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Awards Season / Oscar Predictions Update: Will the Academy Set Up Shop at ‘The Tender Bar’ or Will They Make a ‘House of Gucci’ Appointment?

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About a month ago, I made the whole focus of an Oscar predictions update the musings about unseen contenders. That Academy Award-centric article is here, but it’s funny how quick things change. As you’ll see below, almost all of those Oscar hopefuls have now screened, with those that haven’t set up with dates to unveil themselves. To that end, we now can more concretely consider some of the films the Academy will in turn consider. Could voters enjoy the high camp of House of Gucci enough to bestow nominations upon it? Will the small scale tenderness of The Tender Bar (not to mention Ben Affleck) be enough to sway folks for citations? Maybe it’s just going to be the charm of Licorice Pizza? We’re getting closer to knowing these answers…

This is some of what I said in that article:

The deeper you get into an awards season, the less we have of the unseen Academy Award contender. I’ve long called those titles X factors (trust me, I know I didn’t coin the phrase), and they shake up the race just as often as they land with a thud. For every late breaking player like Clint Eastwood‘s Million Dollar Baby, there are plenty of examples of would be Oscar juggernauts that just never make a dent in the season. Such is the ballad of the unseen contender. Today, as I update my predictions in the midst of the tail end of festival season, my mind drifts to films of that ilk. This year, we still have a handful, including at least one or two with some major potential. Plus, who knows…maybe another movie is looming out there, waiting to surprise us all? I’ve long wondered if A24 would sneak in Darren Arofonsky‘s The Whale before the end of the year? It’s unlikely, but who’s to say?

What falls into this particular category here in 2021, you might ask? Well, one film that is no an exception is George Clooney‘s The Tender Bar, which just screened a few days ago, to largely positive notice. Aside from that movie, there’s still a host of interesting unseen players. At the top of the list are Don’t Look Up from Adam McKayHouse of Gucci from Ridley ScottLicorice Pizza from Paul Thomas AndersonNightmare Alley from Guillermo del Toro, and West Side Story from Steven Spielberg. Besides those, there’s also Lin Manuel Miranda‘s Tick…Tick…BOOM!Aaron Sorkin‘s Being the Ricardos (which I’m starting to think might be held until 2022, but that’s purely a hunch), and Denzel Washington‘s A Journal for Jordan. That doesn’t even include hypothetical plays for blockbuster-themed fare like Lana Wachowski‘s The Matrix Resurrection and Chloé Zhao‘s Eternals.

Of that group, PTA’s Licorice Pizza seems like the one that could potentially go all the way. Now, Don’t Look UpHouse of GucciNightmare Alley, and West Side Story all contain major potential. Anderson just has the narrative building that could score him an Academy Award and the film itself Oscar glory. At the same time, the works from McKay, Scott, and Spielberg have the potential to underwhelm. Then, there’s Washington’s directorial outing, which seems poised to get the opposite type of reception to prime Oscar fare. Such is life int the awards season…

So, how did all of that turn out? Well, an update to some of those, at least where we can report right now, is next…


At this moment, we (as in prognosticators) only don’t know about Being the Ricardos (for a few more days), Don’t Look Up (for about a week still), Nightmare Alley (we see it at the beginning of December), and West Side Story (the end of November for us). The rest all have screened, with most of the contenders living up to the hype…

In terms of the players, House of Gucci and The Tender Bar have had mixed to decent receptions, but have massively Oscar friendly elements (my predictions reflect this). My initial thoughts on the former and latter are here and here, with reviews coming soon. At least in one category, it seems like Tick…Tick…BOOM! is a player. Then, there’s Licorice Pizza, which has seemingly delighted all who have seen it. If there happens to be one title with the power to still shape the race, aside from the unseen ones above, it’s that one.

With every remaining contender now in my calendar, screening-wise, we’re about to enter a point in the season where the race changes. In a very real way, you can consider this to be one of the final updates of this section of the year. Exciting? Sure. At the same time, though, it marks a moment where everyone needs to get even more serious about this (relatively so, considering it’s still just movies).


Prior updates hereherehereherehereherehere, and here have set the stage for the season. As mentioned above, with not a lot left to see, the first part of the equation is soon to be complete. Then, it’ll be time to fully figure this thing out. So, get set folks, and sit tight!

You can once again see my Oscar predictions (remember when they were still Year in Advance ones?) here at Awards Radar. Take a gander and be sure to watch out for the next update, which is coming soon. They’re going to continue coming in hot and heavy these days, especially now that festival season is now essentially done with. Enjoy!

Let us know what you think of my predictions and stay tuned for another update very soon!


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[…] week, I checked back in on the status of some of the remaining unseen (or now, formerly unseen) Academy Award hopefuls. […]



Written by Joey Magidson

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