Pandemic or no pandemic, the show must go on, and thus the Oscars will be held two months late, on April 25, 2021. Back in January 2020, Sundance launched a few movies, including Lee Isaac Chung’s jury and audience prize-winner “Minari” (A24), starring Steven Yeun, who scored SAG, Indie Spirit, and Critics Choice Awards nods, while the movie landed a coveted SAG Ensemble nomination. Also launched at Sundance was “The Father” (Sony Pictures Classics), starring Oscar-winner Anthony Hopkins (“The Silence of the Lambs”), who gives a tour-de-force performance opposite Olivia Colman as his daughter; both landed Globe, SAG, and CCA mentions, and Hopkins won the BAFTA.
While it debuted back at TIFF 2019, Amazon is pushing Darius Marder’s riveting “Sound of Metal” (November 20), about a recovering addict and heavy-metal drummer (Riz Ahmed) who loses his hearing. Like “Whiplash,” this film has registered across several categories, as it’s landing every possible slot, including Globe, Indie Spirit, SAG, CCA, BAFTA, and a Gotham win.
Biopics always have an edge in this race. After winning as Winston Churchill in “Darkest Hour,” Gary Oldman takes on charming alcoholic “Citizen Kane” screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz in David Fincher’s “Mank” (Netflix) — with no prosthetics, scoring Globe, SAG, and CCA slots, along with Chadwick Boseman, who’s sweeping the awards so far with Globe, CCA and SAG wins, and a BAFTA nod. Boseman is the favorite to win the second posthumous Best Actor Oscar (following Peter Finch of “Network”) for his incendiary performance as a trumpeter backing blues singer Ma Rainey (Viola Davis) in George C. Wolfe’s movie adaptation of August Wilson’s play “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (Netflix). It’s timely in the way it shows how anger can simmer and explode. And he gives his all in his last performance. He’ll be hard to beat.
Contenders are listed in the order of the likeliest to win the Oscar.
Chadwick Boseman (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”)
Anthony Hopkins (“The Father”)
Riz Ahmed (“Sound of Metal”)
Gary Oldman (“Mank”)
Steven Yeun (“Minari”)