Our 2021 Oscars Best Picture and Best Director predictions

Nomadland is among the contenders for this year's Best Picture Oscar.

Nomadland is among the contenders for this year's Best Picture Oscar. - Credit: Searchlight Pictures / 2020 20th Century Studios

We are now into awards season again with the Golden Globes nominations already announced. But who will win this year's coveted Oscars?

As the countdown starts to the Academy Awards nominations, our film reviewer Paul Steward looks at this year's Oscar contenders in the Best Picture and Best Director categories.


Best Director 

Historically the Best Director Oscar has been closely linked to the Best Picture winner.

Over 70 per cent of winners in this category have gone to the director of the best film.

However in recent years, due in part to a change in the Academy voting system, that stat has begun to change.

Last year South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho took home both awards for his history-making film Parasite.

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But who will we see collecting a gold statuette this year?

Director David Fincher on the set of Mank. 

Director David Fincher on the set of Mank. - Credit: Gisele Schmidt/NETFLIX

Two-time nominee David Fincher is one of the bookies' favourites for his 1930s drama Mank, the story behind the making of Orson Welles classic Citizen Kane.

The poster for Netflix movie Mank by David Fincher

The poster for Netflix movie Mank by David Fincher - Credit: Netflix

He will likely be joined by his former collaborator Aaron Sorkin, winner of the 2011 adapted screenplay Oscar for the Fincher directed The Social Network, whose film The Trial of the Chicago 7 is tipped to feature in a number of categories.

THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7: BEHIND THE SCENES with DIRECTOR, AARON SORKIN. NICO TAVERNISE/NETFLIX ©

The Trial of the Chicago 7 director Aaron Sorkin. - Credit: NICO TAVERNISE/NETFLIX © 2020

Previous nominees Paul Greengrass and Spike Lee are also in contention for their films, News of the World and Da 5 Bloods. 

The rest of the field could well be made up of first-time directing nominees, with Lee Isaac Chung for Minari and Regina King – a best supporting actress winner in 2019 – for One Night in Miami, joining Chloe Zhao, director of Nomadland, in the list of likely candidates.

Frances McDormand and Director/Writer Chloé Zhao on the set of NOMADLAND. Photo by Joshua James Rich

Frances McDormand and director/writer Chloé Zhao on the set of Nomadland. - Credit: Joshua James Richards. © 2020 20th Century Studios

Amazingly in the year 2021, if the latter pair receive nominations it will mark the first time ever two women have been nominated in the director category. 

Top Pick – David Fincher
Outside Bet – Chloe Zhao


Best Picture
Since 2009 the Academy has used what they call the preferential ballot system to choose the winner of the illustrious best picture.

It's a system which ensures the most widely liked film wins the award but not necessarily the most popular.

At the same time, the category limit has increased from five to 10 nominated films, making predictions even harder.

Last year Boon Jong-ho’s Parasite made history by becoming the first foreign language film to win the award.

But which film will be claiming the most prestigious of Oscars this year?

The Frances McDormand drama Nomadland is currently the runaway favourite.  

Director/writer Chloé Zhao, director of photography Joshua Richardson and Frances McDormand on the set of Nomadland.

Director/writer Chloé Zhao, director of photography Joshua Richardson and Frances McDormand on the set of Nomadland. - Credit: Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures. © 2019 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation


The film, which will be released in the UK later in the year, tells the tale of a woman, who after losing everything, embarks on a journey across America in her camper van.

Netflix feature Malcolm & Marie, starring Zendaya and John David Washington, is shooting up the betting.


Zendaya and John David Washington star in Malcolm & Marie.

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

The excellent Aaron Sorkin courtroom drama The Trial of the Chicago 7 will surely be another popular choice among voters.

The Trial of the Chicago 7 poster

The Trial of the Chicago 7 is likely to be among the big Oscar contenders. - Credit: Netflix

The previously mentioned Mank, Da 5 Bloods, Minari and The News of the World are also all very likely candidates for nominations.

Outside bets not to be discounted are Anthony Hopkins drama The Father, Regina King's One Night in Miami and the late Chadwick Boseman’s final film, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. 


Top Pick - Nomadland
Outside Bet – The Trial of the Chicago 7

Frances McDormand stars in Nomadland.

Frances McDormand stars in Nomadland. - Credit: Searchlight Pictures


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