Best Supporting Actor:
A brief tangent for you: Did you know that, in a film, this medium we love that involves stars and co-stars and extras and such, there can sometimes… not be a star? Perhaps I’m being facetious, but if you take a look at the nominees for this year’s Best Supporting Actor Oscar, you’ll find two co-stars in ensemble films, one supporting scene-stealer, and two stars of the same movie. Both LaKeith Stanfield and Daniel Kaluuya appear here for their work in Shaka King’s masterful Judas and the Black Messiah, and while no one is complaining, it does beg the question: who does the Academy deem the star of the movie, and better yet, is it still category fraud if you’re happy with the winner?
Daniel Kaluuya has been the odds-on favorite since critics first caught a glimpse of his performance as Fred Hampton in Judas, and he was immediately tapped for a nomination, if not a win. Might his work be the showiest of the bunch? Sure. But it’s never pedestrian nor overcooked in an effort to stir dramatic effect or mine gasps from empty moments due to the fact that he raises his voice. It’s cliché to say that an actor becomes the part they’re playing as they perform, but with Kaluuya here, it’s hard not to believe it. While Sacha Baron Cohen (The Trial of the Chicago 7), Leslie Odom Jr. (One Night in Miami…), Stanfield, and especially Paul Raci (Sound of Metal) all morph into their characters, it’s Kaluuya who does so in a way that you think about for days after the credits have rolled. As I attempted to fall asleep the night after seeing Judas at Sundance, I couldn’t help but think about Kaluuya shouting “I AM… A REVOLUTIONARY.” It kept me lying there, motionless but awake, wondering not just how Fred Hampton could accomplish so much at such a young age, but how Kaluuya was so able to do what he does as an actor. It’s about time he’s recognized for it, and if for whatever absurd reason he isn’t, we’d better hope Raci gets his due.
Prediction: Daniel Kaluuya
Best Supporting Actress:
This years’ Best Supporting Actress category features both established names and newcomers, one of the most notable being Youn Yuh-Jung for her role in Minari. Youn Yuh-Jung is a very prominent name for Korean cinema, and this year marks her first Oscar nomination. Furthermore, Olivia Colman returns with The Father as a nominee two years after winning her first award. Glenn Close represents Leonardo DiCaprio‘s luck up until The Revenant, as she is nominated for the eighth time with Hillbilly Elegy, in total for the fourth time for Best Supporting Actress category, yet she is still to win her first Oscar.
Maria Bakalova is one of the newcomers to the Oscars with her role in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm. Finally, having been nominated for the Golden Raspberry Awards just a few years ago, Amanda Seyfried‘s work has taken a different direction, and she is nominated for her role in David Fincher‘s latest work Mank. With the hope that Glenn Close finally gets the praise she deserves, the most likely choice for this year seems to be Youn Yuh-Jung, although there is no way to ensure that the award will not be taken by one of the newcomers, as the Best Supporting Actress category this year is a highly-competitive one.
Prediction: Youn Yuh-jung
Best Original Screenplay:
A film’s pre-Oscars life is plagued by fluctuation. The Trial of the Chicago 7 might have reached its final breaking point in said cycle: it was announced and billed as Oscar-bait, delivered as such – though not nearly as egregiously nor poorly as something like Hillbilly Elegy – and its up in the air how the film will perform in once-promising races. Which brings us to Promising Young Woman, a script that would be devoured as a novel in a second and is faring quite well in terms of predictions. Emerald Fennell’s script is quippy, quick on its feet, and it has enough natural-feeling dialogue between Carey Mulligan’s Cassie and Bo Burnham’s Ryan to make us feel like it’s masquerading as an improv showcase for Burnham, but quickly returns to the harsh realities at its center. It doesn’t all work – not like, say, Minari or Sound of Metal do in their bodies as tighter, more eloquent works that maintain the sheen of indies not merely getting by on their calculated and beautiful restraint, but excelling because of it. Promising Young Woman and The Trial of the Chicago 7 aren’t like that. They’re talkative; one contains twist after twist, while the other is as Sorkin as they come.
Prediction: The Trial of the Chicago 7