Last week I decided to call a last-minute audible and get in on the “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” zeitgeist, but I wanted to share some belated reactions to the Oscar nominations from a film year like no other (and let you know where you can watch some of the most-nominated films).
For years now, streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime have been lobbying hard (and I mean hard) for critics and nominating boards to consider their original films alongside traditional theatrical studio releases. Obviously, 2020 was their time to shine.
Many studios shuffled their theatrical releases, in some cases withholding some future Oscar bait, and other times shifting strategies to take advantage of a captive at-home audience and a massive competition for streaming dollars. Because of that, this year’s nominees are unsurprisingly dominated with movies that debuted at home, which allowed for a slate of nominees consisting of smaller, more intimate films.
The Academy is gonna Academy, so there were some baffling choices as there are every year, but there’s not as much to complain about this time around.
One of the more controversial decisions was placing LaKeith Stanfield in the Best Supporting Actor category, where he’s nominated with his “Judas and the Black Messiah” co-star Daniel Kaluuya. The studio was lobbying for Stanfield in the Best Actor category, but ultimately Academy voters can place their nominations in the category of their choosing. I’d argue they got this one wrong, but the co-lead nature of the movie leaves it open for interpretation.
Spike Lee’s “Da 5 Bloods” was largely snubbed, and though the film may have been too tonally uneven for Best Picture or Best Director, Delroy Lindo’s performance was one of the most overlooked in the acting categories. Thomas Vinterberg’s Best Director nomination for “Another Round” was another surprise.
And as Hollywood is slowly starting to address its longstanding issues with representation, a record nine actors of color received acting nods, including Steven Yeun as the first Asian-American actor to be nominated for Best Actor.
This is also the first time that two women were nominated in the directing category, Chloé Zhao (“Nomadland”) and Emerald Fennell (“Promising Young Woman”). Two whole women! And that’s a record. Wrap your head around that, Hollywood, and think about who you’re putting behind the camera.
Typically these nominations lead to increased box-office numbers, but this year remains one with a lot of competition for your home viewing time, as evidenced by the fact that none of Netflix’s nominees cracked their Top 10 viewing list in the week after the nominations.
Here are the most-nominated films and where you can see them now, along with links to Alive‘s previous reviews.
The 10 nominations “Mank” received are an unsurprising reflection of the Academy’s love for movies about moviemaking and the fact that the film was more of a technical achievement than a deeply engaging film.
Hulu swung big for the home rights to Zhao’s masterpiece, and being able to watch Frances McDormand’s performance at home should be a must.
“The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Netflix)
The male-dominated ensemble works from an Aaron Sorkin script (he also directed but was not nominated) in a historical movie that feels relevant to our current moment.
“Minari” (Theaters and VOD rental)
Lee Isaac Chung’s semi-autobiographical tale of a Korean family starting a farm in 1980s Arkansas is playing in theaters and available for rental, and it’s well worth seeing before Oscar night.
“Judas and the Black Messiah” (Theaters only)
This one was technically a 2021 release (and will remain one of the very best pictures of this year), but it benefited from the extended eligibility rules the Academy amended this year. The film’s 30-day window on HBO Max has expired, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s available as a rental soon.
“Promising Young Woman” (Theaters and VOD rental/purchase)
Still in theaters after its Christmas Day theatrical release, this one was available for VOD rental but can now be purchased, as well. Given how much I enjoyed it on subsequent viewings, it’s worth the price.
“The Father” (Theaters and Prime VOD rental)
This film about a family coping with dementia landed Anthony Hopkins his sixth acting nomination.
“The Sound of Metal” (Prime)
Amazon’s most-nominated film has been an exclusive on their Prime platform and is truly a must-see.