Anybody can binge watch the longest film to ever win an Oscar like normal people on the WatchESPN app, but it takes a special fan to stay up all night watching O.J.: Made in America.
The documentary clocks in at seven hours and 47 minutes. The in-depth look at race, sports, celebrity and the justice system has earned ESPN Films their first Oscar win.
It comes in a year that saw an explosion in films and TV series (ESPN certainly blurred that line) that utilized the high drama of the double-murder and trial as a lens to investigate race relations in the U.S. FX saw great success with The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, which claimed the Golden Globe for best TV movie or miniseries. The series also ran to nearly eight hours. Even Investigation Discovery got in on the O.J. action with their recently concluded series Is O.J. Innocent? The Missing Evidence.
But it’s clear that this cultural moment is much more about race, mass incarceration and police brutality than one infamous football star. 13th, which elucidates the relationship between the end of slavery and mass incarceration, and I Am Not Your Negro shared the Best Documentary category nominations with Made in America. Clearly, as #BlackLivesMatters rises as a movement and the country is strongly divided along racial lines, there is a desire to look to sports and culture to make sense of our political moment.
If the nuanced message of Made in America wasn’t clear, filmmaker Ezra Edelman made his viewpoint explicit while accepting the Oscar.
[This win] is also for others, the victims of police violence, police brutality, racially motivated violence and criminal injustice. This is their story as well as Ron and Nicole’s. I am honored to accept this award on all of their behalfs.
— Ezra Edelman, accepting the Academy Award for Best Documentary
The context of police violence and race that sits behind the renewed interest in OJ, and hence the proliferation in the last year of shows like Made in America, is intersecting here with the other context of questioning old content consumption orthodoxies. Amazon and Netflix are now both Oscar winning platforms, in the ultimate recognition of changing audience habits.
ESPN’s 30 for 30 series tried to push The Two Escobars (1 hour 44 minutes) as an Oscar contender with theatrical release in 2010, but the film wasn’t nominated. Turns out they just needed to add six hours to the runtime. To celebrate their long-awaited victory, ESPN will re-air O.J.: Made in America Monday through Friday at 11pm.
You might be feeling bummed that you missed your chance to see Made in America in the theater, with it’s two intermissions. (The previous record-holder for longest Oscar winning film was War and Peace, which won best Foreign Language Film in 1969, and was a mere 431 minutes long.) Don’t worry, ESPN is giving you a chance for an epic watching with no breaks, the way the film was intended to be seen.
It was solidified at Sundance, as we saw the audience engaged for almost eight hours, how powerful the experience is.
— Connor Schell, Executive Producer
ESPN will show the documentary uninterrupted from 1am-9am EST on ESPN2 Saturday morning. Grab your crew, some brews and your sleeping bags for the party of the year.
I challenge you to come up with a better way to pull an all-nighter and kick-off your weekend.