Familiar Faces Dominate a Fraught Year

2020 was tough at every single level of life and 2021 is off to a dodgy start at best. But now Awards Season is virtually upon us to give us some distraction. And from the nominees to the ceremonies, everything will have a different vibe. Not necessarily a better vibe or worse, but definitely different.

Size Matters

It quickly became clear that theaters were going dark for a long time, and it didn’t take long for nearly all tentpole movies moved to 2021. Christopher Nolan tried to force us into theaters to see Tenet, and that resulted in an audible box office thud (and given the sound problems, that was the only audible thing about the film). So on the whole, anything worth watching was seen at home on a small screen.

Special effects don’t dazzle as much on TV, which means performances and story are going to matter more than ever. And there were some excellent performances and movies to be seen.

A Two-Way Streep

The Golden Globes love Meryl Streep, and rightly so. She’s amazing. And I expect that love to be reflected back twice in their nominations. She will likely get nominated for her role in Let Them All Talk in the drama category and for her down and out diva performance in The Prom. Her Talk co-star Candice Bergen will likely join her in the drama category.

But the lady I expect to sweep the season once again is Frances McDormand for her role in Nomadland. The movie is already the odds on favorite at GoldDerby.com and she carries the film. She sheds the normal demeanor we see in her roles and shows us an entirely different side of her skills. Frances is moving and accessible and will likely need to add a new shelf to her trophy cabinet by the end of the season.

Final Bow

Chadwick Boseman’s final star turn in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom has him leading the pack for Best Actor at the Oscars. His unexpected death was a gut punch to Hollywood and his legion of fans, but this won’t be sympathy nominations. His performance is amazing and worthy of the honors. For what it’s worth, his co-star Viola Davis is the fave for Actress and the movie is in the middle of a tight pack for best picture.

Soul, the first film from Disney-Pixar that is more for adults than children, is my pick for Animated Feature. Honestly, I think it deserves to be in the Best Picture conversation. But I can’t imagine a scenario where it doesn’t take home some hardware.

Star Power

Soul is voiced by Jamie Foxx and Tina Fey. They’re not going to get any nominations for their voice work, though it was solid, but they reinforce the increased importance of big names this year. While A-List talent is always a Hollywood staple, putting big releases directly in homes is making it harder for breakout performances to, well, breakout.

All but a handful of the leaders in the acting categories are household names. And their performances are worthy. But any of their lesser known but greatly talented colleagues will have a hard time getting noticed. When people have a menu of new choices to stream, they’ll tend to go with the name they know. It’s just human nature. I expect that will carry over to the voting members of Hollywood’s voting organizations.

The Critic’s Cocktail Recommendation

I’m popping a bottle of Taittinger. It’s the champagne of the SAG Awards and one of my faves. And the advent of Awards Season is just the excuse we need to have a little celebratory bubbly.


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