COVID-19 has brought a world of changes to film-viewing and cinema as we know it. Many big films due to be released in theatres in 2020 and 2021 were delayed in the hopes that restrictions would soon lift, and people could flock back to cinemas worldwide to view these latest releases. However, many production companies decided not to wait and instead released their films onto streaming services so people could view them from the comfort of their own homes.
It was a huge change in the film industry, and some even predict that it could cause the death of cinema going as we know it. We don’t know yet what the future holds for films getting cinematic releases, but it was a welcome change for many people. Today, we’re going to look at some of the best film releases for home-viewing we saw over the last year.
The Trial of the Chicago 7
This Oscar-nominated historical drama follows the Chicago Seven, a group of anti-Vietnam War protesters charged with conspiracy and crossing state lines with intent to incite riots. What started as a peaceful protest turns into a violent clash with the police, and what follows is one of the most notorious trials in American history.
Starring popular actors like Sacha Baron Cohen, Eddie Redmayne and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the film was popular with viewers and critics alike, receiving praise for its dramatization of the events while containing essential truths. It was released in selected theatres but then made digitally available on Netflix, becoming the second-most streamed film over its debut weekend.
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Almost 15 years after the world was introduced to Sacha Baron Cohen’s satirical Kazakh character Borat, the sequel was released on Prime Video. Due to Borat’s popularity and recognisability, Cohen gets a little more creative in this film, playing Borat disguising himself as new characters to avoid having his fame ruin the candid footage of real people reacting to his adventures with his daughter Maria.
The film was praised for its commentary on American culture and experienced some backlash for controversial scenes. It went on to be nominated for many awards, winning several Golden Globes.
Trolls World Tour
A film that took the world by storm, this sequel to the Trolls franchise was one of the most notable films from 2020 that did incredibly well when released digitally. It set the record for most streams on a released weekend, finishing number one for Amazon Prime, Comcast, Apply TV, Vudu, YouTube and DirectTV. By August, it was estimated that the film had made about $150 million from rentals. It is thought it likely benefited from being a popular children’s film released during a time when parents would be looking for ways to entertain their kids as they were home from school due to the pandemic.
The film follows the discovery of troll tribes across six different lands, each devoted to a different kind of music. The rockers are looking to destroy the other music, prompting the trolls on a mission to unite them all and save the melodies from becoming extinct.
Pixar streamed two films during the pandemic, one being Soul, the story of a middle-aged music teacher seeking to reunite his soul with his body after he accidentally dies on the day he gets his big break as a jazz musician.
Soul was released on Disney+ on Christmas Day 2020 and in theatres in countries without the streaming service. It was the first Pixar feature-length film not to get a wide theatrical released and the first billed as a Disney+ original. At the Oscars, the film won Best Animated Film and Best Original Score.
Love and Monsters
A monster adventure film, Love and Monsters actually began development in 2012 and lingered for a few years before resuming in 2019. It was initially due for a theatrical release in early 2021 but was moved to a digital release due to the pandemic.
The film follows the life of Joel Dawson, seven years after a monster apocalypse that saw humanity relocate underground ever since giant monsters have taken over the surface. After connecting with his old girlfriend via radio, he sets out on a journey to get to her colony 80 miles away, despite all the dangers that stands in his way.
The Mitchells vs. the Machines
The Mitchells vs. the Machines is a computer-animated, science fiction comedy produced by Sony that follows a dysfunctional family that winds up saving the earth from a robot uprising while on a road trip. Due to the pandemic, the rights were sold to Netflix, and it received universal acclaim.
It holds an approval rating of 97% on Rotten Tomatoes and was praised for its openly LGBT main character in a family-oriented animated film.