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  • James Kunovski

Oscar Nomination Predictions: The Trial of the Chicago 7

The Trial of the Chicago 7, Aaron Sorkin’s sophomore writer/director feature tackles, in truncated form, the criminal trial, shrouded in conspiracy and political malaise that stemmed from clashes between rioters and police at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Sorkin mixes his signature whiplash dialogue with political intrigue in a truly, for lack of a better phrase, Sorkin way. Trial premiered over a month ago and has already readied itself as an early and serious Oscar contender. While a safe film, it’s enough of a message movie; widely accessible and entertaining, that the Academy will likely snatch it right up.


Goldderby has ranked Trial as the third-highest prediction for Best Picture. Those ranked above include Nomadland and Mank, both of which are still due for a wide cinema release. In that regard, Trial is the highest ranked prediction that a larger group than critics and festival pundits have seen. Bear in mind, Netflix wouldn’t mind to win this coveted slot. They could dish out some heavy campaigning that would first result in Trial’s nomination, and possible win.


Though Sorkin’s directing was rather flat, (his blocking was generic and nothing to write home about), he could wound up still being nominated because he has a recognisable name in the industry. His scripts flourish when another director has a hold of his work like we saw with The Social Network. It’s a shame he didn’t hand it over to someone else.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR (Sacha Baron Cohen as Abbie Hoffman)

If the Academy wants to reward Baron Cohen without acknowledging Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, this is how they would do it. Lifelong comedy-turned-drama can favour some but not all actors, (see: Adam Sandler for Uncut Gems & Jim Carrey for The Truman Show) but Melissa McCarthy who was nominated for a dramatic turn in Can You Ever Forgive Me? proved it is possible. Baron Cohen stands out in the stacked ensemble — his scenery chewing is sublime.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR (Frank Langella as Judge Julius Hoffman)

As Judge Hoffman, Langella is essentially a villain in a robe. He brings forth a palpable sense of bias and corruption that tainted a fair trial and heightens this courtroom drama. Langella enjoys his for-your-consideration monologues, playing Hoffman with professional ease. An equally seasoned actor worthy of a nomination.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR (Mark Rylance as William Kunstler)

Rylance is a true, *emphasis on the “th”* thespian, once again, carrying himself with a quasi-drunkenness that infiltrates his characters’ rambunctious and gentle persona. Rylance’s portrayal of the “seven’s” wild (though he’s toned down for film purposes) lawyer is a by-the-books Oscars magnet, that despite its reserved presence, could sway enough voters who clearly like the gentleman’s previous work — he won in the same category for Bridge of Spies. If all three supporting cast members make it into the cache, the Academy’s choice would echo the decision placed in favour of the male supporting ensemble in On the Waterfront and The Godfather.


Never mind the technical craft of weaving together a time-jumping and high-octane courtroom flick, following that glorious seven-minute opening sequence, Alan Baumgarten’s rapid-fire editing cements itself as the one of the year’s best.


Admirers of Sorkin’s mile-a-minute dialogue won’t find themselves disappointed if they’re gawking at Trial for their next fix. Though it’s not his best feature work — leave that to The Social Network, from which he won the Oscar and even (unpopular opinion) Molly’s Game — this cocktail of politics and expeditiously articulate chatter feels like a throwback to Sorkin’s roots. There’s a whole lotta words in Trial of the Chicago 7 and if Academy members liked the film, its writing and overall achievement are joined at the hip.

On Sorkin’s personal level, he has reached admirable success for The West Wing, securing his place in television’s recent legacy. He won six Emmys over his four-season run. As he makes his second foray into film directing, pairing himself with his characteristic writing, he too could paint himself as a late-breaking film director. On a more corporate sense, Netflix would love to win Best Picture, and although the platform’s dominance has ruffled more than a few industry feathers, stay around to see how they set the stage for Trial to catch gold.


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