Ever since the advent of prestige TV, the lines between TV shows, miniseries, and movies have been blurring slowly. Now, it's customary to hear a creator say their series is like a "10-hour movie." Moreover, with the coronavirus pandemic shuttering theaters, more big-screen films are getting TV and streaming releases instead. But then there are the projects that push the boundaries like Small Axe. The revolutionary "miniseries of feature films" also happened to be some of the best streaming had to offer in 2020. For those who haven't seen it yet, you're gonna want to know how to stream Small Axe.
Director Steve McQueen is best known for his film 12 Years a Slave, which took home three Oscars at the 2014 Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Up until now, he has only directed feature films. His other works include 2008's Hunger, 2011's Shame, and 2018's criminally overlooked Widows. So McQueen taking on a TV project was huge news when it first broke.
Small Axe is technically billed as a "limited series." But as an actual viewing experience, it is an anthology of standalone feature films, each as gorgeously rendered as any Oscar contender. Other than the subject matter, which focuses on the stories of West Indian immigrants living in London over the 1960s, '70s, and 8'0s, each movie (Mangrove, Lovers Rock, Red, White and Blue, Alex Wheatle, and Education) is entirely independent of the others.
Small Axe was initially commissioned for the BBC, but then Amazon Studios jumped in as co-producer. That secured the rights for Prime Video to be the sole distributor of the films. The first of the Small Axe films, Mangrove, was released on Amazon on Nov. 20, 2020, with one a week following for the next month. All five are now available via Amazon for Prime members to stream for free.
Amazon Studios also does in-house film production and has been the studio behind such Academy Awards and Golden Globe winners such as Manchester by the Sea and The Big Sick. Three of Small Axe's films (Mangrove, Lovers Rock, and Red, White and Blue) were released via the film festival circuit ahead of their debut on streaming, making the series eligible for film awards as well as TV series ones. As such, the anthology already took home the Los Angeles Film Critics Association's grand prize for Best Picture.
Both Small Axe's 2021 Golden Globes nominations are in the TV category for Best Limited Series or Television Film and a Best Supporting Actor – Television nod for John Boyega, who plays Leroy Logan in Small Axe's third installment, Red, White and Blue.