Oscars Predictions: Directing, Writing (Adapted Screenplay) & Writing (Original Screenplay)
When it came to predicting who will win the writing categories I tried to apply some logic. Since 2010 only 2 of the best picture winners did not win either original or adapted screenplay, and going back even further to the year 2000 only 5 best pictures in 20 years failed to also record a screenplay win, meaning the odds are that one of the winners of the writing categories is headed towards a best picture win. With my two frontrunners for best picture being Nomadland and The Trial of the Chicago 7 I’m tempted to make those my winners, but if all we relied on was statistics to predict the Oscars that wouldn’t be any fun now, would it?
Thomas Vinterberg - Another Round
David Fincher - Mank
Lee Isaac Chung - Minari
Chloé Zhao - Nomadland
Emerald Fennell - Promising Young Woman
And the Oscar goes to… Chloé Zhao. This is Zhao’s Oscar to lose. She has won every major award so far this season including the Golden Globe, Critics Choice, BAFTA and DGA award and I certainly hope she has some room saved on her mantle for this one. Serious history was made this year as Zhao along with Emerald Fennell became the only two women to be nominated for best director in the same year and only the 6th and 7th ever. A win for Zhao will make her the second woman to win this award (Kathryn Bigelow won for The Hurt Locker in 2009) and the first Asian woman. She will also become the second second Asian director in a row to win after Bong Joon Ho last year. Truly historic and barrier breaking on every level.
Upset: There is no one here that poses any sort of threat to Zhao. I can’t in good faith pick an upset because I don’t think a single director has a better chance than any of the others. Fennell made too much of a genre film for Oscar voters, Mank is admired as a technical achievement but not much else and Thomas Vinterberg is thankful just to be nominated. Through that process of elimination that leaves Lee Isaac Chung as my second pick, I suppose but I don’t even feel strongly about that. Minari is peaking at the right time though so perhaps that could be a factor.
Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm - Screenplay by Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Dan Swimer, Peter Baynham, Erica Rivinoja, Dan Mazer, Jena Friedman and Lee Kern; Story by Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Dan Swimer and Nina Pedrad
The Father - Screenplay by Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller
Nomadland - Written for the screen by Chloé Zhao
One Night in Miami… - Screenplay by Kemp Powers
The White Tiger - Written for the screen by Ramin Bahrani
And the Oscar goes to… Nomadland. You’d have to go back to 1999 and Gods and Monsters to find the last winner of this award that wasn’t also a best picture nominee. That automatically rules out Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, One Night in Miami… and The White Tiger. Even before I went back and checked I thought the only two films with any shot at winning this year were Nomadland and The Father. As much as I want to pick The Father I really do think Nomadland is the safer choice here. I think Chloé Zhao’s use of non professional actors in the film only helps its case and gives it an edge over The Father. If everything goes according to plan Chloé Zhao is set for a big night.
Upset: The Father. The realism produced by Christopher Hampton and writer/director Florian Zeller really is what sells this film for me, constantly confusing the viewer along with Anthony Hopkins character making us understand where he is at mentally. Instead of writing Hopkins as an old man that can’t remember where he put his watch or what his daughter looks like we see and recognize for ourselves just what he sees. It’s brilliant writing and I would gladly be wrong about how this category plays out, but if a win for The Father here means a loss for Nomadland in best picture then I will sacrifice my personal feelings for the greater good.
Writing (Original Screenplay)
Judas and the Black Messiah - Screenplay by Will Berson and Shaka King; Story by Will Berson, Shaka King, Kenny Lucas and Keith Lucas
Minari - Written by Lee Isaac Chung
Promising Young Woman - Written by Emerald Fennell
Sound of Metal - Screenplay by Darius Marder and Abraham Marder; Story by Darius Marder and Derek Cianfrance
The Trial of the Chicago 7 - Written by Aaron Sorkin
And the Oscar goes to… Promising Young Woman. This award could really go one of two ways: Promising Young Woman or The Trial of the Chicago 7. The former did beat out the latter at the Writers Guild Awards (WGA) back in February, giving the Emerald Fennell revenge flick a small lead over the Aaron Sorkin political drama.
Upset: The Trial of the Chicago 7. Two words: Aaron Sorkin. You never count him out. If my predictions are correct and Nomadland does indeed beat out The Trial of the Chicago 7 for best picture, Oscar voters could try to award this film in another category, and that would most likely end up being in original screenplay. I’m honestly still pretty split and with only 4 days left till the big night I wish I was more sure, but hey, that’s part of the fun.
The Oscars air live on ABC on Sunday, April 25th at 8:00 PM Eastern Time. Follow along during the ceremony on the LoveCinema Twitter and stay tuned to LoveCinema for more Oscar predictions in the coming days.