Oscars Predictions: Best Picture – Searchlight Pictures’ ‘Nomadland’ Will Most Likely Be the Academy’s Big Winner

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UPDATED: Apr. 21, 2021

AWARDS PREDICTION COMMENTARY: It’s all come down to this. The longest awards season is drawing to a close, after an excruciating pandemic year that nearly destroyed the movie business. History looks to be made at the Oscars, with women and people of color getting recognition — but there’s also room for a surprise or two. In the winners tally, “Nomadland” is expected to be the leading film winner with four including best picture followed by “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” with three including Chadwick Boseman.

Netflix is presumed to be the leading studio with a predicted six wins, an increase from last year’s tally of four. The good news is that the streaming giant has a 50/50 shot in four additional races, which could bring them to a double-digit tally, which would be a record in the modern era (Metro-Goldwyn Mayer dominated the 1930s and 1940s).

It’s hard to bet against the winner of the PGA, the DGA, the Golden Globes and BAFTA. Still, “1917” and “La La Land” won those exact awards, then lost to “Parasite” and “Moonlight” (which won the drama Globe) respectively. In the end, though, the season has shaped up for “Nomadland,” and it’s one of the stronger contenders we’ve seen in the past 20 years.

Will win: “Nomadland”
Could win: “The Trial of the Chicago 7″
Should win: “Nomadland”
Should have been here: “Onward”

PRECURSORS LEADER: “Nomadland” (Searchlight Pictures)
Awards Circuit Winners Chart (2020-2021)
2021 Awards Season Calendar


  1. "Nomadland" (Searchlight Pictures)
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    "One of the things I love most about this life is that there's no final goodbye. You know, I've met hundreds of people out here and I don't ever say a final goodbye. I always just say, "I'll see you down the road." And I do. And whether it's a month, or a year, or sometimes years, I see them again" - Bob Wells (Bob)

    PRODUCERS: Mollye Asher, Dan Janvey, Frances McDormand, Peter Spears, Chloé Zhao
    DIRECTOR: Chloé Zhao
    SYNOPSIS: After losing everything in the Great Recession, an old woman embarks on a journey through the American West, living as a van-dwelling modern-day nomad.
    STARRING: Frances McDormand, David Strathairn, Linda May, Swankie, Bob Wells

  2. "The Trial of the Chicago 7" (Netflix)
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    "Mr Kunstler, I have lived a very long time and you are the first person ever to suggest that I have discriminated against a Black man" - Frank Langella (Judge Hoffman)

    PRODUCERS: Marc Platt and Stuart Besser
    DIRECTOR: Aaron Sorkin
    SYNOPSIS: The story of 7 people on trial stemming from various charges surrounding the uprising at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois.
    STARRING: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Sacha Baron Cohen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Keaton, Frank Langella, John Carroll Lynch, Eddie Redmayne, Mark Rylance, Alex Sharp, Jeremy Strong

  3. "Minari" (A24)
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    "Remember what we said when we got married? That we’d move to America and save each other? Instead of saving each other, all we did was fight." - Steven Yeun (Jacob)

    PRODUCERS: Christina Oh
    DIRECTOR: Lee Isaac Chung
    SYNOPSIS: A Korean family moves to Arkansas to start a farm in the 1980s.
    STARRING: Steven Yeun, Yeri Han, Alan S. Kim, Yuh-jung Youn, Will Patton

  4. "Promising Young Woman" (Focus Features)
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    "I Forgive You" - Carey Mulligan (Cassie) to Alfred Molina (Jordan Greene)

    PRODUCERS: Ben Browning, Ashley Fox, Emerald Fennell and Josey McNamara
    DIRECTOR: Emerald Fennell
    SYNOPSIS: A young woman, traumatized by a tragic event in her past, seeks out vengeance against those who cross her path.
    STARRING: Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Laverne Cox, Molly Shannon, Clancy Brown, Jennifer Coolidge, Max Greenfield, Alison Brie, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Connie Britton, Chris Lowell, Adam Brody, Sam Richardson

  5. "Judas and the Black Messiah" (Warner Bros)
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    "Their aim is to sow hatred and inspire terror. Plain and simple. Now, I’m all for civil rights, but you can’t cheat your way to equality. And you certainly can’t shoot your way to it." - Jesse Plemons (Roy Mitchell)

    PRODUCERS: Charles D. King, Ryan Coogler, Shaka King
    DIRECTOR: Shaka King
    SYNOPSIS: The story of Fred Hampton, Chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party, and his fateful betrayal by FBI informant William O'Neal.
    STARRING: Lakeith Stanfield, Daniel Kaluuya, Dominique Fishback, Jesse Plemons, Martin Sheen, Dominique Thorne, Algee Smith, Lil Rel Howery, Jermaine Fowler

  6. "Mank" (Netflix)
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    "This is a business where the buyer gets nothing for his money but a memory. What he bought still belongs to the man who sold it. That's the real magic of the movies." - Arliss Howard (Louis B. Mayer)

    PRODUCERS: Ceán Chaffin, Eric Roth, Douglas Urbanski
    DIRECTOR: David Fincher
    SYNOPSIS: 1930s Hollywood is re-evaluated through the eyes of scathing social critic and alcoholic screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz as he races to finish the screenplay of Citizen Kane for Orson Welles.
    STARRING: Tom Burke, Lily Collins, Joseph Cross, Charles Dance, Monika Gossman, Ferdinand Kingsley, Jamie McShane, Tuppence Middleton, Toby Leonard Moore, Gary Oldman, Tom Pelphrey, Amanda Seyfried, Sam Troughton

  7. "Sound of Metal" (Amazon Studios)
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    "You saved my life and you made it beautiful." - Riz Ahmed (Ruben)

    PRODUCERS: Bert Hamelinck, Sacha Ben Harroche
    DIRECTOR: Darius Marder
    SYNOPSIS: A heavy-metal drummer's life is thrown into freefall when he begins to lose his hearing.
    STARRING: Riz Ahmed, Olivia Cooke, Paul Raci, Mathieu Almaric, Lauren Ridloff

  8. "The Father" (Sony Pictures Classics)
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    "Why do you keep looking as if there’s something wrong? Everything is fine." - Anthony Hopkins (Anthony)

    PRODUCERS: David Parfitt, Jean-Louis Livi and Philippe Carcassonne
    DIRECTOR: Florian Zeller
    SYNOPSIS: A man refuses all assistance from his daughter as he ages. As he tries to make sense of his changing circumstances, he begins to doubt his loved ones, his own mind and even the fabric of his reality.
    STARRING: Olivia Colman, Mark Gatiss, Anthony Hopkins, Imogen Poots, Rufus Sewell, Olivia Williams

† = no release date scheduled / could be delayed / may not be eligible
†† = could be campaigned in the 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 most awarded films in Oscar history are “Ben-Hur,” “Titanic” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” at 11 statuettes. The most nominated films in Academy history are “All About Eve,” “Titanic” and “La La Land” at 14. “La La Land” is the only film of the three to have lost best picture. The biggest Oscar “losers,” meaning most nominated and walk away with zero awards, are 1977’s “The Turning Point” and 1985’s “The Color Purple” at 11 each.

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About the Academy Awards (Oscars)

The Academy Awards, better known as the Oscars, is Hollywood’s most prestigious artistic award in the film industry. Since 1927, nominees and winners are selected by members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). 17 branches are represented within the near 10,000 person membership. The branches are actors, associates, casting directors, cinematographers, costume designers, directors, documentary, executives, film editors, makeup and hairstylists, marketing and public relations, members-at-large, members-at-large (artists’ representatives), music, producers, production design, short films and feature animation, sound, visual effects and writers.

  • The Oscars are scheduled for Sunday, April 25, 2021.