Our predictions for this year's best actor and best actress Oscars

Chadwick Boseman as Levee, Colman Domingo as Cutler, Viola Davis as Ma Rainey, Michael Potts as Slow Drag and Glynn Turman...

Chadwick Boseman as Levee, Colman Domingo as Cutler, Viola Davis as Ma Rainey, Michael Potts as Slow Drag and Glynn Turman as Toledo in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. - Credit: David Lee/NETFLIX

After a difficult year for the film industry, the Academy Awards nominations are set to be announced next month.

The upcoming 93rd Oscars are later than normal this year due to the pandemic, and the awards ceremony won't take place until Sunday, April 25, 2021.

Despite there being fewer films released at the cinema in the past 12 months, there's still some big names in the frame for the coveted best acting awards.

With the shortlist of nominees due to announced, our film reviewer Paul Steward looks at the possible contenders for the Best Actor and Best Actress gongs in his 2021 Oscar predictions.



Best Actress

The Academy is often sweet on portrayals of real-life characters, as proven once again last year with Renée Zellweger’s win for her role as Judy Garland in biopic Judy.

This could well be the case again, as leading the early betting in the Best Actress category is Viola Davis for her performance as the titular Ma Rainey in Netflix feature Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

Chadwick Boseman and Viola Davis star in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.

Chadwick Boseman and Viola Davis star in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. - Credit: Netflix

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The seasoned actress has received rave reviews for her turn as the sharp-tongued 'Mother of the Blues', and is sure to feature on the nominees list.

Chadwick Boseman as Levee, Viola Davis as Ma Rainey, and Colman Domingo as Cutler in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.

Chadwick Boseman as Levee, Viola Davis as Ma Rainey, and Colman Domingo as Cutler in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. - Credit: David Lee/NETFLIX

Equally so R&B singer turned actress Andra Day, who has been gradually rising up the betting for her title role in The United States vs Billie Holiday.

Amazingly, Halle Berry is still the only woman of colour to win the best actress award – in 2002 for Monster's Ball – but that stat will be severely tested this year, as along with Davis and Day, 24-year-old Zendaya has also emerged as a frontrunner. 

Zendaya as Marie and John David Washington as Malcolm in Malcolm & Marie.

Zendaya as Marie and John David Washington as Malcolm in Malcolm & Marie. - Credit: NETFLIX © 2021

She stars alongside John David Washington in the intimate character piece Malcolm & Marie, which will be released on Netflix in early February.

Zendaya and John David Washington star in Malcolm & Marie.

Zendaya and John David Washington star in Malcolm & Marie. - Credit: Netflix

Second favourite is currently Frances McDormand.

The two-time winner plays a woman discovering the joys of living on the road after losing everything, in the hotly tipped Nomadland.

Frances McDormand in the film Nomadland.

Frances McDormand in the film Nomadland. - Credit: Photo Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2020 20th Century Studios

British hopes this year will be riding on Carey Mulligan, who stars as a medical school dropout on a vengeful quest against predatory men, in the film Promising Young Woman.

It's a role that is already being billed as her career best after its US release.

PIECES OF A WOMAN: Vanessa Kirby as Martha

Vanessa Kirby as Martha in Pieces of a Woman. - Credit: Netflix

Fellow Brits Vanessa Kirby and Kate Winslet could also be in the running.

Kirby looks like being shortlisted for her emotional performance in Netflix drama Pieces of a Woman, and former winner Winslet for the Francis Lee directed romance Ammonite.

Molly Parker as Eva and Vanessa Kirby as Martha in Pieces of a Woman.

Molly Parker as Eva and Vanessa Kirby as Martha in Pieces of a Woman. - Credit: Netflix

Finally, if there is any justice, Elisabeth Moss will be rewarded with a nomination for her captivating performance in last year's The Invisible Man.

However, after its early 2020 release it may have slipped from the memory of Academy voters.

Top Pick – Carey Mulligan
Outside Bet – Zendaya


Best Actor

The Best Actor race appears to be wide open this year.

Delroy Lindo and Sir Anthony Hopkins are currently neck and neck with the bookies.

Clarke Peters as Otis and Delroy Lindo as Paul in Da 5 Bloods

Clarke Peters as Otis and Delroy Lindo as Paul in Da 5 Bloods - Credit: DAVID LEE/NETFLIX

Lindo is tipped for his incendiary turn in Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods, and former winner Hopkins for his role as a dementia sufferer opposite Olivia Colman in The Father.

Glynn Turman as Toldeo, Chadwick Boseman as Levee, Michael Potts as Slow Drag, and Colman Domingo as Cutler in Ma Rainey's...

Glynn Turman as Toldeo, Chadwick Boseman as Levee, Michael Potts as Slow Drag, and Colman Domingo as Cutler in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. - Credit: David Lee/Netflix

It remains unclear if Chadwick Boseman will be submitted for lead or supporting actor, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the recently departed actor receive a posthumous award for one of his final performances in Da 5 Bloods or Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

Chadwick Boseman as Levee in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.

Chadwick Boseman as Levee in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. - Credit: David Lee/NETFLIX

Brit Riz Ahmed’s role in Sound of Metal as a heavy metal drummer who loses his hearing has gained almost universal praise and will likely gain him his first nomination, as will the performance of Kingsley Ben-Adir, who stars as Malcolm X in the Regina King directed One Night in Miami.

Kingsley Ben-Adir stars in One Night in Miami.

Kingsley Ben-Adir stars in One Night in Miami. - Credit: Patti Perret/Amazon Studios

This is a fictional tale of a 1960s meeting between icons Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, and Jim Brown.

Former The Walking Dead star Steven Yeun also features highly in the betting, and is likely to receive a nomination for his starring role in the critically acclaimed Korean drama Minari.

Tom Hanks as Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd in News of the World, co-written and directed by Paul Greengrass.

Tom Hanks as Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd in News of the World, co-written and directed by Paul Greengrass. - Credit: © 2020 UNIVERSAL STUDIOS/NETFLIX.

Finally, it wouldn’t be the Oscars without a few acting heavyweights in the mix, and this year should be no different.

Two-time winner Tom Hanks for News of the World and 2017 winner Gary Oldman for Mank have both garnered praise for their performances.

Gary Oldman as Herman Mankiewicz in Mank.

Gary Oldman as Herman Mankiewicz in Mank. - Credit: Netflix


Top Pick – Delroy Lindo
Outside Bet – Riz Ahmed


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