This year’s abbreviated sprint of an awards race came to a shockingly delightful end at the Oscars where Parasite reigned supreme, but it’s never too early to start thinking about what could be taking the stage this time next year. In hindsight, Parasite began its awards season run back in May of 2019, where it won the Palm d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. It played like gangbusters throughout the fall film festival season, building steam until it hit theaters as a critical darling. Ultimately, that positive buzz resulted in a near-total dominance at the Oscars ceremony, where it became the first foreign language film to win Best Picture.
But this year’s awards race was actually quite diverse in terms of the kinds of films that were vying for the top prizes. There were a couple new entries from beloved auteurs (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and The Irishman), a divisive blockbuster (Joker), a late-coming classic war film (1917), critical darlings (Marriage Story and Little Women), and even an old-fashioned commercial hit (Ford v Ferrari). With that in mind, there are plenty of films coming out in 2020 that could fit the bill for the 2021 Oscar race.
As I do every year, I’ve gone through the calendar to pick out a selection of films most likely to be in the heat of next year’s Oscar race. This isn’t necessarily to correctly predict what will be there (although I selected 4 eventual Best Picture nominees in last year’s entry), but more to look at the year ahead and to consider what kind of Oscar race we may be in for. With the caveat being that the calendar isn’t 100% set at this point in time, and certain late-comers and surprises will no doubt make a splash.
But with that in mind, let’s take a look at the most likely Oscar contenders for next year’s race.