For the past several years, I’ve attempted to watch as many Oscar-nominated films as possible, and for the past two years I have written reviews of each film and posted them to this blog. Alas, I always run out of time and cannot see everything. This year’ ceremony has been delayed and the nominees are yet to be announced, giving me a chance to get an oxymoronic late jump-start on this year’s anticipated nominees. And we begin with…
(Likely nominations for: Best Picture, Best AI Screenplay, Best Actor (Hasan Minjah), Best Set Design)
The academy has been dragging its feet in acknowledging the role of streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon in the film industry. Should their contributions be admissible for entry in our most prestigious film awards? The past few years have shown rapid development in the inclusion of these new unorthodox studios, but never has this been more evident than 2020, the year of a global pandemic that crushed the very notion of movie theatres and feature films and forced the industry to fully embrace their new streaming overlords and their achievments.
It is fitting, then, that this year’s frontrunner for Best Picture hails from Netflix, the king of streaming. Just like last year’s winner Parasite, this genre-bending tale oscillates between fantasy, horror, and, of course, a bit of romance.
The pandemic has forced filmmakers to reconfigure their filmmaking practices to conform with social distancing and other covid protocols. Studious shelved epic adventures and ensembles casts and brought out simpler tales that rely on powerful performances by small casts, presented in open setting that allow for maximum air circulation. No film achieved maximum effect under these constraints better than Taylors, which featured just seven actors and was shot entirely in an endless void of pixels and wonderment. How did the film survive with no extras? Why, on the mindblowing powerhouse performances of its leads. Hasan Minjah’s nod for Best Actor is well-deserved, as he takes the role of Man Employee Taylor and truly makes it his own. It is a rare dramatic role for the comedian, but he demonstrated his chops. Who among us cannot admit to feeling our heart break when he turned to our heroine and declared, “You’re bad chair! I hate bad chair!”
Minjah is the only acting nominee for Taylors, begging many to wonder, why the snubs? What message is the academy sending when it nominates a film in 4 categories, including Best Picture, but does passes over its leading starlet, namely… some chick wearing a red hat (according to Google Image Search when I asked it to figure out who the hell this lady is).
And was this the last chance for the aging Hollywood icon who played Grandpa Pants? How many opportunities will remain for this pants-shaped actor? Some argue that a single word of dialogue is too small a role to warrant an Oscar, but if Anne Hathaway could steal the prize for singing one dang song in Les Miserables, then surely the emotion below is deserving of the same accolades.
The true centerpiece of this magnificent epitome of fine filmmaking, however, is the amazing writer. Poetry and prose flow from the Netflix Bot’s pen as effortlessly as cliches from a Hallmark movie. Here are just a few of the lines that stopped us in our tracks and made us reconsider the very nature of life itself:
“Taylor smiles teeth. She thinks she will eat a wedding’s cake soon.”
“My relationship has sailed away. Now I must marry my career.”
“Girl, men are from Mars, the terrible planet. Astrology told me this. They are so bad, but you need a new one.”
“Jazz saved my life when I was drowning. But girls do not jazz.”
“I now hate to hate you. I love you.”
“Ring store has no bathroom. Only marriage circles.”
“I am sorry. No, you are Taylor, like me. Taylor realizes this is true.”
Yet as powerful as this storytelling may be, will it win out against powerhouse competitors like Amazon’s One Night in Miami, Searchlight’s Nomadland, or Lifetime’s Colonel Sanders biopic A Recipe for Seduction? The toughest competition likely comes from within. Netflix’s own holiday film, A Christmas Carol for Carol, a Woman Named Carol features man of the same talented filmmakers, leading to a potential split vote for lovers of the Netflix AI Bot genre. Can either deserving winner claim the prize? Or will Netflix crumble under the weight of its own superiority?