During this strange and drawn out awards season, any film sponsored by a distributor willing to sponsor an awards campaign gets extra exposure. (Add to the craziness: For the first time, the Apple TV-accessible Academy Screening Portal, which is available for purchase, is accepting submissions for the best pictures. If you pay $ 12,500 you get a slot, much to the chagrin of some Academy members who Do not appreciate the hauling through uncured indies.)
The fate of the year-end theater openings still depends on the COVID record, but indie producers don’t have to make as much money in theaters as postponed studio tent poles like Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” and Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune”. Many studios were selling their films to Apple, Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon seeking eyeballs and subscribers, not ticket sales.
Netflix has a bigger price list than any other major studio that can be released in a limited theatrical release before streaming. That’s a big advantage: your films are seen and that’s always half the battle.
Amazon has several potential Oscar contenders including “Sound of Metal,” a harsh indie drama that debuted on TIFF 2019 and in which Riz Ahmed (“The Night Of”) appears as the heavy metal drummer who suddenly lost his hearing loses. In a year with a reduced studio competition from “Dune” star Timothée Chalamet, a small indie could develop into a surefire nomination for best actor. Critics will be mixed over Hart’s sleek makeover of ’70s Film Noir, but the academy’s actors could take on Brosnahan’s lead role in the film.
Hulu talks about Sundance’s entry “Palm Springs,” a metacritical “must-see” starring Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti and JK Simmons, a hilarious twist on Groundhog Day that normally wouldn’t slip off the Oscar radar. Academy voters have more time; What do you even see in lockdown? Chances are, their tastes haven’t changed, even if they’re a bit more diverse, younger, more feminine and more international thanks to the five-year inclusion campaigns.
Her favorite from the beginning of the year was Autumn de Wilde’s novel “Emma” (Focus) with the current It girl Anya Taylor-Joy and Johnny Flynn. Focus seems to be more concerned with the December 25th Sundance black comedy, Promising Young Woman, which stars Carey Mulligan as a barista stuck trying to bury a past wound. When Longshot’s Haley Bennett from “Swallow” (IFC) or Elisabeth Moss from “Shirley” (Neon) receive an Oscar nod, we know it is due to the academy’s early availability.
“One night in Miami”
Similarly, in another year, three small films adapted from stage plays might have looked more like salon dramas with limited perspectives. In connection with 2020, the outbreak of the Amazon Venice “One Night in Miami” is very popular. Adapted by Kemp Powers from his 2013 one-act play, it brings four icons to a hotel room for serious debates on racial issues. On Netflix, the mighty actors Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman compete from head to toe in August Wilson’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”, and Olivia Colman takes on her still powerful (albeit dementia-plagued) parent in Florian Zeller’s “The Father” Anthony Hopkins at ”(Sony Pictures Classics).
With fewer candidates for best actress, SPC co-presidents Michael Barker and Tom Bernard may also be able to bring Azazel Jacobs’ New York Film Festival closer to “French Exit,” which Canadian author Patrick deWitt adopted from his novel has strong comeback performance from Michelle Pfeiffer. Lucas Hedges as her son and the supporting actress Valerie Mahaffey as the insanely funny alcoholic single elderly woman in Paris give the actress a run for her money.
Even the Italian actress Sophia Loren, nine years away from the big screen, has the chance to crack the actress category with the Netflix pickup “The Life Ahead”, a warm encounter between a Holocaust survivor and a Muslim boy directed by her son Edoardo Ponti.
A24 will focus its efforts on Lee Isaac Chung’s Sundance family drama “Minari,” starring Steven Yeun as a Korean émigré trying to make it on a rural farm.
But how do we know who is talking about what? Nowadays, academy voters communicate without the echo chamber of screenings and parties. They have print and the social media water cooler, but movie Twitter doesn’t exactly reflect the academy’s voters at all.
Current Oscar front-runner, Chloe Zhao’s Venice Golden Lion and TIFF Audience Award Winner “Nomadland” (December 4th, Searchlight), is a low-budget road movie that puts intrepid two-time Oscar winner Frances McDormand in confrontation with real people several locations across the country. This isn’t a movie that benefits from technical nods to production design or costumes, but it does have a different kind of emotional scale that academy voters might respond to in this strange pandemic year.
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