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Our Oscars Preview - Best Picture

By: Hopster & Isaac P. Ale
April 23, 2021

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

Nomadland Nomadland [2020]

Best Picture


  • The Father | Philippe Carcassonne, Jean-Louis Livi and David Parfitt
  • Judas and the Black Messiah | Ryan Coogler, Charles D. King and Shaka King
  • Mank | Ceán Chaffin, Eric Roth and Douglas Urbanski
  • Minari | Christina Oh
  • Nomadland | Mollye Asher, Dan Janvey, Frances McDormand, Peter Spears and Chloé Zhao
  • Promising Young Woman | Ben Browning, Emerald Fennell, Ashley Fox and Josey McNamara
  • Sound of Metal | Bert Hamelinick and Sacha Ben Harroche
  • The Trial of the Chicago 7 | Stuart M. Besser and Marc Platt


Hopster: We've almost made it. On Sunday, for the 93rd straight year, a Best Picture nominee will win and be awarded an Oscar. So often in the moment, the chosen winner, and per the Academy voters' decision, feels either overwhelmingly right or overwhelmingly wrong. A lot of the time a movie is selected that most people either haven't seen or don't really care about. And more often than not, what someone believes to be the "best movie of the year" isn't even recognized or considered to begin with. So the question is this: how are we going to feel when we hear what name is read on Sunday for the top prize? As of today, here are the odds and probabilities for each Best Picture nominee to win:1

Film Odds Probability
Nomadland (-670) 87%
The Trial of the Chicago 7 (+600) 14.3%
Minari (+1400) 6.7%
Promising Young Woman (+1700) 5.6%
Mank (+3300) 2.9%
Judas and the Black Messiah (+3300) 2.9%
Sound of Metal (+5000) 2.0%
The Father (+10000) 1.0%

It's safe to say that if we hear anything other than the word, Nomadland, we'll be rightfully stunned; heading into the weekend, it's the runaway favorite, and I wouldn't expect that to change much over the next two days. As we've talked about before, a win for Chloé Zhao in Best Adapted Screenplay or Best Director (over even a win for Best Film Editing) could prove to be an early signal of this outcome. It is not inconceivable

Via giphy

that Zhao cleans up and sweeps the evening! On the flip side, sometimes Academy voters can be known to distribute out awards in a democratic way, so that different movies get recognized. Only 11 out of the last 20 (and only three of the last eight) winners of Best Director went on to also win Best Picture, so there's no guarantee Nomadland will win both (or either for that matter). As much as I enjoyed several of the other nominees, the only other film worth mentioning that is contention for the win is The Trial of the Chicago 7. My guess is that it doesn't have as much of an outside chance as people might think. The only two major awards it has won are Best Screenplay at the Golden Globes and Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, and these two accolades do not pave a pathway to a Best Picture victory from a historical perspective. 19 of the last 20 Best Picture winners (except Crash in 2005) won at least one of the following: Best Film at the BAFTAs (British Academy of Film and Television Arts), Best Motion Picture - Drama or Best Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical at the Golden Globes, the Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Picture, Outstanding Directing at the Directors Guild of America (DGA) Awards, the Producers Guild of America (PGA) Award for Best Theatrical Motion Picture, or the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Even controversial Best Picture winners like Green Book, The King's Speech, Slumdog Millionaire, and The Artist had one or more of these in their repertoire. I could keep cherry picking factoids that will strengthen this argument, or we can just agree that an improbable upset by the The Trial of the Chicago 7 has maybe only one precedent, and that is arguably the most maligned Best Picture winner in the last 50 years of the Academy Awards (again, Crash). My last two cents: just assume that all roads will lead to Zhao on Sunday. Nomadland winning sounds good to me.

Isaac: As with every other person that cares too much about the outcome of Sunday's ceremony, I too spent an exorbitant amount of time looking into who will take home the big prize of Best Picture. While all the odds and general sentiment point towards a Nomadland win, there seems to be a breeze of caution and skepticism blowing about. This of course is covered exceedingly well by Hop above, where we have had this feeling before only to be crushed by Crash winning over Brokeback Mountain. I certainly still feel the sting of The King's Speech besting The Social Network, one of my all time favorite movies. But to really get across the point of "anything can happen" I like to look at the work of The Ringer which I am a huge fan of. Particularly the article we have linked there shows how unpredictable the Oscars have been for Best Picture since back to 2016 when Spotlight beat the favorite The Revenant (which had -250 odds and 71.4% probability2). Not to mention, I'll conceed the Crash comparison that Hop gave but another one would be akin to La La Land losing to Moonlight. And sure I think Moonlight is lightyears better than La La Land and absolutely deserved to win, but the latter not only had all the momentum, it had all the odds, awards, and stature that made it reach an 81.7% probability to take home the crown. Moonlight on the other hand came in at a feeble 18.9%. So looking at Nomadland coming in hot with an 87% chance of winning and The Trial of the Chicago 7 with a meesly 14.3% chance, you can't help but to think what if? Further down in the article there's also a portion of the prior awards to the Oscars and the odds their choices align with The Academy voters. The most prominent ones being above 50% are the Producer's Guild's Outstanding Producer (66.7%), the Director's Guild's Outstanding Directing (54.5%), and the Critics' Choice's Best Picture (54.5%). Looking at who won what:

  • PGA Outstanding Producer - Nomadland
  • DGA Outstanding Directing - Chloé Zhao for Nomadland
  • Critics' Choice Best Picture - Nomadland

Soooooo looking at that you can't help but think, this is a sure thing right? Right???? To which I'll say, I have no clue. I can't possibly align with the thoughts of the voters and/or explain their decisions. As of right now, the anonymous returns of voters talking about their Best Actor selections are saying Boseman is going to win so I'm going to vote for Anthony Hopkins3. Which is exactly how Chris Daughtry was voted off of American Idol all those years ago, when your #1 is a lock you throw a vote to your #2! So in a world where voters are seemingly spreading votes around like their buttering some toast for Best Actor, who's to say they wouldn't do the same for Best Picture? Of course that would take a lot of spreading but let's just say there's a lot of butter to be spread4. All in all it's hard to think about anything other than Nomadland winning and I believe it deserves it, and I think Chloé Zhao should have the big award to cap off a remarkable year. But if there is an upset on our hands I'd have to agree yet again with Hop and

Via giphy

Nah I'm going full blown upset here, Promising Young Woman pulls it out if there's some dissent amongst the ranks of voters! Hear me out, we're looking at a possible Best Original Screenplay and a Best Actress to pick up some steam the night of. Then all of a sudden... Best Director?!?! Emerald Fennell from the top rope ladies and gentlemen.

For a wildly unpredictable year, I'm down for a wildly unpredictable Oscars.

  1. All of our odds and implied probabilities are informed by the extremely helpful Action Network
  2. All odds and probabilities from this portion are from the linked Ringer article, which I'll link again here
  3. Source - the ever entertaining world of Film Twitter.
  4. This is our 5th article in 5 days give me some margin for error here, I don't know what I'm saying on a good day let alone rambling about butter and voting.

More Articles to Satiate the Soul:

Our Oscars Preview - The Acting Categories

Our Oscars Preview - The Acting Categories

Our Oscars Preview - Writing and Directing

Our Oscars Preview - Writing and Directing

Our Oscars Preview - Writing and Directing

Our Oscars Preview - The Technical Categories

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