Can the Oscars take on Covid AND Netflix?

Usually at this time of year the red carpet is getting steamed, the awards are being polished, and Olivia Colman awakens from her year long hangover. That’s right we should be getting on with awards season, but the majority of events have been postponed.

The Oscars, Golden Globes and more have delayed their ceremonies in the hope that COVID lockdowns will have been lifted by April. Even by this time, the guests will still have to abide by strict social distancing rules – or they’ll have Tom Cruise to deal with…

In fear that the anticipated event may not be up to scratch this difficult year, the Oscars have hired director Steven Soderbergh (Traffic, Behind the Candelabra) to breathe life into the show. It seems that the Academy is doing everything possible to avoid moving the ceremony online. We saw the European Film Awards go ahead online last year and whilst it did go as planned, watching someone clap for themselves on Zoom is not the same as the glitz and the glam of the Oscars.

Steven Soderbergh (right)
European Film Awards 2020

But Coronavirus is not the only threat to the film awards. Just over a year ago Ricky Gervais left us all in stitches with jaws on the floor after his Golden Globes speech. In particular, his jab at Netflix: “This show should just be me coming out, going, “Well done Netflix. You win everything. Good night.”

But was he correct? Is Netflix taking over our award ceremonies?

At the 2020 Oscars the streaming powerhouse picked up 24 nominations, more than any Hollywood studio. This is almost 20% of the entire show. They did only walk away with two wins however: Best Supporting Actress, Laura Dern, Marriage Story; Best Documentary (feature), American factory. Netflix’s favourite The Irishman could not compete with thought-provoking Parasite or explosive 1917.

So looking plainly at last years results Netflix is performing like any other blockbuster studio across the board. They have made impressive moves up the industry since their first ever Academy Award nomination back in 2014 – for their Egyptian crisis documentary The Square. Now let’s compare them to the titans in the Best Picture category.

Nothing for Netflix in 2018
A Best Picture nomination in 2019
The Irishman and Marriage Story both contenders for Netflix in 2020

From these graphs we can see the top contenders for Best Picture over the last three years. By the looks of it, quite an evenly spread contest right?

Disney acquired 21st Century Fox (including Fox Searchlight) with a historic deal in 2019 – over $70billion! They also own Marvel, with their Best Picture nod for Black Panther. Universal Studios also owns Focus Features alongside its own nominated movies. This means that our two cinema moguls still have a tight grip on the film industry. Since 2018 Universal and Disney have both earned seven nominations for Best Picture, with Netflix holding three. Whilst streaming services are the biggest developing source of entertainment, they are not yet dominating our awards ceremonies.

Alongside their net worth, Netflix’s critical acclaim has grown exponentially. Is it unreasonable to think that they will walk away with more than 24 nominations this year? This is made even more likely with the recent announcement that a brand new Netflix original movie will be released every single week in 2021. Take a look here.

Netflix and the rest of the industry will no doubt be looking towards this years show and their chances. A big favourite is Nomadland (follow to see a spoiler free lowdown of the upcoming movie!) coming out this March. An emotional and eye-opening tale of a woman disowned by society and learning to live as a nomad. The film is by Chloe Zhao and is being raved about by critics. “I think it’s Nomadland versus Netflix,” says film critic Kaleem Aftab. He continued to discuss the effect that Parasite has had upon the academy (ironic). “I think that might be the change that we’re seeing in Oscars, is that the ‘boys’ club’ has ended. It could beat the big power studio, which Netflix has become.”

Frances McDormand starrs in Nomadland

Parasite signified a movement in cinema. The most coveted award in film, won by a subtitled South-Korean movie. The Oscars has been branded as ethnocentric and male dominated since its conception however now we’re seeing different genders and backgrounds being credited – a positive move for the academy.

The streaming service will certainly be putting forward an impressive array of films for consideration. Masterpieces such as Mank, but more importantly, movies that challenge societal views. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Da 5 Bloods and Trial of the Chicago Seven at the top of the list.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *