Reel Dad: Critic selects his predictions for this year’s Oscar nominees

A year ago, as the world began to close, we wondered what movies we would see in 2020.

Without big screen theaters, where could big screen adventures play? Without in-person festivals, where could independent films find platforms? With audiences staying home, how would cinema habits change? And what would all of this mean to the Academy Awards?

We will learn, this Monday, March 15 when Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Nick Jonas announce the nominations in a two-part live presentation. In the meantime, here are my choices.

Best Picture

“Nomadland” is the deserved front runner for its breathtaking and timely look at isolation on the American landscape. The touching “Minari” reveals how welcoming we can and cannot be when immigrants move to our country to better their lives. “One Night in Miami” imagines a conversation that could have changed the world while “Judas and the Black Messiah” highlights a hero who was trying to do just that. “The Trial of the Chicago 7” takes us back to a period of time when we feared, as a nation, the chance to listen to all voices and “Promising Young Woman” introduces us to the voice of one lady who demands to be heard. “The Father” explores a complicated relationship between generations, “Sound of Metal” examines how a young man reacts to hearing loss, and “Da 5 Bloods” asks what it takes for people to let go of tragic experiences. If the Academy chooses a full ten-film slate, my final slot would go to the animated gem, “Soul,” for helping us see the good in anything that happens.

Best Actor

The late Chadwick Boseman should receive a posthumous nomination for his riveting portrayal of a jazz musician in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” Anthony Hopkins captures the humanity of aging as “The Father” as Riz Ahmed portrays the confusion of injury in “Sound of Metal.” Steven Yeun becomes the father we all look to be in “Minari” while Delroy Lindo reveals the tragedy of time in “Da 5 Bloods.”

Best Actress

Carey Mulligan breaks our hearts as a woman reconciling her past in “Promising Young Woman” while Andra Day becomes a legendary singer in “The United States vs. Billie Holiday.” These two actresses should face past Oscar winners Frances McDormand who makes us believe in new beginnings in “Nomadland” and Viola Davis for transforming herself into a blues legend in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” The fifth slot should go to Vanessa Kirby for dealing with tragedy in “Pieces of a Woman.”

Best Supporting Actor

Daniel Kaluuya’s breathtaking recreation of Fred Hampton in “Judas and the Black Messiah” should land a nomination along with Leslie Odon, Jr.’s interpretation of singer Sam Cooke in “One Night in Miami.” Sacha Baron Cohen shows a different side of his screen persona in “The Trial of the Chicago 7” while newcomer Alan S. Kim captivates our attention in “Minari.” My choice for the fifth slot would be Stanley Tucci for his moving look at a man dealing with memory loss in “Supernova.”

Best Supporting Actress

Amanda Seyfried beautifully recreates old Hollywood in “Mank” as Olivia Colman touches our hearts as a daughter trying to love in “The Father.” Maria Bakalova lightens every moment in “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” while Youn Yah-Jung settles our worries as a wise woman in “Minari.” Oscar winner Ellen Burstyn should land the fifth slot for her complex mother in “Pieces of a Woman.”

Best Director

Chloé Zhao makes a movie for this and many moments with “Nomadland.” She should be joined by Lee Isaac Chung for projecting his memories in “Minari” and Regina King for her touching approach to “One Night in Miami.” Spike Lee deserves to be recognized for the powerful “Da 5 Bloods” while Aaron Sorkin brings history to life in “The Trial of the Chicago 7.”

Best Original Screenplay

“Minari” makes us want to welcome anyone we meet while “The Trial of the Chicago 7” prompts us to question how we remember moments in history. “Judas and the Black Messiah” returns us to times of confusion between races, “Promising Young Woman” explores the lessons of confronting the past and “Palm Springs” simply makes us laugh.

Best Adapted Screenplay

“Nomadland” adapts a book into a soaring look into people, “One Night in Miami” adapts a play into an imaginative take on a conversation that could make history, “The Father” and “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” reinterpret theatrical works for the screen and “News of the World” gives a novel a fresh reason to be experienced.

Best Animated Feature

“Soul” celebrates the magic of living, “Wolfwalkers” considers the mystery of spirit, “Onward” and “Over the Moon” take us on wild journeys and “Earwig and the Witch” celebrates the possibilities of magic.

Best Film Editing

“Nomadland” features a director (Chloé Zhao) editing her own film, “Minari” offers a fluid story that feels seamless, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” tightens the rhythm of the stage production, “The Trial of the Chicago 7” bristles with tension and “One Night in Miami” makes a conversation move.

Best Cinematography

“News of the World” captures the beauty of the American West, “Nomadland” preserves the empty spaces of an open landscape, “Mank” recreates the look and feel of old-time Hollywood, while “Tenet” and “The Midnight Sky” create their own worlds.

Best Production Design

“Mank” makes us believe we are back in Hollywood in the early 1940s, “News of the World” makes the American West look fresh, “Mulan” recreates a detailed world, and the big-budget “Tenet” and “The Midnight Sky” take us to places we could only imagine.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” makes its exaggerated characters accessible, “Hillbilly Elegy” makes its performers barely recognizable, “The United States vs. Billie Holliday” suggests the looks of recognizable legends and “Bill & Ted Face the Music” and “The Prom” demonstrate what this craft can accomplish.

Best Sound

“Sound of Metal” captures the world of heavy metal, “News of the World” projects the scope of its landscape, “Mank” fills the screen with the sounds of moviemaking, “Nomadland” makes what we hear as essential as what we see and “The Trial of the Chicago 7” makes us want to listen.

Best Visual Effects

The big-budget “Tenet” and “The Midnight Sky” use computer-generation to thrill while “Mulan” and “Wonder Woman 1984” challenge creative boundaries. Leave it to “Mank” to remind us that films don’t have to be big to be visually astounding.

Best Original Score

“News of the World” soars, “Soul” captivates, “The Midnight Sky” matches the scope of its pictures, “One Night in Miami” uses music to help advance its narrative and “Da 5 Bloods” celebrates the storytelling a score can provide.

Best Original Song

“Is Si (Seen)” from “The Life Ahead” could finally bring Diane Warren an Oscar, “Speak Now” from “One Night in Miami” could make Leslie Odom, Jr. a double nominee, while “Turntables” (“All In: The Fight for Democracy”), “Wear Your Crown” (“The Prom”) and “Just Sing” (“Trolls: World Tour”) celebrate their films.

Best International Feature

Look for “Another Round” (Denmark), “Quo Vaids, Aida?” (Bosnia and Herzegovina), “A Sun” (Taiwan), “Two of Us” (France) and “I’m No Longer Here” (Mexico) to be nominated.

Best Documentary Feature

“Dick Johnson is Dead” teaches us the meaning of life and its end, “All In: The Fight for Democracy” challenges us to stand up and be counted, “Boys State” introduces us to the voices of tomorrow, “The Way I See It” captures essential moments in history and “Time” projects the frustrations of a judicial system.

Oh, if only I could choose the Oscar nominees. But I can’t. So I will just have to watch!