At the last Oscar ceremony thousands iof us were crammed into the Dolby Theater. Everywhere you turned, every conversation you heard was about Bong Joon-Ho’s Parasite. How it went from the movie that kept losing to 1917 to the movie nobody could stop talking about was just one of those Oscar things. Maybe people hadn’t seen it in large numbers yet. Maybe they voted for it without even seeing it to make up for last year’s Roma loss to Green Book. Either way, it ended in a very surprising, and for many people, satisfying way. But me, I’ll always remember the Oscars as the last reliable thing that happened before the world shut down.
The Oscars, by some twist of fate, had been pushed back by two weeks and were held in early February. Had they kept their original date of late February, they most likely would have been canceled. There would have been no audience to roar when Parasite won. No historic moment captured for posterity. There would be no audience at all. People come from all over the world to attend the Oscars, and most definitely from China. But by the time the Oscars would have been held, the Coronavirus had already spread to other countries. It was in France and Iran and Italy by then. It was on Cruise ships. By February 22, South Korea was reporting 433 cases and the US State Department issued a travel advisory for South Korean travelers. By February 29, the US further tightened travel restrictions when the first American died.
The only story people seem to want to talk about, with regards to the Oscars (because who cares in a worldwide pandemic, right?) is wondering if films unable to premiere in theaters must now be viewed on streaming platforms, whether the usual rules should be suspended for the Oscars, and if they make that decision, does that mean things change for good? A little bit like wheeling the Trojan horse through the gates? Is this our future whether we want it or not?
The HFPA have already changed up their rules, provisionally, and at the moment all screenings for the Globes and Emmy TV shows will be piped directly into voters’ homes. What will happen with the Oscars? I would imagine they too would allow for some wiggle room on this — even if right now they don’t have to make a decision immediately, since everything, including Cannes, is frozen in limbo at the moment.
I’m not sure how the Oscars are going to go in terms of this thing. The Oscar season properly starts in Venice and Telluride at the end of August. Italy has been hit hard by the pandemic now, with 11,000 deaths already. We don’t know which areas will be safe, which will be hit harder or hit by a second wave, and/or which films will open and where and when.
Movie theaters are suffering a crippling blow right now, that’s for sure, but some outlets are are offering at-home rentals of new releases, and it’s possible they will offer movies for free when this whole thing finally normalizes.
Really, though, aside from these questions, this is a time to for us to check in with everyone out there — how are you faring during this time? What movies are you watching? How are you getting exercise? Are you feeling lonely? Are you still happy Parasite won? Do you wish another movie had won? What is your big Oscar wish for this coming year?
Most of us have been stunned silent by this crisis and thus, we extend our sympathies to our readers who come from everywhere in the world. Please take good care of yourselves and know that you will always have a home here at this godforsaken website.
Okay, I’ll start. What am I looking forward to most? Well, there is David Fincher’s Mank. Which I can’t believe even got made, let alone that I’ll actually get to see at some point soon. I have always thought The Social Network was the modern day Citizen Kane so this film will close that circle. And I can’t wait.
AwardsWatch has a comprehensive guide to films upcoming — in taking a look at that, Eric lays out what Netflix will be offering in addition to Mank:
Either way, they’ve got by far the biggest slate of heavy hitters this season with new films from Spike Lee (Da 5 Bloods), George Clooney (Good Morning, Midnight), Ron Howard (Hillbilly Elegy), Charlie Kaufman (I’m Thinking of Ending Things) as well as some smaller and riskier material like Andrew Dominik’s edgy Marilyn Monroe (non)biopic Blonde with Ana de Armas, the Untitled Nora Fingscheidt Project with Sandra Bullock and Viola Davis, George C. Wolfe’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (as with Davis) and The White Tiger from Ramin Bahrani.
Obviously in addition to these, the films we all will be watching include:
Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story
Christopher Nolan’s Tenet
Paul Greengrass’ News of the World
Joel and Ethan Coen’s MacBeth (with Denzel Washington!)
Guillermo del Toro’s Nightmare Alley
David O. Russell’s untitled project
Paul Thomas Anderson’s untitled project
Andrew Dominik’s Blonde
Charlie Kaufman’s I’m Thinking About Ending Things
George C. Wolfe’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Ryan Murphy’s The Prom
Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial of the Chicago 7
Lee Daniels’ The United States vs Billie Holiday
Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch
Michael Showalter’s The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Taika Waititi’s Next Goal Wins
John Chu’s In the Heights
Tell us how you’re doing, Oscarwatchers. We’d really love to check in with you and give you many virtual hugs.