Oscars 2021 Are Almost Here - But How Many Have Seen Nominated Movies?
It's Hollywood's biggest night on Sunday - the Oscars - when stars are anointed and future classics crowned. Except this year the pandemic, and a longer-term trend away from mass-market movies, mean the nominated films have struggled to cut through.
In case it passed you by, the leading contender for the Academy Awards this year with 10 nominations - four more than any other film - is Mank, Netflix's black-and-white homage to old Hollywood, starring Gary Oldman as Citizen Kane screenwriter Herman J Mankiewicz.
It's a movie about the making of one of the greatest movies ever made - the type of film the Oscars like, even if others are less keen.
Mank doesn't appear in the top 500 most popular films on streaming platforms over the past 12 months, according to Flix Patrol, a site that tries to measure the popularity of streaming films.
Despite its nominations, Mank isn't actually predicted to go home with many Oscars on Sunday.
The site gives points based on how long films have spent in the main platforms' top 10 lists, and in how many countries - not a perfect method, but about the best we've got given that streaming services, unlike cinema box offices, don't release useful audience figures.
Netflix's other Academy Award contenders include Aaron Sorkin's courtroom drama The Trial of the Chicago 7; Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, starring Chadwick Boseman and Viola Davis as 1920s blues musicians; plus Hillbilly Elegy and Pieces of a Woman which have acting nominations for Glenn Close and Vanessa Kirby respectively.
Most of the main Oscar contenders are low-key in both tone and in profile.
The major studios are no longer in the business of making character-based dramas or character-driven films of the kind that speak to the art of film. The major studios are in the business of making huge blockbuster franchises.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences tried to address this by expanding the best picture category in 2010, and hits like Joker, Black Panther and Bohemian Rhapsody have been nominated in recent years.
But the days when juggernauts like The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Gladiator and Titanic (or, going further back, Forrest Gump, Schindler's List and The Silence of the Lambs) conquered the Oscars seem long ago.
It's no coincidence that TV ratings for the ceremony are also on a steady decline. They could plummet this year if they go the way of the Golden Globes, for which the US audience dropped by 60% at the end of February.
Some say the Oscars are becoming "less and less" relevant - partly because there's so much choice on streaming, and the fact that "TV shows are king at the moment".
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