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Early 2021 Academy Award Favorites

Our top look at the upcoming season

With the majority of America under quarantine, there is plenty of time to look ahead and ruminate on (hopefully) brighter days ahead. In the cinematic world, that means taking an extremely early glance at the 2021 Academy Awards. Oddsmakers have already weighed in on Best Picture and it¡¯s a wide-open race.

Best Picture

According to sportsbettingdime.com, six movies have odds of +1000 or better: Tenet (+800), Mank (+900), Dune (+900), The French Dispatch (+1000), Nightmare Alley (+1000), and The Midnight Sky (+1000).

Tenet is a time-traveling drama about stopping the outbreak of World War 3, written and directed by Christopher Nolan and starring John David Washington and Robert Pattinson. It¡¯s scheduled for US release on July 17.?

Mank is David Fincher¡¯s biopic of Herman J. Mankiewicz, the man who co-wrote Citizen Kane with Orson Welles. Gary Oldman stars in the Netflix-produced film. Netflix has not announced a release date yet beyond ¡°summer or fall 2020¡±. (It doesn¡¯t even have a trailer yet.) But the fact that it will be released on Netflix means that coronavirus won¡¯t interfere.

Dune, directed by Denis Villeneuve, the same man behind Sicario, Arrival, and Blade Runner 2049, is a remake of the 1984 David Lynch classic. It stars Timothy Chalamet in the role of Paul Atreides, originally played by Kyle MacLachlan. Its release date is Dec. 18, 2020, and God help us if COVID-19 pushes it back.?

The French Dispatch (+1000) is the latest offering from Wes Anderson, a director who¡¯s never had much recognition in the Best Picture category. (Only one of his nine previous films received a Best Picture nod: Grand Budapest Hotel in 2015.) His tenth film tells the story of an American journalist in France who starts the eponymous newspaper. It stars many Anderson regulars, including Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton, and Owen Wilson.? It¡¯s scheduled for release on July 24 in the United States.

Nightmare Alley is described as a ¡°psychological thriller¡± in which a ¡°corrupt con-man teams up with a female psychiatrist to trick people into giving them money¡± (Wikipedia). Details are still scant. The love it¡¯s getting from oddsmakers seems to be based on the man behind the film: Guillermo Del Toro. The Best Director and Best Picture winner for Shape of Water just three years ago, Del Toro both directed and co-wrote Nightmare Alley. It stars Bradley Cooper and Cate Blanchett.

Unfortunately, production was put on pause in mid-March due to coronavirus. It does not currently have a release date.?

The Midnight Sky (+1000), directed by and starring George Clooney, is a post-apocalyptic story about a scientist in the Arctic attempting to stop a group of astronauts from returning to an Earth in turmoil. It does not have a trailer or release date yet but did at least finish filming in February.?

The sagest piece of advice at this stage would be to bet on a movie that is definitely going to be released in time for the 2021 award show, which eliminates several of the favorites listed above.?