Robyn Murphy takes a look at the Covid-era award season and predicts who will win big at the Oscars
Were this any other year, awards season would be well and truly underway by now. We would have already enjoyed the Golden Globes, traditionally held in early January every year, and would have a clear idea of who the front runners were for this year’s Oscars. But this is not any other year, and with a slew of awards contenders already having decided to push back their release dates, and changes in the Oscar’s eligibility rules to reflect the ongoing disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, it has been challenging to keep up with precisely what films are and are not in the running for the industry’s top prizes. However, there is hope that this year’s ceremony will be able to go ahead, with the Emmy’s setting the precedent for how to hold a Covid-friendly virtual ceremony in September, and a number of other awards shows pressing ahead and announcing their respective nominees. So let’s take a look at some of this year's big awards contenders, and some underdogs who could end up flying under the radar to success.
Two of the most stand out selections for awards season glory this year are Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland and Emerald Fennell’s Promising Young Woman.
As the Oscars are typically the last awards show of the season, we won't have a clear idea of the projected nominees until we start to see more of the other awards show announce their nominees. However, there are a few front runners already beginning to emerge. Without a doubt, two of the most stand out selections for awards season glory this year are Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland and Emerald Fennell’s Promising Young Woman. Nomadland, which is projected by Variety to land the most nominations of any film this year, centres on an old woman who embarks on a journey across the west coast of America in a caravan after losing everything in the Great Recession. Nominations for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actress for Frances McDormand are all but guaranteed, with up to six other nominations across various categories expected. Promising Young Woman, starring Carey Mulligan, focuses on a woman, traumatised from an event in her past, who seeks vengeance against those who cross her path. The film could feature in the Best Film, Best Actress, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay races, and numerous publications have already tipped Mulligan as the standout favourite for the Best Actress Award.
Other films which are already generating a buzz within the industry for multiple possible nominations and wins include Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Best Film, Best Actress - Viola Davis, Best Actor - Chadwick Boseman), Da 5 Bloods (Best Film, Best Director - Spike Lee, Best Actor - Delroy Lindo, Best Supporting Actor - Chadwick Boseman, Best Original Screenplay), and Minari (Best Picture, Best Director - Lee Isaac Chung, Best Supporting Actress- Yuh-Jung Youn, Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography).
For this year only, to reflect the challenges posed by the pandemic and the closure of cinemas, streamed films will be eligible for Oscar nominations.
With the year that is in it, the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences, who run the Oscars, have made some amendments to their eligibility criteria for this year’s ceremony. For this year only, to reflect the challenges posed by the pandemic and the closure of cinemas, streamed films will be eligible for Oscar nominations. Previously a film had been required to have a cinematic release for at least one week in Los Angeles county in order to be eligible for the Oscars, but as a result of the prolonged closure of cinemas, this requirement has been shelved. Similarly, the deadline by which films must be released in order to be eligible for this year’s ceremony has been extended until February 21st. These two amendments mean that there is a possibility that films which would not have previously been seen as awards contenders could earn nominations; and that films which have not yet been released could come from behind and beat out some of the early frontrunners.
Two examples of films which are yet to be released but could end up making a big splash this awards season are Cherry, and a possible surprise acting nomination for lead Tom Holland, and the much talked about Malcolm and Marie, which could see stars Zendaya and John David Washington make a play for coveted Best Actress and Actor nominations.
this tumultuous year has the potential to be one of the most diverse groups of nominees in the Academy’s history.
While this year's winners may still be too early to call, what we can tell from looking at the projected winners and nominees and the previously announced Independent Spirit Award nominations is that this tumultuous year has the potential to be one of the most diverse groups of nominees in the Academy’s history. With 4 of the 5 Best Director nominees at the Independent Spirit Awards being women, there is a strong chance that this year could see the second-ever female Best Director winner. As well as this, Best Supporting Actress frontrunner Yuh-Jung Youn (Minari), could potentially become only the second Asian actress ever to win in this category.
Regardless of the winners and losers, it’s safe to say that this award season may change the Oscars forever.