Note: These coming reviews will be a series created by Zachary Hess on his predictions of the 2020 Academy Awards. Check in, on (Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday) to look over more of his predicted nominations.
Movie Review: Sound of Metal
2020 Academy Awards (and what I would nominate for the Best Picture)
It is safe to say that 2020 was a different year. The COVID-19 pandemic led to global societal changes and unrest. The film industry was not immune to the economic pause that the pandemic caused. According to AARP, Hollywood lost more than 110,000 jobs during 2020. When theaters closed, hundreds of movie releases were delayed, and most productions were put on a pause. This challenged companies to answer the question: what to do about the movies ready to be released?
Many small budget indies that would have gotten limited distribution runs went straight to Video-On-Demand (VOD). Larger studios either delayed their films or opted for Premium VOD, a luxury rental model that made for a pricey at-home viewing experience. The few companies that seemed exempt from the distribution pains were the streaming services: Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Hulu. The controversies came when Disney and Warner Bros opted to turn towards their new streaming services to premiere some of their high-budget movies like Mulan (2020) and Wonder Woman 1984. Film festivals also went digital allowing for more people to experience the formerly exclusive film premieres.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts responded to the pandemic by postponing their Awards ceremony from February 2021 to April 25th. This extended the eligibility window for films from December 31st, 2020 to February 28th, 2021. The nominations will not be announced until March 15th. The dearth of theatrical releases has led to many arguing for the outright cancellation of the 2020 Academy Awards Ceremony. This opinion fails to acknowledge the high number of fantastic films released in the COVID-19 year. Here I aim to argue my personal account of the best films of 2020. My list is not numbered as each of these films are great and worthy of your attention.
Sound of Metal
a beautifully intimate study in recovery
Even though my list is not numbered, I want to point out that Darius Marder’s big-budget directorial debut Sound of Metal is my favorite film of 2020. A breathtaking drama about the struggle and recovery of a heavy-metal drummer, Rubin, who suddenly experiences severe hearing loss. British Pakistani actor Riz Ahmed as Rubin demands your attention in every scene. The isolating sound design place the audience in the protagonist’s head. This decision only heightens the shocking contrast between Rubin’s reality and that of his girlfriend, played by Olivia Cooke. Character actor Paul Raci puts on an Oscar-worthy performance as the leader of a community of deaf adults readjusting to life without sound. Sound of Metal is a stark portrayal of trauma, addiction, and recovery. There are very few films that scratch the itch Sound of Metal does. Stellar performances, thematically resonate, and technically perfect. Aside from the actors, the sound designers make themselves the stars through the film’s affecting sound mixing. From Amazon Studios the film would be a dark horse nominee for anything other than the Sound mixing award. Despite the low prospects for rewards recognition, it marks the top of my list. Sound of Metal is available on Amazon Prime.
Editor: Zachary Hess