Promising Young Woman Still film 2020

Films to Look Out For This 2020/2021 Awards Season

It’s been a most unusual year for cinema. Faced with a pandemic fewer films are getting out there. While the big blockbusters have mostly been pushed back a year, the smaller Hollywood awards fare have also suffered. This year has slim pickings, shall we say. The quality of the films isn’t worse, but the competition for awards is tighter. This is why the Academy Awards has pushed back their ceremony to April and allowed films that play before the end of February 2021 to be eligible. Most large awards shows have followed suit. So, with still many months to go, here are some films to be looking out for in the awards race of 2020/21.

BIG PLAYERS

NOMADLAND

NOMADLAND still

Chloé Zhao’s NOMADLAND is a very big contender, having already snatched the best film prize at both the Venice Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival. Every Venice winner since 2017 was Best Picture nominated, same for every Toronto winner since 2012. It’s pretty much a lock for Picture and Director. Frances McDormand gives a career great performance and could win Best Actress. Expect nods for Adapted Screenplay and Editing too. The real question is about the supporting performances. Could David Straithairn get in for Supporting Actor? Or how about Charlene Swankie, a cinematic newcomer, for Supporting Actress?

MANK

David Fincher’s MANK is this year’s technical sweeper. It’s a likely pick for Picture and especially Director. Gary Oldman, Charles Dance, and Amanda Seyfried are all expecting acting nominations too. Original Screenplay, Editing, and a whole host of other technical categories are sure to love MANK as well.

THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7

THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7 is a much more conventional film than NOMADLAND or MANK but its crowd-pleasing style is likely to please Oscar voters and give it a Picture nomination. Aaron Sorkin is not known as a director but may well get as a Director nom. He is almost a certainty for Original Screenplay too. The cast are all running as supporting players and almost any might make it, though Sacha Baron Cohen, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Mark Rylance, and Frank Langella seem the most likely.

ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI

Another ensemble cast, another likely contender. ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI is running its four cast-members into split camps of leading or supporting, so its best chances for acting nominations come from Kingsley Ben-Adir as Malcolm X in Best Actor and Leslie Odom Jr as Sam Cooke in Best Supporting Actor. It’s almost a lock for Picture and Adapted Screenplay, and Regina King could well pick up a Director nod as well. While unlikely to beat many of the bigger players, this is a fairly safe Oscar bet.

MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM

Adapted from an August Wilson play, MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM is likely to be an Oscar contender in the mould of FENCES back in 2016. With stunning reviews, Picture and Adapted Screenplay seem likely. In terms of acting pedigree, the recently passed Chadwick Boseman could well be the one to beat for Best Actor. Viola Davis in Best Actress may also be a force to be reckoned with.

THE FATHER

Premiering at Sundance, THE FATHER has long been on the Awards radar. Best Picture seems a certainty, and Director and Adapted Screenplay may be possible. What seems more certain is acting, with previous winners Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman very likely to secure nominations. Hopkins is even considered the frontrunner by some.

NEWS OF THE WORLD

While NEWS OF THE WORLD is yet to be released at all, it has so much prestige that it is already in the Awards race. Coming from respected director Paul Greengrass, it could well pick up Picture and Director nominations. Tom Hanks is an Oscar favourite and might have been a strong Best Actor contender too, if not for the very crowded field. Expect technical nominations here too.

MINARI

MINARI film still Steven Yeun

MINARI comes from A24, who launched MOONLIGHT (2016) to Oscar success (though their track record since is spotty). This is another indie with amazing reviews and it could push through to Picture and Director, possibly even Best Actor for Steven Yeun. Though it could also end up like last year’s Asian-American indie THE FAREWELL (2019) and get absolutely nothing.

SOUL

It’s rare for animated films to push into Best Picture, but having done it twice already Pixar may do it again with SOUL, one of the year’s best reviewed films. Though as always, it’s an uphill struggle and the film is not even a lock to win Best Animated Feature yet, with strong competition from WOLFWALKERS (2020).

PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN

A genre film rarely has much chance for Best Picture, but 2020 has left quite a few things different this season. While PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN is unlikely to really win anything, it could possibly sneak into Picture or Best Actress.

THE NETFLIX B-TEAM

Netflix already have MANK, THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7, and MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM all slated to do well at this year’s big awards ceremonies. However, in a year of streaming success, they have many other offerings that could be nominations.

DA 5 BLOODS will almost certainly give Delroy Lindo a Best Actor nomination, but it could also get Chadwick Boseman a Supporting Actor nomination or Spike Lee a Director nomination.

HILLBILLY ELEGY is pure Oscar-bait that could reward the long overdue Amy Adams or Glenn Close.

PIECES OF A WOMAN will almost certainly allow Vanessa Kirby to get a Best Actress nomination, who won Best Actress at Venice. Shia LaBeouf and Ellen Burstyn could also get in for supporting roles.

THE LIFE AHEAD may reward the veteran actress Sophia Loren with a Best Actress nomination.

THE PROM looks like a big hit that could get a lot of love at the Golden Globes, and even possibly sneak into the Oscars if the response is positive enough.

MALCOLM & MARIE appears to be pure arthouse, so may register too low on the radar for Oscar voters, but Zendaya is hot stuff right now and may slip into Best Actress.

THE MIDNIGHT SKY is a sci-fi film from George Clooney. It could even up like THE MARTIAN (2015) or ARRIVAL (2016) if the reception is good enough, and claim a few nominations.

2021 FILMS

Because of this year, there exist films that could be released in early 2021 that would be eligible for the Academy Awards. One of those is THE UNITED STATES VS. BILLIE HOLIDAY which could pick up nominations in Picture and Actress if received well enough. Many suspect the Sundance Film Festival may throw out an unexpected contender, with rumours of Taika Waititi’s NEXT GOAL WINS and Mike Mills’ C’MON C’MON playing.

However, the big question mark is JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH. Pulled from summer 2020, it is a sure-fire nominee if released in time and received well. Daniel Kaluuya is speculated to be submitted in Supporting Actor and will likely win if so. Director, Picture, and Original Screenplay are all possibilities too. There exists many hints it will be eligible, but we shall see.

COMEDIES

Comedies famously don’t do well at the Academy Awards, however the Golden Globes do honour comedy in the Best Film – Musical or Comedy category. Here there are quite a few contenders.

ON THE ROCKS will likely get in at the Globes and Bill Murray for Best Actor. It could get an Original Screenplay nomination at the Oscars.

BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM may seem ridiculous, but the original BORAT was Oscar nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay. It could even repeat and newcomer Maria Bakalova is also being strongly pushed for Best Supporting Actress. Expect it to win Best Actor and possibly Best Film – Comedy or Musical at the Globes.

FRENCH EXIT will do well in the Globes’ comedy categories and Michelle Pfeiffer has an outside shot of an Oscar nomination for Best Actress.

PALM SPRINGS will also play well at the Golden Globes and may get an Original Screenplay nod at the Oscars.

THE PERSONAL HISTORY OF DAVID COPPERFIELD is a bit unlikely to do well, but it did get a BAFTA nomination last year.

OTHER CONTENDERS

There’s a whole host of minor contenders that could pick up lone nominations too.

TENET could be Picture and Director, and is a definite for many technical categories.

AMMONITE may get nominations in Actress for Kate Winslet and Supporting Actress for Saoirse Ronan, but both feel less likely as the days pass.

SOUND OF METAL gives Riz Ahmed a shot at Best Actor.

SUPERNOVA is quite likely to give Stanley Tucci a Best Supporting Actor nomination, but it will probably get little else.

These films are not to be assumed to be nominated for anything. This entire piece is speculative, however trends and reactions allows us to make decent guesses even with many months to go. Regardless, these are mostly interesting works of cinema and well worth checking out.

Below are some predictions in the big categories, loosely ranked.

VERY EARLY PREDICTIONS:

Best Picture:

  1. NOMADLAND
  2. THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7
  3. MANK
  4. MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM
  5. ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI
  6. THE FATHER
  7. JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH
  8. NEWS OF THE WORLD
  9. MINARI
  10. SOUL
  11. PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN
  12. THE UNITED STATES VS. BILLIE HOLIDAY
  13. DA 5 BLOODS
  14. PIECES OF A WOMAN
  15. HILLBILLY ELEGY

Best Director:

  1. David Fincher (MANK)
  2. Chloé Zhao (NOMADLAND)
  3. Paul Greengrass (NEWS OF THE WORLD)
  4. Regina King (ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI)
  5. Shaka King (JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH)
  6. Lee Isaac Chung (MINARI)
  7. Aaron Sorkin (THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7)
  8. Spike Lee (DA 5 BLOODS)
  9. Florian Zeller (THE FATHER)
  10. George C. Wolfe (MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM)

Best Actor:

  1. Chadwick Boseman (MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM)
  2. Anthony Hopkins (THE FATHER)
  3. Gary Oldman (MANK)
  4. Delroy Lindo (DA 5 BLOODS)
  5. Steven Yeun (MINARI)
  6. Riz Ahmed (SOUND OF METAL)
  7. Kingsley Ben-Adir (ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI)
  8. Lakeith Stanfield (JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH)
  9. Tom Hanks (NEWS OF THE WORLD)
  10. Colin Firth (SUPERNOVA)

Best Actress:

  1. Viola Davis (MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM)
  2. Frances McDormand (NOMADLAND)
  3. Vanessa Kirby (PIECES OF A WOMAN)
  4. Sophia Loren (THE LIFE AHEAD)
  5. Carey Mulligan (PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN)
  6. Andra Day (THE UNITED STATES VS. BILLIE HOLIDAY)
  7. Zendaya (MALCOLM & MARIE)
  8. Michelle Pfeiffer (FRENCH EXIT)
  9. Kate Winslet (AMMONITE)
  10. Amy Adams (HILLBILLY ELEGY)

Best Supporting Actor:

  1. Daniel Kaluuya (JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH)
  2. Leslie Odom Jr. (ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI)
  3. Sacha Baron Cohen (THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7)
  4. Stanley Tucci (Supernova)
  5. David Strathairn (NOMADLAND)
  6. Charles Dance (MANK)
  7. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7)
  8. Mark Rylance (THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7)
  9. Frank Langella (THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7)
  10. Chadwick Boseman (DA 5 BLOODS)

Best Supporting Actress:

  1. Amanda Seyfried (MANK)
  2. Olivia Colman (THE FATHER)
  3. Ellen Burstyn (PIECES OF A WOMAN)
  4. Yuh-Jung Youn (MINARI)
  5. Maria Bakalova (BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM)
  6. Glenn Close (HILLBILLY ELEGY)
  7. Saoirse Ronan (AMMONITE)
  8. Helena Zengel (NEWS OF THE WORLD)
  9. Charlene Swankie (NOMADLAND)
  10. Dominique Fishback (JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH)
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