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Aaron Sorkin In, Steven Spielberg Out

“The Trial of the Chicago 7” proved that it’s an actual contender, however “West Side Story” determined to attend till subsequent 12 months

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Netflix has lastly entered this 12 months’s awards race, and meaning it feels extra like an actual awards race than it has till now.

But Disney and Fox pulled their greatest contender out, which makes the race really feel much more unsure than it already did.

In per week that most likely quantities to at least one step ahead, two steps again, Aaron Sorkin’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7” had a digital screening occasion that proved it’s certainly an actual contender, and Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” had its launch delayed for a full 12 months, from December 2020 to December 2021.

That leaves the 12 months with a slate that’s shockingly quick on studio releases. Warner Bros. nonetheless has Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune” on its 2020 launch schedule, as does Universal with Paul Greengrass’ interval Western “News of the World.” And relying on theater openings, studios might slot further contenders into January and February and nonetheless meet the Oscars’ prolonged eligibility interval.

But it will nonetheless be nothing like a standard awards 12 months. It’s oddly typical of 2020 that the centerpiece of the New York Film Festival, which is at the moment happening, is a trio of movies — “Lovers Rock,” “Mangrove” and “Red, White and Blue” — that director Steve McQueen made as a part of his “Small Axe” anthology challenge. Those movies will air within the U.S. on Amazon Prime, however the firm doesn’t plan to launch them theatrically or qualify them for the Oscars.

If the Oscars weren’t the principle income for the Academy, the shortage of movies may even make you marvel if AMPAS would take into account canceling subsequent 12 months’s present, or consolidating this 12 months’s motion pictures with 2021’s. But the monetary facet makes that an virtually fully untenable choice for the Academy.

So it leaves us asking the query: Will we’ve sufficient to make an actual awards race with Chloe Zhao’s competition sensation “Nomadland,” a number of Netflix motion pictures, competition movies that may characteristic most strongly within the performing classes and leftovers from the slim pre- and mid-pandemic pickings?

It’s a begin, no less than. “Nomadland” is the true deal, profitable each the jury prize at Venice and the viewers award in Toronto. (Both festivals had been slimmed down, however these awards are nonetheless vital.) “One Night in Miami,” “On the Rocks,” “Pieces of a Woman,” “Ammonite” and “The Father” all have a shot within the performing classes, and maybe past that.

And now there’s Netflix. The firm clearly has essentially the most strong slate of contenders of any studio — and since it makes its cash in subscriptions, not theater tickets, it may give its motion pictures small Oscar-qualifying runs with out dropping the income that different studios would in the event that they launched movies in a depressed theatrical market that didn’t embrace Los Angeles and New York.

Because the corporate deserted its common observe of sending its awards-contending movies to festivals, the Tuesday screening of “The Trial of the Chicago 7” was the primary have a look at one of many key movies on its 2020 awards slate. And whereas Oscar voters have but to see it, the interval drama is an pressing piece of filmmaking that feels well timed and ought to be a powerful contender in plenty of classes, together with Best Picture; its greatest drawback might come within the performing classes, the place it’ll be exhausting determining who to vote for in a forged that would populate the Best Supporting Actor class by itself.

(The showiest roles go to Sacha Baron Cohen, Jeremy Strong and Frank Langella, essentially the most highly effective moments to Yahya Abdul-Mateen and essentially the most satisfying ones to Mark Rylance and Eddie Redmayne, although Michael Keaton is fabulous in a job which may be missed as a result of he’s solely in a few scenes.)

Netflix’s different unveiling this week was Joe Mantello’s movie of the 1968 Broadway play…

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