The 93rd Academy Awards will be held on April 25th, 2021, honoring movies released in 2020. For the past few years, the Story Screen Family has gathered together on our podcast, STORY SCREEN PRESENTS, to discuss our favorite films from the past year, as well as our own Oscar predictions. As Mike Burdge, Story Screen’s Founder and Editor-in-Chief likes to say, “The Oscars are like our Super Bowl.” As we gear up to make our 2021 predictions - cramming in some last-minute nominee watches - Burdge posed the question to me: “What are some films that didn’t get nominated that you think should have?” That question has been rattling around in my brain ever since. I’m not going to go through the entire list of nominees here, for that, stay tuned for our upcoming Oscar predictions podcast. But, to hold you over until then, here are a few films released in 2020 that I truly feel should have been nominated for an Academy Award. I hope you'll get around to watching some of them when you can. Enjoy.
ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE - This year’s Nominees are:
SACHA BARON COHEN - The Trial of the Chicago 7
DANIEL KALUUYA - Judas and the Black Messiah
LESLIE ODOM, JR. - One Night in Miami...
PAUL RACI - Sound of Metal
LAKEITH STANFIELD - Judas and the Black Messiah
MISSING: Hugh Jackman - Bad Education
I’ve said it before, Hugh Jackman shines as Frank Tassone - the Long Island school superintendent who is ultimately caught for embezzlement. Maybe this flew under the radar in 2020 because it was released on HBO, who can say? But Jackman makes Tassone so sympathetic that you continue to root for him even though you know he is in the wrong. This is a standout performance by Jackman. Allison Janney rules as usual, and there’s even a great supporting performance by Blindspotting’s Rafael Casal. Watch it.
ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE -
VIOLA DAVIS - Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
ANDRA DAY - The United States vs. Billie Holiday
VANESSA KIRBY - Pieces of a Woman
FRANCES MCDORMAND - Nomadland
CAREY MULLIGAN - Promising Young Woman
MISSING: Carrie Coon - The Nest
Part of why I think Carrie Coon has yet to be really recognized for being such a stellar performer is because of how effortlessly she portrays her characters. In The Nest, Coon plays Allison, the wife of a status-climbing schemer, Rory (Jude Law, also amazing). Rory drags his family to England in an attempt to obtain the life he has always wanted, without giving much thought about what the rest of his family really wants. Coon’s performance may seem understated but she is fierce. After watching the film it’s hard to understand why she isn’t being cast in more films as a leading lady. Check it out and you’ll understand why.
COLLECTIVE - Alexander Nanau and Bianca Oana
CRIP CAMP - Nicole Newnham, Jim LeBrecht and Sara Bolder
THE MOLE AGENT - Maite Alberdi and Marcela Santibáñez
MY OCTOPUS TEACHER - Pippa Ehrlich, James Reed and Craig Foster
TIME - Garrett Bradley, Lauren Domino and Kellen Quinn
MISSING: Dick Johnson is Dead - Kirsten Johnson, Nels Bangerter, Katy Chevigny and Megan Ellison.
Kirsten Johnson creates a documentary centered around her dad’s descent into old age and dementia that is often whimsical and feels like a fairy tale. By providing (often very humorous) examples of her own father’s death, Johnson is able to help her father (and herself) prepare for and process the inevitable. Despite the film being very funny at times, it is nevertheless extremely thoughtful and endearing.
WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)
JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH - Screenplay by Will Berson & Shaka King; Story by Will Berson & Shaka King and Kenny Lucas & Keith Lucas
MINARI - Written by Lee Isaac Chung
PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN - Written by Emerald Fennell
SOUND OF METAL - Screenplay by Darius Marder & Abraham Marder; Story by Darius Marder & Derek Cianfrance
THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7 - Written by Aaron Sorkin
MISSING: The Assistant - Written by Kitty Green
The power of Kitty Green’s script for her film, The Assistant, is often in what is left unsaid. There is so little dialogue in the film in fact, that when the main character Jane (Julia Garner) finally meets with a member of her office’s Human Resources staff (Matthew McFadyen) it is extremely jarring to hear their conversation. Green deals with the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace mostly by letting the audience infer what is going on behind closed doors. The film uses minimal sets and only a few characters, but it is instantly believable and relatable. Drainingly so.
ANOTHER ROUND - Thomas Vinterberg
MANK - David Fincher
MINARI - Lee Isaac Chung
NOMADLAND - Chloé Zhao
PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN - Emerald Fennell
MISSING: Never Rarely Sometimes Always - Eliza Hittman
Eliza Hittman writes and directs a film that honestly feels like a documentary. It portrays the odyssey of two teenage girls traveling from rural Pennsylvania to New York City in order for one of them to obtain an abortion without parental consent. Hittman uses real clinics to evoke the authenticity of the experience for our protagonists, but she also uses New York City itself - the subways, bakeries, karaoke bars, and bus stations - to create an experience that is far more trying and disturbing than the actual medical procedure they came for.
INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM
ANOTHER ROUND - Denmark
BETTER DAYS - Hong Kong
COLLECTIVE - Romania
THE MAN WHO SOLD HIS SKIN - Tunisia
QUO VADIS, AIDA? - Bosnia and Herzegovina
MISSING: Portrait of a Lady on Fire (France) - technically 2019:
Céline Sciamma’s film, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, was not nominated for an Academy Award in 2020 despite its limited theatrical release. This blows my mind. I didn’t see the movie in a theater until February 2020 so I am throwing it on here for good measure. It was my personal favorite film of “2020,” and I hope you will watch it when you can. The production design, costumes, and score are all gorgeous, but it is the cast first and foremost that is really stunning. It takes an unconventional love story and sets it in a period drama that audiences often romanticize, and brings some real-life pain to its characters. I loved it and I hope you will too.
MISSING: And Then We Danced (Georgia) 2020:
And Then We Danced’s release inspired protests in its native Georgia for portraying a gay relationship that was at odds with the conservative country’s traditionally “masculine” national form of dance. It is a beautiful film with a standout performance by its lead, Levan Gelbakhiani.
Well, friends, if this has started your own wheels turning on films you think should have been nominated for an Academy Award hit me up in the comments section. And stay tuned for our upcoming Oscar predictions podcast episode of Story Screen Presents.
Besides watching TV and movies, Diana likes plants, the great outdoors, drawing and reading comics, and just generally rocking out. She has a BA in English Literature and is an art school dropout. You can follow her on Instagram @dldimuro and Twitter @DianaDiMuro