Netflix Kicks Off Its Oscar Season With a Telluride Blitz. How Far Can It Go?

On the again patio of Telluride’s Rustico Ristorante on a brisk Friday night time, Netflix’s Oscar season was kicking into gear. The streamer all however blitzed the Rockies this yr—internet hosting three separate occasions for 3 totally different movies, and jetting expertise in a single day from Venice world premieres to their U.S. debuts—in preparation for a unique type of season than the one we noticed in 2020. That’s to say, with precise in-person awards campaigning. 

First to reach in Colorado was Paolo Sorrentino, director of the Oscar-winning The Nice Magnificence and his newest, deeply private Naples-set movie, The Hand of God. Launching with that title presents a glimpse into Netflix’s distinctive awards slate this yr. The studio is coming off a season by which it pushed laborious for broader, extra business fare like The Trial of the Chicago 7 and Ma Rainey’s Black Backside, in addition to David Fincher’s equally large, if far much less accessible, Mank. Following very sturdy nominations totals, the streamer underperformed on Oscars night time: It didn’t win any of the massive eight classes (image, director, appearing, screenplay), regardless of closely favored nominees just like the late Chadwick Boseman, and streamers general took one other backseat to comparatively conventional gamers like Searchlight Footage (Nomadland), Focus Options (Promising Younger Lady), and Sony Classics (The Father)—shocking, maybe, given the pandemic’s affect on viewing habits.

One suspects that, this cycle, Netflix is extra successfully assembly the Oscars the place they’re at proper now. This fall the studio boasts an array of provocative arthouse potentialities which may’ve appeared rather less Academy-friendly a number of years in the past, however within the period of best-picture winners Moonlight, Parasite, and Nomadland may hit a brand new type of candy spot. (In spite of everything, the studio’s first-ever large contender was the Spanish-language Roma, for which Alfonso Cuarón gained greatest director.) It’s additionally price noting that extra business potentialities for Netflix, together with A-list ensemble items The More durable They Fall and Don’t Look Up, are coming down the pike. 

Sorrentino’s The Hand of God could also be a troublesome Academy promote past greatest worldwide function (assuming Italy selects it)—reviews are sturdy, however a number of early detractors made themselves recognized out of Venice. However there’s a transparent understanding that the Academy’s directing department, significantly, is getting very world very quick. Given latest directing nominations for worldwide auteurs Thomas Vinterberg (One other Spherical) and Pawel Pawlikowski (Chilly Warfare), Sorrentino joins A Hero’s Asghar Farhadi and Parallel Moms’s Pedro Almodóvar as a director working exterior of the English language who may catch the Academy’s consideration.

In any case, Netflix’s crown jewel, because it had been, is Jane Campion. Outdoors of one other Netflix movie (extra on that in a minute), The Energy of the Canine is the best-reviewed contender out of Venice by an excellent quantity, and in my eyes, an across-the-board Academy player, from image to appearing (Benedict Cumberbatch in lead, Kirsten Dunst and Kodi Smit-McPhee in supporting) to crafts (significantly, cinematography, enhancing, and rating). I haven’t seen one other title that covers all these bases but, at the least so assuredly. 

There’s actual pull within the narrative, too, for Campion—the second lady ever nominated for greatest director, who hasn’t made a film in over a decade. Definitely the chatter was already beginning at Netflix’s first dinner, per my chats with a number of strategists in attendance. To make issues extra engaging, Campion was additionally available for a particular Telluride tribute as a part of Energy’s U.S. premiere on Saturday night, and it went over smashingly. “She’s an distinctive human being, and a unprecedented expertise,” Cumberbatch stated as he offered her with the distinguished Silver Medallion. “She takes you to locations you could solely dream of.” 

The subsequent morning, I caught up with Campion at a starry gathering for Energy as she mingled, excessive off the response to the movie (and possibly the altitude), and she or he informed me she was nonetheless taking the Telluride vibe in. It’s her first time right here, and having the ability to share her movie with an excited neighborhood has saved her smiling. The brunch flowed proper into Netflix’s dinner for The Misplaced Daughter, which the studio appears greater on by the day. Certainly, reviews for Maggie Gyllenhaal’s directorial debut out of Venice had been uniformly effusive, with star Olivia Colman rising as a near-lock best-actress nominee (by no means thoughts that win a number of years in the past; simply ask Frances McDormand) and robust screenplay possibilities as effectively. The movie, tailored from Elena Ferrante’s novel, is a troublesome, uncompromising portrait of motherhood, helmed with a uncommon confidence for a primary movie.

All three administrators had been current at Telluride’s star-studded filmmaker reception on Saturday afternoon. Gyllenhaal had simply gotten in from the Lido, and informed me on the packed balcony that she and the Misplaced Daughter workforce “had been on cloud 9” as raves rolled in whereas they flew to the U.S. 

With Telluride again for the primary time because the COVID-induced cancellation this yr, there’s a lot to have a good time— and Netflix’s sturdy presence amid this curated number of fall movies feels important. If that is lastly Netflix’s yr for a real Oscar breakthrough, it’s not a foul place to begin.

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— Join the “Awards Insider” newsletter for must-read business and awards protection. | Netflix Kicks Off Its Oscar Season With a Telluride Blitz. How Far Can It Go?


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