This is going to be a very strange awards season just like everything in 2020 has been. In normal times we would be flooded with Oscar hopefuls at the cinemas. Now it looks like for the most part Oscar caliber films are heading to streaming services. Plus you have the big budgets like “Dune” questioning whether or not they will even be released this Christmas. I mean with all of the delays and lack of filming “Bad Boys For Life” won best movie at The People’s Choice Awards. I actually thought it wasn’t a bad action picture and The People’s Choice Awards are not exactly a barometer of quality, but that is the level. Still, there are multiple films coming at us during these winter months that have a high end curve when it comes to potential. These are my Top 10 Most Anticipated Awards Season Movies.
10. “Sound of Metal” (November 20):
“The Sound of Metal” looks less like a rock & roll pic and much more about acceptance and finding hope when life completely screws you over. Having first found acclaim in the HBO miniseries “The Night Of”, Riz Ahmed plays a drummer performing in a rock band with his lead singer girlfriend. Years of drumming his ass off in small venues have caused Ahmed irreversible hearing loss. He tries to play through it, but playing drums when you can’t hear is impossible. He is forced to go to an institute that specializes in helping the deaf, especially those that were not born that way. This looks to be an inspiring picture and I am always intrigued when a first time writer/director (Darius Marder) releases a film that manages to make the big festivals and gets to compete against established filmmakers.
9. “The Midnight Sky” (December 23):
George Clooney is back once again in the director’s chair. All of his previous directed movies have been some type of fictionalized or based on a true story historic pics. With “The Midnight Sky” Clooney is tackling a futuristic post-apocalyptic snow covered Earth movie. Clooney plays a lone scientist living in an abandoned communications tower with his daughter. He is attempting to contact a giant space ship designed for humanity to find another home. On the ship above it has been weeks since they have heard from anybody on Earth, forcing the crew to start making some tough decisions. There is a stronger tower near by that could reach the ship above, so Clooney and his daughter must brave the extreme conditions outside. “The Midnight Sky” may not be great. Kinda looks like another “The Martian”, aka good but not great. But I am curious to see what Clooney does with sci-fi. He’s made great movies before.
8. “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (December 18):
Everyone is going to watch this. Why? It is the final movie with Black Panther himself in it before Mr. Chadwick Boseman passed. “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” is based on a Pulitzer Prize winning playwright’s work who also wrote “Fences”. Starring Viola Davis, the movie takes place sometime in the early 1930’s or 40’s era when Jazz and Blues music was starting to take the world by storm. Davis looks almost unrecognizable as the titular character. Not sure if they used prosthetics or she really did gain all that weight. Her amazing voice has everyone moving, but she doesn’t exactly look the part of a star according to white record producers. Boseman is a talented horn man and song writer in the band. He too is trying to get his songs picked up but they “Aren’t the right kind of songs”. Bullshit. Produced by Denzel Washington, this feels timely and I cannot wait for all the people who deny white privilege exists then watch this and say they loved it. Gotta love a good hypocrite.
7. “The Prom” (December 11):
This one just looks like a ton of fun and a feel good movie we could all use right now. Based on the Tony Award winning play, “The Prom” has got all of the heavy hitters that show up in big time Hollywood musicals. Meryl Streep stars as the leader of a famous award winning musical group who travels to a small town in Indiana to support a girl who is not being allowed to attend the prom with her girlfriend. That area of the country ain’t big on supporting the gays. James Corden, Nicole Kidman, and Andrew Rannells round out the crew determined to show how bigoted and wrong this community is. It’s a great cast, but I’ve come to just love James Corden. He’s my favorite talk show host because his material brings such joy and shows that a straight man can have a blast with boybands or homosexuals during hilarious knee tapping bits. Myself, I love musicals, and I also love football. Those men and women that still think that “Men need to be men” are dinosaurs. Singing, dancing, and celebrating life is a good thing. To quote the main theme running through this movie; “LIFE IS UNIVERSAL”.
6. “Uncle Frank” (November 25):
Award winning writer/director Alan Ball is back with his latest subversive drama. Paul Bettany stars as “Uncle Frank”, an intellectual literature professor. His niece Beth (Sophia Lillis) makes an unannounced visit to see him and stumbles upon the fact that Frank is a closet gay living with his longtime boyfriend (Peter Macdissi). Beth is fine with it because she is younger and has always gravitated toward her uncle as the rest of the family is small minded southern bigots. When their father dies the three of them travel back to their small home town with Frank telling his niece not to tell them he is gay. His boyfriend is just his supportive ‘roommate’. I’m sure plenty of tension between open and closed minded people will take place as Ball has never been afraid of making a film that will make some people uncomfortable.
5. “Mank” (December 4):
I’m a bit torn on this one. “Mank” will no doubt be nominated for everything. I’m sure my fellow Greg is already calling this Best Picture, just like he’ll hate “The Prom”. Same name, different opinions. It’s about old Hollywood, particularly the writing of perhaps the most classic film ever “Citizen Kane” being the main focus. Hollywood loves to award movies about themselves. Gary Oldman will surely give an excellent performance. Plus David Fincher is a big time director without a golden statue. Fincher did make “Seven” and “The Social Network”, but he can be hit and miss for me. He’s like Quinten Tarantino in that some film nerds love him blindly and literally everything they do is amazing. I also don’t think of Fincher as an ode to old Hollywood kinda guy. That’s more of Scorsese kind of territory. But we shall see. If Fincher can find an angle that isn’t straight forward reminiscing the good old days then “Mank” could be really good and possibly great.
4. “Soul” (December 25):
How could you not be excited when Pixar makes an original movie and not a sequel. Short of “The Lion King” and “Spirited Away”, pretty much the bulk of the classic animated movies over the past 30 years have come from Pixar. From “Toy Story” to “Up” to “Wall-E”, the studio finds ways to tell valuable life lessons in amazing ways that both kids and adults can relate to. “Soul” looks to be another classic in the studio’s cannon. Jamie Foxx stars as a passionate musician that dies after a freak accident. On his way towards heaven he jumps ship and ends up in the place where souls are created before coming to Earth. He is determined to get his life on Earth back so, accompanied by another soul, gets back to New York in search of his body. “Soul” looks like a collection of good stuff. Good music, kindness, and enjoying the life we have.
3. “Nomadland” (December 4):
Welp, this is probably gonna be a downer. But with Frances McDormand starring “Nomadland” is going to be a very powerful piece. Director Chloe Zhao is an up and coming female Asian American director who headed the big budget upcoming Marvel movie “Eternals”. After that she went indie and hooked up with McDormand to tell a story about downtrodden American citizens. Little is known so far, but “Nomadland” is about McDormand as a woman traveling around the Midwest after having lost everything during the recession. This trailer gives you nothing as it is just one shot. I love a trailer that just gives you a taste but also an idea of what the story will be.
2. “Minari” (December 11):
I cannot wait for this film “Minari”. There are so many elements that feel very relevant in what looks to be a beautiful portrait of a family trying to survive and stay together. Thank the lord they killed off Steven Yuen on “The Walking Dead” because he has been doing some real shit lately (check out “Burning”, you’re welcome). A father desperate to make a better life for his Korean family moves them to rural Arkansas where he plans to start a farm. As you would imagine, they stand out like a sore thumb being pretty much the only people that aren’t white. His two kids are rebellious because everything is so different and they are constantly stared at in class. The story of a family’s struggle looks to be a situation that you better bring along your tissues for because I have a feeling this is going to hit my trifecta I attempt to do every day; “Laugh, Think, and Cry”. That’s a hell of a day.
1. “Promising Young Woman” (December 25):
Oh hell yeah! This movie looks badass. “Promising Young Woman” is like what would happen if rich a-hole rapist like Supreme Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh or Trump actually got what they deserved. There are so many rich white men who feel entitled to just “Grab ’em by the pussy”. What if somebody decided to grab back, and hard. Award winning actress Carey Mulligan plays Cassie, a wickedly intelligent woman who lives a double life pretending to be a ditzy young slut when actually she’s setting these assholes up. I always said during the #metoo movement everyone who claimed it was a “Witch Hunt” probably did some shit. Not always, but there’s a reason why you didn’t hear accusations about say a Ryan Gosling. But, like racism, it is far from gone. Get your revenge on those piece of trash guys who make us good ones look bad.