Oscar Underdogs

Every award season, there are movies, performances, directors, and writers that we all feel go unnoticed. Whether they beloved by critics or shut out of the conversation too early, each year we feel the pain of a bad campaign (cough A24 cough) or too small of a budget, or too early of a release date. These are the films, performances, and more I feel we need to give a special last-minute shout-out to. (I HAVEN’T SEEN MINARI, PLEASE DON’T YELL AT ME!)

Mads Mikkelsen in Another Round

While the film song of the year (WHAT A LIFE!) may not be eligible for Original Song, Mads Mikkelsen IS eligible for Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role. A beautiful performance mixed with internal and physical acting that deserves to be recognized.

Nicole Beharie in Miss Juneteenth

Miss Juneteenth deserves more praise overall, but especially Nicole Beharie. Beharie delivers such a delicate, yet powerful performance in the film. Beharie beautifully captures the toll of daily grind and refusing to surrender your desire for a different life.

Julia Garner in The Assistant

The Assistant may have been a movie most of us saw a full year ago, it is still eligible this season! Julia Garner delivers a powerful, muted performance in the film that I’m sad to not see in the conversation. While Garner is a two time Emmy winner, I’d love to see her in the Oscar conversation.

Shaka King dir. Judas and the Black Messiah

A stunning feature film from Shaka King, his second feature, that could have been a much different film in the hands of another director. King exercises the perfect amount of control and emotion in Judas and the Black Messiah. The film deserves to be the front runner for best picture (more on that later) and the Best Director Oscar should go hand in hand with that.

Sidney Flanigan in Never Rarely Sometimes Always

If you didn’t already know, this is somehow Sidney Flanigan’s acting debut and I’ll never understand it. Such a beautiful, emotional, consuming performance could not be someone’s debut. Flanigan delivers a powerhouse performance that truly took my breath away.

Dominique Fishback in Judas and the Black Messiah

Yes, this is turning into a love letter for Judas and the Black Messiah. Dominique Fishback plays the wife of Fred Hampton, played by Daniel Kaluuya, in the film. While this could have easily been a typical wife role, Fishback (and the writers) do so much more. Fishback delivers a powerful, emotional performance that deserves just as much praise as anyone else in the cast.

Carrie Coon in The Nest

If you know me, you know I love Carrie Coon! I read a review that said Coon has the habit “of making the impossible look routine” and I couldn’t agree more. In The Nest, Coon is allowed to command every room she walks into. While I know this is a small movie and a crowded year for best actress, we still need to campaign for one of the best working actresses today.


Emma. (2020) was one of my favorite films of the year. We all know the story, but the directing, production design, performances and score truly elevated this film to be so much more. While I know this may not be worthy of Best Picture, it certainly is worthy in all craft categories.

Haley Bennet in Swallow

Swallow was the first movie I watched in quarantine and has truly stayed with me. While the film deserves much more love in general, I understand it’s not an Academy friendly film. Haley Bennet delivers an all-consuming performance that I have not gotten out of my mind since viewing.

Ensemble in Promising Young Woman

While Promising Young Woman is Carey Mulligan’s film, the full ensemble truly brings it home. I discussed the women in the film on the site already, but the actors cast as nice guys are something that truly brings the film and its message to another level. Every role on this film is perfectly cast.

Costume Design – Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)

Birds of Prey deserves much more love in general, but the costumes cannot go unnoticed. We’ve seen some of these characters from a male gaze in previous DC films, but this film has such a unique look and you can tell WOMEN were involved! The costumes are so fun, unique and integrated into the story.

Judas and the Black Messiah

This is not a massive underdog, but this movie DESERVES to be the front runner in the Best Picture conversation. A film has not knocked me out in such a way for years. Not only is it a timely, urgent film, but the film is loaded with powerful performances, impeccable craftsmanship and an insane amount of control. This film is a perfect culmination of the right crew, director, writers, actors and more.

One thought on “Oscar Underdogs

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  1. Nicole Beharie is underrated. I hope the praise she received from this film leads to more opportunities. Honestly, her breakout roles should’ve been Shame or Sleepy Hollow years ago… I wrote about oscar snubs, too, past and present, in two posts. I’ll link one of them and would love to year your thoughts on it if you swing by to read it: https://prettyandwittyandbright.wordpress.com/2021/03/16/oscars-snubs-of-the-past-part-deux/

    Have a good Monday!


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