road to the Oscars
April 6, 2021

The Oscars are sticking with their plan of putting on the mid-pandemic show in person — meaning nominees will evidently be considered essential workers.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in a letter Tuesday said Oscar nominees qualify to receive an essential work waiver to attend the award show later this month, Variety reported.

"Those involved in the Oscars production, like nominees and their guest, qualify for the essential work purpose waiver, and therefore are permitted to travel to and from the testing center, rehearsals, and Academy-organized activities during the lead up to the Oscars production, including, of course, the award show," the letter said. "The organizers of the Oscars are implementing a required quarantine to capture the risk of each person attending the event."

Though February's Golden Globes and September's Emmys had nominees participate remotely from their own homes due to the pandemic, the Oscars' producers have gone a different route, banning Zoom entirely and telling nominees they must attend in person. That decision sparked criticism among those outside of the United States, who said it would be difficult to make their way to California. The Academy has since announced it will have some overseas "hubs" where nominees can also participate from, though there's still no Zoom option.

The producers of the Oscars have compared its production to that of a film, and so Variety writes that "implementing essential worker status follows the protocol for film and television shoots during the pandemic." Nominees are being told to quarantine prior to the Oscars, and according to Variety, they have to have their travel and quarantine plan approved by the Academy. Needless to say, seeing some nominees missing on the big night wouldn't necessarily be a surprise.

The 2021 Oscars are set for April 25. Brendan Morrow

April 5, 2021

The 2021 Oscars are now less than three weeks away. But don't lock in any predictions before checking out the big winners from the SAG Awards.

The Screen Actors Guild Awards were held on Sunday, offering key implications for the Academy Awards. For one, Chadwick Boseman and Daniel Kaluuya took home the best lead actor and supporting actor prizes, respectively, which may confirm them as unstoppable frontrunners in their Oscar categories.

Meanwhile, Minari's Youn Yuh-jung may have emerged as the Best Supporting Actress frontrunner after winning a SAG Award, gaining a key advantage despite Borat's Maria Bakalova having a Critics' Choice Award win under her belt. The biggest implication from the SAG Awards, though, may be Viola Davis' lead actress win. Some pundits argued Carey Mulligan was the Oscars' Best Actress frontrunner after she won at the Critics' Choice Awards, or possibly Andra Day after her Golden Globe victory. But now, could the momentum shift toward Davis?

This was the first time ever that all four SAG film acting winners were people of color, which could forecast the most diverse set of major Academy Award winners ever, Variety noted.

In the top SAG category, The Trial of the Chicago 7 gained a boost in Best Picture momentum by winning Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. Notably, though, Nomadland wasn't nominated in that category, nor was Promising Young Woman, so the former movie's position as Best Picture frontrunner hasn't necessarily changed. Some pundits, though, saw the SAG Awards as an opportunity for Minari to prove itself as Nomadland's biggest Best Picture threat. But could that instead be The Trial of the Chicago 7?

Last year, Parasite's big SAG win previewed its upset Best Picture victory over 1917. At the same time, though, considering Chicago 7 was snubbed for Best Director at the Oscars, defeating Nomadland for Best Picture may be a challenge.

The 2021 Oscars are set for April 25. Brendan Morrow

March 22, 2021

The 2021 Oscars made history by nominating two female directors in one year for the first time ever. But keep an eye on the screenplay categories, too, where some more history might be made.

This year's Writers Guild of America Awards were given out on Sunday, and Promising Young Woman took the Best Original Screenplay prize, while Borat Subsequent Moviefilm won Best Adapted Screenplay. Both movies received boosts in Oscars momentum, as there's often — though not always — overlap between the two awards shows. Last year, for example, the two top WGAs winners both went on to win the equivalent screenplay Oscar (although in 2019, neither did).

It's important to note, though, that some films nominated for screenplay Oscars weren't in contention at Sunday's WGAs. With Best Adapted Screenplay, for example, while Borat did win, the Oscar frontrunner in that category is thought to be Nomadland, which wasn't eligible for the WGAs. The Father, which was nominated at the Oscars, also wasn't in the mix. But Borat's win still gives it an unexpected advantage over the Oscar-nominated One Night in Miami and The White Tiger.

Promising Young Woman's WGAs victory is more significant, though. After all, it beat Aaron Sorkin's The Trial of the Chicago 7, which many pundits consider to be its biggest competition at the Oscars. This could position it as the Oscar frontrunner in Best Original Screenplay, although don't count out Minari, which also wasn't eligible at the WGAs.

After Sunday's awards, then, Nomadland is probably still in a fairly good position to win the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, while Promising Young Woman gained an advantage over Chicago 7 for Best Original Screenplay. If Nomadland and Promising Young Woman win at the Oscars, it would be historic, as according to The New York Times, it would be the "first year when both script races were won by women who were the sole credited writers of their films." Brendan Morrow

March 14, 2021

Will it be a very nice Oscar nominations morning for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm?

The nominations for the 2021 Academy Awards will be unveiled on Monday, and in the Best Picture category, expect nods for Nomadland, The Trial of the Chicago 7, Minari, Mank, Promising Young Woman, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, and One Night in Miami. With up to 10 possible nominees, that leaves three open spots, so what other films could get in?

As unlikely as it may sound, some pundits think Borat Subsequent Moviefilm could actually score a Best Picture nod. That speculation heated up when the comedy sequel earned a top nomination at the Producers Guild of America Awards, and between that and its Golden Globe win for Best Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy and its screenplay nomination at the Writers Guild of America Awards, Awards Ace's Erick Weber argued Borat is now "pretty much a lock" to become a Best Picture-nominated film, while Vanity Fair also predicts it will be among the nominees.

The other movies angling for Best Picture spots include Judas and the Black Messiah, Sound of Metal, Da 5 Bloods, and The Father. Of those possible nominees, Judas and the Black Messiah and Sound of Metal might have the best odds, as they also previously earned top PGA nominations.

In the other categories, Chadwick Boseman, Carey Mulligan, and Daniel Kaluuya are among the actors set to pick up nominations, with Boseman possibly scoring not one, but two nods for Ma Rainey's Black Bottom and Da 5 Bloods. There's also the question of how Da 5 Bloods will fare in general after shockingly being shut out at the Golden Globes. Expect history to be made in the Best Director category, as well, with more than one female director likely to be nominated in the same year for the first time ever.

The 2021 Oscar nominations will be announced on March 15. Brendan Morrow

March 9, 2021

One year after sparking the #BAFTAsSoWhite firestorm, the "British Oscars" just announced its most diverse list of nominees ever.

The British Academy Film Awards, the British equivalent of the Academy Awards, announced its 2021 nominations on Monday, and according to The Hollywood Reporter, it was "the most diverse nominations list ever seen in the British Academy's history." Of the 24 actors nominated, 16 of them are from under-represented groups, Deadline reports.

Among those who earned nods included stars from Minari, Judas and the Black Messiah, One Night in Miami, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, and Da 5 Bloods. This came a year after the nominees in the BAFTAs' acting categories were all white, prompting outrage and the hashtag "#BAFTAsSoWhite." Since then, the BAFTAs underwent a "wide-ranging seven-month review of its membership and awards voting procedures," according to Variety.

This year's BAFTA nominations also included four women nominated for best director, which according to Deadline was the most in the show's history. Babyteeth's Shannon Murphy, Nomadland's Chloé Zhao, Quo Vadis, Aida?'s Jasmila Žbanić, and Rocks' Sarah Gavron were all nominated, in addition to Another Round's Thomas Vinterberg and Minari's Lee Isaac Chung. Previously, the Reporter notes, no more than one female director had ever been nominated in a single year.

Nomadland and Rocks scored the most BAFTA nominations with seven, and nominees for Best Film were The Father, The Mauritanian, Nomadland, Promising Young Woman, and The Trial Of The Chicago 7. Each of those films receives some more Oscars momentum, as the Academy Award winner for Best Picture is typically at least nominated here.

The 2021 British Academy Film Awards is scheduled for April 10 and April 11, two weeks before this year's Academy Awards. Brendan Morrow

February 16, 2021

Judas and the Black Messiah and Borat Subsequent Moviefilm are among the films that just earned key screenplay recognition amid the race to the 2021 Oscars.

The film nominations for the 2021 Writers Guild Awards were announced on Tuesday, and in the category of Original Screenplay, the nominees were Judas and the Black Messiah, Palm Springs, Promising Young Woman, Sound of Metal, and The Trial of the Chicago 7. Meanwhile, the Adapted Screenplay nominees were Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, News of the World, One Night in Miami, and The White Tiger.

Also scoring nominations in the Documentary Screenplay category were All In: The Fight for Democracy, The Dissident, Herb Alpert Is..., Red Penguins, and Totally Under Control. Amazon picked up four nominations, while Netflix scored three, The Hollywood Reporter notes.

Last year, the two top WGA winners, Parasite and Jojo Rabbit, both ultimately won a screenplay Oscar, and so although the two shows don't always line up, Tuesday's nominees received a boost in momentum. But Variety notes that some Oscar contenders this year weren't actually eligible at the Writers Guild Awards, including Nomadland and Mank, while among the movies that were snubbed despite being eligible were I'm Thinking of Ending Things and First Cow.

Nomadland is considered the frontrunner to win the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay at the moment, while The Trial of the Chicago 7 is favored for Best Original Screenplay, Gold Derby says. The 2021 Writers Guild Awards are set for March 21, while the Oscar nominations will be revealed on March 15. Brendan Morrow

February 8, 2021

Mank is having another great day on the road to the Oscars — as is Netflix.

The film nominations for the 2021 Critics Choice Awards were announced on Monday, and Netflix's Mank led with 12 nods, including Best Picture. In fact, four of the movies nominated for Best Picture — Mank, Da 5 Bloods, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, and The Trial of the Chicago 7 — are Netflix movies, which Variety reports breaks the record for most Best Picture nominations ever from one studio in a single year at the Critics Choice Awards. Across film and TV, Netflix earned a whopping 72 nominations.

The other nominees for Best Picture were Minari, News of the World, Nomadland, One Night in Miami, Promising Young Woman, and Sound of Metal. In addition to Mank gaining more Oscars momentum, Minari fared quite well by scoring 10 nominations, which Gold Derby described as a "coup" for the film. On the other hand, Judas and the Black Messiah and The Father were among the movies that The Hollywood Reporter noted failed to get a boost, as they were left out of Best Picture.

In the acting categories, previous awards season frontrunners like Chadwick Boseman were recognized again at the Critics Choice Awards. But in addition, a few performers who were recently snubbed at the Golden Globes also earned nods, including Da 5 Bloods' Delroy Lindo, Malcolm & Marie's Zendaya, News of the World's Tom Hanks, and The Way Back's Ben Affleck. That doesn't necessarily guarantee they're back in the Oscars race, though; critics in 2020 also recognized some favorites who were ultimately snubbed at the Oscars, including Lupita Nyong'o for Us.

Still, when it comes to the Best Picture field, pundits expect quite a bit of overlap between the Critics Choice Awards' line-up and the Oscars' picks, which are set to be announced next month. Read the full list of Critics Choice Awards nominees here. Brendan Morrow

February 4, 2021

After a wild set of Golden Globe nominations, the race to the Oscars continued Thursday with more precursor nominees, giving a few films and performers a key boost.

The nominees for the 2021 Screen Actors Guild Awards were unveiled Thursday, and in Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, the nominees were Da 5 Bloods, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Minari, One Night in Miami, and The Trial of the Chicago 7. Among the most notable omissions in this category was Nomadland, seen as a major Best Picture contender, as well as Mank, which led Wednesday's Golden Globe nominations. But Da 5 Bloods scored a nod after it was shockingly shut out at the Globes, and Chadwick Boseman was posthumously nominated for his performance, in addition to a nomination for Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.

In the past, the Oscars' Best Picture winner has generally been nominated for SAG's best cast award with three exceptions, suggesting that 2021's victor may be one of these five films — though pundits observed Nomadland's absence could be blamed on its lack of a large cast compared to other contenders.

There's also often overlap between the SAG Awards and the Oscars in terms of acting winners, so Thursday's nominations dealt a blow to Da 5 Bloods' Delroy Lindo, who was surprisingly snubbed after also failing to earn a Golden Globe nod. Mank's Amanda Seyfried also lost some momentum after not earning a SAG nomination, despite being recognized at the Golden Globes.

On the other hand, Minari's Oscar prospects were raised after it came away with nominations not just for best cast, but also for stars Steven Yeun and Youn Yuh-jung. And then there was Jared Leto, who earned another surprise supporting actor nod for The Little Things, potentially suggesting his previous shock nomination at the Golden Globes was no fluke.

The 2021 SAG Awards are scheduled for April 4, while the Oscars are set for April 25. Brendan Morrow

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