Trophies are still freshly engraved, the plant-based cuisine is still digesting, and Netflix still is without a best picture win. Now that “Parasite” has conquered Hollywood’s biggest night and made history, it’s time to start looking ahead to the 93rd Academy Awards.
You might be thinking, isn’t it way too early to be worrying about all that yet? We’re months away from festival season and the deluge of Oscar bait, but you never can tell when a surprise contender might pop up. (It probably won’t be “Birds of Prey” but this year’s supporting actress nominee Margot Robbie is out to win someday!)
So what could cause a stir at the 2021 Oscar ceremony? Ready or not, here’s a way-too-early look at the major categories (with release dates for those films that have them):
Brutually honest rankings:How the Oscars’ musical performances fared, from Eminem’s shocker to Elton John
OK, “Cats” wasn’t exactly an awards-season player but another big-time musical adaptation looms with some serious cred: a new version of 1962 Oscar winner “West Side Story” (in theaters Dec. 18) directed by Steven Spielberg that keeps its tragic love story set in 1957 New York City. For something a bit more musically modern, Ryan Murphy’s “The Prom” brings the Broadway show to Netflix, revolving around four musical theater stars (Meryl Streep, James Corden, Andrew Rannells and Nicole Kidman) who travel to small-town Indiana to help a lesbian girl barred from bringing her girlfriend to their high school dance.
Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman” didn’t live up to Oscar expectation, but Netflix has three other projects with A-list filmmakers locked and loaded: Spike Lee’s war drama “Da 5 Bloods” follows four African American veterans who return to Vietnam to find their squad leader’s remains; David Fincher’s “Mank” centers on “Citizen Kane” screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman); and Ron Howard’s “Hillbilly Elegy,” based on the best-selling book and starring Amy Adams and Glenn Close, is about three generations of an Appalachian family seeking the American dream.
Sci-fi guru Denis Villeneuve’s star-studded and anticipated adaptation of “Dune” (Dec. 18) might make some noise on a prime holiday release date, and Wes Anderson’s latest ensemble film “The French Dispatch” (July 24) features American reporters working in France. Aaron Sorkin’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Sept. 25) is a period piece about the protests around the 1968 Democratic Convention. The super-secretive thriller “Tenet” (July 17) could snag Christopher Nolan a best picture nod just like his similarly puzzling “Inception.” And Guillermo del Toro digs into the world of carnival-set film noir with a remake of “Nightmare Alley.”
While Adam Driver lost out on an Oscar this year, he’ll have another shot coming up with Ridley Scott’s “The Last Duel” (Dec. 25), featuring Driver and Matt Damon as 14th-century knights and former friends who must battle to the death. Damon, who wrote “Duel” with co-star Ben Affleck, could be in the running for that film or the thriller “Stillwater” (Nov. 6), in which he plays an Oklahoma oil rigger who travels to France when his estranged daughter (Abigail Breslin) is accused of murder.
Chadwick Boseman may get his first Oscar nomination heading up Lee’s “Da 5 Bloods,” and so might Robert Pattinson for “The Devil All the Time,” a Netflix thriller about a group of people with psychological issues in post-World War II America. Bradley Cooper, a nominee for “A Star Is Born,” is del Toro’s carny con man in “Nightmare Alley.” Timothee Chalamet heads up “Dune,” which will be his biggest role yet. And then there’s Denzel Washington, who could totally rule as a Shakespearean legend if Joel Coen’s “Macbeth” arrives by the end of the year.
Could the Oscars go back to back with showy performances in musical biopics? On the heels of Renee Zellweger’s winning portrayal of Judy Garland is Jennifer Hudson starring as Aretha Franklin in “Respect” (Oct. 9). Hudson won supporting actress for “Dreamgirls” and she might be the one to beat as the Queen of Soul. Sticking with the musical theme, “West Side Story” rekindling the old-school love for Jets and Sharks would be a boon for its Maria, teenage newcomer Rachel Zegler. Plus, “Prom” could give Streep her 22nd Oscar nomination.
Adams has six Oscar nominations and no wins, yet gets two chances to make a statement in 2020, in “Elegy” and “The Woman in the Window” (May 15), the mystery thriller in which she plays an agoraphobe who thinks she saw her neighbor murdered. Lady Gaga scored a nomination teamed with Cooper in “A Star Is Born,” and Cate Blanchett stars opposite him as a scamming psychiatrist in “Nightmare Alley.” But also look out for two-time winner Frances McDormand, who is Lady Macbeth to Washington’s “Macbeth.” She also plays a 60-something woman left unemployed by the Great Recession, who goes on a quest through the West in “Nomadland.”
Best supporting actor
Chalamet is part of a huge crew to choose from in “French Dispatch,” which also features Bill Murray. The comedy legend has another chance in this category as an over-the-top playboy father in “On the Rocks,” directed by Sofia Coppola – her film “Lost in Translation” led to Murray’s only Oscar nomination to date.
The cast of “Chicago 7” is deep in acting talent, including previous Oscar winners Eddie Redmayne and Mark Rylance, as well as Sacha Baron Cohen. The same goes for “Dune,” which boasts Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Jason Momoa, Dave Bautista and Javier Bardem. Corden and Rannells are “Prom” possibilities. However, if you’re still stinging from Willem Dafoe missing out on a supporting nod for “The Lighthouse,” he’ll be back in the conversation alongside Ron Perlman and Richard Jenkins for “Nightmare Alley.”
Best supporting actress
With seven nominations and nary a win in her long career, Glenn Close is tops on most people’s lists for performers most deserving of Oscar. Which makes her an instant favorite to snag an eighth nod for “Hillbilly Elegy.” Annette Bening (four nominations, zero wins) is in the upcoming Agatha Christie adaptation “Death on the Nile” (Oct. 9), so maybe she’s got a shot, too.
Saoirse Ronan missed out on an Oscar win for “Little Women,” and she’s next playing a wealthy English woman who falls in love with an acclaimed fossil hunter (Kate Winslet) in “Ammonite.” Rita Moreno won this category for the original 1961 “West Side Story” so folks will be rooting for her appearance in the new version. They’ll vie with other usual suspects including Kidman (“The Prom”), Rooney Mara (“Nightmare Alley”) and Octavia Spencer (“The Witches”), as well as “Killing Eve” Emmy winner Jodie Comer (“The Last Duel”).