The 93rd Academy Awards will end with one of eight movies winning the coveted Best Picture prize on Sunday night. Usually, the Best Picture field includes at least one movie people can't stop talking about or one that lit up the box office. Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, things are very different this year though. While on paper, the eight films were more widely available than any Best Picture field in history thanks to streaming, a recent poll found that many Americans are unaware of the 2021 Best Picture nominees.
The eight nominees for Best Picture this year are The Father, Judas and the Black Messiah, Mank, Minari, Nomadland, Promising Young Woman, Sound of Metal, and The Trial of the Chicago 7. Mank was by far the most nominated movie in the field with 10. Despite that, most of the public has no idea what Mank is. Just 18% of the public knows what Mank is, according to a Guts + Dara survey of 1,500 entertainment consumers published by Variety. Considering that Mank is readily available for millions of Netflix subscribers to watch, that's a very low number. Judas and the Black Messiah scored the best, with 46%, as none of the eight movies reached 50% of awareness.
With that in mind, we're giving readers a brief run-down of all eight movies, listing their nominations, where you can find them and what their chances are at winning the big prize. The Oscars air at 8 p.m. ET Sunday on ABC.
The Father, directed by Florian Zeller, is the hidden gem of this year's Best Picture field. It is best on Zeller's play, which tells the story of a man suffering from dementia and refusing help from his daughter. What makes it unique is that it tells that story from the perspective of the patient, helping the audience fully understand the confusion he deals with. Anthony Hopkins gives a stunning performance that would be the frontrunner for the Best Actor Oscar, were it not for Sound of Metal's Riz Ahmed.
The movie is unlikely to win Best Picture, but Zeller and co-writer Christopher Hampton should win Best Adapted Screenplay. The Father is available to rent on VOD platforms and in theaters. The film was nominated for Best Picture; Best Actor (Hopkins); Best Supporting Actress (Olivia Colman); Best Film Editing; Best Production Design; Best Adapted Screenplay.prevnext
Judas and the Black Messiah
Shaka King's Judas and the Black Messiah is a powerful historical drama centering on the relationship between FBI informant Bill O'Neal (Lakieth Stanfield) and Black Panther Party Chairman Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya). Although Stanfield and Kaluuya are the leading actors (their names are above the title on the poster!) they were both nominated for supporting, leaving everyone wondering who the Academy considers the lead star of this movie. Kaluuya should still win Best Supporting Actor, which will likely be the film's only win.
Judas was streaming on HBO Max, but is now only available to rent on VOD and to see in theaters. Its nominations are for Best Picture; Best Supporting Actor (Kaluuya); Best Supporting Actor (Stanfield); Best Original Screenplay; Best Cinematography; Best Original Song ("Fight For You").prevnext
The Academy's love for Mank is both understandable and simply baffling. By far one of the least interesting films in director David Fincher's filmography and littered with annoying factual errors, Mank tells the story of Citizen Kane co-writer Herman J. Mankiewicz and his Hollywood misadventures in the 1930s. Weirdly enough, this movie about a writer was not nominated for writing! The script was penned by Fincher's late father, Jack Fincher. Mank has "0-10" written all over it, but the best part of the film - Amanda Seyfriend as Marion Davies - should be recognized.
Mank is available on Netflix. It was nominated for Best Picture; Best Actor (Gary Oldman); Best Supporting Actress (Seyfried); Best Director (Fincher); Best Sound; Best Production Design; Best Original Score; Best Makeup and Hairstyling; Best Costume Design; Best Cinematography.prevnext
In a perfect world, Lee Isaac Chung's inspiring and beautifully-made Minari would be a front-runner. The semi-autobiographical film is about a Korean family who moves from California to Arkansas to start a farm in the 1980s. Steven Yeun gives a wonderful performance as the family patriarch and made history as the first Asian-American person nominated for Best Actor. He deserves every ounce of acclaim he received.
However, Yuh-Jung Youn, who played the family's grandmother, will be the film's big win in the Supporting Actress field. Minari is now in theaters and available to rent on VOD. It was nominated for Best Picture; Best Actor (Yeun); Best Director (Chung); Best Original Screenplay; Best Supporting Actress (Youn); and Best Original Score.prevnext
Chloe Zhao's Nomadland is the front-runner for Best Picture after it continued sweeping almost every major award it was up for. The film stars Frances McDormand as Fern, who decides to live as a nomad, journeying through the American West and living in her trailer. It's a quiet, thoughtful movie that acts more as a portrait of Fern instead of telling a traditional story.
Zhao stands to be only the second woman to win Best Director, and she deserves the honor. If Nomadland doesn't win Best Picture, it would be one of the biggest surprises in Oscar history. Nomadland is available to stream on Hulu. It was nominated for Best Picture; Best Actress (McDormand); Best Director; Best Adapted Screenplay; Best Editing; Best Cinematography.prevnext
Promising Young Woman
Writer and director Emerald Fennell provided Carey Mulligan with a career-redefining role in Promising Young Woman. Freed of period attire, Mulligan takes the chance to play Cassandra, a woman seeking revenge against all those who have done wrong by her, and runs with it. In a normal year, Promising Young Woman would probably go down as a cult movie ignored during award season, but as anyone who has seen it can tell you, it's hard to forget. Even if you don't like it, chances are you'll still be thinking about that twisted ending.
Sadly, the film's chances of winning anything have gotten slim as the award season continued, but Mulligan still could pull off a miracle and win Best Actress. The film is available to rent on VOD, in theaters, and on home video. It was nominated for Best Picture; Best Actress (Mulligan); Best Director (Fennell); Best Original Screenplay; Best Editing.prevnext
Sound of Metal
The people behind Sound of Metal's awards campaign deserve an award just for making sure this worthy movie did not get lost. It had one of the longest roads to the Oscars in history, having debuted at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival way back in September 2019, over a year before Amazon released it in theaters in November 2020. Riz Ahmed stars as a heavy metal drummer who begins to lose his hearing and does everything he can to get it back.
Ahmed was a front-runner for Best Actor, but it's beginning to look like the late Chadwick Boseman will win after he won several major awards for Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. Paul Raci, who gives a great performance as the man running a shelter for deaf recovering addicts, should still win Best Supporting Actor. Sound of Metal is now available to stream on Amazon Prime Video. It was nominated for Best Picture (Ahmed); Best Supporting Actor (Raci); Best Sound; Best Original Screenplay; Best Film Editing.prevnext
The Trial of the Chicago 7
If there's any movie that could upset Nomadland, it is, unfortunately, Aaron Sorkin's The Trial of the Chicago 7, a simplified dramatization of the trial of seven men who President Richard Nixon's Justice Department charged for inciting a riot at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Sorkin plays fast and loose with the timeline to fit his narrative framework and clearly highlights the parallels between the trial and today's events. Sorkin, who won 10 years ago for his blistering The Social Network screenplay, does seem poised to win Best Original Screenplay for The Trial of the Chicago 7, even though that award should go to Minari or Promising Young Woman. The Trial of the Chicago 7 is available on Netflix. It was nominated for Best Picture; Best Supporting Actor (Sacha Baron Cohen); Best Original Screenplay; Best Film Editing; Best Cinematography; and Best Original Song ("Hear My Voice").prev