Special Briefing: Can Netflix Keep Its Oscars Dreams Alive?
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because this could spell trouble for Netflix.
By Dan Peleschuk
This is an OZY Special Briefing, an extension of the Presidential Daily Brief. The Special Briefing tells you what you need to know about an important issue, individual or story that is making news. Each one serves up an interesting selection of facts, opinions, images and videos in order to catch you up and vault you ahead.
WHAT TO KNOW
What happened? The 77th Golden Globes bathed plenty of nominees in warm victory. But for Netflix — the streaming giant that had 34 nominations going in — it was something of a cold shower. Despite weeks of speculation over how the mega-disrupter would sweep the awards in a sign of its industry dominance, most of the honors went to conventional movie studios and old-school cable networks, such as Sony Pictures and HBO.
Why does it matter? With Oscar nominations just a week away, many observers might be recalibrating their expectations for how Netflix might fare in Hollywood’s ultimate contest. But more important, it raises a broader question as the “streaming wars” increasingly grip the industry: Will it take more than just high-profile productions for Netflix to overshadow the decades-old Silver Screen?
HOW TO THINK ABOUT IT
Disappointing results. Widespread commentary in the run-up to Sunday’s show would’ve had you fooled: Netflix heavy hitters The Irishman and Marriage Story, packed with star power, were favorites for best drama. But Sam Mendes’ visual masterpiece 1917 took home that prize (and the best director award). Meanwhile, HBO’s Chernobyl beat out the streaming service’s Unbelievable and The Crown, while Netflix emerged victorious merely for Olivia Colman’s lead role in the royal drama and Laura Dern’s supporting performance in Marriage Story. New streaming competitor Apple TV Plus, twice-nominated for The Morning Show, was shut out, while Amazon Prime Video and Hulu also won two awards each.
Back to basics? Critics have hailed 1917 for its stunning cinematic and immersive quality, since the World War I epic was made to look as if it were filmed in a single take. And in the aftermath of last night’s streaming defeat, some have suggested that’s exactly the kind of larger-than-life magic that’s missing from streaming productions. Perhaps Mendes himself put it best: It’s up to filmmakers, he said backstage after his win, to keep making movies that “audiences feel like they need to see on a big screen or else they’re missing out.”
Statues or stats? With Oscar nominations out Jan. 13, many expect Sunday’s results to dictate how the Feb. 9 Academy Awards play out. It’s worth noting that how the Hollywood Foreign Press Association votes has no bearing on the Academy’s selections, as there’s not much membership overlap. So The Irishman, Marriage Story and Two Popes — all chock-full of Oscar buzz — may still win big next month. Also important, observers say, is the significance behind Netflix’s recruitment of major cinema auteurs like Martin Scorsese and Noah Baumbach. If modern legends continue signing on to the streaming giant’s projected 60 productions per year, there are still plenty of chances to redefine the film industry in the years to come.
White Males Club. If last year’s Golden Globes were hailed for their diversity, this year’s competition was criticized for a relative lack thereof. Sure, Awkwafina became the first Asian American to win best actress, while Egyptian American Ramy Youssef snagged a Golden Globe for best actor in a comedy series. But critics pointed to the small number of actors and creators of color, as well as a dearth of female nominees for best director, as something that “makes the wins themselves a little hollow.” There was plenty of political messaging, though: Patricia Arquette criticized White House policy on Iran and urged viewers to vote in this year’s U.S. election. Russell Crowe sent his acceptance message from Australia, where he said climate change was fueling his country’s disastrous wildfires.
Life of the party. That’s despite host Ricky Gervais’ blistering warning against actors indulging themselves with such commentary. But it only scratched the surface of what he had to say: Between his scathing takedown of Felicity Huffman’s role in the college admissions scandal and the Catholic Church’s problem with pedophilia, Gervais kept the crowd cringing and groaning between laughs. And he, too, blasted the HFPA for being “very, very racist” over the lack of diverse nominees.
WHAT TO READ
1917’s Golden Globes Glory Fair Reward for Thrilling and Distinguished Work, by Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian
“It is a film on a grand scale, a real cinematic spectacular – an awards-hungry monolith arguably, and yet the conversation around awards season hadn’t obviously been tipping 1917 for glory.”
For Netflix, the World May Not Be Enough, by Dan Gallagher in the Wall Street Journal
“The emergence of new, lower-priced streaming services from Walt Disney Co. and Apple Inc. has made some worry about Netflix’s ability to keep up its pace of blistering growth. Others have worried about what that growth may cost as Netflix may have to rely on more expensive fare to remain competitive.”
WHAT TO WATCH
How the Streaming Wars Changed Hollywood in 2019
“Going forward in the spring of 2020, two more legacy media companies — NBC Universal and Warner Media — are launching their own streaming services to compete in the increasingly crowded arena.”
Watch on Newsy on YouTube:
Ricky Gervais’ Golden Globes Jokes Take Aim at MeToo, Cats and Hollywood
“You know nothing about the real world. Most of you spent less time in school than Greta Thunberg. If you win … come up, accept your little award, thank your agent — and your god — and f**k off, okay?”
Watch on The Telegraph on YouTube:
WHAT TO SAY AT THE WATERCOOLER
Assigned seats. Beyond Netflix’s high-profile productions, it turns out the streaming company (or giant) disrupted the movie industry in another way too:: The sheer number of nominees meant the seating arrangements at the ceremony were thrown off, reportedly forcing the film-related nominees out of their prized positions near the stage to accommodate their TV counterparts.
- Dan Peleschuk