The first wave of Oscar 2021 nomination predictions

Natalie Duerr, news correspondent

October normally kicks off award season for film lovers. With the Golden Globes and Oscars approaching in the winter and spring, highly anticipated films make their festival debut and even more begin to hit the big screens. This year is no normal year as COVID-19 continues to keep theatres closed and studios have delayed long-awaited films. 

What does that mean for the 93rd Academy Awards? Is “Sonic the Hedgehog” going to win Best Picture? Thanks to streaming services, a plethora of Oscar-worthy films are right at your fingertips. Though many of these films skipped their theatrical release, they have still garnered plenty of award buzz and are eligible for nominations at this year’s Oscars. 

Streaming on Netflix

“Da 5 Bloods”

Directed by Spike Lee, “Da 5 Bloods” follows four Vietnam veterans as they travel back to Vietnam to look for their squad leader’s remains and buried gold. The film stars Delroy Linda, Jonathan Mayors and the late Chadwick Boseman. Based on reviews and reception, this film is likely to be nominated in many categories, including Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay and possibly Best Cinematography.

“The Trial of the Chicago 7”

Based on the true story of seven protesters who were charged with conspiracy and the intention of inciting riots during the 1968 Democratic National Convention, “The Trial of the Chicago 7” is being praised as a timely film. Written and directed by Aaron Sorkin, a nomination for Best Original Screenplay seems to be a guarantee. A stand-out performance by Sacha Baron Cohen could earn him a nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Based on reviews, this film could be nominated for Best Picture as well.

“I’m Thinking of Ending Things”

Though this film received mixed to positive reviews, “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” could be nominated in the Best Adapted Screenplay category. Based on the book of the same name, the story follows a young woman as she meets her boyfriend’s family for the first time. Though that summary may sound bland, it is anything but. Writer and director Charlie Kaufman’s interpretations and artistic liberties could help him edge his way into a nomination.

Streaming on Disney+


Released before COVID-19 shut theatres down, “Onward” may seem like it was released eons ago, but this film is still eligible for this year’s Oscars. Historically Disney and Pixar have dominated the Best Animated Feature category, so even with mixed reviews, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see “Onward” nominated. “Onward” follows two teen brothers, voiced by Chris Pratt and Tom Holland, who go on a magical journey to spend one last day with their late father.

Streaming on HBO 

“Never Rarely Sometimes Always” 

Premiering at Sundance and Berlin Film Festival earlier this year, “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” is about a pregnant 17-year-old who cannot obtain an abortion in her small Pennsylvania town without permission from her parents. This film opened in cinemas days before they were shut down, but is now available on all HBO platforms. Written and directed by Eliza Hittman, this powerful, yet sensitive film could be nominated for Best Original Screenplay.


This delectable film was released in theatres just before COVID-19 hit and is now available on HBO Max. Based on Jane Austen’s 1815 novel of the same name, this film is eye candy and a well-acted masterpiece. Marking Autumn de Wilde’s film debut and starring Anya Taylor-Joy, Johnny Flynn, Josh O’Connor and Mia Goth, “Emma.” is a must-watch for anyone who loves British period pieces. With gorgeous, doll-house like scenery and decadent, historically accurate dresses, “Emma.” is likely to be nominated for Best Production Design and Best Costume Design. 

Available to rent

“First Cow” 

If the Oscars had a category for ”Best Animal Actor,” Eve the Cow would win hands down. Directed by Kelly Reichardt, “First Cow” follows two men trying to make it big as they use milk from a rich landowner’s prized cow to make pastries. Taking place in the 1820s Northwest, the film is full of lush cinematography and a historical narrative that feels timeless. Based on “The Half Life: A Novel” by Jonathan Raymond, “First Cow” has a great shot at being nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay. “First Cow” is available to rent on all platforms and at the time of publication is on sale for 99 cents.

There are still six more months until the 93rd Academy Awards and with the unpredictability of the current situation, more films will be hitting streaming services or heading straight to video on demand. Keep an eye out for “Nomadland,” “One Night in Miami,” “Mank,” “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” and “Minari” as these films pick up serious Oscar buzz from festival screenings and trailer releases.