Streamers and ‘Nomadland’ to vie for coveted Oscar nominations


Streaming films like Mank and The Trial of the Chicago 7 will battle with frontrunner Nomadland for this Monday’s coveted Oscar nominations, setting up the grand finale to an awards season transformed by the pandemic.

Streamers and ‘Nomadland’ to vie for coveted Oscar nominations
The Academy Awards have been delayed to their latest-ever date, while several big-screen studio blockbusters skipped their 2020 releases entirely.

With most US movie theaters closed all year due to COVID, the Academy Awards have been delayed to their latest-ever date — April 25 — while several big-screen studio blockbusters skipped their 2020 releases entirely, leaving an eclectic field of hopefuls.

Netflix looks set to benefit most. No streaming film has ever won the Academy’s most prestigious prize — best picture — but Aaron Sorkin’s anti-Vietnam War protest drama The Trial of the Chicago 7 is seen as Netflix›s strongest hand.

Mank — David Fincher’s reimagining of Hollywood’s Golden Age — and 1920s blues drama Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom are likely to score across major and technical categories for the streaming giant.

Amazon Prime meanwhile has diverse candidates from civil rights play adaptation One Night in Miami and Sound of Metal, about a rock drummer who loses his hearing, to comedy sequel Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.

Appropriately, with Hollywood’s private screening rooms and glitzy film campaign events shuttered, even Oscar voters have been forced to watch nearly all the 366 contenders via the Academy’s own online streaming platform.

“We are almost used to streaming now,” said one member of the Academy, which has traditionally championed the big-screen experience.

“It’s quite incredible what can happen within a year. None of us have really been in a movie theater.”

Still, the streaming frontrunners will have to get past Nomadland, which won top trophies at the prestigious Venice and Toronto festivals, and has swept early award season prizes at the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards.

The intimate US road movie comes from Searchlight — the arthouse distributor now owned by Disney which has steered the likes of The Shape of Water and Birdman to recent Oscars glory — and its campaign has featured a number of drive-in screenings.

“I would say Nomadland right now seems to be the de facto front runner,» said the Academy member, who also predicted a good year for «uplifting» features such as Pixar›s Soul and Borat thanks to 2020›s gloom.

“I heard other Academy members that felt some of the films were too bleak… they were looking more for escapism,” added the voter, who asked not to be named. 

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