Michael Potts, Chadwick Boseman and Colman Domingo in ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’, one of the Netflix movies expected to get Oscar nominations (David Lee / Netflix)
(CNN) – After historic audience lows at the Emmy and Golden Globes, the Oscars reveal their nominations on Monday at the risk of a similar scenario. And ironically, the best hope for them not to be a disaster in terms of ratings could lie with an actor who was invited to the party recently and a little reluctantly: Netflix.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences took some extraordinary measures last year in the face of the pandemic. He delayed the ceremony for two months, from the end of February to April 25; broadened the eligibility window and temporarily removed the requirement that a film, to be considered, be screened in theaters.
However, those measures, announced last April, come under conditions that are still heavily skewed against movies in theaters. A year is left that did not have any real blockbusters or big attractions that prompted people to watch the movies, which dampened the interest of potential viewers.
That lack of a popular audience includes movies that may not compete in the best picture category but tend to rack up technical accolades, with movies like “Black Widow,” “Godzilla vs. Godzilla. Kong “and the latest James Bond adventure” No Time to Die “all delayed out of competition. Three high-priced movies that only got moderately enthusiastic reviews, “Wonder Woman 1984,” “Mulan,” and “Tenet,” are among the big-budget exceptions.
The nominations Netflix recently received
Some industry observers point to a dynamic in which the traditional equation is slightly reversed. People will not see the nominees (and probably will not see the ceremony), but the films that win the main awards are going to benefit from an increased curiosity about whether they deserved them.
That’s where, theoretically, Netflix comes in. Earlier this week, the most powerful streaming service received three nominations (like Amazon) for best picture at the Producers Guild Awards. Nominations were for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” “Mank” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7”. The first stars Chadwick Boseman, whose posthumous Golden Globe win was an emotional high point for otherwise poorly produced awards.
Watch the highlights of the 2021 Golden Globes 1:25
An equally strong performance by Netflix in the 93rd Oscars nominations would at least give a large number of subscribers a chance to get acquainted with more of the nominees. That, assuming Netflix will use its marketing to push (and push and push) its contenders.
Of course, Netflix is not going to be the only one to bring the nominated films home through streaming. However, with more than 200 million subscribers globally, it is clearly ahead.
What movies could other streaming services compete with?
Amazon garnered nominations in the run-up to the Oscars with such films as “One Night in Miami” and “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.” With the acquisition of “Nomadland”, Hulu could have a potential candidate. And his corporate brother Disney + released the animated film “Soul”, a likely favorite in that category.
Even so, that may not be enough to save the Oscars from the fate of other ceremonies during the pandemic.
In fact, the Screen Actors Guild appears to have recognized the situation after the Golden Globes by reducing its next event to a one-hour special. The event will also be recorded in advance, instead of the usual star-studded dinner. (The awards will be broadcast on TNT, WarnerMedia network as well as CNN).
Many things have changed since the historic win for “Parasite” for best picture at the Oscars last year. However, audience ratings have been on a steady downward trend.
Perhaps the biggest problem facing the awards show industry is looking beyond the past 12 months to what everyone hopes will be a post-pandemic world. After a year of understandable indifference to awards shows, will these events pick up, along with what many anticipate will be a hitherto pent-up interest in going to the movies?
To paraphrase a famous movie heroine, that’s a problem for another day.
Oscar nominations will be announced on March 15 and the ceremony will air on April 25 on ABC.