Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Low Oscar Ratings Were Thanks to Pandemic Postponing of Big Releases We’ll See Instead This Year


There’s a lot of carping today about the low ratings for the Oscars, blaming the films that made the Best Picture category.

But no one seems to remember that a number of films were moved out of 2020 because of the pandemic. That turned 2020 into a slate of mostly independent films. This year was an aberration. Next year we will have been overwhelmed with choices for Best Picture.

Not that these movies were in any way inferior. But if “West Side Story,” “In the Heights,” “The French Dispatch,” “No Time to Die,” and “Death on the Nile” — to name a few big ones– had qualified for the Oscars, the whole game would have been different.

Indeed, just those movies, even the James Bond, would have changed things in many categories and added a buzz to the Oscar season that was sorely lacking. I would even include David Chase’s “The Many Saints of Newark,” his “Soprano’s” prequel, that list.

We don’t yet, even from the most commercial, or seemingly obvious projects. what gems lurk in waiting for awards recognition. Let’s not forget “Dune,” also, and Adrian Lyne’s “Deep Water.”

So 2020 was a great selection of indie films. With studio blockbusters out of the way, a number of titles like “Minari” and “The Father” got more breathing room. I’m grateful for that. And Andra Day was able to be discovered. It was very exciting. The year 2020 gets an asterisk. We should just be glad we got through it. Now, forward.


Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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