IndieWire’s awards expert Anne Thompson wrote earlier this year that all the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences needs is 10 good contenders to have an Oscars ceremony. If that’s the case, then consider the 2021 Academy Awards a go. Theater closures, festival cancellations, and endless release delays have made a majority of moviegoers question what the upcoming Oscar race will look like, but it’s worth noting that as of July 2020 there are dozens of good movies worthy of Oscar buzz, regardless of whether or not they are the most traditional contenders. The fall movie season is expected to bring the usual abundance of contenders, but the fact remains that a 2021 Oscars would’ve been exciting even if the Academy did not bump the ceremony from February 28 to April 25, 2021.
One of the major changes to the 2021 Oscars is a temporary rule that will allow streaming and VOD movies that had planned theatrical releases to be eligible for the Academy Awards. To keep track of the good movies eligible for Oscars under this new rule, IndieWire is starting a running guide below consisting of must-see titles that either opened in theaters this year already or intended to do so but instead opened on streaming or VOD. Whether or not these films become Oscar contenders or get studio-backed campaigns remain to be seen, but for now these are the films eligible for the 2021 Oscars that are worth seeking out.
Note: New titles that meet the Oscar eligibility requirements will be added in the future as they are released.