Unlike last year where I only did the winner and possible spoiler, I think it is necessary to rank all contenders in my perceived likelihood of winning since we have several categories where the race is tight among more than two contenders (uncommon for an Oscar year!).
PICTURE 1. NOMADLAND 2. The Trial of the Chicago 7 3. Minari 4. Promising Young Woman 5. The Father 6. Judas and the Black Messiah 7. Mank 8. Sound of Metal
DIRECTING 1. CHLOÉ ZHAO – NOMADLAND 2. Lee Isaac Chung – Minari 3. Emerald Fennell – Promising Young Woman 4. David Fincher – Mank 5. Thomas Vinterberg – Another Round
ACTRESS 1. FRANCES MCDORMAND – NOMADLAND 2. Viola Davis – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom 3. Carey Mulligan – Promising Young Woman 4. Andra Day – The United States vs. Billie Holiday 5. Vanessa Kirby – Pieces of a Woman
ACTOR 1. ANTHONY HOPKINS – THE FATHER 2. Chadwick Boseman – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom 3. Riz Ahmed – Sound of Metal 4. Steven Yeun – Minari 5. Gary Oldman – Mank
SUPPORTING ACTRESS 1. YUH-JUNG YOUN – MINARI 2. Glenn Close – Hillbilly Elegy 3. Maria Bakalova – Borat Subsequent Moviefilm 4. Olivia Colman – The Father 5. Amanda Seyfried – Mank
SUPPORTING ACTOR 1. DANIEL KALUUYA – JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH 2. Paul Raci – Sound of Metal 3. Sacha Baron Cohen – The Trial of the Chicago 7 4. LaKeith Stanfield – Judas and the Black Messiah 5. Leslie Odom, Jr. – One Night in Miami
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY 1. PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN 2. The Trial of the Chicago 7 3. Minari 4. Sound of Metal 5. Judas and the Black Messiah
ADAPTED SCREENPLAY 1. THE FATHER 2. Nomadland 3. One Night in Miami 4. The White Tiger 5. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
ANIMATED FEATURE FILM 1. SOUL 2. Wolfwalkers 3. Over the Moon 4. Onward 5. A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon
ANIMATED SHORT FILM 1. BURROW 2. If Anything Happens, I Love You 3. Genius Loci 4. Opera 5. Yes-People
DOCUMENTARY FEATURE 1. MY OCTOPUS TEACHER 2. Crip Camp 3. Time 4. Collective 5. The Mole Agent
DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT 1. A CONCERTO IS A CONVERSATION 2. Hunger Ward 3. A Love Song for Latasha 4. Do Not Split 5. Colette
INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM 1. DENMARK – ANOTHER ROUND 2. Bosnia & Herzegovina – Quo Vadis, Aida? 3. Romania – Collective 4. Hong Kong – Better Days 5. Tunisia – The Man Who Sold His Skin
LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM 1. TWO DISTANT STRANGERS 2. Feeling Through 3. The Letter Room 4. The Present 5. White Eye
CINEMATOGRAPHY 1. NOMADLAND 2. Mank 3. News of the World 4. Judas and the Black Messiah 5. The Trial of the Chicago 7
FILM EDITING 1. THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7 2. Sound of Metal 3. Nomadland 4. The Father 5. Promising Young Woman
PRODUCTION DESIGN 1. MANK 2. The Father 3. News of the World 4. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom 5. Tenet
COSTUME DESIGN 1. MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM 2. Mank 3. Emma. 4. Mulan 5. Pinocchio
VISUAL EFFECTS 1. TENET 2. The Midnight Sky 3. Love and Monsters 4. The One and Only Ivan 5. Mulan
MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING 1. MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM 2. Pinocchio 3. Hillbilly Elegy 4. Mank 5. Emma.
SOUND 1. SOUND OF METAL 2. Mank 3. Greyhound 4. Soul 5. News of the World
ORIGINAL SCORE 1. SOUL 2. Minari 3. Mank 4. News of the World 5. Da 5 Bloods
ORIGINAL SONG 1. “IO SÌ” – THE LIFE AHEAD 2. “Húsavík”- Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga 3. “Speak Now” – One Night in Miami 4. “Fight for You” – Judas and the Black Messiah 5. “Hear My Voice” – The Trial of the Chicago 7
BEST PICTURE Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom Mank Minari Nomadland The Trial of the Chicago 7 if 6, add Promising Young Woman if 7, add One Night in Miami if 8, add Sound of Metal if 9, add Judas and the Black Messiah if 10, add The Father alt. News of the World, Da 5 Bloods,
BEST DIRECTING David Fincher – Mank Lee Isaac Chung – Minari Chloé Zhao – Nomadland Regina King – One Night in Miami Emerald Fennell – Promising Young Woman alt. Aaron Sorkin, Darius Marder, Florian Zeller
BEST ACTRESS Viola Davis – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom Andra Day – The United States vs. Billie Holiday Sophia Loren – The Life Ahead Frances McDormand – Nomadland Carey Mulligan – Promising Young Woman alt. Vanessa Kirby, Yeri Han, Rosamund Pike
BEST ACTOR Riz Ahmed – Sound of Metal Chadwick Boseman – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom Anthony Hopkins – The Father Delroy Lindo – Da 5 Bloods Steven Yeun – Minari alt. Mads Mikkelsen, Tahar Rahim, Gary Oldman
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS Glenn Close – Hillbilly Elegy Olivia Colman – The Father Dominique Fishback – Judas and the Black Messiah Jodie Foster – The Mauritanian Youn Yuh-jung – Minari alt. Maria Bakalova, Amanda Seyfried, Ellen Burstyn
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR 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 David Strathairn – Nomadland alt. Alan Kim, Chadwick Boseman, Jared Leto
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY Mank Minari Promising Young Woman Sound of Metal The Trial of the Chicago 7 alt. Judas and the Black Messiah, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Palm Springs
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY The Father Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom Nomadland One Night in Miami The White Tiger alt. News of the World, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, I’m Thinking of Ending Things
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE Bombay Rose Onward Over the Moon Soul Wolfwalkers alt. The Willoughbys, A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, The Croods: A New Age
BEST DOCUMENTARU FEATURE All In: The Fight for Democracy Collective Notturno 76 Days Welcome to Chechnya alt. Time, Boys State, Dick Johnson is Dead
BEST INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM Denmark – Another Round Romania – Collective Russia – Dear Comrades! Mexico – I’m No Longer Here Bosnia & Herzegovina – Quo Vadis, Aida? alt. La Llorona, Night of the Kings, Two of Us
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY First Cow I’m Thinking of Ending Things Mank News of the World Nomadland alt. The Trial of the Chicago 7, Minari, Judas and the Black Messiah
BEST FILM EDITING The Father Mank Nomadland Sound of Metal The Trial of the Chicago 7 alt. Promising Young Woman, Minari, News of the World
BEST SOUND The Midnight Sky News of the World Nomadland Soul Sound of Metal alt. Greyhound, The Trial of the Chicago 7, Mank
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE The Little Things The Midnight Sky Minari News of the World Soul alt. Mank, The Trial of the Chicago 7, Tenet
BEST ORIGINAL SONG “Fight for You” – Judas and the Black Messiah “Húsavík” – Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga “Io sì” – The Life Ahead “Speak Now” – One Night in Miami “Turntables” – All In: The Fight for Democracy alt. “Hear My Voice”, “Rain Song”, “Never Break”
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom Mank The Midnight Sky News of the World Rebecca alt. The Trial of the Chicago 7, The Father, Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
BEST COSTUME DESIGN Ammonite Emma. The Glorias Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom Mank alt. News of the World, Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey, Mulan
BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING Birds of Prey Hillbilly Elegy Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom Pinocchio alt. Emma., The Glorias, Mank
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS The Midnight Sky The One and Only Ivan Soul Tenet Welcome to Chechnya alt. Mulan, Mank, Birds of Prey
BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM Burrow If Anything Happens I Love You Kapaemahu Out Yes-People alt. Genius Loci, Traces, Opera
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT A Concerto is a Conversation Do Not Split Hunger Ward A Love Song for Latasha The Speed Cubers alt. What Would Sophia Loren Do?, Abortion Helpline This is Lisa, Colette
BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM Da Yie The Human Voice The Letter Room The Present Two Distant Strangers alt. Feeling Through, Bittu, White Eye
SERIES Better Call Saul
The Handmaid’s tale
The Morning Show
This is Us
Alt: Westworld / Big Little Lies / Stranger Things
Jennifer Aniston – The Morning Show
Olivia Colman – The Crown
Jodie Comer – Killing Eve
Viola Davis – How to Get Away with Murder
Laura Linney – Ozark
Elisabeth Moss – The Handmaid’s Tale
Alt: Nicole Kidman – Big Little Lies, Claire Danes – Homeland, Evan Rachel Wood – Westworld
Jason Bateman – Ozark
Sterling K. Brown – This is Us
Brian Cox – Succession
Bob Odenkirk – Better Call Saul
Billy Porter – Pose
Jeremy Strong – Succession
Alt: Tobias Menzies – The Crown, Rami Malek – Mr. Robot, Aaron Paul – Westworld
Helena Bonham Carter – The Crown
Laura Dern – Big Little Lies
Ann Dowd – The Handmaid’s Tale
Julia Garner – Ozark
Thandie Newton – Westworld
Sarah Snook – Succession
Yvonne Strahovski – The Handmaid’s Tale
Meryl Streep – Big Little Lies
Alt: Janet McTeer – Ozark, Millie Bobby Brown – Stranger Things, Fiona Shaw – Killing Eve
Jonathan Banks – Better Call Saul
Billy Crudup – The Morning Show
Kieran Culkin – Succession
David Harbour – Stranger Things
Josh O’Connor – The Crown
Mandy Patinkin – Homeland
Tom Pelphrey – Ozark
Bradley Whitford – The Handmaid’s Tale
Alt: Matthew Macfadyen – Succession, Mark Duplass – The Morning Show, Giancarlo Esposito – Better Call Saul
The Crown – “Aberfan” – Benjamin Caron
The Handmaid’s Tale – “Mayday” – Mike Barker
Homeland – “Prisoners of War” – Lesli Linka Glatter
The Outsider – “Fish in a Barrel” – Jason Bateman
Ozark – “Fire Pink” – Ali Sakharov
Stranger Things – “Chapter Eight: The Battle of Starcourt” – The Duffer Brothers
Succession – “Hunting” – Andrij Parekh
Succession – “This is Not for Tears” – Mark Mylod
Better Call Saul – “Bagman” – Gordon Smith
Black Mirror – “Smithereens” – Charlie Brooker
The Crown – “Aberfan” – Peter Morgan
The Handmaid’s Tale – “Mayday” – Bruce Miller
Ozark – “All In” – Chris Mundy
Ozark – “Fire Pink” – Miki Johnson
Succession – “Hunting” – Jesse Armstrong
Alexis Bledel – The Handmaid’s Tale
Laverne Cox – Orange is the New Black
Julie Dretzin – The Handmaid’s Tale
Cherry Jones – Succession
Phylicia Rashad – This is Us
Cicely Tyson – How to Get Away with Murder
Alt: Jane Lapotaire – The Crown
James Cromwell – Succession
Charles Dance – The Crown
O-T Fagbenle – The Handmaid’s Tale
Ron Cephas Jones – This is Us
Christopher Meloni – The Handmaid’s Tale
Andrew Scott – Black Mirror
Alt: Jason Bateman – The Outsider
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Dead to Me
The Good Place
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Alt: Better Things, Modern Family, The Great
Pamela Adlon – Better Things
Christina Applegate – Dead to Me
Rachel Brosahan – The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Linda Cardellini – Dead to Me
Catherine O’Hara – Schitt’s Creek
Issa Rae – Insecure
Alt: Kristen Bell – The Good Place, Lily Tomlin – Grace and Frankie, Elle Fanning – The Great
Don Cheadle – Black Monday
Ted Danson – The Good Place
Larry David – Curb Your Enthusiasm
Michael Douglas – The Kominsky Method
Eugene Levy – Schitt’s Creek
Ramy Youssef – Ramy
Alt: Steve Carell – Space Force, Domhnall Gleeson – Run, Zach Galifianakis – Baskets
Alex Borstein – The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
D’Arcy Carden – The Good Place
Betty Gilpin – GLOW
Emily Hampshire – Schitt’s Creek
Marin Hinkle – The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Jane Lynch – The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Kate McKinnon – Saturday Night Live
Annie Murphy – Schitt’s Creek
Alt: Aidy Bryant – Saturday Night Live, Yvonne Orji – Insecure, Hiam Abbass – Ramy
Mahershala Ali – Ramy
Alan Arkin – The Kominsky Method
Sterling K. Brown – The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Nicholas Hoult – The Great
Dan Levy – Schitt’s Creek
James Marsden – Dead to Me
Tony Shalhoub – The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Kenan Thompson – Saturday Night Live
Alt: Chris Elliott – Schitt’s Creek, Michael Zegen – The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Louie Anderson – Baskets
The Good Place – “Whenever Your’re Ready” – Michael Schur
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel – “It’s Comedy or Cabbage” – Amy Sherman-Palladino
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel – “Marvelous Radio” – Daniel Palladino
Ramy – “Miakhalifa.mov” – Ramy Youssef
Schitt’s Creek – “Happy Ending” – Andrew Cividino & Dan Levy
Silicon Valley – “Artificial Lack of Intelligence” – Mike Judge
Will & Grace – “We Love Lucy” – James Burrows
Dead to Me – “It’s Not You, It’s Me” – Liz Feldman & Kelly Hutchinson
The Good Place – “Whenever You’re Ready” – Michael Schur
The Great – “The Great” – Tony McNamara
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel – “It’s Comedy or Cabbage” – Amy Sherman-Palladino
Ramy -“You are Naked in Front of Your Sheikh” – Ramy Youssef & Rob Ulin
Schitt’s Creek – “Happy Ending” – Dan Levy
Silicon Valley – “Exit Event” – Alec Berg
Lisa Kudrow – The Good Place
Judith Light – The Politician
Bette Midler – The Politician
Maya Rudolph – The Good Palce
Wanda Sykes – The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Phoebe Waller-Bridge – Saturday Night Live
Alt: Jane Krakowski – Curb Your Enthusiasm
Jon Hamm – Curb Your Enthusiasm
Luke Kirby – The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Zachary Levi – The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
John Mulaney – Saturday Night Live
Eddie Murphy – Saturday Night Live
Fred Willard – Modern Family
Alt: Jason Alexander – The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
LIMITED SERIES/TV MOVIE CATEGORIES
Little Fires Everywhere
Alt: Hollywood, Normal People
Bad Education: A Breaking Bad Movie
Patsy & Loretta
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. the Reverend
Alt: The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel, Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings
Cate Blanchett – Mrs. America
Kaitlyn Dever – Unbelievable
Shira Haas – Unorthodox
Regina King – Watchmen
Merritt Wever – Unbelievable
Alt: Kerry Washington – Little Fires Everywhere, Reese Witherspoon – Little Fires Everywhere, Michelle Dockery – Defending Jacob
Russell Crowe – The Loudest Voice
Jeremy Irons – Watchmen
Hugh Jackman – Bad Education
Paul Mescal – Normal People
Mark Ruffalo – I Know This Much is True
Alt: Aaron Paul – El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, Chris Evans – Defending Jacob, Jeremy Pope – Hollywood
Uzo Aduba – Mrs. America
Rose Byrne – Mrs. America
Toni Collette – Unbeleivable
Margo Martindale – Mrs. America
Sarah Paulson – Mrs. America
Jean Smart – Watchmen
Alt: Tracey Ullman – Mrs. America, Patti LuPone – Hollywood, Allison Janney – Bad Education
Yahya Abdul-Mateem II – Watchmen
Darren Criss – Hollywood
Joe Mantello – Hollywood
Tim Blake Nelson – Watchmen
Jim Parsons – Hollywood
John Slattery – Mrs. America
Alt: Louis Gossett Jr. – Watchmen, John Turturro – The Plot Against America, Ray Romano – Bad Education
Mrs. America – “Reagan” ‘ Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck
Normal People – “Episode 5” – Lenny Abrahamson
Unbelievable – “Episode 1” – Lisa Cholodenko
Watchmen – “It’s Summer and We’re Running Out of Ice” – Nicole Kassell
Watchmen – “See How They Fly” – Frederick E.O. Toye
Watchmen – “This Extraordinary Being” – Stephen Williams
Mrs. America – “Shirley” – Tanya Barfield
Normal People – “Episode 3” – Sally Rooney and Alice Birch
Unbelievable – “Episode 1” – Susannah Grand and Michael Chabon & Ayelet Waldman
Unorthodox – “Part 1” – Anna WInger
Watchmen – “This Extraordinary Being – Damon Lindelof & Cord Jefferson
The Masked Singer
RuPaul’s Drag Race
VARIETY TALK SERIES
Daily Show with Trevor Noah
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
Late Show with Stephen Colbert
Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj
VARIETY SKETCH SERIES
At Home with Amy Sedaris
A Black Lady Sketch Show
Saturday Night Live
Jane Lynch – Hollywood Game Night
Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman – Making It
Nicole Byer – Nailed It
Queer Eye Hosts – Queer Eye
RuPaul Charles – RuPaul’s Drag Race
Jimmy Kimmel – Who Wants to Be Millionaire
Since the Emmy nominations are coming close, it is fascinating to look at the contenders, especially given the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted a lot of thing about the lead-up to the Emmys: productions postponed, shows moving release dates, and moving the entire FYC experience to the virtual world.
The number contenders for the Comedy categories have been pretty thin, save the inevitable Schitt’s Creek vs. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel showdown. Meanwhile, the Limited Series categories are intensely stacked with intense competition between timely releases like Unbelievable, Watchmen, and Mrs. America. Even the TV Movie category has some formidable contenders with HBO hit Bad Education and Netflix film El Camino.
For this article, we are going to focus on what is normally the most prestigious category of the Emmys: the Drama Series. For the longest time, Game Thrones have held on to this award, even for its widely panned final season. With that out of the way, a successor is naturally in order.
However, this season’s Drama Series contenders have mostly been disappointing outings, whether in comparison to previous seasons or just lacking seasons over-all.
Here’s my take on each of the contenders.
(NOTE: I have not seen Better Call Saul S5, Homeland S8, Euphoria S1, and The Outsider S1.)
Perhaps the most disappointing contender is Killing Eve (Season 3). Originally scheduled to debut on April 26, it moved its premiere up by two weeks. Its second season got nominated for Drama Series last year, boosting the confidence for this series’ chances to repeat this achievement. This hope proves futile. Despite a few strong episodes, the season suffered from a directionless narrative. Even Villanelle has become significantly less threatening this time. With a lackluster outing like this, it would be difficult to see this as among the top contenders. The only thing going for it is it is the last Drama Series contender out, rendering it fresh in the voters’ minds.
The only new series that has received strong buzz coming in this race is The Morning Show (Season 1). As Apple TV+’s most prestigious offering, this drama about sexual harassment in the broadcast industry received considerable hype leading up to its premiere, especially due to Jennifer Aniston’s comeback to television and Reese Witherspoon’s streak of producing/starring in prestige television. The end result is less than satisfying: while the cast mostly remained unscathed (save Steve Carell), the series is guilty of being preachy, broad, or soapy at times. One could easily imagine this as the new blood in the lineup. One could also see a lineup excluding this and solely focusing on past contenders.
Positioned as HBO’s epic fantasy successor to Game of Thrones, Westworld (Season 3) was coming off of a season that was marred by complaints about its overly cryptic plot. With Breaking Bad star Aaron Paul entering the season with a new character, the series was potentially on the cusp of a quality revamp. While this season was easier to follow, it was also confronted with even more mixed reception from critics and fans. Its season finale is a proof to the drop in enthusiasm for this series. Just like Killing Eve, it is yet to be seen if airing later than the other contenders would benefit this show or not. What would surely strengthen its chances is its proven support from the technical branches.
Embracing diversity unlike any other show in this race, Pose (Season 2) remains to be a cultural force and a milestone in media representation. Its last season was met with pure passion, catapulting its lead actor Billy Porter to an Emmy win. This season was met with the same warm response as the first. However, there are several factors working against this show. Premiering June of last year surely benefited its Emmy run last year. That is not the case for this season since it is already a year since it premiered. On a personal note, I think this season suffered from weak writing and questionable characters and choices. With the show not making a splash at the guilds for its second season, it would be interesting to see how FX will reignite the passion for this beloved show.
Making its shift from limited series to drama series, Big Little Lies (Season 2) were met with very high expectations. Hyped as Meryl Streep’s big comeback to television, her inclusion to the already high-wattage cast signaled that this will be a huge television event. Once it premiered, the show still received positive reception, but was already showing weakness. As complaints grew about the season not living up to its predecessor, the behind-the-scenes mishap revealed while the show was airing probably justified this less than satisfying outing. It does not help that the season also aired June of last year. The result is a still-good season of television, but clearly inferior to its previous season.
Another series that debuted that June is the Netflix hit Stranger Things (Season 3). As its cast of child actors literally grew up on-screen, so does the monster that they face. The series is obviously stuck on a loop of band-of-teens-versus-monster. The big difference this season is its incorporation of Cold War elements that unfortunately situates this story to a simplistic political milieu. While this season is still positively received, it no longer is the prestigious show that it probably once was (save a SAG Ensemble nomination).
Being the only torchbearer of network television, This is Us (Season 4) maintains its position as one of the most emotional dramas airing. Its second season, perhaps the most powerful of this season, was expected to blow up at the Emmys, but actually dropped in nominations. It only got a small resurgence for its third season because of the absence of many major contenders, possibly to avoid Game of Thrones. While the first half of its fourth season does a lot of narrative set-ups for future storylines, sometimes to its detriment, the second half leaves an impact with the looming rift between Randall and Kevin that really raises the stakes. The show also ends on a pretty hopeful note. While SAG dropped this in Drama Ensemble after two consecutive years of winning, the acing branch will probably take this to the finish line.
After winning Directing and Actress during its previous season, The Crown (Season 3) was poised to be a major contender. Add the casting of recent Oscar winner Olivia Colman in the lead role and there is even more buzz. The resulting season is still a great one, with acclaimed performances from Colman, Tobias Menzies, Helena Bonham Carter, and Josh O’Connor. However, the buzz faded easily when it failed to make a major splash during the televised awards around December-January. While Colman snagged the Golden Globe, she lost SAG to The Morning Show‘s Jennifer Aniston. Also, the reception to the season in general is still less enthusiastic compared to its preceding season. Dissenting opinions about Colman’s performance, its music, and writing have become more visible. Nevertheless, expect this to be a major contender come Emmy nominations.
Being the only show that has previously won Drama Series, The Handmaid’s Tale (Season 3) came close to challenging Game of Thrones when they clashed in 2018. Last year, it was the second most nominated drama, next to Game of Thrones, for its three orphaned episodes from season two, winning three. That demonstrates the impact of the show on the voters. With the promise of revolution, season three started with high hopes. What preceded is still the same slow-moving drama that puts intense focus on its stunning imagery and performances. This frustrated more viewers than before and is now accepted as the show’s weakest season, with uneven storytelling and shaky racial politics. Another June premiere, the buzz had relatively died down at this point. However, it still had a decent showing at the guilds as well as the highly positive response to its season finale. This show has amassed 44 Emmy nominations for its first two seasons. 14 of those are acting nominations, proving that the acting branch support is present. This is also a favorite in the technical categories. Underestimate this show at your own risk.
What’s remaining are actually two shows that had better critical reception than their previous seasons. They also happen to be the frontrunners of this race.
Succession (Season 2) is HBO’s prestige drama about a family controlling a media empire. While the first season was well-received and rewarded with corresponding Emmy nominations last year, its second season exploded with more energy, sharp wit, stronger empathy to its rather unsympathetic characters, and a jaw-dropping season finale. Having an August premiere does not seem to hurt this show. It did well at the guilds, save a glaring omission at SAG. While I am more tempered with his predictions for this show, Succession is expected to do much better than its previous season that received a measly five Emmy nominations.
Another show nominated last year was Ozark (Season 3), Netfilix’s crime drama about money laundering. While the first two seasons were received with lukewarm-to-positive critical reception, they have fared pretty well at the Emmys. Getting two random Emmy nominations for Directing in its first season was one thing. To win a Directing Emmy against showier contenders was another. And with a third season that injects the show with much-needed life and energy, the show received its series-best reviews. Premiering right before the extensive lockdown in March seemed like a perfect timing for the show. With gripping performances by Laura Linney, Julia Garner, Janet McTeer, and especially Tom Pelphrey, this show is a strong contender for the win.
For transparency’s sake, here is my ranking based on personal preference:
1) Ozark S3
2) The Handmaid’s Tale S3
3) Succession S2
4) The Crown S3
6) This is Us S4
7) Big Little Lies S2
8) Stranger Things S3
9) Westworld S3
10) The Morning Show S1
11) Killing Eve S3
Meanwhile, here are my predictions for Drama Series:
THE PREDICTED EIGHT
1) Succession S2
2) Ozark S3
3) The Crown S3
4) The Handmaid’s Tale S3
5) Better Call Saul S5
6) This is Us S4
7) Westworld S3
8) Big Little Lies S2
9) The Morning Show S1
10) Stranger Things S3
11) Pose S2
12) Homeland S8
13) Killing Eve S3
14) The Outsider S1
15) Euphoria S1
What are your predictions for Drama Series? Which shows are your favorites?
In another rule change caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the AMPAS has instituted several rule changes for the following Academy Awards yesterday.
One of the major changes included in these is about the eligibility period. Instead of the usual period of January 1 to December 31 as per Academy rules, the recently released amendment states that the eligibility period for this year is now from January 1, 2020 to February 28, 2021.
While not a big surprise in itself, this is a disappointing move on the Academy’s part.
This article will discuss why I think this is bad not just for the Academy, but also for the films released this year.
Academy rules state that for a film to be eligible for the Academy Awards, it must have had a minimum of seven consecutive days of run in a theater in Los Angeles County. However, theaters in LA have all been mandated to close because of the pandemic as early as March.
Due to this health measure, many of the big studio releases were forced to delay their supposed theatrical run. Meanwhile, other films opted the path of streaming/VOD release instead of waiting for the uncertain return of the theatrical experience.
In a rule change announced in April 28, the Academy said that films released via streaming or VOD will be eligible for Oscar consideration, provided that the film had a previously planned theatrical release. This move already assuaged musings about this year not having enough films in consideration.
In my opinion, this actually levels the playing field, especially for some smaller films that find it difficult to penetrate the increasingly homogenized landscape of the theater chains. This rule change gives the chance for Academy members to actually get the chance to watch the films since most, if not all, are staying at home.
But that was not enough.
With the extension of the eligibility period, the Academy highlights their longstanding but unsaid bias: they prioritize films that would fall under the traditional Oscar fare category so they do not think this year in film could not stand on its own as worthy of Oscar attention.
Let’s see how this impacts the Oscar race.
Major studios are on a standstill with regards to their releases. Given the pace of how the medical community is handling the pandemic (and we’re not yet getting into the ineffectiveness of some governments), there are already films that whose releases were postponed. Other “upcoming” releases, some even poised to have considerable Oscar buzz, are sure to be affected by this. They include:
A Quiet Place Part II
No Time to Die
Promising Young Woman
The Personal History of David Copperfield
The Woman in the Window
The Green Knight
Wonder Woman 1984
In the Heights
June 18, 2021
The French Dispatch
February 12, 2021
A ORD – original release date
B NRD – new release date
Other films expected to be Oscar contenders have not yet changed their release dates. These include:
The Trial of the Chicago 7
West Side Story
The Last Duel
News of the World
Meanwhile, films like Nomadland (Searchlight), Ammonite (Neon), and Minari (A24) have still not announced any release dates, tentative or otherwise.
In summary, these are the reasons why the Academy decided to extend the eligibility period. Whether because films have stalled in post-productions, filming have not yet completed, or some studios and filmmakers simply refuse to release in a non-theatrical setting.
In a joint statement by Academy president David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson, they said:
“Our hope, in extending the eligibility period and our Awards date, is to provide the flexibility filmmakers need to finish and release their films without being penalized for something beyond anyone’s control.”
“This is a much needed boost for those films who may have been stalled in post-production.”
While the intentions are probably noble, this also puts into question the Academy’s priorities.
Why wait for these films – majority of those from major studios – to be released?
Films continue to premiere during the pandemic through different platforms. Hence, the rule change to allow them to be eligible despite not premiering in the theaters.
It would be remiss to not mention the landscape change in reference to the Oscars: films premiering in film festivals, especially in Europe (Cannes, Berlin, Venice) and North America (Telluride, Toronto), get the chance to be picked up for distribution and could become formidable Oscar contenders.
But aside from that, studios already have their films ready at this point. We already have a general who’s who of the Oscar contenders at this point.
What is stopping them from abiding from the earlier released change of allowing streaming? And does the studios’ insistence on a theatrical run have cowed the Academy into submission, resulting into this additional two months for the eligibility?
Because we all know who will benefit from this – the major studios.
You know who are put at a disadvantage at this? The films that were released earlier this year.
By doing the extension, the Academy marginalizes the films that were already released earlier this year. They are already facing an uphill climb in making sure they are still in the voters’ minds come awards season. Additional two months of more films premiering will definitely not help them.
Sure, not all of the films that were already released fall into what we call traditional Oscar fare. But by doing this, the Academy is discounting the achievements of these films just because they did not fit the mold of films they usually prefer. (I mean, they do, but they didn’t have to be this obvious.)
To give a fair diagnosis of what do we already have this year, let’s see some of the films already released in theaters:
Birds of Prey
The Invisible Man
Sorry We Missed You
The Way Back
Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Those are practically the films that one might see having Oscar potential that were actually released in cinemas. Most of them are genre films (superhero, horror, sports) that did well at the box-office that were also well-received. The others are smaller independent films that got considerable critical acclaim.
After that, almost, if not all films, went to streaming/VOD for their releases. Some releases include:
True History of the Kelly Gang
End of Sentence
The High Note
The King of Staten Island
Just this month of June, upcoming VOD releases include Babyteeth, Miss Juneteenth, Mr. Jones, Viena and the Fantomes, and Irresistible.
Serving as the go-to source of entertainment now more than ever, streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu continued to release films during the pandemic. Some releases include:
The Half of It
The Vast of Night
Da 5 Bloods
Netflix still has upcoming releases this year for potential awards contenders including Mank, The Prom, Hillbilly Elegy, I’m Thinking of Ending Things, Rebecca, The Boys in the Band, and The Devil All the Time.
Amazon also has films waiting to be released this year including Radioactive, Sound of Metal, Chemical Hearts, Herself, I’m Your Woman, Sylvie’s Time, and Uncle Frank.
Coming off of the historic Best Picture win of Parasite, non-English language films released in the United States during the first half of the year also garnered critical acclaim. As a personal advocate of non-English language films myself (as proven by my podcast The One-Inch Barrier), I would love to see more international features recognized at the Oscars. This year, some releases include:
And Then We Danced *
Those Who Remained *
The Whistlers *
The Wild Goose Lake
A White, White Day *
I’m No Longer Here
* submitted for Best International Feature at the 92nd Academy Awards
We are living in the golden age of documentary filmmaking. There are countless documentaries being produced, financed, and released. Documentaries has never been this accessible or connected to audiences due to the proliferation of platforms to release them. To date, the Academy has not yet nominated a documentary film in the Best Picture category (and if anyone’s asking, documentaries are indeed eligible in Best Picture).
This year, we do not have a shortage of critically-acclaimed documentaries. Some releases include:
Beastie Boys Story
Circus of Books
A Secret Love
The Painter and the Thief
On the Record
Spelling the Dream
Animated films have only been represented in Best Picture thrice in history: Beauty in the Beast (1991), Up (2009), and Toy Story 3 (2010). With the recent expansion of the Best Picture lineup to a solid 10 nominees, it is at least more promising for these films to have a shot in Best Picture contention and not just sidelined in their own categories.
With animated imports yet to be considered, here are some of the animated feature this year (already released and upcoming releases included):
A Whisker Away
Over the Moon
And I just need to mention, a lot of these films already released have some things in common.
Directed by women. Directed by minorities.
Stories about women. Stories about minorities.
Now, looking at all of the films I have listed (and heaven knows this isn’t complete), you tell me: do we really have a lacking field of contenders as it stands?
Are these stories not worth the Oscar attention?
This is not about scraping the barrel. This is about getting the actual temperature of the year in film. This is about actually seeing what is available, even if it means outside the Academy’s wheelhouse.
If the best of the year in film includes documentaries, small indies, genre fare, and subtitled films, wouldn’t these films actually deserve to be rewarded as they stand?
Before the rule change on eligibility period, the Academy also announced another addition: starting next year, they will have quarterly screenings for Academy members. This is to make sure that voting members get to see films all over the year and not just concentrate on what’s released at the end of the year.
If the Academy really committed to this goal, then the eligibility period change puts that into question. Why is the Academy adamant to adding two months of eligibility if films are still being released, albeit in the alternative platforms that they have validated as enough to make films eligible (i.e. streaming, VOD)?
This move is definitely sending mixed messages to filmmakers and film audiences alike.
If studios cannot release their films in time for the eligibility period, then they should release your films next year and qualify for the Oscars for 2021. They do not own 2020 in film and they should definitely not control how the Oscars work. Not in this manner, anyway.
Instead of chasing the preordained Oscar contenders whose release dates might be delayed, shouldn’t the Academy just focus on what this year has actually offered?
Granted, we lose some films. But that’s how it works, right? The Academy should proceed with what 2020 in film has. If they think the field has narrowed, so be it.
This kind of thinking also invalidates the work that have already been released. Instead of embracing the idiosyncrasy of this year, the Academy has leaned towards finding ways to ensure that they still get their traditional picks.
Are genre films, small independent films, documentaries, non-English language films, and other non-traditional Oscar fares not enough for the Academy to proceed with honoring what’s the best of 2020?
This is another tough year to predict. Not because there is a bad film that I so want to avoid predicting like last year’s Bohemian Rhapsody, but because all of the major contenders are very good to great films. I have my own personal favorites; they don’t factor in here, but precursors + on-ground buzz + gut feeling. Whatever, it’s always fun to play this game. Have done this since 2009, the first year of the expanded ballot.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
if 6, add Marriage Story
if 7, add Joker
if 8, add Little Women
if 9, add The Two Popes
if 10, add Ford v Ferrari
Alt: The Farewell, Bombshell, Knives Out
I feel safe with the top eight. Logic dictates Ford v Ferrari because of technical support, but I have a gut feeling that The Two Popes will have a very passionate fanbase that would be enough to push it to the finish line.
Bong and Mendes are locks. Tarantino and Scorsese feel safe, but wouldn’t surprise me if they are snubbed. Fifth slot is tough; I’m going with Gerwig making a historic second nomination for a female director.
It’s already October and this is one of the most exciting parts of the Oscar race: with most of the contenders seen, after the major festivals have ended, and before the precursor awards. The narratives of the contenders are starting to be formed while most of the major backlashes are still yet to explode.
Here’s the Best Picture contenders, class of 2019 (according to their position right now, do comment if you disagree):
TIER A – FRONTRUNNERS
These films are not just strong bets for the Best Picture nomination, but whose buzz are already positioning it for the win this early.
The Irishman (Netflix)
Marriage Story (Netflix)
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Sony/Columbia)
TIER B – STRONG CONTENDERS
These films have quite significant hurdles for the win, but the Best Picture nomination feels more confident.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Sony/Tri-Star)
Ford v Ferrari (Disney/20th Century Fox)
Jojo Rabbit (Disney/Fox Searchlight)
Joker (Warner Bros.)
Little Women (Sony/Columbia)
TIER C – MAJOR SPOILERS
These films are still waiting for bigger buzz or for actual support from the precursor awards. But make no mistake: these can easily make the jump to the upper tiers.
Ad Astra (Disney/20th Century Fox)
The Farewell (A24)
A Hidden Life (Disney/Fox Searchlight)
Just Mercy (Warner Bros.)
Richard Jewell (Warner Bros.)
The Two Popes (Netflix)
TIER D – IN THE MIX
These films are not yet within the best Picture conversation, but the remaining months has the possibility to tip the scale in these films’ favor. Be watchful of these films because they can make it if their campaigns, box-office performance, and reviews are on their side.
The Aeronauts (Amazon)
Avengers: Endgame (Disney/marvel)
Dolemite is My Name (Netflix)
The King (Netflix)
Knives Out (Lionsgate)
The Last Black Man in San Francisco (A24)
Pain and Glory (Sony/Sony Pictures Classics)
Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Neon)
Queen & Slim (Universal)
The Report (Amazon)
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (Disney/Lucasfilm)
Uncut Gems (A24)
TIER E – LONG SHOTS
These films have massive hurdles to overcome if they ever come near the Best Picture conversation, but I’m already calling the possibility of them getting in.
The Banker (Bleecker/Apple+)
Dark Waters (Focus)
Downton Abbey (Focus)
The Good Liar (Warner Bros.)
The Laundromat (Netflix)
The Lighthouse (A24)
TIER F – THE REST OF THE FIELD These films probably have very slim to no chance of getting nominated in Best Picture, but it’s just too early to count anything out. We’ll never know.
Booksmart (Annapurna/United Artists)
Honey Boy (Amazon)
The Lion King (Disney)
The Peanut Butter Falcon (Roadside)
So far, those are our Best Picture contenders. Now, let’s view them per studio/distribution company:
DISNEY (including 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight) – 7
After buying Fox in its entirety, this media behemoth has a full plate this awards season, with at least seven films in the Best Picture conversation. They are also coming off of a Best Picture nomination for Black Panther (Marvel), Bohemian Rhapsody (20th Century Fox), and The Favourite (Fox Searchlight). They also have animated contenders like Frozen II and Toy Story 4.
Jojo Rabbit (Fox Searchlight)
Ford v Ferrari (20th Century Fox)
Ad Astra (20th Century Fox)
A Hidden Life (Fox Searchlight)
Avengers: Endgame (Marvel)
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (Lucasfilm)
The Lion King
UNIVERSAL (including Focus Features) – 7
This studio has some solid contenders. However, its subsidiary Focus is not doing very well with awards prospect with most of its bets in the long shot position. Focus nabbed a Best Picture nomination last year with BlacKkKlansman and the actual best Picture win with Green Book.
Queen & Slim
Downton Abbey (Focus)
Dark Waters (Focus)
NETFLIX – 6
Hollywood’s enfant terrible studio is showing off its prowess this awards season with six strong contenders. Perhaps one of its bets has fallen off a bit after its festival run, but never count a Meryl Streep vehicle out of the race.
The Two Popes
Dolemite is My Name
A24 – 5
This independent distributor has flexed its muscles in its 2015-17 run with Room, Moonlight, and Lady Bird. Its hold kind of cooled down last year, but this year might be its comeback with a dynamic roster of contenders.
The Last Black in San Francisco
SONY (including Sony Picture Classics) – 4
Another dominant media force, Sony only has four compared to Disney’s seven or Netflix’s 6, but its four bets are solid.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
A Beautiful Day in Neighborhood
Pain and Glory (Sony Pictures Classics)
WARNER BROS. – 4
After missing last year’s top prize with early frontrunner A Star is Born, this Hollywood all-timer comes back with four contenders.
The Good Liar
NEON – 4
This independent distributor came close to a nomination with I, Tonya in 2017. This year, this studio continues to diversify its contenders. This year, it also has documentary contender Apollo 11, international feature contender Monos, and Honeyland, a contender in both categories.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire
AMAZON – 4
While Cold War did well last year, Amazon also missed on its other contender Beautiful Boy.
I wasn’t planning on doing this year, but they I was able to rewatch Moonstruck. After that, I was inspired to watch Broadcast News and Anna.
So here we are, discussing the five performances nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress of 1987. And what a year this is! Not only there is variety in this lineup in the films and performances, but the quality of this line-up is off-the-charts.
Cher, from the romantic comedy Moonstruck. Glenn Close, from the erotic thriller Fatal Attraction. Holly Hunter, from the satire Broadcast News. Sally Kirkland, from the independent drama Anna.
And Meryl Streep, from the period drama Ironweed.
Here is my personal ranking of the five performances:
1 – Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction (as Alex Forrest)
Take away the iconic status of this performance and what we have is a surprisingly vulnerable take on a character that the film so insistently tries to villainize. The film may have aged a bit in terms of its representation of infidelity, but Glenn Close’s work remains to be a potent examination of emotional fragility and instability. She manages to escape all shortcuts and broad strokes of this character. Career-best work for sure.
2 – Meryl Streep in Ironweed (as Helen Archer)
An unfairly underrated performance from her revered repertoire, Meryl Streep surprised me with a performance that is both haunting and devastating. It’s a performance that distills despair and hopelessness in such an effective way. Streep plays not a whole human being, but the remains of a once-alive person that is slowly disintegrating. She comes in late and leaves early, but the power of this performance stays.
3 – Holly Hunter in Broadcast News (as Jane Craig)
I’m on the side that thinks Broadcast News is more of a satire than a romantic comedy. Either way, Holly Hunter nails the steely, determined nature of this character that must have been and IS a powerful image of career woman. She benefits from strong writing and wonderful dynamic with her fellow actors. And when the film turns dark, she expertly navigates the grey areas of the story. She is in command and commanding in every scene effortlessly.
4 – Sally Kirkland in Anna (as Anna)Unlike the rest of the nominees, she does not benefit from her film AT ALL. It’s a confused film that made one perplexing choice after the other. So there is Sally Kirkland, giving it all in a freaking tour-de-force that doesn’t necessarily try to salvage the film that’s around her but defies all odds and creates an unforgettable portrayal of defeat and loss.
5 – Cher in Moonstruck (as Loretta Castorini)
Cher just radiates in a performance that is vanity-free and lived in. She benefits from witty writing that possesses a very specific tone of humor, and Cher gets the spirit of the material. It is deceptively low-key, but it is a performance that never coasts merely on charm. There is delicate maneuvering here, and Cher is the reliable core of this film.
And here are the probable runners-up of this race:
Lillian Gish – The Whales of August
Faye Dunaway – Barfly
Barbra Streisand – Nuts
Bette Davis – The Whales of August
Rachel Levin – Gaby: A True Story
Diane Keaton – Baby Boom
And here is the rest of the field (please tell me if I missed anyone):
Anne Bancroft – 84 Charing Cross Road
Ellen Barkin – The Big Easy
Cher – The Witches of Eastwick
Cher – Suspect
Lindsay Crouse – House of Games
Jennifer Grey – Dirty Dancing
Daryl Hannah – Roxanne
Barbara Hershey – Shy People
Holly Hunter – Raising Arizona
Anjelica Huston – The Dead
Christine Lahti – Housekeeping
Emily Lloyd – Wish You Were Here
Carmen Maura – Law of Desire
Sheila McCarthy – I’ve Heard the Mermaids Sing
Bette Midler – Outrageous Fortune
Sarah Miles – Hope and Glory
Vanessa Redgrave – Prick up Your Ears
Theresa Russell – Black Widow
Debra Sandlund – Tough Guys Don’t Dance
Louise Smith – Working Girls
Maggie Smith – The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne
Julie Walters – Personal Services
Debra Winger – Black Widow
Joanne Woodward – The Glass Menagerie
Robin Wright – The Princess Bride