Oscars preview with Jill Riley and Movie Mister Euan Kerr

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Oscars statuettes are on display backstage at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California. (A.M.P.A.S. via Getty Images)
Oscars preview with Jill Riley and Movie Mister Euan Kerr
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The 93rd Oscars will be held on Sunday, April 25, and in the run-up to the awards show, Jill Riley and Movie Mister Euan Kerr talked about what we might expect when the awards are presented. Listen to their conversation in the audio player above, and read a transcript below.

JILL RILEY: Friday mornings, we talk movies here on The Current's Morning Show, and it is the Friday before the Oscars, and so I are turning to the Movie Mister Euan Kerr from MPR News to talk about Hollywood's big night … or this year, is it the big night?

Hey Euan, we need to begin with a reality check: it has been a tough year for the movie business because of the pandemic.

EUAN KERR: Indeed, yeah. Tough and potentially pivotal, actually. We have seen movie theaters closed for months on end by the pandemic, and those that have re-opened are still at limited capacity. We've seen blockbuster after blockbuster pushed back. I truly believe — I truly believe — I will see Daniel Craig in No Time to Die yet in my lifetime. Maybe in my grandchildren's lifetime. OK, now it looks like it's going to be coming out in October, and that's still 18 months after its original release date of April 2020. And on top of that, we have an audience which is now even more acclimated to watching movies at home.

And we've also have changed audience expectations.

And rightly so. There is a demand for more representative moviemaking: both in the subject matter, and who is making the films, both in front and behind the camera. And to a certain extent, Hollywood has listened: we have two female directors nominated this year — which, that's a first: Chloé Zhao for Nomadland and Emerald Fennell for Promising Young Woman. We have Minari, about a recently immigrated Korean family trying to start a vegetable farm in Arkansas in Reagan's America; and we have Judas and the Black Messiah about Fred Hampton, the leader of the Chicago chapter of the Black Panthers, all nominated for best movie.

Awards shows, I had just such a love with awards shows. I would just lay out my snacks and get ready for the big night. In a way, I've kind of fallen out of love with awards shows. And I guess it makes me wonder: Are people even watching awards shows anymore? Are people tuning in for the Oscars?

Well, you're not alone. Last year, the Oscars hit a historic low, with an audience of just 23 million viewers. The Academy is already predicting lower numbers for Sunday's show — and remember that the audiences for both this year's Grammys and the Golden Globes dropped by 50 percent over last year. So there's an ensemble cast of hosts this year, but they may not have a lot of people watching.

Euan, you pay attention to the movies. I rely on you for it throughout the year. So I wonder, what are your predictions for winners?

There are some strong favorites: Nomadland, which is the excellent movie about people who have lost their homes because of the tough economy and live in their vans, moving from job to job around the country. It could win Chloé Zhao best director — she would be the first Asian woman to win that prize. And the always magnetic Frances McDormand is the frontrunner for the best actress in a leading role award; if she wins, that will be the third time she's taken that. Chadwick Boseman, who the world lost to cancer last year, seems likely to take the best actor award for his performance in the screen adaptation of August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.

Now, once you get into the supporting actor and actress awards, it gets a little more murky. There is a rematch between Olivia Colman in The Father and Glenn Close in Hillbilly Elegy. Colman won in 2019 for The Favorite; Close is the frontrunner this year, even though the critics hated the film.

In best supporting actor, you have two actors for the same film going head to head: Daniel Kaluuya — he of Get Out fame — and LaKeith Stanfield, both of whom were in Judas and the Last Messiah, and also both who could have been held up as the leading male characters in the film by other awards. They are up against Sacha Baron Cohen, not for the new Borat movie, but for The Trial of the Chicago 7; and Leslie Odom, Jr., as Sam Cooke in One Night in Miami. However, the favorite is Paul Raci as a therapist in The Sound of Metal, about the drummer who loses his hearing.

And I'm glad you mentioned that with The Sound of Metal. I've been talking with more and more friends who've been able to see that movie, and they're just absolutely loving it. I remember you mentioning it earlier in the year, The Sound of Metal.

It's really an amazing film, and thought-provoking because hearing loss is a thing that affects a huge amount of people, both the people who are actually experiencing it and the families around them.

So Euan, are you going to be watching Sunday?

Well… I must admit I've long not been a big fan of the Oscars. And now I have a great excuse: I have to get up early for work on weekdays. So I will be in bed probably not long before the ceremony goes on. So I would actually recommend, if you are going to be up on Sunday evening, spend an evening watching one of the nominated movies rather than the ceremony itself. It'll probably actually take less time and likely be more fun. And you can read through the results later in about five minutes or so.

I know, that's the thing; it's like you can just check social media or check the internet for the results if awards shows aren't your thing. But I think that's some really good advice: Why not just watch one of the movies?

Yeah. And by the way, just in case you're interested, I'll be wearing my dress sweatshirt. I'm going with grey with the darker lining.

(laughing) You know what, that's been my pandemic uniform. I'm really into hoodie tunics this year, which I think I could kind of just jazz up with a little jewelry this year.

You know what I got? I got a hoodie dressing gown. You basically have to peel it off me.

Well, for some reason, I could just totally see you wearing some sort of old-timey gown to bed. I don't know why!

Well, my delightful children have started calling me "Obi Wan" because of the look.

Euan Kerr of Minnesota Public Radio News and also of the MPR News Cube Critics. You can find that podcast wherever you get your podcasts. And Euan joins me on Friday mornings to talk movies, and talking movies ahead of this Sunday's Oscars. Appreciate your time, Euan.

Have a great weekend!

The 93rd Oscars will be held on Sunday, April 25, 2021, at Union Station Los Angeles and the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood, and will be televised live on ABC at 7 p.m. CDT. The Oscars also will be televised live in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide.

List of Nominees

Performance by an actor in a leading role

Riz Ahmed in "Sound of Metal" (Amazon Studios)

Chadwick Boseman in "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" (Netflix) Anthony Hopkins in "The Father" (Sony Pictures Classics) Gary Oldman in "Mank" (Netflix)

Steven Yeun in "Minari" (A24)

Performance by an actor in a supporting role

Sacha Baron Cohen in "The Trial of the Chicago 7" (Netflix)

Daniel Kaluuya in "Judas and the Black Messiah" (Warner Bros.) Leslie Odom, Jr. in "One Night in Miami..." (Amazon Studios) Paul Raci in "Sound of Metal" (Amazon Studios)

Lakeith Stanfield in "Judas and the Black Messiah" (Warner Bros.)

Performance by an actress in a leading role

Viola Davis in "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" (Netflix)

Andra Day in "The United States vs. Billie Holiday" (Hulu)

Vanessa Kirby in "Pieces of a Woman" (Netflix)

Frances McDormand in "Nomadland" (Searchlight)

Carey Mulligan in "Promising Young Woman" (Focus Features)

Performance by an actress in a supporting role

Maria Bakalova in "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan" (Amazon Studios)

Glenn Close in "Hillbilly Elegy" (Netflix)

Olivia Colman in "The Father" (Sony Pictures Classics)

Amanda Seyfried in "Mank" (Netflix)

Yuh-Jung Youn in "Minari" (A24)

Best animated feature film of the year

"Onward" (Walt Disney) Dan Scanlon and Kori Rae

"Over the Moon" (Netflix) Glen Keane, Gennie Rim and Peilin Chou

"A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon" (Netflix) Richard Phelan, Will Becher and Paul Kewley

"Soul" (Walt Disney) Pete Docter and Dana Murray

"Wolfwalkers" (Apple/GKIDS) Tomm Moore, Ross Stewart, Paul Young and Stephan Roelants

Achievement in cinematography

"Judas and the Black Messiah" (Warner Bros.) Sean Bobbitt

"Mank" (Netflix) Erik Messerschmidt

"News of the World" (Universal) Dariusz Wolski

"Nomadland" (Searchlight) Joshua James Richards

"The Trial of the Chicago 7" (Netflix) Phedon Papamichael

Achievement in costume design

"Emma" (Focus Features) Alexandra Byrne

"Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" (Netflix) Ann Roth

"Mank" (Netflix) Trish Summerville

"Mulan" (Walt Disney) Bina Daigeler

"Pinocchio" (Roadside Attractions) Massimo Cantini Parrini

Achievement in directing

"Another Round" (Samuel Goldwyn Films) Thomas Vinterberg

"Mank" (Netflix) David Fincher

"Minari" (A24) Lee Isaac Chung

"Nomadland" (Searchlight) Chloe Zhao

"Promising Young Woman" (Focus Features) Emerald Fennell

Best documentary feature

"Collective" (Magnolia Pictures/Participant)
An Alexander Nanau Production/Samsa Film/HBO Europe Production

"Crip Camp" (Netflix)
A Higher Ground and Rusted Spoke in association with Little Punk, JustFilms, Ford Foundation Production

"The Mole Agent" (Gravitas Ventures)
A Micromundo Producciones/Motto Pictures/Sutor Kolonko/Volya Films/Malvalanda Production

"My Octopus Teacher" (Netflix)
A Netflix Original Documentary in association with Off the Fence and The Sea Change Project Production

"Time" (Amazon Studios)
A Concordia Studio in association with The New York Times, Outer Piece and Hedgehog Films Production

Best documentary short subject

A Respawn Entertainment/Oculus Studios/Time Travel Unlimited Production

"A Concerto Is a Conversation" (New York Times Op-Docs)
A Breakwater Studios Production

"Do Not Split"
A Field of Vision Production

"Hunger Ward" (MTV Documentary Films)
A Spin Film/Vulcan Production

"A Love Song for Latasha" (Netflix)
A Black Dreams LLC Production

Achievement in film editing

"The Father" (Sony Pictures Classics) Yorgos Lamprinos

"Nomadland" (Searchlight) Chloe Zhao

"Promising Young Woman" (Focus Features) Frederic Thoraval

"Sound of Metal" (Amazon Studios) Mikkel E. G. Nielsen

"The Trial of the Chicago 7" (Netflix) Alan Baumgarten

Best international feature film of the year

"Another Round" - Denmark
A Zentropa Entertainments Production

"Better Days" - Hong Kong
A Goodfellas Pictures Limited Production

"Collective" - Romania
An Alexander Nanau Production/Samsa Film/HBO Europe Production

"The Man Who Sold His Skin" - Tunisia
A Tanit Films Production

"Quo Vadis, Aida?" - Bosnia and Herzegovina
A Deblokada Production

Achievement in makeup and hairstyling

"Emma" (Focus Features) Marese Langan, Laura Allen and Claudia Stolze

"Hillbilly Elegy" (Netflix) Eryn Krueger Mekash, Matthew Mungle and Patricia Dehaney

"Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" (Netflix) Sergio Lopez-Rivera, Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson

"Mank" (Netflix) Gigi Williams, Kimberley Spiteri and Colleen LaBaff

"Pinocchio" (Roadside Attractions) Mark Coulier, Dalia Colli and Francesco Pegoretti

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)

"Da 5 Bloods" (Netflix) Terence Blanchard

"Mank" (Netflix) Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

"Minari" (A24) Emile Mosseri

"News of the World" (Universal) James Newton Howard

"Soul" (Walt Disney) Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Jon Batiste

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)

"Fight For You" from "Judas and the Black Messiah" (Warner Bros.); Music by H.E.R. and Dernst Emile II; Lyric by H.E.R. and Tiara Thomas

"Hear My Voice" from "The Trial of the Chicago 7" (Netflix); Music by Daniel Pemberton; Lyric by Daniel Pemberton and Celeste Waite

"Husavik" from "Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga" (Netflix); Music and Lyric by Savan Kotecha, Fat Max Gsus and Rickard Goransson

"Io Si (Seen)" from "The Life Ahead (La Vita Davanti a Se)" (Netflix)

"Speak Now" from "One Night in Miami..." (Amazon Studios); Music by Diane Warren; Lyric by Diane Warren and Laura Pausini

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    Oscars signage is seen during preparations for the 93rd Annual Academy Awards on April 19, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Amy Sussman/Getty Images)
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    THE OSCARS - 93rd Oscarsr producers Jesse Collins, Stacey Sher and Steven Soderbergh participated in a press conference to discuss this year's unprecedented broadcast. (ABC)
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    THE OSCARS - Artwork for ABC by Victoria Villasana. (ABC)