With an Oscar, BAFTA Award, two Golden Globes, five Emmys and two WGA Awards under his belt, Aaron Sorkin is among the most recognized and celebrated screenwriters of recent times.
This year, as both writer and director of Netflix’s The Trial of the Chicago 7, Sorkin is poised to potentially add trophies to his crowded awards mantle. Already, he has received pairs of Golden Globe and Critics Choice Award nominations for his writing and directing, not to mention a plethora of notices from assorted critics’ awards.
Historically, however, while Sorkin has often made a splash with precursor awards, this hasn’t always translated to recognition on Oscar nominations morning.
Take, for instance, the Golden Globes. With eight career nominations for writing, Sorkin holds the record for most honored scribe in their Best Screenplay category. He’s been recognized there for A Few Good Men (1992), The American President (1995), Charlie Wilson’s War (2007) and Steve Jobs (2015), none of which translated to an Oscar nomination, despite A Few Good Men earning a Best Picture Oscar nomination and Steve Jobs winning the Best Screenplay Golden Globe. Sorkin also scored Critics Choice recognition for Charlie Wilson’s War and Steve Jobs, with WGA bids earned for The American President and Steve Jobs.
On three occasions, for The Social Network (2010), Moneyball (2011) and Molly’s Game (2017), has he made the Oscar cut, with his win arriving for the 2010 film.
Are fourth and fifth Oscar nominations in store for Sorkin this year – or could surprise snubs again be on the horizon? Let’s dig into the Best Director and Best Original Screenplay fields.
If Sorkin is vulnerable to a snub, it’s more likely to arrive in the former category, which remains unsettled at this stage in the season. Chloe Zhao (Nomadland) and David Fincher (Mank) look like the surest of bets, with the likes of Sorkin, Lee Isaac Chung (Minari), Regina King (One Night in Miami), Spike Lee (Da 5 Bloods), Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman) and dark horses such as Paul Greengrass (News of the World), Shaka King (Judas and the Black Messiah) and Florian Zeller (The Father) battling it out for the remaining slots. If The Trial of the Chicago 7 loses steam between now and Oscar nominations morning, it’s entirely plausible Sorkin could come up short in a chaotic field.
Sorkin’s absence would prove more of a surprise in Best Original Screenplay, though it too is a crowded race. The quintet of The Trial of the Chicago 7, Minari, Mank, Soul and Promising Young Woman makes sense on paper but there are other formidable contenders lurking around the corner, among them Da 5 Bloods, Judas and the Black Messiah, Sound of Metal and Never Rarely Sometimes Always, that could derail one or more of those favorites.
Overall, it will be flabbergasting – and devastating to The Trial of the Chicago 7’s hopes of winning Best Picture – if Sorkin somehow falls short in both categories. This is not a probable scenario. There is a very real chance, however, that one miss could be in store for a filmmaker who, while among the industry’s most honored scribes, has also been curiously susceptible to shocking Oscar snubs.
Photo credit: Niko Tavernise/Netflix