Oscars 2021: Streaming and Snubs

I usually start my mad rush to area theaters when the Oscar nominations are announced each year. Fortunately or unfortunately, most of the nominations this year are available via streaming services or on demand, meaning I could watch at home, saving time and energy running from theater to theater.

In these highly unusual years, it’s not surprising that what Hollywood put out is equally as unusual. Not the content, per se, but the medium. With movie theaters closed much of 2020 and 2021, many studios delayed scheduled 2020 releases indefinitely (think James Bond!) but others moved their releases to at-home rental options or streaming services. Very few films ended up having only a theatrical release (Tenet, anyone?). 

Judas and the Black Messiah--nominated for Best Picture, among other awards--landed on HBOMax for a limited time and has been announced on DVD. So, yes, you can place holds on that title in our library catalog. The others? Some are available to rent at various outlets, and some are also available to reserve from the library, including Nomadland, Minari, The Father, The Mauritanian, and Promising Young Woman

But, many titles are not currently available for holds, and only a handful are available at a small selection of movie theaters. This group includes the Netflix titles The Trial of the Chicago 7, Mank, The White Tiger, Hillbilly Elegy, Pieces of a Woman or Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Amazon Prime titles Sound of Metal, One Night in Miami, and Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, and Hulu titles The United States vs. Billie Holiday and Another Round.

To see most of those movies right now, you have to subscribe to those services. Will they ever be available on DVD or Blu-ray so the library can buy copies? Will you be able to see those films without spending additional money? I’m sorry to say that the answer is 'maybe.'

Despite that, Sharon and I created two lists, one with our Oscar takes and one with some Oscar snubs. In both lists, we limited our picks to what is available in the library catalog, meaning only movies that have been announced for a DVD or Blu-ray release.

Here are some of my additional picks and snubs currently only available via streaming, not yet available through our library catalog. 

One Night in Miami is my pick for Best Adapted Screenplay. But, it would also have been my pick for Best Director, had the Academy done the right thing and nominated Regina King for her marvelous directing here. With the exception of Adapted Screenplay, Original Song, and Leslie Odom Jr. getting nominated for Best Supporting Actor, One Night in Miami got shut out of everything else. King’s direction in this film is stellar and definitely one of the best things about the film. The way she highlights each of the four actors in their own way, while keeping an eye on the overall storytelling, is unexcelled. Yet, the Academy chose to nominate the director Thomas Vinterberg for the Danish film Another Round in King's place, or in what should have been her place. Another Round deserves its Best International Film nomination (and even a Best Actor nod for lead Mads Mikkelsen would make more sense than Best Director). But not nominating King as Best Director is a major oversight. One Night in Miami was also left off the Best Picture list of nominations as well, which is also a major snub. One Night in Miami is on Amazon Prime.

Speaking of snubs, let’s talk about Da 5 Bloods, directed by Spike Lee, also being shut out with NO major nominations--only Best Original Score. My favorite film of the year, I feel this is Spike Lee’s tour-de-force, one of the best films he’s directed in his long career. Like fellow snub One Night in Miami, Da 5 Bloods is a stunning piece of ensemble acting that is carefully and meticulously filmed in Lee's expert hands. Each of the major characters evolves slowly, unraveling their individual stories in collaboration with the story as a whole. It’s a masterpiece in filmmaking, yet the Academy didn’t deem it worthy of any major nominations. Aside from direction by Spike Lee, any of the performances are worthy of nominations, especially Delroy Lindo, who plays the lone wolf of the group of four Black vets who battle the forces of man and nature when they return to Vietnam seeking the remains of their fallen squad leader and the gold he helped them hide. Da 5 Bloods is on Netflix.

Even though Anthony Hopkins in The Father is my pick for Best Actor (and he just won the BAFTA), I do believe the late Chadwick Boseman (who's most likely going to win the Best Actor award for his turn in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom) deserves to win an Oscar this year...but not for Ma Rainey. Boseman should have been nominated and should win for his supporting role in a better film with a better performance, Da 5 Bloods. Because of this snub, I definitely would love to see him win for Best Actor for Ma Rainey, since that is his only nomination, unfortunately. 

The Mauritanian is a strong, powerful movie featuring a great performance by Jodie Foster. She won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress, but was snubbed for the Oscar. Why? Well, in the Best Supporting Actress Oscar category, Glenn Close's nomination for Hillbilly Elegy could have been the slot for Jodie Foster. Close’s performance is by far the best thing in the Hillbilly Elegy, but the film is a highly flawed, mediocre, troubled adaptation of a great book. The Mauritanian is a strong film with an excellent performance by Foster. Was Foster robbed for Close being rewarded? Did the Academy decide to honor Close, a seven-time Oscar nominee (now eight) but never a winner in lieu of two-time Oscar winner Foster? Maybe! Another phenomenal performance in The Mauritanian is by Tahar Rahim, a French actor of Algerian descent who steals the show (sometimes even from Foster) as Mohamedou Ould Slahi, the real-life Mauritanian held in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp for 14 years without being charged with a crime after he is suspected of being a 9/11 instigator. Both performances on their own would make this movie a must see. The fact that it's also a taut, well-paced legal drama makes it a very strong film indeed!

View the major Oscar nominations this year.