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Is the Criticism of Best Picture Front-Runner ‘Nomadland’ Valid?

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Many people are criticising Chloé Zhao’s Oscar front-runner Nomadland because it doesn’t go out of its way to criticise Amazon’s repugnant work conditions and the way Amazon treats its employees. First of all, I’d like to say what should go without saying: Amazon’s notorious mistreatment of its employees is abhorrent. The criticism that Nomadland needed to address this, though, baffles me. Especially because the people who are criticising Nomadland for merely featuring Amazon are completely ignoring the fact that films also nominated at the Oscars that these same people are praising, like One Night in Miami, Borat 2, and Sound of Metal, are literally made by Amazon. We seem to have lost the idea that a film can just exist as a piece of art. A film is not a documentary (not this kind of film at least), it’s not an article, it’s not an exposé, it’s a piece of art, and it should be crafted like that, not like an article or a non-fiction book that has the time and ability to address every issue it grazes past. A film doesn’t need to say or do anything. Film is an art form, a medium through which many people happen to express an opinion or a criticism of something, but it absolutely is not necessary. Although having said that, people are behaving as though Nomadland is just a vapid 2-hour film that has nothing to say other than be a character study. Nomadland does in fact have a powerful message in it.

Linda May and Fern, from Nomadland, while working at Amazon

In Nomadland, Fern, played by Oscar winning actress, Frances McDormand, spends only a number of weeks working for Amazon and it’s only a few minutes for the audience, it’s one of the many jobs we see her do, the film would be thrown off-kilt if it took five or ten minutes out of its runtime to address these issues. The film as a whole is a commentary on the failures of a capitalist society and how a fixed economy hung many out to dry and forced them into the nomadic life. No-one in the film chose to be a nomad, they had a happy domestic life until it fell apart due to an unstable economy that left those at the bottom to be eaten. These people are happy, yes, but they didn’t choose to be there, they’re making the best out of a bad situation. We see Fern’s sister and brother-in-law, have a happy life in a nice home in a nice neighbourhood, which is a stark contrast to Fern’s van which is constantly on the move. We see Fern and her fellow nomads struggling to survive. Fern even says that she needs to work because the benefits from the government aren’t enough. That is what the film is about, that is what the film is criticising. The very existence of this film is a scathing indictment of capitalism, the mere existence of people who are forced out of their homes and to live in vans or trailers is the criticism people are looking for. 

People claim that Nomadland ‘missed an opportunity’ by not criticising Amazon because they could’ve done it when Fern is working there, or Linda May or Swankie, but just because they could doesn’t mean they should. As I’ve said, film is art, and it doesn’t need to because the film is not a documentary or an op-ed on Amazon’s working conditions, the film is a piece of art. And Amazon is only in the film briefly and it would ruin the tempo to take some time to address that when it isn’t necessary because that isn’t what the film is about. The film is about Fern and her grief over her husband and her adapting to this new walk of life into which she has been thrust, not that Amazon doesn’t treat its workers well. Just because Amazon’s ethics and business practices have been in question very publicly lately doesn’t meant that Nomadland needed to address it. Nomadland is a poetic character study, not a non-fiction piece of journalism, that’s what the book is. Jessica Bruder’s book on which the film is based does take time to criticise and tell stories of people who worked at Amazon under these horrendous conditions. The book is a non-fiction journalistic masterpiece (I recommend it to everyone), but the film is not, and should not be, a film about Amazon’s malpractice because it would take time away from Fern and her story.

Complaining that Nomadland doesn’t deal with the way Amazon treats its workers is like complaining that David Fincher’s Mank doesn’t deal with racism or homophobia that was so rampant in Hollywood at the time. Mank takes place during an era rife with racism and homophobia and in an industry rife with racism and homophobia and yet we see none of it. And no-one complained that it didn’t touch upon it, because the film isn’t about that, Mank is about Herman ‘Mank’ Mankiewicz. And Mank is entirely about that era of Hollywood, Amazon only features in about three minutes of Nomadland‘s 1-hour 50-minute runtime, it’s a fleeting moment, we see Fern in many other jobs. It’s about Fern, about her life falling apart both personally and financially. We see her using a bucket as a toilet a few feet away from where she sleeps, right next to where she cooks and eats, and a few feet away from where she sits all day as she drives to find another place to stay because she has no permanent home. How can people see these scenes of Fern and not see that this is the criticism they want, Nomadland criticises capitalism and, by association, does in fact criticise Amazon; all these nomads lost their jobs because of huge corporations.

Overall, while I do not agree with this criticism, it is not without merit. As I’ve said, Amazon’s working conditions are detestable and is something that does need to have a light shone on and be discussed. So, I do understand people’s desire to see more of that in media, I just disagree that Nomadland is the place to do it. Criticising it because it doesn’t explicitly condemn Amazon despite the film as a whole being about the failures of a capitalist society and that older people especially are casualties of capitalism, seems tedious rather than heartfelt to me. There is a deep message and criticism within this film, it’s presented in a visually beautiful way so it’s easy to miss but the criticism people are craving to see is sewn into every frame of Nomadland.

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PARAMOUNT+ Reveals UK Launch Date, Pricing, Distribution Partners & More

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Paramount+, the global streaming service from Paramount Global, will launch in the UK and Ireland on 22 June 2022. After countless months of waiting It was announced by the company reporting their first-quarter earnings call on 3 of May, during which Paramount’s President and CEO, Bob Bakish, outlines global expansion plans for the streaming service. 

The ongoing momentum of Paramount+ will also see the service launch in South Korea in June, with further launches planned in Italy, Germany, France, Switzerland and Austria in the second half of the year. Additionally, in 2023, Paramount+ will launch in India in partnership with Viacom 18, as part of a recently announced agreement, and is poised to participate in this fast-growing market. 

“Paramount is known for its leading portfolio of premium entertainment brands and a robust content engine that fuels our rapidly expanding streaming service, Paramount+. This year will be monumental for our streaming strategy as we accelerate our global ambitions, rapidly expanding Paramount+ in Europe beginning with the UK, Italy, Germany, France and more by the end of this year and debut in Asia with South Korea in June, followed by India in 2023,” said Raffaele Annecchino, President and CEO, International Networks, Studios and Streaming, Paramount Global.  “With an already expansive global footprint and a strong, long-term market-by-market strategy, we are well-poised to continue our positive momentum.” 

Maria Kyriacou, President, Australia, Canada, Israel and UK, Paramount, said, “The addition of Paramount+ to our strong portfolio of free-to-air, pay-TV and streaming services will broaden the range of choice available to our audiences in the UK and Ireland. Paramount+ will be a one-stop destination for Paramount’s biggest brands, where fans of all ages can find exclusive original premium content, global hits, and discover a world of favourites from Paramount’s vast catalogue.” 

PRICING AND DISTRIBUTION

In the UK, Paramount+ will be available online at

https://www.paramountplus.com/

and on mobile and a wide range of connected TV devices via the Paramount+ app, via broad direct-to-consumer distribution through Apple, Amazon, Google, Roku® and Samsung, with more platforms to be announced in the coming months. Users will be able to sign up to the service for £6.99 per month/£69.90 per annum in the UK, after a free seven-day trial*.   

Paramount+ will launch on Sky platforms in the UK, Ireland, Italy, Germany and Austria in 2022 as part of a new multi-year distribution agreement that also includes the extended carriage of Paramount’s leading portfolio of pay TV channels. Sky Cinema subscribers will get the bonus of Paramount+ included at no extra cost. 

ROBUST CONTENT SLATE

Paramount+ will launch in the UK with a broad content slate of more than 8,000 hours of content for the whole family, spanning new and exclusive Paramount+ originals, hit shows and popular movies across every genre from Paramount’s world-renowned brands and production studios, including SHOWTIME®, Paramount Pictures, Comedy Central, MTV and Nickelodeon.  

In addition, Paramount+ is home to some of the world’s most beloved franchises in the world. Audiences in the UK will have access to the Star Trek universe; and the library and new seasons of Taylor Sheridan’s critically acclaimed Yellowstone series. South Park and the MTV Shores 

will also be available, and kids and families franchises, this include SpongeBob SquarePants, PAW Patrol, Rugrats plus new originals based on Nickelodeon’s most beloved characters such as Kamp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years.   

PARAMOUNT+ ORIGINALS

Some of the most anticipated Paramount+ and SHOWTIME® originals from the US, UK and other international markets will be available in the UK and Ireland when the service launches, including HALO, 1883, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, The Offer, Mayor of Kingstown, Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber, The First Lady, The Man Who Fell to Earth, Queen of the Universe and Jerry & Marge Go Large. 

These will join premium international scripted Paramount+ originals produced by VIS – the international studio division of Paramount Global – in association with independent production companies in the UK and around the world. Previously announced original UK dramas heading to Paramount+ include Sexy Beast, A Gentleman in Moscow, Flatshare, The Burning Girls, The Ex-Wife and The Blue. 

Scripted originals from around the world include

Los Enviados (The Envoys) (Mexico) and Cecilia (Mexico) – both of which have been renewed for a second season; Simon Beckett’s Chemistry of Death (Germany); The Signal (France); Bosé (Spain); Fallaci (Italy); At Midnight (Mexico); and more.   

Hours of original factual titles from the UK production community will also be available, including Haunted, The Box, Rise of the Tech Titans, MH370: The Lost Flight, Chalet Girls, LA Hairdressers, Fashion House, Pervert: Catching the Strip Search Caller and Girl Taken. 

KIDS AND FAMILY

Thousands of hours of Kids and Family content on the service will include Paramount+ Original series Fairly Odd Parents: Fairly Odder, iCarly S1 & S2, the reimagined Rumble and Big Nate. They will join original TV movies, including Honour Society, Promposal, Little Wing, Snow Day, Nicole From Last Night and Blue’s Big City Adventure. 

BLOCKBUSTER MOVIES

Paramount+ will offer unlimited access to blockbuster movies with new releases like

Scream 5, time-proven classics such as Grease and Star Trek, and family-friendly selections like PAW Patrol: The Movie, Clifford The Big Red Dog and more. 

EXCLUSIVE PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS

Also coming to the UK service this year are Paramount+ exclusives The Thing About Pam and Victoria’s Secret: Angels and Demons. They join other exclusive titles including South Park: Post Covid and South Park: Post Covid: The Return to Covid, as well as Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber, The First Lady and The Man Who Fell to Earth.  


Paramount+ is a global digital subscription video streaming service from Paramount that features a mountain of premium entertainment for audiences of all ages. Internationally, the streaming service features an expansive library of original series, hit shows and popular movies across every genre from world-renowned brands and production studios, including SHOWTIME®, BET, CBS, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Paramount Pictures and the Smithsonian Channel™, in addition to a robust offering of premier local content. The service is currently live in the U.S., Canada, Latin America, the Caribbean, the Nordics, and Australia.   

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Angela Bassett Says Black Panther 2 Will Surpass The First

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Recently actress and Black Panther star Angela Bassett who plays Ramonda (mother of Shuri and T’Challa) reflected on filming Black Panther, Chadwick Boseman’s impact on the upcoming sequel and a tidbit as to what we can expect going forward. Marvel has remained tight lipped after Boseman’s tragic passing as to how the events of ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ will play out, without its main star.

Letitia Wright and Angela Bassett – Black Panther [photo credit: Marvel Studios]

The set of Black Panther 2 has already experienced its share of set backs, via Covid-19 and a stunt injury to lead actress Letitia Wright who plays Shuri, the sister of T’Challa.

Recently on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Angela Bassett praised Director Ryan Coogler for his work on Black Panther 2 saying it will “Top” the first film. She also went on to praise Chadwick Boseman saying he was inspiration in “Raising the standard.” while adding:

“He was such an example, such a leader. Amazing talent, we all know that; big heart, great intellect. And we just hope to raise the standard, you know.”

Black Panther 2 does not plan to replace Chadwick Boseman (T’Challa), instead, Ryan Coogler and Marvel  plan to move forward in a way that honors Boseman’s legacy while pushing forward with a new inspiring cinematic story, set in Wakanda.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is set to hit theaters in November. 

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2022 Oscar Snubs:

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Last week, we finally got the nominations for the 2022 Academy Awards, the biggest event in any film fans diary. In this piece, I will be looking through some of the people who may feel unlucky not to be getting glammed up on the 27th March. As a disclaimer, these snubs may not necessarily be films/people that I wanted to see in the lineup. Just ones that will feel aggrieved at not having a nomination.

Best Picture:
This years Best Picture lineup is not one of the strongest lineups we’ve seen, especially when compared to some past years. There are a few films that will feel aggrieved to not be in the running…

The Tragedy of Macbeth

Joel Coen tackling one of the most famous plays from William Shakespeare with Academy favourites Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand as your two stars certainly feels like the perfect recipe for Oscars success. The Tragedy of Macbeth landed 3 Oscar nominations in total and will feel like it could have snuck into the Best Picture running.

The Lost Daughter

Maggie Gyllenhaal’s directorial debut, The Lost Daughter, is an excellent debut and considering it picked up 3 Oscar nods for Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay, it will feel like it should have its place in the running for Best Picture.

In the Heights

The feel good film of 2021, In the Heights was a popular film amongst both audiences and critics which should have resulted in some love from the Academy. If I had my way, this would have been in the Best Picture running.

House of Gucci

The definition of ‘Oscar bait’. A biopic about a huge scandal in one of the most famous and luxurious fashion families in the world, with Ridley Scott at the helm and a cast that includes the great Al Pacino…its a shock that this wasn’t in the running.

Spider-Man: No Way Home

Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Doctor Strange and Tom Holland stars as Spider-Man/Peter Parker in Columbia Pictures’ SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME.

This was always going to be a long shot, but with the mega box office, the campaigning by Marvel, the overall popularity of the picture and the Academy trying to become more ‘relevant’, it wouldn’t have been *that* big of a surprise if the film had snuck into the Best Picture running.

Best Director:
Denis Villeneuve

Easily the biggest snub from this years Oscars lineup. It is absolutely crazy that the Academy doesn’t recognise the director of a film that picked up 10 nominations in total…

Maggie Gyllenhaal

Another Best Director snub is first timer Maggie Gyllenhaal. This would have been a long shot but it would have been fantastic to have seen Gyllenhaal make her way into this illustrious group.

Guillermo Del Toro

Another one of the Academy’s favourites, Guillermo Del Toro feels like a big snub in this race, especially given the quality of the film on offer with Nightmare Alley.

Best Actress:
Alana Haim

The breakout star of 2021, Alana Haim was perfect in Licorice Pizza and was fully deserving of a Best Actress nod.

Emilia Jones

Another breakout star of 2021, Emilia Jones should have been in the conversation a lot more this awards season for her leading role in the wonderful and heart wrenching CODA.

Jodie Comer

The Last Duel is probably the biggest suffering film in terms of awards snubs. This should have been in the conversation for all of the major awards but the leading snub from the film is hands down Jodie Comer. She is breathtaking in the picture.

Lady Gaga

Probably the biggest surprise of the Oscars nominations was Lady Gaga’s snub from the Best Actress race. The majority of people were expecting Gaga to be a potential winner in this topsy turvy category so to see her snubbed came as a huge surprise. I have to say though, if Gaga missing out means Kristen Stewart gets in, I’m happy…

Best Actor:
Leonardo Di Caprio

Say what you want about Don’t Look Up as a film (a lot of people have said a lot of stuff). One thing that can’t be denied though is the quality of some of the performances, namely Leonardo Di Caprio. One of the Academy’s favourite actors, it is a surprise not to see them give him another nomination.

Peter Dinklage

Peter Dinklage is one of the finest working actors out there, continually putting in great performances throughout the years. It would have been wonderful to see Dinklage finally land an Oscar nod for Cyrano.

Bradley Cooper

Bradley Cooper is well overdue an Oscar win, he should have won for A Star is Born back in 2019. In Nightmare Alley, he gives one of his best performances and one that has definitely been overlooked by the Academy voters.

Nicolas Cage

Another long shot, but Nicolas Cage gives his best performance in years in the excellent Pig. It would have been quite the turn from the Academy to recognise this kind of performance but I for one would have loved it.

Best Supporting Actress
Caitriona Balfe

Say what you want about Belfast but the quality of the performances cannot be denied. In fact the best two performances have been snubbed by the Academy. Firstly, Caitriona Balfe puts in the best performance in the film and it is a travesty that the Academy has overlooked her (no criticism to Dame Judi who I love).

Cate Blanchett

Cate Blanchett is an actor who continually puts in fantastic performance after fantastic performance. In Nightmare Alley she delivers a cold and fatal performance that deserved recognition.

Marlee Matlin

Marlee Matlin is another who gives an excellent performance in CODA. It was amazing to see Troy Kotsur nominated but it would have been lovely to have seen his on screen partner pick up a nod too.

Ann Dowd and Martha Plimpton

Mass is a film filled with four devastating performances. Four performances that could have easily been nominated in the Oscars this year. Ann Dowd and Martha Plimpton are both excellent and both would have been worthy of a nod this year.

Best Supporting Actor:
Jamie Dornan

Like Balfe, Jamie Dornan also puts in an excellent performance in Belfast, probably the best of his career. He gives a charismatic and likeable performance in a film the Academy voters seem to love.

Mike Faist

Mike Faist puts in a great performance in West Side Story, one of the best in the film, that is fully deserving of an Oscar nomination.

Woody Norman

C’mon C’mon is another one of those overlooked films in the awards season this year that deserved a lot more love. Woody Norman is excellent in the film and it would have been incredible to see him in the Supporting Actor race.

Jason Isaacs and Reed Birney

Again, Mass is a film filled with four devastating performances. Four performances that could have easily been nominated in the Oscars this year. Reed Birney and, in particular, Jason Isaacs are both excellent and both would have been worthy of a nod this year.

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