By John H. Foote
In 1937, when 10 films were being nominated for Best Picture, MGM had five films nominated for Best Picture, winning with The Great Ziegfeld. It was a banner year, and in 83 years no one has tied that record. Now in fairness the number of nominees was dropped to five in the forties, making it near impossible, but in 2009 that number of nominees was elevated back to up to 10.
Silly move, says I. But it is what it is.
This year, crazy old 2020 could see Netflix tie that record. The upstart streaming company could very well land five of their films in the Best Picture race.
Mank and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom seem already shoo ins for Best Picture nominations, both poised to dominate the nominations. Spike Lee’s superb Da Five Bloods deserves to be there and George Clooney’s just now screening (with astounding results) The Midnight Sky is more than worthy, in fact it might win. Aaron Sorkin and his superb film The Trial of the Chicago 7 is a likely nominee too, I do not see how they could ignore it, giving us five.
If the Academy is feeling political, or goofy they may throw a bone to Ron Howard’s Hillbilly Elegy, caught up in the performances of Amy Adams and Glenn Close who act all over the place.
Count me a fan of Netflix, I love that they are willing to make films the studios fear or have no interest in making. From their first Oscar qualifier Beasts of No Nation (2015) they have been the real deal. The Irishman, Martin Scorsese’s haunting take on the consequences of a life of crime, was an exquisite film, nominated for ten, winning nothing but everyone in that audience understood what was happening.
You bastards! How dare you make films THIS great? How dare you finance a film for Scorsese that we, the elite studios, would not? Hollywood was making a statement and in doing so they humiliated the greatest American filmmaker, sending he, his cast, his crew of artists home empty handed.
Shame on Hollywood, shame on the Academy.
This could be, should be, the year of Netflix.
John H. Foote is a well-recognized Canadian film critic/historian who has been an active critic for 30 years. His deep love for the movies began at a very young age. He began his career as co-host of the popular TV show Reel to Real where he remained for nine years. While on TV he began dabbling in education, eventually ascending to Director of the Toronto Film School, where he also taught film history. After leaving the college to care for his wife, he returned to teaching at Humber College where he taught both Film History and Method Acting Theory. John has written two books: “Clint Eastwood – Evolution of a Filmmaker” and the upcoming “Spielberg – American Film Visionary”. He is currently working on two books, one about the films of the seventies and another on the films of Martin Scorsese. Through his career he has worked in TV, radio, print and the web. John has interviewed everyone in the industry (more than 300 interviews) except Jack Nicholson, he says sadly. Highlights include Martin Scorsese, Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep Robert Duvall, Jane Fonda, Francis Ford Coppola and Kathryn Bigelow.