A daily newsletter guide to what is happening on your screens - TV, streaming, movies, games, VR, AR
Dan Barrett is an industry commentator & TV critic. He does radio - 4BC & ABC GC and co-hosts the Screen Watching podcast. He's a former Mediaweek deputy editor and content creator for SBS.
Netflix dominates Oscar nominations
ALSO: Could Netflix be selling from its library? AND: Birth of a new Kevin Arnold.
Oscars nominations announced for the 93rd Academy Awards
The nominations for the Oscars were announced just a few hours ago. Leading the pack was the Netflix David Fincher film Mank with 10 nominations. Overall, Netflix scored 35 nominations - it’s the best year yet for the streamer which has pushed aggressively into the Oscar race in recent years.
Despite that success, my hunch is that it’ll be Nomadland (and director Chloe Zhao) which will get the Best Picture and Best Director awards. Nomadland is currently streaming on Hulu in the US.
Surprising is how little recognition News of The World received. I thought it was a fantastic film - certainly on par with Mank, which I liked quite a bit. Both films feel very much out of step with the current cultural mood (which is reflected in most of the other nominees), so it’s understandable that it may have just been the wrong year for that film.
An interesting story over at The Information today - Netflix has reportedly been in talks with broadcasters about licensing Netflix originals to them.
Netflix has discussed licensing older movies like its 2018 thriller “Bird Box,” which starred Sandra Bullock, to ViacomCBS’ CBS network, for example. Similarly, late last year, Netflix and NBCUniversal, which had just launched its Peacock streaming service nationwide, discussed Peacock licensing some older movies and shows from Netflix, such as the 2018 film “The Christmas Chronicles” starring Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn, according to people familiar with the situation. Neither set of discussions led to a deal, however.
The problem for Netflix, and the other streamers as we start getting several years into the glut of originals being produced, is that once older TV and movies are no longer being pushed, they no longer have any vitality or individual cultural cache.
Just how many viewers are discovering or even going back and rewatching shows like Seven Seconds, The Get Down, Friends From College, or American Vandal? Even buzzy and/or well-received original movies like I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore or Bright don’t have any longevity. A second window allows these shows and movies to live beyond the confines of the Netflix walled eco-system and has the potential into turning them into films and TV series that actually live and breathe as cultural entities.
Selling its content to third party broadcasters wouldn’t be Netflix losing exclusivity over its titles as much as increasing the awareness and value of its library with audiences. Heck, Netflix would benefit even if they just gave it away.
Just a heads-up to fans of the UK drama Line of Duty. The sixth season of the show debuts in the UK on the 21st of March (with an episode directed by the Australian Daniel Nettheim). Very quickly, streaming service BritBox will be fast-tracking the series to Australia with episodes one and two dropping on 1 April. Episodes will go out weekly on Thursdays after that, in line with the UK broadcast.
US animation studio Bento Box has formed a partnership in Australia with Princess Pictures. Source: Deadline
Amazon Prime is adding a shuffle button to its service. Source: The Streamable
Tim Westcott at TBI explains how Disney and WarnerMedia shuffled their businesses to prepare for streaming futures. Read: TBI
Apple TV+ has given the greenlight to docuseries The Jet, exploring the story behind a 90s Pepsi competition giving away a Harriet plane. Source: TBI
Channel 5 in the UK has taken long-running gameshow Eggheads from the BBC. Read: C21
The Australian Dancing With The Stars cast has been announced. Read: TV Tonight
A TV series remake of Walking Tall is in the works starring WWE star Charlotte Flair. Read: Deadline
This is really dumb
I’m not usually one to take cheap shots (okay, I am… but I try to keep it to a minimum in this newsletter), but sometimes you read something that’s a bit too silly not to be acknowledged.
TV Insider’s Linda Maleh writes about Baywatch under the headline ‘Why you should check out or rewatch Baywatch.” But Maleh never tells us why we should (and I’ll admit, as someone who has watched a lot of Baywatch in my time, I was very curious what sort of a defense could be made for the show - Baywatch is not a good investment of your time), and she seems to completely miss the fact that she’s talking about an era of the show that was in no way reflective of the successful show that was the most-watched show on the planet for a few years. It’s an article telling you why you should watch Baywatch that doesn’t mention the reason people actually watched it - Pamela Anderson.
The upcoming Wonder Years revival will focus on an entirely new family experiencing growing up during the turbulent social upheaval of the 1960s. Today was the reveal of the star of the show. Elisha ‘EJ’ Williams will be playing the Kevin Arnold part, but in the new series the kid will be named Dean.
A promo video for the announcement has original Wonder Years star Fred Savage talking to Williams who is likely befuddled by who this old guy is talking to him.
Critics give Zack Snyder’s Justice League the thumbs up
Almost everyone who saw Zack Snyder’s directors cut of his Batman vs Superman have declared it a much better film than the theatrical cut (there was a lot of important narrative and character moments left on the cutting room floor to keep the running time down). So, it isn’t a surprise that critics are responding well to a Snyder cut of his never-realised Justice League film with more enthusiasm than we’ve seen from his previous DC films.
Which isn’t to say that critics are rhapsodic with praise. The general consensus is that it’s an improvement over the 2017 film. But reviews are still mixed:
Let’s get the biggest question out of the way first: Yes, Zack Snyder’s Justice League is better than the theatrical cut of the film. Just about anything would have been. But the new edit also isn’t quite a movie.
But the movie's soul, such as it is, remains unimproved, and at 242 minutes, very few of them offering much pleasure, it's nearly unendurable as a single-sitting experience. If it were watched in parts — title cards identify six chapters and an epilogue, and some rumors suggested it would be released as a series — those segments would fail to deliver the shapely balance of energies and pacing that one expects these days from even a merely competent TV show. This expanded version may be exactly the product desired by the legion of Snyder fans who cried to the heavens for its release. But nonmembers of that cult will find it just as unenjoyable as the original.