Golden Globes Predictions: Best Director – Can Aaron Sorkin Stop Chloe Zhao’s Momentum?


Golden Globes Predictions: Best Director – Can Aaron Sorkin Stop Chloe Zhao’s Momentum?

Variety's Awards Circuit is home to the official predictions for the upcoming Oscars from Film Awards Editor Clayton Davis. Following Academy Awards history, buzz, news, reviews and sources, the Oscar predictions are updated regularly with the current year's contenders in all categories. Variety's Awards Circuit Prediction schedule consists of four phases, running all year long: Draft, Pre-Season, Regular Season and Post Season. Eligibility calendar and dates of awards will determine how long each phase lasts and will be displayed next to revision date.

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UPDATED: Jan. 10, 2021

Aaron Sorkin is a long-time favorite with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, getting nominated for every screenplay he’s written except for “Malice.” He missed out on a director nomination for his debut “Molly’s Game,” and we’ll see if they feel like going all-in on the two-time winner. This may be one of the only shots for stopping the momentum for Chloe Zhao’s “Nomadland.” They also love big stars, which is why despite division within the critics, George Clooney may be close to a nomination for “The Midnight Sky.”

(Awards Circuit Winners Chart (2020-2021)

THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7, from left: director Aaron Sorkin, Sacha Baron Cohen, on set, 2020. ph: Niko Tavernise / © Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection
Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection


  1. Chloé Zhao
    "Nomadland" (Searchlight Pictures)

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    GLOBES HISTORY: Never nominated

    PRODUCERS: Mollye Asher, Dan Janvey, Frances McDormand, Peter Spears, Chloé Zhao
    SYNOPSIS: After losing everything in the Great Recession, an old woman embarks on a journey through the American West, living as a van-dwelling modern-day nomad.
    STARRING: Frances McDormand, David Strathairn, Linda May, Swankie, Bob Wells

  2. Aaron Sorkin
    "The Trial of the Chicago 7" (Netflix)

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    GLOBES HISTORY: 7 nominations, 2 wins (2010's "The Social Network" and 2015's "Steve Jobs" in best screenplay)

    PRODUCERS: Stuart M. Besser, Matt Jackson, Marc Platt, Tyler Thompson
    SYNOPSIS: The story of 7 people on trial stemming from various charges surrounding the uprising at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois.
    STARRING: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Sacha Baron Cohen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Keaton, John Carroll Lynch, Eddie Redmayne, Mark Rylance, Alex Sharp, Jeremy Strong

  3. David Fincher
    "Mank" (Netflix)

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    OSCAR HISTORY: 2 nominations (2008's "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" and 2010's "The Social Network")

    PRODUCERS: David Fincher, Ceán Chaffin, Eric Roth, Douglas Urbanski
    SYNOPSIS: 1930s Hollywood is re-evaluated through the eyes of scathing social critic and alcoholic screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz as he races to finish the screenplay of Citizen Kane for Orson Welles.
    STARRING: Tom Burke, Lily Collins, Joseph Cross, Charles Dance, Monika Gossman, Ferdinand Kingsley, Jamie McShane, Tuppence Middleton, Toby Leonard Moore, Gary Oldman, Tom Pelphrey, Amanda Seyfried, Sam Troughton

  4. Regina King
    "One Night in Miami" (Amazon Studios)

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    OSCAR HISTORY: 1 nomination, 1 win (2018's "If Beale Street Could Talk" in supporting actress)

    PRODUCERS: Jess Wu Calder, Keith Calder, Jody Klein
    SYNOPSIS: A fictional account of one incredible night in 1964, where four icons of activism, sports and music – Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown and Sam Cooke – gathered, discussing their roles in the civil rights movement and cultural upheaval of the ’60s.
    STARRING: Kingsley Ben-Adir, Eli Goree, Aldis Hodge, Leslie Odom, Jr.

  5. George Clooney
    "The Midnight Sky" (Netflix)

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    OSCAR HISTORY: 8 nominations, 2 wins (2005's "Syriana" in supporting actor and 2012's "Argo" in best picture)

    PRODUCERS: George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Bard Dorros, Keith Redmon, Cliff Roberts
    SYNOPSIS: This post-apocalyptic tale follows Augustine, a lonely scientist in the Arctic, as he races to stop Sully and her fellow astronauts from returning home to a mysterious global catastrophe.
    STARRING: George Clooney, Felicity Jones, David Oyelowo, Kyle Chandler, Demián Bichir, Tiffany Boone, Caoilinn Springall

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Courtesy of A24


  1. Florian Zeller
    "The Father" (Sony Pictures Classics)

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    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    PRODUCERS: Philippe Carcassonne, Simon Friend, Jean-Louis Livi, David Parfitt, Christophe Spadone
    SYNOPSIS: A man refuses all assistance from his daughter as he ages. As he tries to make sense of his changing circumstances, he begins to doubt his loved ones, his own mind and even the fabric of his reality.
    STARRING: Olivia Colman, Mark Gatiss, Anthony Hopkins, Imogen Poots, Rufus Sewell, Olivia Williams

  2. Lee Isaac Chung
    "Minari" (A24)

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    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    PRODUCERS: Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Christina Oh
    SYNOPSIS: A Korean family moves to Arkansas to start a farm in the 1980s.
    STARRING: Steven Yeun, Yeri Han, Alan S. Kim, Yuh-jung Youn, Will Patton

  3. George C. Wolfe
    "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" (Netflix)

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    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    PRODUCERS: Todd Black, Denzel Washington, Dany Wolf
    SYNOPSIS: Chicago, 1927. A recording session. Tensions rise between Ma Rainey, her ambitious horn player and the white management determined to control the uncontrollable "Mother of the Blues". Based on Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson's play..
    STARRING: Chadwick Boseman, Dusan Brown, Jonny Coyne, Viola Davis, Colman Domingo, Taylour Paige, Michael Potts, Jeremy Shamos, Glynn Turman

  4. Paul Greengrass
    "News of the World" (Universal Pictures)

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    OSCAR HISTORY: 1 nomination (2006's "United 93")

    PRODUCERS: Gary Goetzman, Gregory Goodman, Gail Mutrux
    SYNOPSIS: A Civil War veteran agrees to deliver a girl, taken by the Kiowa people years ago, to her aunt and uncle, against her will. They travel hundreds of miles and face grave dangers as they search for a place that either can call home.
    STARRING: Tom Hanks, Helena Zengel, Elizabeth Marvel, Mare Winningham, Michael Angelo Covino, Ray McKinnon

  5. Emerald Fennell
    "Promising Young Woman" (Focus Features)

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    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    PRODUCERS: Ben Browning, Emerald Fennell, Margot Robbie, Tom Ackerley, Josey McNamara, Ashley Fox
    SYNOPSIS: A young woman, traumatized by a tragic event in her past, seeks out vengeance against those who cross her path.
    STARRING: Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Laverne Cox, Molly Shannon, Clancy Brown, Jennifer Coolidge, Max Greenfield, Alison Brie, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Connie Britton, Chris Lowell, Adam Brody, Sam Richardson

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Mary Cybulski/Netflix


  • Sofia Coppola, “On the Rocks” (A24/Apple TV Plus)
  • Lee Daniels, “The United States vs. Billie Holiday” (Hulu)
  • John Lee Hancock, “The Little Things” (HBO Max/Warner Bros.)
  • Charlie Kaufman, “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” (Netflix)
  • Shaka King, “Judas and the Black Messiah” (HBO Max/Warner Bros.)
  • Francis Lee, “Ammonite” (Neon)
  • Spike Lee, “Da 5 Bloods” (Netflix)
  • Sam Levinson, “Malcolm & Marie” (Netflix)
  • Kevin Macdonald, “The Mauritanian” (STXfilms)
  • Darius Marder, “Sound of Metal” (Amazon Studios)
  • Kornél Mundruczó, “Pieces of a Woman” (Netflix)
  • Christopher Nolan, “Tenet” (Warner Bros.)
  • Kelly Reichardt, “First Cow” (A24)
  • Anthony Russo and Joe Russo, “Cherry” (Apple TV Plus)
  • Leigh Whannell, “The Invisible Man” (Universal Pictures)

2021 Golden Globes Predictions (Film)

2020-2021 Golden Globes Awards Timeline

  • Deadline for submission of Golden Globe Motion Picture and Television entry forms – Nov. 30, 2020
  • Deadline for Television nomination ballots to be mailed to all HFPA members by Ernst & Young – Dec. 30, 2020
  • Deadline for receipt of Television nomination ballots by Ernst & Young at 8:00 p.m. ET / 5:00 p.m. PT – Jan. 12, 2021
  • Deadline for Motion Picture nomination ballots to be mailed to all HFPA members by Ernst & Young at 8:00 p.m. ET / 5:00 p.m. PT – Jan. 13, 2021
  • The final screening date for Motion Pictures – Jan. 26, 2021
  • The final date for Motion Picture press conferences – Jan. 27, 2021
  • Deadline for receipt of Motion Picture nomination ballots by Ernst & Young at 3:00 p.m. ET / 12:00 p.m. PT – Jan. 30, 2021
  • Nominations for the 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards are announced at 8:00 a.m. ET / 5:00 a.m. PT – Feb. 3, 2021
  • Final ballots mailed to all HFPA members by Ernst & Young – Feb. 23, 2021
  • 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards will air live coast to coast at 8:00 p.m. ET / 5:00 p.m. PT on NBC from The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California – Feb. 28, 2021

2021 Academy Awards Predictions

About the Golden Globes

The Golden Globes Awards, hosted by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, is held annually with 93 members since 1944. The group recognizes excellence in film and television, across drama and comedy or musical categories. Damien Chazelle’s “La La Land” holds the record for the most awards won by a single film with seven. Milos Forman’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and Alan Parker’s “Midnight Express” is next in line with six each. Robert Altman’s “Nashville” has the record for most nominations received by a film with 11 while Colin Higgins’ “Foul Play,” Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather Part III” and Mike Nichols’ “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” share the record for receiving the most nominations and not winning a single award at seven.



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