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It’s Sunday Night LIVE: The 2021 Oscars Return to the New Normal

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Overture! Curtain! Lights! This is it, the night of nights! On with the show this is it!!! And oh how ready we are for a real, live show! The 93rd Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Awards will be televised live from Union Station in Los Angeles. The change in location from the traditional Dolby (formerly Kodak) Theater is to accommodate social distancing protocols and group gathering number restrictions. There will be simulcasts from all over the world throughout the evening as well.

In a year of COVID hitting movie theaters as well as music entertainment venues the hardest, live entertainment proves to be a beacon of hope for movie goers and music aficionados alike. With most films screening via on demand or streaming services, one would expect that this is the year Oscar-nominated films have been the most accessible to movie fans.

Quite the opposite. People have viewed fewer films in 2020, Oscar nominated or otherwise, than any other time in filmmaking history– including World War II. In times of strife and uncertainty the magic of Hollywood has always carried people through, buoying their spirits with romance, comedy, swashbuckling action, and unadulterated heroism. The paradox of choice would seem to be at play now: so many choices for streaming and on-demanding leaves viewers overwhelmed, paralyzed with indecision. Coupled with Zoom fatigue and cabin fever, staying inside alone or within your social bubble does not beckon Saturday night out anticipation.

Godzilla vs. Kong, which like the highly acclaimed and Oscar Best picture front runner Nomadland, dropped simultaneously in theaters and streaming, has done extremely well. Widespread vaccinated populations likely reflect the upswing in theater ticket sales. But if you are like most of the movie-loving world you haven’t seen many if any of the films nominated for the coveted Oscars in 2021. Without a dog in the fight then, you can pop some corn, sit back, relax and critique ball gowns and hairdos — and hairlines! Instead of Best Picture, cheer on Best Presenter. Instead of Best Costume or Best Hairstyling and Makeup, vote for the worst. It’s okay to be a little snarky. We all miss Joan Rivers on the red carpet.

If you want to catch up you can defer to The Zebra’s film favorites of 2021 and our picks for Oscar 2021. Some of our past reviews of five-stripe recommended pics nominated for Oscars are Emma, News of the World, and Nomadland. Wonder Woman 1984 got three stripes for local scenery and the always watchable Gal Gadot and Chris Pine. But no Oscar nominations.

Meantime ~ Drum roll please!

The Zebra 2021 Oscar Predictions:

Best Picture * Oscar isn’t readily predictable. All oddsmakers and insiders indicate Nomadland has the BP nod. The Zebra is going out on a limb and betting that The Trial of the Chicago 7 wins Best Picture. If there’s one thing that Oscar loves more than an upset it’s a political protest statement. See this one.

Nomadland' Review: The Unsettled Americans - The New York Times
Frances McDormand in Nomadland (Courtesy photo)

Best Director * History making goes live when Nomadland‘s Chloé Zhao, a woman of color, obliterates the glass ceiling by winning the coveted Best Director award – not withstanding that Nomadland does not take BP. #EPIC It’s a beautiful, timely film deserving of every award and nomination. Twenty-five percent of the time over the last 93 occasions, Academy voters split the Best Picture and Best Director awards, with the top film of the year apparently directing itself. So anything goes!

Best Actor * If there is one certainty tonight, and rarely is there even one thing for sure come Oscar time, that is the much beloved, late great Chadwick Boseman wins the Best Actor Oscar as Levee in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

Chadwick Boseman in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Courtesy photo)

Best Actress * This has been a three-way toss up for most of the weeks leading up to tonight. All the nominees delivered strong performances. Four-time Oscar nominee and Best-Supporting Actress winner Viola Davis as Ma Rainey is a contender. Ditto for newcomer and first-time nominee Andra Day for her stellar performance as Billie Holiday in The United States vs. Billie Holiday. She is just as likely to win. Two-time Best Actress Oscar winner Francis McDormand is believed to have the inside track for Nomadland. Any of the three actors taking home the gold statuette would make Oscar happy – and history. The Zebra picks Andra Day for the win. Winning an Oscar in your first starring film performance is the stuff Oscar dreams are made of, especially this year.

The United States vs. Billie Holiday Review: Andra Day Is Remarkable | IndieWire
Andra Day in The United States vs. Billie Holiday (Courtesy photo)

Best Supporting Actor * Daniel Kaluuya hands down. As Fred Hampton in Judas and the Black Messiah he has swept all the other awards. We were terrified for him in Get Out. We were horrified by him in Widows. This twice nominated, truly versatile British actor is destined for Oscar gold tonight. Bet on this one.

Best Supporting Actress * Yuh-Jung Youn as Sonja in Minari. We love Olivia Colman but she’s won once already. Comedic roles have a history here with Whoopie Goldberg for Ghost and Marisa Tomei for My Cousin Vinny. So Bulgarian newcomer Maria Bakalova isn’t out of the running. But two newcomer wins are a long shot.

Best Song * Speak Now from One Night in Miami by Sam Ashworth and Leslie Odom, Jr., who gave a notable Best Supporting Actor nominated performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. A not so easy decision from an outstanding selection of songs, some of the best in a long, long time.

Cinematography * Nomadland~ It’s sweeping, seductive, and an elegy to the land of the lost- and found.

Editing * The Sound of Metal ~ This category proved to be as close and competitive as the Best Actress category

Best Score * The consensus is for Soul composed by Jon Batiste, Trent Reznor, and Atticus Ross. The Zebra however gives it to James Newton Howard for News of the World. With nine nominations, he’s due. And deservedly so!

Best Production Design * Mank and Ma Rainey neck and neck. Zebra guesses Mank has to win something so…..

Best Costume * The Zebra adores all things Emma but Oscar is leaning toward Ma Rainey. See both! Emma is poetry in early 19th Century motion.

Sound * The Sound of Metal. The Zebra votes for Greyhound. See both films. You’ll thank me later.

Best Original Screenplay * Aaron Sorkin for The Trial of the Chicago 7. It’s Sorkin. Nothing to debate here. See this movie!

Best Adapted Screenplay * Nomadland, written by the director and producer of what likely will be the Best Picture 2021.

Foreign-Language Film * Another Round hands down.

Documentary Feature Length * My Octopus Teacher from Netflix. Everyone has seen this! It’s the water-cooler film in a year without water-cooler conversations.

Documentary Short * A Concerto Is a Conversation.

Animation Feature * Soul is a lock.

Animation Short * If Anything Happens I Love You. Some say Opera. Catch these and all the nominated shorts if you get a chance.

Live Action Short * Two Distant Strangers. I just have a feeling.

Visual Effects * Tenet. Some say Mulan. Both braved theatrical releases in August. They deserve a nod!

Makeup and Hairstyling * The powers that be expect Mank or Ma Rainey but The Zebra goes with Emma. See it and you’ll know what flips our wig!

Have a great Oscar evening and see all y’all At Z Movies!

Kelly MacConomy

Kelly MacConomy is the Arts Editor for The Zebra Press.

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