THIS year’s Oscars might be the most accessible in history – levelling the playing field as record numbers of award contenders head to online streaming.
But this increased visibility hasn’t quite made it across the pond to UK viewers.
“The majority of Oscar nominated films haven’t been released in the UK yet,” said James Connor from the UK Cinema Association.
Widespread cinema closures under the UK’s coronavirus lockdowns certainly haven’t helped.
But it’s more than that – outside of Amazon, Disney+ and Netflix, the UK just doesn’t have the streaming infrastructure that’s seen in the US.
And that’s left some Oscar-nominated movies without a UK release date.
“The shift of some films moving towards VOD was I think to be expected,” said Mr Connor.
“But many US studio films have been slated for a theatrical release for later this year and beyond, rather than being pushed to home entertainment or VOD only.”
The result is that while US audiences can watch most Oscar contenders from the comfort of their own homes, the UK has been left behind. Many of the most ambitious Oscar nominees have yet to be released here, with UK viewers clinging to the awards season buzz of overseas critics.
Here’s where to find every 2021 Oscar nominated film in the UK:
|A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon||VOD||Out Now|
|Another Round||Theatrical||June 25|
|Better Days||VOD||Out Now|
|Borat Subsequent Moviefilm||Amazon Prime Video||Out Now|
|Crip Camp||Netflix||Out Now|
|Da 5 Bloods||Netflix||Out Now|
|Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga||Netflix||Out Now|
|Hillbilly Elegy||Netflix||Out Now|
|Judas and the Black Messiah||VOD||Out Now|
|Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom||Netflix||Out Now|
|My Octopus Teacher||Netflix||Out Now|
|News of the World||Netflix||Out Now|
|One Night in Miami||Amazon Prime Video||Out Now|
|Over the Moon||Netflix||Out Now|
|Pieces of a Woman||Netflix||Out Now|
|Promising Young Woman||Sky Cinema||April 16|
|Quo Vadis, Aida?||VOD||Out Now|
|Sound of Metal||Amazon Prime Video||May 17|
|The Father||Theatrical||June 11|
|The Man Who Sold His Skin||None||No UK Release|
|The Mole Agent||VOD||Out Now|
|The Trial of the Chicago 7||Netflix||Out Now|
|The United States Vs Billie Holiday||Sky Cinema||Out Now|
|The White Tiger||Netflix||Out Now|
|Time||Amazon Prime Video||Out Now|
|Wolfwalkers||Apple TV+||Out Now|
Meanwhile Minari, Nomadland, Promising Young Woman and The Father are currently unavailable in the UK.
Even though they’ve already enjoyed a wide release in the US.
“Many, if not all, of the Oscar nominated films will get some form of theatrical release at some point in the UK over the coming months,” said Mr Connor.
But even that’s not set in stone.
There are currently 6 Oscar-nominated titles with upcoming theatrical releases.
And as we’ve seen with Disney’s recent release date tweaks, those are subject to change.
Still, the UK cinema industry remains hopeful that audiences will return once cinemas reopen.
“With films such as Nomadland and Minari, with beautifully photographed landscapes, you want as big a screen as possible,” said Claire Vaughan from Chapter – an independent cinema in Cardiff.
“Both of those films will be infinitely better in the cinema and I believe that audiences will understand this. People want to have the best experience of seeing these wonderful films and they want to talk about them with friends afterwards – this is when the cinema experience shines.”
UK cinemas are expected to reopen sometime in May with some cinema chains planning for May 17.
But neither the UK nor Welsh Government have officially approved plans for cinemas to reopen yet.
Some films are now eyeing release dates which coincide with the easing of lockdown.
Sound of Metal, starring Best Actor nominee Riz Ahmed, is expecting to open in cinemas on May 17 while Best Picture nominees Another Round and The Father will open in June.
Much later and they risk falling into obscurity. After all, the most popular titles once the Academy Award winners are announced will be the winners themselves.
And that’s why some films have moved to online streaming services instead.
“Audiences have had greater and far easier access to more of the year’s nominees because of streaming,” said TV Producer and Journalist, Simon Thompson.
“But while not all local theatres show all the movies available, not all consumers have access to all the streaming services.”
Here in the UK, the problem is even worse.
Services such as Hulu, HBO Max and others are currently unavailable in the UK – forcing many Oscar contenders to release on premium VOD.
“Not all consumers have access to all the streaming services.” – Simon Thompson.
Those that remain are largely confined to the major services – Amazon Prime, Disney+ and Netflix.
And those that aren’t generally come with a far heftier price tag.
Simon Thompson added:
“If you wouldn’t have gone to see Nomadland or Minari in the movie theatre, are you more inclined to watch it at home on Disney+ as part of your subscription? Maybe. Are you more inclined to watch it on PVOD for $20? Perhaps less so.”
Our survey of UK film fans showed that the most popular Oscar contenders are those on widely available streaming platforms, such as Amazon Prime and Netflix.
Borat 2 was seen by over 78% of film fans, while 59% saw Disney’s Soul.
However, films that went straight to premium VOD were seen by far fewer viewers.
Best Documentary nominee The Mole Agent was seen by just 2.7% of UK viewers, while 5.4% saw International Feature Film nominee, Collective.
One thing that has improved in this year’s Oscars is diversity.
The 2021 Academy Awards are said to be the most diverse in history – in no small part thanks to online streaming.
“I’m very encouraged by what I’ve seen,” said Amon Warman, Contributing Editor at Empire.
“But we need to build on this momentum. Asians still need a lot of representation. We’re still far behind the curve when it comes to transgender, gay and so many other things.”
And more diverse nominations could give studios something to think about.
“I think studios can take a lesson from this year. A lot of the mid-budget movies are made by online streamers like Amazon or Netflix. There are many more of those movies because of the pandemic, and many of those movies are being nominated for awards right now.”
It helps that online streaming has made certain titles more accessible to more people.
It’s just a shame that hasn’t really carried over to the UK.
Most of the Oscar contenders are out there – somewhere. But it might take a bit of time and money to find them.
Not everyone can afford to sign up to every streaming service, or shell out for every VOD release.
And by the time the cinemas reopen it may prove to be too late for those Oscar darlings holding out for a theatrical release.