This is the Academy Award year that Netflix might have dreamed about … in a twisted, “Rosemary’s Baby” kind of way.
It’s the year the streaming channel leads everyone, with 37 nominations; several (including “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” shown here) would be deserving winners. But first, that reference:
In the 1968 movie, Rosemary’s husband landed a coveted role, when another actor was suddenly struck blind. That’s sort of like Netflix: It was forever considered to be second-tier, because its films show up only briefly in theaters; then came this year, when all the movies were like that.
We’re sure (well, somewhat sure) that Netflix wouldn’t want a pandemic to happen, just to give it an even playing field. Still, that’s what we have.
Last year, the service broke through with four major Oscar wins – three for “Roma” (director, cinematography and foreign-language film) and one for “Marriage Story” (Laura Dern in support). Now it has a flood of possibilities
The ceremony is 8-11 p.m. Sunday (April 25) on ABC. If you have Netflix, you try these first:
– “The Trial of the Chicago 7”: Sure, Aaron Sorkin cheated, giving this true story an untrue ending. He’s done that before, with his otherwise brilliant “Social Network” script. But this is still a marvelous movie, corralling the wondrous chaos of the time. It’s one of my favorite films, a triumph for Sorkin (as both writer and director) and others, especially Sacha Baron Cohen as Abbie Hoffman.
– “Mank”: Hollywood loves movies about show business. Great ones win best-picture Oscars (“Shakespeare in Love”) or come close (“A Star is Born”). “Mank” is a pretty good one, marked by its creative approach. David Fincher took a script his dad had written, about the creation of the “Citizen Kane” script … then provided the sort of stylish, black-and-white look that “Kane” had. It’s a fascinating film with 10 nominations (including best picture), but I’d only consider it for best director and several technical categories.
– “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”: Here is an actors’ film, written for the stage and filled with wondrous bursts of energy. It’s not up for best picture, but is considered a front-runner for the top acting awards. I have my doubts about Viola Davis (perfect performance, but an undemanding role), but the late Chadwick Boseman is a marvel. He was the consummate actor, subtle when playing Jackie Robinson or Thurgood Marshall, then explosive when playing James Brown or this brilliant/tragic soul.
– “Hillbilly Elegy”: Here is an amazing movie, telling a true story in a way that sees its characters’ flaws, yet loves them anyway. I could have seen lots of Oscar nominations here – best picture, director (Ron Howard), actress (Amy Adams), more. It got only two, both worthy – hairstyle and make-up and, especially, the superb work of Glenn Close as the crude, cruel and lovable grandmother.
– There are others, of course … even a nomination for “Husavik,” a song in Will Ferrell’s “Eurovision Song Contest.” That will be performed during the pre-show (6:30-8 p.m. Sunday on ABC), which at least gives Netflix another first – the first Oscar song to be performed live from Iceland.