We get closer to the end of 2020 and Netflix has begun releasing movies for Oscars 2021 contention. For the first time ever, The Academy Awards will allow streaming titles to be eligible for the best picture category without having a theatrical release due to the coronavirus pandemic. With that said, the streaming service has an impressive showing, releasing over 20 titles across multiple categories. This definitely gives Netflix an advantage in scoring its first best picture Oscar ever.
Netflix Original movies that may compete for 2021 Oscars
The 40-Year-Old Version
Starring Radha Blank in her feature directorial debut, The 40-Year-Old Version follows the down-on-her-luck playwright based in New York. Desperate for a breakthrough, she reinvents herself as rapper RadhaMUSPrime. She, then, vacillates between the worlds of Hip Hop and theater just to find her true voice. It also had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 25, 2020, where Blank won the U.S. Dramatic Competition Directing Award.
Under the direction of Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk, Athlete A details the story behind The Indianapolis Star‘s investigative article in August 2016 about USA Gymnastics protecting coaches accused of abuse. This, then, leads to the explosive revelation that the USAG women’s team doctor Larry Nassar has been abusing athletes for over twenty years.
The Boys in the Band
Based on the Tony Award-winning play, The Boys in the Band follows a group of nine gay men gathering for a birthday party in 1968 New York City. However, when the host’s straight former college roommate shows up uninvited, the evening goes into chaotic turmoil. The film also comprises a cast of exclusively openly gay actors such as Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Matt Bomer, Andrew Rannells, Charlie Carver, Robin de Jesus, Brian Hutchison, Michael Benjamin Washington, and Tuc Watkins.
Circus of Books
The Circus of Books revolves around the titular bookstore and gay pornography shop in West Hollywood, California, and in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles. With more than 35 years under its belt, the shop has also given the LGBTQ+ community a space to socialize and celebrate themselves without judgment. Under the direction of Rachel Mason, she finally asks her parents how they became America’s biggest distributors of gay porn.
Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution starts in 1971 at Camp Jened, a summer camp in New York dubbed as a loose, free-spirited camp designed for teens with disabilities. It stars Larry Allison, Judith Heumann, James LeBrecht, Denise Sherer Jacobson, and Stephen Hofmann. The film also focuses on those campers who turned themselves into activists for the disability rights movement and follows their fight for accessibility legislation. Barack and Michelle Obama, on the other hand, serve as executive producers under their Higher Ground Productions banner.
Da 5 Bloods
Under Spike Lee’s direction, Da 5 Bloods follows the story of four African-American Vets – Paul, Otis, Eddie, and Melvin who return to Vietnam. They search for the remains of their fallen Squad Leader which was portrayed by deceased actor Chadwick Boseman himself. Released on June 12, 2020, it also received positive reviews praising its direction, story, themes, cinematography, and the actors’ performances.
The Devil All The Time
Based on Donald Ray Pollock’s novel of the same name, The Devil All The Time revolves around an unholy preacher, a twisted couple, and a crooked sheriff as they converge around a young Arvin Russell as he fights the evil forces that threaten him and his family. Spanning the time between World War II and the Vietnam War, director Antonio Campos had also collaborated with his brother Paulo Campos to co-write the screenplay.
Dick Johnson is Dead
Under the direction of Kirsten Johnson, Dick Johnson is Dead revolves around her father who suffers from dementia and portrays different ways – some of them violent “accidents” – in which he could ultimately die. The elderly Johnson plays along with his daughter’s dark humor and imaginative fantasies. It also premiered in the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, winning the Special Jury Award for Innovation in Non-Fiction Storytelling.
Based on John Preston’s 2007 novel of the same name, The Dig revolves around a widow finding hidden riches on her property. Starring Ralph Fiennes, Carey Mulligan, and Lily James, this movie has yet to be released to the public. The novel, on the other hand, sets in the context of the 1939 Anglo-Saxon ship burial excavation at Sutton Hoo, Suffolk, England.
Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen
According to a study from GLAAD, 80% of Americans don’t personally know someone who’s transgender. That means most people learn about trans people from the ways they are depicted in movies and television shows. From executive producer Laverne Cox and director Sam Feder, Disclosure is a documentary that chronicles over a century of trans representation on screen – from silent film to Pose. It also had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.
I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Based on Iain Reid’s 2016 novel of the same name, i’m thinking of ending things revolves around a young woman contemplating ending her six-week relationship with her boyfriend while they take a trip to meet his parents on their farm. The psychological horror film was released in select theaters on August 28, it was also later made available on Netflix on September 4.
The Trial of Chicago 7
Based on the life of the actual Chicago Seven, the film follows the group of anti-Vietnam War protesters charged with conspiracy and crossing state lines with the intention of riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. The Trial of Chicago 7 shows how Richard Nixon’s new administration made a political decision to stage a show trial to intimidate the hippie, peace activist, and black power movements in their opposition to the Vietnam War. It also follows the courtroom processes and maneuvering, much of it depicted as their intentionally satirical on the part of the defendants or the incompetence on the part of the judge.
Under Ben Wheatley’s direction and Jane Goldman’s screenplay, Rebecca is based on Daphne du Maurier’s 1938 novel of the same name. Starring Lily James and Armie Hammer, the British romantic thriller film has yet to be released to the public. It will be made available in select theaters on October 16 and, then, on Netflix on October 21. It revolves around a young woman finding herself battling the shadow of her husband’s dead first wife, the mysterious Rebecca.
Over the Moon
This American-Chinese computer-animated musical adventure film remains under the direction of Glen Keane and co-direction of John Kahrs. It revolves around a girl named Fei Fei building and flying a rocket ship to meet the moon goddess, Chang’e. Over the Moon stars the voices of Cathy Ang, Phillipa Soo, Ken Jeong, John Cho, Ruthie Ann Miles, Margaret Cho, and Sandra Oh. It was also first shown at the Montclair Film Festival, followed by its Netflix debut on October 23.
The Life Ahead
Based on Romain Gary’s 1975 novel The Life Before Us, the drama film revolves around a Muslim orphan boy living under the care of an old Jewish woman named Madam Rosa, a prisoner at Auschwitz, and later became a prostitute in Paris. The Life Ahead stars Sophia Loren, Ibrahima Gueye, Abril Zamora, Renato Carpentieri, and Babak Karimi. The movie also has a schedule of its release on Netflix on November 13.
Based on J.D. Vance’s #1 New York Times Bestselling memoir, Hillbilly Elegy remains a powerful personal memoir that offers a window into one family’s personal journey of survival and triumph. Following three colorful generations through their unique struggles, Vance’s story explores the Appalachian values of his Kentucky family with the highs and lows that define their experiences.
This upcoming biographical drama film revolves around screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz and his battle with director Orson Walles over the screenplay credit for the 1941 Citizen Kane. Starring Gary Oldman as the scathing social critic and alcoholic screenwriter, Mank also has a limited theatrical release in November before beginning to stream on Netflix on December 4.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Set in 1927 Chicago, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom centers on a fateful recording session of Mother of the Blues. Based on August Wilson’s play of the same name, the fearless and fiery Ma engages in a battle of wills with her white manager and producer over control of her music. Starring Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom also serves as Chadwick Boseman‘s final film role prior to his death.
The Midnight Sky
Based on Lily Brooks-Dalton’s novel Good Morning, Midnight, the science fiction film revolves around a lonely scientist in the Arctic named Augustine. He, then, races to stop Sully and her fellow astronauts from returning home to a mysterious global catastrophe. The Midnight Sky stars George Clooney, Felicity Jones, Kyle Chandler, David Oyelowo, Tiffany Boone, and Demian Bichir. The movie also has a schedule of its release on Netflix in December.
Pieces of a Woman
Diametrically related to director Kornel Mundruczo and Kata Weber’s stageplay, Pieces of a Woman also revolves around Martha and Sean as a Boston couple on the verge of parenthood. However, their lives change irrevocably. They had a home birth at the hands of a flustered midwife who faces charges of criminal negligence. It stars Vanessa Kirby, Shia LaBeouf, Molly Parker, Sarah Snook, and Iliza Shlesinger. The movie also had its premiere at the 77th Venice International Film Festival where Kirby won the Volpi Cup for Best Actress.
Based on Matthew Sklar’s 2016 Broadway musical of the same name, The Prom revolves around Dee Dee Allen and Barry Glickman. They are New York City stage stars with a crisis on their hands. Their expensive new Broadway show is a major flop that has suddenly flatlined their careers. Then, they decide to resurrect their public images with another pair of cynical actors Angie Dickinson and Trent Oliver. It also stars Meryl Streep, James Corden, Nicole Kidman, Jo Ellen Pellman, Keegan-Michael Key, Andrew Rannells, Ariana DeBose, and Kerry Washington. The movie also has its scheduled release on Netflix on December 11.
The White Tiger
Based on Aravind Adiga’s 2008 novel of the same name, The White Tiger revolves around a village boy named Balram Halwai. He, then, provides a darkly humorous perspective of India’s class struggle in a globalized world. He details his journey to Delhi where he started to work as a chauffeur to a rich landlord. Then, he goes to Bangalore, the place where he flees after killing his master and stealing his money. The movie has its scheduled release on Netflix in December.
The Oscars will take place on April 25, 2021.
Angela Grace P. Baltan is a Communication graduate from Colegio de San Juan de Letran. She doesn’t hesitate to be opinionated in analyzing movies and television series. As a writer, she uses her articles to advocate for feminism, gender equality, and mental health among others.