Viewing habits have undertaken a seismic change in the past year – the closure of theatres has seen a huge increase in the take up of streaming services and the quantity of film and tv content being consumed in the home. One of the big winners in this sea change has been Netflix-having spent $17bn on content in the last year it is difficult not to have some of their productions on everyone’s favourite lists
Having said that, there appears to have been a critical prejudice and a stigma against them in some parts of the industry. Cannes Film Festival banned its movies, Steven Spielberg called it ‘a clear and present danger to filmgoers’, and Christopher Nolan called it’s business practices ‘mindless’. This is reflected in their poor recent successes at the Film Awards. While Roma received two Oscars in 2018 it failed to get a best picture award. Back in 2018 Spielberg commented that Netflix should be banned from the Oscars. Last year it looked like Netflix was finally going to pick up the number of awards that it no doubt hoped for and that it’s investment would justify. Not so-it received 24 Oscar nominations for films including The Irishman, Marriage Story, and The Two Popes – but only went home with a meager two awards – best supporting actress for Laura Dern for Marriage Story and best documentary award for American Factory
However, as with many post-pandemic businesses and lifestyles, change is afoot. Just look at the winners at this week’s Screen Actors Guild Awards (SAG awards). Two Netflix films picked up the major gongs – best actor went to the late Chadwick Boseman for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom with Viola Davis winning best actress for the same film, and The Trial of the Chicago 7 won best ensemble film award. It is interesting to note that the SAG big winners last year-best actor Joaquin Phoenix for Joker and best actress Renee Zellweger went on to repeat their success at the Oscars.
It was not only in the film categories that Netflix scored well. The Crown, Schitt’s Creek, The Queens Gambit, and Ted Lasso all picked up awards in the TV categories.
It would have seemed madness to predict that a streaming channel would be picking up this number of awards two or three years ago and putting out product made by the likes of Martin Scorsese and Aaron Sorkin.
The final vindication for Netflix could well come on 25th April – the 93rd Academy Awards – personally, I think they will get over the line.