By John H. Foote
At the end of every calendar year, usually by Christmas, every film of importance has been released in L.A. and N.Y. in order to qualify for Academy Award consideration. Through the years some films have even missed those all important critics and guild awards because they remained unseen, The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) the most recent.
This year given the pandemic again raging around the globe, currently decimating California, the year’s cutoff date has been extended to February 28, 2021. So the end of the film year 2020 is not December 31, 2020, but February 28 of the new year. This is being done so the studios – large, small or streaming – can get their awards worthy films seen, to catch up as much as possible on the month’s films were shut down.
In addition, we already know the films made specifically for streaming services have been invited to the part and they will be permitted to qualify for the Oscars. At this writing I expect Netflix to dominate the nominations as they did last year with The Irishman, Marriage Story and The Two Popes. This year among the Best Picture nominees could be Da Five Bloods, Spike Lee’s daring study of a group of black men returning to the jungles of Vietnam where they fought 40 to 50 years ago. The Trial of the Chicago 7 is beautifully crafted, as is the brilliant, soul filled Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, both likely nominees along with Mank which is set during the Golden Age of Hollywood when movies were struggling to be a significant art form. Still to be released is George Clooney’s The Midnight Sky, which is among the year’s best films, while the overwrought Hillbilly Elegy might convince voters its shrillness is authentic and worthy of attention.
And that takes us to the end of 2020.
Then there is January and February for 59 days, so things are far from over. 2020 will officially end for film in April at the Oscars, the curtain closing on film as we have known it since those first Nickelodeons in the early part of the 20th century.
From now to February 28, it is going to be an awards season unlike any we have experienced.
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.