Who are you rooting for at the 2021 Oscars?

Who are you rooting for at the 2021 Oscars?

Clockwise from top left: Judas And The Black Messiah (Photo: Warner Bros.); Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (Photo: Amazon Studios); Another Round (Photo: Samuel Goldwyn Films); Time (Photo: Amazon Studios); Minari (Photo: A24)
Clockwise from top left: Judas And The Black Messiah (Photo: Warner Bros.); Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (Photo: Amazon Studios); Another Round (Photo: Samuel Goldwyn Films); Time (Photo: Amazon Studios); Minari (Photo: A24)
AVQ&AWelcome back to AVQ&A, where we throw out a question for discussion among the staff and readers. Consider this a prompt to compare notes on your interface with pop culture, to reveal your embarrassing tastes and experiences.

This week’s AVQ&A is in celebration of the 93rd Academy Awards:

We’ve already provided our official predictions for who will walk away with a trophy on Sunday’s telecast, but who are you rooting for at the 2021 Oscars?

If you’re still trying to make it through the list of nominees, we’ve compiled a list of where all the nominated films are currently streaming.

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2 / 11

Yuh-Jung Youn

Yuh-Jung Youn

Yuh-Jung Youn, Best Supporting Actress, Minari

The “overdue” narrative is one that haunts the Oscars annually, but there’s perhaps no actor more overdue for international recognition and acclaim this year than Yuh-Jung Youn (sorry Glenn Close, you’re still a Good Terminator in my heart). A bona fide icon of South Korean film and television, the Best Supporting Actress nominee has been working on and off since 1971, and Minari—her first American film—is the perfect showcase for her easy charisma and singular presence. Not for nothing, she may be Team Minari’s best shot at an Oscar this weekend, and it’d be a shame to see such a moving, sharply observed film go home empty-handed. Considering Youn used her BAFTA acceptance speech to call the Brits “snobbish,” don’t you want to hear what she has to say about Americans? [Cameron Scheetz]

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3 / 11

Terence Blanchard

Terence Blanchard

Terence Blanchard, Achievement In Music Written For Motion Pictures, Da 5 Bloods
Spike Lee’s uneven but powerful Da 5 Bloods may have been criminally overlooked in some categories (looking at you, shoulda-been Best Supporting Actor nominee Delroy Lindo), but it absolutely earns its place alongside the best scores of the year. It wasn’t until 2019 with BlackkKlansman that the Academy finally nominated Lee’s longtime musical collaborator Terence Blanchard—an oversight that extends back at least to 1994’s Crooklyn, and Blanchard’s lush, swooping score that captured the sounds of youth—but Da 5 Bloods makes the most of Blanchard’s arrangements, which bring cathartic intensity and genteel background in equal measure, rising and falling to match the passionate swings of the story’s tempo and tone. Lee throws a lot of material at the screen, and Blanchard meets it, note for note. [Alex McLevy]

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4 / 11

Maria Bakalova

Maria Bakalova

Maria Bakalova, Best Supporting Actress, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Yes, it’s impressive that Maria Bakalova kept her cool in the face of some truly terrible shit while filming Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, but the thing about her performance as Tutar Sagdiyev that really struck me was that she held her own alongside Sacha Baron Cohen as Borat—one of the most well-established comedy characters ever, played by one of the most confident and competent comedy performers ever. It’s like getting tapped to play with The Beatles, and also they let you play some of your original songs, and you not only don’t embarrass yourself but some of your songs are better than theirs. [Sam Barsanti]

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5 / 11

Emerald Fennell

Emerald Fennell

Emerald Fennell, Best Original Screenplay, Promising Young Woman
In an era of adaptations, sequels, and spinoffs, Emerald Fennell’s completely original story was such a breath of tense air. Effortlessly subverting genre and expectations, Promising Young Woman was one of my top three scripts of the year. And while I’m thrilled the Crown actress is also nominated as a director and producer, I think Original Screenplay is Fennell’s best shot at walking away with a trophy on Sunday. (I’m hoping Carey Mulligan gets rewarded for a career-best performance as well.) [Patrick Gomez]

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6 / 11

Time

Time

Time, Best Documentary
The documentary branch of the Academy is notorious for ignoring some of the best and most exciting nonfiction films made each year. (Reminder that Hoop Dreams wasn’t even nominated, despite remarkably making the, ahem, cut in the Best Editing category.) So it’s a genuine and welcome surprise to see Garrett Bradley’s Time, a.k.a. the best documentary of 2020, in contention. Bradley approaches the devastating true story of Fox Rich, who fought for two decades to appeal her husband’s extreme prison sentence, from a poetic/experiential angle—assembling home-video footage of Rich’s life in non-chronological order, the better to emphasize how she’s changed over the years and to express the toll all that, yes, time has taken on her family. It’s an unintuitive approach that sacrifices easy narrative clarity in favor of emotional logic. Which, of course, is probably why it won’t win. But like Rich, I’m holding out hope. [A.A. Dowd]

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7 / 11

Erik Messerschmidt

Erik Messerschmidt

Erik Messerschmidt, Best Cinematography, Mank
I think I’m the only person on Earth that unequivocally loves Mank, but it won’t win David Fincher his directing Oscar, nor should it. However, with its gradients of black, white, and gray running throughout every frame, the cinematography is absolutely stunning. Mank cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt nails the language of Orson Welles and cinematographer Gregg Toland, bringing it into a modern context with a bit of digital grain and some gorgeous HDR photography to marry old and new. Most importantly, it sells the film’s central theme exploring who gets to write history. In this case, it’s Messerschmidt, pulling from and rewriting film history as he and Fincher see fit. [Matt Schimkowitz]

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8 / 11

LaKeith Stanfield

LaKeith Stanfield

LaKeith Stanfield, Best Supporting Actor, Judas And The Black Messiah
First off, let’s acknowledge how weird it is that both of the title characters of Shaka King’s Fred Hampton biopic somehow ended up duking it out in the Supporting Actor bucket. (Who’s the lead, the “And The”?) Also take it as read that Daniel Kaluuya is both vulnerable and charismatic in his portrayal of the Black Panther chairman himself. But LaKeith Stanfield is one of the most watchable actors I’ve encountered in recent years, and his portrayal of Bill O’Neal, the complicated figure at the heart of King’s film, is a great example of why. Ramping through multiple levels of deception (self- and otherwise) in every scene, Stanfield radiates energy, clinging to just enough of the audience’s sympathy to keep his character—simultaneously, the film implies, a true believer and a deadly traitor to his cause—on the knife’s edge of relatability. It’s in the eyes, for me: Stanfield is always watching: for danger, for opportunity, for the knife in the back, or the chance to slip in one of his own. The effect is hypnotic; give the man his award. [William Hughes]

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9 / 11

Wolfwalkers

Wolfwalkers

Wolfwalkers, Best Animated Feature
Disney/Pixar’s stranglehold on the Best Animated Feature category has gone on for too long. Sure, every once in a while they let a Dreamworks project through, but it is simply not statistically possible that nine out of the 10 best animated films of the last decade all happened to come from one of L.A.’s biggest entertainment-industry employers. (Did I just crack the code?) Enter Wolfwalkers, a film whose narrative spin on Irish folklore and expressive, painterly animation style are everything that a test-marketed sequel designed to sell plush toys is not. This film is snarling and inspired, with leaves in its hair and wild beauty in its heart, and it will not win an Oscar, despite being distributed by another mega-corporation, Apple. [Katie Rife]

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10 / 11

Another Round

Another Round

Another Round, Best International Feature Film
Mads Mikkelsen was left out of the Best Actor race, and Thomas Vinterberg is the longest of long shots in Best Director. But I guess Best International Feature is a fitting consolation prize for my favorite movie of 2020, a tender, tragic, occasionally slapstick drama that manages to be startlingly honest in the face of its “What if you always had a little bit of a buzz on?” premise. The feeling of being at the end of this year-plus of moviegoing (and being on Earth) has no greater expression and/or aspirational model than what Mikkelsen and Vinterberg fling themselves into in Another Round’s closing moments. [Erik Adams]

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11 / 11