‘One Night in Miami’ Improves Amazon’s Oscar Luck

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Yinchen Niu/Variety Intelligence Platform

Amazon is hoping to make a big splash at the Oscars this year after not having much luck with the Academy in 2020

A vehicle that may help the company achieve that is its original film, “One Night in Miami,” which hit Prime Video today after first hitting theaters on December 25. The film, which marks Regina King’s directorial debut, has been anticipated to be an Oscar contender for months

And Variety film awards editor Clayton Davis yesterday predicted “Miami” will be nominated for Best Picture. Davis also predicted Kingsley Ben-Adir will nab a Best Actor nomination for his role as activist Malcolm X in “Miami.”

Another original that currently seems to be one of Amazon’s best bets at 2021 Oscar contention is “Sound of Metal,” a drama about a drummer who begins to lose his hearing. The film’s lead, Riz Ahmed, has also been the subject of Oscar talks for some months 

Davis yesterday predicted Ahmed will be nominated for Best Actor.  

Amazon’s sequel to “Borat” has even generated some chatter for its Oscar potential in categories including Best Actor (Sacha Baron Cohen), though some speculate Baron Cohen’s role in “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” may ultimately just act as more of a boost to his Oscar chances for his role in Netflix’s “Trial of the Chicago 7.” 

Contrast this to late 2019, when Amazon’s originals didn’t seem to have as much of a presence in Oscar talkLeading up to the 2020 Oscars, Amazon was left out of the Best Picture predictions of several publications, for example. 

One of Amazon’s most notable awards-seeking films of last season was “Les Misérables,” which nabbed the company’s only 2020 Oscar nomination (International Feature Film). “The Report” and “Honey Boy” were two other notable Amazon awards seekers of last season, with the former receiving a Golden Globe nomination. 

Awards such as Golden Globes could help build momentum for Amazon films leading up to the Oscars, where films like “Minari” and “Nomadland” are expected to be strong contenders 

Industry awards aside, the positive critic reviews already received by original films like “Miami” alone likely reap benefits for Prime Video. The chatter helps add a sheen of credibility to Amazon Studios’ prestige-film push, which will likely help the studio attract top talent. 

The positive reviews may also help combat notions that Prime Video isn’t curating its movie catalog as much as it should be. That’s an important notion to push back on as the streaming video landscape becomes flooded with more options, including the just launched Discovery+ and the soon-to-launch Paramount+.