As the Covid-19 pandemic raged in April 2020, and most countries around the world were under strict lockdowns, the information had gone unnoticed. The Academy of Oscars, sensing that we had not finished with this virus, had then enacted a new eligibility rule valid only for the year 2021: to compete, the films must no longer be released in theaters at least one week, three sessions per day, in Los Angeles County, which is usually the minimum requirement. In other words, the competition for this 94th edition – which has been postponed to April 25 (instead of February 28) – is open to films that have been released on streaming platforms. The rule is also valid for the Golden Globes, anteroom of the Oscars, also postponed this year (to February 28).
Well seen, because we know what has happened since: the majority of cinemas – in Los Angeles and around the world – have remained closed, filming has stopped in the United States, and few American films have been released, certainly not enough to fuel the competition for the biggest film ceremony in the world. Suddenly, two months before the publication of the nominations (around March 15) – the eligibility of films having been postponed to February 28 (instead of December 31 usually) – the predictions of specialists and bookmakers mainly relate to works available in streaming.
The favorites: “Nomadland”, “The Father”, “Sound of Metal”
The big favorite of the Oscars to this day, however, retains a small chance of being seen in the cinema: “Nomadland”, by Chloé Zhao with Frances McDormand, is still on the American release calendar on February 19, preceded by a cast in IMAX theaters from January 29. If theaters are still not open on February 19, Disney, the distributor, will only have to broadcast it on its Disney + platform before the 28 for it to be eligible. The studio should not fail to do without.
“Nomadland”, a magnificent story, somewhere between documentary and fiction, on these workers forced to move and live in their van or camper van depending on their jobs, has gleaned 67 awards at festivals since winning the Lion d’Or in Venice last August. It is on track to accumulate ten nominations in all the major categories: best film, best director, best screenplay… Some even already give Frances McDormand, extraordinary, winner for the statuette of the best actress, even if she already has it. won in 2018 for “3 Billboards”.
Another outsider who has not gone through streaming, “Sound of Metal”, approached in several categories, which had a small theatrical release.
This is also the case for the film which caused the most sensation in recent days among forecasters, “The Father”. Written and directed by French author Floria Zeller, co-produced by France and the United Kingdom, distributed by Orange Studio, this story of a failing old man who refuses his daughter’s help had a limited theatrical release in December in New Jersey, before a national release in the United States on February 28 and in France on April 7, if theaters are open on these dates. “The Father” is strongly approached for several statuettes: best film, best screenplay, best director, and best comedians for Anthony Hopkins, Olivia Coleman and Imogen Poots.
Still, most of the most cited feature films are already available on platforms, and primarily Netflix. This is the case in the queen categories, such as George Clooney, who is expected to be best director for “Midnight in the Universe”, in competition with Aaron Sorkin for “The Chicago Seven”, a film which could also compete for other statuettes. Just like “Le Blues de Ma Rainey”, which should be worth at least a posthumous appointment for Chadwick Boseman, alias “Black Panther”, who died prematurely at age 43 last August. There is also a lot of talk about the nomination of Vanessa Kirby as best actress in “Pieces of a woman”. “Da 5 Bloods” by Spike Lee could also be cited several times, as could “Mank” by David Fincher.
First nomination for a black director?
Outside Netflix, Kristen Stewart is among the favorites thanks to her role in “My beautiful family, Christmas and me”, released on the Hulu platform in the United States and available on VOD in France. On the side of Amazon Prime Video, a film – visible on the platform since last week – should pocket several great nominations: the remarkable “One Night in Miami”, which recounts the meeting between Mohamed Ali and Malcom X in 1964. Its director, Regina King, could notably obtain the first nomination in the history of the Oscars for a black filmmaker. Disney + should not be outdone, with at least one nomination for the fabulous “Soul” in the category best animated film.
Among the few platform favorites not yet available, “Malcom & Marie” hits Netflix on February 5th. It was shot during lockdown with just two actors, Zendaya and John David Washington, by “Euphoria” series director Sam Levinson, and could be nominated for Best Actress, Best Actor and Best Director.
And the magnificent western “The Mission” (February 10 on Netflix), for which director Paul Greengrass and comedian Tom Hanks seem well on course to land a nomination.
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Cinema: the Oscars saved by streaming