February 22nd, 2020

Netflix makes watching Oscar contenders easy


By Lethbridge Herald on January 18, 2020.

LEAVE IT TO BEEBER
Al Beeber
Lethbridge Herald
abeeber@lethbridgeherald.com
And the Oscar goes to. . . probably nothing I saw this year, which admittedly wasn’t much. At least not yet.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences released its nominees on Monday and it looks like I’ve got a lot of catching up to do.
Thankfully, Netflix carries some of the films so I can view them on my huge 58-inch ultra-high definition TV. Thanks to my son at Christmas, the experience will be enhanced by the sound bar with subwoofer he bought, which along with the new TV creates a home viewing experience unlike any I’ve ever had before.
I’ll also be checking Telus pay-per-view selections to see what other offerings are available to view at a nominal fee so by the time the awards are telecast, I’ll be more in tune with the program.
One film that’s on my must-see list — and it’s an odd choice for me — is “Judy.” Renee Zelweger has gotten rave reviews for her performance as the legendary Judy Garland and since we know how much Hollywood loves itself, I’m guessing she has to be one of the favourites in the best actress category. She’s competing against Cynthia Erivo in “Harriet,” Saoirse Ronan in “Little Women,” Charlize Theron in “Bombshell” and Scarlett Johansson in “Marriage Story,” which is now on Netflix.
Johansson’s co-star, Adam Driver, is one of the best actor nominees along with Antonio Banderas from “Pain and Glory” — also on Netflix — Joaquin Phoenix in “Joker,” Leonardo DiCaprio in “Once Upon a Time. . . .in Hollywood” and Jonathan Pryce in another Netflix offering “The Two Popes.” I haven’t seen any of these films yet so I’m not in a position to make any insightful guesses. But wait a week or two.
Two of my favourite actors of all time are both nominated as supporting actors for their roles in Netflix’ “The Irishman” — Joe Pesci and Al Pacino. I’m going on a limb and will say Pacino takes it for his role as union boss Jimmy Hoffa. He was phenomenal and so was Pesci but Pacino was a slim cut above. They are up against Tom Hanks in “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” Anthony Hopkins in “The Two Popes,” and Brad Pitt in “Once Upon a Time…”
Best supporting actress nominees are Laura Dern in “Marriage Story” — which I’ll have to watch just because of all the nominations — Kathy Bates in “Richard Jewell,” Scarlett Johansson in “Jojo Rabbit,” Florence Pugh in “Little Women” and Margot Robbie in “Bombshell.”
Given the early buzz about his performance, I’m surprised Eddie Murphy wasn’t nominated for best actor in “Dolemite Is My Name.” The guy was an absolute riot and while the film based on a true story certainly won’t appeal to everyone, I sure laughed.
“The Irishman,” which I watched from start to finish in one night, is among the contenders for best picture. This is an extremely long movie but it’s absolutely engaging from start to finish.
It’s up against two relatively controversial films in “Joker” and “Jojo Rabbit,” along with “Ford v. Ferrari,” “Little Women,” “Marriage Story,” “1917,” “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood,” and “Parasite.”
The DiCaprio/Pitt vehicle is one of the contenders I’ll have to put on my viewing list along with “Jojo Rabbit.” I’m not interested at all in “Joker” which led nominations with 11.
Of course, we are all self-proclaimed experts on film so who knows what will happen on Feb. 9 when the 92nd version of the Academy Awards is staged at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles?
Let’s face it, the personal tastes of the paying public doesn’t always translate to awards for art, and nor should it.
If this cold snap doesn’t end soon, I have a feeling I’ll be watching a lot of movies this weekend since even the dogs don’t want to go outside. Who can blame them?
The rise of Netflix in Academy Award competitions is of concern to movie theatres and the traditional way of viewing cinema.
This year it has a leading 24 nominations. And I understand why theatre owners and others have issues with the streaming service getting nods for films that only have to be run in a Los Angelese theatre for seven days to be considered for Oscars instead of Emmys.
But it’s a sign of our changing times. When we can buy — as I’ve seen in electronic stores — ultra-high definition smart TVs 75 inches or bigger and add sound bars for a truly immersive experience, I can see why people stay home.
These TVs are changing home entertainment — turn on an NHL game, crank up the sound and it’s like being in an arena with no lineups at a concession stand and no long walk to the bathroom.
With mine, I can even access my SiriusXM account and blast my favourite bands like Britny Fox, UFO and Poison loud enough to hear in the backyard.
Being a guy who suffers from misophonia, for me to be in a theatre listening to people chomp, chew and whisper is insufferable.
I absolutely can’t bear that kind of peripheral noise so for me, watching films at home is a necessity.
At least at a concert, everyone’s sounds are drowned out — and you can stand in the concourse — but that isn’t the case in a theatre when you’re sitting elbow-to-elbow with strangers smacking lips and talking.
With Netflix and pay-per-view, combined with the advanced technology of home theatre, we can replicate the theatre experience in our living rooms. Is that fair to theatre owners who need butts in the seats to feed their families? No, absolutely not. But it’s a reality of our evolving electronic world.
People sadly aren’t reading newspapers like they used to either, a situation we in this profession have been dealing with for years.
There may be a time when the financial impact of Netflix on the film industry will have to be addressed but when that company is investing millions of dollars annually in the creation of outstanding film productions and television series, realistically is there a chance of that happening?
And now with Apple TV+ and Amazon creating original programming, the growth of streaming services is not going to stop. What we are seeing now may just be the start of a changing and irreversible dynamic in the film industry.
Follow @albeebHerald on Twitter.

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