Category: Oscar Preview

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Feb. 12-14, 2021

We had three films release this past weekend with the potential for Oscar nominations.

Judas and the Black Messiah

Although director Shaka King has absolutely no history with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, his film about an intended FBI sting against Black Panthers leader Fred Hampton, has become a major late-season Oscar player. The film has so far earned a lot of praise. On Rotten Tomatoes, it’s currently sitting at 96% Fresh while at MetaCritic, it has an insanely impressively 87 score. That’s one of the highest of the year. If it starts showing up in all sorts of guild precursors, it could be a huge player.

Apart from contending in the Best Picture category, prior Oscar nominee Daniel Kaluuya will now enter a huge fight with Leslie Odom Jr. for Best Supporting Actor with Odom Jr. currently standing taller, but with Kaluuya building up steam. The film has a potential for a screenwriting nomination as well as nominations in Production Design and Costume Design. Film Editing and Cinematography are also possible, but we’ll have to wait until the guilds have more input to be certain.

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Oscar Preview: Weekend of Jan. 8-10, 2021

We had one film release this past weekend with the potential for Oscar nominations.

One Night in Miami

To have two stage-to-screen adaptations release in one year is a rare feat, especially two that are getting some incredibly strong reviews. It’s entirely possible that both One Night in Miami and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom both compete at the Oscars and I don’t doubt that both films will come away with more than a half-dozen nominations. The question is which film will dominate.

For Best Picture, both films are competing in a stripped-down year with few competitors, but most of them strong. It’s entirely possible that both films land coveted Best Picture berths, but One Night in Miami director Regina King has a slight edge over Ma Rainey’s George C. Wolfe for a directing citation, though both will probably be left off.

In terms of acting, Ma Rainey is almost guaranteed to pick up two with a third seemingly likely at this juncture. Chadwick Boseman and Viola Davis getting lead acting nominations seem assured while Glynn Turman is quietly amassing acclaim that could land him a supporting spot. One Night in Miami has only four actors with any real screen time to merit consideration. Kingsley Ben-Adir and Eli Goree are going lead while Leslie Odom Jr. and Aldis Hodge are going support. I could definitely see Ben-Adir and Odom Jr. landing Oscar nominations, though the other two are going to be out of luck and even Ben-Adir might struggle with such a bountiful slate of leading actor contenders in the offering.

Both are in the race for Adapted Screenplay citations and both seem likely to score them. Meanwhile, neither has much of a chance at an Original Score nomination, though either Branford Marsalis (Ma Rainey) and Terence Blanchard (One Night) could see themselves nominated with Blanchard having the edge. Both have original songs in contention and both could see their songs nominated. That said, I honestly think “Speak Now” is the only one likely to score a nod.

As for tech categories, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom should be a competitor in Production Design, Costume Design, Makeup & Hairstyling, and Sound while One Night in Miami competes for Film Editing, Production Design, and Sound. Ultimately, Ma Rainey will pick up two for sure (costumes & makeup), with a third (production design) highly possible. One Night in Miami, however, is unlikely to pick up any of those potential nods.

In the end, Ma Rainey will probably pick up awards for Boseman in lead, Costume Design, and Makeup & Hairstyling while One Night in Miami is likely to pull of a win for Supporting Actor (Odom Jr.) and nothing else.

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Dec. 25-27, 2020

We had four films release this past weekend with the potential for Oscar nominations.

News of the World

Having only directed ten feature films including his 1989 big screen debut, Paul Greengrass hasn’t had much interaction with the Oscars. To date, only three of his films have scored Oscar nominations. His first was United 93 in 2006, which pulled pulled out two nominations, one for Film Editing and a surprise nomination for Directing. It was his fifth feature film. On his sixth, he secured nominations for Film Editing, Sound Mixing, and Sound Editing. The Bourne Ultimatum won all three of those nominations. His seventh film was in the Oscar conversation, but Green Zone materialized nothing with the Oscars. The next film, Captain Phillips, doubled the prior set of Oscar nominations, picking up six, including Best Picture and Directing along with the same three categories Ultimatum was nominated in. It went home empty-handed.

After returning for a third Jason Bourne film, he tried again at the Oscars with 22 July, which was also ignored. His eleventh feature film takes him to the American Old West, his farthest shift into the past, and his first genuine western film. With Tom Hanks in the lead, it was sure to be an Oscar contender. So far, the precursors haven’t favored the film at all and the early reviews suggest why. It’s not doing very well at all. Never count his films out in the craft categories, but this one might just be another failure with the Oscars for Greengrass.

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Oscar Preview: Weekend of Dec. 4-6, 2020

We had one film release this past weekend with the potential for Oscar nominations.


Director Chloe Zhao’s meditation on wanderlust homelessness follows Frances McDormand on her American walkabout, exploring the American Midwest and it’s almost forgotten struggles. The film enters this year’s Oscar race after a successful fall festival run that included the Golden Lion at Venice and the People’s Choice Award at Toronto.

Films that have such a storied rise through the festival circuit, especially with prize wins like these, become instant contenders for Oscars. There’s little doubt that the film will compete in several prominent categories, including Best Picture, Directing, Actress (McDormand), Adapted Screenplay, and Cinematography among others. McDormand already has two Oscars or she would likely be considered the frontrunner for this year’s Oscars. The cinematography also looks to be a major player. However, I doubt that the film does much better than these categories and wins aren’t completely unlikely, but not very exception either.

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Nov. 27-29, 2020

We had one film release this past weekend with the potential for Oscar nominations.

The Croods: A New Age

When the first film released seven years ago, it managed to secure an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature, but not as one of the year’s stronger contenders. Frozen, Monsters University, Despicable Me 2, and The Wind Rises all seemed safer bets, but when Ernest & Celestine pulled off a nomination, it was at the expense of the Pixar sequel Monsters University rather than the DreamWorks film The Croods.

This year, the sequel might not have a difficult time picking up a nomination. The lack of competition could help the film a great deal. That said, the Academy’s animation branch is more likely to reject a sequel than to support one with numerous follow ups failing to pick up expected nominations while upstarts like Netflix and Gkids (though, they are less of an upstart and more an experienced player at this point) made it in under the wire. I suspect the mixed reviews this film received will probably hinder its chances more than the branch’s anti-sequel bias, but I also wouldn’t be surprised to see it make the cut.

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Nov. 20-22, 2020

We had one film release this past weekend with the potential for Oscar nominations.

Sound of Metal

In Darius Marder’s film Sound of Metal, co-written with Abraham Marder based on a story idea by Blue Valentine director Derek Cianfrance, stars Riz Ahmed as a rock band drummer who has suffered permanent hearing loss and must come to terms with being unable to lead the life he expected to as he battles his own insecurities and failings. Ahmed has been doing solid work in film and on television for the last decade and might just have his best opportunity yet to score an Oscar nomination for Best Actor.

2014’s Nightcrawler was the first flirtation Ahmed had with the Academy and although that film got shafted, including Ahmed in Supporting Actor and Jake Gyllenhaal in lead, it was a film that tends to linger in the viewer’s mind, so when his next big opportunity comes up, this film, he could well be in contention. The trailer puts on display a striking use of sound, which could help the film compete for a Best Sound nomination.

Ultimately, this small film would likely have been ignored in any other year, but the pandemic of 2020 gave the picture a much stronger chance at the Oscars than many would have thought. He still has a lot of hurdles to jump before he makes it to the big show, but his chances are the best they’ve been in six years and might even be better than before.

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Nov. 13-15, 2020

We had two films release this past weekend with the potential for Oscar nominations.


Francis Lee, the director by the acclaimed drama God’s Own Country in 2017, writes and directs this loose adaptation of the life of paleontologist Mary Anning, played by Kate Winslet. The film co-stars Saoirse Ronan as her romantic partner with Fiona Shaw, Gemma Jones, and James McArdle in support.

This lesbian romance has earned solid reviews, even if Rotten Tomatoes, for once, has a lower average rating than does MetaCritic. It’s not the kind of critical performance that brings Best Picture nominations, but while the film itself might have received uneven response, Winslet and Ronan are each getting strong notices for their work.

In a more stacked year, both actors could struggle to gain traction and Winslet probably has the harder time getting into the absolutely packed lead acting race, but Ronan could still pull off a nomination in support. If she does, it will mark her sixth, and first Supporting Actress, citation since 2007, and her second in as many years. Few actors can claim to have earned that many nominations at all, better yet all before the age of 26.

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