11 “Oscar Bait” Films for the 2020 Academy Awards


Written by Samuel Kahler

While the 92nd Academy Awards ceremony is still six months away, the blogosphere is already abuzz with anticipatory predictions about Hollywood’s biggest night. 


The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced several rule changes back in April that will take effect for the 2020 Oscars (for example, the “Foreign Language Film” category will now be called “International Feature Film”). What remains uncertain is how the Academy will decide to approach its persistent controversies, such as the increasingly-contentious selection of the ceremony's host and the diversity of category nominees. Plus, with the year 2020 being an election year, the winners’ speeches might run just a tad long.

The Academy isn't the only one wringing its proverbial hands about its upcoming awards ceremony. Studios are hungry for nominations and wins and will try their best to campaign aggressively in pursuit of those 8.5-pound bronze Oscar statuettes. Some believe that certain films are greenlit specifically to please the award committees. While much has been written and said about films that are perceived as “Oscar bait,” it seems impossible to create straightforward criteria for what qualifies and what doesn’t. Is it a gauzy biopic starring an A-lister? A sand-and-sword epic? A rags to riches story? Yes and no. 

It’s an exhausting exercise to try and make sense of the differing opinions. Perhaps as many varieties of Oscar bait films exist as there are film genres. Still, in general, it seems that either the film contains some element of a certain movie cliché, or else the campaigning [strategy?] displays an obvious thirst for the award. 

Through a certain lens—a cynical one, admittedly—couldn’t every major Hollywood film be interpreted as having a certain Oscar bait quality? With that in mind, we’ve drawn up eleven film genres that scream Oscar bait—all in the name of good fun—each paired with a genre-specific film that might qualify for the 92nd Academy Awards.

(Disclaimer: The author of this article has not seen any of these films yet.)

  1. The adaptation of a contemporary bestselling novel
    “The Goldfinch,” based on the 2014 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Donna Tartt.

  2. The biopic about a Classic Hollywood star
    “Judy” is a biographical film about the life of Judy Garland.

  3. The ensemble drama with several “Best Actor” candidates
    “The Kitchen” co-stars Tiffany Haddish, Melissa McCarthy, and Elisabeth Moss.

  4. The new Martin Scorsese joint
    “The Irishman” is Scorcese’s ninth feature collaboration with actor Robert De Niro.

  5. The musical biopic about a tortured pop star lost in the turmoil of fame and genius “Rocketman” is a musical film about the artistic awakening of Elton John and his subsequent success and struggles as a world-famous musician.

  6. The “how has this not been made yet?” historical film
    “Harriet” is based on the life of abolitionist Harriet Tubman.

  7. The vehicle for classically-trained English actors to show their stuff
    “The Good Liar” stars Ian McKellen and Helen Mirren.

  8. The serious political drama
    “The Report” follows a Senate investigation into CIA conduct in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. 

  9. The intimate family drama
    “The Farewell” is being praised for its ability to portray dynamic family relations. 

  10. The sci-fi space thriller
    “Ad Astra” stars Brad Pitt as a man who travels into space in search of his missing father.

  11. The one with a comedic actor in a serious role
    “Newsflash” stars comic actor Seth Rogen as news anchor Walter Cronkite. 

Oscar bait or not, we can’t wait to see all these films. Tell us, what other Oscar bait sub-genres did we miss?