2020 may have been a terrible year for a lot of us, but for Sacha Baron Cohen it couldn’t be further from the truth. His two films from last year, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” were big successes and now he’s looking to translate that into some awards love in 2021. “Borat” netted him two Golden Globe nominations (he won Best Musical/Comedy Actor in 2006 for the first “Borat” film) and he’s also a contender for his featured role in “The Trial of the Chicago 7.”
Cohen is competing in Best Supporting Actor category against Daniel Kaluuya (“Judas and the Black Messiah”), Jared Leto (“The Little Things”), Bill Murray (“On the Rocks”) and Leslie Odom, Jr. (“One Night in Miami…”). Odom, Jr. is the only newcomer of the group, though he is also nominated in the Best Original Song category. Kaluuya contended for Best Musical/Comedy Actor in 2017 for “Get Out.” Leto won this category in 2013 for “Dallas Buyers Club” and Murray is on his seventh career nomination (he won Best Musical/Comedy Actor in 2003 for “Lost in Translation”).
Cohen is nominated for portraying real-life radical and co-founder of the Youth International Party (commonly called the Yippies), Abbie Hoffman, in the Aaron Sorkin film which is currently streaming on Netflix. It explores the legal proceedings against Hoffman and seven other prominent figures in the anti-Vietnam War movement who were accused of instigating riots against the Chicago Police Department during the Democratic National Convention in 1968.
Cohen channels his natural comedic abilities to bring out the publicity-seeking and humorous tendencies that Hoffman also displayed. His scenes where he’s telling the stories of the riot and the trial in the manner of a stand-up comic are solidly delivered but he’s also able to show a more nuanced side of Hoffman when he’s challenging Tom Hayden (Eddie Redmayne) and when he takes the stand as a witness.
The strong showing that the film had in nominations, netting five total (second only to “Mank,” which had six), only gives Cohen more of a leg-up in this race. If Supporting Actor is one of the first presented at the ceremony, as it usually has been, it could be the start of a very good night for Cohen.
He’s also the only nominee in the category whose film has a corresponding nomination for Best Picture, but that doesn’t automatically translate to a win. Just look at recent winners of this category like J.K. Simmons for “Whiplash” (2014), Sylvester Stallone for “Creed” (2015) and Aaron Taylor-Johnson for “Nocturnal Animals” (2016); none of their films was nominated.
This article is a part of Gold Derby’s “Golden Globes nominee profile” series spotlighting the 2021 contenders in film and TV.
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