Steve McQueen's "Small Ax" is a hit, but can an anthology of films thrive in the TV award circle?
Back when cross country travel was safe and conceivable, I had a terrible habit, in whatever state I was in, of picking up a few dollars' worth of scratch off lottery tickets, tossing them in my purse and holding them for hours to forget. sometimes days later. There was no logic behind this, and it was rarely fruitful except for a state's public education fund, I suppose.
However, there was one incident that got me thinking. It must have been after a trip to the Midwest on vacation that I came across a misunderstood scratch from Nebraska – Eppley Airfield, what the heck – and realized it would be a colossal pain to try if it would be a big winner and collect on. Of course, this wasn't a real problem, which had to do with the terrible odds of lotteries in general, but a girl could dream. A lottery ticket that has no place to be redeemed, such a sad state.
I've been reminded of this pointless anecdote for the past few days as film critic associations announced their winners for the best film and best performance of the year. Many of the top Oscar winners have been awarded significant prizes. Chloé Zhao was named best director by both the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the New York Film Critics Circle for her film "Nomadland" and Kelly Reichardt's "First Cow" for best film at NYFCC, with strong appearances for both Emerald Fennells " Promising Young Woman "as well as for Eliza Hittman's" Never Rarely Sometimes Always ".
Aside from these awards, Steve McQueen's "Small Ax" anthology, broadcast on Amazon Prime Video, was perhaps the most significant critique of the world. McQueen was runner-up for "Small Ax" as a collective and Mica Levi was runner-up for "Lovers Rock," just one of the films in the anthology, at LAFCA, with "Small Ax" also winning best picture and Shabier Kirchner winning best camera for the Series. The anthology also won the cinematography at NYFCC.
McQueen and "Small Ax" deserve nothing if not all the praise and more because "Small Ax" is truly a transformative work of art. That was out of the question and never was.
That being said, the award outlets that are all about “Small Ax” at this point are groups of film critics. However, you will not see "Small Ax" or any of the individual works in it compete with similar films at the Academy Awards. It will compete in the newly minted Outstanding Limited Series or Anthology Series category at the Emmy Awards.
This categorization makes sense because it's the only place in the Emmys or the Oscars where "Small Ax" can be judged as it was intended: as a collective as opposed to individual films. But it still feels a bit strange that a work that has been so widely embraced by the film world that it brings out its top prizes among other current TV shows.
After months of agony, the most accurate description I have for "Small Ax" is still this: It is a collection of five films of varying lengths – between 63 and 128 minutes – that should be viewed as a whole. All five films premiered at film festivals, but none of them have gotten theatrical releases. None of the films are television films and none of them are television series. It will appear as a TV anthology series with the Emmys.
And so I have to ask, is “Small Ax” the lottery ticket that Amazon Prime Video cannot redeem anywhere?
However, there is always a small chance that some Emmy voters will be put off by the idea of a project that so clearly exists as a film anthology that rivals a TV anthology. On top of that, McQueen hates television. If the work is extraordinary, does it matter that the creator despises the medium? If the work is extraordinary, does it matter that it reluctantly classifies itself as television?
If Small Ax is as widely embraced by TV groups as it is by film groups, make sure that it has a big impact throughout the Winter TV Awards season, as the guilds in particular show how TV industry insiders do it Assess project.
While “Small Ax” is by far the most obvious award player from Amazon at this point, it is by no means the only project of the streamer that caused a sensation over the course of 2020. Nathaniel Halpern's "Tales From the Loop" uses sci-fi to examine tenders, moments of personal intimacy and exquisite visual tapestries – and possibly a little too subtle to break through for her bottom line accomplishments. It wouldn't be an unwanted surprise if it showed up on nominations.
Then there is the exact opposite of "Tales From the Loop": "The Boys". With two seasons, the breakout hit from Amazon Prime Video is now ready to stand out with awards. With an Emmy nomination for sound editing and an Art Directors Guild nomination, “The Boys” may well be the bottom line competition that “The Mandalorian” has never seen.