The Oscar nominations announced on March 15 didn’t offer too many surprises, but the race for best picture in this unconventional year is still wide open. Here’s how one of these five nominees could win the top trophy on April 25.
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If you’re the most nominated film of the lot — ”Mank” leads all films with 10 nominations —then that typically makes you a heavy favorite to win it all. Despite the film missing out on an original screenplay nom, director David Fincher is overdue by Academy standards, with big losses for “The Social Network” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” Old Hollywood is catnip for the Academy, and the streamer would be wise to key in on its production elements and find a way to have Amanda Seyfried become the new Regina King (“If Beale Street Could Talk”), who won the supporting actress Oscar without a SAG nomination, one of only three people to pull that off.
Lee Isaac Chung’s touching drama netted nearly everything required of a best picture winner, showcasing broad guild support and even pulling a nom for cast ensemble at the SAG Awards. One year after “Parasite’s” big victory, if A24 can get the SAG voting body to check it off for cast ensemble, “Minari” can be an upset winner in the midst of an unpredictable year. The film will need more trophies from its six nominations, in categories like supporting actress (Yuh-Jung Youn), original screenplay and perhaps even original score, if the studio wants to pull another “Moonlight”-style upset from its hat.
“Nomadland” (Searchlight Pictures)
Chloé Zhao’s historic four Oscar nominations are the most for any woman. As producer, director, writer and editor, she received four of her film’s six nominations. “Nomadland” is an important slice of Americana, showcasing another side of the country in a divided time. If it focuses on the thematic strengths and an outstanding performance by Frances McDormand, it could land the crucial No. 1 votes. It also helps that Zhao seems a shoo-in to win the DGA.
“Promising Young Woman” (Focus Features)
Five noms for Emerald Fennell’s revenge thriller was the special number it needed to make the case: It’s a spoiler in the best picture category. Carey Mulligan may have missed a best actress nomination from BAFTA, but so did more than half of her Oscar-nominated counterparts. Emphasis on original screenplay could showcase that the first-time director’s film is widely popular and could garner the No. 2 and 3 votes that help in a preferential tally.
“The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Netflix)
Aaron Sorkin’s historical drama came up short in best director, but in recent years, that hasn’t stopped films like “Argo” and “Green Book” from winning best picture. SAG ensemble would give it a needed boost, and if the film can prove its worth by winning the Producers Guild of America Award, then we’ll have a bona fide race on our hands. This could end up going the way of “Spotlight,” which won the top category and original screenplay only, which seems plausible at this juncture.
The other nominees for best picture are “The Father” (Sony Pictures Classics), “Judas and the Black Messiah” (Warner Bros.) and “Sound of Metal” (Amazon Studios)
The Oscar prediction pages have been updated in the major categories. Go to each page to see where each nominee ranks on the charts.
Academy Awards Predictions (All Categories)
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