Oscars 2023: the revenge of the rooms against the platforms?

Oscars 2023: the revenge of the rooms against the platforms?

If the nominations at the 95th Academy Awards are not expected before the end of January 2023, most of the films considered have had a theatrical release. For their part, after their resounding success at the 2022 Oscars, the platforms pale in comparison with films little seen or appreciated by critics. This may be an opportunity for films shown in theaters to come back to center stage.

In music, the coda is the final movement concluding a piece. But it is also, in a completely different lexical field, the English acronym for “Child Of Deaf Adult“ (child of a deaf adult), who gave his name to a famous 2021 film, distributed on Apple + and whose coronation at the Oscars – together with the film by Jane Campion The Power of the Dogdistributed on Netflix – seemed to confirm the clear victory of the platforms over the cinemas.

Coda, or the coda of dark rooms? This is what we could believe in 2022, in a particularly depressed context for traditional cinematographic exploitation. However, from the spring, contradictory signals began to accumulate: first, the unexpected success, in the United States, of this strange prototype that is Everything Everywhere All at Oncethen the hoped-for but nevertheless gigantic success of Top Gun: Maverick. The Oscars season, which has started in recent weeks and will conclude on March 12 with a ceremony again presented by the incorruptible Jimmy Kimmel, also seems to bring good news for the big screen.

Indeed, most of the films anticipated for the moment are or will be released in theaters. While the platforms are struggling to advance their pawns this year. The nominations won’t be known until January 24 and nothing is set in stone yet, but we’re starting to get an idea of ​​the favourites, especially after the publication on December 21 of the shortlists for around ten secondary categories (technical, documentary , entertainment, international, etc.). There is also a litany of more or less prestigious competitions that lead up to the final Oscar ceremony and set trends throughout the winter.

It should be noted that the Golden Globes, which had been banned from the industry in 2021 following a series of scandals – in particular because of the absence of black people among the hundred foreign critics who make up its voting committee – are offered a second chance by their broadcaster, NBC, which will broadcast the ceremony on January 10. Stand-up comedian Jerrod Carmichael will present it, and it will be interesting to see if the nominees who called for a boycott last year (Tom Cruise, Brendan Fraser) will make the trip.

Several favorites already anticipated

In the queen categories (best film, director, actor and actress), the favorites are therefore the multiversal hit Everything Everywhere All at Once (and in particular the formidable Ke Huy Quan who seems well on his way to winning the statuette for the best secondary role, 27 years after the Goonies), Steven Spielberg’s sublime autobiographical meditation The Fabelmansthe anti-buddy movie Irish The Banshees of Inisherin by Martin McDonagh Tarthe artsy drama starring Cate Blanchett as conductor and babylonDamien Chazelle’s gleaming recreation of Hollywood splendor from the late 1920s to the early 1930s.

Behind, we expectAvatar 2 raid the technical Oscars, which he could, however, share with Top Gun 2, Black Panther 2, The Batman, Elvis and and Indian anti-colonial blockbuster RRRwith amazing action scenes. A handful of films about women written and/or directed by women could also do well: She Said (on the Weinstein affair), Women Talking (on sexual abuse in the Church) or even Emmett Till (about this 14-year-old boy lynched in Mississippi in 1955). Finally, a few marbles are placed on The Whale, The Inspection, To live and aftersunfour dramas offering highly Oscar-winning roles to their actors, respectively Brendan Fraser, Jeremy Pope, Bill Nighy and Paul Mescal.

Platforms in decline

Faced with these films which were all released exclusively in theaters – without necessarily bringing in a lot of money, like The Fabelmans which is off to a catastrophic start – streamers are struggling to impose their titles on bookmakers’ lists. Netflix goes into battle with a few tricks up its sleeve but no jokers: bardomulti-Oscar winner Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu, and In the west, nothing is new have their chance in the international film category, while Blonde hair (Andrew Dominick) Pinocchio (Guillermo Del Toro) and Glass Onionthe continuation ofAt loggerheadswill perhaps glean some technical nominations.

Amazon has staked everything on the adventure drama directed by Ron Howard, Thirteen Lives, which recounts the rescue of teenagers trapped in a flooded underground in Thailand in 2018 but struggles to make the buzz. As for Apple+, they only have the drama about slavery Emancipation with… a Will Smith banned from ceremony for ten years. In short, all this bodes well for a lean year for the platforms.

Should we draw definitive conclusions on the general state of the industry? The Oscars are only one indicator among others, which weighs much less than the cold truth of the numbers. But precisely: this one is not favorable to streamers these days. Everything indicates that thePeak TV has had its peak”, as wrote this December 18 the New York Times, and the coming months will be difficult for these new players. As for cinema attendance, if it has not returned to its pre-Covid-19 level, it is slowly going up the slope, including in France. Also, it is not prohibited to see there a resistance of this old waking dream which still moves and which one calls cinema.

A category to follow: the Oscar for best international film

A final word on the Oscar for the best international film, whose shortlist of fifteen films always proves to be a fascinating barometer of festival cinephilia passed through the sieve of American taste. According to the list of predictions of variety (which often acts as an oracle), the favorite this year is Close Belgian Lukas Dhont.

A beast of competition which notably received a Grand Prix at Cannes, this tearful but sufficiently elegant drama has every chance of seducing the voters of the Academy, while reaffirming Thierry Frémaux’s stranglehold on this Oscar for a decade. Of the last ten winners, eight have been shown or awarded at Cannes; and of the fifteen films selected this year for the shortlist, nine have passed through the Croisette.

However, this is not the case for the French representative, the superb Saint-Omer by Alice Diop, Silver Lion at Venice and in the shortlist of the fifteen films still in the running. It is, however, the case of Return to Seoul by Davy Chou, another French film premiered in Un Certain Regard and competing for the Oscars under the Cambodian flag (the second nationality of its director). Defended in our columns during the festival, the film has just been released in the United States (it will have to wait until January 25 in France) and is benefiting from a dazzling critical buzz. In particular, it was voted best film of the year by the Boston Society of Film Critics and received the New Generation Award from Los Angeles critics (a kind of Delluc West Coast Prize). His presence in the final list alongside Saint-Omer and of Close (co-produced by France) would also be a good sign here: that of the artistic vitality of our industry, which is so decried these days.

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