Oscars 2021: Who will win at the Academy Awards next year?

Despite the ceremony being 375 days away, there are already some clear contenders

With the historic 92nd Academy Awards barely over, Hollywood is already hard at work on next year’s potential nominees.

New projects are brewing, forgotten deals are being rejuvenated and familiar faces are planning their comeback. Here’s everything you need to know about the Oscars 2021, with as much foresight as humanly possible.

When are the Oscars 2021?

Next year’s ceremony will take place on February 28, giving us all a bit more time to do our homework – in comparison to this year’s earlier ceremony which aired on February 9.

Who will be in the running to win?

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While most of these films haven’t even screened to critics yet, based on the prestige of certain actors and filmmakers, as well as the voting habits of the Academy, it’s not too difficult to discern who might take home the gong.

As usual, there’s biopics galore, but there are a few surprises that might shake things up as Parasite did. Here’s hoping!

Actors

Jennifer Hudson

Jennifer Hudson is no stranger to the awards circuit, having picked up a Golden Globe, BAFTA, Screen Actors Guild Award, and, of course, an Oscar, for her performance in Dreamgirls in 2006.

She clearly has the pipes to play Aretha Franklin in upcoming biopic Respect – if the Academy loves anything, it’s a good biopic – and after the disaster that was Cats, it’s about time she came up with something a bit better.

Ana de Armas

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After convincing turns in Blade Runner 2049 and Knives Out, with a role in No Time To Die just around the corner, Ana de Armas is on somewhat of a roll.

Her Oscar offering? A lead turn in Andrew Dominik’s Marilyn Monroe biopic Blonde. The resemblance is uncanny – this could be a very easily-earned nomination.

Viola Davis

Oscars 2021
Viola Davis with her Academy Award in 2017. Credit: Getty

Viola Davis is something of an awards magnet, whenever she chooses to be. After winning an Oscar for Fences two years ago, could The Help star find success again with a screen version of August Wilson’s acclaimed play Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

Kate Winslet

Kate Winslet Ammonite
Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan in ‘Ammonite’ (Credit: Lionsgate)

Another year, another period romance. National treasure Francis Lee (he of God’s Own Country) directs four-time Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan opposite Oscar-winning stalwart Kate Winslet in Ammonite. Both could be in with a shot, but our money is on Winslet, who last won in 2009.

Frances McDormand

Frances McDormand Nomadland
Frances McDormand in ‘Nomadland’. Credit: Searchlight Pictures

There are two very likely projects that could see Frances McDormand repeat her 2018 Three Billboards success: Joel Coen’s take on Macbeth, and The Rider director Chloe Zhao’s contemplative portrait of a travelling woman in Nomadland. Considering McDormand introduced the world to the concept of an inclusion rider when she last won, it’s clear Hollywood still desperately needs her.

Antonio Banderas

Antonio Banderas at the 2020 Oscars. Credit: Getty/Amy Sussman

While Banderas didn’t take home the gold this year for his moving performance in Pain and Glory, there’s already plenty to look forward to in 2020. At the top of the list is his leading role in biopic Lamborghini, as the Italian car magnate himself – Feruccio Lamborghini. Ford v Ferrari did win two Oscars, after all…

Leonardo DiCaprio

He may have finally won for The Revenant in 2016, but the Academy clearly can’t get enough of DiCaprio, nominating him for his turn in Once Upon A Time …in Hollywood this year. Next up, he’s collaborating with Martin Scorsese again on western Killers of the Flower Moon. It would be rude not to nominate him, at this stage.

Adam Driver

From Star Wars to Marriage StoryAdam Driver‘s career choices to date have been spot on. If his karaoke rendition of ‘Being Alive’ in Noah Baumbach’s divorce picture proved anything, it’s that his upcoming role in French auteur Leos Carax’s musical Annette could see him go all the way to the Oscars once more.

Anthony Hopkins

Anthony Hopkins The Father
Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman in ‘The Father’ (Credit: Lionsgate)

Still going strong after 60 years on our screens, Anthony Hopkins earned acclaim for his role in biopic The Two Popes – but The Father looks even more awards-ready. The Academy loves a life-or-death-stakes drama – and hasn’t given Hopkins an award since 1992, so don’t be surprised to see him on the red carpet come February.

Will Smith

Will Smith
(Credit: Getty)

While he only has two Oscar nominations under his belt, Will Smith seems likely to add to that tally soon. He is set to play Richard Williams in King Richard, and if the name doesn’t ring any bells, allow us to inform you better. Williams is the father of two little-known tennis players called Serena and Venus, who he coached from an early age. Hope that helps.

Films

West Side Story

West Side Story
‘West Side Story cast shot. Credit: 20th Century Studios

Something’s coming… but will it be good? Steven Spielberg‘s remake of West Side Story is almost here, and if we know anything about anything, it’s that the Academy wouldn’t dare ignore this director.

Release date: 18 December 2020

Mank

Tom Burke Mank
Tom Burke in ‘The Souvenir’. Credit: A24

Netflix? Check. Esteemed director David Fincher? Check. Biopic about the writer of Citizen Kane? Rogue leading man Tom Burke playing Orson Welles to spice things up? Check, check, check-ity check. All the ingredients of an Oscar-winning behemoth are present in correct in Mank.

Release date: TBC, 2020

The French Dispatch

 

Wes Anderson fans, rejoice: the wait is so nearly over. Promised since last year as “a love letter to journalists”, the indie darling’s next film The French Dispatch is coming this summer. With a star-studded cast full of regular collaborators and newcomers alike, the film could sweep the awards across the board. Director, Picture, Cinematography (the symmetry!) – it’s all up for grabs.

Release date: 24 July 2020

Killers of the Flower Moon

Leonardo DiCaprio Martin Scorsese Shutter Island
Leonardo DiCaprio in ‘Shutter Island’ (Credit: Paramount)

Believe it or not, Martin Scorsese’s 25th film The Irishman left the Oscars empty-handed this year – despite earning 10 nominations. However, the esteemed auteur still has plenty of movies left in him, starting with another literary adaptation in the shape of Killers of the  Flower Moon. Leonardo DiCaprio will be reuniting with Scorsese for a sixth collaboration, and De Niro will be working under Marty for movie number 10.

Release date: TBC, 2020

Tenet

 

Ten-time Oscar winner Christopher Nolan is back, and he means business. Tenet sees BlacKkKlansman star John David Washington play a secret agent tasked with preventing World War III. How, you ask? Oh, you know, time-travel.

It makes sense in the world of Christopher Nolan, who won four Oscars for the mind-bending Inception 10 years ago. Keep your eyes peeled and brain sharp for the Academy’s next favourite.

Release date: 17 July 2020

Dune

timothee chalamet oscars 2018
Timothée Chalamet at the 2018 Oscars (Credit: Getty)

Genre cinema doesn’t tend to fare so well at the Oscars, especially not sci-fi franchise remakes. But Dune, first brought to the big screen by David Lynch, now has Denis Villeneuve attached to directed – the filmmaker who made the transcendent Blade Runner 2049.

And who else to lead the epic to golden glory than boy wonder Timothée Chalamet? With a starry supporting cast including Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac and Javier Bardem, it’ll be hard to derail this one.

Release date: 18 December 2020

The Trial of the Chicago 7

 

Aaron Sorkin is better known as the scribe of award-winning scripts including The Social NetworkMoneyball and Steve Jobs – but his next project sees the screenwriter take the director’s chair for just the second time. The Trial of the Chicago 7 is based on the true story of seven defendants charged with anti-Vietnam War conspiracy crimes.

Beyond the real-life appeal and proven sharp dialogue, the film also boasts a knockout cast: Sacha Baron Cohen, Eddie Redmayne, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Mark Rylance and more.

Release date: 30 October 2020

Da 5 Bloods

Spike Lee Oscars
Spike Lee backstage at the 2020 Oscars (Credit: Richard Harbaugh – Handout/A.M.P.A.S. via Getty Images)

The last time Spike Lee released a new joint, the world was gifted with the incendiary BlacKkKlansman. Coming next? Da 5 Bloods, following four African American war veterans returning to Vietnam.

The cast offers a less starry offering, beyond Black Panther stalwart Chadwick Boseman – Jonathan Majors, Norm Lewis, Delroy Lindo, Clarke Peters. But if Lee can do anything – and he can do so very much – it’s his ability to stoke the fires of a good performance.

Release date: TBC, 2020

In The Heights

 

Jon M. Chu‘s previous film Crazy Rich Asians earned acclaim from audiences and awards bodies alike – but the real star power behind In The Heights is Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda.

The movie musical is based on Miranda’s Broadway hit, and stars Anthony Ramos as a bodega owner grappling with feelings of community in his neighbourhood of Washington Heights. It might be a hard sell opposite West Side Story, but when has Miranda made a bad musical before?

Release date: 7 August 2020

Soul

 

Would it really be the Oscars without a solid Pixar offering? This year the animation titans are releasing two original films, Soul and Onward – but we’re putting our money on Soul going all the way.

The film follows a musician suffering a literal out of body experience, tasked with reconnecting with his own essence before finding his way back. Jamie Foxx and Tina Fey lead the voice cast of one of the most existential titles to hit screens this year.

Release date: 19 June 2020

Honourable mentions

With so many more months to go, of course the tide could change – and countless other movies could sneak in to win big. In terms of actors, there’s Ethan Hawke playing revered inventor Nikola Tesla in Tesla, Bradley Cooper gearing up to play composer Leonard Bernstein in a biopic, plus Tom Hardy as Al Capone in Fonzo.

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Wrapped #JamDun ??♠️

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Pushing the boundaries of storytelling sources, Zola makes a movie out of a Twitter thread, and Oscar-winning screenwriter Taika Waititi finds himself adapting football documentary Next Goal Wins.

In terms of directors, the conversation for more women directors is already seeing a few potential players. Josephine Decker earned rave reviews for her delirious Shirley Jackson biopic Shirley at Sundance, while both Miranda July and Eliza Hittman also impressed, with Kajillionaire and Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Always, respectively.

And last but not least? Paul Thomas Anderson is reportedly making a movie as we speak. Inevitably, he’s keeping things quiet about his San Fernando Valley coming of age drama. More as we get it…

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