Analysis: For movie awards season, February is beginning to look a lot like Christmas

It’s round Christmas, historically, when studios and smaller distributors launch their award contenders, hoping to be contemporary within the minds of critics teams, guilds and most importantly members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which presents the Oscars, after they begin voting.

For the 2020 awards, nonetheless, the eligibility window has expanded past the standard calendar 12 months via February, which accounts for the onslaught of status movies arriving this month, via a mixture of digital and theatrical platforms.

A fast rundown of titles from current and coming weeks highlights this dynamic, beginning with an onslaught of films with award aspirations — a few of which have already garnered recognition from the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild Awards — that opened on Feb. 12. The listing contains “French Exit,” a whimsical movie starring Michelle Pfeiffer; the fact-based “Judas and the Black Messiah,” that includes Lakeith Stanfield and Daniel Kaluuya; “Minari,” a semi-autobiographical drama from writer-director Lee Isaac Chung, starring “The Walking Dead’s” Steven Yeun; and “The Mauritanian,” the true story of a Guantanamo detainee, that includes Tahar Rahim, Jodie Foster and Benedict Cumberbatch.

This month additionally gives directing debuts from two well-known actors, in motion pictures by which in addition they star: Robin Wright’s “The Land,” about a troubled girl in search of refuge in a distant cabin; and Viggo Mortensen’s “Falling,” about a man coping with his abusive father, who is affected by dementia.

Notably, one other directing debut from an Oscar-winning star, Regina King’s “One Night in Miami,” is already perceived as a main participant on this 12 months’s awards derby.
Andra Day (center) in 'The United States vs. BIllie Holiday' (Takashi Seida).

The subsequent few weeks, in the meantime, convey “Nomadland,” director Chloe Zhao’s movie starring Frances McDormand; “The United States Vs. Billie Holiday,” from director Lee Daniels, with Andra Day because the legendary singer; and “The Father,” starring Anthony Hopkins — nominated by each the Globes and SAG — and Olivia Colman, which gives a piercing window into the Hopkins character’s dementia.

The Academy made this Valentine’s Day-adjacent bounty attainable when it delayed the ceremony itself by two months, till April 25, which triggered a collective shift in the complete awards timeline. In what was described as a one-time-only transfer, the group additionally eradicated guidelines that require a movie to have a theatrical launch so as to be eligible, paving the way in which for streaming providers and on-demand home windows to fill the breach left by shuttered theaters.
Netflix has been a clear beneficiary of the present state of play, with “Mank,” “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” “Da 5 Bloods” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7” amongst its main award hopefuls. But different streaming opponents, together with Amazon (behind “One Night in Miami” and “The Sound of Metal”), Hulu (which picked up “Nomadland” and “Billie Holiday”), and Disney+ (the animated “Soul”), have stepped up as effectively.
As Deadline noted, even with that, the pool has been diluted, as studios delayed a variety of motion pictures that may have been seemingly Oscar contenders — together with a remake of “West Side Story,” Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “In the Heights” and several other blockbusters that might garner consideration in technical areas — into subsequent 12 months’s awards dialog.

Of course, one can argue that the emphasis on awards appears particularly trivial within the present local weather. Yet that overlooks a number of realities, amongst them that folks within the leisure business nonetheless covet awards and status, no matter the place and the way their work is being seen; awards are perceived to assist enhance income, giving individuals who care about such issues an incentive to watch; and the strong business devoted to the method, together with information retailers that depend on revenue from “For your consideration” advertisements.

All that provides up to the present slate of February motion pictures. And whereas the digital flurry of such fare will not imply a lot to a lot of individuals, for individuals who do look ahead to catching up on Oscar nominees towards the top of a regular 12 months, let it snow.

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