Usually at this time of year, thoughts are turning to awards season and an enticing winter of quality cinema ahead, but – and you’re probably utterly sick of hearing it – this year it’s different. Instead, we have got shuttered cinemas and no prestige dramas to put in them anyway. Hollywood is in hibernation.
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But the awards show must go on. Next year’s Baftas and Academy Awards are delayed until April, rather than the usual February. Deadlines and eligibility rules have been loosened: usually a movie must have screened in a Los Angeles cinema for seven consecutive days to qualify for the Oscars, but this year an online release is enough. So, good news for Trolls World Tour but potentially disastrous for cinemas.
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In the absence of Hollywood competition, this could be the first year the best picture award goes to a movie by a streaming platform, which could be something of a tipping point. The current frontrunner is David Fincher’s Mank, which goes out on Netflix this Friday. It ticks all the boxes: Hollywood mythology (Gary Oldman plays the writer of Citizen Kane); marquee names; technical brilliance; impersonations of real figures (awards juries love that); and unanimous critical acclaim.
Mank’s chief rivals might include Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (a posthumous best actor for Chadwick Boseman seems likely), Da 5 Bloods and The Trial of the Chicago 7 – also all from Netflix. Or Regina King’s One Night in Miami (Amazon Prime Video). There are non-streaming contenders – Nomadland, for example – and big releases such as Tom Hanks western News of the World, due in January. Others could slip in under the wire, although these movies may well also have to release online to qualify.
It would be a tragic irony if awards season killed off the very institutions it was designed to celebrate. Traditionally, Bafta, the Academy and others have been the champions of Cinema – with a capital C – as worthy of gongs and black-tie formality and reverent speeches as any other artform. But the type of “cinema” the awards bodies were geared to celebrate is disappearing from actual cinemas, which are now powered by big-budget franchise movies. Awards buzz was one of the few tools left to staunch the inexorable defection. If the buzz goes to a Netflix movie instead, it’s another reason to stay at home, and another nail in the coffin of the industry.
It would be a double irony if Mank was the movie that sealed this deal. It is a loving, lavish homage to Hollywood at its height, not only in its detailed industry lore and its digital recreation of 1930s cinematography, but also in its nostalgia for cinema as both an auteurist artform and a popular medium with the potential to topple giants. Will either of those ideas still hold true after this year? The jury’s out.
Netflix’s animated comedy film Back To The Outback will feature a voice cast of Isla Fisher, Tim Minchin, Eric Bana, Guy Pearce, Miranda Tapsell, Angus Imrie, Rachel House, Keith Urban, Celeste Barber, Wayne Knight, Aislinn Derbez, Diesel Cash La Torraca, Lachlan Ross Power, and Oscar-nominee Jacki Weaver.
The film is due to launch in fall 2021. The comedy adventure marks the directorial debuts of filmmakers Clare Knight (editor on The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part and the Kung Fu Panda trilogy) and Harry Cripps. Script comes from Cripps (Penguin Bloom).
In the movie, tired of being locked in a reptile house where humans gawk at them like they’re monsters, a ragtag group of Australia’s deadliest creatures plot a daring escape from their zoo to the Outback, a place where they’ll fit in without being judged for their scales and fangs.Related Story 'Daredevil' Fans Urge MCU Revival Now That Rights Have Reverted To Marvel Studios
Leading the group is Maddie (Isla Fisher), a poisonous snake with a heart of gold, who bands together with a self-assured Thorny Devil lizard Zoe (Miranda Tapsell), a lovelorn hairy spider Frank (Guy Pearce), and a sensitive scorpion Nigel (Angus Imrie). But when their nemesis — Pretty Boy (Tim Minchin), a cute but obnoxious koala — unexpectedly joins their escape, Maddie and the gang have no choice but to take him with them.
Daniela Mazzucato produces, and Weed Road Pictures’ Akiva Goldsman and Greg Lessans, who developed the story with Cripps, are executive producers.
Music will come from Rupert Gregson-Williams (Aquaman) and songs will be by Tim Minchin (Broadway’s Matilda). Animation and imagery will come from ReelFX.
Said director Claire Knight: “I have always been touched by stories of hidden beauty. Maddie is both uniquely beauty and beast, and to get to present that message in comedy is the icing on the cake.”
Added writer-director Harry Cripps: “Growing up in Australia, I spent a lot of time in the Blue Mountains which has many different types of snakes and spiders, and I always preferred them to the cute cuddly animals, so it’s such a treat to make a film where the heroes are these poisonous but beautiful little creatures. This film is a love letter to Australia’s incredibly diverse and unique wildlife.”
For many viewers of The Walking Dead: World Beyond, the chief reason they have been watching is to find out how the series would eventually connect to the mystery surrounding Rick Grimes. As we know, in the ninth season, Rick Grimes was medically evacuated by the CRM on The Walking Dead and taken to an unknown location. Other than that, all we know is that Grimes’ whereabouts will be explained in the eventual Rick Grimes’ movie.
In the meantime, the second spin-off of The Walking Dead, World Beyond, concerns itself specifically with the CRM, which we now know is short for Civic Republic Military. Over the course of the first two season of The World Beyond limited series, we have learned that the CRM is headquartered in New York, that they are experimenting on humans in order to find a cure, and that they are trying to assemble the people most useful to extending civilization into the future.
Everyone else is expendable.
In the parlance of the CRM, “B”s are useful to building the future of civilization (“A”s, meanwhile, are used as test subjects in human experiments). Rick Grimes is a B. Hope, one of the characters in The World Beyond, is also a B. She has genius-level intelligence, and after the CRM tricked her into journeying across the continent from Nebraska to New York, Hope also now has real-world skills. That makes her, like Rick Grimes, very valuable to the CRM.
We do not know how Rick Grimes feels about the CRM, but we do know that Hope is not a fan. In the season finale of The World Beyond, the chess pieces were essentially put into place for what will be another All Out War, of sorts, in the second and final season of The World Beyond pitting the CRM against Hope and her alliance. Hope — who allowed herself to be abducted by the CRM — will be attempting to take it down from the inside, while her friends )in addition to the survivors of the Campus Colony) will be trying to dismantle the CRM from the outside (the CRM massacred almost everyone at the Campus Colony because they were not useful to them).
This All Out War between Hope and her alliance and the CRM will almost surely culminate with the Rick Grimes movie. Some of The World Beyond characters may still be alive, and some may even figure into the movie, but I would guess that The World Beyond storyline eventually lights the match that leads to a broader effort, led by Rick Grimes, to overthrow the fascist military organization. No offense to the characters on The World Beyond, but most of them are kids, and they don’t have the experience or leadership skills to overthrow a huge military organization. Rick Grimes does.
That’s ultimately where I expect Rick Grimes will come in. After Hope and the remainder of the Campus Colony light the match to start a revolution, Rick Grimes (and possibly Michonne!) will take over and (hopefully) lead that revolution to victory.
The pieces of this puzzle will continue to come together again starting in February 2021, when The Walking Dead returns.