| March 6, 2022
And here we go… pretending that everything is normal as we take the small handful of movies that would be considered the lower tier of Oscar candidates, and even then, only a small part of that tier, and handing out Oscars like Sour Patch Kids (the here’s-a-sweet-for-your-oddball-screening candy of choice) because what the hell, we need to get some ad revenue now that the reduced-revenue Emmy season is over, so let’s push really hard on what we know is good, but not likely.
You know the titles… Foxless-Searchlight’s (comment on the corporate status, not the staff… ha ha… am I in trouble?) Nomadland and Those-Who-Made-Parasite-Happen Neon’s Ammonite were the only serious contenders going into Venice and Toronto… and the only ones that are really coming out of the festivals, though only one is really equipped to survive the next six-plus months until Oscar will supposedly happen. That would be Nomadland… but only as a “bottom half” nominee with a likely Frances McDormand nod that she won’t win. Ammonite has two great actresses performing sex, but Neon released a better version on this theme last year, in French, with American-unknown actresses.
The other titles that have become hot buzz titles out of the fests are stage-play-turned-stage-movie One Night in Miami, the tragedy porn of Penguin Bloom, and the wildly overrated, although well-acted Pieces of a Woman, which is fake Cassavetes but with only one true Cassavetes performance. from Shia LeBeouf.
There is also The Father, an Anthony Hopkins vehicle with the always-great Olivia Colman. A Best Actor player, first and last.
And there are holdover dreams from before September, like First Cow and Da Five Bloods and Tenet than make me laugh really hard. Not because the films are not worthy of consideration, but because they are just plain not happening.
Netflix, after passing on the festivals, started things up this month anyway, They bought Pieces of a Woman and will try to shove Vanessa Kirby into Best Actress. They tried to launch Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, but were thwarted by the passing of Chadwick Boseman. And they launched The Trial of The Chicago Seven this week with a streamingrelease date of October 16 just ahead. (They will also put the film in theaters as a four-wall outside of New York and LA, in a strategic move best described as virtue signaling.
The line-up at Netflix is: Mank, Hillbilly Elegy, The Trial of the Chicago Seven, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (in that order), plus guest stars Da 5 Bloods, Pieces of a Woman, I’m Thinking of Ending Things, The 40-Year-Old Version and White Tiger.
It will be interesting to see whether Fincher, Sorkin, Denzel, and Gary Oldman are all on Season 3 of My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman next month.
And A24 will release the new Sofia Coppola, On The Rocks, via AppleTV+ on October 23, with an adorable theatrical starting October 2.
This leaves us where we usually are before the start of the fall festivals… with a dozen or fewer films that have been seen, of which one or two, at the outside, have a realistic shot at being in the game at the end.
Fall festivals deliver another five-to-eight likely titles. And we wait to see what fills in with October and November screenings and some December lock.
But this is not your normal year.
We don’t know if there will be an October or November for movies and certainly for movie theaters. And we certainly don’t know whether there will be a December, January or February, as the dead of winter blows cold through America.
And if we stop where we are, I understand why Oscar guessers are giving Netflix half the Best Picture slots. Because this is not even half an Oscar season yet.
So what else is coming?
This is where the chicken and the egg get confusing.
Disney holds the most large-budget studio films that could be Oscar contenders, which are sitting in dry dock with almost guaranteed financial losses coming if had been released – on any format – in time to be Oscar contenders. This changed as I was writing, as the studio pushed West Side Story to 2021, as they already had The Last Duel. So WB’s Dune is the only relevant title.
No Disney. No Paramount. No Sony. No Warner Bros. Maybe no Universal (News of the World is still scheduled for late December.) No theatrical.
There are maybe a half-dozen warm arty titles that could be loaded into the Oscar Gatling gun pretty quickly. C’mon C’mon, The French Dispatch, Next Goal Wins, Promising Young Woman, Stillwater. But if they have commercial potential, it would be a waste if there is no Oscar competition based exclusively on 2020 and Jan/Feb 2021.
Things are not looking good for there to be a 2020 Oscar. Sorry. Just the way it is.
But the 2020/2021 Oscars should be a blast!!!
| March 6, 2022
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May 1, 2022
"Netflix, the great disrupter whose algorithms and direct-to-consumer platform have forced powerful media incumbents to rethink their economic models, now seems to need a big strategy change itself. It got me thinking about the simple idea that my film and TV production company Blumhouse is built on: If you give artists a lot of creative freedom and a little money upfront but a big stake in the movie’s or TV show’s commercial success, more often than not the result will be both commercial (the filmmakers are incentivized to make films that will resonate with audiences) and artistically interesting (creative freedom!). This approach has yielded movies as varied as Get Out (made for $4.5 million, with worldwide box office receipts of more than $250 million), Whiplash (made for $3.3 million, winner of three Academy Awards), The Invisible Man (made for $7 million, earned more than $140 million) and Paranormal Activity (made for $15,000, grossed more than $190 million).From the beginning, the most important strategy I used to persuade artists to work with me was to make radically transparent deals: We usually paid the artists (“participants” in Hollywood lingo) the absolute minimum allowable by union contracts upfront, with the promise of healthy bonuses based on actual box office results—instead of the opaque 'percentage points' that artists are usually offered. Anyone can see box office results immediately, so creators don’t quarrel with the payouts. In fact, when it comes time for an artist to collect a bonus based on box office receipts, I email a video clip of myself dropping the check off at FedEx to the recipient."
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