Update: Jan 3
02. The Trial of the Chicago 7
I FEEL COMFORTABLE PREDICTING
04. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
05. Judas and the Black Messiah
06. The Father
ON THE BRINK OF A MAJOR MAINSTREAM CROSSOVER
08. Promising Young Woman
9 & BELOW
09. One Night in Miami
10. News of the World
ALTERNATE: Minari, Da 5 Bloods
It seems The United States vs. Billie Holiday is finally being screened for select press and this week’s news distribution rights moved from Paramount to Hulu, after Paramount issued reshoots after a test screening of the movie earlier this year according to Deadline. The more Paramount and Hulu keeps a trailer from being released and inhibiting vocal screening reactions from being published besides outside producers and celebrity endorsements, the more rumors of its supposed quality will circulate. I’m personally rooting for the movie to succeed, but given it is January and we haven’t seen anything besides online photos this is not exactly a promising sign.
Speaking of Promising, Promising Young Woman was back in the news this past week with the Golden Globes switching a movie packed with heavy and relevant themes to the Drama category. This is not necessarily a bad move. While they did the opposite switch with Get Out in recent years, they also did it with Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri. Promising Woman is also conspicuously flashy and provocative, in a way to the inferior Nocturnal Animals which the Golden Globes loved. Despite the category switch, I would anticipate Promising Young Woman to do quite well with the HFPA. It’s also destined to win categories like Eddie (Comedy) Awards in Comedy (which it will likely stay), Art Director’s Guild (Contemporary) and potentially Costume Designers Guild (Contemporary), and a foray of nominations at BAFTA. The major test for it will be the Screen Actors Guild Awards. There is a possibility it will follow in the footsteps of past Focus Features contenders like The Theory of Everything and Dallas Buyers Club and nab that Ensemble nomination (which would be thoroughly deserved). This nomination, like those two films, would also hint that Carey Mulligan is your Best Actress frontrunner (fresh off her LA Film Critics Award). Out of all the Best Picture nominees besides Soul and likely Judas and the Black Messiah, Promising Young Woman is the most audience accessible and audience accessible film in contention. Potential momentum is through the ceiling, and I think it’s on the brink of a major audience and industry crossover. Early word is even older Oscar voters love it just as much Twitter does, including Glenn Close!
Minari, on the other hand, is fizzling out. Everyone seems to like it, but critics and audiences did not give it the necessary padding to take it to the next level. It’s not the type of movie you can also drop last minute and expect critics to do all the heavy lifting. Take Sundance champion, Beasts of the Southern Wild for instance, which similarly didn’t take major critic awards besides Supporting Actor Dwight Henry. Still, the major difference was it was a showy directorial achievement, and audiences were captivated by that movie since Fox Searchlight dropped it that summer. On the other hand, Minari is a much more low key film and is missing that sweeping passion that had, and is also not conquering the top of Best of Lists. It will also struggle at the major (and minor) Guilds including SAG, the Golden Globes (to a degree), and BAFTA. I think it’s on major life support, and it needs a big win soon.
01. Chloe Zhao, Nomadland
02. David Fincher, Mank
03. Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7
04. Shaka King, Judas and the Black Messiah
05. Spike Lee, Da 5 Bloods
alt: Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman and Florian Zeller, The Father
Note: As I predicted this category at first, it looked kind of wrong? I am only predicting one veteran to make it in (David Fincher)? I don’t think Da 5 Bloods has the audience support to land in Best Picture, but I’m not discounting the Director’s branch embracing Spike Lee similarly to Bennett Miller in Foxcatcher at the last minute. It’s also a showy directorial achievement that I can see this branch with idiosyncratic taste liking. Emerald Fennell is another Director contender to keep on your radar. She has one of the most vocal campaigns, and it truly is one of the flashiest directorial achievements in the running. I foresee a BAFTA nomination in her future (they really love this film genre), but she can go all the way in the right set of circumstances. Florian Zeller could steal her international appeal, but we’ll speak about that again if The Father can regain the kind of momentum it had a few months ago.
Best Actor in a Leading Role
01. Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
02. Anthony Hopkins, The Father
03. Gary Oldman, Mank
04. Delroy Lindo, Da 5 Bloods
05. Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal
alt: Lakeith Steinfeld, Judas and the Black Messiah
NOTE: I still think this a closer race to call than you might think. Again, Anthony Hopkins gives one of the year’s most baity and transformative performances in The Father. It all depends on how much the actors (I.e., SAG) go nuts for it. That’s another contender you should watch if it invades the SAG Ensemble category, which would also hint at a Hopkins win there is in the future. While it would be a wholly untraditional Best Actor win, momentum is currently on Chadwick Boseman’s side. With Sound of Metal, Amazon is doing more than a justifiable job in getting this very indie movie and deserving performance into the awards race. This is Riz Ahmed’s Half Nelson moment and is only the beginning of what’s to come for a very encouraging film career. He faces tough competition with Lakeith Steinfeld on the rise, though, so watch out!
Best Actress in a Leading Role
01. Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman
02. Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
03. Frances McDormand, Nomadland
04. Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman
05. Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday
alt: Zendaya, Malcolm & Marie
NOTE: Your last spot will be Andra Day versus Zendaya. Despite The United States vs. Billie Holiday‘s mystique, there is quite a lot of buzz surrounding Andra Day’s performance from those who’ve seen it. We haven’t seen a trailer for the movie yet, but that hasn’t stopped Andra Day getting herself out there. She headlined Times Square New Year’s Eve, and it’s a performance built on passionate support. Also, biographical works do very well within the Academy, so even if the film does not end up Best Picture worthy, she could fit into the footsteps of Cynthia Erivo for Harriet.
Best Actor in a Supporting Role
01. Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah
02. Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7
03. Leslie Odom, Jr, One Night in Miami
04. Chadwick Boseman, Da 5 Bloods
05. Mark Rylance, The Trial of the Chicago 7
ALT: Stanley Tucci, Supernova
NOTE: Daniel Kaluuya is likely going to cruise through the awards shows this season for Judas and the Black Messiah, but besides that, this previously makeshift category is finally making some sense. Stanley Tucci should not be discounted based on how much industry loves the actor and the awards friendly quality of his role, but Bleecker Street surprisingly did not send out critic screeners for early awards despite releasing it theatrically on January 29th. It feels strangely underseen and that could make all the difference for a contender like Supernova in the end. Mark Rylance on the hand may struggle with early precursors, but if he shows up at BAFTA, do not count him out as he could easily coattail off the strength of The Trial of the Chicago 7.
Best Actress in a Supporting Role
01. Amanda Seyfried, Mank
02. Olivia Colman, The Father
03. Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy
04. Ellen Burstyn, Pieces of a Woman
05. Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
ALT: Dominique Fishback, Judas and the Black Messiah
Note: Your likely winner is still Amanda Seyfried in Mank, but this is a category ripe for surprises. Maria Bakalova received the expected awards boost you’d expect from critics, but it’s still an uphill battle for her. The internet is on her side, but the movie again is of micro-importance to the Academy. Amazon is running a robust campaign for her so that I wouldn’t count her out yet. She could also win the Golden Globe – Comedy, a campaign booster, but is no guarantee of a nomination (i.e., Awkwafina – The Farewell, Amy Adams – Big Eyes, etc.). Another breakthrough contender you should expect some awards talk in the upcoming weeks is Dominque Fishback for Judas and the Black Messiah, who I really want to include here. I’ve noticed WB/HBO has already started an early publicity campaign for her, and the buzz for her performance is surprisingly strong. She is a relative unknown, though, so she will live off of Judas and the Black Messiah‘s overall strength. By the time I publish my next awards update, I hope to be confident enough to include her in my top 5.
Best Writing (Original Screenplay)
01. Promising Young Woman
02. The Trial of the Chicago 7
04. Judas and the Black Messiah
alt: Malcolm and Marie
NOTE: For the win, it’s likely a battle between Promising Young Woman and The Trial of the Chicago 7. It all depends on the momentum Promising Young Woman builds in the forthcoming months. Its deserving LAFCA win could be a sign as to what’s to come and end up being your Me Too-era Get Out sort of contender that takes Original Screenplay by default, which similarly to Get Out gives a new meaning to the meaning Original.
Malcolm and Marie is supposedly a dialogue-heavy film ripe with relevant themes, quippy lines and memorable monologues that should appeal to the writer’s branch. It all kind of depends on how passionate the critical reception is for it to breakthrough. Malcolm and Marie has the gimmick of being completed during the pandemic which certainly helps and Sam Levinson is making a name for himself in Hollywood off the success of Euphoria and he’s also co-writing Adrian Lyne’s anticipated return to film with the erotic thriller, Deep Water (Starring Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas). Expect a better idea of where this film lands on January 8th after it holds its first public screening, but this is a major contender to look out for in Original Screenplay.
Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
02. The Father
03. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
04. One Night in Miami
05. I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Alternate: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, First Cow
NOTE: Sound of Metal was technically adapted and reworked from an Unreleased Derek Cianfrance film that was finally completed in 2016, but it was left in an unreleased purgatory. If they can rework its screenplay eligibility, it would fit winningly in the Adapted Screenplay category. If not, this will be a welcome return back for Charlie Kaufman with I’m Thinking of Ending Things.