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Amanda Seyfried talks new film ‘Mank,’ living on a farm in upstate NY
Amanda Seyfried chats with USA TODAY’s Brian Truitt about her new film “Mank.” Her portrayal of Marion Davies is receiving Oscar buzz.
A virtual Oscars via Zoom? Or an Academy Awards ceremony in person but with masks and social distancing? Who knows what Hollywood’s biggest night will look and feel like on April 25 but one thing’s for sure: While the contenders might not be as plentiful as they usually are in awards season, there are still enough high-end movies you’ll want to watch in preparation.
That in itself is a minor miracle, with studios punting so many of their big projects to next year in the wake of COVID-19, film festivals going online and movie theaters temporarily closing their doors – many of which remain shuttered. But the Academy made some bold but good choices, delaying Hollywood’s grandest night to spring, increasing the eligibility window (through Feb. 28) and allowing streaming-only movies to be considered for Oscars without the usual theatrical run. It’s a boon for services like Netflix, Amazon and others that have been in the hunt for best picture in recent years but now have a great shot at taking home the Oscars’ top prize.
Save a seat for Frances McDormand: ‘Nomadland’ is Oscar-ready
It’s been a pretty nutty year, so we shouldn’t assume the often-unpredictable Academy Awards will be any different. Still, here are 10 films to check out now that will likely be in contention on Oscar night:
‘Da 5 Bloods’
Could Spike Lee’s Vietnam War movie (streaming now on Netflix) be the movie that finally earns the iconic filmmaker his best picture honor? “Da 5 Bloods” will probably at least garner a nomination for the night’s biggest honor, as well as consideration in the director and original screenplay categories. Delroy Lindo is poised to get his best actor nod as the President Trump-supporting member of a band of Black veterans who return to Southeast Asia to retrieve their squad leader’s remains and a trove of gold bars. The late Chadwick Boseman could also garner a supporting actor nomination as the men’s beloved superior.
‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’
Twelve years after Heath Ledger was honored with a posthumous Oscar, it looks possible again: Boseman, who died Aug. 28 at age 43, will be a favorite for best actor off his acclaimed performance as an egocentric cornet player in the August Wilson adaptation (streaming Dec. 18 on Netflix). “Ma Rainey” also could factor into the best picture race, and Glynn Turman may sneak into supporting actor, though it’s more likely Viola Davis scores her second best actress nomination as the fiery title blues singer.
While “Citizen Kane” has a reputation for being the greatest film ever made, Orson Welles’ masterpiece only took home one Oscar, for best screenplay. A tale about its creation, David Fincher’s throwback drama (streaming now on Netflix) might snag more. It’s a major contender for best picture and director, Gary Oldman (as “Kane” writer Herman Mankiewicz) is likely to nab a best actor nomination three years after winning for “Darkest Hour,” Amanda Seyfried is poised to get her first Oscar nod for supporting actress, and Charles Dance is a dark horse in supporting actor. And “Mank” will be a force in the technical categories, from cinematography to score.
‘News of the World’
Don’t look now but Tom Hanks, America’s Dad himself, is back in another Oscar-ready role. The post-Civil War Western drama (in theaters Dec. 25) casts Hanks as a traveling Texas news reader who comes upon a feral girl (Helena Zengel) taken and raised by the Kiowa tribe and agrees to transport her back home. Hanks is always a threat to make it into the best actor discussion, though the category is stacked this year, and nominations for best picture and director (Paul Greengrass) are better bets.
Frances McDormand goes for Oscar No. 3 in Chloe Zhao’s road-trip drama (in theaters February) about a woman who works and travels across America as a nomad after her husband dies and her hometown collapses economically. The first film to win the top prizes at both the Venice and Toronto film festivals in the same year, “Nomadland” is perhaps the one to beat for best picture at this point. McDormand is a shoo-in to grab a best actress nod, David Strathairn is a possibility for supporting actor, and Zhao has a great shot at a best director nomination, which would make her the first woman of color in the category.
‘One Night in Miami’
Actually, two female directors might make history, with Regina King a strong contender to get a nomination for her feature debut. Kemp Powers’ adaptation of his stage play about a night spent in the company of Black icons Cassius Clay (Eli Goree), Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge), Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir) and Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.) should garner a best picture nomination. Odom, a Tony Award winner for “Hamilton,” has a real shot at winning supporting actor – a category where Hodge also might get a mention – while Goree and especially Ben-Adir loom as possible best actor candidates.
‘Pieces of a Woman’
The Academy loves wrenching family dramas (see: “Ordinary People,” “Marriage Story”) and this film (in theaters Dec. 30, streaming Jan. 7 on Netflix), about a woman dealing with the aftermath of a tragic home birth, is that in spades. Vanessa Kirby getting her first best actress Oscar nomination in a career-defining role is a no-brainer, and Ellen Burstyn also seems likely for supporting actress as the opinionated mother brutally butting heads with Kirby’s emotionally wrecked, increasingly isolated lead character.
‘Promising Young Woman’
As a medical-school dropout on a vicious, righteous and colorful path of vengeance, Carey Mulligan makes an exceedingly strong case for a second best actress nomination in the biting and dark thriller (in theaters Dec. 25) – albeit in a busy category with other potential contenders like Amy Adams (“Hillbilly Elegy”) and Sophia Loren (“The Life Ahead”). A best picture slot also isn’t out of the question for the #MeToo-themed film, nor is an original screenplay nod for first-time director Emerald Fennell.
Pixar movies have become as much of an Oscar hallmark as swag bags and red carpets – though maybe not this year. “Soul” (streaming Dec. 25 on Disney+), starring Jamie Foxx and Tina Fey, is a thought-provoking, feel-good film about life and the afterlife that will be in the pole position for the animated feature Oscar (Pixar’s won it 10 times in 19 years) and might even snag a best picture nod. (If it happens, “Soul” would be the third Pixar movie to make that A-list mix.)
‘The Trial of the Chicago 7’
Writer/director Aaron Sorkin’s historical drama (streaming now on Netflix) re-creating the tumultuous riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago – and the notorious trial that followed – is chock-full of recognizable names and top-notch performances. In addition being a major player in best picture, director and original screenplay categories, “Chicago 7” could place up to three actors in supporting actor from a cast including recent Emmy winner Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Mark Rylance, Frank Langella, Eddie Redmayne, Michael Keaton and Sacha Baron Cohen (who could also score a screenwriting nod for “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”).