Hello, everyone, and welcome back to The Friendly Film Fan! I trust and hope that you all are staying safe and healthy and that you have made a rock-solid voting plan for this election season that we are currently in. This post is not about that, but I did feel it important to just go ahead and say that now, so that a) it gets on the blog in one place or another and b) if you haven’t done it yet, you now will.
2020 has been, needless to say, the most unpredictable, frustrating, soul-draining, and generally “what the fuck is happening” type of year in an extremely long time – probably the worst (or close to it) of all the time I have been alive, in terms of the state of the world, and in particular, the state of my particular section of it (that being the USA). I happen to be lucky enough to be healthy and privileged enough to not to have to directly deal with most of the worst parts of 2020 head-on, but there are a few things that have occurred in the world of movies that will affect how this year is approached in terms of my writing. The repercussions of various events, delays, and socializations had or not had this year will go on for a very long time, and to that end, I thought now would be a good time to update you all on a few bits of writing that you may have expected to see by now, but have not.
Many, many movies that were meant to be released this year have been delayed into 2021, and some, such as Jurassic World: Dominion and Matt Reeves’ highly-anticipated take on The Batman, have even been pushed into 2022 already. In fact, the only major studio release post-shutdown (and subsequent re-open) has been Christopher Nolan’s 11th film, Tenet, which is pulling in modest receipts given the circumstances, but isn’t getting enough people out into the theaters to justify keeping them open on that basis alone. Daniel Craig’s final James Bond flick, No Time to Die was the first to move from April to November when COVID reached U.S. shores, and now has been moved again from November to April 2021. Disney put Mulan on Disney+ for a $30 premiere access fee, and is following suit with Pixar’s Soul (though that Christmas day release comes without a fee of any kind, and will simply be included in the service’s streaming library). Denis Villeneuve’s remake of Dune, perhaps the most anticipated mainstream studio release of the year among movie fans, has been pushed into late 2021, and Wonder Woman 1984’s tentative Christmas release date is unlikely to hold for much longer. To that end, Cineworld, the second-largest theater chain globally, announced that as of this writing, they are shutting down all operations in Ireland, the UK, and the U.S. There simply are no big movies to bring people in, and prior to having a distributable vaccine, it’s unlikely people will feel safe enough gathering in a movie theater again to give theaters a boost even when there are big movies to show. Cinemark and AMC have doubled down in saying they will not be shutting down right now, but there is no guarantee that this decision will hold, especially given that AMC is billions in debt, and actively burning through resources to keep the chain alive. So, what does this mean for The Friendly Film Fan, and what can you expect to see in terms of end-of-year and Oscar content for this movie season?
Top 5 Best & Worst Movies of 2020 So Far (The Mid-Year Count)
This particular list/ranking really comes down to me simply not having had time to write it this year, but if you really want to see what my favorite and least favorite films of this year are, feel free to follow my “Movies of 2020” list on my Letterboxd account, where I rate and keep track of all the films I watch in and from 2020. Because the list is not yet complete, they are only listed in the order in which I saw them, but when the “2020 movie year” is over, I will finalize the rankings, and you will be able to see from top to bottom how I felt about each one. Keep in mind, a rating does not necessarily indicate where in the rankings a movie will be placed, but it can be a helpful tool for determining a general sense of positioning.
The Top 10 Movie Lists of 2020
This really is the big part of the blog that I wanted to cover in this piece, so I am here to lay a few ground rules for how these will be chosen. Normally, I cover the Top 10 Best, Worst, Most Underrated, and Most Disappointing Movies of the cinematic year (which operates on a January 1st-December 31st basis) sometime around mid-January to early February, as prior to the Oscars as I possibly can in order to give people room to breathe between that list and the more involved Oscars coverage that I write on this blog. Needless to say, that’s going to look a little bit different for 2020, and the timing for the Oscars affects the decisions for this year in a big way. Because the Oscars ceremony has been pushed into April 2021, and the eligibility deadline has been moved into late February, “Movies of 2020” now constitutes any movie whose original release date was meant to take place on or between January 1st and December 31st of 2020, and is, has been, or will be released in either limited or nationwide capacities between January 1st, 2020 and February 28th, 2021. Essentially, the eligibility period for the Top 10s on this blog follows the model set by the Academy, but only under the condition that the movie was originally supposed to come out in the 2020 calendar year, even if that was only under limited release guidelines. This means that movies that release in January or February 2021 that had already planned to debut during those months will not be eligible for those rankings, and delayed films like No Time to Die and Black Widow will now be placed on the 2021 lists, if they happen to make it onto them next year. Streaming and VOD releases are eligible, as they always have been.
I will be putting out my first Early Oscar Nomination Predictions piece soon, but with the constantly changing environment around awards eligibility and ever-shifting release schedules, it could very well be that some of the movies I predict for certain categories either move release dates past the eligibility window set by the Academy the day after I publish, or shift fully into next year to compete in the 2022 ceremony instead. I have absolutely no idea what will happen there, but just know that these predictions, like awards season always has, will evolve over time. I do not yet know if I will be able to post a full roster of predictions in every category, as I do not know if there are even enough candidates for that to occur as of yet (think Best Visual Effects, which has now essentially had all its major contenders – Black Widow, Dune, etc. – shifted into 2021), but I will do my best to fill them in as much as I can. For early predictions, I never predict the Best Short Films categories, so don’t worry about those possibly disappearing, because they’re never there to begin with, except for in much later predictions lists closer to the nomination announcements. The real challenge here is going to be predicting these nominations with very little precedent outside of film festival runs, and many major contenders in several categories no longer releasing in 2020 or before March 2021, meaning I have had to eliminate them from consideration (Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch and Steven Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story being key players, as well as Dune in most technical categories). By this time last year, many Oscar contenders (including eventual Best Picture winner Parasite, and fellow nominees Jojo Rabbit, Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, and Joker) had already been seen by most critic bodies and released into mainstream movie theaters, so the notion of them landing nominations was a lot more certain, and I had seen all of those by mid-to-late October. With no access to most prestige, press-only film festivals, except for some virtual screenings open to the public (like those at NYFF), there are very few films I’ve seen this year that will certainly be at the Oscars, and fewer certainties in many technical categories. Opening eligibility to streaming films and VOD releases this year was a good move on the Academy’s part, especially since many originally theatrical releases have been forced to go to VOD already, and the theatrical release pool otherwise is pretty shallow, but it also makes the playing field a little less certain, so bear with me as I attempt to predict an Oscars nominee pool in the most unpredictable year I’ve ever lived.
The Fisher Awards
(Yes, I know that’s a picture of a Grammy, but no one’s made a trophy out of Carrie Fisher’s face yet, so just go with it.)
Out of all the updates to give about writings/rankings/nominations on this blog, this section is perhaps the least malleable of them all, relative to what has already been discussed in previous sections of this piece. For those of you who don’t know, The Fisher Awards (named for the late Carrie Fisher) are essentially like my version of the Oscars, where I give out all the same awards that the Academy does, but I get to choose the nominees and individual winners, and some categories are combined in order to address a more full interpretation of the awards. (For instance, Best Costume Design and Best Makeup & Hairstyling are combined into Best Character Design.) Much like the Top 10s of 2020 section, this will follow a strict eligibility period aligned with the 2021 Oscars eligibility window, so long as each film’s original release date was meant to take place within the calendar year of 2020. Streaming and VOD release are, of course, eligible, as they have always been.
And that’s all I’ve got (at least so far)! Thank you all so much for reading and keeping up with this page, even in the wake of such a dumpster fire of a year, and if you like this post, go ahead and share it around! The Friendly Film Fan can always use a few more eyes, and while you’re here, you can also go ahead and follow Bitesize Review on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to keep up with additional reviews from me and other great critics on movies, tv, games, and more! More reviews and rankings are coming very soon from both outlets, so stay tuned!
- The Friendly Film Fan
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Film critic in my free time. Film enthusiast in my down time. Writer for Bitesize Breakdown.