It seems as though the lines between film and television are becoming more and more blurred, especially now that Small Axe, Steve McQueen’s five film anthology series released on Amazon Prime, has been named best picture by the L.A. Film Critics Association. Every winner of LAFCA has gone on to be nominated for at least one major Oscar, but will Small Axe be considered as a single film at this year’s Academy Awards?
McQueen was also named runner-up for best director at the LAFCA, with Chloe Zhao winning for Nomadland. Small Axe Cinematographer Shabier Kirchner won the cinematography award, and the second film in the anthology, Lovers Rock, was given runner-up for best music/score.
Part of the reason for the confusing way in which these awards were given has to do with the lack of eligibility requirements. Technically, if members of the LAFCA wanted to vote for Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 film Vertigo for an award last weekend, they’d be allowed to. This allows for the group of critics to effectively call Small Axe one individual film as well as five separate ones.
“These films were made for television,” said McQueen in a recent interview with Rolling Stone Magazine. “They can be projected in cinema, but ‘Small Axe’ was all about the generosity and accessibility to these films. From the beginning, I wanted these films to be accessible to my mother. I wanted them on the BBC. It was always going to be on TV, the five films. But at the same time, they premiered in the cinema. There’s no absolutes anymore. There shouldn’t be. Because it’s about how people want to see things. That’s about it.”