Our Oscars Preview - The Technical Categories

By: Hopster & Isaac P. Ale

April 20, 2021

It's Oscars' Week! Here is Part 2 of 5 of our preview.

Da 5 Bloods Da 5 Bloods [2020]

Best Original Score


  • Da 5 Bloods | Terence Blanchard
  • Mank | Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
  • Minari | Emile Mosseri
  • News of the World | James Newton Howard
  • Soul | Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Jon Batiste


Hopster: The Globes nominated Alexandre Desplat for Midnight Sky and Ludwig Göransson for Tenet; the Oscars picked Emile Mosseri for Minari and Terence Blanchard for Da 5 Bloods. Both bodies recognized James Newton Howard for News of the World while neither acknowledged William Tyler for First Cow or Bruno Coulais & Kila for Wolfwalkers. Put simply, this category is loaded. And I don't see Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross getting passed over here; my bet is on Soul.

Isaac: I loved the score of Da 5 Bloods but seeing as the Academy this year (every year?) really hates Spike Lee movies, it doesn't really stand a chance. I'm gonna go with the clear front runner, Soul; Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross have been on one this year, seeing as they have 2/5 odds to take home an award in one category is pretty funny. But it also just showcases their talent.

Best Original Song


  • "Fight for You" from Judas and the Black Messiah | Music by D'Mile and H.E.R.; lyric by H.E.R. and Tiara Thomas
  • "Hear My Voice" from The Trial of the Chicago 7 | Music by Daniel Pemberton; lyric by Celeste and Pemberton
  • "Husavik" from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga | Music and lyric by Rickard Göransson, Fat Max Gsus and Savan Kotecha
  • "Io sì (Seen)" from The Life Ahead | Music by Diane Warren; lyric by Laura Pausini and Warren
  • "Speak Now" from One Night in Miami... | Music and lyric by Sam Ashworth and Leslie Odom Jr.


Isaac: "Io sì (Seen)" won at the Globes and even though "Speak Now" has the betting advantage it seems like a real toss up to me... Toss in "Husavik" to be a legitimate contender and possible dark horse and we've got ourseleves a real tangle. Nevertheless I'm thinking "Io sì" pulls it out.

P.S. I love H.E.R. and really really really want her to win an Oscar at some point... and more Grammy's but really who cares about those.

Hopster: Leslie Odom Jr. can sing the shit out of anything, and it feels like this might be a good opportunity for voters to recognize One Night in Miami... if they don't do so elsewhere. Isaac seems right in suggesting that "Io sì" poses the biggest upset potential, but I'll put my theoretical money on "Speak Now."

News of the World News of the World [2020]

Best Sound


  • Greyhound | Beau Borders, Michael Minkler, Warren Shaw and David Wyman
  • Mank | Ren Klyce, Drew Kunin, Jeremy Molod, Nathan Nance and David Parker
  • News of the World | William Miller, John Pritchett, Mike Prestwood Smith and Oliver Tarney
  • Soul | Coya Elliot, Ren Klyce and David Parker
  • Sound of Metal | Jaime Baksht, Nicolas Becker, Philip Bladh, Carlos Cortés and Michelle Couttolenc


Isaac: Sound of Metal and it's not even close. What that team was able to do was extraordinary, and they deserve immense praise and accolades.

Hopster: If the Sound of Metal doesn't win this award, then this category should be disbanded altogether.

Best Costume Design


  • Emma. | Alexandra Byrne
  • Ma Rainey's Black Bottom | Ann Roth
  • Mank | Trish Summerville
  • Mulan | Bina Daigeler
  • Pinocchio | Massimo Cantini Parrini


Hopster: Ann Roth's exceptional work in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom helped bring the characters and the era in which they lived to life. While I'd maybe even be routing for Alexdra Byrne's work in Emma. or Trish Summerville for Mank, this one will likely and should go chalk.

Isaac: Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is hard to beat, Mulan, albeit a horrible live-action remake, had impeccable costume design, and Pinnochio was just as incredible. However, in my mind Emma. takes home the prize for this one for its Regency-era exceedingly-English atmosphere.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling


  • Emma. | Laura Allen, Marese Langan and Claudia Stolze
  • Hillbilly Elegy | Patricia Dehaney, Eryn Krueger Mekash and Matthew W. Mungle
  • Ma Rainey's Black Bottom | Sergio Lopez-Rivera, Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson
  • Mank | Colleen LaBaff, Kimberley Spiteri and Gigi Williams
  • Pinocchio | Dalia Colli, Mark Coulier and Francesco Pegoretti


Hopster: Much like Costume Design, this one should be going to Ma Rainey's Black Bottom as well.

Isaac: While I went with Emma. in the prior Costume Design award, I'm 10,000% behind Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. Viola Davis' presentation, the horse hair wig- it all is perfectly utilized and looks amazing throughout the film. Shouts out to Hillbilly Elegy though; it's a terrible movie with great makeup and hairstyling, so good that it's hard to even recognize Glenn Close.

Hopster: I especially agree with the last part where you said that Hillbilly Elegy is a terrible movie.

Tenet Tenet [2020]

Best Production Design


  • The Father | Production Design: Peter Francis; Set Decoration: Cathy Featherstone
  • Ma Rainey's Black Bottom | Production Design: Mark Ricker; Set Decoration: Karen O'Hara and Diana Sroughton
  • Mank | Production Design: Donald Graham Burt; Set Decoration: Jan Pascale
  • News of the World | Production Design: David Crank; Set Decoration: Elizabeth Keenan
  • Tenet | Production Design: Nathan Crowley; Set Decoration: Kathy Lucas


Isaac: Of course Mank is the front runner here, a movie about making a movie has to have a great production design! I really don't want Fincher's film to get blanked in yet another award ceremony, so I'll throw my vote to Mank. However the design for the other films here really was amazing, News of the World is one that stands out, as well as Tenet.

Hopster: No Emma. and no Promising Young Woman recognition here seems weird. And while I think Tenet should be getting more buzz than for this category than it is, I'm hoping Mank wins this to help ensure that it doesn't go home empty-handed (which would really hurt my feelings).

Best Cinematography


  • Judas and the Black Messiah | Sean Bobbitt
  • Mank | Erik Messerschmidt
  • News of the World | Dariusz Wolski
  • Nomadland | Joshua James Richards
  • The Trial of the Chicago 7 | Phedon Papamichael


Hopster: This is where the Academy really grinds my gears. The Trial of the Chicago 7 is more deserving of a nomination in this category than Da 5 Bloods, I'm Thinking of Ending Things, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Sound of Metal, and Tenet??? That is just laughable, though I am definitely not laughing. The other nominees are worthy enough, but if Nomadland is going to run away with the evening, a win here might be an early indicator.

Isaac: Looking at our wonderful odds its clear that Nomadland is about as close to an absolute lock in this category as possible, ringing in at a large 80%1 chance to take it home. Honestly, that might be too low. For what is a beautifully shot film, I don't think anything can catch up at this point, although I would love to have Dariusz Wolski get the recognition he deserves.

Promising Young Woman Promising Young Woman [2020]

Best Film Editing


  • The Father | Yorgos Lamprinos
  • Nomadland | Chloé Zhao
  • Promising Young Woman | Frédéric Thoraval
  • Sound of Metal | Mikkel E.G. Nielsen
  • The Trial of the Chicago 7 | Alan Baumgarten


Isaac: Even though The Trial of the Chicago 7 is ranked pretty highly on this one, I wasn't too impressed or blown away by the editing. I thought Nomadland was the better work in that regard, however I'm still a big believer in Sound of Metal (more shouts out to Riz Ahmed) and was thoroughly impressed with the editing. Some scenes are just glued in my mind, especially the end and the scene where Lou is singing with her father. A masterful piece of work.

Hopster: After finishing Sound of Metal, I didn't think of it as a potential technical-awards darling at the Oscars. Against the rest of the field, it seems like that is a very likely possibility. While I'm more in favor of that outcome, I think Alan Baumgarten and The Trial of the Chicago 7 has a legitimate chance of upsetting,

Best Visual Effects


  • Love and Monsters | Genevieve Camailleri, Brian Cox, Matt Everitt and Matt Sloan
  • The Midnight Sky | Matthew Kasmir, Chris Lawrence, Max Solomon and David Watkins
  • Mulan | Sean Andrew Faden, Steve Ingram, Anders Langlands and Seth Maury
  • The One and Only Ivan | Nick Davis, Greg Fisher, Ben Jones and Santiago Colomo Martinez
  • Tenet | Scott R. Fisher, Andrew Jackson, David Lee and Andrew Lockley


Isaac: If Tenet is gonna win anything at the Oscars it'll probably be this. The Midnight Sky kind of sooooooooorta stands a chance, but I'd give the former the edge here.

Hopster: My brain, head, and mind all agree: it should be Tenet.

  1. All of our odds and implied probabilities are informed by the extremely helpful Action Network