Final 2021 Oscar Predictions from Experts and Users

  • Publish Date: April 21, 2021
  • Comments: ↓ 2 user comments

Updated 4/25 at 3:25pm: Expert picks remain unchanged from Saturday. Previous changes this week include Film Editing (where The Trial of the Chicago 7 now has an edge over previous leader Sound of Metal) and Documentary Short (where A Concerto Is a Conversation now leads A Love Song for Latasha). In addition, the projected Best Actress winner flipped on Friday (when Viola Davis took a slight lead over previous pick Carey Mulligan) and remains the same on Saturday.

Results can be found in our 2021 Academy Awards Recap >

Guidance for your Oscar pool

2021 Oscar Preview

Will Nomadland fulfill months of expectations by taking home the top prize? And will that film take home the most Oscar trophies this year—or could Ma Rainey's Black Bottom collect the biggest haul even if it doesn't win best picture?

Those are just some of the questions that will be answered on Sunday night during what may be the most unconventional Oscar broadcast of all time. Airing live on ABC at 8p ET (5p PT), the 93rd Annual Academy Awards will go hostless for the third straight year. But to accommodate the unusual circumstances in which we find ourselves, the ceremony has been moved (at least in part) from its usual Hollywood home to L.A.'s Union Station, where there will be in-person presentations of awards rather than the past year's more typical Zoom-centered ceremonies embraced by other awards groups. First-time Oscar producer Steven Soderbergh has promised tweaks to the usual formula that should result in a more cinematic feel to the broadcast. One possibly unwelcome change: The performances of all five Oscar-nominated original songs have been stripped out of the main ceremony and will now air at some point during the pre-show instead.

But let's get back to the predictions. Making things a bit easier this year: There are now only 23 categories (down from the usual 24) to forecast, thanks to the consolidation of the two sound categories into one. But remember that the expert picks aren't always correct. Last year, our expert panel actually performed well, correctly forecasting 21 of 24 categories. But the prior year was a different story, with the pros getting just 15 of 24 right. That said, there appears to be much more agreement among experts this year than in years past.

Below, we have aggregated predictions from over 110 entertainment writers, film critics, and awards experts (find a list of their names at the bottom of the page), and compared them to the votes cast by 2,259 Metacritic visitors who participated in our 12th annual Oscar poll. Also listed are betting odds in each category as published at bet365 (as of April 20, 2021).

Best picture and director

Will anything upset Nomadland in the top two categories? Don't bet on it. Chloé Zhao's film looks likely to add to its already overwhelming best picture awards haul from the past four months, and Zhao herself looks like she will be taking home multiple trophies—three if everything goes as predicted, and possibly a fourth if she can score an upset in the editing race.

Best Picture

Betting Odds Experts Users
Image Image
Image
Nomadland 1:6 Nomadland 90% Nomadland 67%
The Trial of the Chicago 7 5:1 The Trial of the Chicago 7 5% Minari 10%
Minari 16:1 Minari 4% Judas and the Black Messiah 5%
Promising Young Woman 20:1 Promising Young Woman 1% Mank 5%

Best Director

Betting Odds Experts Users
Image Image
Image
Chloé Zhao
Nomadland
1:25 Chloé Zhao
Nomadland
98% Chloé Zhao
Nomadland
77%
David Fincher
Mank
9:1 David Fincher
Mank
2% David Fincher
Mank
10%
(tie) Emerald Fennell
Promising Young Woman
-AND- Lee Isaac Chung
Minari
20:1     Lee Isaac Chung
Minari
6%

Acting

Out of the four acting categories, only one appears to be in doubt: lead actress, where Viola Davis now has a exceedingly slight lead over Carey Mulligan (who was the predicted winner earlier in the week). Davis has seen her odds improve considerably after taking home the SAG Award, though her fellow nominee Andra Day (The United States vs. Billie Holiday) experienced a bit less of a bump from her recent Golden Globe win.

Lead Actress

Betting Odds Experts Users
Image Image
Image
Carey Mulligan
Promising Young Woman
5:4 Viola Davis
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
39% Carey Mulligan
Promising Young Woman
38%
Viola Davis
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
7:4 Carey Mulligan
Promising Young Woman
38% Frances McDormand
Nomadland
37%
Frances McDormand
Nomadland
4:1 Frances McDormand
Nomadland
15% Viola Davis
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
14%

Lead Actor

Betting Odds Experts Users
Image Image
Image
Chadwick Boseman
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
1:12 Chadwick Boseman
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
95% Chadwick Boseman
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
64%
Anthony Hopkins
The Father
6:1 Anthony Hopkins
The Father
4% Riz Ahmed
Sound of Metal
13%
Riz Ahmed
Sound of Metal
16:1 Gary Oldman
Mank
1% Anthony Hopkins
The Father
12%

Supporting Actress

Betting Odds Experts Users
Image Image
Image
Youn Yuh-jung
Minari
2:9 Youn Yuh-jung
Minari
94% Youn Yuh-jung
Minari
39%
Maria Bakalova
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
4:1 Amanda Seyfried
Mank
3% Maria Bakalova
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
23%
Glenn Close
Hillbilly Elegy
9:1 Glenn Close
Hillbilly Elegy
2% Olivia Colman
The Father
17%

Supporting Actor

Betting Odds Experts Users
Image Image
Image
Daniel Kaluuya
Judas and the Black Messiah
1:25 Daniel Kaluuya
Judas and the Black Messiah
95% Daniel Kaluuya
Judas and the Black Messiah
68%
Paul Raci
Sound of Metal
12:1 Paul Raci
Sound of Metal
3% Sacha Baron Cohen
The Trial of the Chicago 7
14%
Sacha Baron Cohen
The Trial of the Chicago 7
14:1 2 tied with ... 1% Paul Raci
Sound of Metal
8%

Writing

Neither screenplay race appears to be close upon first examination, but both may be a bit tighter than the numbers indicate according to informal surveys of Academy voters by the trades. Still, Emerald Fennell did recently win both a BAFTA and a WGA Award for her Promising Young Woman screenplay—which should reassure anyone who is planning on picking her to win the Oscar. But The Father could upset in the adapted screenplay category (where its odds have been improving slightly as the week progresses), given that the six-time Oscar nominee will likely be shut out elsewhere and that co-writer Christopher Hampton already has an Oscar trophy on his mantle. (Or in his bathroom? We're not really sure where those things are kept.)

Original Screenplay

Betting Odds Experts Users
Image Image
Image
Emerald Fennell
Promising Young Woman
1:4 Emerald Fennell
Promising Young Woman
88% Emerald Fennell
Promising Young Woman
34%
Aaron Sorkin
The Trial of the Chicago 7
11:4 Aaron Sorkin
The Trial of the Chicago 7
12% Aaron Sorkin
The Trial of the Chicago 7
30%
Lee Isaac Chung
Minari
14:1     Lee Isaac Chung
Minari
18%

Adapted Screenplay

Betting Odds Experts Users
Image Image
Image
Chloé Zhao
Nomadland
4:11 Chloé Zhao
Nomadland
59% Chloé Zhao
Nomadland
60%
Christopher Hampton & Florian Zeller
The Father
11:4 Christopher Hampton & Florian Zeller
The Father
38% Christopher Hampton & Florian Zeller
The Father
19%
Sacha Baron Cohen + 7 others
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
7:1 2 tied with ... 2% Kemp Powers
One Night in Miami
10%

Other films and shorts

While the international and animated feature categories are locks for Denmark's Another Round and Pixar's Soul, respectively, the documentary feature category is slightly closer. In the latter, My Octopus Teacher is actually the worst-reviewed of the five nominees but is nevertheless widely expected to win, buoyed by its strong viewership numbers on Netflix. The three short film categories, as always, are a bit less predictable, though the animated short category does have an overwhelming consensus pick, while the lead for live-action short pick Two Distant Strangers (which benefits from both a timely story and Netflix availability) has been growing throughout the week. But the documentary short category is basically a coin flip between A Concerto Is a Conversation (which leads the expert picks as of Saturday) and A Love Song for Latasha (which was leading all week prior to Saturday).

Animated Feature

Betting Odds Experts Users
Image Image
Image
Soul 1:25 Soul 99% Soul 85%
Wolfwalkers 8:1 Wolfwalkers 1% Wolfwalkers 10%
Onward 20:1     Onward 3%

Documentary Feature

Betting Odds Experts Users
Image Image
Image
My Octopus Teacher 2:9 My Octopus Teacher 78% Time 34%
Time 9:2 Time 16% My Octopus Teacher 25%
Collective 9:1 Crip Camp 5% Collective 23%

International Feature (fka Foreign Language Feature)

Betting Odds Experts Users
Image Image
Image
Another Round 1:10 Another Round 97% Another Round 72%
Quo Vadis, Aida? 6:1 Quo Vadis, Aida? 3% Quo Vadis, Aida? 9%
Collective 14:1     Better Days 8%

Animated Short

Betting Odds Experts Users
Image Image
Image
If Anything Happens I Love You 4:11 If Anything Happens I Love You 88% If Anything Happens I Love You 47%
Opera 9:2 Burrow 7% Burrow 22%
Burrow 7:1 2 tied with ... 2% Opera 14%

Documentary Short

Betting Odds Experts Users
Image Image
Image
A Love Song for Latasha 8:13 A Concerto Is a Conversation 47% Colette 26%
A Concerto Is a Conversation 11:4 A Love Song for Latasha 43% A Love Song for Latasha 25%
Do Not Split 15:2 2 tied with ... 5% Hunger Ward 19%

Live Action Short

Betting Odds Experts Users
Image Image
Image
The Letter Room 4:6 Two Distant Strangers 65% Two Distant Strangers 31%
Two Distant Strangers 13:8 The Letter Room 21% The Letter Room 25%
Feeling Through 13:2 Feeling Through 10% The Present 17%

Music

One way or another (and probably the Soul way, joined by The Late Show's Jon Batiste), the Nine Inch Nails duo of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross should each collect their second Oscar statuettes on Sunday night. The original song race seems to have three legit contenders, and while the percentages are still in flux, Miami's "Speak Now" should get Leslie Odom Jr. an Oscar even if his name isn't in the envelope for the supporting actor race.

Original Score

Betting Odds Experts Users
Image Image
Image
Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Jon Batiste
Soul
1:12 Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Jon Batiste
Soul
96% Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Jon Batiste
Soul
69%
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
Mank
7:1 Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
Mank
2% Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
Mank
13%
Emile Mosseri
Minari
14:1 2 tied with ... 1% Emile Mosseri
Minari
10%

Original Song

Betting Odds Experts Users
Image Image
Image
“Speak Now"
from One Night in Miami
8:11 “Speak Now"
from One Night in Miami
71% “Speak Now"
from One Night in Miami
35%
“Io Si"
from The Life Ahead
9:4 "Húsavik"
from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
20% "Fight for You"
from Judas and the Black Messiah
28%
"Húsavik"
from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
3:1 “Io Si"
from The Life Ahead
7% "Hear My Voice"
from The Trial of the Chicago 7
15%

Technical categories

The technical races are about as lopsided as the other categories, with one major exception: film editing, which might be Sunday's most competitive race outside of lead actress. (It's so close that the expert prediction—which currently gives a slight edge to Sound of Metal—could very well change between now and Sunday.) (Update Saturday 4/24: It did indeed change, and in a major way.)

Cinematography

Betting Odds Experts Users
Image Image
Image
Joshua James Richards
Nomadland
1:4 Joshua James Richards
Nomadland
74% Joshua James Richards
Nomadland
57%
Erik Messerschmidt
Mank
3:1 Erik Messerschmidt
Mank
25% Erik Messerschmidt
Mank
30%
Dariusz Wolski
News of the World
14:1 Dariusz Wolski
News of the World
1% Sean Bobbitt
Judas and the Black Messiah
5%

Costume Design

Betting Odds Experts Users
Image Image
Image
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom 1:4 Ma Rainey's Black Bottom 90% Ma Rainey's Black Bottom 43%
Emma. 10:3 Emma. 7% Mank 26%
Mank 10:1 Mank 3% Emma. 21%

Film Editing

Betting Odds Experts Users
Image Image
Image
(tie) Mikkel E.G. Nielsen
Sound of Metal
-AND- Alan Baumgarten
The Trial of the Chicago 7
10:11 Alan Baumgarten
The Trial of the Chicago 7
49% Mikkel E.G. Nielsen
Sound of Metal
32%
Chloé Zhao
Nomadland
9:1 Mikkel E.G. Nielsen
Sound of Metal
42% Chloé Zhao
Nomadland
29%
    Chloé Zhao
Nomadland
6% Alan Baumgarten
The Trial of the Chicago 7
19%

Makeup & Hairstyling

Betting Odds Experts Users
Image Image
Image
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom 1:4 Ma Rainey's Black Bottom 93% Ma Rainey's Black Bottom 49%
Pinocchio 4:1 Mank 3% Mank 22%
Hillbilly Elegy 9:1 Hillbilly Elegy 2% Emma. 16%

Production Design

Betting Odds Experts Users
Image Image
Image
Mank 1:7 Mank 99% Mank 60%
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom 13:2 The Father 1% Tenet 19%
Tenet 9:1     Ma Rainey's Black Bottom 12%

Sound

Betting Odds Experts Users
Image Image
Image
Sound of Metal 1:25 Sound of Metal 99% Sound of Metal 74%
Mank 10:1 Soul 1% Soul 13%
Soul 12:1     Mank 7%

Visual Effects

Betting Odds Experts Users
Image Image
Image
Tenet 2:7 Tenet 94% Tenet 84%
The Midnight Sky 5:2 The Midnight Sky 4% Mulan 6%
Mulan 16:1 Mulan 1% The Midnight Sky 5%

List of experts

The expert predictions compiled above come from the following sources (note that not every expert made picks in every category):


* As reported all or in part at Gold Derby (reflecting any updates through April 25, 2021).
**As reported all or in part at Movie City News' Gurus O' Gold (as of April 24, 2021)

Check our site late Sunday night after the ceremony for the final results as we reveal which users and experts had the most accurate predictions. We'll also collect reviews of the broadcast from TV critics.


Comments (2)

  • Glen  

    Please, not Nomadland for Best Picture. It makes great social commentary with layers of depth, wonderful acting for sure, and a pedigree for Best Picture honors. But it's a docu-drama, virtually all stream of consciousness. Much as with "Easy Rider." Entertainment deserves a nod, too, and it is fully demonstrated in every other nominee. There's too much political correctness here in going for "Nomadland." I think it does deserve Best Screenplay and cinematography.

  • DeeGamer  

    Promising Young Woman has some stellar acting, and a solid unique story that's very important in today's world. Besides that, it all ends in an interesting way, not only from the point of the narrative, but the way its written to make your head struggle, think and finally accept.

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