After all is said and done, they really are going through with it.
Meet your Oscar field, ladies and gentlemen. And let the excitement mount.
A few takeaways:
• This marks Year Three of Netflix's attempt to flood the Oscar race with so much cash on every level that eventually the big trophy would just have to float down to them.
• If you go all in on this three-year project—the parties, the junkets, the trade ads, starting a magazine, buying a consulting firm, buying a movie theater, buying a billboard company—and then throw in the production and acquisition costs of Oscar-bait movies, you'd have to put the total bill at, let's conservatively call it, $1 billion, give or take a Scorsese budget.
• In almost every respect, the campaign has been remarkably successful. The idea of Netflix entering the hallowed Oscar race was preposterous three years ago, and now its presence is de rigueur. Netflix is literally propping up the whole Awards Industrial Establishment, and no one who is a part of that dare criticize. It swept up the most nominations. Ted replaced no less a pillar of the establishment than Ron Meyer as head of the museum committee. If you doubt, see how fast no less than Himself Steven Spielberg tobogganed away from rumors of his plans to make a brave stand against The Service.
• The Netflix invasion of the Oscar race has been an absolute smashing success with everyone, except those pesky Oscar voters! Once again, the big trophy is likely to slip from Ted's grasp, a billion dollars later.
• Which normally would prove that there are some things in the world that even money can't buy. But this is Hollywood, so we know that's not true. Apparently, the industry feels Netflix can still dig a little deeper.
• After three years, competing in a year when theaters were actually closed . . . and Netflix released about a hundred times the number of films of every studio put together . . . if it still doesn’t win the big one, when will it ever? It will be like being the Russian Olympic team in the year when the West boycotts, and then losing to Suriname.
• However, we should all consider the possibility that after three years of these insults, Netflix might be getting tired of this game. Reflect on the fact that if Netflix were to, say, cross out its line item for awards spending, the entire trade press—or to be more precise, the trade-press division of Penske Media—will come crashing down.
• On the other hand, if Nomadland loses to Mank, the sainted Chloe Zhao losing to a movie by an old, rich, white male Hollywood stalwart about a dead, rich, white male Hollywood stalwart, then there's not going to be an Academy standing two hours after that ceremony ends.
• There wasn’t a single movie star willing to wake up at 5 a.m.? Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Nick Jonas?
• What exactly was the point again in pushing the whole thing back two months?
• It's nice to see how a couple films skip the Critics Circle horrors altogether and slide right in.
• For all I've complained about the slate of contenders we're stuck with, upon reflection, there's one uncomfortable fact: This might, in fact, be pretty close to the lineup we were going to get all along. Look at this LAT piece, for instance, on early predictions of contenders, when we still thought theaters would be open in the fall. Not many of the films that got pulled look like anything like Oscar golden children. There are a handful of Sundance darlings that are likely doomed to whither at sea level. There was Dune . . . which, could go a lot of ways. The list includes the films of bunch of highbrow, mostly foreign-language directors (Leos Carax, Apichatpong Weerasethakul) thinking that Oscar has really turned into Cannes . . . let hope spring eternal there. There's the permanent spot for the Big Pedigreed, Late-Period Spielberg Film That Inevitable Falls Flat (or at least short). And there are a bunch of films that did get released where the Oscar relationship never went past the first speed date (Hillbilly Elegy, Tenet, I'm Thinking of Ending Things, The Midnight Sky, On the Rocks, Prom!!) So maybe this is the field we were always meant to have. Maybe this is the field we're always going to have from now on, more or less. Let that one sink in, why don't you?
• Of course, if Nomadland had been released, it wouldn't be a micro-budget, slow-moving, elliptical drama no one had heard of. If it had gone through a full campaign, it would've been a micro-budget, slow-moving elliptical drama that some people had heard of. After that, quite possibly, some people had even paid to see. It wouldn't be so tiny that it makes Parasite look like Avatar. It would've been, in any event, tested at the box office, and we would've seen whether it built a groundswell or fizzled without a trace. Of course, had it fizzled, given the rest of the field, then where would we be?
Oscar Pundit Hyperventilation Derby Award Winner
"Nobody, and I mean nobody, predicted both Daniel Kaluuya and LaKeith Stanfield getting nominated in this category for Judas.” - THR
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