It’s never too early to start thinking about the Oscars even if the ceremony’s date was pushed back to the Spring. Last week, the Academy decided to push back the Oscar ceremony to April 25, 2021. More importantly, the eligibility requirements moved from Dec. 31, 2020, to the end Feb. 28, 2021. Due to COVID-19, delaying the ceremony was expected, but still surprising. This change will likely set off a domino effect for the dates of other awards shows like the Golden Globes, which usually convenes at the beginning of January.
Despite being 10 months away, there are two films from the last week that should Oscar aspirations with one being a serious contender for multiple awards. The two movies are Da 5 Bloods and The King of Staten Island. Da 5 Bloods jumps off the page as an Oscar contender because of its subject matter, stellar performances, and direction from Spike Lee. In turn, The King of Staten Island is the type of film that’s typically not represented at the Oscars, but in a perfect world, there should be Oscars’ consideration for one performance in particular.
Da 5 Bloods
It’s June 18 and Netflix’s Da 5 Bloods is the leader in the clubhouse for Best Picture. In Da 5 Bloods, four African American veterans (Delroy Lindo, Clarke Peters, Norm Lewis, Isiah Whitlock Jr.) return to Vietnam to find the remains of their heroic squad leader, Stormin’ Norman (Chadwick Boseman) and collect a treasure they buried during the war. Da 5 Bloods is half war drama/half crime thriller that frames the Vietnam War entirely through the eyes of black veterans, which is a first for films about that specific war. Like many of Lee’s films, it’s equally compelling as it is informational as the film references historical moments such as the assassination of Martin Luther King, the resignation of President Richard Nixon, and the Civil Rights Movement in the late 1960s. It’s a film that presents a war on two fronts: the war in Vietnam and the fight against oppression in the United States. At its core, Da 5 Bloods depicts how the traumas of our past stay with us today.
Lee’s passionate storytelling and careful direction are on full display in Da 5 Bloods, but will it lead to Oscar nominations? It’s hard to believe that up until 2019, Lee received only two individual nominations*: a screenplay nomination for the iconic, Do the Right Thing, and a documentary nomination for 4 Little Girls. It wasn’t until 2018’s BlacKkKlansman when Lee finally received his long-awaited competitive Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.
*Lee received an honorary Oscar in 2016.
With what’s going on in this country, from the Black Lives Matters movement to protests over police brutality, it will be hard to find a more culturally relevant film in 2020 than Da 5 Bloods. Now that Lee won an Oscar, momentum is on his side with the Academy. It’s clearly at the top of the shortlist for best film of the year up to this point. Plus, the fact that it’s on Netflix could help the film remain on the public’s radar for the rest of the year. All of these components could make up the perfect storm for Lee to win Best Director, which has never been won by a black man or black woman. In addition to Lee, don’t sleep on Lindo, who gives an emotional tour-de-force of performance that’s so raw and moving. It’s still early, but Da 5 Bloods could be in for a historic night next April.
Oscars 2021: Nomination Predictions For Da 5 Bloods
- Best Picture
- Best Director, Spike Lee
- Best Actor, Delroy Lindo
- Best Supporting Actor, Clarke Peters
- Best Orginal Screenplay, Danny Bilson, Paul De Meo, Spike Lee, and Kevin Willmott
- Best Cinematography, Newton Thomas Sigel
- Best Score, Terence Oliver Blanchard
The King of Staten Island
Time and time again, Judd Apatow finds a rising talent and turns them into a superstar. Add with Pete Davidson to the long list of Apatow’s muses thanks to The King of Staten Island, Apatow’s first non-documentary since 2015’s Trainwreck. In The King of Staten Island, Davidson stars as Scott, an unmotivated stoner that failed to move on from his firefighter father’s passing as a child. When his mother (Marisa Tomei) begins to date another fireman (Bill Burr), Scott must get his life together and figure out his future before it’s too late.
Like many of Apatow’s previous films, The King of Staten Island‘s strength is a well-balanced combination of hilarity with sincerity. It’s an unofficial autobiography of Davidson’s life, from his Staten Island roots to the passing of his real firefighter father on 9/11. Davidson’s heartfelt, nuanced, and somewhat dark performance is the complete opposite of the comedian he plays on Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update. Frankly, Davidson, the actor, is my favorite version of the 26-year-old. I rarely tune into SNL and standup specials from comedians not named Dave Chappelle so my opinions on Davidson before 2020 were limited. After his performances in Big Time Adolescence and The King of Staten Island, I hope that Davidson continues to go down this road of complicated, comedic characters. If he teams with the right directors, there’s no reason why Davidson can’t be the next Seth Rogen or Jonah Hill.
The King of Staten Island benefits from its supporting cast with standout performances from Bel Powley, Marisa Tomei, and most notably, Bill Burr. All three characters call Scott out on his bullshit not because they don’t love him. In fact, all three challenge Scott to start a new life because they do care. Powley and Tomei are more tender with their approach while Burr shows Scott tough love in the firehouse and forces Scott to face the demons that have haunted him since his father’s passing. Burr’s Ray Bishop is hard-nosed, caring, and the perfect counterpoint to Davidson’s Scott. The interactions between those two characters are the strongest points in the film with Burr stealing most of those scenes.
When it comes to the Oscars, why are comedies rarely recognized? It’s an age-old question with no clear answer. Comedies are one of the most popular genres in film, and yet, they barely breakthrough in the Best Picture category. Birdman in 2014 and The Artist in 2011 both have comedic moments, but both films are a far cry from a typical comedy. Before that, 1977’s Annie Hall is the last true comedy to win Best Picture. With acting, comedic wins happen more often, but like Best Picture, it’s a performance with comedic moments in a drama. Brad Pitt, Olivia Colman, and Frances McDormand played characters with humorous moments and all won acting Oscars within the last three years. However, Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood, The Favourite, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri do not have the same comedic undertones as The King of Staten Island.
The King of Staten Island may not have your typical Oscar performances, but Tomei and Burr should each receive consideration in the supporting categories. If there’s anyone who can win a surprise Oscar for a comedy, it’s Tomei, who won Best Supporting Actress for My Cousin Vinny. With all due respect, as good as Tomei is, it’s Burr’s performance that stood above the rest. Selfishly, I hope more studios hire Burr to star in more films because his raw, comedic persona is refreshing to see onscreen.
With all that being said, I can’t sit here with a straight face and predict any Oscar nominations for The King of Staten Island. Believe me, I’d love to be wrong about this! If there’s any consolation, Davidson could nab a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical.
What are your thoughts on Da 5 Bloods and The King of Staten Island? Leave your thoughts in the comments or tweet us, @unafraidshow.