The Oscars Try to Create a Balance between Streaming and Blockbuster Content
The Oscars have always been a gala event to honor cinematic achievements, taking a break between awards to rally around the movie industry. With film currently in a state of transition due to streaming services and the COVID-19 pandemic crippling theaters, it appears that Academy members are striving to find a balance between streaming films and box office hits, attempting to satisfy everyone's needs and expectations.
If the accolades heading into the Academy Awards prove accurate, "Everything Everywhere All at Once" is set to take the biggest prize. Already bestowed with recognition from various filmmaking organizations, this movie has solidified its frontrunner status.
If this prediction holds true, the Academy will recognize a movie that made a considerable monetary impact by grossing over $100 million worldwide, a record for its independent studio, A24. Although that is a substantial number, it dwindles in comparison to the massive box-office figures of other movies in the same period.
At a prestigious award event, Steven Spielberg thanked Tom Cruise for having Hollywood saved by the movie “Top Gun: Maverick”. The long-awaited sequel, which earned nearly $1.5 billion worldwide, was akin to what James Cameron’s “Avatar: The Way of Water” achieved by exceeding the $2-billion global plateau to stand as the third-highest-grossing movie of all time.
Shifting away from commercial successes, “Everything Everywhere” – a journey through alternate realities – has been praised among the likes of “Nomadland” and “Moonlight” by winning an Independent Spirit Award and making its way towards the Oscars.
At the same time that Steven Spielberg expressed his appreciation for being invited to the Oscar party, there still remained an underlying discord when it comes to major studio releases being recognized. This rift echoes a mistrust of the type of films that have been heavily featured at the box office, such as those of the superhero and sci-fi genres, which are seen as overly focused on visual effects and sensations, often with lackluster storylines.
The Academy has had to deal with this dynamic, even considering a couple of years ago adding a “popular film” class before abandoning the thought. These sorts of concessions were seen as unnecessary in past times, when prevalent interest and prizes frequently went connected at the hip, including best-picture successes for Cameron's "Titanic," "Gladiator," and "The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King."
To a certain degree, simply assigning well-known motion pictures could help provoke intrigue in the service and improve evaluations, a significant inspiration. With its worldwide gross of $2.3 billion, "Avatar's" amount is more than four times that of the other eight best-picture contenders (excluding "Top Gun") added together.
Hollywood has accepted streaming as a valid option for award ceremonies, even though the films created for these platforms are distinguished by different rules. The pandemic has accelerated this transformation, as highlighted by "CODA" and "Nomadland" both earning best-picture accolades despite their minuscule budget compared to the cost of production for a movie like "Avatar".
At the 2021 Academy Awards, streaming services will not be as prominent as years past, however, their offerings are still likely to earn a few accolades. The poignant “All Quiet on the Western Front” from Netflix is a top choice for best international feature, while “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio” is anticipated to win best animated movie.
Examining the nominees, industry expert Tim Gray elucidated a bright prospect for moviegoing in 2021, asserting these films, “from grand spectacles to tender dramas,” often finish with a glimmer of optimism. He relates this to “the characters — and of moviegoing in the 21st century.”
The success of films like "Avatar," "Top Gun" and "Spider-Man: No Way Home" has sparked a rebuilding process that is set to continue as spring and summer bring a robust lineup of theatrical releases. Nevertheless, the wide range of this year's Oscar nominees - including numerous box-office flops - suggests that the entertainment industry is faced with a lack of direction and no clear path towards the future. In this regard, the Oscars might serve to highlight that it is not possible to have "Everything Everywhere All at Once" without making some concessions.