Although COVID-19 has plagued the world for over a year, awards ceremonies have managed to adjust to the novel conditions. The Golden Globes, which took place this past February, followed the protocols and held a virtual celebration; however, the Grammys, which honors those in the music industry, held an in-person, socially distant celebration.
This year, following the recent backlash, the Oscars is debating whether or not to require the nominees to be present at the awards show or if they are allowed to be on Zoom. The leading best picture nominees this year include: “Nomadland,” “Mank,” “Minari,” “The Trial of the Chicago 7” and “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.” Each film analyzed a new topic, deeply connecting with many viewers either on a personal or professional level.
“Mank” follows the story of screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz, portrayed by Gary Oldman, and his completion of the esteemed film: “Citizen Kane.” Directed by David Fincher, who is renowned for “The Social Network” and “Se7en,” this film offers moviegoers a black and white depiction of Hollywood in the 1930s. Fincher’s father, Jack Fincher, wrote the screenplay for “Mank,” and the film walked away with a total of 10 nominations, including Best Picture, Actor in a Leading Role and Supporting Actress. Amanda Seyfried, who earned her first nomination this year, wowed cinephiles with her excellent portrayal of Marion Davies. The film walked away with two wins, cinematography and production design.
Directed by Lee Isaac Chung, “Minari,” which earned six nominations, follows a Korean family’s journey in establishing their own farm in rural Arkansas. Steven Yeun, who plays the father, Jacob, in the film, is famous for his role in “The Walking Dead.” His moving performance encouraged film fanatics to not only understand but also experience the family’s emotional struggle in assimilating into American culture. Yeun is the first Asian American to earn an Oscar nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role. Yuh-Jung Youn won the award for Best Supporting Actress in this moving film.
Written and directed by Aaron Sorkin, “The Trial of the Chicago 7” depicts the harrowing events that took place during the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Eddie Redmayne, Sacha Baron Cohen, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are only a few of the many talented actors who lead this cast and its emotional journey. The film, which will keep you on the edge of your seat, remains relevant to this day and our current political climate.
Filled with serious, moving moments, “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” highlights some of the brave men who protested against the escalation of the Vietnam War and their striving to exercise their lawful rights. The intense courtroom scenes and depiction of rioting and police brutality truly provide viewers with a deep sense of the social climate in 1969. Sacha Baron Cohen, who also earned a writing nomination for “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” shifts into a more serious character, but retains his humor throughout the film. Sorkin, who earned a Golden Globe for his screenplay of the film, does an excellent job portraying the disturbing historical events that took place in the 1960s. Although earning a handful of nominations, “The Trial of the Chicago 7” did not win any awards at the ceremony.
Returning to the silver screen after almost 15 years since his famous character was introduced to the world, Sacha Baron Cohen has reprised his role as Borat Sagdiyev. Challenging the social norms and following his outrageous, satirical adventure, the film focuses on Borat’s second experience in America, but this time, his daughter has joined him. Maria Bakalova, who earned herself an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Tutar Sagdiyev, is introduced as equally crazed and misguided as her father. This mockumentary focuses on the coronavirus situation and political climate in the United States over the course of 2020. This film also did not earn any Oscars at the ceremony.
“Nomadland,” directed by Chloé Zhao blew audiences away this year. Focusing on a woman finding herself, “Nomadland” delivers an incredible, unique story. The film won three Oscars, including: Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Actress in a Leading Role and Best Achievement in Directing. Chloé Zhao and Frances McDormand each walked away with two awards, both serving as producers over the film. Zhao was the second woman in history to win an Oscar for best director (the first was Kathryn Bigelow).
The biggest surprise of the night was the Oscar award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role. Many believed that Chadwick Boseman would be posthumously honored and awarded for his moving performance in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom;” however, Anthony Hopkins earned the Oscar for his role in “The Father.”
Although COVID-19 remained an obstacle, actors, actresses and directors managed to come together and celebrate the extraordinary year of film. Hosted in numerous locations, the Oscars properly honored those who provided audiences and the world with a beautiful escape during the chaotic year of 2020.