Cinema has never been cheap. £6 for a ticket (average Cineworld student ticket for a 2D film) and by the time you’ve bought snacks it can be upwards of a tenner just to see one film. Perhaps that’s why streaming giants like Netflix have become so popular with students; a basic subscription there costs about the same price as a cinema ticket per month and opens up a whole range of studio films, tv shows, documentaries, as well as Netflix originals. It’s no wonder then, that this year has seen them snatch up a grand total of 24 Oscar nominations, making them the most nominated Studio Company of the 92nd Academy Awards.
So what was nominated? Martin Scorsese’s lengthy film, The Irishmen, picked up 10 nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director. Noah Baumbach’s heart-breaking Marriage Story sees 6 recognitions (including Laura Dern for Actress in a supporting role), and (my personal favourite out of the three features) The Two Popes has 3 nominations (including Best Adapted screenplay). Two documentary features on Netflix, American Factory and The Edge of Democracy are up for awards each, as well as the documentary short, Life Overtakes Me. Whilst nominated French film I Lost My Body shows the diversity of content on the platform, Klaus might prove to be the start of their original features rivalry against Disney+, especially with its release scheduled in the UK this March.
As always, there is a disappointing number of films not nominated. Uncut Gems received a more-than-applaudable 92% by critics on Rotten Tomatoes, and it’s disregard by the Academy even lead to one ‘Esquire’ article being titled “How Did ‘Uncut Gems’ Get Absolutely No Oscar Nominations? [It doesn’t make any sense]”. Dolemite is My Name is another Netflix original that seems to have gone unnoticed this Awards season, despite an even higher rating than Uncut Gems of 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. The biggest Netflix omission for me personally was the documentary feature Knock Down The House, which followed four women on their journey to Congress. Despite making it into the top fifteen films in the Documentary Feature category (from 159 titles), it unfortunately didn’t make the final ten.
Whilst the Academy are lagging to make strides in the diversity of nominees, the fact that Netflix have scored the most nominations this year has to be a bit of a kick in the teeth for Steven Spielberg, who last year commented that Netflix shouldn’t be eligible for Oscars, and only compete for Emmy awards. An Amblin spokesperson said he felt “strongly about the difference between streaming and the theatrical situation”. And as much as I love Spielberg’s work – I think he’s wrong. Yes, this year has definitely proved that changes need to be made to clarify a films’ eligibility for the Oscars (how long does it need to be in theatres, how much a studio can spend on advertising, etc), but cinema is for everyone. I’d like to think these 24 nominations is the Academy’s acknowledgement of that, even if they’re not particularly diverse.
So watch Netflix to your hearts content, because there is good content on there, and, unlike major studios, they spend a lot of money taking risks. But don’t forget the cinema. Because in an age where streaming makes it easier to isolate ourselves and watch films alone – some of the best cinematic experiences start when you’re part of the audience.