Normally by this point in the year, my favorite season, Awards, is in full swing, with the Golden Globes having been the first weekend of January and subsequent ceremonies just about every weekend following that until the Oscars at the end of February/beginning of March. However, like everything else in the past year, COVID-19 has changed the format and requirement for film awards. Because of this, many films are coming out over the next month that will likely be in contention for the big-ticket prizes such as Best Picture at the Oscars. Here are 10 films that you should keep an eye on this season!
- The Trial of the Chicago 7
This one was released back in October on Netflix, but there are a lot of factors keeping it in contention. It’s written and directed by the legend Aaron Sorkin, stars many buzzy names (namely Sacha Baron Cohen who is likely to be nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his role of Abbie Hoffman), and is about a real-life event that is just as relevant today. All of this makes for a movie many would describe as “Oscar bait.”
Streaming now on Netflix
- Malcom & Marie
This doesn’t come out on Netflix until the beginning of February, but it’s already garnering a lot of attention for its two leads: John David Washington (who was snubbed 3 years ago at the Oscars for his breakout role in BlacKKKlansman) and someone I doubt many have heard of… does the name Zendaya sound familiar? Just kidding, you would have to be living under a rock to not know Zendaya. Reviews for this movie have said this is just another step in her becoming one of the greats, giving a magnetic and captivating performance for the books. She won an Emmy in the fall, and now there’s possibly an Oscar in her future.
Streaming on Netflix beginning February 5th
This film has been sweeping the critic circles, garnering a lot of praise for its star, the always excellent Frances McDormand, and directed by director-on-the-rise Chloe Zhao (whose next film is Marvel’s The Eternals). This one isn’t quite yet available for streaming, but when it drops, it's a must-watch.
Streaming on Hulu starting February 19th
- Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
This one was buzzing before anyone even saw a trailer for one reason: Chadwick Boseman. This was the last movie he shot before his untimely death in August of 2020, and people were clamoring to get one last performance from him. And boy does this deliver. Chadwick would be a frontrunner for Best Actor even without his passing, giving a performance that is electric, lively, and soulful in only a way he knew how to give. On top of that, Viola Davis is unrecognizable as Ma Rainey, who she truly transforms into for this.
Streaming now on Netflix
- Judas and the Black Messiah
There are myriad reasons to keep an eye on this film. Both of its stars (the ever-great LaKeith Stanfield and 2018 Best Actor Nominee Daniel Kaluuya) are getting loads of praise for their roles in this film about an FBI agent infiltrating the Black Panther Party in Illinois for information on their chair. The film’s topic is relevant, and the acting is reportedly phenomenal, all things that tend to lead to a shot at Oscar gold.
Streaming on HBO Max starting February 12th
- Promising Young Woman
This might be the film on this list I have yet to see but am most excited to watch. A film about getting revenge for a dead friend’s rape doesn’t exactly seem like the kind of material for a comedy, but, from everything I’ve read and heard, Carey Mulligan makes this movie brilliant and is already receiving awards for this performance (and Bo Burham is supposed to be great too).
Available for rent on most streaming services
If you haven’t seen this movie, stop reading this article, go find Soul, watch it, and then come back here. Like most Pixar movies, this film makes you rethink the way you’re going about your life (in a good way). It so beautifully reminds us to appreciate life and just live every day. I rarely find animated films I think are worthy of Best Picture, but this one is exactly that. It’s beauty and wonderful storytelling make it worthy, and I hope the Academy thinks so too.
Streaming now on Disney Plus
This film is similar in nature to 2019’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. It will get praised heavily by critics and rack up award nominations. They love to nominate films about Hollywood and movies, which is exactly what this film is about (not only that but about the making of Citizen Kane, which many consider to be the greatest film of all time). Gary Oldman and Amanda Seyfried will most likely get nominated for this, along with it getting others.
Streaming now on Netflix
- One Night in Miami
Every single thing Regina King touches is gold, and from what I’ve read, this film is no different. All the performances, especially Kingsley Ben-Adir as Malcolm X and Leslie Odom Jr as Sam Cooke, are getting praised by critics, and Regina King is being heralded, considering this is her film directorial debut. I plan to watch this soon, and I’m sure my pre-assessment of this movie will hold up.
Streaming now on Amazon Prime
This is one that’s already faced some controversy, but not because of the content of the film. The Golden Globes have labeled it a foreign language film despite being an American-made film about immigrants living in the Ozarks (their rules say if the movie is over 50% in a language other than English, it’s a foreign language film). This shows the arcane ways of the Globes, and the Oscars have yet to say whether it will classify the film as such, but that shouldn’t detract from the fact that it’s getting incredible reviews and praising Steven Yeun’s performance.
Available in theaters and On Demand starting February 12th
The Golden Globe nominations come out February 3rd and the Oscar nomination will be released March 15th (so you have plenty of time to watch all of these films!).