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Netflix At The Oscars: How Streaming Platforms Are Gaining Space In The Award

More than a year has passed since the pandemic began. In this complicated period, social isolation is more than necessary to contain the virus transmission. So with the cinemas closed or working with smaller capacity, film premieres have been postponed. So, streaming platforms, especially Netflix, gained a chance to dominate the biggest prize in cinema, the Oscars. The service had already acquired space in the awards in previous years.

This year Netflix has 35 indications. Two productions are nominated for Best Film, "The Trial of the Chicago 7" and "Mank". While "Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom" is being very commented on because of Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman's nomination for Best Actress and Best Actor. According to Isabel Wittmann, film critic, and producer of the podcast “Feito por Elas”, that she promotes and discusses women’s work in the movie industry, Netflix has done "a growing work".

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Wittmann believes that Netflix’s presence at the Oscars is not only due to the virus outbreak. During the last editions, the streaming service already had indications from some medium-budget films, like documentaries and authorial movie productions. She also explains why Netflix is adopting films with these attributes. “In this Hollywood moment in which we see so many franchise movies, with sequels and adaptations, it ends up being risky for the market to bank a film with an authorial nature, from a specific filmmaker, and they are becoming rarer. And who has bankrolled many of these projects in recent times have been the streaming platforms”. "Roma", written and directed by Alfonso Cuarón, and "The Irishman", by Martin Scorsese, both Netflix's original productions, are good examples of it. 

Almost all movie premieres are not happening in the traditional way, which has both advantages and disadvantages, a release within a streaming platform is interesting because it makes it easier to access the nominated films. However, according to Isabel, based on an article in the magazine Variety, few people who are more interested in cinema and audiovisual have come into contact with these productions, since they were not available in physical rooms. Besides, "just the direct release on streaming is not enough to elevate the name of these films, even for an audience that is used to consuming movies, so we see the weight that the cinema release has in the marketing issue as well”, explains.

About Netflix's actions for its Oscar entry, the critics say that "they are putting together a varied investments’ portfolio, they do one or another film. There aren’t that many movies from Netflix that perform well in the awards season, so they get throughout the year to select a half dozen films in that focus”. According to her, for the streaming, it’s still more beneficial to invest in series and cheaper movies, such as teenagers romantic comedies, it’s in these categories that Netflix has more strength, thus guaranteeing a higher profit in place of Oscars standard productions.


Streaming maybe brings more representativeness to the Oscars

For Wittmann, it’s worth noting the variety of people who are nominated in the awards, Blacks, Asians, women in the Best Director category. In a year when the nominated films are not blockbusters, we see the possibility of people being nominated that maybe wouldn't have been in other years. The recent campaign "Oscar So White" took place on social media and called for more diversity among the nominees, now it’s up to the public to reflect if the Academy has changed, or if we just have a special case because of the absence of the traditional Oscar standard movies. 

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The future of cinemas

Talking about the traditional film studios future, considering the streaming’s presence, Isabel Wittmann commented that “this cinema’s death was already announced many times. TV would kill cinema in the 50s, video cassette in the 80s/90s, DVD in the 2000s, and it doesn’t die". "People still want to see movies in theaters. The big studios are adapting over the years to the market changes themselves, it doesn’t work the way they used to, and for sure the market will still change after this year, but they will keep adapting because Hollywood’s world involves a lot of money, so there is an effort to make sure it doesn’t run out", she affirms.

For the years to come, the presence of streamings like Netflix will keep competing for space with the classic cinema, giving space for new artists and stories to be spread around the world and gain the recognition they deserve.

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The article above was edited by Camila Nascimento.

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Giovanna Ragano

Casper Libero '24

Journalism student at Casper Libero. Passionate about literature, fashion and TV shows. Always listening to Lana del Rey or Danna Paola on headphones.
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