How Hollywood Is Screwing Over Movie Fans This Oscar Season
People have heard how good “Nomadland,” “Minari,” and “The Father” are for months. But because of the Oscar calendar, they’ll still have to wait weeks—or months—to see them.
This week, the world as I know it was turned upside down by the news. Sex and the City is being rebooted, sans Kim Cattrall. On the one hand, that’s like having sex without… having sex. On the other hand, I will devour every episode of this and have already drafted a grassroots army to help fashion voodoo dolls of any and every person caught speaking ill of this show.
I bring this up because of how quickly the news passed.
Since this was announced: Armie Hammer has been alleged to be a sex cannibal, Azealia Banks exhumed her dead cat and boiled its skull, Brian from the Backstreet Boys may have been lost to Q, pandemic deaths keep climbing, the vaccine rollout endures with all the careful organization of a Chuck E. Cheese birthday party, insurrectionists continue to be utterly shocked at being arrested for staging a deadly coup, taxpayers discovered they’ve paid $100K so that Javanka’s Secret Service detail can take a shit, members of Congress are throwing hissy fits over having to walk through metal detectors on their way into the Capitol (which is apparently less secure than the Celine Dion concert I attended pre-COVID, or a typical American middle school), and, oh yeah, the president was impeached. Again.
That is to say this weekend is the perfect time to decompress with the greatest winter pastime: curling up with a blanket on the corner of the couch and watching some good movies. Only, because of this cursed year, even that is frustrating.
It’s the time of year when critics’ Top 10 lists fade into film awards groups setting their nominees, as Oscar buzz whips into a tailspin. In a normal year, there’s an annoying lack of access for the average movie fan to these films, which typically open in a very limited capacity in December before being available for the rest of the country to watch later in the winter.
That means that people who are reading about the year’s best movies and watching award shows that honor them are not able to watch them. That’s incredibly annoying! No wonder people scoff at award shows!
On Friday, one of those movies, Promising Young Woman, finally comes out on VOD, which means you can rent it from home. That’s about three weeks after it had its release in theaters—whatever that means in pandemic times—over a month after it began popping up on everyone’s year-end lists, maybe two months past when film writers began tweeting their raves and sharing their glowing profiles of the creative team, and almost a full year after its original debut at Sundance.
That’s a long-ass time to hear that you should watch a film that you are in no way able to watch.
It’s a bizarre quirk of award-season release schedules that movie fans are the audience that is specifically screwed. And it’s even worse this year than in years prior, as the pandemic forced the Academy Awards to push back its ceremony to April.
As such, after their perfunctory end-of-December qualifying runs, all those movies you’ve already been hearing about for months won’t be available to watch until the spring, in some cases. And even then, only if you’re willing to go to a movie theater to see it.
Do you like good movies? Do you like hearing from influential writers and awards voters about how good they are? Would you like to see those movies? TOO BAD!!!
Here’s a rundown of what I’ve been able to compile about those great movies from last year (???) that you’ll be able to watch, finally, at some point this year.
Nomadland: The sensational film about the empty promise of the American dream is my top movie of 2020, and will likely win Oscars for Best Picture, Best Actress (Frances McDormand), and Best Director (Chloé Zhao). It will debut on IMAX Jan. 29—which, interesting—and then simultaneously in theaters and on Hulu on Feb. 19.
Minari: Another gorgeous standout, which recently made waves for being relegated to Foreign Language categories at some awards despite being an American film about a distinctly American story. Minari will have a limited theatrical release Feb. 12 and wider rollout on Mar. 15.
The Father: Want to weep uncontrollably as Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman make plays for their second Oscars? It will be released Feb. 26.
News of the World: What a holiday treat! Tom Hanks was starring in a sweeping Western that garnered the icon some of the best acting reviews of his career, and it was being released on Christmas Day. Unfortunately, you could only see it in theaters, should you be a COVID gambler. It’s finally coming out on VOD this Friday, Jan. 15.
Malcolm & Marie: The Zendaya-starring romantic drama shot during quarantine only screened for a handful of tastemakers before the end of the year, making its addition to some Movies of the Year lists intriguing. It hits Netflix on Feb. 5.
Judas and the Black Messiah: Initially planned for the summer, the film, which could make Daniel Kaluuya a Best Supporting Actor frontrunner, will be released on Feb. 12.