Usually at the moment of yr, ideas are turning to awards season and an attractive winter of high quality cinema forward, however – and also you’re in all probability completely sick of listening to it – this yr it’s completely different. As a substitute, we have now received shuttered cinemas and no status dramas to place in them anyway. Hollywood is in hibernation.
However the awards present should go on. Subsequent yr’s Baftas and Academy Awards are delayed till April, reasonably than the standard February. Deadlines and eligibility guidelines have been loosened: normally a film will need to have screened in a Los Angeles cinema for seven consecutive days to qualify for the Oscars, however this yr a web based launch is sufficient. So, excellent news for Trolls World Tour however probably disastrous for cinemas.
Within the absence of Hollywood competitors, this might be the primary yr the very best image award goes to a film by a streaming platform, which might be one thing of a tipping level. The present frontrunner is David Fincher’s Mank, which works out on Netflix this Friday. It ticks all of the containers: Hollywood mythology (Gary Oldman performs the author of Citizen Kane); marquee names; technical brilliance; impersonations of actual figures (awards juries love that); and unanimous crucial acclaim.
Mank’s chief rivals would possibly embrace Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (a posthumous finest actor for Chadwick Boseman appears seemingly), Da 5 Bloods and The Trial of the Chicago 7 – additionally all from Netflix. Or Regina King’s One Night in Miami (Amazon Prime Video). There are non-streaming contenders – Nomadland, for instance – and large releases corresponding to Tom Hanks western Information of the World, due in January. Others may slip in underneath the wire, though these motion pictures could nicely additionally should launch on-line to qualify.
It could be a tragic irony if awards season killed off the very establishments it was designed to have fun. Historically, Bafta, the Academy and others have been the champions of Cinema – with a capital C – as worthy of gongs and black-tie formality and reverent speeches as some other artform. However the kind of “cinema” the awards our bodies had been geared to have fun is disappearing from precise cinemas, which at the moment are powered by big-budget franchise motion pictures. Awards buzz was one of many few instruments left to staunch the inexorable defection. If the excitement goes to a Netflix film as a substitute, it’s another excuse to remain at house, and one other nail within the coffin of the trade.
It could be a double irony if Mank was the film that sealed this deal. It’s a loving, lavish homage to Hollywood at its peak, not solely in its detailed trade lore and its digital recreation of 1930s cinematography, but additionally in its nostalgia for cinema as each an auteurist artform and a well-liked medium with the potential to topple giants. Will both of these concepts nonetheless maintain true after this yr? The jury’s out.