Exactly one year ago tomorrow, the nominees for the 92nd Academy Awards — a.k.a. the Parasite Oscars — were announced. That won’t be the case for this year’s Oscars, after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences pushed back the ceremony from late February to mid-April and the eligibility period to February 28. Meaning, any film released between January 1, 2020 (like Sonic the Hedgehog) and the end of next month can be nominated for an Academy Award, including Judas and the Black Messiah.
The biopic, produced by Ryan Coogler and starring Daniel Kaluuya as Black Panther Party chairman Fred Hampton and LaKeith Stanfield as FBI informant William O’Neal, will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on February 1 before hitting theaters and HBO Max on February 12. Warner Bros. is clearly positioning Judas and the Black Messiah for a big Oscar night. With a cast that talented, can you blame the studio?
Here’s the official plot synopsis:
FBI informant William O’Neal infiltrates the Illinois Black Panther Party and is tasked with keeping tabs on their charismatic leader, Chairman Fred Hampton. A career thief, O’Neal revels in the danger of manipulating both his comrades and his handler, Special Agent Roy Mitchell. Hampton’s political prowess grows just as he’s falling in love with fellow revolutionary Deborah Johnson. Meanwhile, a battle wages for O’Neal’s soul. Will he align with the forces of good? Or subdue Hampton and the Panthers by any means, as FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover commands?
Directed by Shaka King, Judas and the Black Messiah also stars Jesse Plemons, Dominique Fishback, Martin Sheen, Ashton Sanders, and Algee Smith.