The awards season has started, which means opening up a bottle of champagne and picking out the best outfits on the red carpet. But this year may not be as anticipated. Unlike previous award seasons, this year’s experience will be tremendously different, as the pandemic continues to impact the movie industry. These impacts have caused award ceremonies to change dates, modify eligibility rules, and adopt hybrid or virtual ceremony setups.
Despite the pandemic, it has not stopped the award season from plowing ahead, and new movies continue to roll through theaters and on streaming platforms. While several delayed movies are no longer eligible for the 2021 award season, there are still a handful of exceptional films that have the most potential to win the best awards, from the Golden Globes to the Oscars.
What better way to pay tribute to Hollywood than with a biography about the making of one of Hollywood’s best movies of all time, Citizen Kane. Mank focuses on Hollywood screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz and his Hollywood journey that inspired him to write his masterpiece.
Gary Oldman and Amanda Seyfried could receive nominations for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress and David Fincher see another Best Director nomination with the major award ceremonies. Although they are unlikely to win in these categories, the set production and design may bring the film some glory, especially at the Art Directors Guild Awards and the Oscars.
9 The Trial Of The Chicago 7
The Trial of the Chicago 7 is based on the real-life court case in which eight defendants (then later, seven) were charged with inciting a riot at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. The movie’s themes also hit close to home due to their political relevance in today’s climate.
Since this is an Aaron Sorkin screenplay, the movie is undoubtedly eyeing a nomination for Best Original Screenplay at the Oscars and Writers Guild of America Awards. Given its star-studded cast, the film could anticipate a strong contention for ensemble nomination at the SAG Awards. However, one should keep an eye on Sacha Baron Cohen as Abbie Hoffman, who had the standout performance in the movie and may become a major player for Best Supporting Actor.
8 Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Based on the 1982 play by August Wilson, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom has strong potential for the upcoming award season. Centered on Ma Rainey, she and her band are in a middle of a recording session, but tension fills the air when band members, the blues singer, and a manager fight for control.
The drama was praised for its vintage production design and costuming and powerful and memorable performances. The movie’s stars are Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman, and they are expected nominations for Best Actress and Best Actor, respectively. Boseman appears to be the frontrunner for the perspective category, with a possibility of a posthumous award. The film will also hope for other nominations, including Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Ensemble, Best Production Design, and Best Original Score.
Pixar once again outdoes themselves with their latest movie, Soul, a story about a music teacher who faces the existential conflicts between the Earth and the soul world. The animated film has been complimented for its beautiful message, its ode to jazz, and brilliant voice acting.
Most people expect Soul to be the clear winner for Best Animated Feature. However, it will also face some fierce competition with Apple TV+’s Wolfwalkers, which won the NYFCC Awards and the LAFCA awards for Best Animated Film. Moreover, Soul appears as the strongest contender for Best Score, having won at most awards functions thus far.
6 One Night In Miami
Regina King’s One Night in Miami brings together historical figures of Muhammad Ali, Sam Cooke, Jim Brown, and Malcolm X, where they settle in a room and discuss their roles in the civil rights movement.
The film’s strongest suit will be in the acting categories, particularly Best Supporting Actor for Leslie Odom Jr. and Best Ensemble Cast. King may also see her first directorial nomination. However, this award season could be an unforgettable one for Kemp Powers, possibly grabbing a nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay, also recognizing his other award-worthy movie, Soul.
When a man with a dream moves his South Korean-American family to Arkansas to pursue a business as a farmer, his family deals with the hardships that come with it. With praises for the cast’s performance, Minari also highlights a pure, heartwarming, and genuine story of the struggles of living an American dream.
Minari has a promising future with the upcoming award season, especially in the acting categories and Best Original Screenplay. Despite some stiff competition, Steven Yeun is expected to receive a nomination for Best Actor. South Korean actress Youn Yuh-Jung is dominating the category, Best Supporting Actress, having won several of awards already. She will likely receive the same nomination at the Golden Globes and Oscars.
4 Da 5 Bloods
Spike Lee presented this year with Netflix’s Da 5 Bloods. Four Black American veterans travel to Vietnam to find hidden gold and the remains of their fallen leader. This war film was one of the best movies released by Netflix in 2020.
Da 5 Bloods will likely see nominations for Best Director, Best Cinematography, and Best Original Screenplay. However, the movie finds its strongest suit in the acting categories, given the unforgettable performances, which could grab an Ensemble Cast nomination at the SAG Awards. The standout performance by Delroy Lindo may finally earn the veteran actor his first award nomination for Best Actor, and there is also anticipation for a posthumous nomination for Chadwick Boseman for Best Supporting Actor.
3 Promising Young Woman
Promising Young Woman is the edge-of-your-seat kind of movie, focusing on a protagonist’s revenge quest. The revenge thriller is exhilarating, thanks to the outstanding performance by Carey Mulligan and great directorial debut by Emerald Fennell.
The movie is a shoo-in and strongest frontrunner for Best Original Screenplay. But the biggest talking point will be Best Actress for Carey Mulligan, praised as the vengeful and smart Cassie. Her portrayal is one of the boldest and impactful characters in her career and will easily earn her second Oscar nomination, given that she has already won at a few prospective award ceremonies, including at the LAFCA awards.
2 Sound Of Metal
Sound of Metal is receiving the award recognition that it deserves. Centered on a drummer who loses his hearing, the indie drama was well-received by audiences and critics, especially for its authentic representation of the deaf community.
While the film hopes for a possible nomination for Best Original Screenplay, the heart of the movie is Riz Ahmed and his brilliant and powerful performance as Ruben Stone is the talk of the award season. So far, Ahmed has won several Best Actor awards, including a Gotham. Furthermore, it would also come as no surprise if Paul Raci grabs a spot for Best Supporting Actor due to his praised and award-worthy performance.
If there is one movie to beat during this award season, it’s Nomadland. A film centered on a woman’s journey as a nomad after financially losing everything from the Great Recession, Nomadland is currently dominating at several independent awards, including Gotham’s Best Feature.
As the top contender to win Best Picture, Nomadland is also a strong frontrunner for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Cinematography. Frances McDormand is almost clean-sweeping the award season for Best Actress and could earn her third Oscar trophy. However, all eyes are on Chloé Zhao, who is conquering the award season for Best Director. If she pulls the win at the Oscars and the Directors Guild of America Awards, she may become the second female director to win the award since Kathryn Bigelow in 2010.