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Spielberg vs. Netflix: Should Streaming Services Have Consideration at the Oscars?

Hollywood’s most recent headline news follows the battle between Steven Spielberg and streaming services, particularly Netflix. Steven Spielberg, heavily regarded as one of the most revered and important directors of the last century, has recently come under fire for his comments about the eligibility of films produced by streaming services at the Oscars.

Spielberg stated last March that “Once you commit to a television format, you are a TV movie,” elaborating that “You certainly, if it’s a good show, deserve an Emmy, but not an Oscar. I don’t believe films that are just given token qualifications in a couple of theaters for less than a week should qualify for the Academy Award nomination.”

These remarks, in addition to this latest, come after a longstanding contention over the entrance of Netflix films like Roma and Mudbound into the race for the Academy Awards. Both of these films won awards at the celebration of cinema and were widely recognized as great films. Here lies the controversy then: How long should a film show in theaters to be considered for these awards like the Oscars and the Cannes Film Festival? Or is the measure simply how good the film is?

Academy Award winner ‘Roma’, a Netflix release, pictured above.


Streaming services like Netflix spend time and money ensuring their films get their theatrical release and campaign. It is no surprise then, that many movie lovers saw Spielberg’s judgement as unfair.

Netflix tweeted a statement in response, although not naming Spielberg directly, defending their right to theatrical release and award consideration with their love for cinema.

Most people see the issue as a symptom of industry growing pains. As more people prefer to watch movies at home instead of going to the theater, is it surprising that great films are finding their place first with Netflix? Another trailblazing and well-respected director, Martin Scorsese, plans to release his upcoming film The Irishman to the streaming service. Will this put his work at a disadvantage when awards season comes around next year? If Spielberg has his way with the Academy, there is a chance that the window between theatrical release and appearance on streaming platforms will be extended to around three months, something services like Netflix may not be able to afford.

Where do you stand? Should films released through streaming services be eligible? Let us know on social media! Tweet us @HerCampusAkron to share your thoughts!

Madeline Myers is a 2020 graduate of the University of Akron. She has a B.A. English with a minor in Creative Writing. At Her Campus, Madeline enjoys writing movie and TV reviews. Her personal essay “Living Room Saloon” is published in the 2019 issue of The Ashbelt. Madeline grew up in Zanesville, Ohio. She loves quoting comedians, reading James Baldwin, and sipping on grape soda. She fears a future run by robots but looks forward to the day when her stories are read by those outside of her immediate family.