The Hollywood Reporter chief film critic David Rooney makes his case for 'Nomadland' and 'Hamilton,' while awards analyst Scott Feinberg shares his predictions for films from 'The Trial of the Chicago 7' to the 'Borat' sequel.
Click here to see Feinberg and chief TV critic Daniel Fienberg's picks for who will and should win in the television categories.
SHOULD WIN: Nomadland
Chloé Zhao cements her place as one of the great poets of the new American West with this haunting study of a disenfranchised transient, played with resilience by Frances McDormand.
WILL WIN: The Trial of the Chicago 7
Mank has the most noms, but that hasn't meant anything in recent years. This race often reflects Oscar buzz of the moment, which means Nomadland or The Trial of the Chicago 7.
SHOULD WIN: Hamilton
In a weak category this year, it has to be Thomas Kail's performance-capture recording of the Broadway juggernaut that bottles the thrill of live theater with rare skill.
WILL WIN: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Music (poorly reviewed) and Hamilton (not really a movie) are controversial. And Meryl Streep's snub is a bad sign for The Prom. Palm Springs and Borat Subsequent Moviefilm are both "LOL" comedies, but one has more to say.
SHOULD WIN: Carey Mulligan
Carey Mulligan delivers the most surprising turn, dismantling her subdued persona to create a unique character bristling with a barely suppressed howl of indignation and a thirst for justice at any cost.
WILL WIN: Carey Mulligan
Promising Young Woman, up for four prizes, is going to win somewhere, and here seems as likely as anywhere, since Frances McDormand and Viola Davis won recently, whereas Carey Mulligan never has.
SHOULD WIN: Chadwick Boseman
Riz Ahmed is an exciting actor who will have many opportunities. Chadwick Boseman, tragically, will not. In Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, his wrenching final performance, he leaves nothing behind.
WILL WIN: Anthony Hopkins
Most predict Ma Rainey's late Chadwick Boseman over The Father's Anthony Hopkins, but only Hopkins' film is up for best pic, plus the HFPA adores him (eight noms going back 42 years!).
SHOULD WIN: Michelle Pfeiffer
Michelle Pfeiffer is too seldom ranked among the best of her generation. Her withering hauteur and spent surrender elevate every moment of French Exit, Azazel Jacobs' depressed comedy.
WILL WIN: Maria Bakalova
The HFPA likes to spread its love, but Borat could go three-for-three. Its young breakout has no major competition, the only other hailing from a best pic nominee being Kate Hudson (Music).
SHOULD WIN: Sacha Baron Cohen
Dev Patel is terrific, but the film left me cold; Andy Samberg's role doesn't extend his range; Lin-Manuel Miranda isn't Hamilton's strongest player; and James Corden is abrasive in The Prom.
WILL WIN: Sacha Baron Cohen
Voters may want to acknowledge Lin-Manuel Miranda, but I suspect this is between Palm Springs' Andy Samberg and Sacha Baron Cohen, who won for the original Borat 14 years ago.
This story first appeared in the Feb. 24 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.