Expect good news for The Trial of the Chicago 7, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, and Globes queen Meryl Streep.

By David Canfield and Joey Nolfi
February 02, 2021 at 05:07 AM EST
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The precursors set the pieces in motion, but Wednesday morning's 2021 Golden Globe nominations will finally get the awards season machine in motion amid the longest run-up to the Oscars in history. Ahead of the Amy Poehler- and Tina Fey-hosted Golden Globes ceremony (airing Sunday, Feb. 28 on NBC), EW's awards aces have analyzed the state of the race to present expert nomination predictions, including major heat for Chloé Zhao's frontrunning contender Nomadland to potential surprises from major Hollywood stars.

Read our predictions on who will be nominated in the film categories at this year's Golden Globes below, and be sure to check back on EW.com tomorrow at 8 a.m. ET for the live nominations announcement.

BEST PICTURE: DRAMA

It's always tough to whittle these lists down to five, especially in a season as unusual as this; we've got a dozen-plus movies still in the running for the Academy Awards' Best Picture race, after all. So what this comes down to is taste and precedent. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association takes their role as Oscar prognosticators seriously, so we expect Oscar frontrunners Nomadland, The Trial of the Chicago 7, and Da 5 Bloods to factor in here, even if the latter feels a little outside the group's taste range. News of the World is the kind of studio-friendly, male-driven, accessible effort these voters often gravitate towards (remember Rush?), and strong audience response since its VOD launch can't hurt. And finally, it's easier to picture both figuring into the Oscars' lineup, but will the stage-originating, talk-heavy duo of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom and One Night in Miami... both be able to figure into this final five? We're not convinced, and lean toward Regina King's acclaimed directorial debut. —David Canfield

  • Da 5 Bloods
  • News of the World
  • Nomadland
  • One Night in Miami...
  • The Trial of the Chicago 7

(Alternates: Judas and the Black Messiah; Ma Rainey's Black Bottom; Mank; Promising Young Woman)

BEST PICTURE: MUSICAL/COMEDY

On the other hand, not a ton of major Oscar players in play here. The HFPA loves Sacha Baron Cohen and loved the original Borat, so hard to see the well-received (and newsy) sequel missing out here. Same goes for The Prom, which despite mixed reviews (has that ever stopped the Globes before?) is the kind of big, over-the-top musical this category was all but made for. On the more refined side of the HFPA's taste level, the New York love letter On the Rocks and the quarantine-adjacent Palm Springs should both be up their alley, especially since they're boosted by wide critical acclaim. The real wild card here is Hamilton, eligible for Globe film awards even as it is not an Oscar contender. A proven awards juggernaut, can voters resist this filmed adaptation of the Broadway masterpiece? Wait for it. —DC

  • Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
  • Hamilton
  • Palm Springs
  • The Prom
  • On the Rocks

(Alternates: Emma., French Exit, The King of Staten Island, Let Them All Talk)

Credit: Amazon Studios; DOMINIC MILLER/NETFLIX; Focus Features

BEST DIRECTOR

Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as "groupthink" in the Oscar race — except when it comes to the HFPA. And its dozens-strong membership paid attention last year, after the collective was publicly slammed or failing to nominate any female directors among its annual lineup. This year, with perhaps more high profile films directed by women entering the race than ever before, the HFPA has its sights trained on two such titles: Nomadland and One Night in Miami..., both of which have ridden buzzy trails straight to the Golden Globes' door. Nomadland has risen on critical and industry support alone, with Zhao's impeccable direction carrying the film to frontrunner status in the contest at large. King's profile, on the other hand, was inevitably boosted by both the quality of her film and her standing as a star herself. The Globes love stars,

Da 5 Bloods helmer Spike Lee also seems destined to show up (the HFPA named his children as the 2021 Golden Globe ambassadors and his 2018 film BlacKkKlansman earned four Globe nods), as does Aaron Sorkin, but the fifth slot remains a question mark. While Mank might be tanking on the precursor circuit (the lack of in-person screenings and events pushing the industry-focused tale have significantly hurt the prestige profile of a film that's not the most accessible watch of the year), the HFPA respects David Fincher (he has three nods since 2008), and it's likely they'll recognize the individual star director over his (less stimulating) product. —Joey Nolfi

  • David Fincher, Mank
  • Regina King, One Night in Miami...
  • Spike Lee, Da 5 Bloods
  • Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7
  • Chloé Zhao, Nomadland

(Alternates: Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman; Paul Greengrass, News of the World; Shaka King, Judas and the Black Messiah; Florian Zeller, The Father; Lee Isaac Chung, Minari)

BEST ACTRESS: DRAMA

With Viola Davis committing category fraud the wrong way around (she's borderline supporting in Ma Rainey) and the industry seemingly taking note (she hasn't performed as well as we anticipated on the precursor circuit), Carey Mulligan has taken a path straight to the top in her absence, earning a knockout round of notices in recent weeks. She'll sustain that buzz here, as will perennial contender Frances McDormand for her critically lauded turn in Nomadland. If there's going to be a Globes-style wrench thrown into the machine, here's where to watch out for it. Though Malcolm & Marie received a chilly response from critics, the Globes are Zendaya's best chance at reigniting a closing window of opportunity, and lucky for her, the HFPA loves to anoint rising superstars with on-the-way-up accolades — especially when the work is as sublime as hers is in the black-and-white Netflix drama.

Having built significant good will since Venice, where she won the Volpi Cup for Best Actress, Pieces of a Woman star Vanessa Kirby should finally bag her first mainstream nomination after traveling through the peripheral critics circles racking up regional prizes. Unfortunately, in this category, as one star ascends, a legend must fall, and it's looking more and more like Sophia Loren could sit this round out. The Life Ahead — her "comeback" vehicle — simply isn't strong enough to boost her profile. Also: Don't be surprised in the slightest if Andra Day finally roars into the race here, either. —JN

  • Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
  • Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman
  • Frances McDormand, Nomadland
  • Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman
  • Zendaya, Malcolm & Marie

(Alternates: Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday; Sophia Loren, The Life Ahead)

BEST ACTRESS: MUSICAL/COMEDY

A wise move Amazon made in pushing Maria Bakalova as a lead at the Globes, as her star-making performance will get its much-needed boost of visibility from the HFPA when it lands as the likeliest nominee and, if things go as we expect them to, a victory for her brilliant performance in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm. The other likely nominees in the category appear in films with too little profile (a dull reception at NYFF ensured French Exit has all but fizzled out of the conversation before it could even begin its own) or too few positive critical reviews (we stan Meryl Streep for life, but her inevitable nomination for The Prom will absolutely feel obligatory). Recognition here gives Bakalova the real prize: A spot on every Academy members' radar, if she wasn't already there for the most widely seen title in contention here.

Be on the lookout for surprise comedy contenders as well, such as Rachel McAdams (for the super popular EuroVision) and Rashida Jones in On the Rocks, a prestige comedy that seems square in the HFPA's wheelhouse. We're also hoping to see Rosamund Pike claim a nod for her bonkers, career-best joyride through the upcoming I Care a Lot because, yes, she's even better there than she was in Gone Girl (believe it). —JN

  • Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
  • Michelle Pfeiffer, French Exit
  • Meryl Streep, Let Them All Talk
  • Meryl Streep, The Prom
  • Anya Taylor-Joy, Emma.

(Alternates: Rashida Jones, On the Rocks; Cristin Milioti, Palm Springs; Rachel McAdams, EuroVision Song Contest; Rosamund Pike, I Care a Lot; Emily Blunt, Wild Mountain Thyme)

BEST ACTOR: DRAMA

A read of the Oscar race would tell you this should be a pretty settled category: Chadwick Boseman, the late great was never better than in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom; Riz Ahmed of Sound of Metal, the critics' circuit choice; Anthony Hopkins, a legend at the top of his game in The Father; Delroy Lindo, a legend seeking his first-ever noms for Da 5 Bloods; and Gary Oldman, transformed once again in Mank. But the Mank-mentum train appears to have stalled, and that's a lot of Netflix for one category. The HFPA loves to lift late-breaking contenders, and one under-the-radar that's looking for a big first nom is LaKeith Stanfield, the anchor of Judas and the Black Messiah. Veteran Globe faves like Tom Hanks and George Clooney could play spoiler too, or even Cherry's Tom Holland, a rising star who perfectly fits the HFPA mold. —DC

  • Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal
  • Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
  • Anthony Hopkins, The Father
  • Delroy Lindo, Da 5 Bloods
  • LaKeith Stanfield, Judas and the Black Messiah

(Alternates: George Clooney, The Midnight Sky; Tom Hanks, News of the World; Tom Holland, Cherry; Gary Oldman, Mank; Steven Yeun, Minari)

BEST ACTOR: MUSICAL/COMEDY

Just how well can Hamilton do here? Both of its male leads scored equivalent Tony nods, and while that may be a tougher call here, it helps that Lin-Manuel Miranda has the bigger name recognition, and Leslie Odom, Jr. a larger profile this awards season (more on that in a minute). Also that it's a fairly unformed category: Beyond lock Sacha Baron Cohen, voters could either turn toward broader fare, like James Corden in The Prom or Pete Davidson in The King of Staten Island, or indie candidates, such as Palm Springs' Andy Samberg and The Personal History of David Copperfield's Dev Patel. In this case, we'll bet on the latter. —DC

  • Sacha Baron Cohen, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
  • Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton
  • Leslie Odom, Jr., Hamilton
  • Dev Patel, The Personal History of David Copperfield
  • Andy Samberg, Palm Springs

(Alternates: James Corden, The Prom; Pete Davidson, The King of Staten Island; Will Ferrell, Eurovision Song Contest)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

They've been everywhere for months, from critics' awards to precursor events and press, so expect major players Sacha Baron Cohen and Leslie Odom, Jr. both, intriguingly, likely nominees to factor in here and threaten to go all the way. We expect more Globes-friendly picks like Bill Murray and Mark Rylance (both multi-nominees) to factor in here at the expense of fellow Oscar players like Sound of Metal's Paul Raci, who remains a bit lower profile for this starry-eyed group. And this is where Daniel Kaluuya's campaign really begins. Expect the Judas and the Black Messiah standout to pop up here and maybe even win the whole thing. —DC

  • Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7
  • Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah
  • Leslie Odom, Jr., One Night in Miami...
  • Bill Murray, On the Rocks
  • Mark Rylance, The Trial of the Chicago 7

(Alternates: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, The Trial of the Chicago 7; Chadwick Boseman, Da 5 Bloods; Paul Raci, Sound of Metal; Stanley Tucci, Supernova)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Perhaps the most wide-open race of the year, this year's Supporting Actress set stands to upend several trajectories long thought to be locks, but have since disintegrated in recent weeks. Once touted as the performance to beat, Glenn Close's work in Hillbilly Elegy fell victim to bandwagon bashing when critics ripped the melodrama apart, though the HFPA has long supported stars as the sole nominee of many an underwhelming project, and with little else to choose from, Close could regain her footing here.

With one of the most classic "nomination scenes" of the year, Ellen Burstyn seems to be in a better place for a nomination than her Pieces of a Woman costar Vanessa Kirby, while HFPA favorite Olivia Colman and her star wattage should also transcend The Father's downward trajectory with precursor groups. It's Amanda Seyfried, however, that most prognosticators have their eye on, as her turn as real-life star Marion Davies in Mank has quietly surged as the one to beat in this category, despite only racking up recognition from regional critics thus far. —JN

  • Ellen Burstyn, Pieces of a Woman
  • Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy
  • Olivia Colman, The Father
  • Amanda Seyfried, Mank
  • Yuh-Jung Youn, Minari

(Alternates: Candice Bergen, Let Them All Talk; Saoirse Ronan, Ammonite; Jodie Foster, The Mauritanian; Helena Zengel, News of the World)

BEST SCREENPLAY

Things could get interesting in the hunt for a screenplay nomination, as one of the few film categories that (oddly) condenses both drama and musical/comedy into one. With so many contenders vying for a spot, expect snubs abound (though we love things like Promising Young Woman and Soul, they seem destined to fall to more traditional players, here), with the heavy-hitting prospectives of the race so far (Nomadland, industry-favorite writer Aaron Sorkin's Trial of the Chicago 7, etc.) taking precedence when the category narrows. Still, this could be where Florian Zeller's The Father makes another showing after sitting the precursor round out, with the screenplay taking the heartbreaking story of mental decline seamlessly from stage to screen without feeling overly theatrical. —JN

  • The Father
  • Mank
  • Nomadland
  • One Night in Miami...
  • The Trial of the Chicago 7

(Alternates: Da 5 Bloods; Soul; Ma Rainey's Black Bottom; Promising Young Woman; News of the World; Judas and the Black Messiah)

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