Subdued AFI Fest Makes for a Quieter Awards Season – But Look Out for ‘Dolemite’ and ‘Uncut Gems’


Also in this awards-season report: repeat viewings, power ballads and a Oscar Top 13

The AFI Fest opens in Hollywood this week, which in a normal awards season means that this is the week when everything gets completely crazy. This year, though, the Oscar race got crazy a couple of weeks ago, and AFI Fest simply seems like a little more of the same, or maybe even a slacking off of the insanity that surrounded the Academy’s Governors Awards back on Oct. 27.

That’s partly because of AFI programming this year. While studios have often used the festival for gala screenings that showcase their prime awards contenders, this year Netflix’s “The Two Popes” and “The Irishman” (screening as part of a tribute to Martin Scorsese) are the only films considered top-drawer Best Picture candidate to have an AFI Fest gala. Netflix isn’t sending its other top contender, “Marriage Story,” and the festival also won’t be screening “Parasite” or “Little Women” or “Ford v Ferrari” (which opens in theaters this weekend) or “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” or other awards-bound films.

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Steve Pond

Steve Pond has been writing about film, music, pop culture and the entertainment industry for more than 40 years. He has served as TheWrap’s awards editor and executive editor, awards since joining the company in 2009. Steve began his career writing about music for the Los Angeles Times, where he remained a contributor for more than 15 years, and Rolling Stone, where he was West Coast Music Editor and wrote 16 cover stories. He moved into film coverage with a weekly column in the Washington Post and became a contributing writer at Premiere magazine, where he became the first journalist to have all access to the Academy Awards show and rehearsals. He has also written for the New York Times, Movieline, the DGA Quarterly, GQ, Playboy, the Christian Science Monitor, USA Today, New York, the Christian Science Monitor, Live! magazine and many others. He is the author of the Los Angeles Times bestseller “The Big Show: High Times and Dirty Dealings Backstage at the Academy Awards” (Faber and Faber, 2005). He has also written “Elvis in Hollywood” (New American Library, 1990) and contributed to books that include “Cash,” “The Rolling Stone Reader,” U2: The Rolling Stone Files,” “Bruce Springsteen: The Rolling Stone Files” and “The Rolling Stone Interviews: The 1980s.” He was the co-managing editor of the syndicated TV news program “The Industry News” and the creative consultant for the A&E series “The Inside Track With Graham Nash.” He has won L.A. Press Club awards for stories in TheWrap, the Los Angeles Times and Playboy, and was nominated for a National Magazine Award for a story in Premiere.