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Netflix released one of 2020’s most controversial movies – and it might win an Oscar

Published Nov 19th, 2020 10:10PM EST
Image: Netflix

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  • Among all the Netflix movies to watch right now, one that’s attracted the most scrutiny and controversy in recent memory is the film Cuties, from director Maïmouna Doucouré.
  • Cuties was added to Netflix in September — and it’s still making headlines today.
  • France has decided to add Cuties to its Oscar shortlist for next year’s Academy Awards. The movie would potentially be up for a Best International Feature award.

Back in September, a controversial movie from France was added to Netflix’s streaming library that generated a huge wave of backlash, led some people to cancel their Netflix accounts altogether, and even resulted in the movie being banned in one country. The release of Cuties, the movie that sparked all that, came the same week that Netflix CEO Reed Hastings released a book offering some of the lessons he’s learned while leading the world’s dominant streaming service — and the controversy built up to enough of a fever pitch that even US Senators like Ted Cruz of Texas threatened to take action.

Cuties burst onto the scene as a powerful, award-winning independent French film, and among all the Netflix movies to watch on the service, this one is definitely among the most provocative. Written and directed by Maïmouna Doucouré, the movie won a Sundance Film Festival award, and it stars Fathia Youssouf as a young girl in Senegal growing up in a strict Muslim family. Despite the family’s traditional values, the 11-year-old joins a modern dance group called “the cuties.”

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The film is racy at times in what seemed to be — from the marketing material, since many critics were too disgusted to watch it — a completely inappropriate sexualization of young children. Now? The movie is back to making news headlines yet again, as this time it seems there’s a chance it will be put forward for consideration at next year’s Academy Awards, where it could potentially win an Oscar.

This is a result of France’s Oscar selection committee having just released its shortlist of Oscar contenders. Cuties, the reaction to which has been so extreme that it’s even earned its director death threats online, would be in the category of Best International Feature, according to Deadline.

For additional context regarding how poorly it’s been received by movie audiences, consider its Rotten Tomatoes score. At the time of this writing, Cuties has an 87% Rotten Tomatoes critics score based on 75 total reviews.

The movie’s Rotten Tomatoes audience score, however, is an abysmal 15%, based on more than 2,200 reviews. By way of defending her creation, Doucouré has said she actually made the movie as a form of social commentary against sexualizing young girls, rather than the opposite.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.