Oscars 2021: Could Anthony Hopkins overtake Chadwick Boseman? And more questions as final voting closes

Patrick Ryan
USA TODAY

We're almost at the finish line of the weirdest Oscar race ever. 

Like everything else this past year, awards season was turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic: Screenings were virtual, acceptance speeches became Zoom calls and red carpets went the way of the dinosaurs.

But nominations are out and final voting closes Tuesday for the Academy Awards, which is sticking to its rescheduled April 25 date with an in-person ceremony in Los Angeles. With the Golden GlobesCritics Choice Awards, Screen Actors Guild Awards and British Academy Film Awards,  or BAFTAs, all in the rearview, here's where the race stands as Oscar season comes to a close: 

BAFTAs:'Nomadland' wins four including best picture, actress, director

The late Chadwick Boseman is a deserving Oscar front-runner for his final film role as trumpet player Levee in Netflix's "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom."

'Nomadland,' Chadwick Boseman are safe bets 

All season long, "Nomadland" and the late Chadwick Boseman have mostly swept their respective categories of best picture and best actor (Boseman for "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom"). But with the final round of Oscar voting officially getting underway Thursday, folks are clearly looking to stir the pot in hopes of an upset come Oscar night. 

Earlier this year, pieces in Vulture and Slate criticized "Nomadland" – about a widow (Frances McDormand) who hits the road and takes seasonal work – for its somewhat rosy depiction of Amazon warehouses and gig labor. A Los Angeles Times story attempted to revive the backlash last week  to little avail. As one film critic joked in defense of the movie on Twitter, "I don't know, I didn't watch Nomadland and get super-psyched to work at Amazon ... Can’t believe the film wants its audience to focus on character and emotion instead of Amazon." 

Movie fans have similarly gone to bat over Boseman and Anthony Hopkins, arguing who is more "deserving" of an Oscar after Hopkins' surprise best actor win at BAFTA for "The Father," in which he plays a man battling dementia. 

Of course, no one is completely safe until envelopes are opened and names are called April 25. But at this point, it's highly unlikely that the hubbub will slow the momentum of the exquisite "Nomadland" and Boseman's captivating final performance as a fast-talking cornet player. 

'Nomadland':Meet director Chloé Zhao, who just made Oscar history (and was Spike Lee's student)

Where to watch: "Nomadland" is streaming on Hulu; "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" is streaming on Netflix; "The Father" is now in theaters and available to rent on video on demand. 

To play Fern, a fictionalized character in "Nomadland," Frances McDormand embedded herself among real-life nomads.

Best actress is still up for grabs

Trying to read the tea leaves of the best actress race is harder than ever. Long-assumed frontrunner Carey Mulligan (“Promising Young Woman”) has only earned a Critics Choice Award for her provocative turn as a #MeToo vigilante. Her chances of winning Oscar gold are now slipping, after losing to Andra Day (“The United States vs. Billie Holiday”) at February’s Golden Globes and Viola Davis (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”) at the Screen Actors Guild Awards on April 4.

Viola Davis sings the blues and demands her worth in Netflix's 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom'

Fifteen of the last 20 SAG best actress winners have clinched Oscars for their respective roles, which firmly puts Davis in the front-runner slot. But neither Davis, Day nor Mulligan were up for best actress at last Sunday’s BAFTAs, where the best actress winner has coincided with Oscar for the last seven years. McDormand (“Nomadland”) walked away with the prize, despite being a no-show at the virtual ceremony, where "Nomadland" also won best film, best director (Chloé Zhao) and cinematography. 

McDormand could potentially ride a "Nomadland" Oscar sweep to her third acting win. But the beloved star just won three years ago for "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri," and will no doubt be back in awards contention next season playing Lady Macbeth opposite Denzel Washington in "The Tragedy of Macbeth," directed by her husband Joel Coen (of the Coen Brothers). We're guessing the Academy will choose to spread the love by anointing Day or Davis best actress, instead giving McDormand a best picture statue as a producer of "Nomadland." 

Where to watch: "Pieces of a Woman" is streaming on Netflix; "The United States vs. Billie Holiday" is streaming on Hulu; "Promising Young Woman" is in theaters and available to rent or buy. 

Yuh-jung Youn (right, with Alan S. Kim) has a memorable role as a Korean grandmother in "Minari."

'Minari' star Yuh-jung Youn is the one to beat 

Daniel Kaluuya is a shoo-in for best supporting actor for his portrayal of Fred Hampton in "Judas and the Black Messiah," and best supporting actress is now practically sewn up, too. The category was long thought of as a three-way race between Glenn Close (“Hillbilly Elegy”), Maria Bakalova (“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”) and South Korean star Yuh-jung Youn (“Minari”). But the competition narrowed with Youn's back-to-back victories at the SAG Awards and BAFTAs for her scene-stealing turn as a spiky but sweet grandma. 

The last time someone won supporting actress from both SAG and BAFTA but missed out on Oscar was in 1995 when Kate Winslet was in contention for "Sense and Sensibility." She ultimately lost the Academy Award to Mira Sorvino for Woody Allen's "Mighty Aphrodite." It only helps that Youn's acceptance speeches have been nothing but wonderful, memorably knocking British people for being "snobbish" at their own awards show.

Where to watch: "Minari" is in theaters and available to rent on video on demand; "Hillbilly Elegy" is streaming on Netflix; "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm" is streaming on Amazon Prime.