Awards analysis is provided by Sean from @MathTeacherMovies.
The performance awards are some of the biggest awards of the night. It’s the most fun to watch movie stars smile with a trophy or when character actors finally get their due, but, most of all, performances are subjective and fun to compare.
In the Best Actor race, Chadwick Boseman has a definitive lead for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. He gives a stirring performance and most would feel it right to honor him with a posthumous award. Riz Ahmed is the underdog and critical darling in the less popular Sound of Metal. He gives a truly award-deserving performance and put a great deal of work in the role: whereas some actors gain (or lose) lots of weight for a role, Ahmed spent a year immersing himself in the deaf community and learning sign language.
There is already buzz for Anthony Hopkins’s performance for The Father (not yet widely available). This is already being considered one of his best performances, a shocking statement considering the impact Hopkins had on cinema with his performance in The Silence of the Lambs. Meanwhile, Delroy Lindo, an established character actor, is taking the lead in Da 5 Bloods with a passionate performance that should easily land him a nomination. The fifth nomination is the most up in the air, but it will likely go to Gary Oldman for Mank. The Academy could make a more interesting pick, such as Steven Yuen in Minari, but that’s not their style to nominate such an unknown actor.
In the Best Actress race, it is likely that Viola Davis will win her second Oscar for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Davis has never taken on a role like this before. It would be Davis’s (rightfully deserved) first Best Actress Award and would make her the second Black woman ever to win Best Actress (the Academy loves a narrative such as this one). For her work in Nomadland, Frances McDormand is the most likely to dethrone Davis as the critical favorite. However, this would be her third Oscar, and while she’s deserving of such an accomplishment, many believe it should be for something else.
Carey Mulligan has been gaining buzz and popularity all year for Promising Young Woman and Vanessa Kirby’s accolades have been coming in strong since Pieces of a Woman premiered. Both performances are transformational and their nominations are almost certain and definitely deserved. Like Best Actor, the final spot in this category is up in the air, but Zendaya is gaining significant buzz for the yet-to-be-released Malcolm and Marie. Everyone seems to love her because of her talent and her celebrity; she has already received awards and praise for other roles.
The Best Supporting Actor race is quite the performance salad without a clear front runner just yet. The Trial of the Chicago 7 is in possession of many great performances, but Sacha Baron Cohen and Mark Rylance are the two getting attention. Cohen has a high chance to win with the showy character and his popularity this year.
Paul Raci turns in a beautiful performance in Sound of Metal and is catching the momentum of the movie’s slow moving popularity. There is a good chance that he will slip out of the top five performances, but the critics keep giving him more and more attention. Daniel Kaluuya is a past nominee and is going to be starring in the highly anticipated Judas and the Black Messiah. However, its reception is yet to be determined.
Leslie Odom Jr. gives a sensational performance in One Night in Miami, singing and pouring his all into his portrayal of Sam Cooke, known as the “Academy Triple Threat”, there is no doubt he’ll be in the race. Meanwhile, Bill Murray is waiting in the wings for his nomination in On the Rocks and while it’s possible, it is less likely.
Finally, Chadwick Boseman also has buzz in the supporting race for Da 5 Bloods. This could actually create a problem for Boseman as some voters could pick him for Da 5 Bloods and others could vote for him in Ma Rainey’s, but few would vote for both, creating a terrible yet unlikely situation that Boseman loses both nominations.
The frontrunner in the Best Supporting Actress race seems to be Amanda Seyfried for Mank. Other nominees who will be joining here are Olivia Colman (a recent recipient of the award for Best Actress) for The Father as well as a critical favorite Yuh-Jung Youn for the forthcoming Minari. The two most prominent narratives (see, the Academy loves them) from this category are Ellen Burstyn for Pieces of a Woman and Glenn Close for Hillbilly Elegy. Close has yet to win her first Oscar and she is giving a transformative performance with a lot of makeup – something Oscar loves. Burstyn will be looking for her second Oscar in over forty years and will be the oldest to be nominated.
Be on the lookout for Maria Bakalova for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm. This is a great performance that won many critical awards, but there are a great deal of stuffy people in the Academy that might stick up their nose at a Borat film, but she still has that chance as she is beloved by all who watch it.
With a few big movies left to be released, the nominations begin to jockey for their final positions. Updates will be made while surprises and upsets can and will happen. But, put your smart money on these actors in the coming months. Let me know what you think on instagram at @mathteachermovies! See you next week.
Let me know what you think of my projections at @mathteachermovies on Instagram.