After the Rocky-level beating the film industry took in 2020, here’s a potential silver lining for 2021: we might never have it so good. Especially if we mean quality dramas and exciting new stories – the type of things people complain the movies don’t do enough of. Of course, a lot depends on cinemas reopening and anticipated films living up to the hype but, hey, it’s hope!
One thing we can be sure of: as a result of the Great 2020 Shutdown, we’re effectively getting two awards seasons in one year. Traditionally, the cut-off date for awards eligibility is the end of the year, after which the feast of quality releases turns to a famine of duds and rejects.
This year, however, the whole season has been pushed back two months, culminating in the Academy Awards on 25 April. Eligibility deadlines have been extended to the end of February. As a result, the usual Jan/Feb dumping ground won’t apply. All feast, no famine. Then, just six months later, assuming things return to normal, we’re ramping up for next year’s awards, which means the end of 2021 will also be stacked with decent movies.
That’s the theory, at least. We’ve already got a promising batch of buzzed-about titles to look forward to in the coming months: Chloé Zhao’s Frances McDormand-starring docu-fiction Nomadland, Regina King’s directorial debut One Night in Miami, Indian epic The White Tiger, emotional tour de force Pieces of a Woman, Mads Mikkelsen’s drinking drama Another Round, Carey Mulligan thriller Promising Young Woman (which premiered a whole year ago at Sundance). Later in the year, awards season 2022 contenders could include new movies from heavyweights like Damien Chazelle, Joel Coen, Jane Campion, Guillermo del Toro, Ridley Scott and Paul Thomas Anderson, not to mention long-awaited marquee movies such as Dune and West Side Story.
If 2020 was good for anything it was sorting the wheat from the chaff – not just at the awards end but across the board. The good stuff we were promised last year we should be getting this year: Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch, Edgar Wright’s Last Night in Soho, Roger Michell’s The Duke, Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir: Part II, David Lowery’s The Green Knight and indie hits Minari and Zola. And if Parasite really did break down the one-inch barrier of subtitles, there’s a backlog of festival-tested international cinema awaiting, too.
There’s the separate question of whether these end up in cinemas or on streaming, and whether anyone will have the inclination to see them after such a screen-heavy 2020. And let’s not get carried away: this time next year we could well be grouching, like Statler and Waldorf, that they don’t make ’em like they used to. But for now let’s at least be excited about the slightly greater likelihood of seeing a decent movie at the cinema this year. Surely we’ve earned it?