How the 8 top nominated films could make their case for Oscar

Oscar campaigning has been quieter this year. But the studios still want to win. And now that nominations are out, awards consultants are busy fine-tuning their pitches for the final push to the Academy Awards.

How might they sell their movies to Oscar voters who haven’t made up their minds or, good Lord, haven’t even mustered the interest to watch their nominated films? Let’s take a look at the thinking behind the “campaigns” for the eight pictures left standing.

‘THE FATHER’

Just keep rolling with those ads and posters showing Olivia Colman gazing lovingly at a beaming Anthony Hopkins and lean into the movie’s touching story of a daughter trying to take care of her aging father. Everything’s going to be OK. Really! Look at that twinkle in Hopkins’ eyes. Repeat after me: He’s not losing his mind. He’s not losing his mind. He’s not losing his mind.

‘JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH’

Remind everyone that Oscar voters loved LaKeith Stanfield’s phenomenal turn in this movie so much that they nominated him for supporting actor, ignoring Warner Bros.’ recommendation to place him in the lead actor category.

If Stanfield and costar Daniel Kaluuya, the two actors playing the title characters, are supporting, who is the movie’s lead? Perhaps the question should be rephrased: What is the movie’s lead? Answer: Its timeliness. Though the events in the movie take place 50 years ago, its chilling look at systemic racism — the FBI-engineered police killing of Black Panther leader Fred Hampton — makes it profoundly relevant and, perhaps, the most important movie among the nominees. Consider that.

‘MANK’

We’d like to thank the academy for the 10 nominations. Have we mentioned that it’s the most-nominated movie of the year? We have? Well, that’s because just about every branch in the academy (except for the writers; we don’t know what they were thinking) recognized the considerable craft that went into this film. We realize that the academy’s membership has changed in recent years, so the movie’s evocation of Old Hollywood might not give younger voters … how do the kids put it … ummm … the feels? Also, if you haven’t, check out this “Citizen Kane.” It’s pretty good. And it might help you appreciate our movie.

Noel Cho, Yeri Han, Alan Kim, Steven Yeun and Yuh-Jung Youn of “Minari.”

The cast of “Minari”: Noel Cho, Yeri Han, Alan Kim, Steven Yeun and Yuh-Jung Youn.

(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

‘MINARI’

One wise critic called “Minari” a “balm,” and we know you’ve been feeling that. We never expected all this love. It reminds us of another intimate, personal movie from a few years ago, “Moonlight,” which … what do you know … just happened to be made by A24 and Plan B Entertainment, the same companies behind “Minari.” Huh. Do you think history can repeat itself? If SAG Awards voters give our wonderful cast its ensemble prize, that’d be a nice start. Besides, who doesn’t want to see the adorable and accomplished Alan Kim celebrating (and maybe chugging down Mountain Dew?) in a tuxedo. Let’s make this happen.

‘NOMADLAND’

If you’ve seen the movie, you realize how you feel when you spend more time being happier with what you have than unhappy with what you don’t have. What we have, right now, is pretty much every best picture award from the past year. What we don’t have is the Oscar. Yet. See you down the road.

‘PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN’

It’s furious. And ferocious. Did we say funny? Because it’s pretty freakin’ funny too. What other F words can we use? Fennell! Emerald Fennell. You gave her three Oscar nominations, for writing, directing and producing this furious, ferocious and funny movie. And you also nominated our star, Carey Mulligan, who, no matter what that Variety critic wrote (and thank you, Variety, for displaying such integrity and courage to apologize, nearly a year after the review ran, for minimizing her daring performance), is probably going to win the Oscar for lead actress. Plus you gave us an editing nomination too. Picture, director, writing, editing, acting … add them all up and you have all the precursors needed to win. Fabulous!

Riz Ahmed, star of "Sound of Metal."

Riz Ahmed, Oscar-nominated for lead actor for “Sound of Metal.”

(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

‘SOUND OF METAL’

You don’t need to fix anything here. Six nominations? That’s beautiful. We’ve got a little assignment for you, though. You get up early, right? Get some hot coffee, maybe a doughnut (vegan’s OK), go to a quiet room and just sit. And write. It doesn’t matter what you write, how you write or what you write about, though it’d be nice if maybe you’d reflect on “Sound of Metal” and how it conveyed a few things we all went through and learned during this past year. And then remember those thoughts when you fill out your ballot.

‘THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7′

First things first: Let’s put that Aaron Sorkin “snub” behind us. “Argo” won best picture without a director nomination. “Green Book” too. And this movie is at least as good as those two films. Maybe better. It could well win the SAG Awards ensemble honor because … look at the title: “Chicago 7.” And there were actually eight defendants at the start. Add in the lawyers and the judge and you’ve got a BIG ensemble of great actors. All men. But those were the times. Anyway … where were we? Oh … SAG ensemble plus maybe the Producers Guild best picture prize and we’re back in business, Sorkin “snub” be damned.

Updated: March 22, 2021 — 1:51 pm

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