2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Picture [Updated November 19] – Gold Derby

Predicting the Best Picture winner is often the toughest among the 23 categories at the Oscars. We learned this at the 2020 Academy Awards. We were certain the top prize would go to 1917 but it was Parasite that prevailed. When making our Best Picture Oscar predictions, we weigh many factors, the most important of which is the effect of the preferential ballot that is used only for this race (voters rank all the nominees with the winner being the one that is the consensus choice.)

We also take into account the pedigree of the filmmakers, the critical reception to their previous films, the box office tally and the track record of the studios. Weve taken all of these into consideration again as we look ahead to the 2021 Academy Awards. (Scroll down for the 2021 Oscars predictions for Best Picture.)

Early contenders were launched at the Sundance Film Festival in January before the coronavirus pandemic upended the race. Cannes was cancelled in May as was Telluride for Labor Day weekend. The three other festivals used as launching pads Venice, Toronto and New York are significantly scaled back. While cinemas are shuttered, the academy is allowing films that had to scrap planned theatrical releases to qualify via a streaming service.

Please note: Only those films with confirmed release dates are listed below. Check back often as new contenders are scheduled while other are dropped due to delays or critical reaction.

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UPDATED: November 19, 2020

Leading Contenders

Da 5 Bloods (Netflix June 12)Director: Spike LeeWriters: Danny Bilson, Paul De Meo, Spike Lee, Kevin WillmottCast: Chadwick Boseman, Delroy Lindo, Paul Walter Hauser, Norm Lewis, Jonathan Majors, Clarke Peters, Isiah Whitlock, Jr.Plot: Four Vietnam veterans return to Vietnam in search of the remains of their fallen squad leader and the promise of buried treasure.

The Father (Sony Pictures Classics December 18)Director: Florian ZellerWriters: Christopher Hampton and Zeller, who adapted the latters play of the same name.Stars: Anthony Hopkins, Olivia Colman, Imogen Poots, Rufus SewellPlot: A man refuses all assistance from his daughter as he ages.

Mank (Netflix December 4)Director: David FincherWriter: Jack FincherCast: Gary Oldman, Amanda Seyfried, Lily Collins, Tuppence Middleton, Arliss HowardPlot: Screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz battles with director Orson Welles over screenplay credit for Citizen Kane.

News Of The World (Universal December 25)Director: Paul GreengrassWriters: Greengrass, Luke Davies, who adapted Paulette Jiles novel of the same name.Cast: Tom Hanks, Mare Winningham, Helena ZengelPlot: A travelling newsreader is tasked with bringing an orphaned girl to her living relatives in the aftermath of theAmerican Civil War.

Nomadland (Searchlight Pictures December 4)Writer/Director: Chlo Zhao (who adapted Jessica Bruders non-fiction book of the same name.Cast: Frances McDormand, David Strathairn, Linda May, Charlene SwankiePlot: A woman in her sixties who, after losing everything in the Great Recession, embarks on a journey through the American West.

One Night in Miami (Amazon December25)Director: Regina KingWriter: Kemp Powers, who adapted his play of the same name.Cast: Kingsley Ben-Adir, Aldis Hodge, Leslie Odom Jr.Plot: In the aftermath of Cassius Clays defeat of Sonny Liston in 1964, the boxer meets with Malcolm X, Sam Cooke and Jim Brown to change the course of history in the segregated South.

Soul (Disney/Pixar November 20)Director: Pete DocterWriters: Docter, Mike Jones, Kemp Powers, Tina FeyCast: Jamie Foxx, Angela Bassett, Tina Fey, Questlove, Phylicia Rashad, Daveed DiggsPlot: A musician who has lost his passion for music is transported out of his body and must find his way back with the help of an infant soul learning about herself.

Tenet (Warner Bros. September 3)Writer/Director: Christopher NolanCast: John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Dimple Kapadia, Michael Caine, Kenneth BranaghPlot: A secret agent is tasked with preventingWorld War IIIthroughtime travel

The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Netflix September 25)Writer/Director: Aaron SorkinCast: Michael Keaton, Eddie Redmayne, Alex Sharp, Sacha Baron Cohen, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Frank Langella, John Carroll Lynch, Mark Rylance, Jeremy StrongPlot: The story of 7 people on trial stemming from various charges surrounding the uprising at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

The United States vs. Billie Holiday (Paramount February 12, 2021)Director: Lee DanielsWriter: Suzan-Lori Parks, who adapted Chasing the Scream by Johann Hari.Cast: Andra Day, Trevante Rhodes, Garrett Hedlund, Natasha LyonnePlot: Follows singer Billie Holiday during her career as she is targeted by the Federal Department of Narcotics with an undercover sting operation led by black Federal Agent Jimmy Fletcher, with whom she had a tumultuous affair.

PREDICTthe 2021 Oscar nominations through March 15

Strong Contenders

Ammonite (Neon November 13)Writer/Director: Francis LeeCast: Kate Winslet, Saoirse Ronan, Fiona ShawPlot: 1840s England, an infamous fossil hunter and a young woman sent to convalesce by the sea develop an intense relationship, altering both of their lives forever.

Cherry (Apple+ Winter)Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe RussoWriters: Jessica Goldberg and Angela Russo-Otstot, who adapted Nico Walkers novel of the same name.Cast: Tom Holland, Ciara Bravo, Bill Skarsgrd, Jack ReynorPlot: An Army medic with PTSD becomes addicted to opioids and starts robbing banks to pay for the addiction.

Everybodys Talking About Jamie (20th Century January 21, 2021)Director: Jonathan ButterellWriters: Dan Gillespie Sells, Tom MacRae, who adapted their stage musical of the same name.Cast: Max Harwood, Lauren Patel, Richard E. GrantPlot: A teenager from Sheffield, England wants to be a drag queen.

First Cow (A24 March 24)Director: Kelly ReichardtWriters: Reichardt and Jonathan Raymond, who adapted the latters novel The Half Life.Cast: John Magaro, Orion Lee, Toby Jones, Ewen Bremner, Scott Shepherd, Gary Farmer, Lily GladstonePlot: A skilled cook has traveled west and joined a group of fur trappers in Oregon.

French Exit (Sony Pictures Classics February 12, 2021)Director: Azazel JacobsWriter: Patrick deWitt, who adapted his novel of the same name.Cast: Michelle Pfeiffer, Lucas Hedges, Tracy LettsPlot: A close to penniless widow moves toPariswith her son and cat, who also happens to be her reincarnated husband.

Greyhound (Apple+ July 20)Director:Aaron SchneiderWriter: Tom Hanks, who adapted C. S. Foresters novel The Good Shepherd.Cast: Tom Hanks, Elisabeth Shue, Karl GlusmanPlot: Early in World War II, an inexperienced U.S. Navy captain must lead an Allied convoy being stalked by Nazi U-boats.

Judas and the Black Messiah (Warner Bros. Winter)Director: Shaka KingWriters: Shaka King, Will BersonCast: Daniel Kaluuya, Lakeith Stanfield, Jesse Plemons, Dominique Fishback, Ashton Sanders, Martin SheenPlot: In the late 1960s, petty criminalWilliam ONealagrees to work as an informant for theFBIin order to take downBlack Panther PartychairmanFred Hampton.

The Life Ahead (Netflix November 13)Director: Edoardo PontiWriters: Ponti, Ugo Chiti, who adapted Romain Garys novel The Life Before Us.Cast: Sophia Loren, Abril Zamora, Babak KarimiPlot: An aging Holocaust survivor forges a bond with a young immigrant from Senegal.

Ma Raineys Black Bottom (Netflix December18)Director: George C. WolfeWriter: Ruben Santiago-Hudson, who adapted August Wilsons play of the same name.Cast: Viola Davis, Chadwick BosemanPlot: When Ma Rainey, the Queen of the Blues, makes a record in a studio in Chicago, 1927, tensions boil between her, her white agent and producer, and bandmates.

The Midnight Sky (Netflix December23)Director: George ClooneyWriter: Mark L Smith, who adapted Lily Brooks-Daltons novel of the same name.Cast. George Clooney, Felicity Jones, Kyle Chandler, David Oyelowo, Demian BichirPlot: A lonely scientist in the Arctic races to stop astronauts from returning home to a mysterious global catastrophe.

Minari (A24 Winter)Writer/Director: Lee Isaac ChungCast: Steven Yeun,Han Ye-ri, Alan Kim, Noel Kate Cho,Youn Yuh-jung, andWill Patton.Plot: A Korean-American family moves to a tiny Arkansas farm in search of their own American Dream. The family home changes completely with the arrival of their sly, foul-mouthed, loving grandmother.

Palm Springs (Neon July 10)Director: Max BarbakowWriter: Andy SiaraCast: Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti, Peter Gallagher, J. K. SimmonsPlot: Two strangers meet at a Palm Springs wedding only to get stuck in a time loop.

The Personal History of David Copperfield (Searchlight Pictures August 28)Director: Armando IannucciWriters: Simon Blackwell and Iannucci, who adapted Charles Dickenss novel of the same name.Cast: Dev Patel, Aneurin Barnard, Peter Capaldi, Morfydd Clark, Daisy May Cooper, Rosalind Eleazar, Hugh Laurie, Tilda Swinton, Ben Whishaw, Paul WhitehousePlot: A modern take on Dickenss classic tale of a young orphan who is able to triumph over many obstacles.

Pieces of a Woman (Netflix January 7, 2021)Director: Kornel Mundrucz0Writer: Kata WeberCast: Vanessa Kirby, Shia LaBeouf, Ellen Burstyn, Molly ParkerPlot: A grieving woman embarks on an emotional journey after the loss of her baby.

Promising Young Woman (Focus Features December 25)Writer/Director: Emerald FennellCast: Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Alison Brie, Clancy Brown, Jennifer Coolidge, Connie Britton, Laverne CoxPlot: A young woman, traumatized by a tragic event in her past, seeks out vengeance against those who cross her path.

Sound of Metal (Amazon November 20)Director: Darius MarderWriters: Darius Marder, Abraham MarderCast: Riz Ahmed, Olivia Cooke, Paul Raci, Lauren Ridloff, Mathieu AmalricPlot: A heavy-metal drummers life is thrown into freefall when he begins to lose his hearing.

Supernova (Bleecker Street January 29, 2021)Writer/Director: Harry MacqueenCast: Colin Firth, Stanley Tucci, James Dreyfus, Pippa Haywood, Sarah WoodwardPlot: Sam and Tusker are traveling across England in their old RV to visit friends, family and places from their past. Since Tusker was diagnosed with dementia two years ago, their time together is the most important thing they have.

The White Tiger (Netflix- January 22, 2021)Writer/Director: Ramin Bahrani, who adapted Aravind Adigas novel of the same name.Cast: Priyanka Chopra, Rajkummar Rao, Nalneesh NeelPlot: The story of Balram Halwai, a man born to poverty in a village in India, and his epic journey to the top of the heap.

Wild Mountain Thyme (Bleecker Street December 11)Writer/Director: John Shanley, who adapted his play Outside Mullingar.Cast: Jamie Dornan, Emily Blunt, Jon Hamm, Christopher Walken, Dearbhla MolloyPlot: Family conflicts arise when the patriarch threatens to give their farm over to an American nephew as opposed to his own son.

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Possible Contenders

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (Amazon October 23)Director: Jason WolinerWriters: Peter Baynham, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jena Friedman, Anthony Hines, Lee Kern, Dan Mazer, Erica Rivinoja, Dan Swimer (based on Borat Sagdiyev by Sacha Baron Cohen)Cast: Sacha Baron Cohen, Maria BakalovaPlot: Follow-up film to the 2006 comedy centering on the real-life adventures of a fictional Kazakh television journalist named Borat.

The Boys In The Band (Netflix September 30)Director: Joe MantelloWriter: Matt Crowley, who adapted his play of the same name.Cast: Jim Parsons,Zachary Quinto,Matt Bomer|Plot: A group of gay men who gather in a NYC apartment for a friends birthday party.

The Courier (Lionsgate February 19, 2021)Director: Dominic CookeWriter: Tom OConnorCast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel Brosnahan, Jessie BuckleyPlot: The true story of the British businessman who helped the CIA penetrate the Soviet nuclear programme during the Cold War.

Emma (Focus Features February 21)Director: Autumn de WildeWriter: Eleanor Catton, who adapted Jane Austens novel of the same name.Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Johnny Flynn, Josh OConnor, Callum Turner, Mia Goth, Miranda Hart, Bill NighyPlot: A young woman interferes in the love lives of her friends.

The Forty-Year-Old Version (Netflix October 9)Writer/Director: Radha BlankCast: Radha Blank, Peter Kim, Oswin Benjamin, Reed BirneyPlot: Radha is a down-on-her-luck NY playwright, who is desperate for a breakthrough before 40 and reinvents herself as a rapper.

The Glorias (Roadside Attractions September 30)Director: Julie TaymorWriter: Sarah Ruhl, who adapted Gloria Steinems memoir My Life on the Road.Cast:Alicia Vikander, Julianne Moore, Timothy HuttonPlot: The story of Steinems itinerant childhoods influence on her life as a writer, activist and organizer for womens rights worldwide.

Herself (Amazon Fall)Director:Phyllida LloydWriters: Malcolm Campbell, Clare DunneCast: Cathy Belton, Harriet Walter, Conleth HillPlot:A young mother escapes her abusive husband and fights back against a broken housing system. She sets out to build her own home and in the process rebuilds her life and re-discovers herself.

Im Your Woman (Amazon December 4)Director:Julia HartWriters: Hart, Jordan HorowitzCast: Rachel Brosnahan, Frankie Faison, Bill HeckPlot: A woman must go on the run with her child due to her husbands crimes. Their lives become intertwined with a man and a woman, forming an unlikely partnership that teaches them more than just how to survive.

Im Thinking of Ending Things (Netflix September 4)Writer/Director: Charlie Kaufman, who adapted Iain Reids novel Im Thinking of Ending Things.Cast: Jesse Plemons, Jessie Buckley, Toni Collette, David ThewlisPlot: A man takes his girlfriend to meet with his parents, but they find themselves going on a terrifying detour.

The Invisible Man (Universal February 28)Writer/Director: Leigh WhannellCast: Elisabeth Moss, Aldis Hodge, Storm Reid, Harriet Dyer, Michael Dorman, Oliver Jackson-CohenPlot: A young woman, traumatized by a tragic event in her past, seeks out vengeance against those who cross her path.

Kajillionaire (Focus Features September 18)Writer/Director: Miranda JulyCast: Evan Rachel Wood, Debra Winger, Gina RodriguezPlot: A womans life is turned upside down when her criminal parents invite an outsider to join them on a major heist theyre planning.

The King of Staten Island (Paramount June 20)Director:Judd ApatowWriters: Apatow, Pete DavidsonCast: Pete Davidson, Bel Powley, Ricky VelezPlot: Scott has been a case of arrested development since his firefighter dad died. He spends his days smoking weed and dreaming of being a tattoo artist until events force him to grapple with his grief and take his first steps forward in life.

Miss Juneteenth (Vertical Entertainment June 19)Writer/Director: Channing Godfrey PeoplesCast: Nicole Beharie, Kendrick Sampson, Alexis ChikaezPlot: A former beauty queen and single mom prepares her rebellious teenage daughter for the Miss Juneteenth pageant.

Mulan (Disney September 4)Director:Niki CaroWriters: Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Lauren Hynek, Elizabeth Martin, based on the animated film Mulan adapted by Tony Bancroft from Barry Cooks story Ballad of Mulan.Cast: Yifei Liu, Donnie Yen, Li GongPlot: A young Chinese maiden disguises herself as a male warrior in order to save her father.

Never Rarely Sometimes Always (Focus Features March 13)Writer/Director: Eliza HittmanCast: Sidney Flanigan, Talia Ryder, Thodore PellerinPlot: A pair of teenage girls in rural Pennsylvania travel to New York City to seek out medical help after an unintended pregnancy.

On The Rocks (A24 October2)Writer/Director: Sofia CoppolaCast: Rashida Jones, Bill Murray, Marlon Wayans, Jessica Henwick, Jenny SlatePlot: A young mother who reconnects with her larger than life playboy father on an adventure through New York City.

Ordinary Love (Bleecker Street February 14)Directors:Lisa Barros DSa,Glenn LeyburnWriter: Owen McCaffertyCast: Lesley Manville, Liam Neeson, Esh AlladiPlot: An look at the lives of a middle-aged couple in the midst of the wifes breast cancer diagnosis.

The Prom (Netflix December 11)Director: Ryan MurphyWriters: Chad Beguelin, Bob Martin, who adapted their stage musical of the same name (co-written by Matthew Sklar).Cast: Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, James Corden, Andrew Rannells, Keegan-Michael Key, AwkwafinaPlot: Four Broadway actors travel to a conservative town to help a lesbian student banned from bringing her girlfriend to high school prom.

Shirley (Neon June 5)Director: Josephine DeckerWriter: Sarah Gubbins, who adapted Susan Scarf Merrells novel of the same name.Cast: Elisabeth Moss, Michael Stuhlbarg, Odessa Young, Logan LermanPlot: A famous horror writer finds inspiration for her next book after she and her husband take in a young couple.

Wonder Woman 1984 (Warner Bros. December25)Director:Patty JenkinsWriters: Geoff Johns, JenkinsCast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig, Pedro PascalPlot: In 1984, during the Cold War, Diana Prince comes into conflict with two formidable foes media businessman Maxwell Lord and friend-turned-enemy Barbara Minerva (A.K.A. Cheetah) while reuniting with her love interest Steve Trevor.

We will be updating our Oscar predictions for each competitive category often in the days to come so be sure to bookmark this page and keep checking back as the race heats up.

2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Picture: Updated November 17, 2020

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2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Makeup & Hairstyling: Updated November 12, 2020

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2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Production Design: Updated November 10, 2020

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2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Visual Effects: Updated November 11, 2020

2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Animated Feature: Updated November 9, 2020

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2021 Oscar Predictions: Best International Feature: Updated November 14, 2020

PREDICT the 2021 Oscar nominations through March 15

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2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Picture [Updated November 19] - Gold Derby

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