November 22, 2019 8:25 pm

4 films that position Netflix to crush awards season

Netflix has an incredible slate of original films releasing late this year that are poised to headline awards season in 2020. No fewer than four titles should earn at least Golden Globe nominations, if not Oscar recognition.

Two of Netflix’s top contenders have limited theatrical release in the New York City area. One has already dropped on the streamer, and another prestige pic is due just before the new year.

Although superbly cast, The Laundromat and The King seem on the outside looking in, but Netflix has more in the chamber. Let’s break down each Netflix movie and where to watch for the nominations and awards to flow in.

The Irishman (Streaming Nov. 27)


Three Oscar-winning legends headline the cast, and are directed by arguably the GOAT auteur of film, Martin Scorsese. This Best Picture frontrunner is a critical darling at 96 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci. What a power trio. They’re part of a complicated, decades-spanning plot involving organized crime. Pacino is playing Jimmy Hoffa himself, so that’s epic on its own.

Since Pesci already scored an Oscar for Goodfellas and hasn’t been around for a while, he may be overlooked at awards season. However, De Niro should pick up plenty of Best Actor buzz. His strong 2019 includes this latest Scorsese collaboration and the billion-dollar box office hit, Joker.

Pacino should get some love in the Best Supporting Actor category at the Oscars. He’s in the midst of a legitimate resurgence in the twilight of his career, and the Academy loves a progressing comeback story, as opposed to Pesci’s one-off return.


Beyond the chief creative forces of this film, the de-aging technology used to tell this story will earn all kinds of technical nominations. Expect nods for the costume design, art direction and all the elements encompassed in production design.

Also expect Steven Zaillian’ script to be nominated by the Academy and everyone in between. Scorsese will get a Best Director nod, too — and may even sweep all those types of awards. even in his amazing career, this could be his apex.

Marriage Story (Streaming Dec. 6)

What was neat about the recently announced Independent Spirit Awards was Marriage Story earned special recognition for its entire ensemble with the Robert Altman Award. That excluded it from being nominated for individual categories, and bodes really well for awards season.

If not for Joaquin Phoenix’s transformative performance in Joker, the Best Actor Oscar would be Adam Driver’s to lose.


Driver stars as Charlie in this Noah Baumbach film about divorce. Co-starring is Scarlett Johansson as Nicole, while Laura Dern, Alan Alda and Ray Liotta all play lawyers in the saga.

Scorsese has suggested Driver is the best actor of this generation. He’s earned acclaim for his role in The Report, yet Marriage Story is a domestic drama and more accessible for awards voters. At 97 percent on Rotten Tomatoes), Marriage Story is a top rival to The Irishman for Best Picture.

Moreover, Dern and Johansson should earn all the major award nominations for their work. They share some really intense scenes, undercut with excellent comedy from Dern.

In addition, the writing and direction by Baumbach is incredible, particularly in an argument scene between Driver and Johansson that will go down as of the best-acted exchanges of the past decade. Netflix could rake in awards from that alone.

The Two Popes (Streaming Dec. 20)

A two-hander involving Jonathan Pryce and Anthony Hopkins? Which awards panel wouldn’t be excited about feasting on this dramedy about the transition between Pope Benedict and the future Pope Francis set around the year 2012.

Not only is the subject matter compelling, but it’s also subversive in how funny it is. At least that’s what critics say, who are giving it raves with an RT score of 88 percent among 34 reviews.

Pryce has never received an Oscar nomination. Hopkins could well find himself a strong fit in the supporting category through awards season. However, it’s time for Pryce to get his due. He’s been doing excellent work for years and deserves the recognition.

As for screenwriter Anthony McCarten, he’s prolific. He’s penned The Theory of Everything, Darkest Hour and Bohemian Rhapsody — all of which produced Best Actor Oscars for Eddie Redmayne, Gary Oldman and Rami Malek, respectively.

So, between the writing, the two lead performnces and the Vatican setting, The Two Popes sets up Netflix for all kinds of awards season accolades in the creative and technical categories.

Netflix is crushing it. But wait, there’s one more! It’s not quite as heavy as the prior three.

Dolemite Is My Name (Streaming now)

This film isn’t really Oscar bait. Well, there’s a small chance. Remember the comeback storyline involving Pacino’s turn in The Irishman? Similarly, let’s even raise one more here, for someone who isn’t a multiple Academy Award nominee: Eddie Murphy.

Dolemite already dropped on Netflix, and is getting dynamite write-ups from reviewers and audiences: 97 percent critics score, and 91 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Murphy shines in the lead role as Rudy Ray Moore, who embraces his alter ego, Dolemite, and eventually takes his talents to the big screen. The flashy costume, along with art design, should earn Netflix awards notice.

Movies about movies, like this one (kind of) is, tend to do well in the awards. The screenplay should be recognized for its storytelling. It’s like a lid was on Murphy for years, or he was just making family-friendly, critically reviled comedies.

But Adam Sandler is in a similar spot, as his turn in Uncut Gems may undermine Murphy’s Oscar campaign. However, he’s a real threat at the Golden Globes. Those awards distinguish between musical/comedy and drama. In other words, it opens things up for Murphy, and could lead to a Netflix awards victory.

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