‘The Humans’: Tony Awards juggernaut sails into Oscars race

Five years ago, Stephen Karam’s play “The Humanswon four Tony Awards, the second most trophies of the night following juggernaut musical “Hamilton.” Just last month, A24’s film adaptation of the drama was released in theaters and aired on Showtime, written for the screen and directed by Karam. Since its debut at the Toronto Film Festival in September, “The Humans” has been earning awards chatter, so could its past Tonys history foreshadow Oscars success? 

Both the play and film are set on Thanksgiving day, as the Blake family gathers in the bi-level Chinatown apartment of Brigid Blake (Beanie Feldstein) and her boyfriend Richard (Steven Yeun). As Brigid’s parents Erik (Richard Jenkins) and Deirdre (Jayne Houdyshell), sister Aimee (Amy Schumer) and grandmother Momo (June Squibb) arrive, family secrets and insecurities bubble to the surface. The film takes turns toward the eerie and uncanny, as the decrepit apartment seems to echo and elevate the family’s fears and anxieties.

WATCH Stephen Karam on adapting and directing ’The Humans’ to capture ‘the soul of the story’

The original Broadway production of “The Humans” earned six Tonys nominations and won four: Best Play, Featured Actor (Reed Birney), Featured Actress (Jayne Houdyshell) and Scenic Design. Houdyshell reprises her role in the film, while Richard Jenkins takes over Birney’s. Coincidentally, Birney also competes this awards season for his role in “Mass.”

Since the play won two acting trophies, it is no surprise that the film could perform well at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. Jenkins currently ranks fourth in our combined odds at SAG, trailing Kodi Smit-McPhee (“The Power of the Dog”), Ciaran Hinds (“Belfast”) and Jared Leto (“House of Gucci”) in Supporting Actor. Five of our SAG experts predict a nomination for Jenkins, with Peter Travers (ABC) and Susan Wloszczyna (Gold Derby) thinking he will win. The star-studded ensemble is in our Top 13, ahead of Oscar Best Picture contenders like “The Tragedy of Macbeth” and “Licorice Pizza,” and Houdyshell is in our Top 20 in Supporting Actress in 17th place.

SEE Third time the charm: Richard Jenkins (‘The Humans’) has best Oscar odds in tight supporting actor race

Jenkins is in equally strong position at the Oscars. Our combined odds have him in fourth there as well, trailing Smit-McPhee, Leto, and Hinds in Supporting Actor. Ten of our expects think Jenkins will earn his third Oscar nomination, and Shawn Edwards (WADF-TV Fox) thinks he will win for the first time in his career.

“The Humans” also looks particularly strong in Adapted Screenplay in ninth place. The adaptation remains very faithful to the source material, which in addition to winning the Tony was shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and four of our Oscar experts bet on Karam to get nominated. Though the play won the Tony for Scenic Design for David Zinn, our users think it may have a tougher time scoring an Oscar bid for Production Design.

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