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Variety's Awards Circuit is home to the official predictions for the upcoming Oscars from Film Awards Editor Clayton Davis. Following Academy Awards history, buzz, news, reviews and sources, the Oscar predictions are updated regularly with the current year's contenders in all categories. Variety's Awards Circuit Prediction schedule consists of four phases, running all year long: Draft, Pre-Season, Regular Season and Post Season. Eligibility calendar and dates of awards will determine how long each phase lasts and will be displayed next to revision date.

To see all the latest predictions, of all the categories, in one place, visit THE COLLECTIVE.

2021 OSCARS PREDICTIONS:
BEST DIRECTOR

UPDATED: Nov. 19, 2020 (PRE-SEASON)

There’s a very long season ahead and one has to wonder what will fall off or gain steam over the long period. Regina King (“One Night in Miami”) and Chloe Zhao (“Nomadland”) have been in the mix since September and it’s always difficult to hold on to those positions for so long. Shaka King’s directing work in “Judas and the Black Messiah” is something that could get a lot of attention, marking what could be a year in which goes the way of John Singleton and Spike Lee, and land himself an Oscar nomination. Could we have an unprecedented lineup that includes two Asians and two Black directors, two of which are women? Wishful thinking or a real possibility as these films catch on? David Fincher (“Mank”) and Aaron Sorkin (“The Trial of the Chicago 7” will be very competitive, along with Florian Zeller (“The Father”) and even George Clooney (“The Midnight Sky”).

† = no release date scheduled / could be delayed / may not be eligible
†† = could be campaigned in lead or supporting categories / original or adapted screenplay categories


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Mank (2020)
Credit: Netflix
Courtesy of Netflix

AND THE PREDICTED NOMINEES ARE:

  1. Chloé Zhao
    "Nomadland" (Searchlight Pictures)

  2. David Fincher
    "Mank" (Netflix)

  3. Regina King
    "One Night in Miami" (Amazon Studios)

  4. Lee Isaac Chung
    "Minari" (A24)

  5. Shaka King
    "Judas and the Black Messiah" (Warner Bros.)

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Florian Zeller’s “The Father” with Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

NEXT IN LINE CONTENDERS:

  1. Aaron Sorkin
    "The Trial of the Chicago 7" (Netflix)

  2. Florian Zeller
    "The Father" (Sony Pictures Classics)

  3. Spike Lee
    "Da 5 Bloods" (Netflix)

  4. Paul Greengrass
    "News of the World" (Universal Pictures)

  5. George Clooney
    "The Midnight Sky" (Netflix)

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    Netflix’s “The Prom” from director Ryan Murphy Courtesy of Netflix

TOP-TIER AWARDS CONTENDERS:

  1. George C. Wolfe
    "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" (Netflix)

  2. Christopher Nolan
    "Tenet" (Warner Bros.)

  3. Kornél Mundruczó
    "Pieces of a Woman" (Netflix)

  4. Emerald Fennell
    "Promising Young Woman" (Focus Features)

  5. Ryan Murphy
    "The Prom" (Netflix)

  6. Kevin Macdonald
    "The Mauratanian" (STX Films)

  7. Sofia Coppola
    "On the Rocks" (A24/Apple TV Plus)

  8. Kelly Reichardt
    "First Cow" (A24)

  9. Armando Iannucci
    "The Personal History of David Copperfield" (Searchlight Pictures)

  10. Francis Lee
    "Ammonite" (Neon)

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Amazon Studios’ “Sound of Metal” with Riz Ahmed Courtesy Toronto Film Festival

ALSO IN CONTENTION:

  1. Lee Daniels
    "The United States vs. Billie Holiday" (Paramount Pictures)

  2. Darius Marder
    "Sound of Metal" (Amazon Studios)

  3. Sam Levinson
    "Malcolm & Marie" (Netflix)

  4. Ramin Bahrani
    "The White Tiger" (Netflix)

  5. Patty Jenkins
    "Wonder Woman 1984" (HBO Max/Warner Bros)

  6. Harry Mcqueen
    "Supernova" (Bleecker Street)

  7. Rod Lurie
    "The Outpost" (Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment)

  8. Charlie Kaufman
    "I'm Thinking of Ending Things" (Netflix)

  9. Max Barbakow
    "Palm Springs" (Hulu/Neon)

  10. Channing Godfrey Peoples
    "Miss Juneteenth" (Vertical Entertainment)

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Apple TV Plus’ “Cherry” with Tom Holland Photo courtesy of Apple TV Plus

MORE AWARDS CONTENDERS:

  1. Anthony Russo and Joe Russo
    "Cherry" (Apple TV Plus)

  2. Radha Blank
    "The Forty-Year-Old Version" (Netflix)

  3. Julia Hart
    "I'm Your Woman" (Amazon Studios)

  4. Edson Oda
    "Nine Days" (Sony Pictures Classics)

  5. Azazel Jacobs
    "French Exit" (Sony Pictures Classics)

  6. Eliza Hittman
    "Never Rarely Sometimes Always" (Focus Features)

  7. Steven Soderbergh
    "Let Them All Talk" (HBO Max)

  8. Niki Caro
    "Mulan" (Disney Plus)

  9. Josephine Decker
    "Shirley" (Neon)

  10. Aaron Schneider
    "Greyhound" (Apple TV Plus)

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Lionsgate’s “Wander Darkly” with Sienna Miller and Diego Luna Courtesy of Sundance Institute

UNRANKED AWARDS CONTENDERS:

  • Judd Apatow, “The King of Staten Island” (Netflix)
  • Jonathan Butterell, “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie” (20th Century Studios)
  • Scott Cooper, “Antlers” (Searchlight Pictures)
  • Michael Angelo Covino, “The Climb” (Sony Pictures Classics)
  • Autumn de Wilde, “Emma.” (Focus Features)
  • Pete Docter and Kemp Powers, “Soul” (Pixar)
  • Sean Durkin, “The Nest” (IFC Films)
  • Clea DuVall, “Happiest Season” (Hulu)
  • Heidi Ewing, “I Carry You With Me” (Sony Pictures Classics)
  • Mona Fastvold, “The World to Come” (Bleecker Street)
  • Coky Giedroyc, “How to Build a Girl” (IFC Films)
  • Kitty Green, “The Assistant” (Bleecker Street)
  • Reinaldo Marcus Green, “Joe Bell” (Solstice Studios)
  • Chad Hartigan, “Little Fish” (IFC Films)
  • Ron Howard, “Hillbilly Elegy” (Netflix)
  • Miranda July, “Kajillionaire” (Focus Features)
  • Glen Keane, “Over the Moon” (Netflix)
  • Phyllida Lloyd, “Herself” (Amazon Studios)
  • Joe Mantello, “The Boys in the Band” (Netflix)
  • Pietro Marcello, “Martin Eden” (Kino Lorber)
  • Tara Miele, “Wander Darkly” (Lionsgate)
  • Carlo Mirabella-Davis, “Swallow” (IFC Films)
  • Ekwa Msangi, “Farewell Amor” (IFC Films)
  • Gavin O'Connor, “The Way Back” (Warner Bros.)
  • Gina Prince-Bythewood, “The Old Guard” (Netflix)
  • Marjane Satrapi, “Radioactive” (Amazon Studios)
  • Dan Scanlon, “Onward” (Pixar)
  • Sia, “Music” (HanWay Films)
  • Fisher Stevens, “Palmer” (Apple TV Plus)†
  • Julie Taymor, “The Glorias” (Roadside Attractions)
  • Leigh Whannell, “The Invisible Man” (Universal Pictures)
  • Benh Zeitlin, “Wendy” (Searchlight Pictures)

† = no release date scheduled / could be delayed / may not be eligible
†† = could be campaigned in lead or supporting categories / original or adapted screenplay categories

The Academy Awards, better known as the Oscars is Hollywood’s most prestigious artistic award in the film industry. The best director category has solidified cinema’s most prolific filmmakers. John Ford is the most awarded director in history with four Oscars while Frank Capra and William Wyler garnered three each. Wyler is the most nominated director in Academy history with 12 while Martin Scorsese and Billy Wilder currently place behind him with 9 and 8 mentions respectively. The late Clarence Brown is the most nominated filmmaker to not win an Academy Award with six (his last was for 1947’s “The Yearling”).

Academy Awards Predictions (All Categories)