2021 Oscars Preview: Part 1

This is your guide to the major nominees of the 93rd Academy Awards ceremony. Part 1 takes a look at the films in the running for Best Picture.

There’s always a lot of talk leading up to the big day about who will win what awards. We try to make our predictions based on trends from the past, but we can’t help to be swayed by our own personal opinions. Some movies truly strike a chord with us, while others aren’t interesting at all. Furthermore, Oscar films are usually heavy in the drama department and therefore they aren’t always the easiest or most entertaining movies to watch.

That’s why we’re here. We’ve compiled the following brief summaries, interesting facts, and critical reviews for all these films and people. The goal is to give you a solid background even if you haven’t been able to catch up with this year’s nominees. So read on, and then start planning your Oscar-related drinking game. The 93rd Academy Awards ceremony will take place Sunday, April 25th.

Check back later this week as we post part two of our Oscars coverage!


THE FATHER

Directed By: Florian Zeller

Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Olivia Colman 

Story: Anthony (Academy Award Winner, Anthony Hopkins) is 80, mischievous, living defiantly alone and rejecting the carers that his daughter, Anne (Academy Award and Golden Globe Winner, Olivia Colman), encouragingly introduces. Yet help is also becoming a necessity for Anne; she can’t make daily visits anymore and Anthony’s grip on reality is unraveling. As we experience the ebb and flow of his memory, how much of his own identity and past can Anthony cling to? How does Anne cope as she grieves the loss of her father, while he still lives and breathes before her? 

Biggest Awards Wins So Far:

None

Other Oscar Nominations:

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

Best Adapted Screenplay

Best Achievement in Film Editing

Best Achievement in Production Design

What The Critics Said:

The Father [is] one of those films where it is not necessary to have a firm understanding of the plot. The most important aspect of it is simply the
experience of watching it.
G.S. Perno – Cinelinx (read our review here)

Overall Critic Consensus:

Metacritic: 88

Rotten Tomatoes: 98%

IMDB: 8.3

Cinelinx: 4.5/5

Interesting Fact: Florian Zeller wanted Anthony Hopkins specifically for the part. He sent Hopkins a script in 2017 and waited for a reply. In the meantime he did not pursue production with another actor in the role.  


JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH

Directed By: Shaka King

Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, LaKeith Stanfield, Jesse Plemons, Dominique Fishback

Story: Offered a plea deal by the FBI, William O’Neal infiltrates the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party to gather intelligence on Chairman Fred Hampton.

Biggest Awards Wins So Far:

Golden Globes – Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture 

SAG – Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role

AFI Movie of the Year

Other Oscar Nominations:

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role x2

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures – Original Song

Best Original Screenplay

Best Achievement in Cinematography

What The Critics Said: 

Judas and the Black Messiah tells its story like a crime thriller, pushing its audience to the edge of their seats as they are taken over by a rollercoaster plot full of suspense and excitement.

G.S. Perno – Cinelinx (read our review here)

Overall Critic Consensus:

Metacritic: 85

Rotten Tomatoes: 96

IMDB: 7.6

Cinelinx: 4.5/5

Interesting Fact: With this film Daniel Kaluuya becomes the first black British actor to receive multiple Academy Award nominations. 


MANK

Directed By: David Fincher

Starring: Gary Oldman, Amanda Seyfried, Lily Collins, Charles Dance

Story: 1930s Hollywood is reevaluated through the eyes of scathing wit and alcoholic screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz as he races to finish “Citizen Kane.”

Biggest Awards Wins So Far:

AFI Movie of the Year

Other Oscar Nominations:

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Best Achievement in Directing

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

Best Sound

Best Achievement in Production Design

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures – Original Score

Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling

Best Achievement in Costume Design

Best Achievement in Cinematography

What The Critics Said: 

This isn’t merely a historical recreation in an attempt of honoring one of Hollywood’s greatest achievements. Mank is an excuse for Fincher to explore the faults, hypocrisies, and weaknesses of Hollywood by exposing the truth behind one of its most celebrated successes.

G.S. Perno – Cinelinx (Read our review here)

Overall Critic Consensus:

Metacritic: 79

Rotten Tomatoes: 83

IMDB: 7.0

Cinelinx: 3.5/5

Interesting Fact: Shot on Red’s Helium Monochrome 8k Cameras. No color version of this film exists. 


MINARI

Directed By: Lee Isaac Chung

Starring: Steven Yuen, Youn Yuh-jung, Han Ye-ri

Story: A Korean American family moves to an Arkansas farm in search of its own American dream. Amidst the challenges of this new life in the strange and rugged Ozarks, they discover the undeniable resilience of family and what really makes a home.

Biggest Awards Wins So Far: 

Golden Globes – Best Motion Picture, Foreign Language

SAG – Outstanding by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role

AFI Movie of the Year

Other Oscar Nominations:

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Best Achievement in Directing

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

Best Original Screenplay

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score

What The Critics Said: 

Minari is a story of the American Dream. But Chung’s brilliance is in how he adds depth and complexity to those foundational ideas – it’s in the spaces in between that we find love, loss, hope, and regret.

Clarisse Loughrey – Independent (UK)

Overall Critic Consensus:

Metacritic: 89

Rotten Tomatoes: 98%

IMDB: 7.6

Cinelinx: Not Reviewed

Interesting Fact: The whole film was shot in 25 days. 


NOMADLAND

Frances McDormand in the film NOMADLAND. Photo Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2020 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved

Directed By: Chloe Zhao

Starring: Frances McDormand, David Strathairn

Story: A woman in her sixties who, after losing everything in the Great Recession, embarks on a journey through the American West, living as a van-dwelling modern-day nomad.

Biggest Awards Wins So Far:

Golden Globes – Best Motion Picture, Drama

Golden Globes – Best Director, Motion Picture

AFI Movie of the Year

Other Oscar Nominations:

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Best Achievement in Directing

Best Adapted Screenplay

Best Achievement in Film Editing

Best Achievement in Cinematography

What The Critics Said: 

This is a film about coming to terms with loss as best as you can. It is about realizing how you will never be the same.

Overall Critic Consensus:

Metacritic: 93

Rotten Tomatoes: 94%

IMDB: 7.6

Cinelinx: 4.5/5

Interesting Fact: With the exception of Frances McDormand and David Strathairn, most of the cast of the film are actual nomads and local people. 


PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN

Directed By: Emerald Fennell

Starring: Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham

Story: Nothing in Cassie’s life is what it appears to be — she’s wickedly smart, tantalizingly cunning, and she’s living a secret double life by night. Now, an unexpected encounter is about to give Cassie a chance to right the wrongs from the past.

Biggest Awards Wins So Far:

None

Other Oscar Nominations:

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Best Achievement in Directing

Best Original Screenplay

Best Achievement in Film Editing

What The Critics Said: 

Promising Young Woman strikes a perfect balance between being insightful regarding the pain of sexual assault victims while also delivering an exhilarating film watching experience. Part of it is the use of the “revenge” model, but also part of it is because of how creative the film becomes.

G.S. Perno – Cinelinx (read our review here)

Overall Critic Consensus:

Metacritic: 72

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%

IMDB: 7.5

Cinelinx: 4.0/5

Interesting Fact: A few months before debuting at Sundance a test screening was sent off to gauge reactions of a wide audience. During one of the scenes a fight started between two audience members. One person was very angry about the scene and the other person was telling them to leave if they didn’t like it. Fennell told IndieWire about the incident, “It was quite visceral, and that was quite shocking because obviously I wanted to make a film that was thought-provoking that people talk about. But I wasn’t expecting that.” 


SOUND OF METAL

Directed By: Darius Marder

Starring: Riz Ahmed, Olivia Cooke, Paul Raci

Story: A heavy-metal drummer’s life is thrown into freefall when he begins to lose his hearing.

Biggest Awards Wins So Far:

AFI Movie of the Year

Other Oscar Nominations:

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Best Sound

Best Original Screenplay

Best Achievement in Film Editing

What The Critics Said: 

 Everything about this film is special. From the way it deals with the fragility of our existence, to its depiction of the deaf community there is a lot of impactful emotion. I especially appreciated how the film’s story is applicable to many challenges of life, not just losing your hearing.

 G.S. Perno – Cinelinx (Read our review here)

Overall Critic Consensus:

Metacritic: 82

Rotten Tomatoes: 97%

IMDB: 7.8

Cinelinx: 4.5/5

Interesting Fact: The whole film was shot in chronological order. 


TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7

Directed By: Aaron Sorkin

Starring: Eddie Radmayne, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jeremy Strong, Mark Rylance

Story: The film is based on the infamous 1969 trial of seven defendants charged by the federal government with conspiracy and more, arising from the countercultural protests in Chicago at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. The trial transfixed the nation and sparked a conversation about mayhem intended to undermine the U.S. government.

Biggest Awards Wins So Far:

Golden Globes – Best Screenplay, Motion Picture

SAG Awards – Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture

AFI Movie of the Year

Other Oscar Nominations:

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Best Original Screenplay

Best Achievement in Sound Editing

Best Achievement in Cinematography

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song

What The Critics Said: 

By the end, I had given myself over to the Hollywood veneer. Chicago 7 is a particularly shiny rendering of history, but Sorkin wisely places the focus on America’s failings, even as he celebrates the people striving to fix them.

David Sims – The Atlantic

Overall Critic Consensus:

Metacritic: 79

Rotten Tomatoes: 89%

IMDB: 7.8

Cinelinx: Not Reviewed

Interesting Fact: Upon its digital release it was the second-most streamed film over its debut weekend. It was the eighth-most watched straight-to-streaming title of 2020. 

You can find Part 2 of our 2021 Oscars coverage here