Here's our weekly breakdown of everything award season. From Academy Awards news and nominations and where to watch the upcoming Academy Awards: A.frame is your one-stop-shop for all things Oscars.
We update this post every week with news, events, and other happenings worth straining your eyes for.
See the complete list: 2021 Oscar Nominations
Oscars News — Mar. 23, 2021
We blinked, and the 93rd Academy Awards are now less than a month away. As usual, the countdown to Oscar Sunday is packed with many other movie groups handing out trophies of their own. This week, two titan guilds did just that.
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (we’re going to call it by this abbreviation rather than its actual 18-word-long title) and Promising Young Woman were the big winners at the Writers Guild of America Awards, grabbing the prizes for Best Adapted and Best Original Screenplay, respectively. Those movies are nominated in the same categories at the Oscars, but they’re up against different movies. Every year, many worthy screenplays don’t qualify for the WGA due to its strict rules about the writing process, and this season the casualties included The Father, Minari and Nomadland. But all three of those scripts qualified for and received some love from the Academy—and are alive and well in the race to win an Oscar for Best Screenplay. So if the Borat sequel (we’re just getting lazy now) and Promising Young Woman want the statuette, they’ll have to beat out some fresh competition.
A few days later, the Producers Guild of America picked Nomadland as the recipient of its biggest honor, from a lineup that quite strongly resembled the field of Oscar contenders (the only Best Picture nominee missing there was The Father). Perhaps because the PGA and the Oscars use the same preferential method to count votes for their top prizes, they usually have a pretty strong correlation—seven of the past ten movies to win the PGA prize became the eventual Oscar winners for Best Picture
But take that with a grain of salt. What makes awards season such a cliffhanger is that while ceremonies like these (often called “precursors” to the Academy Awards) give us clues as to which movies might end up winning Oscars, there are way too many variables to make anything perfectly predictable. For example, only screenwriters vote for the WGA prize and producers for the PGAs—whereas, at the Oscars, Academy members across all movie disciplines and branches (writers, producers, but also costume designers, animators, composers, etc.) chime in to crown winners. It keeps us on our feet, and that’s why we love it.
We’ve got one more thing for you as you work through your watchlist of Oscar-nominated movies. Launching next week is Oscar Spotlight, a partnership with The Washington Post Live that will function as something of a movie club for this year’s nominated documentaries. Live on YouTube and Twitter, film critic Ann Hornaday will get together with the filmmakers and subjects of each doc for a deep dive into their movies (although no promises the cephalopod from My Octopus Teacher will be able to join). And all of the nominees are streaming, so there’s no excuse for not doing your homework before tuning in.
My Octopus Teacher (available on Netflix) — Tuesday, March 30 at 3 p.m. ET
Crip Camp (available on Netflix) — Wednesday, March 31 at 3 p.m. ET
Time (available on Prime) — Tuesday, April 6 at 3 p.m. ET
The Mole Agent (available on Hulu) — Wednesday, April 7 at 3 p.m. ET
Collective (available on Hulu) — Wednesday, April 14 at 3 p.m. ET
Oscars News — Mar. 17, 2021
All signs pointed to this year’s class of Oscar nominees being one for the books. But now that the first phase of awards season has culminated in this week’s nominations announcement, we can finally confirm: History has indeed been made and records (quite a few of them, in fact) have been broken.
To no one’s surprise, the names Emerald Fennell and Chloé Zhao continue to be tied to trailblazing. Together, the pair become the first two women in Oscars history ever nominated for Directing in the same year. To add to that, Fennell’s bold vision for Promising Young Woman makes her the first woman ever recognized in the category for a first-time feature (can you believe the thriller is her debut!?), while Zhao becomes the first woman of color ever nominated for Directing. As the director-writer-producer-editor of Nomadland, she also becomes the first woman to procure four nominations in the same year.
But those two aren’t the only high-achievers. When Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Nick Jonas announced the nominees at the crack of dawn on Monday, they unveiled no shortage of Oscar trivia to get excited about. Here are just a few of our favorites:
With his searing performance as trumpeter Levee Green in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, the late Chadwick Boseman becomes the seventh-ever performer with a posthumous nomination. If he wins, he’ll be the third-ever to win, after Peter Finch for Network and Heath Ledger for The Dark Knight.
For inhabiting the title character in that same movie, Viola Davis—with her fourth career acting nomination—has become the most nominated Black actress in Oscars history.
As the dad in our new favorite movie family, Steven Yeun (Minari) becomes the first Asian-American to receive an Oscar nomination for Best Actor.
For making Judas and the Black Messiah, Shaka King, Charles D. King and Ryan Coogler comprise the first-ever all-Black producing team nominated for Best Picture.
Indicating just how global the Academy’s membership has grown, an international filmmaker has landed a Best Director nomination for the third consecutive year. This time, it’s Thomas Vinterberg, whose Danish hit Another Round is also nominated for International Feature Film. In 2019, Paweł Pawlikowski was nominated for his exquisite black-and-white Polish drama, Cold War, and Bong Joon-Ho was nominated (and won) in 2020 for his monumental South Korean thriller, Parasite.
Impressive multi-category trends are also on the rise. For the fourth straight year, an acting nominee has also picked up a Best Original Song nomination. Mary J. Blige started the fad with Mudbound, and she has since been joined by Lady Gaga (A Star Is Born), Cynthia Erivo (Harriet) and now Leslie Odom Jr., up for Best Supporting Actor and Best Original Song (“Speak Now”) for One Night in Miami…
And for the second Oscars in a row, international docs are really going the distance. Last year, the captivating doc Honeyland about a beekeeper in North Macedonia, became the first movie ever to appear as both a Documentary Feature and International Feature nominee. For 2020, Romania’s tense exposé about hospital corruption, Collective, has done the same thing. It has us thinking … how long until an international documentary also breaks into Best Picture?
It took Priyanka Chopra Jonas 31 seconds to announce one single nomination Monday morning, but with a name like Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan and nine—yes, nine!—nominated writers, we think she did a great job. That’s the most scripters ever nominated for a single screenplay and, if our notes are correct, far and away the longest film title to arrive at the Oscars. The Sacha Baron Cohen mockumentary easily surpasses Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) as the biggest mouthful of a movie title.
Where to watch the Oscars?
Oscars News — Mar. 12, 2021
Like many movie organizations, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) has taken steps recently to diversify its membership, in hopes of diversifying the films and filmmakers that those members vote for. Even so, last year no actors of color received BAFTA nominations. To make sure that doesn’t happen again, the organization made additional overhauls, this time to voting procedures. If you’re into the nitty-gritty, you can take a look at all the new rules here. But the long and short of it? Starting this year, a special jury of “industry experts” now has final nominating privileges for the acting and directing categories. And it seems to have worked. Whereas many awards groups parrot the same names all season long, the jury-guided BAFTA nominations announced this week elevated fresh talent to recognition, like Radha Blank (The Forty-Year-Old Version) for Leading Actress, Adarsh Gourav (The White Tiger) for Leading Actor and Jasmila Žbanić (Quo Vadis, Aida?) for Director. What does this mean for the Oscar race? Who’s to say? We know that a couple hundred of BAFTA’s members (8,500+ film, game and TV professionals) are Academy members too. But we also know that the introduction of inclusion juries in several categories makes things a little more unpredictable—and more exciting—than they normally are.
Two towering American guilds revealed their favorites this week, too. The roughly 8,000 members of the Producers Guild of America picked 10 nominees for their Outstanding Producer prize, while the Directors Guild of America —and its whopping membership of about 18,000—slimmed it down to five honorees for Outstanding Directorial Achievement. Notably, it is the first time ever that more than one of the DGA slots have been claimed by women. As they were at the Golden Globes, Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman) and Chloé Zhao (Nomadland) continue to be historymakers, and we’re hoping the trend continues.
Emerald Fennell recently had a chat with another trailblazing female filmmaker, Oscar winner Sofia Coppola, for Screen International. From a transcript of their conversation, we were delighted to learned that Coppola envisions frequent collaborator Kirsten Dunst as the main character whenever she reads a new novel, and that Fennell, like many others, just can’t bring herself to watch “any more films of men in raincoats, talking about serious things.”
If you’ve still got some movie watching to do before Monday’s Oscar Nominations Announcement, a handful of shortlisted titles are available not on Prime, not on Netflix, but on … Letterboxd? For the first time, the cinephile social network is turning into a movie marketplace, as Neon makes six of its shortlisted movies (Dear Comrades!, Gunda, Night of the Kings, Notturno, The Painter and the Thief and Quo Vadis, Aida?) available as a bundled rental package on the service through Sunday.
We love awards season, yes—but do we live for it as much as these two? We’ve never really seen energy like the kind that movielovers (and twins) Cole and Justin Jaeger bring to their YouTube channel, where they chat about predictions and, most entertainingly, record themselves reacting to guild announcements and awards shows (brace yourself for their Critics Choice Awards reaction video here). It’s all just fun, games and speculation, but it brings an inflamed, ESPN-level commentary to the movie world, and we’re here for it.
Oscars News —
There was a lot of commotion in the sound world this week, as two professional groups shared their picks for the year’s best audio achievements in movies. First up were nominations for the Golden Reel Awards, honors for sound editing handed out by an organization appropriately called the Motion Picture Sound Editors. One day later, the Cinema Audio Society chimed in about another element of movie aural design: sound mixing (if you’re in need of a refresh on what each means, watch this for an easy breakdown). It seems both groups are falling hard for News of the World and Sound of Metal, as these movies scored the max number of nominations possible from each awards body. When it comes to sound, one thing will be different this year at the Oscars. For a while now, sound editing and sound mixing have been recognized in separate categories. But at the upcoming 93rd annual show, the two disciplines will be jointly recognized with one, newly merged award: Best Sound.
There was also some big news for the visual side of movies, as the Costume Designers Guild and the Art Directors Guild called out some of the best world-building work in movies from the past year. The former is a group of about 875 costume designers, assistant costume designers and costume illustrators who’ve worked on at least one major movie, TV production, music video project or commercial, and the latter consists of a few thousand film artists of all sorts: production and set designers, illustrators, model makers, graphic and title artists and more. What’s fun about each group is that they make room for lots of categories: costumes and set designs for contemporary, period and fantasy movies are all evaluated separately (and the Art Directors Guild even recognizes work in animated movies). This leaves room for movies like Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar (our latest obsession and an inevitable cult classic) to earn some recognition, as it did at the Costume Designers Guild for Excellence in Contemporary Film.
Speaking of movie design, we enjoyed this Variety interview with Academy member Nathan Crowley, production designer for Tenet. In it, the longtime Christopher Nolan collaborator reveals an Easter egg in the time-bending thriller, one which fans of The Prestige will particularly appreciate.
We weren’t kidding when we said it was a full-on blitz of awards news this week, because there’s more: Lots of animated movies got some love in the form of Annie nominations. These awards come from professional members in ASIFA-Hollywood, the largest chapter of a renowned international animation organization created back in the ’50s in Annecy, France (where a huge animation festival still takes place every year).
Oscars News —
• The 87th Annual Golden Globes are happening this Sunday, and there are a couple things to keep in mind. First off—history! For the first time ever, three of the five Best Director nominations went to women: Promising Young Woman’s Emerald Fennell, One Night in Miami…’s Regina King and Nomadland’s Chloé Zhao. If any of them triumphs (and the odds are quite literally in their favor), they will become the first female to win the Golden Globe for Best Director in 37 years, when Barbra Streisand last did in 1984. Second—voters! Who calls the shots when it comes to picking Golden Globe winners? Well... not many people at all. Only 87 members comprise the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), the group that has been handing out the trophies for almost 80 years. HFPA members are California-based reporters who cover the entertainment industry for foreign publications. But the organization lets in only a few new members each year, so the roster stays pretty short. It’s impressive, then, that the annual ceremony produced by this small group has evolved into the third most-watched awards show of the year (behind only the Oscars and the Grammys).
• The Big Picture podcast took some time this week to hash out predictions for the Golden Globes (and also talk through some of the recent controversy surrounding the group), but our favorite part? When Lee Isaac Chung stops by to chat about all the steps it took to make Minari, his tender-hearted family drama that launches this weekend on VOD.
• We’re also nerding out seeing Academy members Barry Jenkins and Chloé Zhao together in the same (virtual) room. In the video for Variety, Jenkins of course has lots of questions for Zhao about her recently released Nomadland—but the two masterminds also talk about what it’s like to go from crafting indie darlings to helming Disney juggernauts like Jenkins’ The Lion King prequel and Zhao’s Eternals.
Oscars News — February 19, 2021
The Writers Guild of America (WGA) announced nominees for their screenplay honors this week, leaving us with 10 notable movies and a handful of asterisks to sort through. The guild is first and foremost a labor union, and it protects the interests of the thousands of writers who are members. Members of the WGA don’t just write feature-length narrative films—they pen TV shows, documentaries, news programs, even video games and other digital media. That means members know what they’re doing when they pick their favorite screenplays of the year, and a nomination here can be quite meaningful for the storytellers recognized.
But it does come with a big caveat. Every year, more than a few movies are disqualified from WGA recognition due to the fact that they were made outside of the guild’s jurisdiction. Basically, if creatives don’t follow WGA guidelines as they make their movie, they can kiss the gold goodbye. Some of the screenplays ineligible for this year’s Writers Guild Awards (but still eligible for the 93rd Oscars) include: Lee Isaac Chung’s Minari, Deborah Eisenberg’s Let Them All Talk, Edoardo Ponti’s The Life Ahead, Kata Wéber’s Pieces of a Woman, and Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland.
Just like the Writers Guild, the craftspeople that comprise the Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists (MUAHS) Guild are not limited to expertise in movies alone. The guild is also open to any artist or stylist who can prove they’ve worked on scripted or live TV, commercials, or theater productions for at least three years and is willing to fill out all the paperwork. Roughly 2,000 professionals have gone through those hoops (and paid their union dues), and those are the members that cast votes for the MUAHS Guild Awards.
Just yesterday, the group announced their best-of-2020 picks in three make-up and two hair styling categories. With this many categories, there’s a lot of room to shine at the guild, and the artists behind titles like Bill & Ted Face the Music, Mulan, and Promising Young Woman did just that.
But don’t expect to hear these same names come Oscar Nominations. What happens at the Oscars is very different—here, there’s just one category that jointly recognizes both makeup and hairstyling. Complicating matters further? The fact that many of the MUAHS Guild Award nominees didn’t manage to crack the recently announced Oscars shortlist.
Oscars News —
Already in the rearview mirror are nominations from the Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild, and a whole host of regional critics group honors. Below, we turn to news breaking in the last week alone:
While we were unveiling shortlists, also announced this week were the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards nominations. These honors are voted on by a group of 400 film critics who review movies for all sorts of outlets in the U.S. and Canada: The Hollywood Reporter and Variety, yes, but also TV news channels, local radio stations, personal podcasts and blogs. It’s important to note there is little (if any) overlap between this group and the 9,000+ members of the Academy. Even still, the Critics’ Choice Awards have quite a knack for predicting Oscars love, especially when it comes to Best Picture. In every year since 2009, at least seven (and very often eight) of the ten Critics’ Choice nominees in that lauded category have gone on to Oscar nominations as well. Those are good betting odds.
The 93rd Oscars will be held on Sunday, April 25th at 8 pm EST. Watch it live on ABC or go to ABC.com and log in with your TV provider.