Five stoner movies are generating attention during the 2021 awards season with wins at the Golden Globes (GG) and Critics Choice Awards (CC) as well as Spirit nominations: Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, The United States vs. Billie Holiday, The Trial of the Chicago 7, Palm Springs and Bacurau.
The Trial of the Chicago 7
Chicago 7 on Netflix chronicles the events at the 1968 Democratic National Convention which led to the famous trial. It's been nominated as a Best Movie - Musical/Comedy (GG) and Best Picture (CC). Aaron Sorkin has not won in the Best Direction categories, but took GG's Best Screenplay (not CC's). Sacha Baron Cohen's portrayal of Abbie Hoffman earned him Best Actor - Musical/Comedy (GG), but not Best Supporting Actor (CC). The movie also received an award for Best Acting Ensemble (CC).
In our review, we noted: "The real footage and reenactments are bloody and gruesome. Casting Cohen as Hoffman is fairly brilliant, a comedian playing the Yippie jester with flair. But Hoffman’s penultimate showdown with Tom Hayden (Eddie Redmayne), officiated by their lawyer William Kunstler (Mark Rylance), is a major downer (and not necessarily accurate)."
We felt equally lukewarm about Palm Springs, a rom-com on Hulu starring Andy Samberg. His comedic turn was acknowleged with a Best Actor - Musical or Comedy nom (GG). The film earned Best Comedy (CC), but lost Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy (GG). It also has a Best First Screenplay (for Andy Siara) Spirit nom.
Our review explains: "Nyles is a nihilist (ha ha) who finds meaning when he gets caught in a time loop with Sarah (Christin Miloti), who meet at a wedding. It’s a bizarre concept that gets tiresome as it repeatedly pays homage to Groundhog Day."
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
We liked Ma Rainey's on Netflix better. It's a about a jazz-blues singer and her band that includes Chadwick Boseman, who died last year.
Boseman has won two major awards posthumously - Best Actor Musical or Comedy (GG) and Best Actor (CC) - and Davis earned similar nominations (GG, CC). Coleman Domingo and Glynn Turman, who play band members Toledo and Cutler repectively, were also tapped with Best Supporting Actor noms (GG). In addition, the movie scored awards for Best Makeup and Best Production Design (CC),
"The band drinks alcohol and smokes reefers during rehearsals, but otherwise they’re a pretty clean group," our review details. "Tempers flare toward the end leading to an unnecessary tragedy. Boseman's hot-headed trumpeter Levee reminds of his take on James Brown in Get on Up. And Viola Davis is a badass Ma Rainey."
The United States vs. Billie Holiday
Thanks to a dynamic breakout performance by Andra Day as the ill-fated jazz singer, Lee Daniels' epic Billie Holiday biopic is scoring noms. Day took home Best Actress Musical or Comedy (GG), but missed out on Best Actress (CC).
"Day dives right into Lady Day's raunchy character," our review notes. "She curses, drinks and smokes up a storm and shoots heroin (her 'medicine'). Day's vocals are convincing and her acting is surprisingly solid for such a meaty title role."
Nominated in Spirit's Best International Film category, this Brazilian thriller directed by Juliano Dornelles and Kieber Mendonca Filho, "is hard to figure," our review observes. "A local community in the fictional rural town is besieged by white mercenaries bent on killing them... With the help of a psychotropic drug known as Brasol IV (it’s a green pill), the locals take on the well-armed invaders in hopes of returning to their quiet way of life."
Stony TV Show: "Schitt's Creek"
Schitt's Creek was named Best Comedy/Musical Series (GG) for the second year in a row, but lost to Lasko (CC). Catherine O'Hara won Best Television Actress (GG) and Best Supporting Actress Comedy (CC). Nominated in two supporting categories, Dan Levy received a Choice award.
The show occasionally jokes about marijuana and other drugs. During Season 6, CBD and ayahuasca references were made. Last year, Eugene Levy, who was also nominated, said about legal pot:
"I think that's a great thing. It would solve a lot of problems. I'm definitely for it. They sell alcohol, I just don't know what the difference is. There is no difference."
Levy and O'Hara previously appeared on SCTV, Canada's answer to Saturday Night Live from 1976-1984.
And the Winners Are...
• Check out the Critics Choice Award nominees and winners here. The awards were presented on March 7 on the CW in a hybrid setting.
• Check out the Spirit Award nominees here. The awards will be presented on April 22 at 10 pm ET/7 pm PT on IFC.
This article was posted on February 4. It's been updated several times.