Too Early for This: Oscar Picks – 15 Nov 2020

Da 5 Bloods
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
News of the World
One Night in Miami
The Trial of the Chicago 7

The skinny: We already have our first victim of bad reviews: Ron Howard’s Hillbilly Elegy. Netflix’s adaptation of J.D. Vance’s controversial memoir has already been thoroughly pilloried in the weeks leading up to its release. I’m leaving Amy Adams and Glenn Close in my predictions for now though.

What seems most shocking at the moment is Netflix could have four Best Picture nominees, each potentially turning on each other like the end of Reservoir Dogs.

Spike Lee, Da 5 Bloods
David Fincher, Mank
Lee Isaac Chung, Minari
Chloé Zhao, Nomadland
Regina King, One Night in Miami

The skinny: It would be absolutely wild if for the first time ever, the directing line-up featured just one white guy (and an extraordinary one at that), so don’t expect this to pan out. That this would also mean two Black filmmakers and two Asian-American filmmakers and two women – all of them extremely talented – would be truly astonishing.

Tom Hanks, News of the World
Anthony Hopkins, The Father
Delroy Lindo, Da 5 Bloods
Gary Oldman, Mank
Steven Yeun, Minari

The skinny: Tom Hanks getting nominated is something we take for granted. Last year was his first nod in nearly two decades. So don’t be surprised if he falls out in favor of the late Chadwick Boseman, who’s going lead for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, but may have a better chance of getting a posthumous nomination in the supporting category.

Amy Adams, Hillbilly Elegy
Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday
Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman
Frances McDormand, Nomadland

The skinny: The big question mark here is Day, whose movie won’t be coming out until February, just before the new eligibility deadline. Will it make that release date, or will the studio move it to further into 2021, just like the Aretha Franklin biopic Respect? McDormand feels like the frontrunner, but having just won for Three Billboards, it seems unlikely she’d win again so soon.

Chadwick Boseman, Da 5 Bloods
Charles Dance, Mank
Leslie Odom Jr, One Night in Miami
Mark Rylance, The Trial of the Chicago 7
David Strathairn, Nomadland

The skinny: Given that most of these movies feature large (or equally weighted) ensembles, it’s likely a lot of these titles could be nominated in this category, but with different actors. Da 5 Bloods has Jonathan Majors, Clarke Peters and Isiah Whitlock Jr. Mank has two Toms: Pelphrey (as Joseph L. Mankiewicz) and Burke (as Orson Welles). One Night in Miami has Aldis Hodge (as Jim Brown), Eli Goree (as Cassius Clay) and Kingsley Ben-Adir (as Malcolm X)… though the slotting hasn’t been finalized. And of course The Trial of the Chicago 7 has the entire cast running in supporting. It’s all up for grabs.

Ellen Burstyn, Pieces of a Woman
Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy
Olivia Colman, The Father
Youn Yhu-jung, Minari
Helena Zhengel, News of the World

The skinny: I don’t feel super confident in any of these ladies making the final five, though that may just be because none of their films have come out yet. We’ll know more by the end of the year.

Da 5 Bloods
Never Rarely Sometimes Always
The Trial of the Chicago 7

The skinny: When the pandemic first began, and many major films punted to 2021, the hope was that some of the smaller films from when theaters were still open would get a shot. I don’t see that happening in the biggest categories unfortunately. But Never Rarely Sometimes Always feels like the movie that would fall into the “You were critically acclaimed but didn’t mount a strong enough campaign to get a more prominent nomination, so here’s your consolation prize” category.

The Father
First Cow
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
One Night in Miami

The skinny: Everything I just said about Never Rarely Sometimes Always, but for First Cow, which should be leading in just about every category.

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