Oscars in an Asterisk year — the Nominations

So much for “Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm,” right? Well, a screenplay (!?) nomination and best supporting actress nod will do.

The screenplay nomination was for a LOT of writers, which helps explain it.

And Sacha Baron Cohen was nominated as an actor — for his dazzling if a bit long in the tooth Abbie Hoffman turn in “The Trial of the Chicago 7.”

But after the Golden Globes, after the Producer’s Guild tapped it as “awards worthy,” it was not unreasonable to expect a Best Picture nomination. Thankfully, that minor catastrophe was avoided.

“Mank” made a splash, “News of the World” not so much.

“One Night in Miami” barely made a stir, Spike Lee’s popular buzzed bust “Da Five Bloods” was a no-show, almost completely a no-show.

“Mank,” which barely merited a mention earlier this awards season, came up with a whopping 10 nominations. Meh.

Nothing much for “emma.” nothing at all for “The Personal History of David Copperfield,” as stodgy old Brit lit is now officially “out.” I guess. Pity.

“The United States v. Billie Holiday” scored an acting nomination for Audra Day. And that’s pretty much it.

A whopping 35 nominations went to Netflix, 12 more to Amazon. Apple got it’s first ever, for the animated “Wolfwalkers” and “Greyhound” (sound).

Not a terrible field, considering some of the international contenders were from 2019, release slates were wrecked and nobody went out to the movies last year.

Weakest film to do well? “One Night in Miami.” Best film nearly shut out? “News of the World,” along with “emma.” and Mr. Copperfield.

Asian actors, women directors, African American (and Afro-British) actors and actresses? A VERY diverse Oscar night is in store.

Your best supporting actress contenders…

Maria Bakalova – “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”
Glenn Close – “Hillbilly Elegy”
Olivia Colman – “The Father
Amanda Seyfried – “Mank”
Yuh-Hung Youn – “Minari”

If Hollywood is EVER going to honor Glenn Close, this is her shot. Crappy memoir, annoying Netflix movie, but damn she’s good in it. Colman, Seyfried should be contenders, Yuh-Hung Youn has a good shot, VERY good. Bakalova could easily happen and would be a crying shame, but everybody loves what she did to Rudy.

Best supporting actor contenders?

Sacha Baron Cohen – “The Trial of the Chicago 7”
Daniel Kaluuya – “Judas and the Black Messiah”
Leslie Odom Jr. – “One Night In Miami”
Paul Raci – “Sound of Metal”
LaKeith Stanfield – “Judas and the Black Messiah”

I barely recall Paul Raci’s work in “Sound of Metal,” Kaluuya should be the favorite, but he has to compete with LaKeith Stanfield in the same category. Unfortunate. Cohen could win this. Odom made little impression working with a preachy, starchy script.

Best actors?

Riz Ahmed – “Sound of Metal”
Chadwick Boseman – “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
Anthony Hopkins – “The Father”
Gary Oldman – “Mank”
Steven Yeun – “Minari”

So they made Boseman the favorite in this field, when they could have nominated him as a supporting player and put Kaluuya here and made DK of “Black Messiah” the favorite.

Does Riz have a shot? Hopkins dazzled, Oldman underwhelmed and Yeun was OK in a movie that’s got a lot of cultural currency, but seems a tad over-hyped at this point.

No Mads Mikkelson for “Another Round?” Peasants. No Hanks for “News of the World” either. Oh well.

Best Actress

Viola Davis – “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
Andra Day – “The United States Vs. Billie Holiday”
Vanessa Kirby – “Pieces of a Woman”
Frances McDormand – “Nomadland”
Carey Mulligan – “Promising Young Woman”

If this doesn’t go to McDormand, it’s anybody’s call. Day, a standout in a middling film, is the longest shot. Kirby was good, Mulligan much better. Viola has made “dazzling” and “real” trademarks. She gave the best performance in this field, I say.

Your Best Picture field is…

“Judas and the Black Messiah” — “The Father” — “The Trial of the Chicago Seven” — “Mank” — “The Sound of Metal” — “Minari” — “Promising Young Woman” — and the favorite “Nomadland.”

No “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom?” No “News of the World?” Do “best directors direct best pictures?” Why not put “Another Round” in this field? Come on, now.

At least it’s up for Best International feature.

“Soul” got some “best picture” buzz, which was…misguided.

Best International Feature

“Another Round”
“Better Days”
“The Man Who Sold His Skin”
“Quo Vadis, Aida?”

I liked “Collective,” REALLY liked “The Man Who Sold His Skin.” LOVED “Another Round.”

It’s good that they nominated “Collective” here and for best documentary. Because “Crip Camp” seems like the best doc favorite.

Best Documentary

“Crip Camp”
“The Mole Agent”
“My Octopus Teacher”

Best directors?

Thomas Vinterberg for “Another Round,” Lee Isaac Chung for “Minari,” David Fincher for “Mank,” Chloe Chao for “Nomadland,” Emerald Fennell for “Promising Young Woman.”

No George Wolfe for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom?” Two women in that field make this a landmark year for inclusion. With the buzz she was getting, I thought Regina King was in.

Aaron Sorkin didn’t get a “Chicago 7” nomination either.


The Best Animated Feature field this year is a tad bloated. I love “Sean the Sheep” as much as anybody not from New Zealand or “Montaaaaaaaaaahhhhna.” But come on.

“Sean the Sheep: Farmageddon.” “Onward,” (UGH) “Over the Moon,” “Soul,” “Wolfwalkers”

If it was up to me, “Wolfwalkers” would get it. “Soul” will, as it’s not up to me.

Best Adapted Screenplay

“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”
“The Father”
“One Night In Miami”
“The White Tiger”

“The White Tiger” Netflix movie was an interesting choice. I think the stagey (mediocre theater) script for “One Night in Miami” was an obstacle Regina King and her cast never quite overcame, but OK.

“Ma Rainey” was FAR better source material, and a fine adaptation. This isn’t just an Oscar “snub.” It’s a blunder.

Best Original Screenplay

Judas and the Black Messiah
“Promising Young Woman”
“Sound of Metal”
“The Trial of the Chicago 7”

A very good field in this category, “Mank” is conspicuously missing only in the sense that Fincher was directing his Dad’s long unfilmed screenplay. Which wasn’t one of the year’s best, TBH.

Best Cinematography

Judas and the Black Messiah
News of the World
The Trial of the Chicago 7

A top flight field. I found the digital
B&W of “Mank” washed out. “Nomadland” should win, but “Judas” and “News” were striking tooling, too.

Best Costume Design

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Best Film Editing

The Father
Promising Young Woman
Sound of Metal
The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Hillbilly Elegy
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Best Original Score

“Da 5 Bloods”
News of the World

Best Original Song

“Fight for You” – Judas and the Black Messiah
“Hear My Voice – The Trial of the Chicago 7
“Husavik” – Eurovision
“Io si (Seen)” – The Life I Had
“Speak Now” – One Night In Miami

Best Production Design

The Father
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
News of the World

Best Sound

News of the World
Sound of Metal

Best Visual Effects

Love and Monsters
The Midnight Sky
The One and Only Ivan

Best Documentary (Short Subject)

“A Concerto Is A Conversation”
“Do Not Split”
“Hunger Ward”
“A Love Song for Latasha”

Best Short Film (Animated)

“Genius Loci”
“If Anything Happens I Love You

Best Short Film (Live Action)

“Feeling Through”
“The Letter Room”
The Present”
“Two Distant Strangers”
“White Eye”

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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