With trademark cool, Bruce Dern gave the best summation of the Oscars experience when he received his second nod - 35 years on from his first - for Nebraska in 2014. Being nominated, Dern contended, was like being selected for an all-star team - it just meant people thought you could play.

The 2020/21 all-star team played a blinder in helping us escape from the worst of years, however temporarily, and it's fitting that so many of the films and performances celebrated the human spirit. Really, there are more winners than the ones that will be announced on Sunday night at Union Station in Los Angeles.

That said, here are the names that we think will be in the envelopes in nine key categories. Good luck to all, thank you for reading, and, if you're not staying up, catch the show from 9:35pm on RTÉ2 on Monday.

Best Supporting Actor
Sacha Baron Cohen - The Trial Of The Chicago 7
Daniel Kaluuya - Judas and the Black Messiah
Leslie Odom, Jr - One Night in Miami...
Paul Raci - Sound of Metal
LaKeith Stanfield - Judas and the Black Messiah

Chances are, you've seen one of the five performances shortlisted here, as The Trial of the Chicago 7 is on Netflix. Make the time for all of them.

Daniel Kaluuya has become one of the biggest talents of recent years, starring in some of the most important films. Judas and the Black Messiah joins Sicario, Get Out, Black Panther and Queen & Slim on that honour roll. His co-star in the true story, LaKeith Stanfield, is someone who will make the big screen his own, nominated here for the tougher role in a harrowing true story. Hamilton star Leslie Odom, Jr brings soul icon Sam Cooke to life in superb four-hander One Night in Miami..., mixing dramatic grit and singing grace, and also earning a nomination for Best Song for Speak Now from the movie. Paul Raci is the journeyman actor so richly deserving of his place among the elite, mining his own experiences as the hearing child of deaf parents to deliver the performance of his career in Sound of Metal. Sacha Baron Cohen is the household name who proves in based-on-fact legal drama The Trial of the Chicago 7 that if you can do comedy, the acting world is your oyster.

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It will be Kaluuya's night - a Best Actor performance in the Supporting category. He's already picked up the Golden Globe, Critics' Choice honour, and, crucially, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award for his portrayal of the late Black Panthers leader Fred Hampton in Judas and the Black Messiah. Put simply, it's too important not to recognise - big scenes as a figure from history with the most important of messages for today. There has been some talk about co-star Stanfield's nomination for his role as real-life FBI informant William O'Neal splitting the vote, but all the focus has been on Kaluuya, and the SAG award winner has gone on to win the Oscar 17 times since 1995. Soon to be 18.

Best Original Screenplay
Judas and the Black Messiah - Will Berson and Shaka King / Story by Will Berson, Shaka King, Kenny Lucas and Keith Lucas
Minari - Lee Isaac Chung
Promising Young Woman - Emerald Fennell
Sound of Metal - Darius Marder and Abraham Marder / Story by Darius Marder and Derek Cianfrance
The Trial of Chicago 7 - Aaron Sorkin

This has shaped up to be a race between a previous Oscar winner, The Trial of the Chicago 7's writer-director Aaron Sorkin; and a first-time nominee, Promising Young Woman's Emerald Fennell. Unlike Sorkin, The Crown star Fennell is also shortlisted for Best Director for her debut feature. Both The Trial of the Chicago 7 and Promising Young Woman are up for Best Picture - another nomination for Fennell as producer.

Sorkin - Hollywood royalty - won his Best Adapted Screenplay for The Social Network (with nominations for Molly's Game and Moneyball also), so there's a school of thought that to make a statement about an important film in the #MeToo era, and to honour a new screen talent, Fennell will take home the gong for her story of revenge served cold. As a recent sit-down between experts from industry websites Deadline, Gold Derby and Variety pointed out, Fennell is also an actor, and the biggest voting block in the Academy is actors.

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The Trial of the Chicago 7 is a good watch with a great ensemble cast and message. It's also a film that could've been made any time over the last 50 years and had courtroom transcripts in the mix too. Promising Young Woman speaks so urgently of the now that, like recent winner Get Out, its momentum seems irresistible. On 15 occasions since 1999, the winner of the Best Original Screenplay gong at the Writers Guild of America (WGA) Awards has also won the Oscar. Fennell will make it 16.

Best Animated Feature
Onward - Dan Scanlon and Kori Rae
Over the Moon - Glen Keane, Gennie Rim and Peilin Chou
A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon - Richard Phelan, Will Becher and Paul Kewley
Soul - Pete Doctor and Dana Murray
Wolfwalkers - Tomm Moore, Ross Stewart, Paul Young and Stéphan Roelants

Could it be fifth time lucky for Kilkenny's Cartoon Saloon? After three feature nominations (The Breadwinner, Song of the Sea, The Secret of Kells) and one for Best Animated Short (Late Afternoon), the Marble City marvels have returned to the Oscars with eco-themed adventure Wolfwalkers. It is, arguably, their best film to date - and their best chance of causing an upset.

That, however, is still a big ask. Pixar's Soul - like all the powerhouse's productions - is the favourite, an existential odyssey that does wonders for its namesake. Soul is a very different film to Wolfwalkers but just as deserving a winner. Since 2002, the winner of Best Animated Feature at the Annie Awards has gone on to the Oscar on 13 occasions. Soul received that Annie earlier this month, Wolfwalkers won Best Indie Feature.

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Tradition says Soul. Victory for Wolfwalkers directors Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart on Sunday would become part of Academy Awards lore as one of the biggest surprises in big-screen history. "We'll give it a lash," was Moore's characteristically unfazed reaction to Wolfwalkers' nomination when he spoke to RTÉ Entertainment last month. The nation holds its breath once again, ready to howl at the moon if needed.

Best Actor
Riz Ahmed - Sound of Metal
Chadwick Boseman - Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
Anthony Hopkins - The Father
Gary Oldman - Mank
Stephen Yeun - Minari

In Oscars history, there are two posthumous victories that are iconic: Peter Finch for Network in 1977, and Heath Ledger for The Dark Knight in 2009. Chadwick Boseman's win will become the third. It is simply inconceivable that the Academy would not venerate the brightest and bravest of recent years in his final, and best, performance, given when he was terminally ill.

Boseman's stunning portrayal of firebrand trumpeter Levee in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom exposed all the fault lines of American history and the present day in a way that was as defiant as it was elegiac. In his character's reason-for-being monologue, he gave us the scene that will travel through generations, at once heartbreaking, terrifying, and bursting with strength. Many in the future will say they chose to pursue the same craft as Boseman because of it - just some of the stories that will become legion. "Levee got to be Levee," he said, the rallying call for others to find their own way in this world.

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One of the key lines in fellow Oscar nominee Nomadland is: "What's remembered, lives." It behoves us all to bestow that honour.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm - Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Dan Swimer, Peter Baynham, Erica Rivinoja, Dan Mazer, Jena Friedman, Lee Kern and Nina Pedrad
The Father - Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller
Nomadland - Chloé Zhao
One Night in Miami... - Kemp Powers
The White Tiger - Ramin Bahrani

Two plays (The Father, One Night in Miami...), two books (Nomadland, The White Tiger), and comedic chaos (you know who) - that's the choice for Academy voters this year.

Looking at the odds, Nomadland - adapted by its director, Chloé Zhao - is way out in front, with dementia drama The Father in second. Here's why: Zhao has turned author Jessica Bruder's must-read non-fiction into a must-see drama while keeping the spirit and sentiment of the source material very much intact. In making the book her own and simultaneously honouring Bruder's on-the-road reportage, Zhao has given each work the best of travelling companions, the reputation of one enhanced through the presence of the other. After watching the film, you can find out more about the stories of the real-life people onscreen by reaching for the book, or you can start on the page and then marvel at just how ready Bruder's interviewees were for their close-ups in Zhao's film. Those casting their ballots should be thinking the same way. Yes, Borat won the Writers Guild Award, but Nomadland was ineligible under WGA rules. Plus, Borat has nine nominated writers - will the Academy really give out nine gongs? - and the original movie was Oscar-shortlisted but didn't win.

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So, Nomadland. Victory here and in the Best Director category would see Zhao become part of a very elite (and hitherto all-male) club of Oscar-winning directors who have also won screenplay Oscars, joining the likes of last year's winner, Bong Joon-ho, the Coen Brothers, Francis Ford Coppola, Peter Jackson, Oliver Stone, and Billy Wilder.

Best Supporting Actress
Maria Bakalova - Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Glenn Close - Hillbilly Elegy
Olivia Colman - The Father
Amanda Seyfried - Mank
Yuh-Jung Youn - Minari

With this category comes the perennial question of whether Glenn Close will ever win an Oscar. She has been nominated seven times in the past - four leading, three supporting - and her history with the statuette goes all the way back to The World According to Garp in 1983. Her nomination this year is for playing a grizzled grandmother in Hillbilly Elegy - a film that didn't exactly wow either the critics or viewers (it only has one other Oscar nod for Best Hair & MakeUp). Would a win on Sunday be for all the years Close went home empty-handed, like Paul Newman's victory with The Color of Money in 1987?

After her Screen Actors Guild (SAG) win, Minari's Yuh-Jung Youn is the favourite here for her magic turn as another family lynchpin - one of six nominations for the heartwarming drama. Amanda Seyfried was the early frontrunner for her portrayal of golden age of Hollywood star Marion Davies in Mank, but with no SAG nomination her challenge, like Mank's in other categories, has fallen away. Olivia Colman won Best Actress in 2019 for The Favourite, so another win just feels too soon, no matter how good she is in Alzheimer's drama The Father. Borat's brilliant Maria Bakalova did the highest of high wire acts in her English-language debut, but the Academy rarely goes for comedic performances.

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This feels like it's between the two septuagenarians: the adored Close with the prospect of a sentimental vote; and Youn, a screen icon in her native Korea who would be the first Korean actor ever to win. Heart and head say Youn.

Best Director
Minari - Lee Isaac Chung
Promising Young Woman - Emerald Fennell
Mank - David Fincher
Another Round - Thomas Vinterberg
Nomadland - Chloé Zhao

The journey to the Oscars for Nomadland director Chloé Zhao has been a victory lap. It's a certainty that she will win on Sunday, becoming only the second female filmmaker after Zero Dark Thirty's Kathryn Bigelow to win Best Director. Here's another incredible statistic: the winner of the Directors Guild of America (DGA) award has been honoured with the Best Director Oscar on all but eight occasions since the 1940s. Zhao won the DGA gong earlier this month.

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Indeed, it could be a bumper night for Zhao, because she is also up for Best Picture as one of the producers of Nomadland, Adapted Screenplay, and Editing. Her odds in two of those three categories (Picture and Adapted Screenplay) suggest that the Best Director statuette won't be lonely. In being honoured for her trailblazing (literally) direction of the heart-rending road movie, the Academy is recognising that Zhao turned a non-fiction book into a powerful drama; hit the road across multiple US states to tell the story; cast real-life free spirits from the book to star opposite Frances McDormand; celebrated the great outdoors and the map of the human heart in equal measure; and deftly melded the personal and political as the change of seasons - internally and externally - played out before teary eyes. Phew.

As brilliant as Zhao's fellow nominees are, no other director this year has filled as tall an order. Nomadland is out on Disney+ from 30 April, but when cinemas re-open, put it at the top of your list. You couldn't pick a finer film for your big-screen return.

Best Actress
Viola Davis - Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
Andra Day - The United States vs Billie Holiday
Vanessa Kirby - Pieces of a Woman
Frances McDormand - Nomadland
Carey Mulligan - Promising Young Woman

Arguably, the toughest to predict this year. Viola Davis is already an Oscar winner for Fences in 2017 (Best Supporting Actress when the win should have been for Best Actress), with the latest twist in this category coming when she won the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award earlier this month. The SAGs and the Oscars have mirrored each other for Best Actress 19 times in the past 27 years. Frances McDormand is a double Oscar winner for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri in 2018 and Fargo in 1997. Carey Mulligan was nominated as a newcomer 11 years ago for An Education. Andra Day and Vanessa Kirby are first-time nominees. With the exception, it seems, of Kirby - excellent in Pieces of a Woman but overlooked for awards season wins - everyone is in with a shout.

Will voters think that Davis and McDormand have won too recently and vote for someone who has never won? Davis has those Oscar-favoured force of nature scenes in music drama Ma Rainey's Black Bottom while McDormand's performance in road movie Nomadland is the low-key opposite. Singer-turned-actor Day was the surprise winner at the Golden Globes in February for her portrayal of Billie Holiday - her first lead role - and the Academy loves honouring actors for performances as real-life people. If the Oscar voters have music on their minds, what could help Day is that she does all her own singing in her starring role - Davis doesn't. But The United States vs Billie Holiday only has one Oscar nomination, so will that count against viewing and voting?

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All those ifs and buts are before we get to Carey Mulligan. She has loads of brilliant, searing dialogue in revenge story Promising Young Woman and has to 'carry' the film in a way that delights balloters - an incendiary performance in an explosive film. The themes in Promising Young Woman and The United States vs Billie Holiday are so up-to-the-minute that it feels as if the winner will come from one of the two. The head says Mulligan, but the heart says Day. With neck at full stretch, let's go for romance and say it's going to be Day's night.

Best Picture
The Father
Judas and the Black Messiah
Mank
Minari
Nomadland
Promising Young Woman
Sound of Metal
The Trial of the Chicago 7

Last year, the Academy reverted to tradition and honoured Parasite with both Best Picture and Director. The big question is whether they will do the same with Nomadland this year. Its director, Chloé Zhao, is a shoo-in for the directing award. Strengthening Zhao's prospects is the fact that Nomadland won the Producers Guild of America (PGA) Award for Best Picture. The Oscar winner has mirrored it 21 times since 1990.

That said, recent PGA winners to miss out on the Best Picture Oscar include 1917, La La Land and The Big Short. Roma's Alfonso Cuarón, La La Land's Damien Chazelle and The Revenant's Alejandro González Iñárritu all won Best Director at the Oscars, only to see Green Book, Moonlight and Spotlight take home Best Picture in their respective years. There is no guarantee Nomadland will win Best Picture, even if it is the favourite.

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The odds say that Nomadland's most serious challenge comes in the form of Aaron Sorkin's The Trial of the Chicago 7. It offers the big ensemble, based-on-a-true story 'catnip' that voters tend to love, and films with the most second preferences on the ballot can end up winning if the number one vote is split all over the place. Keep an eye on the Best Original Screenplay category, because a win for Aaron Sorkin here could signal a Best Picture win for The Trial of the Chicago 7 later on - that's what happened with Spotlight in 2016. But if Zhao wins Best Adapted Screenplay for her script for Nomadland along with Best Director, well, the omens are good that the final - and biggest - award of the night will be heading her way too. Suspense right up to the very end - what more could you want from the movies?!