Welcome to possibly the strangest year ever for the obligatory “Oscar race.” Now I know what you’re thinking: How can there be the Academy Awards if there are no movies to give awards to? And that’s a fair question, because if you were to have the Oscars today, it would be a pretty underwhelming year indeed. But by virtue of a growing number of streaming services, you can watch much of 2020’s prestige cinema from the comfort of your own home. Here are a few you can expect to see released over the next few weeks.
“The Trial of the Chicago 7” is one of the only contenders that has been released at this point. While it’s well-written, well-acted and a fun watch all around, it’s not the kind of the movie that will leave you stunned on your way out of the theater (metaphorically of course). It’s a pretty run-of-the-mill courtroom drama that’s elevated by its quality. It’s worth a watch, but in my opinion not “Oscar gold.”
And then there’s basically everything else. These films are currently somewhat unknown because of their lack of wide releases, but they have been receiving acclaim from critics who have had the chance to view them.
“Nomadland” is the favorite of many for this year’s Best Picture category. Directed by Chloé Zhao, who is also at the helm of one of the next entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “The Eternals” (2021), the film follows a woman traversing America in the aftermath of the 2008 recession. With Frances McDormand in the starring role, it’s sure to offer a tour de force performance. The film, however, stands alone among many of the other potential nominees as it is still only intended as a theatrical release, for the time being at least.
“Mank”, which will be premiering in Netflix in early December, checks a lot of boxes when it comes to a best picture win. It features an Academy favorite, Gary Oldman, in the role of an obscure but notable historical figure. He stars as screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz, the man responsible for writing film-school-favorite Citizen Kane — it’s a movie about movies! Plus, the choice to style the audio and visuals after period-appropriate equipment is just the kind of nostalgia that the Academy loves.
What has become one of the most anticipated movies of the year is “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”. A new movie starring Viola Davis is enough to get people excited, but it is the performance of Chadwick Boseman that is getting particular attention. Boseman tragically passed away earlier this year after a hard-fought battle with colon cancer. This is the last movie that he ever filmed, with many reviewers noting that he is a highlight of the film. An Oscar win for Boseman would be a perfect way to reward an acclaimed career taking on some of the biggest roles in Hollywood. This will be released on Netflix even sooner, currently set for Dec. 18.
So, if you’ve been missing those classic Oscar movies, don’t despair. We’re about to get a bunch of them really soon, albeit not in the manner that would be expected. Who’s ready for some virtual Oscar parties?