The Radio Times logo

Oscars 2021 predictions – Who will win vs who should

Everything you need to know about who might walk away with a golden statuette.

Who votes for the Oscars, Getty
Published: Wednesday, 21st April 2021 at 5:13 pm

The Oscars 2021 are upon us – and this Sunday we'll finally discover which film will follow in the footsteps of Parasite in being crowned Best Picture winner.


Given the altered eligibility rules and the lack of tentpole releases in the past year, it's been fascinating to watch the race unfold, and there's certainly no shortage of terrific films up for awards.

But who will be walking home with the golden statuettes come Sunday night? Here's who is predicted to win, plus my own picks for who should.

Best Picture


Who will win? Nomadland. Chloe Zhao's film seems all but certain to win the main prize having swept the board at the majority of award shows so far, including at the Golden Globes and the BAFTAs. The film explores the life of a 60-something-year-old Nevadan who lives as a modern-day nomad after the death of her husband, and would certainly be a deserving – if somewhat uncharacteristic – winner.

Who should win? The Father. While I wouldn't begrudge Nomadland the victory, our pick is for The Father – a stunning, heartbreakingly poignant portrait of dementia with an impeccable performance from Anthony Hopkins at its centre. The film is directed with a delicate and understated touch by Florian Zeller in his feature debut, and can be a stressful and disquieting watch, but its genuinely empathetic approach towards the main character and his family lends it a real heart too.

Best Actor


Who will win? Chadwick Boseman. Despite being pipped by Anthony Hopkins at the BAFTAs, Boseman has always been the favourite to pick up a posthumous Oscar for his outstanding final performance in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. It would certainly seem fitting to honour the actor after his tragic and untimely death last summer, and it's a hugely deserving performance – a painful reminder of just how magnetic a screen presence he was.

Who should win? Riz Ahmed. In truth, it's hard to separate most of the nominees in this category – and Boseman and Hopkins would both be worthy winners. If I had to pick one though, I'd actually lean towards Riz Ahmed for his incredibly committed performance as drummer Ruben in the superb Sound of Metal. The Brit learned American Sign Language and how to play the drums for the role, but it's the manner in which he subtly communicates the all-consuming panic of losing his hearing that really stands out in this tremendous film.

Best Actress


Who will win? Frances McDormand. This is probably the closest of all the major categories to call – and just about any one of the nominees is in with a shout – but I reckon Frances McDormand will walk home with her third Oscar for her terrific turn in Nomadland. It's a stunningly raw and realistic performance – and indeed some of the real-life nomads in the film reportedly didn't even know she was acting.

Who should win? Carey Mulligan. Promising Young Woman might have had a somewhat split reaction from critics, but one thing that just about everyone can agree on is that Mulligan gives a superb performance in the main role of Cassie. She wonderfully conveys the pain and grief of her character while also revelling in some superb line deliveries, carrying the entire movie in the process.

Best Director

Chloe Zhao

Who will win? Chloe Zhao. With the Golden Globe and BAFTA to her name already, Zhao seems all but a shoe-in for the award and it would be a groundbreaking win if she does walk away with the golden statuette. Indeed, winning would see her become the first woman of colour – and only the second woman in total – to win a Best Director Oscar.

Who should win? Chloe Zhao. It's hard to look past Zhao in this category and she would be an extremely deserving recipient of the award. Many of the moments she's managed to capture with the supporting cast of non-professional actors are sublime, with instances of both melancholic beauty and profound hopefulness, while the slow-paced and measured approach to the subject matter works excellently.

Best Supporting Actor

Who will win? Daniel Kaluuya. While some film fans reckoned that Kaluuya should have been put forward in the Best Actor category for his role in Judas and the Black Messiah rather than supporting, he has emerged as the huge favourite to win the award, sweeping most of the award shows so far, including the BAFTAs and the Golden Globes. It would be a huge upset if someone else was to win this particular award.


Best Supporting Actress

Who will win? Another race that seems to have settled on a winner already, the favourite for the award is undoubtedly Korean veteran Youn Yuh-jung for her role in Minari, which has already earned her a BAFTA. Her closest competition arguably comes in the shape of Bulgarian newcomer Maria Bakalova for her daring, hysterical performance in Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm.

The Academy Awards will take place on Sunday 25th April. If you’re looking for something to watch in the mean time, check out our TV Guide or visit our Movies hub for all the latest news.

Sponsored content