Why 2021 Could Be Different for Amazon’s Oscar Chase

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Yinchen Niu/VIP

Amazon didn’t have much of a presence at the 2020 Oscars, but the company has made a big push since then to ensure it has better luck in 2021. 

For one, Amazon seemingly out of nowhere nabbed the rights to the “Borat” sequel, which debuted a month ago and has already generated some awards chatter

And today, Amazon’s “Sound of Metal” (a drama about a drummer that loses his hearing) began a theatrical run before it hits Prime Video on December 4Variety film awards editor Clayton Davis currently sees the film as being a mid-tier Best Picture awards hopefulthough he views its star Riz Ahmed as a top-tier Best Actor awards contender 

Most notable is Amazon’s upcoming “One Night in Miami,” due in theaters December 25. The film quickly found itself in Oscar talks after the festival circuit. It’s currently seen by many including Davis as a strong 2021 Best Picture contender.  

The film’s director and co-lead (Regina King and Kingsley Ben-Adir, respectively) also have strong shots at the Best Director and Best Actor nominations, according to Davis. 

Contrast this with November of last year, when Amazon didn’t similarly appear to have an expected Oscar frontrunner. At that time, 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 year was “Les Misérables,” which was responsible for the company’s lone 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 Globes nomination.

Awards like Golden Globes could help somewhat soften the blow of “Miami” or other Amazon films being snubbed at the Oscars as films like “Mank” and “Nomadland” put up a formidable fight. 

But just having a film as well received as “Miami” is already valuable for Amazon, as it could help drive Prime and Prime Video signups regardless of how many awards it ends up winning. That film could also inspire more top-tier Hollywood talent to work with Amazon Studios.

Talent could also be more attracted to partner with Amazon Studios given its documentary push. Amazon’s “All In: The Fight for Democracy” and “Time” both have high Best Doc Feature nom chances, per Davis. 

Amazon was the first streamer to get an Academy Award nod in 2017 for “Manchester by the Sea,” so the company has experience mounting awards campaigns. That experience will be vital as it aims to win big at the Oscars, which have yet to award a streaming service original film with Best Picture.