Commentary: 93rd Oscars predictions

Award season is in full swing with the 93rd annual Oscar nominations released on March 15. (Chris Pizzello/The Associated Press)
Award season is in full swing with the 93rd annual Oscar nominations released on March 15. Here are some predictions for the major categories.

Projected Best Supporting Actress Winner: Olivia Coleman – The Father

Olivia Coleman has been an award show darling with films such as The Iron Lady (2011), The Lobster (2015), and the 2013 leading role of Detective Sergeant Ellie Miller in Broadchurch. The Father once again allows Coleman to shine in quietly suffering and conflicted roles chalked full of sympathy without being sappy. She has proved time and again when paired with greats like Anthony Hopkins, who plays Anne’s father in his battle with dementia, she can match them blow for acting blow.

Projected Supporting Actor Winner: Lakeith Stanfield – Judas and the Black Messiah

Though both Stanfield and Daniel Kaluuya give unbelievable performances in Judas and the Black Messiah, it is Stanfield who I think will be going home with the award. He has proven time and time again no matter what era, genre, or film he is placed in that he will make the story come to life. Stanfield’s ability to portray the pure conflict as a Black man in America is worthy in and of itself. The character is forced by the very people who oppress him to betray his community to escape the prison industrial system that would keep him down. He’s able to bring real sympathy to an otherwise unsympathetic story.

Projected Best Actor Winner: Chadwick Boseman – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

With a history of awarding Oscars posthumously, I can think of no greater recipient than the late Chadwick Boseman, who worked in films up until just a few months before his death after losing a battle with colon cancer last August. Levee Green, like all of Boseman’s roles, is heartbreakingly real and a viewer can tell that Boseman gave his all to the role. It’s humbling to be able to watch two overlooked juggernauts of the film industry given that Boseman and Viola Davis share the screen.

Projected Best Actress Winner: Viola Davis – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

A complimentary best actress win to Boseman’s by the most nominated actress of colour with four Oscar nominations would be incredibly sweet in the hellscape that was 2020. Her nomination surpasses Octavia Spencer who has three nominations. Every performance that Davis turns in she gives her all, but none quite like Ma Rainey. The pure frustration of being so talented but still struggling with the oppressive force of white America pressing down on Ma is palpable through every choice Davis makes. The story of a Black queer woman in America and the everyday indignities and racism they face has never been more poignant or necessary than in 2020.

Projected Best Director Winner: Lee Isaac Chung – Minari

Chung hit it out of the park with the heartbreaking yet sobering look at the life of Asian American immigrants trying to start again in a new country. Minari was an Academy darling this year. Between the acting and writing, it’s a true masterpiece. More surprising, however, is to learn that this is only Chung’s fourth outing as a director. Up against industry staples like David Fincher, it would be an even sweeter win though all those nominated truly brought some of their best work to the table this year.

Projected Best Animated Feature Film: Soul

A return to the vibrant original storytelling that made them so popular to begin with, Pixar seems to have found its footing with Soul. A touching mediation on finding one’s purpose and joy in the little things, Pixar does what it does best in delivering an authentic story from the voices of those still left to the margins of society as a Black jazz musician. Akin to Inside Out, Soul tackles the high concept ideas of morality and contentment without ever feeling as though it is speaking down to its predominantly younger audience.

Projected Best Adapted Screenplay: The Father

A quiet meditation of the all too real horror of slowly losing a loved one to dementia, The Father has everything going for it. Critically and commercially loved with two dramatic acting goliaths like Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Coleman, it’s unsurprising that audiences saw this film peppered all over the nomination list. It’s with good reason too. The struggle for Coleman’s Anne is watching Hopkin’s Anthony slowly slip away with periods of terrifying clarity, which is heartbreaking. Both actors play off each other’s fear, frustration and paranoia beautifully and much of that is down to the tight yet fluid script.

Projected Best Original Screenplay: Judas and the Black Messiah

A much harder race to call were the nominations for best original screenplay. While all have fantastic scripts, Judas and the Black Messiah inches just out above front runners like Minari and Sound of Metal for its timely utilization of the struggle of Black America in historical context. That, coupled with its promise of an undying spirit of true freedom while also acting as a biting condemnation of the American federal legal system. It deserves every nomination it’s received, none more so than the recognition of harsh story and perfect ability to portray the conflict of a Black American’s duty to a country that oppresses them and their community.

Projected Best Picture: The Father

Though optimistically I would love to see a film like Judas and The Black Messiah, Minari, or The Trial of the Chicago Seven, I am wary of all the apparent progress made by the Academy so quickly and have to concede they most likely they will choose a great, but safe choice for best picture like every year. Though The Father is truly fantastic, any of the above-listed nominees would make a clear and poignant message about the media we found the most moving, powerful and impactful in a year filled with protests calling out systemic racism and calls for reform. A film focusing on the struggle of minorities in America winning would finally reflect the films we valued the most this year. Those films that deeply criticized the United States’ justice system or rejected the idea of the “American Dream” many immigrant families are promised and then never delivered. I truly hope I’m wrong, that we see the true sentiment of the country during the year reflected in this award season.