One of the best films I saw at this year’s Sundance Film Festival was Scott Z. Burns’ The Report. Led by an Oscar-worthy performance from Adam Driver, the film spans almost a decade as one intrepid congressional investigator tries to get to the bottom of the Bush Administration’s torture program. It’s riveting stuff that could be a serious contender in this year’s Oscar race if Amazon Studios, who picked up the film, plays its cards right.
According to Deadline, Amazon hopes to replicate the success Netflix had last year with Roma by giving The Report a limited theatrical release on September 27th followed by streaming on Prime starting October 11th. While I would prefer for The Report to get a substantial release, the truth of the matter is that it’s a movie for adults in a time of streaming, so it has two strikes against it. Like with Roma, it’s not a movie that easily sells itself. For Roma, you had to convince audiences to see a 2 hour, 15 minute black-and-white foreign-language feature that was a deeply personal story to the director. For The Report, you have to relive the horror of the Bush years and the reminder that the Obama Administration basically dragged its feet on holding anyone responsible for the torture program.
However, if you give people the chance to watch the film at home, you can still get the buzz without the notion of the film being a “flop”. Granted, this limited theatrical window means The Report won’t play at major chains, but that didn’t stop Roma from picking up three Oscars. While we’re still a long way away from seeing how this year’s Oscar race takes shape, I’m excited for people see The Report. And with the film playing on Prime two weeks after its theatrical release, you won’t have an excuse to skip it.