move him out of the predicted five, it feels like Best Actor race has taken shape.

Predicted Nominees:

  1. Chadwick Boseman, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (Netflix)
  2. Anthony Hopkins, “The Father” (Sony Pictures Classics)
  3. Steven Yeun, “Minari” (A24)
  4. Gary Oldman, “Mank” (Netflix)
  5. Riz Ahmed, “Sound of Metal” (Amazon Studios)

Runner-Up Predictions:

6. Delroy Lindo, “Da 5 Bloods” (Netflix)
7. Tamir Rahim, “The Mauritanian” (STX Films)
8. Kingsley Ben-Adir, “One Night in Miami” (Amazon Studios)
9. Tom Hanks, “News of the World” (Universal Pictures)
10. George Clooney, “The Midnight Sky” (Netflix)


Carey Mulligan stars as ‘Cassandra’ in director Emerald Fennell’s PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN — Courtesy of Focus Features

Lead Actress just became a big question mark following Andra Day’s surprising win at the Globes. Could she be the one nearly everyone has been overlooking? It’s entirely possible, given that the Academy loves to reward big screen newcomers. But whether she is the eventual winner or not, her campaign for an Oscar nomination got a huge boost and has moved into my lineup this week. So has Rosamund Pike, whose performance in I Care a Lot may have divided viewers, but has certainly received a lot of positive attention from voters. As attention has waned for Vanessa Kirby and Ellen Burstyn in Pieces of a Woman, Pike has gained traction and shouldn’t be overlooked. In fact, only 24 out of 77 women have won Best Actress Comedy/Musical at the Golden Globes and not gone on to an Oscar nomination.

Predicted Nominees:

  1. Carey Mulligan, “Promising Young Woman” (Focus Features)
  2. Frances McDormand, “Nomadland” (Searchlight Pictures)
  3. Viola Davis, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (Netflix)
  4. Andra Day, “The United States vs. Billie Holiday” (Hulu)
  5. Rosamund Pike, “I Care a Lot” (Netflix)

Runner-Up Predictions:

6. Vanessa Kirby, “Pieces of a Woman” (Netflix)
7. Amy Adams, “Hillbilly Elegy” (Netflix)
8. Jodie Foster, “The Mauritanian” (STX Films)
9. Yeri Han, “Minari” (A24)
10. Michelle Pfeiffer, “French Exit” (Sony Pictures Classics)


Daniel Kaluuya is “Chairman Fred Hampton” in JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH — Courtesy of Warner Bros.

This is starting to feel very much like a two-man race between two incredible performers: Daniel Kaluuya and Leslie Odom, Jr. With a previous Oscar nomination and a role that could also arguably considered a lead, Kaluuya has the edge right now. Watch out for Kaluuya and Odom to split the votes, though, making room for someone like Cohen or Boseman to rise to the top. As for who takes the fifth spot, Leto’s surge seems to have cooled, but that SAG nomination can’t be ignored. For now, he stays, even though one of Ma Rainey‘s stars or critical darling Raci may have the chance to claim it.

Predicted Nominees:

  1. Daniel Kaluuya, “Judas and the Black Messiah” (Warner Bros.)
  2. Leslie Odom Jr., “One Night in Miami” (Amazon Studios)
  3. Sacha Baron Cohen, “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Netflix)
  4. Chadwick Boseman, “Da 5 Bloods” (Netflix)
  5. Jared Leto, “The Little Things” (Warner Bros.)

Runner-Up Predictions:

6. Paul Raci, “Sound of Metal” (Amazon Studios)
7. Glynn Turman, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (Netflix)
8. Colman Domingo, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (Netflix)
9. Bill Murray, “On the Rocks” (Apple TV +)
10. David Strathairn, “Nomadland” (Searchlight Pictures)


Youn Yuh-jung stars in MINARI — Courtesy of A24

Much like Steven Yeun, Youn Yuh-Jung has the necessary support to keep her going to an Oscar nomination. But will she win? Minari is beloved and she is such a vital and welcome presence in it. Yes, she can win. And in a post-Parasite landscape, her chances are even better than they would have been just a year ago. Without a clear second place, it also doesn’t look like she’ll lose out to vote splitting. Close and Colman feel well-placed to make it into the group too. Seyfried isn’t exactly “safe” since she missed a SAG nomination, but if Mank does well, she should be able to overcome that hurdle. Will Jodie Foster translate her Globe win to Oscars? Maybe, but it might also be too late without a SAG nomination. That leaves us with two young up-and-comers in Maria Bakalova and Helena Zengel. Since there has been more focus on Borat than News of the World, Bakalova has a bit more of an edge, but it could easily be either or both of them since they also both got SAG nods.

Predicted Nominees:

  1. Youn Yuh-Jung, “Minari” (A24)
  2. Glenn Close, “Hillbilly Elegy” (Netflix)
  3. Olivia Colman, “The Father” (Sony Pictures Classics)
  4. Amanda Seyfried, “Mank” (Netflix)
  5. Maria Bakalova, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” (Amazon Studios)

Runner-Up Predictions:

6. Helena Zengel, “News of the World” (Universal Pictures)
7. Jodie Foster, “The Mauritanian” (STXfilms)
8. Ellen Burstyn, “Pieces of a Woman” (Netflix)
9. Dominique Fishback, “Judas and the Black Messiah” (Warner Bros.)
10. Olivia Cooke, “Sound of Metal” (Amazon Studios)


Image from THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7 — Courtesy of Netflix

If Picture and Director are going to split, Aaron Sorkin needs to win here. Sorkin is known and loved for his written word, but with three nominations, he has only won the Oscar once, ten years ago. He faces tough competition. There were some really great original scripts this year and Emerald Fennell and Lee Isaac Chung will put up a fight. If nominated, Jack Fincher, who died in 2003, would join a very small group of posthumous nominees who passed away more than a decade before their films were released. He would be only the second writer after August Wilson won for Fences in 2016. The fifth spot could go a lot of different ways, but the edge goes to Da 5 Bloods, the remaining contender with the strongest chance of a Best Picture nomination.

Predicted Nominees:

  1. Aaron Sorkin, “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Netflix)
  2. Lee Isaac Chung, “Minari” (A24)
  3. Emerald Fennell, “Promising Young Woman” (Focus Features)
  4. Jack Fincher, “Mank” (Netflix)
  5. Danny Bilson, Paul De Meo, Kevin Willmott, Spike Lee, “Da 5 Bloods” (Netflix)

Runner-Up Predictions:

6. Andy Siara, “Palm Springs” (Hulu)
7. Will Berson and Shaka King, “Judas and the Black Messiah” (Warner Bros.)
8. Sofia Coppola, “On the Rocks” (Apple TV +)
9. Abraham Marder, Darius Marder, “Sound of Metal” (Amazon Studios)
10. Eliza Hittman, “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” (Focus Features)


Frances McDormand stars as “Fern” in NOMADLAND — Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures

Chloé Zhao doesn’t need to win Screenplay to win Best Director, but it wouldn’t hurt. Kemp Powers beautifully transitioned his stage play for the screen with One Night in Miami, and love for the film could make this one of the places to reward it. A lot of critics are hoping Kelly Reichardt finally gets some attention with her beautiful old west tale, but it seems that the shift is in other places, such as Ruben Santiago-Hudson’s adaptation of August Wilson’s play. One film that once seemed on track to surprise (for better or worse) is News of the World. But it has been fairly quiet thus far, save for attention to co-star Helena Zengel, who may not be able to translate her nominations to Oscar. Another quasi sleeper is Eleanor Catton’s adaptation of the beloved Jane Austen novel, Emma. It may seem like a long shot, but with likely nominations in other categories, a year after Little Women, this very well could sneak in.

Predicted Nominees:

  1. Chloé Zhao, “Nomadland” (Searchlight Pictures)
  2. Kemp Powers, “One Night in Miami” (Amazon Studios)
  3. Ruben Santiago-Hudson, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (Netflix)
  4. Luke Davies, Paul Greengrass, “News of the World” (Universal Pictures)
  5. Eleanor Catton, “Emma.” (Focus Features)

Runner-Up Predictions:

6. Kelly Reichardt, Jonathan Raymond, “First Cow” (A24)
7. Christopher Hampton, Florian Zeller, “The Father” (Sony Pictures Classics)
8. Kata Wéber, “Pieces of a Woman” (Netflix)
9. Chad Beguelin, Bob Martin, “The Prom” (Netflix)
10. Mark L. Smith, “The Midnight Sky” (Netflix)


Mads Mikkelson stars in ANOTHER ROUND

The shortlist for International Feature has kept these predicted nominees in tact, with just a bit of movement on the runners up. We have great films to choose from and honestly, it’s hard to say right now if Another Round can hold on for the win, or if something else can take its place. Quo Vadis, Aida? secured US distribution and will hit theaters this weekend, while Jayro Bustamente’s La Llorona, available on Shudder for most of the past year, will also have a theatrical re-release. Could this be Guatemala’s year?

Predicted Nominees: 

  1. “Another Round” (Denmark)
  2. “Two of Us” (France)
  3. “Quo Vadis, Aida?” (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
  4. “A Sun” (Taiwan)
  5. “La Llorona” (Guatemala)

Runner-Up Predictions:

6. “I’m No Longer Here” (Mexico)
7. “Night of the Kings” (Ivory Coast)
8. “Sun Children” (Iran)
9. “Collective” (Romania)
10. “Dear Comrades!” (Russia)


Image from SOUL — Courtesy of Disney/Pixar

For a time, it felt like Wolfwalkers could make Apple TV+ and GKIDS very happy winners with their beautiful hand-drawn film. But Soul has pulled ahead and may just be the latest winner from the Disney/Pixar team. The only animated film likely to earn multiple nominations, it would be unwise to bet against it now.

Predicted Nominees:

  1. “Soul” (Disney/Pixar)
  2. “Wolfwalkers” (Apple TV+/GKIDS)
  3. “Over the Moon” (Netflix)
  4. “Onward” (Disney/Pixar)
  5. “The Croods: A New Age” (Universal Pictures)

Runner-Up Predictions:

6. “Demon Slayer the Movie: Mugen Train” (Funimation)
7. “Earwig and the Witch” (GKIDS/Studio Ghibli)
8. “Trolls: World Tour” (Universal Pictures)
9. “Lupin III: The First” (GKIDS)
10. “Kill It and Leave This Town” (Outside Pictures)


Image from TIME — Courtesy of Amazon Studios

It’s an absolutely incredible year for documentaries, with a few contenders making shortlists in other categories, including Welcome to Chechnya, which could become the smallest-budgeted film ever nominated for Visual Effects. Every one of these films is incredible in their own right, but Time still feels like the one most likely to win over voters with its message, plus its timely message that feels close to home.

Predicted Nominees:

  1. “Time” (Amazon Studios)
  2. “Dick Johnson is Dead” (Netflix)
  3. “Crip Camp” (Netflix)
  4. “The Painter and the Thief” (Neon)
  5. “Welcome to Chechnya” (HBO)

Runner-Up Predictions:

6. “The Truffle Hunters” (Sony Pictures Classics)
7. “All In: The Fight for Democracy” (Amazon Studios)
8. “Boys State” (Apple TV+)
9.“Notturno” (Hulu)
10.  “76 Days” (MTV Films)


Predicted Nominees:

  1. Joshua James Richards, “Nomadland” (Searchlight Pictures)
  2. Erik Messerschmidt, “Mank” (Netflix)
  3. Dariusz Wolski, “News of the World” (Universal Pictures)
  4. Tami Reiker, “One Night in Miami” (Amazon Studios)
  5. Sean Bobbitt, “Judas and the Black Messiah” (Warner Bros.)

Runner-Up Predictions:

6. Hoyte van Hoytema, “Tenet” (Warner Bros.)
7. Lachlan Milne, “Minari” (A24)
8. Christopher Blauvelt, “First Cow” (A24)
9. Newton Thomas Sigel, “Da 5 Bloods” (Netflix)
10. Martin Ruhe, “The Midnight Sky” (Netflix)


Predicted Nominees:

  1. Ann Roth, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (Netflix)
  2. Trish Summerville, “Mank” (Netflix)
  3. Suzie Harman, Robert Worley, “Personal History of David Copperfield” (Searchlight Pictures)
  4. Alexandra Byrne, “Emma.” (Focus)
  5. Bina Daigeler, “Mulan” (Disney)

Runner-Up Predictions:

6. Francine Jamison-Tanchuck, “One Night in Miami” (Amazon Studios)
7. Mark Bridges, “News of the World” (Universal)
8. Paolo Nieddu, “The United States vs. Billie Holiday” (Paramount)
9. Sandy Powell, “The Glorias” (Roadside Attractions)
10. Charlese Antoinette Jones, “Judas and the Black Messiah” (Warner Bros.)


Predicted Nominees:

1. Alan Baumgarten, “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Netflix)
2. Chloé Zhao, “Nomadland” (Searchlight Pictures)
3. Tariq Anwar, “One Night in Miami” (Amazon Studios)
4. Ben Smithard, “The Father” (Sony Pictures Classics)
5. Kirk Baxter, “Mank” (Netflix)

Runner-Up Predictions:

6. Andrew Mondshein, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (Netflix)
7. Kristan Sprague, “Judas and The Black Messiah” (Warner Bros.)
8. Hoyte van Hoytema, “Tenet” (Warner Bros.)
9. Frédéric Thoraval, “Promising Young Woman” (Focus Features)
10. Harry Yoon, “Minari” (A24)


Predicted Nominees:

  1. “Hillbilly Elegy” (Netflix)
  2. “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (Netflix)
  3. “Emma.” (Focus Features)
  4. “Mank” (Netflix)
  5. “Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey” (Netflix)

Runner-Up Predictions:

6. “Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn” (Warner Bros.)
7. “One Night in Miami…” (Amazon Studios)
8. “The Little Things” (Warner Bros.)
9. “The Glorias” (Roadside Attractions)
10. “Pinocchio” (Roadside Attractions)


Predicted Nominees:

  1. Jon Batiste, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, “Soul” (Disney Plus)
  2. James Newton Howard, “News of the World” (Universal Pictures)
  3. Alexandre Desplat, “The Midnight Sky” (Netflix)
  4. Emile Mosseri, “Minari” (A24)
  5. Daniel Pemberton, “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Netflix)

Runner-Up Predictions:

6. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, “Mank” (Netflix)
7. Terence Blanchard, “Da 5 Bloods” (Netflix)
8. Gabriel Yared, “The Life Ahead” (Netflix)
9. Lolita Ritmanis, “Blizzard of Souls” (HBO/Film Movement)
10. Ludwig Göransson, “Tenet” (Warner Bros.)


Predicted Nominees:

  1. “Speak Now” from “One Night in Miami” (Amazon Studios)
  2. “Fight for You” from “Judas and the Black Messiah” (Warner Bros.)
  3. “Io Si (Seen)” from “The Life Ahead” (Netflix)
  4. “Turntables” from “All In: The Fight for Democracy” (Amazon Studios)
  5. “Husavik” from “Eurovision: Song Contest” (Netflix)

Runner-Up Predictions:

6. “Rain Song” from “Minari” (A24)
7. “Wuhan Flu” from “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” (Amazon Studios)
8. “Hear My Voice” from “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Netflix)
9. “Loyal Brave True” from “Mulan” (Disney)
10. “Show Me Your Soul” from “Mr. Soul!”


Predicted Nominees:

  1. Mark Ricker, Karen O’Hara, and Diana Stoughton “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (Netflix)
  2. Donald Graham Burt, Jan Pascale “Mank” (Netflix)
  3. Cristina Casali, Charlotte Dirickx “Personal History of David Copperfield” (Searchlight Pictures)
  4. Kave Quinn, Stella Fox “Emma.” (Focus Features)
  5. David Crank, Elizabeth Keenan “News of the World” (Universal Pictures)

Runner-Up Predictions:

6. Page Buckner, Janessa Hitsman “One Night in Miami” (Amazon Studios)
7. Jim Bissell, John Bush “The Midnight Sky” (Netflix)
8. Jamie Walker Call, “The Prom” (Netflix)
9. Nathan Crowley, Kathy Lucas “Tenet” (Warner Bros.)
10. Grant Major, Anne Kuljian “Mulan” (Disney Plus)


Predicted Nominees:

  1. “News of the World” (Universal Pictures)
  2. “Sound of Metal” (Amazon Studios)
  3. “Nomadland” (Focus Features)
  4. “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Netflix)
  5. “The Midnight Sky” (Netflix)

Runner-Up Predictions:

6. “Tenet” (Warner Bros.)
7. “The Invisible Man” (Universal Pictures)
8. “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (Netflix)
9. “Mank” (Netflix)
10. “Soul” (Disney/Pixar)


Predicted Nominees:

  1. “Tenet” (Warner Bros.)
  2. “Welcome to Chechnya” (HBO)
  3. “The Midnight Sky” (Netflix)
  4. “Mank” (Netflix)
  5. “Soul” (Disney/Pixar)

Runner-Up Predictions:

6. “Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn” (Warner Bros)
7. “Mulan” (Disney+)
8.  “The One and Only Ivan” (Disney)
9. “Love and Monsters” (Paramount Pictures)
10. “Bloodshot” (Sony Pictures)


Predicted Nominees:

1. “If Anything Happens I Love You”
2. “The Snail and the Whale”
3. “Kapaemahu”
4. “Genius Loci”
5. “Burrow”


Predicted Nominees:

1. “Abortion Helpline, This Is Lisa”
2. “Hunger Ward”
3. “A Love Song for Latasha”
4. “A Concerto Is a Conversation”
5. “Do Not Split”


Predicted Nominees:

1. “Da Yie”
2. “Two Distant Strangers”
3. “The Human Voice”
4. “Bittu”
5. “Feeling Through”

Written by
Karen Peterson is the Awards Editor for We Live Entertainment. She previously worked as the Assistant Editor at Awards Circuit, now owned by Variety. Her work can also be found at Citizen Dame and at the Watch and Talk podcast. Her non-awards season hobbies include Angels baseball, taking pictures of other peoples' pets, and tweeting about The Bachelor franchise.

Your Vote

1 0

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Lost Password

Please enter your username or email address. You will receive a link to create a new password via email.