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Five possible storylines for this year’s Oscars


Greg W. Locke

Whatzup Features Writer

Published December 2, 2020

They are, in fact, going to have an Academy Awards show this year, on April 25, 2021, almost two months after the show usually takes place.

As 2020 has been a tough year for the movie business, the Academy has decided to lighten up on their qualifications. For this run of the season, they will be considering any film that intended to have a theatrical run during the qualifying months, whether they played on big screens or only at home.

So, essentially, any film that was released during the qualifying months for the 2021 Oscars show, and at least intended to have a theatrical run at some point, can qualify to be nominated for an Oscar.

Some weird things might happen. Here are five possible storylines for what just might go down as one of the most unusual Oscar nights … ever.

The competition

The competition might not be star-studded, or even that good. Since theaters aren’t functioning at full capacity and most folks are staying out of theaters due to Covid, most studios have been holding off on releasing their tentpole films. 

For example, we’re not going to see Denis Villeneuve’s hotly anticipated adaptations of Dune and we’re not going to see Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch, both which were expected to compete for Best Picture. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg as far as delays go.

That being said, the absence of the usual “Oscar Bait”-type titles that the studios push out might shake things up in an interesting way.

Frances McDormand

Frances McDormand’s lead performance in Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland is said to be extraordinary. A sure-thing Oscar winner, suggests the film festival buzz. 

If McDormand does win the Best Actress in a Lead Role statue, it will be a historic win. McDormand would become just the seventh actor ever to win three awards for performance. Her company? Katharine Hepburn, Meryl Streep, Jack Nicholson, Ingrid Bergman, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Walter Brennan.

She’ll also become just the third actor ever, alongside Hepburn and Day-Lewis, to win three Best Leading Performance statues. 

Does that mean that if Nomadland is as good as folks are saying, Frances McDormand might go down, statistically at least, as one of the five most celebrated screen actors ever?

David Fincher

David Fincher has not released a feature film since 2014’s Gone Girl. In the years since, the Internet has decided that Finch is maybe the best living filmmaker. 

I’m not sure why the waves turned in such a direction, but I’m enjoying seeing so many people get excited about Mank, a black-and-white, artsy, sophisticated, high-brow film about the making of a film (Citizen Kane) that most people under age 30 have never seen. The movie stars Gary Oldman, Amanda Seyfried, and Lily Collins and was written by Fincher’s father. 

I’ll see this movie and I will like this movie. I’m sure of those things. I’m also sure that, like all Fincher movies, I’ll watch it once or so a year and like it more every time.

Lastly, I’m sure that Mank will get a whole lot of Oscar nominations. Will it win anything? I don’t know that it will — it’s an artsy black-and-white period piece. But maybe, if nothing else, Gary Oldman will get yet another Lifetime Achievement-type of trophy. And I’m pretty sure Fincher will get a Best Director nomination.

Switching things up

The Academy might really switch things up. The pandemic has allowed people the time and space to rethink every little corner of their life, so why would the Oscars be any different?

Why not add a Best Comedic Performance trophy? Best Newcomer. Best Auteuristic Effort. Maybe, since most of the films designed to win awards are being held, some smaller films will get some big attention. 

Maybe even some smaller films directed by women? Four come to mind: Kelly Reichardt’s First Cow, Miranda July’s Kajillionaire, Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland, and Eliza Hittman’s Never Rarely Sometimes Always. All amazing and all by great filmmakers who deserve widespread attention for their work.

Christopher Nolan

Will this finally be Christopher Nolan’s year? Sure, his movie, Tenet, didn’t save the theaters like Hollywood had hoped it would. But it tried to, and that matters.

Christopher Nolan made a very hard decision to release the most expensive and most anticipated film of the year during a pandemic. And while the film didn’t “save theaters,” it did make good money around the world and it did get good reviews. 

I still have not yet seen the movie, but I believe the folks who call it a production masterpiece. Nolan’s movies are usually snubbed by the Academy, but I could see that changing this year. I think Tenet will get a second look come Oscar nomination time and will get noms in several categories, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography and Best Editing. 

But probably not Best Sound Design.

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