Oscars 2021 predictions: The best films coming out this year

Naomi Gordon
Photo credit: Minari

From Good Housekeeping

The dust may not have yet settled on all of the freshly engraved Oscar statues handed out to Bong Joon-ho and co at the Academy Awards, but we're not going to let that stop us speculating over all the award-worthy movies coming in 2020.

We're looking ahead to the films that we're expecting big things from and that have already generated awards chatter post-Sundance Film Festival.

We also enlisted the help of Telegraph movie critic Robbie Collin, who's shared some of the films that he's excited about and which could be possible Best Pictures contenders.

Best Picture

West Side Story

Photo credit: Fox Pictures

The screenplay for Steven Spielberg's adaptation of the world famous Broadway musical is being written by Pulitzer Prize-winner Tony Kushner. The film follows two teenagers from different ethnic backgrounds who fall in love in 1950s New York. The cast includes Ansel Elgort, Maddie Ziegler and Rita Moreno, who returns to the movie after winning an Oscar for her role in the 1961 version.

Dune

Photo credit: Brendon Thorne - Getty Images

Denis Villeneuve adapts Frank Herbert's iconic science-fiction novel about the son of a noble family entrusted with the protection of the most vital element in the galaxy. The impressive ensemble cast includes Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya, Jason Mamoa, Charlotte Rampling, Oscar Isaac, Stellen Skarsgard, Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem.

Mank

Photo credit: Jeff Kravitz - Getty Images

David Fincher's latest film is a biopic based on film critic and lauded screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz and his battles with director Orson Welles over screenplay credit for his masterpiece Citizen Kane. Gary Oldman and Tom Burke lead the drama as Herman and Orson respectively. The cast also features Lily Collins, Downton's Tuppence Middleton, Amanda Seyfried and Charles Dance.

The French Dispatch


Photo credit: The French Dispatch/Searchlight

Wes Anderson's The French Dispatch, inspired by The New Yorker, follows editors and journalists of a fictional magazine set in a made-up French metropolis. The cast is a typical jumble of Wes favourites including Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Adrian Brody, Owen Wilson and Benicio Del Toro. Timothée Chalamet and Elizabeth Moss also feature.

Tenet


Photo credit: Warner Brothers/Tenet

Christoper Nolan's mind-bending action thriller revolves around international espionage, time travel and evolution. Typically ambitious Nolan fodder. John David Washington stars alongside The Night Manager's Elizabeth Debicki, Kenneth Branagh, and Michael Caine.

Annette

Photo credit: Rich Fury - Getty Images



Adam Driver will be treating us to his singing voice again in musical drama Annette, from Holy Motors director Leos Carax. The film follows a stand-up comedian and his opera singer wife whose 2-year-old daughter has a surprising gift. Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard also stars.

Blonde

Photo credit: Baron - Getty Images

Andrew Domink's adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates' acclaimed historical novel Blonde chronicles the inner life of Norma Jean before she exploded onto the silver screen as Marilyn Monroe. Knives Out star Ana de Armas takes the lead as the iconic actress.

Soul


Photo credit: PIXAR/Disney

Pete Docter's animated family adventure follows a passionate musician who loses his love for music and is transported out of his body. He must find his way back with the help of an infant soul learning about herself. Jamie Foxx, Tiny Fey and Questlove provide the voices in Disney and PIXAR's production.

On the Rocks


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Sofia Coppola returns with original comedy drama which follows a young woman who reconnects with her omnipotent playboy father in an adventure around New York. Coppola's favourite offbeat leading man Bill Murray stars with Rashida Jones and Jenny Slate.

Benedetta

Photo credit: Andreas Rentz - Getty Images

Charlotte Rampling stars in Paul Verhoeven's historic drama based on a 17th-century nun in Italy who is suffering from disturbing religious and erotic visions. She is assisted by a companion, and the relationship between the two women develops into a romantic love affair.

A few Sundance favourites and the films we're looking forward to

Minari


Photo credit: Minari

Lee Isaac Chung writes and directs coming-of-age tale Minari, inspired by his Korean American childhood. It follows an immigrant family as they adjust to life in small-town Arkansas in the 1980s.

Following its debut at Sundance last month, Minari has received glowing reviews, with The Guardian revealing it's been "unofficially crowned the year's first truly great movie, one we'll be talking about for quite some time".

Red, White and Water

Photo credit: Christopher Polk - Getty Images

Jennifer Lawrence makes her return to the big screen alongside If Beale Street Could Talk's Brian Tyree Henry in emotional drama Red White and Water. Acclaimed theatre director Lila Neugebauer helms the film while Elizabeth Sanders makes her debut as screenwriter.

Jennifer plays a US solider who suffers a traumatic brain injury in Afghanistan and struggles to recover upon returning home.

Hillbilly Elegy


Photo credit: Getty Images

The Shape of Water's Vanessa Taylor has adapted the screenplay based on J.D Vance's best-selling memoir of the same title, starring Amy Adams and Glenn Close.

Vance's moving account is described as a modern exploration of the American dream and three generations of an Appalachian family as told by its youngest member, a Yale Law student forced to return to his hometown. Ron Howard is directing the Netflix film, which he says will also get a theatrical release.

Never Rarely Sometimes Always


Photo credit: Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Eliza Hittman's teenage abortion drama has been described as a "quietly devastating gem" following its debut at Sundance (via Variety). It follows 17-year-old Autumn (Sidney Flanigan) who gets pregnant but can't have an abortion in her small Pennsylvania town due to parental consent laws. She embarks on a trip to New York with her cousin Skylar (Talia Ryder) but the procedure becomes more complicated then they had assumed.

Journalist and BAFTA member Simon Thompson has given his insight into the movies that he predicts will have a strong presence at next year's Oscars.

In The Heights

Photo credit: In the Heights

"Lin-Manuel Miranda's musical In the Heights gets the big screen treatment with the filmmaker who made Crazy Rich Asians, Jon M. Chu. Lin-Manuel Miranda will appear in a small role in the movie but it is really a showcase for talent such as Anthony Ramos, who'll fans will recognise from his performance in A Star Is Born opposite Lady Gaga, Corey Hawkins, Leslie Grace and Melissa Barrera. Expect this to have a strong presence at next years Oscars."

Promising Young Woman

Photo credit: Focus Features

"After going down a storm at this year's Sundance Film Festival, Promising Young Woman is one to watch. It stars Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Alison Brie, Clancy Brown, Jennifer Coolidge, Connie Britton and Laverne Cox. It's about a woman, Cassie (played by Carey) whose future is derailed when a chance encounter brings her secret life and her real life together along with the opportunity to right a wrong."

Best Actor

The Telegraph's Robbie Collin says we'll have a better of an idea about best male and female actors when the Cannes programme is announced in late April or early May, but here are some stars that have been singled out for stand-out performances (or because our intuition is telling us that they're going to excel).

Brian Tyree Henry - Red White and Water


Photo credit: Frazer Harrison - Getty Images

The actor missed out on Oscar nomination for his stunning performance in If Beale Street Could Talk. He's previously been nominated for an Emmy for his role in Donald Glover's Atlanta, and a Tony for the 2018 Broadway revival of Lobby Hero.

Ansel Elgort - West Side Story


Photo credit: Dia Dipasupil - Getty Images

Ansel received critical acclaim for his role in 2017's Baby Driver, and he's set to be a triple threat in musical West Side Story. The 25-year-old actor has also played the lead in The Fault in Our Stars and The Goldfinch.

Timothee Chalamet - Dune


Photo credit: Frazer Harrison - Getty Images

The 24-year-old French-American actor became the third-youngest Best Actor nominee at the Oscars for 2017's for Call Me by Your Name, and received critical acclaim for his performance in Beautiful Boy a year later. Along with Dune, the Little Women star will also feature in Wes Anderson's The French Dispatch.

Will Smith - King Richard


Photo credit: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin - Getty Images

The Hollywood superstar plays Serena and Venus Williams' father and coach Richard in Reinaldo Marcus Green's upcoming biopic. There's already been lots of excitement and awards buzz around the project.

Steven Yeun - Minari

Photo credit: Frazer Harrison - Getty Images

The 35-year-old South Korean-American actor is known for his role in AMC's cult series The Walking Dead, South Korean mystery Burning, and Bong Joon-Ho's Okja. Minari picked up the US Grand Jury Prize and US Audience Prize at Sundance.

Anthony Hopkins - The Father

The legendary actor is an early front-runner "with a turn so crushingly effective that I can’t see how any other actor could beat him", says The Guardian's review of The Father. Hopkins was Oscar-nominated this year for The Two Popes.

Best actress

Kate Winslet - Ammonite


Photo credit: GC Images - Getty Images

The Oscar-winning actress stars as famous fossil hunter Mary Anning, who is sent to convalesce by the sea in 1840s England. There she meets a young woman - played by Saoirse Ronan - and the pair develop an intense relationship, altering both of their lives forever.

Amy Adams - Hillbilly Elegy


Photo credit: Emma McIntyre - Getty Images

The star has been Oscar-nominated six times and could be up for a seventh for her anticipated role in Ron Howard's upcoming Netflix adaptation. The actress was recently nominated for an Emmy and Golden Globe for her powerful performance in HBO limited-series Sharp Objects.

Glenn Close - Hillbilly Elegy


Photo credit: Getty Images

The legendary actress missed out on an Oscar for The Wife to Olivia Colman at last year's Academy Awards. The star's role in Hillbilly Elegy as writer JD Vance's grandmother Mamaw could see her being nominated for her eighth Oscar nomination.

Viola Davis - Ma Rainey's Black Bottom


Photo credit: Mondadori Portfolio - Getty Images

Viola won Best Supporting Actress for Denzel Washington's adaptation of August Wilson's play Fences - and a Tony for her stage performance - and now she's starring as Ma Rainey in Netflix's adaptation of August's award-winning play Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. The actress stars with Chadwick Boseman.

Ana de Armas - Blonde


Photo credit: Frazer Harrison - Getty Images

Ana was Golden Globe-nominated for her breakthrough role in Knives Out this year, and the 31-year-old Cuban-Spanish actress is generating excitement over her role as Norma Jean in Blonde.

Director

Francis Lee - Ammonite

Photo credit: See-Saw films

British director Francis received critical acclaim for his 2017 debut God's Own Country and won prizes at Sundance, the London Film Critics' Circle, and a screenwriter Bafta.

Lila Neugebauer - Red, White and Water

Theatre director and writer Lila garnered acclaim for her direction of the Broadway revival of Kenneth Lonergan's The Waverly Gallery in 2018.

Guillermo del Toro - Nightmare Alley

Photo credit: Frazer Harrison - Getty Images

The beloved fantasy director and writer won an Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Director fo The Shape of Water in 2018. He's remaking the 1947 film about a corrupt con-man who teams up with a female psychiatrist to trick people into giving them money. Richard Jenkins, Rooney Mara, Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, Bradley Cooper and Willen Defoe make up the stellar cast.

Aaron Sorkin - The Trial of the Chicago 7

The Oscar-winning screenwriter is directing and writing the story of seven people on trial stemming from various charges surrounding the uprising at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois.

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