The 2021 Oscar eligibility window is halfway closed. With barely five months to go until voting begins, let’s update where we stand in the race for Oscar gold.
THINGS ARE BEING SEEN
Highly anticipated titles like Luca and In the Heights both arrived to much critical fanfare, but little cultural reverberation. While Luca‘s streaming numbers haven’t been revealed, the bad press from the free Disney+ release weren’t the best. That being said, it didn’t seem to affect the Oscar chances of Soul from last year.
Meanwhile, In the Heights released to near universal acclaim from audiences and critics alike, but it didn’t make a dent at the box office. The home release of HBOMax obviously put it in front of a lot of faces, but the box office inadequacies make it feel like a failure. Despite it all, the film could still have some legs come Oscar time.
The Cannes Film Festival is complete and while some buzzed films like Annette and Benedetta came with mixed buzz, unknowns like Sean Baker’s Red Rocket, Asghar Farhadi’s A Hero and Mia Hansen-Løve’s Bergman Island broke out in a big way. Baker and Farhadi have had some success with the Academy, but Hansen-Løve could find herself in the mix for the first time in her career.
On the acting side, Simon Rex is finding himself on some Best Actor lists for Red Rocket, while the international cast of Bergman Island could find their way into Supporting categories, especially former nominee Tim Roth and Phantom Thread snub Vicki Krieps.
Out of competition, we saw premieres for Justin Chon’s Blue Bayou staring Chon himself and Oscar-winner Alicia Vikander. I like the Oscar chances for Vikander more than Chon, but the enthusiasm for the film could translate to breakthrough filmmaker awards, which could lead to further awards consideration.
The Tom McCarthy-directed Stillwater also debuted, but to much more muted response. The Matt Damon-starring film mixes genres and gave plenty of people confusing perspectives. While some critics say its one of McCarthy’s best, others have compared it to The Cobbler. I’ve been cool on the film since the trailer debuted, so audiences will have to get a feel for the film before I predict it any further.
Also debuting in competition was Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch. The response to Anderson’s films are pretty eclectic and this is no different. Some critics call it chaotic, others have nothing but praise. Anderson will never be a universally loved filmmaker, but his distinct style will endear him to the die-hard fans. I still have it factoring in to the race in a big way
BIG TITLES COMING
The aforementioned Stillwater, David Lowery’s The Green Knight and Nine Days (which I consider a masterpiece) debut later in July. Early August sees the Aretha Franklin biopic Respect starring Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson as well as the Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner CODA debuting on AppleTV+. We’ll have to wait until September when the Venice and Toronto film festivals really kick the season into high gear.
Meanwhile, check out the updates to my Oscar predictions and charts.