Every week between now and March 15, when the Academy Award nominations are announced, Vulture will consult its crystal ball to determine the changing fortunes of this year’s Oscars race. In our “Oscar Futures” column, we’ll let you in on insider gossip, parse brand-new developments, and track industry buzz to figure out who’s up, who’s down, and who’s currently leading the race for a coveted Oscar nomination.
Da 5 Bloods
Time has come today for Spike Lee’s Vietnam epic, which reentered the Best Picture conversation by taking Best Picture and Best Director honors from the National Board of Review, as well as a spot on the American Film Institute’s top-ten list. It’s an unexpected show of force for this June debut, a comeback made possible by the film’s fiery political message, the legacy of Chadwick Boseman, and possibly the fact that the months on the calendar have lost all meaning.
The Trial of the Chicago 7
If Chicago 7 is Nomadland’s biggest competition in Best Picture, as some have theorized, shouldn’t it start acting like it? Aaron Sorkin’s protest drama lost a tiny bit of ground this week, nabbing a spot on the AFI list but blanking at NBR — the latest shutout for a seemingly strong contender that has yet to take home any notable prizes this season. Fortunately for Sorkin and company, next week’s SAG and Globe nominations offer an opportunity to turn things around.
Da 5 Bloods, Judas and the Black Messiah, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Mank, Minari, Nomadland, One Night in Miami, Promising Young Woman, Sound of Metal, The Trial of the Chicago 7
Spike Lee, Da 5 Bloods
Lee’s Best Director prize at the NBR was an encouraging Oscar precursor: Every winner since 2010 has seen their film go on to crack the Best Picture lineup. The trophy’s track record at predicting a Director nomination is less assured (it’s gone to famously snubbed filmmakers like A Star Is Born’s Bradley Cooper and The Martian’s Ridley Scott), but it’s a boost nonetheless to Lee, whose hypercinematic style stands out in a field full of stage-to-screen adaptations.
George C. Wolfe, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Speaking of plays, Ma Rainey was the only one of Netflix’s heavy hitters to be eligible at the Independent Spirit Awards, and while the film did land five nominations, Wolfe was a notable omission in the Best Director category. Is the staginess issue dinging his chances?
Lee Isaac Chung, Minari; David Fincher, Mank; Spike Lee, Da 5 Bloods; Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7; Chloé Zhao, Nomadland
Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal
With the Best Actor Oscar all but earmarked for Chadwick Boseman, tastemakers have rallied around securing a nomination for Ahmed. The Brit added to his haul with a win at the NBR and a nom from the Indie Spirits, as Sound of Metal continued its dark-horse run through the season’s early stages.
Colin Firth, Supernova
This low-key romance about a gay couple navigating early-onset dementia is certainly a BAFTA play, but could it find favor Stateside? As the film heads to limited release, reviews are warm, though Slate’s Karen Han warns, “Supernova’s unpretentiousness might mean it gets forgotten come awards season.”
Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal; Kingsley Ben-Adir, One Night in Miami; Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom; Anthony Hopkins, The Father; Delroy Lindo, Da 5 Bloods
Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman
Mulligan and Ahmed have officially become the hip picks in the lead acting races, and she matched his NBR win and Spirit nom with a set of her own. As a sign of her clout, Variety even apologized for a freelancer’s review of Promising Young Woman after the actress took issue with it in a recent profile — a move that spurred the season’s latest social-media brouhaha.
Sidney Flanigan, Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Eliza Hittman’s abortion-rights movie cleaned up at the Indie Spirit nominations, leading the field with seven, including one for Flanigan in Best Female Lead. The newcomer then followed it up by winning Breakthrough Performance at the NBR. While I suspect the March release remains a long shot for Oscar, the fifth spot in Actress is open, and Flanigan’s succeeded at making it into the conversation.
Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom; Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman; Frances McDormand, Nomadland; Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman; Zendaya, Malcolm & Marie
Best Supporting Actor
Paul Raci, Sound of Metal
Like his co-star, Raci got the win at the NBR, part of an all-around good week for Sound of Metal: The hearing-loss drama was one of a half-dozen films to appear on both the AFI and NBR lists, and landed a Best First Feature nom at the Indie Spirits. Acting and sound nominations are almost certainly in order, but could this buzzy indie earn a spot in Best Picture, as well?
Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah
Also showing up on both lists? Black Messiah, which now looks poised to make a late go at Best Picture. Kaluuya is Warners’ main priority here — his face is all over the marketing — and if the film keeps its momentum, he could prove a savvy pick in what’s turned out to be a surprisingly competitive Supporting Actor race.
Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7; Chadwick Boseman, Da 5 Bloods; Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah; Leslie Odom Jr., One Night in Miami; Paul Raci, Sound of Metal
Best Supporting Actress
Youn Yuh-jung, Minari
Filling out our quartet of NBR acting winners is Youn, whose quirky grandma has so far been the primary beneficiary of voters’ love for Minari. Next week’s nominations will tell if this is just a critics’ thing, or something more.
Ellen Burstyn, Pieces of a Woman
As far as Oscar precursors go, the New York Film Critics Online Awards land somewhere far down the ranks of influence. Still, I was tickled to see that Youn and Burstyn tied for the group’s supporting-actress honors this year. Love a good tie.
Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm; Ellen Burstyn, Pieces of a Woman; Olivia Colman, The Father; Amanda Seyfried, Mank; Yuh-jung Youn, Minari
More From This Series
- Oscar Futures: Can Black Messiah Rise Again?
- Oscar Futures: Could Minari Be This Year’s Underdog Success Story?
- Oscar Futures: After Globe and SAG Noms, the Race Finally Gets Real