Oscar Spotlight: Who will be on ‘Trial’ this Awards Season?


Aaron Sorkin’s newest outing takes us to court in the late 1960s. Sorkin, who excels at dialogue-driven films, is at his absolute best as he gets a plethora of witty and eccentric characters he was able to play with. The large group of veteran actors has a strong grasp on their characters and all hit every mark they set out for with this film.

And with this being a pure ensemble film, it is only right that Netflix would pursue them all to be supporting. I think you could make a case for Sacha Baron Cohen’s, Abbie Hoffman, and Eddie Redmayne’s, Tom Hayden, to be the leads of this film. They appear, to me at least, to be the driving forces of the “7”, and they are the ones who appear most throughout the movie. Cohen even narrates parts of the film through stand-up routines, beautifully edited in, throughout the movie. However, with Netflix already deciding everyone would be Supporting, this isn’t a conversation or argument, that needs to be made.

Now, the question leans more on WHO will get nominated, and WILL anyone win. Of course, I am not a member of the Academy, so my thoughts could be completely wrong. However, I will be going through the actors, based on their CURRENT GoldDerby odds, and giving my thoughts on who will/won’t be in, and why.

TOP PLAYERS

  • Mark Rylance – GD Odds: 13/2
    • Mark Rylance is currently second on the entire list, behind Leslie Odom Jr. in One Night in Miami, and for good reason. Playing lawyer William Kunstler, Rylance managed to express a strong range of emotions in a short amount of time. Seen as an outsider to the cause, and even seen as someone who didn’t care about the cause, you could feel Rylance’s want and need for the 7 to get their fair process. From an Oscars standpoint, Rylance is a former winner and a pretty controversial one as well when he beat Sylvester Stallone in 2016. Here, I think he is a shoo-in to get his second nomination.
  • Oscars Prediction: In
  • Yahya Abdul-Mateen II – GD Odds: 8/1
    • Yahya has been a rising star over the past few years, mainly starting with his appearance as the villain Black Manta in Aquaman. Since then he has starred in Jordan Peele’s Us, and will be starring as the lead in Peele’s Candyman sequel whenever that is able to release, he won an Emmy for playing Dr. Manhattan in HBO’s Watchmen series, and he also has been cast in Matrix 4 and George Miller’s Furiosa spin-off. Here he plays former Black Panther Party leader and co-founder Bobby Seale, someone who wasn’t involved with the protests or the riots but was put on trial anyway because of who he was. Yahya plays this wonderfully and is a ticking time bomb waiting to explode, and when he does it is a spectacle to watch. He gave one of my favorite performances of the film, but I am hesitant because of the small amount of screen time he has (15:14). A small amount of screen time can be a good and a bad thing when it comes to the Oscars. If an actor really showcases their talents in their small amount of time it can stand above the rest of the performance (ex. Lupita Nyong’o in 12 Years a Slave). But, for a film like this one where the entire cast is being put into one category, it could be a detriment to the actor because of the chance to be overshadowed by their fellow cast. I am hesitant, but still, believe he is in.
  • Oscars Prediction: Cautiously In
  • Sacha Baron Cohen – GD Odds: 19/2
    • Sacha Baron Cohen has quietly become one of the best actors working with his ability to use comedy in a dramatic way. Abbie Hoffman was a role that was built for Cohen and only Cohen to play. Hoffman is an eccentric political activist and Cohen has become one of the best politically driven artists working. Not only with what he brings here, but with his surprisingly great Borat sequel as well. I don’t think SBC is just going after the nomination, but I think he is playing the game well enough to get the win. In Chicago 7, SBC plays a sort of narrator role for the viewers with his impressively given “stand-up” routines that are meticulously edited in throughout the film. Cohen is able to draw the best of everyone around him, including a scene where he leans against a wall and tears Eddie Redmayne’s Tom Hayden apart. He truly is great in this film, but I think it is Borat that will ultimately get him in the race, and maybe on stage. Because of Borat and his political activism he is putting himself in front of everyone imaginable. That is one of the biggest things that a film or actor needs to get a nomination or win, and SBC is everywhere. He also will be everywhere throughout the entire process, as he is likely to be a double nominee at the Golden Globes, and could take home both wins as well. With the recent news of Chadwick Boseman being pushed in Lead for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, this opens up a spot for a new winner, and I believe Cohen is setting himself up nicely to earn his first win.
  • Oscars Prediction: Close to a Lock

IN THE RUNNING

  • Jeremy Strong – GD Odds: 37/1
    • Surprisingly, Strong is still in 10th place according to GoldDerby, which puts him in the running, but I just don’t believe he has a chance. After my third watch, I had more respect for how he played this character, and before the film, I thought he would be a huge player, but he just isn’t given much in the film aside from comical relief in some aspects of the movie. I loved what Strong brought in his portrayal of Jerry Reubin, but when it comes to awards season, there are just bigger players overall.
  • Oscars Prediction: Out
  • Frank Langella – GD Odds: 54/1
    • Langella was a force in this film, and almost everything he did, he did sitting down behind in a Judge’s chair. He was incredible in this movie and played the villain role perfectly. The deciding factor really in what happened to the 7, Langella brought a fierce nature to every line he said. When it comes to Langella, I believe his role was just too limited to land the nomination, and I also think if he does happen to receive the nomination it will give off the wrong impression of the film. I know we have seen villains get nominated, and win, in the past, but with how timely this film’s message is, nominating the performance that was trying to deny free speech and protests won’t sit well with many. I know it is shitty to think that way because the best performances should be in, but it is realistic, and I believe a big reason he won’t be in.
  • Oscars Prediction: Out
  • Eddie Redmayne – GD Odds: 100/1
    • I don’t think these odds will stay, as I believe they will rise over the next coming months. Redmayne has been thought of as the lead of this film (I think him and SBC are), so with the news of everyone going supporting, I believe Redmayne is the one who got the shortest stick of the ensemble of actors. He has some ground to make up, but I believe he can do it, and at least make it interesting coming down to the wire. He delivers some of the best scenes with Rylance and Cohen, my biggest issue with those few moments is he seems to be reacting more than acting. This isn’t a bad thing, but in the argument with SBC and the back and forth with Rylance, he isn’t the one driving these moments, which makes me hesitant with his potential nomination.
  • Oscar Prediction: Out, but close
  • Joseph Gordon Levitt – GD Odds: 100/1
    • Joseph Gordon Levitt is fine, but I don’t think there is even a shot for him to get in. I was surprised to see him on the list, but I truly don’t think he has a shot to get in.
  • Oscar Prediction: No shot
  • Michael Keaton – GD Odds: Unranked
    • I add Michael Keaton for one reason, he is Michael Keaton. However, he truthfully gives a great performance in his extremely short amount of time. I have seen people who have put him towards the top of their personal lists with the best of the film. I don’t think he gets in, or even close, but I could see him getting critics love somewhere.
  • Oscar Prediction: Out

VERDICT

For me, taking in everything surrounding the politics of the country and the politics of the Oscars race, I believe Sacha Baron Cohen has the best chance of receiving a nomination, and potentially the win come Oscars 2021. I believe he is positioning himself perfectly by being in the faces and on the minds of everyone who will be voting. If he does receive double nominations at the Golden Globes, I think he would practically be a lock for a nomination, if he gets double wins at the Globes, I think he is the frontrunner for Oscar gold. Behind him, I think Mark Rylance is almost a lock for a nomination as he gave, arguably, the best performance of the entire film. Behind those two I think Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is extremely close to a nomination, but if he fell out of the race I wouldn’t be surprised.

Of course, I could be completely wrong in my prediction and in my guess. This is just what I believe, as of now, is the best chance come Oscars show in 2021. Do you agree? Who do you think will get the nomination from the film? Let me know on Twitter @Tberry57 or in the comment section below.

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