When we think about Academy Awards contenders, our mind drifts to the big studio movies with flashy names behind and in front of the camera. But in a year ravaged by coronavirus, where the studios have pulled all of their huge films, what's left? 

As much as I want to see Bad Boys 3 sweep the major awards, this is a great year for indie film and streamers. 

The buzz around a movie like Mank or The Trial of Chicago 7 might have been lighter if it was going up against Spielberg's West Side Story or even the new Bond, but this year has broken the dam wide open for indie movies and indie movie lovers. 

If you're complaining about a lack of quality things to watch, you need to get into Indie film. Because it's having a huge moment now, as it might have all of the contenders for the Academy Awards. 

What are some of the hot titles? 

How about one from early in the pandemic? Palm Springs shook up the internet with its inventive style and fresh comedy.

And yet to come is Amazon's I’m Your Woman, which premieres December 11th and stars Emmy-winner Rachel Brosnahan as a mob wife left behind by her husband to survive on the lam with her new infant. Could she be a lock for an Oscar nomination? 

There's a ton of buzz around the Regina King-directed One Night in Miami, which took Venice by storm. Amazon will release it with a strong awards push. 

Or what about Amazon's other attempt at the glory this year, The Sound of Metal, which debuted at TIFF and stars Riz Ahmed as a drummer losing his hearing? 

We also have Autumn de Wilde’s lavish period romance Emma,starring current it-girl Anya Taylor-Joy and Johnny Flynn.

Focus' other movie Promising Young Woman is dropping on December 25th.

When you factor in acting, you have to think Netflix will make a strong push for Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman in August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. 

Even actress Sophia Loren returns to the screen after nine years away with the Netflix pickup The Life Ahead

The frontrunner for everything though is Chloe Zhao’s Venice Golden Lion and TIFF audience award winner Nomadland which will be in some theaters on December 4th and stars Frances McDormand.

Everyone who's seen it is talking about it, and it has the right amount of star power and director pedigree to make real noise this year. 

Now, sure, Tenet came out and is eligible, but was it better than these other movies? 

I guess that's subjective, and we haven't seen some of these smaller films yet, but it seems like it's the perfect time to promise ourselves we will see them and celebrate the ones that got released in 2020, a year when we needed new stories the most. 

You just have to hope Academy voters don't just get lazy and nominate the names they know because this year should be wide open for newcomers and perennial indie darlings. 

Let me know your favorites in the comments.