With the Grammys freshly wrapped and the Academy Award nominations now out, awards season is near its apex – and its end. Even though the Grammys typically offer a comically anachronistic view of film awards season─Jojo Rabbit and Joker won Grammys on Sunday!─they still ring loudly in the statue world. Plus, we have an award for a film that is yet to be released, as Billie Eilish won for her No Time to Die theme nearly a full year before we’re set to see James Bond’s latest outing.
The 2021 awards season, in full swing
It’s been quite the awards season up to this point, as the entire music industry came to grips with a lengthened season and a compressed sample size of films to winnow and grant statues, medals, and plaques to. But the work was there. A series of films, either backed by initial critical buzz, studio confidence, or sheer luck of being attached to the best equipped distribution model (you may have heard that streaming services had a pretty solid 2020), still came out and caught our attention, with some warranting awards for their effort and mastery.
We often discuss the power filmmakers wield by triggering moods and feelings with their creations, more often than not underpinned by a great musical drop or accent. But it’s fun to think that one of the most powerful compositions out there is the dreaded “wrap it up” music that awards shows play when an acceptance speech goes on for too long. As a result, we’re focusing on the ongoing postponed awards season for a quick round-up of who’s winning big, who’s expected to win, and who else contended.
Long story short: Soul is winning everything
Soul has won 26 different awards so far, ranging from the Golden Globes to the Greater Western New York Film Critics Association Awards, and is the top contender for the Academy Awards, set to air on April 25. With music composed by Jon Batiste, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, the film is an awards powerhouse, banking on the appeal of animation in general, and the Pixar Studios model, as well. With another powerful message in the vein of Inside Out and Coco, Soul has been a magnet for accolades during the ongoing season. It’s likely to continue to win big through the end of its awards season run, as it has scored three nominations at the Academy Awards─Best Achievement in Sound, Best Original Score, and Best Animated Feature.
With the Oscars looming, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross enter a prestigious group of those nominated twice in the same category, as they’ve received an Academy Award nomination for another awards season favorite this year. Mank has been nominated across major awards as well, and has been a critical darling throughout. Fincher’s long-awaited return to feature filmmaking asked how interested we really are in Hollywood mythmaking, and the call was answered with nominations across the board. The black-and-white picture leads all films this year, with 10 nominations.
Too bad the duo is cleaning up the best score categories with the other film they scored this year; maybe then Mank would have a shot at an award or two of its own.
James Newton Howard, Terence Blanchard, and Will Ferrell’s Eurovision song make the list
The Best Original Score category also features the work of veteran James Newton Howard─who has 8 prior nominations─for Netflix’s pensive Western, News of the World. Terence Blanchard has also scored (get it) his second ever Academy Award nod for his work on another Spike Lee joint. He was nominated for the Vietnam veteran story, Da 5 Bloods. The list of five is rounded out by first-time nominee Emile Mosseri for his work on Lee Isaac Chung’s surprising take on Americana in Minari.
In the Best Song category at this year’s Oscars, we run through an eclectic mix of picks, mostly made eclectic by the presence of last summer’s “Husavik” song, courtesy of Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga. The other entries come from a few of the other critically acclaimed movies of this year’s season, with songs from One Night in Miami…, Judas and the Black Messiah, The Trial of the Chicago 7 and The Life Ahead (La Vita Davanti a Se) scoring nods for this year’s awards.
Given the Academy Awards’ typically elaborate selection process, it’s a big kudos to all the composers, songwriters and engineers that booked their virtual tickets for this year’s ceremony. We’ll be watching as this awards season culminates and wait with baited breath to see who gets the ultimate bragging rights, but one thing’s for sure: a nomination works just fine if you’re going to brag.