And the Oscar goes to… a film you've never heard of!

And the Oscar goes to… a film you’ve never heard of: Awards season 2021 will be VERY different after hardly any cinema releases – with Minari and Nomadland predicted for nominations (and even Borat is tipped to get a nod!)

  • Award shows have been forced to change judging criteria amid Covid-19 crisis
  • Award season has been moved back to spring, allowing eligibility requirements to be extended by two months 
  • The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences lifted a longstanding requirement that films needed to screen for seven straight days in Los Angeles 
  • Films likely to be nominated include Da 5 Bloods, Mank and Nomadland

The 2021 awards season has been thrown into chaos due to Covid-19, with cinemas and picture houses across the world closing amidst the crisis.

While the pandemic has threatened to wreak havoc on Hollywood’s award season, industry bodies have been scrambling to adapt to the closure of theaters and postponement of major titles. 

For the first time, and only for this year, movies that debuted on a streaming service without a theatrical run will be eligible for some of the industry’s most prestigious gongs. 

In March the Golden Globes became the first to relax entry rules, allowing films that had planned ‘a bona fide theatrical release’ to compete even if the release was later scrapped while in April, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences lifted a longstanding requirement that films needed to screen for seven straight days in Los Angeles to be eligible.

But while the official nominations for the awards will not be announced until February and March, predictions online suggest some of winners may be little known to movie-goers.

Here FEMAIL takes a look at those films most likely to be big at this award season – despite not  selling many, or any, cinema tickets over the last year.    

Da 5 Bloods 

Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods was meant to premiere at Cannes 2020 but went straight to Netflix in June last year, when it quickly attracted Oscar buzz

Released by: Netflix

Predicted to be nominated: Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Cinematography, Best Score, 

Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods was meant to premiere at Cannes 2020 but went straight to Netflix in June last year, when it quickly attracted Oscar buzz. 

The Vietnam drama has already won a string of high-profile awards including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay at the Hollywood Critics Association awards. 

The film, which stars Delroy Lindo and the late Chadwick Boseman, follows a group of four aging veterans who return to the country in search of the remains of their fallen squad leader, as well as the treasure they buried while serving there.  

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom 

One of the most anticipated films of this awards season, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom stars Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman and has emerged as one of the most likely Oscar vehicles for Netflix.

Released by: Netflix

Predicted to be nominated: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Producer, 

One of the most anticipated films of this awards season, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom has emerged as one of the most likely Oscar vehicles for Netflix.

Based on the August Wilson play, the film tells the story of the tension that builds between Ma Rainey, played by Viola Davis, her ambitious horn player Levee, played by late Chadwick Boseman, and the white management determined to control her music in 1927 Chicago. 

The project is the final from Boseman, who died during post-production in August 2020.

It began a limited theatrical release on November 25, 2020, before beginning to stream on Netflix on December 18. 

Mank 

Netflix’s Mank is another of the streaming services films to be predicted amongst the big hitters of the awards season 

Released by: Netflix

Predicted to be nominated: Best Cast Ensemble, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Cinematography, Best Sound, Best Original Screenplay, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing

David Fincher’s father Jack Fincher wrote the script to the biographical Mank, which explores the uncertain origin story of Citizen Kane, in the 1990s. 

When will the awards take place? 

The Golden Globes 

The Golden Globe nominations will be announced on February 3, with the awards ceremony taking place on February 28. 

Despite opting to keep its ceremony in place in February, Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), which puts on the award show, announced last month it will now accept nominations for films made between January 1, 2020 and February 28, 2021. 

Screen Actors Guild Awards

Commonly known as the SAG Awards, the event was originally set to take place on Jan. 24, 2021.

The award show, which always attracts the A-List stars in line for an Oscar, has now been pushed to Sunday, March 14, 2021. 

The Oscars  

Meanwhile the Oscars led the way by moving back all the way to April 25 from its usual February spot.  

The new date means that eligibility requirements have been modified and extended by two months.

David originally intended to film it after he completed The Game (1997), with Kevin Spacey and Jodie Foster as the leads. 

It never came to fruition, and Jack Fincher died in 2003. 

Eventually, the project was officially announced in July 2019, and filming took place around Los Angeles from November 2019 to February 2020.

The film features a colourful host of A-list stars including Gary Oldman and Amanda Seyfield.  

Mank had a limited theatrical release on November 13, 2020, and began streaming on Netflix on December 4.

One Night in Miami 

Released by: Amazon Studios

Predicted to be nominated for: Best Picture, Best Film Editing, Best Director, Best Original Song, Best Original Score

One Night in Miami is a 2020 American drama film about a fictionalized meeting of Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, and Sam Cooke in a Miami hotel room in February 1964, based on a play of the same name.

The first feature directed by actress Regina King, it was released in limited theaters by Amazon starting on December 25, 2020, before being released digitally on on January 15.

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Released by: Amazon Studios

Predicted to be nominated for: Best Actor, Best Musical/Comedy, Best Actress

The long awaited sequel to Sacha Boren Cohen’s Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm hit the headlines when it was released in October last year.

In the comedy mockumentary, Sacha reprises his role as the fictional journalist and television personality Borat, who is determined to offer his daughter Tutar as a bride to Mike Pence during the Covid-19 crisis and presidential election.

Although he had said in 2007 that he had retired the Borat character, the actor was spotted in 2019 in the disguise, and was seen filming in mid-2020, leading to speculation of a second film.

It was released on Prime Video in October last year. 

In the comedy mockumentary, Sacha reprises his role as the fictional journalist and television personality Borat, who is determined to offer his daughter Tutar as a bride to Mike Pence during the Covid-19 crisis and presidential election

The Father 

Released by: Sony Pictures Classics

Predicted to be nominated: Best Actor, Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress, Best Screenplay, Best Editing, Best production design

The Father, which is based on Florian Zeller’s 2012 play Le Père, stars Anthony Hopkins as an aging Welshman who must deal with his progressing memory loss.

His daughter Anne, played by Olivia Coleman, moves in with him to help as his mental state deteriorates.  

The actors have won high accolades for their performances in the film from critics, after it had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on 27 January 2020.

However it has been a causality of the Covid-19 crisis, and has yet to be released in cinemas.

Minari 

The independent drama Minari, by filmmaker Lee Isaac Chung, has been gradually picking up steam as it racks up critical plaudits

Released by: A24

Predicted to be nominated: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Screenplay

The independent drama Minari, by filmmaker Lee Isaac Chung, has been gradually picking up steam as it racks up critical plaudits.

A semi-autobiographical take on Chung’s own upbringing, the plot follows a family of South Korean immigrants who try to make it in rural America during the 1980s. 

The family home changes completely with the arrival of their sly, foul-mouthed, but incredibly loving grandmother.

The film had its world premiere at Sundance on January 26, 2020, and was released through virtual cinema for one week on December 11.

It will open theatrically on February 12, 2021.  

News of the World 

Released by: Universal Pictures

Predicted to be nominated for: Best Picture, Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, Best Production Design

The American Western drama sees Tom Hanks reunite with director Paul Greengrass, having previously worked together in 2013’s Captain Phillips.

Hanks stars in the film as a Civil War veteran agrees to deliver a girl, taken by the Kiowa people years ago, to her aunt and uncle, against her will.

They travel hundreds of miles and face grave dangers as they search for a place that either can call home.  

Nomadland

Meanwhile the independent contemporary western drama Nomadland, starring Frances McDormand, is also set to top nominee lists during award’s season 

Released by: Searchlight Pictures

Predicted to be nominated for: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography

Independent contemporary western drama Nomadland premiered on September 11, 2020 at the Venice Film Festival.  

It was directed, written, edited and co-produced by Chloé Zhao, with actress Frances McDormand (who also produced the film) starring as a woman who leaves her small town to travel around the US. 

The film, which was based on the 2017 non-fiction book Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century, began a one-week-only streaming release on December 4, 2020, and is scheduled to be theatrically released in the United States on February 19, 2021.  

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