Who are the front runners for the main awards at the 2021 Oscars?

The 2021 Academy Awards might be months away, but the race to the podium is already on

The 2021 Oscars may still be months away, but film industry jostling to secure a nomination before contenders are announced on March 15, is well under way.

And a handful of A-list names are already being talked about, including the Black Panther actor, Chadwick Boseman, who died of cancer in August this year.

Viola Davis, Colin Firth and Amy Adams are a few others generating Oscars buzz ahead of the 93rd Academy Awards, which will be held on April 25, 2021 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.

While no one is quite sure just yet how a socially distanced ceremony might look, whether the winners will be at the Dolby Theatre, or joining remotely as with the recent Emmys, the competition will be no less fierce or fought over.

With 24 categories in total, we've focused on the early front runners in the big six categories of Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor. Here's who we hope to see score a nomination at next year's event:

Best Picture

Nomadland starring double Best Actress Oscar winner, Frances McDormand, is considered a shoo-in. Based on the book Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century by Jessica Bruder, it follows Fern (McDormand), a woman in her sixties who loses her home, savings and livelihood in the recession and moves into her van to travel across the American Midwest.

Other strong contenders include Netflix's The Trial of the Chicago 7, starring Sacha Baron Cohen, and Mank, which stars the 2018 Best Actor Oscar-winner Gary Oldman as Herman J Mankiewicz, who wrote the script for Citizen Kane. Amazon's One Night in Miami is another firm favourite. It imagines what happened on the night in February 1964 when four legends – Cassius Clay, Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, and Jim Brown – found themselves together in a Miami motel room.

Best Director

It could be David Fincher's year for Mank. The American director has been nominated in this category twice before – in 2011 for The Social Network and 2009for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – but lost both times. Regina King is a favourite, making her directorial debut with One Night in Miami, while screenwriter-turned-director Aaron Sorkin will certainly be considered for The Trial of the Chicago 7.

Outliers include Spike Lee (a five-time nominee and one-time Oscar winner), for Netflix's Da 5 Bloods, while Christopher Nolan for Tenet and George Clooney with The Midnight Sky are also ones to watch. Finally, Emerald Fennell, who is currently starring at Camilla Parker Bowles in season 4 of The Crown, deserves a nod for Promising Young Woman, starring Carey Mulligan.

Best Actress

Three-time nominee and one-time winner (Best Actress in 2017 for Fences) Davis is a big favourite in this year's race, for her titular role as Ma Rainey in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. However, this year, the category is positively stacked with top-tier talent, and her biggest rival has to be McDormand for Nomadland.

Elsewhere, Sophia Loren for The Life Ahead and Meryl Streep for the big named-packed The Prom will almost certainly secure nominations. Other stars who'll probably be vying for a nomination include Kate Winslet for Ammonite, Michelle Pfeiffer for French Exit, Adams for Hillbilly Elegy and Mulligan for Promising Young Woman.

Best Supporting Actress

Mean Girls actress, Amanda Seyfried might not only secure her first nomination but also be the one to beat for her role as Marion Davies in Mank. Davies was an actress, producer and screenwriter in the 1920s who gained notoriety as US newspaper tycoon, William Randolph Hearst's long-time mistress.

Olivia Colman, who won Best Actress in 2019 for The Favourite, and who is currently portraying Queen Elizabeth II in season four of The Crown is another front runner for The Father. Priyanka Chopra Jonas will be one to watch for her role as Pinky Madam in Netflix's The White Tiger, as will Maria Bakalova, the unknown actress winning rave reviewsfor Borat Subsequent Moviefilm. Rounding out a heavily stacked group, could be Glenn Close for Hillbilly Elegy, Vanessa Kirby for The World To Come and Saoirse Ronan for Ammonite.

Best Actor

Even so early on in the race, two clear front runners have emerged in this category – Anthony Hopkins and the late Boseman. Hopkins, a five-time nominee, took home Best Actor in 1992 for his chilling portrayal of Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs. And this year will be hoping to do the double for his role opposite Colman in The Father.

However, Boseman's role as Levee in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom has been winning critical acclaim, and he would follow in the footsteps of Heath Ledger who also won an Oscar posthumously, for Best Supporting Actor in 2009 for his role as The Joker in The Dark Knight.

Elsewhere, Oldman is a shoo-in for Mank, and outsiders include Riz Ahmed for Sound of Metal, Colin Firth for Supernova, Dev Patel for The Personal History of David Copperfield and Jude Law for The Nest.

Best Supporting Actor

Although Baron Cohen's name has been floated for the Best Actor category for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, his chances of a nomination (and win) are much stronger in the Supporting category for his role as Abbie Hoffman in The Trial of the Chicago 7.

And his co-stars, Mark Rylance and Eddie Redmayne could also secure nominations here too. Stanley Tucci, who was nominated back in 2010 for The Lovely Bones will probably be considered for Supernova, while Daniel Kaluuya who was nominated in the Best Actor category in 2018 for Get Out, looks likely to return as a nominee again this year for Judas and the Black Messiah. Rounding out the list will probably be Charles Dance for Mank and – fingers crossed – Bill Murray for On the Rocks.