Leslie Odom, Jr.’s performance as crooner Sam Cooke in One Night in Miami is my third writeup for Supporting Actor contenders at the Oscars. If you missed my first two covering Sacha Baron Cohen (The Trial of the Chicago 7) and Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah), you can find them here:
Oscars 2020: The Case of Sacha Baron Cohen
The Case for Leslie Odom, Jr.:
It was a sterling 2020 for the performer with his critically hailed work as Cooke in Regina King’s Amazon Prime drama. This is in addition to reminding viewers of his heralded take on Aaron Burr in Hamilton (which drew new viewers in its Disney+ filmed version). He’s managed mentions in all the significant precursors (BAFTA, Globes, SAG, Critics Choice).
The Case Against Leslie Odom, Jr.:
This category has a major frontrunner with Daniel Kaluuya, who has cleaned up in the precursor action. Miami also fell short of expectations on Oscar morning by missing an anticipated Best Picture nod and recognition for King.
Anyone not named Daniel Kaluuya is not expected to make a trip to the podium this year.
My Case Of posts will continue with Thomas Vinterberg’s direction of Another Round…
The Directors Guild of America (DGA) is a pretty darn accurate predictor of who will win at the Academy Awards. In the past 20 years, the DGA and Oscar winners for Best Director have matched 17 times. It is worth noting that one of the 3 non matches was last year as Sam Mendes (1917) took DGA while Bong Joon Ho (Parasite) took the Academy’s gold.
Tonight the DGA held their ceremony and it went as expected with Chloe Zhao (Nomadland) emerging victorious. This goes along with her numerous critics groups prizes and the Golden Globe and Critics Choice Award. Anyone else being named this evening would have been a surprise and it’s further evidence that Zhao is the strong favorite for Oscar. If so, she will become the second female to do so after Kathryn Bigelow for 2009’s The Hurt Locker.
This is also more evidence that Nomadland itself is in the driver’s seat for Best Picture as the Academy’s ceremony is just 15 days away. Bottom line: the Zhaomentum continues and none of the other nominees appear capable of interrupting it.
The second contest in the Supporting Actor field is up next in my Case Of posts for the Oscars and that’s Daniel Kaluuya for Judas and the Black Messiah. If you missed my first post covering Sacha Baron Cohen in The Trial of the Chicago 7, it can be read here:
Oscars 2020: The Case of Sacha Baron Cohen
The Case for Daniel Kaluuya
Ever since the trailer came out months ago for Judas, it was clear that Kaluuya’s performance as Black Panther Chairman Fred Hampton could be something special. When it was confirmed that he would compete in Supporting Actor, it was pretty much assumed he was an automatic hopeful. That buzz has only grown louder as Kaluuya (a previous nominee in Best Actor for 2017’s Get Out) has swept this race in the major precursors: Globes, SAG, and Critics Choice.
The Case Against Daniel Kaluuya
Perhaps the biggest surprise on Oscar nomination morning was Kaluuya’s costar Lakeith Stanfield garnering a nod here (especially since Warner Bros campaigned for him in the lead competition). So there’s always the chance that the two could cancel some of each other’s votes.
The vote splitting dilemma certainly didn’t hurt Sam Rockwell three years ago alongside Woody Harrelson in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. It’s highly unlikely to hurt Kaluuya either as he feels like the safest pick in the four acting derbies.
My Case Of posts will continue with David Fincher’s direction of Mank…
Glenn Close in Hillbilly Elegy is next up in my Case Of posts for Supporting Actress contenders. If you missed my first entry covering Maria Bakalova in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, it is right here:
Oscars 2020: The Case of Maria Bakalova
The Case for Glenn Close
Three Supporting Actress nominations for The World According to Garp, The Big Chill, and The Natural. Four Actress nods for Fatal Attraction, Dangerous Liaisons, Albert Nobbs, and The Wife. And no victories thus far. With her 8th nomination for the Netflix drama, Glenn Close has tied Peter O’Toole for the most Academy mentions with zero podium trips. So there’s clearly an overdue factor for one of the most celebrated actresses. Her career includes three each of the following: Golden Globes, Tonys, and Emmys. There is no clear favorite to emerge here as previous precursor recipients have included Maria Bakalova at the Critics Choice Awards, Yuh-jung Youn (Minari) at SAG, and Jodie Foster (The Mauritanian) at the Globes (she missed Academy inclusion). In other words, anything could happen.
The Case Against Glenn Close
On paper, Close was looked at as a frontrunner all year. However, poor reviews for the picture itself stunted that momentum. In fact, she received a Razzie nod (honoring the worst in 2020) here and is only the third performer ever with that dubious distinction. For trivia completists, the other two are James Coco for Supporting Actor in 1981’s Only When I Laugh and Amy Irving in Supporting Actress for 1983’s Yentl. And while I mentioned the open nature of this particular contest, Close has yet to attain a precursor.
The 8th time is probably not the charm for Close unless the Academy really leans into the overdue sentiment.
My Case Of posts will continue with Daniel Kaluuya in Judas and the Black Messiah…
My Case Of posts have reached the second performer for Best Actor at the Oscars and that’s the late Chadwick Boseman in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. If you missed my first post focused on Riz Ahmed in Sound of Metal, you can find it here:
Oscars 2020: The Case of Riz Ahmed
The Case for Chadwick Boseman
Despite acclaimed work in 42, Get On Up, Marshall, and Black Panther, his role as Levee Green in the Netflix drama marks Boseman’s first Academy nod. Premiering three months after his passing, critics hailed this as a career best performance. Boseman has swept the key precursors thus far such as the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards. If he wins the SAG Award this evening, that’s a clean sweep. One could even argue that his omission in Supporting Actor for Da 5 Bloods is a sign that voters will honor him here.
The Cast Against Chadwick Boseman
You have to go back 11 years since a Best Actor winner’s movie wasn’t nominated for Best Picture (Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart). All four of his fellow nominees are appearing in BP contenders. Of those four, Anthony Hopkins (The Father) and Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal) have their ardent supporters.
Best Actor is not a race in which upsets often happen. Anyone other than Boseman taking the gold would constitute one. He is likely to become the first posthumous winner in this category since Peter Finch in Network.
My Case Of posts will continue with Glenn Close in Hillbilly Elegy…
My Case Of posts for Best Actress reaches its second nominee with Andra Day in The United States vs. Billie Holiday. If you missed my first entry on Viola Davis in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, you can find it here:
Oscars 2020: The Case of Viola Davis
The Case for Andra Day
Awards prognosticators (including this guy) were stunned when Day beat out favorites Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman) and Frances McDormand (Nomadland) at the Golden Globes in the drama category. This upset immediately vaulted Day from will she be nominated? to can she win? While the film has garnered mixed reviews, critics have consistently praised Day’s work as the troubled singer. Just last year the Academy honored another performer (Renee Zellweger) in this race playing a legendary songstress in Judy.
The Case Against Andra Day
As mentioned, the picture itself only managed 53% on Rotten Tomatoes. Yet the biggest case against lies with Day not receiving a SAG nod. Of the previous 26 winners there, not one winning actress missed SAG recognition. Despite the shocking Globes trophy, Mulligan and McDormand remain the frontrunners. Furthermore, Holiday‘s sole nomination came here as it missed other possibilities like Makeup and Hairstyling, Costume Design, and Original Song.
History is not on Day’s side and she ranks third (at best) in this competition.
My Case Of posts will continue with Chadwick Boseman in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom…
Maria Bakalova’s breakthrough film debut in Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm is my first Case Of post in the seemingly wide open Supporting Actress race at the Oscars:
The Case for Maria Bakalova
The Bulgarian actress became a sensation in 2020 with her hilarious turn as Borat’s daughter in the highly publicized sequel. Her road to the Oscar nomination has been stacked with numerous regional critics prizes as well as the Critics Choice Award. It’s worth noting that the latter award has matched Oscar for the past 11 years. The Academy is known for rarely bestowing their gold on comedic performances, but it’s happened more in this race than others. Examples include Maria Tomei (My Cousin Vinny), Dianne Wiest (Bullets Over Broadway), and Mira Sorvino (Mighty Aphrodite).
The Case Against Maria Bakalova
Her studio decided to campaign for Bakalova in Best Actress (Musical/Comedy) at the Golden Globes and she was widely assumed to be the winner. She lost in an upset to Rosamund Pike for I Care a Lot. While I gave some examples of Supporting Actress winners on the funny side, we are talking a quarter century ago.
It cannot be overstated how unpredictable this year’s Supporting Actress competition is. The fact that Bakalova made the cut absolutely means she could be the victor. If the SAG Awards honors her this weekend, look for her to achieve frontrunner status. At the moment, that’s a big if…
My Case Of posts will continue with Bakalova’s movie dad Sacha Baron Cohen for The Trial of the Chicago 7…
**Blogger’s Update (04/04): Viola Davis has won the SAG Award for Best Actress. Her victory there makes an Oscar win certainly more feasible than when I wrote the post below.
Viola Davis’s performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is first up in my Case Of posts for the five hopefuls for Best Actress:
The Case for Viola Davis:
She could make history and already has. By nabbing her fourth nod for the Netflix drama, Davis has become the most nominated African-American woman ever. She is 1 for 3 having won four years ago in Supporting Actress for Fences (her other two mentions were in supporting in 2008 with Doubt and in lead in 2011 for The Help). If she were to emerge victorious here, Davis would be the first African-American female with two victories.
The Case Against Viola Davis:
Ma Rainey underperformed significantly with voters with misses in Best Picture, Director, and Adapted Screenplay. It could win tech races like Costume Design and Makeup and Hairstyling. The best chance at a major victory, however, lies with costar Chadwick Boseman in Best Actor (who’s performing a sweep thus far with precursors). Davis’s chances have taken a backseat to Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman), Frances McDormand (Nomadland), and perhaps even Andra Day (The United States vs. Billie Holiday), who picked up a surprise Golden Globe trophy. There has also been some chatter that her work here should have been for Supporting Actress due to fairly limited screen time.
Ms. Davis was near the top of possibilities to take this award a while back. That has undoubtedly changed and a second Oscar here would be nothing short of a major upset.
My Case Of posts will continue with Riz Ahmed in Sound of Metal…
Now that my Case Of posts for the 8 nominated Best Picture candidates has concluded, it’s time to move to the 25 contenders in the directing and acting competitions. It begins with Best Director and Lee Isaac Chung for Minari.
The Case for Lee Isaac Chung
Since its debut at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2020, Chung’s drama about South Korean immigrants in 1980s rural America has been a critical and audience favorite. The film performed about as well as expected on nomination day with 6 nods. While Nomadland is certainly the frontrunner to take BP, Minari stands as one of the few titles with upset potential. Chung also landed a DGA spot which is critical for a win with the Academy.
The Case Against Lee Isaac Chung
Even if Nomadland doesn’t win the biggest prize of all, its maker Chloe Zhao seems destined for Best Director. While Minari performed well with Academy, its miss in Editing casts doubt on a BP victory. As for Chung himself, his lack of recognition at the Golden Globes seems significant. You have to go all the way back to Roman Polanski in 2002 for The Pianist to find an Oscar winning filmmaker who wasn’t nominated at the Globes.
In a trend you will see with other director nominees not named Chloe Zhao, it’s hard to envision Chung or the others overcoming her momentum.
My Case Of posts will continue in the field of Best Actress with Viola Davis in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom…
In the previous decade, the winner of the Producers Guild of America (PGA) best motion picture ended up matching with the eventual Oscar recipient 70% of the time. So it’s no wonder that all eyes of prognosticators were on tonight’s ceremony. Would the PGA do anything to interrupt the narrative that Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland is a sturdy favorite to take the Academy’s gold?
The answer? No. Nomadland received yet another honor from the PGA to go with its Golden Globe for Best Drama, Critics Choice Award, and numerous regional group best pic designations. Had Minari or Promising Young Woman or The Trial of the Chicago 7 won, it might have created more suspense for the Oscar ceremony happening on April 25th. Yet the PGA victory is another arrow in the quiver for Zhao’s achievement.
If you’re another movie hoping to best Nomadland, the PGA and the Academy have differed three times in the last five years. In 2015, the Guild picked The Big Short over Spotlight. In 2016, it was La La Land instead of Moonlight. Last year – 1917 over Parasite.
As for other races, Disney/Pixar’s Soul, as expected, took animated feature and it remains a major frontrunner at the big show. The documentary category went to My Octopus Teacher and that certainly puts it in serious contention in one month.
Bottom line: Nomadland is rolling and nothing may be able to stop it.