With red carpets rolled up, the Oscar race goes virtual

For the launch of the black-and-white Mank, Netflix outfitted its video conference in handsome monochrome. By: AP | New York |

Updated: December 5, 2020 10:06:44 am

This year, Oscar campaigns are having to make do with virtual Q&As and home-delivered gift baskets. Maybe, some hope, it will slim down for good. I do feel like we’re all in this together,” says Sharp. The streamer, which has fiercely sought a best-picture win after close calls with Roma and The Irishman, this year has at least three best-picture candidates, including David Fincher’s Mank, Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial of the Chicago 7 and George C. “The question is: Do you embrace that and say: ‘That was this year,’ and not be pants-on-fire about it. This year, with many under quarantine, theatres shuttered in Los Angeles and New York and, well, some more pressing concerns than who’s campaigning for best supporting actor, awards season is operating in a strange COVID-19 vacuum with only a whiff of the stuff it thrives on: buzz.https://images.indianexpress.com/2020/08/1×1.png
For Awards Daily founder Sasha Stone, who has been covering the Oscars since 2000, it’s like nothing she’s ever seen — an awards season without glamour, without red carpets, without anything that feels real. Costs will be lower. The timetable has shifted two months: The Academy Awards are to be held April 25. “Ninety-five percent of an academy campaign is getting people to see the movie, ideally on the big screen. Don't Miss These StoriesWant more of Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Lives? The Oscar race will Zoomed. (Photo: HBO MAX)
It’s also left the field for Netflix to dominate. Now you can’t get them to the big screen. Wolfe’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. For some, it’s a tantalizing possibility that this year’s unusual circumstances could expand the traditional notions — and frustrating restrictions — of what is an Oscar movie. Swartz, who has helped steer campaigns for everything from Boyhood to Black Panther, acknowledged, “Right now, it’s hard for films to feel real and to feel like they’re sticking.”
The whole rhythm of the season’s calendar, from one awards group to another, is also off kilter. And awards season, such as it is, has gone virtual. For a Q&A for his dystopic space drama The Midnight Sky, George Clooney could track down a better-than-average moderator via video conference: Cate Blanchett. Also Read | Mank movie review: David Fincher film revels in the grey
Meanwhile, Zoom boxes are getting more dressed up all the time. Stars less worn out. That’s really what the Oscars have kind of been built on.”
Nevertheless, Oscar season is pushing ahead, despite the pandemic, despite a year where most of the biggest releases were postponed. “It’s going to be a challenge to keep your movie sort of in the awareness all the way to April or to March, when voting happens,” said Tom Bernard, co-president of Sony Pictures Classics, whose contenders this year include the dementia drama The Father, with Anthony Hopkins. One of few sure things is a posthumous nomination for Chadwick Boseman for his performance in Ma Rainey. This year, the film academy relaxed its requirement of a theatrical run for nominees — a change some are already lobbying to make permanent. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
For all the latest Entertainment News, download Indian Express App. Not everyone is sorry that awards season — an increasingly bloated, overlong, high-priced slog from September to February — has been turned upside down. On the bright side, said producer Jeffrey Sharp, executive director of the Independent Filmmaker Project, more people will see the typically untelevised ceremony than ever before. “It’s going to be interesting because there were no blockbusters. 11 show from the cavernous Cipriani’s in Manhattan, with guests arranged virtually on tables. Are they really going to watch them? The movies may be finished — picture locked — but their Oscar fortunes are in flux right up until ballots are cast. It’s a frothy, festive run of the year’s final premieres and screenings — all part of a carefully orchestrated dance to court tastemakers and, ultimately, academy voters. I’m curious if it will skew more indie-cinephile,” says Steven Soderbergh, whose Meryl Streep-led Let Them All Talk is among the many films going straight to streaming. Publicists used to racing from event to event can do it this year with a click, while wearing sweatpants. “What’s missing is the ‘wow’ factor. “If there are any lessons learned, we’re happy to pass them on to the next guy. Everyone’s seeing it at home.”
Keeping any movie not named Borat in the zeitgeist has been nearly impossible this year, either because people are overburdened by the pandemic, movies lack a physical presence beyond a box on your TV screen or because viewers would rather just binge The Queen’s Gambit. And a glittering, glad-handing ecosystem of cocktails and Q&As works very hard to steer the conversation. That’s left open leading positions for smaller films that might have had to fight harder for the spotlight — among them Chloe Zhao’s open-road ode Nomadland, Lee Isaac Chung’s Korean-American family drama Minari and Regina King’s fictional gathering of ’60s Black icons One Night in Miami. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)This is the time of year when Hollywood’s awards-season-industrial complex usually shifts into high gear. What are they going to watch?” says Cynthia Swartz, one of the industry’s top Oscar campaign strategists. She compares this year’s race to the floating debris left by a sinking ship. Check out these unseen clipsBigg Boss 14 December 5 episode LIVE UPDATESThalaivi: Kangana Ranaut pays tribute to Jayalalithaa on her death anniversaryClick here for more

The IFP Gotham Awards, one of the first big parties of the year, will livestream their Jan. This year, in the absence of real conversation, the race will likely be won online, making critics and pundits even more influential. With Oscar nominations ballots usually due in early January, most voters plow through screeners over the holidays. Just go: That was this year.”
Lucas Hedges and Meryl Streep in Let Them All Talk. “There’s no there there,” says Stone. “The biggest challenge is: How are we going to get people to see the movies? Last Oscars, the win for Parasite, the first non-English language film to take best picture, was heavily fueled by social-media support. Awards campaigns normally focused on doing everything they can to lure guild members and others to see their film on the big screen have had to accept that this year they’ll be watching in their living room, maybe on a laptop, potentially with a lot of pausing and probably with many glances at their phone. To pull off the digital trick, organizers are relying on an online poker interface. Many of the films that might have been among the favorites this year — Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story or Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch — have been postponed. “This year, everyone’s trying to figure it out, and I think deserves credit for at least trying to keep the ball rolling.”
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. “It’s going to be a very different journey between now and the end of April.”

It has undoubtedly reshuffled the usual kinds of movies in the race. We didn’t have any blockbusters this year, so how do we know what was a hit.