Netflix has been gunning for the Best Picture Academy Award for years, funneling lots of money and resources into the dream of standing on stage at the Dolby Theatre and accepting the top prize of the film world. We’re obviously in the middle of a very strange film year and what is shaping up to be a strange awards season, but it could end up working out in Netflix’s favor. The streamer not only has several chances to win Best Picture, but it also has a chance to break an Oscars record that’s been held since 1937.
Variety recently published a piece suggesting Netflix may end up snapping a streak that’s been held by MGM for 83 years and counting: the number of best picture nominees by a single studio. In 1937, MGM films comprised five of the ten slots for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, with Libeled Lady, Romeo and Juliet, San Francisco, A Tale of Two Cities, and The Great Ziegfeld all being nominated and the latter winning it all. Netflix is now theoretically poised to top that.
David Fincher’s Mank and Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial of the Chicago 7 seem like locks for nominations. George C. Wolfe’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom will contend in the acting categories and could easily find itself in the Best Picture conversation. Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods may also squeeze its way into that category. I also wouldn’t put it past the Academy to nominate Ron Howard’s Hillbilly Elegy, despite it getting abysmal reviews; after all, this is the same organization that awarded Green Book a couple of years ago. If one of those doesn’t end up getting the nod, George Clooney’s The Midnight Sky could swoop in to pick up the slack.
Let’s assume for a second that one of these movies actually does end up winning Best Picture for Netflix. Will Reed Hastings, Ted Sarandos, and the rest of the executives at the streamer be content with taking home the top prize with a movie from its 2020 slate? Or will they feel like the trophy is slightly diminished because of the odd movie year we’ve had thanks to the pandemic?
I guess the real question is: what is Netflix’s endgame? Are the execs simply looking for one Best Picture win so they can receive some recognition from their peers and brag about becoming the first streaming service to do it? Or do they want to dominate awards season forevermore? The answer will shape some important decisions the company makes going forward, and I look forward to learning what their true aspirations are.
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