Our Oscars Preview - The Acting Categories

By: Hopster & Isaac P. Ale

April 22, 2021

It's Oscars' Week! Here is Part 4 of 5 of our preview.

Judas and the Black Messiah Judas and the Black Messiah [2020]

Best Supporting Actor


  • Sacha Baron Cohen | The Trial of the Chicago 7 as Abbie Hoffman
  • Daniel Kaluuya | Judas and the Black Messiah as Fred Hampton
  • Leslie Odom Jr. | One Night in Miami... as Sam Cooke
  • Paul Raci | Sound of Metal as Joe
  • LaKeith Stanfield | Judas and the Black Messiah as William "Bill" O'Neal


Isaac: First and foremost, we have the two titular characters from Judas and the Black Messiah nominated as Supporting Actors. Which begs the question, who's the lead??? Daniel Kaluuya and LaKeith Stanfield share the screen, so maybe the Academy is going for a 'two halves make a whole' approach? Like some Kicking and Screaming logic where if they were on each other's shoulders they would make one Lead Actor? That being said, this is about as locked in as I can fathom with Kaluuya at almost a 100% chance of winning. His portrayal of Fred Hampton was one of the highlight performances of the year, and Kaluuya most certainly turned in his best work to date for it.

Hopster: Even without Colman Domingo for Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Orion Lee for First Cow, David Strathairn for Nomadland, Bill Murray for On the Rocks, and our dearly beloved Robert Pattinson for Tenet getting recognized, this category is pretty stacked. Nominating both Kaluuya and Stanfield for supporting performances in Judas and the Black Messiah feels like some bold-faced category fraud, but I'm excited for both of them to be nominated1. And while I'm pretty certain that Sacha Baron Cohen is not even the best supporting character in The Trial of the Chicago 7 (my vote would've been for Yahya Abdul-Mateen II or Mark Rylance), I'm glad he gets his look here rather than in Best Actor. And while Leslie Odom Jr.2 and Paul Raci deserve their due credit and respect, Kaluuya is a clear and praiseworthy frontrunner.

The Father The Father [2020]

Best Supporting Actress


  • Maria Bakalova | Borat Subsequent Moviefilm as Tutar Sagdiyev
  • Glenn Close | Hillbilly Elegy as Bonnie "Mamaw" Vance
  • Olivia Colman | The Father as Anne
  • Amanda Seyfried | Mank as Marion Davies
  • Yuh-Jung Youn | Minari as Soon-ja


Hopster: Can a movie be almost embarrassingly bad but still provide opportunity for Oscar glory? Well, Rami Malek answered that question last year in winning for Bohemian Rhapsody, so I guess Glenn Close stands a chance this Sunday when she is competing in this category for her work in Hillbilly Elegy. She's fine enough in the role, but Dominique Fishback for Judas and the Black Messiah, Charlene Swankie for Nomadland, Talia Ryder for Never Rarely Sometimes Always, and Toni Collette for I'm Thinking of Ending Things were all snubbed so Glenn could try and fly again. Let me be clear: this is not meant to be a personal attack against Close, who should be understood as one of the greatest actors/actresses of her generation... it's just unfortunate that because she hasn't won an Oscar yet (which is a travesty at best), she's boxing out other performers from getting recognized, all of whom did not take part in one of the worst movies of the year. (rant over). Olivia Colman is great in everything, but I think she's safely in the "it's great to be nominated again" zone this year; and even Amanda Seyfried, whom I thought was excellent in Mank, seems to be out of serious contention (for reasons that are kind of still a mystery to me...). Which leaves Maria Bakalova and Yuh-Jung Youn. I'd really be happy with either person winning, but I'm picking Youn. The more wins for Minari, the better.

Isaac: Nothing would bring me more joy than seeing Maria Bakalova win for her breakout role and performance in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm. This is a "relatively" tight race between Bakalova and Yuh-Jung Youn with the advantage going to the latter, and as much as I'd like Bakalova to win, I think it goes to Youn. Glenn Close was great in a horrid movie, whereas Amanda Seyfried and Olivia Colman were impeccable but are just a smidge below the performances of Youn and Bakalova. That being said, I'm just gonna really wing it and put my vote behind Maria Bakalova; I think that would be a fun acceptance speech, too. Maybe Rudy will get a shout out who knows.

Sound of Metal Sound of Metal [2019]

Best Actor


  • Riz Ahmed | Sound of Metal as Ruben Stone
  • Chadwick Boseman | Ma Rainey's Black Bottom as Levee Green
  • Anthony Hopkins | The Father as Anthony
  • Gary Oldman | Mank as Herman J. Mankiewicz
  • Steven Yeun | Minari as Jacob Yi


Isaac: My love for Riz Ahmed's performance in Sound of Metal is a well-documented and 100% genuine movement I wish had gained more momentum... Right now Ahmed comes in at a 6.7%3 chance of taking home the prize which makes me SAD. Currently Chadwick Boseman is the front runner to win the award posthumously, but if there is going to be an upset, it'll likely be Anthony Hopkins for his role in The Father. Hopkins took home the BAFTA for Best Actor so he's coming in with a little momentum, however, Boseman has a treasure trove of awards this year: Critics Choice, Golden Globes, SAG, and quite a few juried awards. So I'd say even though Hopkins got the BAFTA, which I was excited about because he certainly deserves the accolades for his role, I think Boseman adds to an amazing 2021 and is awarded the Oscar here. Only cementing his already pristine legacy.

Side note, the big news these days is Gary Oldman rocking the Prada runway which is very fun to watch. Work it Mank, work it.

Via tumblr

Hopster: This isn't a tough category for me to pick; just a sad one. Of course Chadwick Boseman will and should win for Best Actor on Sunday. His portrayal of Levee Green in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom demonstrated a new creative and career peak, a capstone performance for a career cut far too short. Beyond Ma Rainey's, he also transformed into another inspiring, real-life superhero in Spike Lee's Da 5 Bloods, where his supporting performance as "Stormin'" Norman Earl Holloway is a spellbinding embodiment of black power and pride. Needless to say, he's a runaway favorite in Best Actor and deservedly so. Moreover, a victory for Chadwick in competition with a nominee class that boasts Riz Ahmed, Steven Yeun, Gary Oldman, and Anthony Hopkins is a remarkable accomplishment onto itself4.

Ma Rainey Ma Rainey's Black Bottom [2020]

Best Actress


  • Viola Davis | Ma Rainey's Black Bottom as Ma Rainey
  • Andra Day | The United States vs. Billie Holiday as Billie Holiday
  • Vanessa Kirby | Pieces of a Woman as Martha Weiss
  • Frances McDormand | Nomadland as Fern
  • Carey Mulligan | Promising Young Woman as Cassandra “Cassie” Thomas


Hopster: Maybe the toughest category to predict this year, oh my word. Here is another historic class of Oscar nominees5, which includes the mighty Andra Day and the decorated-but-not-decorated-enough, Viola Davis6. And when you add in Vanessa Kirby, Carey Mulligan, and Frances McDormand, you're left with one of the best Best Actress categories in recent memory. While Davis' powerful rendering of Ma Rainey is an absolute show-stopper, my bet is McDormand will be awarded the trophy on Sunday for quieter, subtler turn in Nomadland. Only three other actresses have ever won three Oscars (the mighty Meryl Streep [3], Katharine Hepburn [4], and Ingrid Bergman [3]), and if the Nomadland wave is real, McDormand might find herself surfing into that rarefied air. That being said, a win for Davis would be equally iconic, making her only the second African-American Actress to win Best Actress (Halle Berry in 2001). In my estimation, the only lingering spoiler might be Carey Mulligan, but I think this'll be between Davis and McDormand7.

Isaac: Now we're getting to the good stuff!!! This is as tight as an Oscars race can get my goodness. No matter what I say here I am THRILLED to watch this award on Sunday, because I have zero idea what's going to happen. I loved all of these performances and I think the only one that might not have a real chance here, unfortunately, is Vanessa Kirby. Viola Davis, Andra Day, Frances McDormand and Carey Mulligan are all in the running and I think there might be slight edge to Mulligan3? McDormand and Day are a close 3 v 4 on the ladder, so I'm inclined to think it is a toss up between Davis and Mulligan... But here we are, in a time where Day won the Globe, McDormand won the BAFTA, Davis won the SAG, and Mulligan won the Critics Choice. What to even make of all of this? I could probably write about this all day and somehow wriggle my mind into explaining how I think there's a different scenario for everyone to win, but I'm not sure if I have the real mental capacity for that. So I'll just go with this: I loved Mulligan in Promising Young Woman and I think she definitely is the current "frontrunner" (in a tight race idk if that means anything); however, despite Mulligan having the best odds right now, I'm thinking Davis will ultimately pull out the win. No matter how this plays out, this has to be one of the best fields of nominees for an award I've seen in a long time. Everyone, and I mean everyone, deservedly received these noms and I'm excited to see who takes it home in the end.

  1. This is the first film to have multiple African-American men nominated in the same category for the same film. Plus, why run in Best Actor against Chadwick Boseman and lose when you can run in Best Supporting Actor and win?

  2. He is the first African-American man to receive Academy Award nominations in the same year for acting and songwriting.

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

  4. And that's just the four other nominees. Here is a quick rundown of some others who were passed over: Delroy Lindo from Da 5 Bloods, Mads Mikkelsen from Another Round, Kingsley Ben-Adir and Eli Goree from One Night in Miami..., Jesse Plemons for I'm Thinking of Ending Things, and John Magaro from First Cow.

  5. It's only the second time multiple African-American actresses received Best Actress nominations in the same year (Viola Davis in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom and Andra Day for The United States vs. Billie Holiday).

  6. Check out this list of notable achievements for Viola Davis this year:

    • Most nominated African-American actress, with four nominations
    • First African American actress to receive two nominations for Best Actress
    • Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is only the third film to feature African-American nominees for both Best Actor (Chadwick Boseman) and Best Actress

  7. Sidney Flanigan for Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Julia Garner for The Assistant, Nicole Beharie for Miss Juneteenth, Elizabeth Moss for The Invisible Man, Han Ye-ri for Minari, Cristin Miloti for Palm Springs, and Jessie Buckley for I'm Thinking of Ending Things also deserve some love.