Like almost everything else since early last year, Hollywood’s awards season has been turned upside down by the pandemic: festivals have gone digital, Q&As are now Zooms, and red carpets have mostly gone the way of the dinosaurs. Awards shows, too, have been perpetually pushed back or reimagined in light of Covid-19 safety concerns. But (touch wood) the Academy Awards are sticking to their rescheduled April 25 ceremony, extending the eligibility deadline to February 28 and – for the first time – welcoming streaming films. At this point, we’ve seen almost all of the contenders, and early awards from critics have given us a taste of who’s ahead as we await major precursors such as the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards. How Tiger Woods’ ex Rachel Uchitel ‘turned down’ Donald Trump Here’s what you need to know about the current state of the race: Nomadland is the one to beat for best picture There’s still a long road ahead to Oscar night, but Nomadland is firmly in the driver’s seat. The quiet character drama coasted through the autumn festival circuit and end-of-year critics’ prizes, taking best film at the Gotham and National Society of Film Critics awards this month. But coming out of a tumultuous year for politics and social justice, will Nomadland be too introspective for voters looking to make a statement with their best picture winner? Watch out for courtroom crowd-pleaser The Trial of the Chicago 7 as a zeitgeist-capturing spoiler. Where to watch : Nomadland premieres February 19 on Hulu; The Trial of the Chicago 7 is streaming on Netflix. From tomboy to teen supreme: Shiloh Jolie-Pitt’s 2021 transformation David Fincher – and Mank – aren’t sure things On paper, Mank has all the makings of an Oscar heavyweight. It’s a star-studded behind-the-scenes look at the legendary film Citizen Kane , and a passion project for visionary director David Fincher, who’s responsible for modern classics such as Fight Club and The Social Network. But the long-overdue Fincher may struggle to crack the Oscars’ directing line-up this year, given the chilly reception so far to the nevertheless technically astounding Mank . Instead, people are rallying behind Chinese-born filmmaker Chloé Zhao and Nomadland (see above) whose sweep of best director awards, including the New York Film Critics Circle, could portend a history-making Oscar win. Where to watch: Mank is streaming on Netflix. How many of Michael Jackson’s family can you name – and where are they now? Chadwick Boseman is still your best actor front runner Even with screen giants Anthony Hopkins ( The Father ) and Delroy Lindo ( Da 5 Bloods ) in the running, there’s just no topping Chadwick Boseman’s commanding, career-best performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom . Emotional tributes at the Gotham Awards by Boseman’s widow, Taylor Simone Ledward, and actors Riz Ahmed and Andre Holland, only crystallised just how much people love and miss the Black Panther star, who died of colon cancer last August at the age of 43. Expect the honours to continue this season, for both Ma Rainey and Boseman’s supporting work in Da 5 Bloods . Where to watch: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and Da 5 Bloods are streaming on Netflix; The Father is scheduled for release in some theatres from February 26. Why Barron Trump has always been protected from the spotlight Zendaya and Andra Day could shake up best actress Best actress is gearing up to be one of this year’s most competitive races. Past Oscar winners Frances McDormand ( Nomadland ) and Viola Davis ( Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom ) are all but guaranteed nominations, while Carey Mulligan ( Promising Young Woman ) and Vanessa Kirby ( Pieces of a Woman ) have surged in recent weeks with their searing new films, each sparking intense conversation on top of rave reviews. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Andra Day (@andradaymusic) That leaves a fifth slot still seemingly up for grabs, with Zendaya ( Malcolm & Marie ) and Andra Day ( The United States vs. Billie Holiday ) both major threats after earning strong notices from first screenings. Where to watch: Malcolm & Marie premieres February 5 on Netflix; The United States vs. Billie Holiday arrives February 26 on Hulu; Promising Young Woman is available on demand; Pieces of a Woman is streaming on Netflix. Born a crime: 6 struggles Trevor Noah faced growing up Daniel Kaluuya is ready for launch Supporting actor is arguably the most wide-open Oscar category, with meaningful campaigns from Sacha Baron Cohen ( The Trial of the Chicago 7 ) and Leslie Odom Jr. ( One Night in Miami) , and a slew of critics’ wins for dark horse favourite Paul Raci ( Sound of Metal ). But Get Out star Daniel Kaluuya is also a formidable contender for Judas and the Black Messiah , playing Black Panther chairman Fred Hampton. The drama makes its world premiere early next month at the Sundance Film Festival, which has been the launching pad of other Oscar darlings Whiplash , Call Me By Your Name and Manchester by the Sea . Where to watch: Judas and the Black Messiah streams February 12 on HBO Max; One Night in Miami and Sound of Metal are both streaming on Amazon. Why Kelly Mi Li’s life will never be the same after Bling Empire Borat’s daughter is a serious (and funny) contender Believe it or not, a straight comedy performance hasn’t been Oscar-nominated since Melissa McCarthy’s scene-stealing turn in 2011’s Bridesmaids . That could very well change this year with Borat 2 breakout Maria Bakalova, who brings unexpected pathos to the feral teenage daughter of irreverent journalist Borat (Sacha Baron Cohen). The Bulgarian actress’ go-for-broke performance has already picked up a dozen critics’ awards for best supporting actress since December – well ahead of higher-profile contenders Olivia Colman ( The Father ) and Ellen Burstyn ( Pieces of a Woman ). She’s trailed closely in the category by Minari star Yuh-Jung Youn, with 11 critics’ prizes so far. Where to watch: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm is streaming on Amazon Prime; Minari will be available on demand from February 26. Want more stories like this? Sign up here . 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